Lesser of two evils
An often-used trick from the (greenwashing) playbook is to focus on what has little impact, such as when Dell computers communicate about its recyclable packaging to divert attention from bigger issues such as built-in obsoleteness or recycling of laptops. In one of the ads, Mars is talking about sourcing 50% renewable energy. We’re not talking about carbon-intensive steel or concrete, but chocolate! And you couldn’t make it to 100%?
Maybe you could begin by bringing renewables to your chocolate farmers and their families, who are in dire need of energy security, affordability and reliability?
If you want to attract a young, hip, climate-conscious target group, you could tell them how chocolate farming could change and embrace more regenerative and bio-diverse practices. Or how paying chocolate farmers more secures the natural habitat around them? All climate stories that are more novel and interesting (and pressing).
Choose your media wisely
Instead of producing (oh, sorry, I meant recycling) and running yet another ad, Mars, you could ask yourself a better question: how can you touch people at the right time, place and situation when they’re the most attentive?
You could have written your commitment or achievements on the packaging or told a bigger story about your climate vision. Or you could have communicated this to retailers or other stakeholders (if that’s your primary target group). But why waste any time on this?
Say a water brand wants to share more about its commitments around water conservation, then a reusable water bottle could be a good medium. In general, if you go extensive with your media choice, make sure you have a real, impactful story to share.
All of that said, at least Mars tried and taught us something. And hey, it got the tone of voice right when supplying humour, so it wasn’t all doom and gloom. It felt right for the category. Mars, if your aim was to save emissions, you shouldn’t have done this ad in the first place. I’m recycling my point from the very beginning.