The World Without Them

Rob Walker writes about Fiji bottled water claiming to be a green company, without using the word greenwashing anywhere in the piece. Fiji is certainly not alone in trying to brand itself as the opposite of what many believe it really is. Personally, I’ve been appalled at the TV ads for Arrowhead’s Eco-Shape Bottle and Scott’s Water Smart grass seed.

If you’re going to drink bottled water and if you’re going to have a lawn, definitely choose an option that consumes fewer resources, but as a consumer I find it manipulative to position those products as being eco-anything, when the core behavior they are asking us to perform is probably something we should stop doing entirely. As a strategy consultant, they have my sympathy, and my respect for not simply ignoring a big cultural story that challenges their key offering.

Consider this week the news that GM may sell or close the Hummer brand. If they sell it, there will be someone else trying to sell a product that (at least in term of meaning, if not actual impact) tends to be horrifyingly un-green.

Should Arrowhead, Fiji, Scotts, and Hummer simply go away? Obviously the leaders of those businesses have a fiscal responsibility to keep making money, but how much can they redefine or reframe their brands and their offerings?


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