Green Super Bowl Ads

It’s a bit of a misnomer, but amid the sexy starlets, wacky animals and wacky adorable kids – oh, and farmers – hawking all kinds of beer and chips and cars and sandwiches, there was very little green-shaded buying cover. This could mean several things:

1) we’ve finally reached a sustainable level of everything – from renewable fuels to mass transit and locally grown [and consumed] food.

2) we’ve reached the point where there is not even the need for greenwashing anymore; the trend is over and we will continue as before, without even the conceit of change or its need.

3) we’ve entered a new realm of hyper-expensive spectacle advertising. This is the God and the devil realm, where even the military is a puppet controlled by heart strings in service to selling Jeeps.

Far more shameless than the cartoon renderings of routes out of planetary peril, (3) actually leaves me feeling soiled with a new brand of sinister. So I guess that’s something.

Crass commercialism interlude for Cansville

This is the 801st post on the Green site and, while not all that much by internet standards (quality>quantity!), I will take the opportunity use it to ask for some in exchange for my novel, Cansville.

Though there is an Amazon ad for it there on the right, I’ve been told that it might be easy to miss – or to miss its connection to the author of this blog. And with the site continuing to grow (best traffic month was December 2012), there’s no reason I should be coy about asking for your support. Especially as I’m willing to trade you something for it.

Cansville is a novel I published in 2012, and while it is about art and art making, it’s not without its green aspects. The protagonist, Toby, is a wet-behind-the-ears playwright, as green as pool felt in some ways, as we often have to be in order to try something foolhardy, unlikely, perhaps beautiful, risky to us – pyschologically, at least – but also so crazy it just might work. This is the story of Cansville and I hope you’ll dial it up on your Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone, or satellite Swiss Army knife.

Friendly, easy-to-use links:

Barnes and Noble




Indie Spotlight



It was a low and high moment this week with the passing of Mr. Shankar – low because he died, high because he lived, and then some.

But another low/high moment passed last week with no notice here, and I think Oscar Niemeyer’s death at 104 is more than worthy of mention.

His Brasilia, the cathedral of which is featured above, is now more than 50 years old and the consensus on its lifelessness as a city is questionable, though not without its instruction. A good, brief discussion of grand architectural theory at LGM brings up a few of the people-related problems we should think about when considering what green design means. It’s too bad we have such a problem with communism in American society, not for the sake of communism itself per se, but because the ideas of thinkers like Niemeyer are always colored by the notion that he was one. It’s an adolescent tendency and we should get over it.

Define ‘this’

Surely you’ve noticed these Exxonmobile commercials (no link, sorry. Google it) focussing on the state of education in America today, how we’ve fallen behind relative to so many other countries and how we need to support teachers and students to re-establish our dominance. Exxonmobile is concerned. About education.

The cartoon narratives are fancy and well done, but back up a minute. The tag line, ‘Let’s solve this.’ Really? Confident. Serious. First-person plural. Everything else they are involved in is kosher and so now they’re turning their attention to our education problems. Exxonmobile. That is sporting of them. This is has got to be one of the most classic, think-up-something-else-so-we-don’t-talk-about-energy-policy, concerning trolling PR strategies they have dreamed up at least since they embraced, and likely already solved, the ‘go green’ issue – by making it go away. Let’s solve this?

Here’s what’s actually going on in solving education problems today:

Starting this fall, thousands of poor and middle-class kids will get vouchers covering the full cost of tuition at more than 120 private schools across Louisiana, including small, Bible-based church schools.

The following year, students of any income will be eligible for mini-vouchers that they can use to pay a range of private-sector vendors for classes and apprenticeships not offered in traditional public schools. The money can go to industry trade groups, businesses, online schools and tutors, among others.

Every time a student receives a voucher of either type, his local public school will lose a chunk of state funding.

“We are changing the way we deliver education,” said Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican who muscled the plan through the legislature this spring over fierce objections from Democrats and teachers unions. “We are letting parents decide what’s best for their children, not government.”


I’ll stop with that sub-head, just to let it sink in. Let’s solve this. Oy.

Eating Real Food

Is now a marketing slogan.


I was talking with a friend about some of the possible consequences of the popular appeal of Mad Men, that maybe it could subjectively get us to actually hate and therefore begin to try to resist the power of advertising. But, even as the words passed my lips I knew this was a vain hope. It’s terrific art but the network executives behind it are just as clueless about why people like it – and clued in about what people will watch – as the most cynical characters on the show are. Evidence the appalling reality show that mimics it, follows it, appears to be unwatchable and will probably be some kind of quantifiable cultural phenomenon on its own.

Selling back to us things we should already be doing, making the zeitgeist attractive and appealing, is tricky. Because there are a lot of things people already do that many others should embrace for their own and our collective good, but for the streak anti-authoritarianism that runs deeper than the Mississippi – and which is completely at odds with our vulnerability to corporate thinking. We (remember, there actually is no they) can even get people be against clean air and water. We’re helpless before the slick-o ads that pervade. Even the coming presidential campaign is actually a high-concept design contest, starring people in ads who will say they just want honest conversation about our problems. “Were X’s ads effective?” the headlines will read. Such will be the nature of the political analysis. “Wheels with wheels, man!”

So, yes: eat real. Hey better yet, get real. What does that mean? Hey, now we’re back on track! Not sure we need to put such admonitions on t-shirts – though it does bring to mind Marquez’ One Hundred Years, when everyone in the village forgets the names of everything and they have to go around labeling things like ‘chair’ and ‘table.’ Yes, maybe it’s that. Or this:

Dark Green

Cue the rollout for the new Lexus Wagon:

Lexus is embarking on one of the largest marketing campaigns in the brand’s history to launch this new vehicle. The multi-faceted campaign, which breaks today, features pioneering computer-generated imagery (CGI). Only the interior shots are real time video.

