I Am The Lorax, I Speak for the

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Today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday. And I’m pretty sure he’s turning in his grave.

I have fond memories of reading The Lorax to my two boys as we cuddled on the couch. Unlike their other favorite Dr. Seuss books, I liked the fact that The Lorax had a message about conservation and protecting the environment.

When the book was published in 1971, some parents and critics viewed the book as too scary for children. But today, it’s not as common to see such gloomy stories of despair targeted at children and the “go green” movement focuses almost exclusively on positive outcomes to drive revenue. Your soda bottle might tout “recycled packaging!” instead of “This brand will contribute a gazillion pounds of waste to landfills this year…20% less than last year!” When used incorrectly or unethically, this tactic can snowball into greenwashing, defined as using green marketing or PR to deceptively promote a company as environmentally friendly or consciousness. Luckily, people are catching on to the ploy: greenwashingindex.com is dedicated to exposing some of the more shameful greenwashing campaigns, and lauding the more authentic ones.

The Lorax movie opens today complete with a marketing blitz that includes over 70 product tie-ins. With all of this blatant consumerism the movie has come under fire for flipping it’s message from conservation to consumption. This Mazda ad committed a double sin by taking both the Lorax’s name in vain and greenwashing.

If you’re familiar with the Lorax and his stubborn, stalwart ways, it’s safe to say he and his Truffula trees would never speak for the SUVs, even a hybrid one with “SkyActiv Technology,” whatever the heck that means. Does Mazda assume that the public isn’t aware that it contributes to the production of millions of exhaust-pumping vehicles every year manufactured in the same kinds of factories that led to the suffering of those poor Loraxes? Not to mention that in addition to the “green” Mazda CX-5, Mazda also produces a line of SUVs that receive as little as 15 miles per gallon.

But Mazda isn’t the only corporation that has found itself with a public relations problem as everyone from Stephen Colbert to environmental and child welfare groups have decried the movie’s commercialism and called for parents to shun the movie.

Sorry, Dr. Seuss.

Jill Z. McBride
Jill founded JZMcBride & Associates in 1996 to provide marketing, public relations, social media and event planning services and consultation. More than a decade later, the firm serves an impressive roster of consumer, business-to-business and non-profit clients. Jill's contagious energy, personal involvement and extensive industry knowledge infuses every endeavor of the group in order to help her clients grow.

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