Why Your Earth Day Events May Come Off as Tone Deaf

by Apr 20, 2017

Every year, thousands of companies do thousands of well-meaning and beneficial Earth Day activities. This year, however, those activities may appear to be a bit out of touch.

Let’s rewind a few years to the height of the Obama administration. To say that environmental policy was 100% sound would be more than an overstatement. Many wanted much bolder action by the administration and, frankly, believed that President Obama had failed to deliver on his promises.

How times have changed. Based on what we’ve seen in the last few months, those Obama administration days are starting to look like an environmental utopia.

Scott Pruitt has been appointed head of the EPA, policy is being shaped to help coal regain momentum (though we believe that’s a lost cause), pipelines are being prepped, taps opened, etc., etc. National Geographic is running a real-time list of the administration’s actions in this regard, which you can check out here. And it’s worth checking out this piece from March 7, 2017: “The New Republic reports that the EPA’s Office of Science and Technology removed the word ‘science’ from its mission statement.”

So, what does this have to do with Earth Day? Here’s what.

In the face of an all-out assault on environmental stewardship, and science specifically, a photo-op of a CEO planting a sapling seems a little out of touch.

Now, I’m sure I’m stepping on some toes, and I know that there is a lot more to Earth Day than a few token events. It’s a good thing, it’s done good in the past and continues to do good today. However, it’s time for more.

This year’s Earth Day marks the first ever international March for Science. It’s surreal that a discipline that has successfully treated various forms of cancer, protected billions from debilitating diseases, enabled the agriculture industry to feed our planet’s growing population, and so on and so forth, should require advocacy. But here we are. Marching for science.

There is a fair amount of corporate involvement in the event but not many marquee names. Dave Rapaport, Aveda’s VP of Earth and Community Care, represents one of the most recognizable players and termed his company’s involvement as “an authentic expression of our values.” Well, Aveda is doing a lot more than expressing their own values, they’re aligning themselves with the values of millions of potential customers. Customers who are now more likely to buy Aveda.

In regards to the March for Science, AAAS CEO Rush Holt said, “In 50 years of being a scientist and a science watcher, I’ve never seen anything like this – I’ve never seen such a spontaneous surge of support for the idea of science.”

People are ready to mobilize behind sustainable causes. People are ready to embrace brands with courage. Consumers are looking for more than Earth Day events – they are looking for movement makers.

Aveda expressed their values by getting behind a powerful environmental event. What are your company’s values? How can you get behind good, and align your brand with a growing group of passionate consumers?

Answer those questions and you’ll benefit far more than just your bottom line.

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About the Author

Matt Brass

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing all campaigns and collateral. With nearly two decades of marketing design under his belt, Matt has extensive experience in design, photography and videography, as well as blogging about the latest and greatest (or worst) ad campaigns out there. He leads our team on kayaking trips, too.

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