Monday, May 19, 2008

"Green" as a Study of Language as a Trojan Horse

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

With the SustainableBrands 08 show quickly upon us, my thoughts have turned once again to language and authenticity. So many UberBrands are scheduled to attend or speak about "their brands of sustainability" it is making me a bit queazy. One of three things is happening with these mainstream companies with instantly sustainable brands:

  1. They have always been focused on sustainability, but were to shy or introspective to mention it.
  2. They are riding a brand wave of a green mainstream.
  3. They are becoming sustainable because the time has come to become sustainable.

Surely, there will be a mixture of companies falling into teach these categories. It makes me think of the language they are using to marketing their "Eco-ethnicity."

Beatnik writer William Burroughs said "Language is a virus from outer space" (Artist Laurie Anderson added, "that's why I'd rather say your name than see your face.") But, to me (only me?), this issue of "Language as a Virus" is important to green marketing and the Uber-brand.

The Uber-Brand's use of Eco-language stolen from true environmentalist, is rapidly becoming a hegemonic issue... control of cultures by those in power.

I like to close my eyes and pretend that the thievery of authentic language is a virus we infected them (those is category 2) with that they cannot control. Maybe it will eat them from the inside out. Maybe it will be the undoing of the Uber-Brand who tries to re-uber-brand itself as green without authenticity. Maybe the language of green is our unintentional trojan horse and millions of viruses will crawl out and destroy them for their misrepresentation.

Anderson also said "Language is a shipwreck." A company that brands itself (or it's products) as green, but lacks authenticity is a ship destined for wreck as well. The green industry's market crash - when it comes and it will - will not be about the falling apart of the movement, it will be the sounds of greenwashed ships breaking into the rocks as they destroy themselves from the inside out.

Consumption Junction is a feature 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.

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