Monday, November 26, 2007

Has Green Jumped the Shark?

--Feature: "Consumption Junction w/John Rooks"--

Jumping the Shark is the defining moment when something has reached its peak. That instant that you know that, from now on, it's all downhill. Jumping the Shark is a cultural reference to the demise of the TV show Happy Days, when Fonzie literally "jumped the shark" and virtually ended a good sitcom. I wonder if this whole “green” thing Jumped the Shark?

A few recent moments that may point to this phenomenon in terms of “Going Green”:

1. Shrek the Third is marketed with the phrase “Get Green.”
2. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is touted as green because it was cut down by hand.
3. NBC Green Week

As I cringed my way through the Cast of “Scrubs” letting me know that unplugging appliances will reduce global warming during NBC’s Green Week, I wondered: Have we entered into “Green” as a trend instead of “Green as an Ideology”. Ideology is a big word, but that’s how cultures change. That’s how, dare I say, sustainable change happens. People believe differently than before.

When “Going Green” becomes a product or company attribute – rather than a mission – how sustainable is it? If American consumerism is as wobbly as it seems in terms of our willingness to buy (into) the next big thing, I wonder if there is sticking power to anything anymore.

It bothers me. I’m worried about it. I’m worried that “being green” could become the equivalent of wearing bellbottoms – a fashion statement.

If Hollywood co-opts an idea, it catches on. No doubt. The Hip Persuasion is powerful. But can it last? What’s a LOHASian to do? Do we need to reclaim Green as more than just a punch-line branding opportunity? (yes)

Or, do we embrace the attention that the clown is giving to a serious matter as validation that the matter is reaching a broader level of consciousness? (yes) Can we have it both ways? Authentic and Popular? (I don’t think so)

On a positive note: It’s up to us. What we do with the media attention will dictate the future sustainability of ethical consumerism.

I think all of this is why intention matters and why authenticity still resonates with the ethical consumer crowd. So get out there and consume. But be educated. Read. Learn about the companies you support. Don’t just swallow the beautiful ambiguity of greenwashing. The best tool to rail against companies who are parasites to the green brand is to question their intention – make them support their claims.

*Consumption Junction is a new column focusing on culture, advertising and the ethical consumer written by John Rooks. John is the President of DWELL Creative, a progressive advertising and marketing agency voted one the Top 25 agencies by LOHAS Journal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting observations which shed light on the fact that "green" continues to rapidly flood mainstream culture.

John Rooks' examples serve as a reminder that it is the responsibility of consumers, especially LOHAS consumers, to erect a dam and slow the floodgates that are inundating the current marketplace.

Doing so will provide us an opportunity to better monitor this rapid saturation of "green" and to take moments to slow down, listen, watch, examine and call attention to those who increasingly perceive the influx of going green as an incredible opportunity for greenwashing.

Looking forward to reading more of the new Consumption Junction column.