THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 07, 2008
THE BLOG OF THE RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK

RAN Grassroots Confronts "new push for authenticity by companies"

As promised, General Motors hosted a live webchat to address "corporate greenwashing" for RAN supporters yesterday. The Detroit News covered the event, featuring GM executive Brent Dewar "answering" questions from more than 65 RAN supporters (I use scare quotes because of the large number of questions he ignored and the indirect responses he gave to the most pointed inquiries). The article quotes Clay Voorhes, an assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University saying that the effort by GM is "part of a new push for authenticity by companies." Of course, it would be more accurate to describe it as a "push for the appearance of authenticity" because the corporate world isn't really trying to genuinely communicate in an honest way with people. Instead, they believe that if people think a particular corporation is more "genuine" or "authentic" then those people will buy more of whatever the corporation is selling. Nonetheless, I think it is important for us to recognize that the meme of "authenticity" is taking hold in corporate marketing. GreenwashingWhat I loved about this series of actions connected to gmnext.com, was that RAN supporters stood up, together, to challenge that meme. They sent a very clear message to the company that people aren't just going to accept declarations of "authenticity" by corporations without serious actions and commitments on the corporation's part behind those declarations. Otherwise, we're going to call it like we see it. And what we see is more corporate greenwashing. On that note, I'll wrap up by sharing my other favorite part of this whole experience. I don't think I've ever actually seen a giant company use the term "greenwashing" in their own marketing. But, when I went to the chat, there it was. Looks like we won the framing battle on this one.

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