Green advertising mirrors news and opinion
How many of the 600-625 advertisements Americans see on the average day have a green message? Unsurprisingly, it depends on the amount of news coverage devoted to green issues and public concern about the environment.
A recent study of "green" ads in four major print publications from Michael Svoboda at the Yale Forum found that they peaked in 2008-09 and returned to background levels in 2010. That rise and fall mirrored major media coverage of climate change and public concern about global warming.
The study also found that most companies preferred uncontroversial advertising messages about their "efficient use of natural resources and their careful disposal of wastes" rather than explicit mentions of "greenhouse gases" or "climate change." Most of the advertisements of climate change appeared to come from oil, nuclear and car companies.
So, which comes first? The news "chicken" or the advertising "egg." the study makes the case that advertising increased along with news coverage of events like the Copenhagen Climate Summit and the resultant public interest. But it also notes the public opinion shaping role of advertising and a recent uptick in green ads.
What do you think? Can "green" advertising from major companies help drive public concern about the environment? Or are they simply following public concern about the environment and "greenwashing" their image?