Our favorite of these shows tree-lined pedestrian promenades opening into tree-lined avenues as the car nears them. The city opens before you as you drive through in a scene seemingly inspired by the imaginative film Inception. Actor and best-selling author Hill Harper appears in the spot and provides the voiceover. He declares the CT to be, “Just what you need to forge your own path.”

Okay. 42 mpg, got it. presumptuous Green attitude: slightly offensive, but okay. Wedding the the conservation mindset with “enrich, empower, escape” triumvirate was always going to be entertaini- oh crap:

They have also joined forces with Microsoft in an entertainment series entitled, Fresh Perspectives. The documentary series focuses on six artists, each commissioned to create three original pieces in 24 hours, inspired by the themes of Enrich, Escape and Empower.

Why does ‘entertainment series’ sound so purposefully euphemistic, like something one would be subjected to in a prison camp?

Means as Message


The Times returns to a past series on driving distractions to look at LED billboards:

Some cities and states are debating whether to prohibit or regulate this new form of advertising for fear that it can distract drivers and raise the rate of accidents.

new study concludes that there are environmental reasons to avoid digital billboards as well. Digital billboards, which are made of LED lights, consume lots of energy and are made of components that will turn into e-waste once the billboard’s life has ended.

But wait, you ask, isn’t LED lighting quite energy-efficient? True, notes the report’s author, Gregory Young, a Philadelphia-based architectural designer and urban planner. But traditional billboards are lit by only two or three lamps, albeit inefficient ones, and only at night. By contrast, digital billboards have hundreds if not thousands of LEDs, which are illuminated day and night. And LEDs function poorly at high temperatures, so the signs need a cooling system.

This would seem to be the worst of both worlds so, of course: we all want one. Turn your interstate into a lame version of the Vegas strip. Really, it’s another brilliant move by the outdoor advertising industry, who you should assume has all your best interests at heart – they’re looking out for you, just like all the health care companies and financial planning institutions that pay their biggest fees. But even outside of the inherent dangers of looking up from your iPad burrito Four Loko steering wheel and general eco-lessness of these forms of advertising, I’m more concerned about the sort of dull feeling about our surroundings that actually emanate from them, much more strongly than any other intended message. Beaming lights in articulation of a come-in and/or otherwise recognizable logo design is our current version of anti-beauty. And as much as LED billboards seem like some sort of natural evolution of the kind of eye-poison to which we’ve all become so accustomed and accommodating, they’re not. They are their own form of dystopia. I.e., an actual sign of something.

Since some call this the season of beauty, everyone should just take some time and re-load on the most agreeable things you can find. It will help us not be so accepting of these kinds of invasions into our mental space, especially through the pollution of actual space, using actual pollution to do it. Three birds: meet my friend, stone.

Man Power

More like this, please, via Balloon Juice. Six months of networks ads like this and an attitude develops that begins to ruin the old economy and home birth the new one – no meds and maybe a midwife, but a bouncy healthy girl suckling at Mom’s nipple when it’s all said and done.

Objective Annihilation

As objective annihilation passes into more or less likely scenarios dependent on what actions we take – vs. other scenarios (Cold War) which had to take into account the actions others might take against us, we begin to look for signals about how the culture is handling the ‘actions we take’ thing. In the round, it’s largely what this blog is, or should be, about.

Certainly, many now say that terrorists belong to the later scenario outlined above. But their actions have done nothing if not emphasize their belief in the former as the best way to bring western society to its knees.

But whether we’re taking measures to change things, and whether these even measures matter, becomes a matter of great concern, locally but especially to corporate business interests highly invested in selling us things. The perceptions of either might even be considered more important than the answer on both, at least to these larger, multi-tentacled entities.

Which is all to ask, what do people believe about corporate attempts/postures on ‘going green’? Even that term is still evolving, slower than we’d like, of course – we want to see change in 140 characters or we’re convinced it isn’t happening. But it is, maybe becoming more plain and tangible or more insidious, depending on how you brew your cynicism.

But is it still growing, or was it just a fashion and have we seen the zenith of eco-concern? (Annihilation vogue?) This is a real question, pointing to perception beyond the actual events. The hockey stick has been re-confirmed again, for example, but the constant badgering of the fossil fuel confederate right wing has an affect. Most Republicans now believe the president is a Muslim, after all.

The question of ‘do you think it’s working’ confers a much more nefarious kind of survey.

Cranking Up The Wurlitzer

Does a noise machine run on renewable energy?

Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak today released information from BP regarding its spending on corporate advertising and marketing following the April 20, 2010, explosion at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

At the suggestion of Representative Kathy Castor, on August 16, 2010, the Chairmen sent a letter to BP requesting details on the company’s spending on corporate advertising and marketing relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and relief, recovery, and restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

Today the Chairmen sent a letter to Representative Castor, summarizing BP’s response and acknowledging her leadership on this issue.  According to BP, the company spent over $93 million on advertising between April 2010 and the end of July 2010—more than three times the amount the company spent on advertising during the same period in 2009.

This really can’t count toward their expenditures for repair and recovery in the Gulf… can… it? Yikes. Within the single bottom line format, that question is self-answering and probably tax-deductible. I guess there is no difference between advertising and dispersants, between messaging and (lowering the)oil booms, between, well you get the picture. Let’s just re-inforce the frame.

via TPM.