The world today is consumed with media. Advertisements, being one of the most well known forms of media, are found everywhere. On the streets, TV, magazines and even on our phones ads can be found. Companies all over take advantage of what technology has to offer. Using technology to produce ads helps sell the products more efficiently, being able to thoroughly relate the product to all different viewers. Greenwashing is known as, “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.
The unjustified approximation of environmental virtue by a company or an industry to create a pro-environmental image, to sell a product, or to try and rehabilitate their standing with the public and decision makers after being embroiled in controversy”(Sins of Greenwashing). In other words, greenwashing is when a company spends more time and money claiming to be green when they actually are not enforcing these actions. Greenwashing comes from the expression “whitewashing” but taken in an environmental context (Greenwashing Index). “Going green” is very popular this day in age.
So why is greenwashing a problem? Greenwashing claims their product is environmentally friendly when in return it could be doing much more harm. It becomes a waste of money for the consumer as well and eventually the false claims will attack the businesses. Businesses such as Athleta, make use of a beautiful natured scene backdrop to promote a more environmental wholesome scene to sell their product. The Athleta ad I chose is of a woman running on the beach, wearing Athleta’s exercise apparel, with motivational words of wisdom on the left of the ad and a breathtaking tropical ocean scene in the background.
This ad appeals to woman of all ages who enjoy fitness while looking “cute” in their workout gear. Being healthy and fit is a craving for many people. The feeling of accomplishment and success, the drive to push yourself harder, all thanks to the endorphins given off is why so many people crave fitness. Athleta is a woman’s clothing brand that is worn for the use of exercising and working out. They sell everything from workout shirts, sweatshirts and spandex pants and shorts to yoga mats, headbands as well as winter gear.
Stores like Athleta try to bring consumers who are passionate about fitness and wellness to buy their products. Athleta does not appeal to all women but to a large amount. Women who buy products from Athleta pursue in fitness and well being. I chose this Athleta ad because I can relate to their ads and they draw me in, wanting to purchase their clothes because of the way they advertise. The greenwashing in this ad comes from the tropical ocean backdrop. The model is running on the sand with the sun shining and the waves crashing on the shore.
Instantly the viewers are drawn to that paradise view. The model is very fit, well toned and tan. Wearing Athleta the consumer will be more motivated, fit and athletic. Exactly the relation Athleta wants. By using the “greenwashing effect” for a nature background it makes the reader want to be in a beautiful setting; very peaceful, sunny and warm. I believe the ad would not be as effective if it were to take place inside a store or as a big photo shoot.
Julia Corbett’s article, A Faint Green Sell: Advertising and the Natural World, explains in great detail the effects of greenwashing and how advertising exploits nature by treating it as a commodity to presenting nature solely for the purpose and pleasure of human beings (Corbett). Like my ad for Athleta the backdrop is the main selling point, when nature functions as a rhetorically useful backdrop is the most common use of the natural world in advertisements, and is notable for the enduring quality (Corbett).
In the Athleta ad, it gives the product much meaning appearing to express a desire that the viewer will engage with. The outfit is the product, it pops because of the color while the encouraging words or wisdom printed on the left side of the ad in bold connects with the reader emotionally giving encouraging and positive remarks. “By borrowing and adapting well- known, stereotypical portrayals of nature, advertising is able to associate water with freshness and purity and weather as fraught with danger” (Corbett).
Advertisements that use nature as a backdrop, attempts to associate material goods with non-material goods or qualities, such as the ocean, to connect this back into their everyday life. The Athleta ad connects the values of many women who want to be motivated to exercise and be active by convincing the viewer to buy the product. As in Corbett’s article A Faint Green Sell: Advertising and the Natural World, in the excerpt; Nature as Commodity: It states, “This encourages the promotion of a social order in which people are encouraged to think for themselves and their private worlds” (Schudson, 1989, p. 83).
This ad is important because it clearly exemplifies the effects greenwashing has for the selling of a product. If the ad were to be taken in a different setting, the product would not be as well renown. Greenwashing is a major issue, it completely alters the effects and perceptions of an ad, but it creates a dream like setting. Society should become more understanding and interested in greenwashing effects because of what it promotes, ads that we see everyday on our TV’s, in magazines, on the internet and on our phone all make use of greenwashing.
Works Cited “The Sins of Greenwashing: Home and Family Edition. ” The Sins of Greenwashing: Home and Family Edition. N. p. , n. d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014. “About Greenwashing | Greenwashing Index. ” Greenwashing Index. N. p. , n. d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014. Corbett, Julia B. “A Faint Green Sell: Advertising and the Natural World. ” (n. d. ): n. pag. Web. Schudson, M. (1989). Advertising as capitalist realism. In R. Hovland & G. B. Wilcox (Eds. ), Advertising in society (pp. 73-98). Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Business Books.