Branding Environmentalism

by | Oct 27, 2008

Another day, another expensive advert from the environmental movement. Not Oxfam this time, but Greenpeace, who must spend a significant portion of the $hundreds of millions they make on their campaigns.

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We have noted before that the environmental movement it incapable of turning its values and principles into an appealing vision. It cannot create a grass-roots movement. This is because people are not stupid, and Greenpeace, no matter how hard they try, cannot conceal the fact that they have nothing but contempt for ordinary people. This patronising film is no exception.

Lacking the means with which to connect to people, eco-poseurs have tried to give their ideas authenticity by turning them into pastiches of moments with genuine historical significance. For example, Caroline Lucas (it’s been a while since we mentioned her) aims to create a Green ‘New Deal’, which, in this post-modern vignette, casts her as Roosevelt, saving millions from the Great Depression. We have also noted attempts to apply the morality of abolition of slavery to the climate debate, to make ‘deniers’ today’s equivalent of yesterday’s slave-traders. Remakes of Kennedy’s moon-landing speech are a favourite for climate alarmists. Gore has used it. Former UK Chief Scientist, Sir David King has used it. Tony Blair has used it. It has had far too much air time. But now Greenpeace have tried to inject it with some life with CGI trickery.

There is no point examining what this puppet Kennedy is actually saying. All that needs to be said is that they are green clichés, every bit as tired as Kennedy’s image. Greenpeace just want you to know that it’s Kennedy saying them. Have they forgotten how close he took the world to atomic warfare? How environmentally friendly would that have been?

Adverts are rarely for things. They are for brands. You can buy non-branded generic non-prescription medicine far more cheaply than branded, but the adverts will tell you that their product is the fastest, and most effective. Whizzz. Bang. Woosh. It must be true. You can buy cleaning products containing exactly the same substances as branded equivalents, but for less money. You can get cheap car insurance from many different providers, but it’s the advert which stuck in your head that you try first. Adverts attempt to sell you something, not simply on the basis of the utility of the product, but that the particular product’s brand meets a deeper, more emotional need. Trust. Authenticity. Recognition.

And so it is with this advert. You don’t need what it’s selling. There are plenty of alternatives. This is not merely posthumous celebrity endorsement. This is an attempt to connect the environmental brand with nostalgia for the certainty of the past.

Fortunately, nobody is really buying it.  


  1. xjboy550

    Hmmm i thought that modifying an image to give another impression of what the image is really
    about !
    is fakery or lying,untrue or just plain dishonest!
    says a lot about green preaches arguments if they need to fake lie alter reality to get anyone to listen !

  2. geoff chambers

    I suppose I should be cheered by the sheer stupidity of the Oxfam and Greenpeace campaigns. How could they possibly think they’re going to win converts with this trash?

    Anyone old enough to remember who Kennedy was is (a) unlikely to buy this tired image of a Gandhi cum Churchill folk hero and (b) not go to be around in 2050 to benefit from reduced carbon emissions.

    You say: “..the environmental movement is incapable of turning its values and principles into an appealing vision. It cannot create a grass-roots movement”.
    But they don’t have to, if they can capture hearts and minds of the chattering classes, and hence the policy makers and political parties, via their control of the BBC and serious press.
    And you finish: “Fortunately, nobody is really buying it”. Nobody except the UN the EU, and practically every political party in the western world. I’d like to share your optimism that the common sense of ordinary people will prevail, I really would.


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