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March 29, 2008

Earth Hour. Less Hype, More Fact.


By now you're all familiar with the well-hyped event know as 'Earth Hour'. An event that won the 2007 Cannes Titanium award for Leo Burnett, WWF and its commercial supporters. If you've been living under a rock, Earth Hour 2008 takes place Saturday March 29th, at 8pm.

But how much of a legitimate event is this? To many, it's looking like nothing more than an opportunity for companies to greenwash the public.

Then again, the public would appear to have different thoughts. Here's a poll taken on Saturday March 29th @ 9am by Sky News Australia.

If you'd seen the Cannes entry, you would probably be thinking Australian's are an environmental bunch. Not really the case, Well, perhaps unsurprisingly Earth Hour is attracting its fair share of critics and has come under intense scrutiny by the Australian media this week - except that is, if the media outlet is Fairfax. Fairfax is a chief sponsor, who's major mastheads include The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Melbourne Age.

Influential media commentator Crikey took advertising industry rag Campaign Brief and the advertising industry to task this week, highlighting just how farcical the event is.

And rightly so.

Here's an extract from Crikeyemail this week, along with another article here

Let's play spot the oxymoron.

To celebrate Earth Hour, ad magazine Campaign Brief -- with Earth Hour partners Fairfax/The Sydney Morning Herald -- is offering the chance to win a trip to Cannes. Yes, in a big old emission-puffing plane.

Thanks guys for switching off your lights, we'll now use it to offset our delightful European sojourn! Campaign Brief writes:

[We're] offering two trips to the creative team who demonstrate the most effective and/or inspirational way to leverage Earth Hour 2008 and The Sydney Morning Herald is offering a trip each to the client and agency person behind the best work...

"Just about the whole industry has put aside its cynicism and pledged to support this initiative", says CB. "How many times in your life do you get offered an open brief that encourages you to openly borrow from a Cannes-winning idea?"

Yes thank you dear ad companies for putting cynicism to one side, but forgive us if we can't. Earth Hour might have noble aspirations, but the execution is a little murkier, with greenwashing as far as the eye can see.

Well said Crikey. And long overdue criticism. Take a look at the entry video and overview board produced by Leo Burnett Sydney for the Cannes Advertising festival.

You'll see media hype - otherwise known as media impressions, is the order of the day when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of an event. So you can bet that bit of footage from Sky New above doesn't make it to the Cannes Entry reel this year.

So what's the WWF make of this commercialisation? Who knows, but if you take a look around Sydney, commercial endorsements are certainly responsible for some serious carbon emissions. Posters, Flyers, T-Shirts, Caps, Billboards. You name it.

Aside from the huge amounts of printed collateral, including a 40 page 'Light's Out' supplement in Fairfax papers, there was this stunt for AGL Electricity which had commentators pointing out the emissions from that balloon alone would probably account for 10,000 light bulbs!


Here's how the WWF is promoting Earth Hour 2008. Obviously the Cannes entry video wasn't quite the award winning cut they needed.

Enjoy your evening, wherever you are.





 

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