Greenwashing extinction

Mastercard’s greenwashing campaign

Donation from this campaign per new card: $1
The average value of a typical gift card: Guessing, more than $100 at least.
CLV of a typical credit card: US$ 3,600 – US$ 48,000
(Fairly rough estimate courtesy of a Quora user. This campaign and gifted cards will likely lead to new user acquisitions beyond the actual card bought. So the likely payoff is much higher.)

PR value: Priceless

Credit card companies are at the very center of the capitalist structure that endangers ecologies by promoting unsustainable growth in consumption.

So this campaign ends up precipitating exactly the opposite of what it intends. It is encouraging needless consumption (worth hundreds of dollars more than the donated amount) while it talks about conservation efforts (which get $1). Do the math.
It gives mindless consumers an easy way out of their guilt.

If this is not Greenwashing, please tell me what is.

Can the ad agencies please stop greenwashing for award considerations?
Also, please tell me if this campaign doesn’t exist, just because someone thought the wordplay on ‘expires’ is amusing.

This is another good reason to do away with Advertising awards. They incentivise disingenuous shit like this.

“Raising awareness”

Do campaigns like these that aim to ‘raise awareness’ really make a dent?

The key questions to know if the campaign has its heart in the right place are –

  1. Who is it aimed at?
  2. What is the Behaviour change/ Call to action?
  3. Who benefits the most out of the exercise?
  4. Consider the total budget of the campaign. Is this the best use of the money for the stated goal?

This campaign is aimed at credit card users among the elite of the world. The call to action is to buy a gift card. 99% of benefit goes to the credit card company. (1$ is nothing compared to CLV of a typical credit card user). The best use of the money, IMHO, would have been to straight away donate the entire amount (the creative agency fees, the cost of PR, the future cost of award entry etc) to the NGO in question.

A better brand would have ensured that –

  1. the campaign be aimed at people whose behaviour change/ act would actually make a meaningful impact for the cause.
  2. The behaviour change is permanent or atleast long enough to see the change through. A better brand would have clear objective of change. Even if the objective is not measurable, it should atleast be definite.
    How many people’s / animals suffering are we a alleviating? What useful information are we spreading among the affected?
  3. The campaign should actually benefit the people it is supposed to be helping more than the brand, in some concrete way. Otherwise it’s just a narcissistic play.
  4. the client should think through about their intentions and costs. Is it the best way to spend this money on this cause?

I know that this campaign was probably born in an agency which thought ‘expiry’ wordplay was interesting. The client was on-board because it didn’t seem like a costly affair to do and might actually help the brand appear more humane. they would have said, ‘what’s the harm?

The brand might not get harmed. but the world does get harmed.
With communications like these, we are spreading a dangerous belief system that sharing, liking or feeling sorry for something for a few seconds makes a difference. The viewer has not been engaged in any meaningful way. So the person remains ignorant, but feels that he is doing something good for the world.

It is perpetuating a fiction – their useless gestures matter. the world is actually running out of time when it comes to climate change. we badly need actual allies, helping actually move the needle on the ground.

it infuriates me to see such mindless drivel being appreciated. Because it sucks away the oxygen for actual meaningful dialog about real issues.

***

The checklist mentioned above, is also available here – https://rewiringchaos.com/2021/06/14/22-greenwashing/

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