Corporate Ads & Greenwashing

“Power Past Impossible”
The American Petroleum Institute, one of the largest oil and gas lobbying organizations in the United States, used the extreme hype surrounding Super Bowl commercials to launch a new advertising campaign aimed directly at the American public. The campaign, called Power Past Impossible, touts the many uses of oil and natural gas and highlights how dependent modern life is on the byproducts of these fossil fuels.

“Childlike Imagination – What My Mom Does at GE”
Corporate advertisement promoting an image of corporate environmentalism, in which innovation and technology will save us from climate change. Strong in the emotions of awe and wonder. A good example of both the use of emotion in corporate communications and the political myth of ‘corporate environmentalism’.

“Model Miners” (GE)
An advertisement by US industrial conglomerate General Electric on the launch of their ‘ecomagination’ initiative in 2005. Stresses the company’s investments in developing ‘clean coal’ and features scantily clad models, with the tagline “Now, thanks to emissions-reducing technologies from GE, the power of coal is getting more beautiful every day…”!

“The Green Police” (Audi)
Advertisement for a diesel Audi SUV which debuted during the 2010 Super Bowl. Offers a humorous satire of a fictional green police force arresting various members of the public for energy and waste offences. In the key scene a diesel-powered Audi SUV is waved through an ‘eco-roadblock’ after being passed as compliant with tough environmental codes. The tagline declares: ‘Green has never felt so right!’ Greenwashing much?

Budweiser – Wind Never Felt So Good – 2019 Super Bowl Commercial
And another example of corporate advertising promoting a green image. This recent Super Bowl advert by US beer giant Budweiser caused a massive stir in the US particularly from the political Right keen to promote the continued use of fossil fuels and “clean coal”! Is this a tipping point in the social acceptance of renewable energy?

“Nissan Leaf Polar Bear” (Nissan)
Advertisement for the electric vehicle the Nissan Leaf, which tells the tale of a lone polar bear undertaking an epic journey from the melting Arctic to a major city. There the animal embraces a man who is about to climb into his new Nissan. The touching imagery and soundtrack engage the audience in empathy and sadness for the bear’s plight but then reverse this in the penultimate scene with a message of hope and optimism: nature will thank us if we all buy ‘green’ cars.

“Why would you sit on a soybean?” (Ford)
Advertisement telling the story of the female members of Ford’s R&D department working on soy-based car foam. The narrator, identified as a mother of small children, underlines the need to protect future generations, saying: ‘We need to preserve the environment now.’ Emotions of pride, respect and satisfaction predominate in such accounts of corporate innovation reducing the perceived environmental cost of consumption.

“Tag Your Green” (GE)
2010 advertisement by General Electric (GE) as part of their ‘ecomagination’ initiative . Uses the whimsical concept that people only need to dream more sustainable and green futures in order to change our world. A good example of the promotion of ‘green consumerism’ a central tenet of ‘corporate environmental’ responses to climate change.

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