I have a friend (no need for names), who is a social media maven and a committed environmentalist. Her posts are often inspiring and full of good information but she also has a tendency to gush about corporations that are prominently featuring public efforts to be more “sustainable.” Of course, there are significant problems with that word on multiple different levels, but even without opening that can of worms at the moment, there is also the reality that much of these newfound corporate environmental programs is simply advertising-speak, designed to make you spend money. And nothing else.
She’s smart. She knows BS when she sees it. So why does she fall for Coca-Cola ad copy that emphasizes the company’s care for the natural world when the results of literally every beach cleanup on Earth prominently features those distinctive plastic bottles? Why does she tout the alleged environmental upsides of products that are unnecessary, at best, and are often deceptively dangerous? How do intelligent people get fooled by dirty corporations that talk green and pretty?
It’s probably not the same for everyone but advertising works, in large part, because it is based on telling us something that we want to believe. We want to think we are doing the right thing and we are willing to tell ourselves whatever we need to in order to feel like that is the case. Advertisers are happy to scratch that itch for us and have turned to making the specious and transparently foolish case that buying their products will somehow be good for the environment, an observably false position but one that is definitely working for them.
In 2021, the Coca-Cola Company’s net operating revenues worldwide amounted to approximately $39 billion U.S. dollars. For example.