Consumers Invited to Put Ads to Greenwashing Test

Green ads from Chevrolet, Ozarka and Toyota Prius are among the first to be scrutinized by consumers on a new Web site launched by EnviroMedia Social Marketing, in partnership with the advertising faculty of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC). This online forum allows consumers to judge for themselves the green claims made by major advertisers.

The Web site ( debuted one day before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) kicks off its first in a series of public workshops addressing environmental marketing claims. Ultimately, the FTC may update its "Green Guides," which were originally established in 1992 as guidelines to avoid action by the agency against advertising with an environmental claim that is unfair or deceptive.

EnviroMedia principals Valerie Davis and Kevin Tuerff announced the Greenwashing Index(SM) from the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, Dec. 11, 2007, and called on consumers to submit ads. The first posts of real ads are now on the Web site, and consumers are invited to score those ads and post others.

"We've been witnessing a tidal wave of green advertising over the past year," said EnviroMedia President Kevin Tuerff. "It's our hope the Greenwashing Index(SM) will help eradicate bad environmental marketing claims and, at the same time, shine a positive light on companies making measurable reductions in carbon emissions related to climate change."

"Greenwashing," a term that has been around for many years, is used to describe a company or organization that spends more time and money claiming to be green through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact.

"When an ad is posted and ranked on the Greenwashing Index(SM) site, it doesn't necessarily mean a company or organization is not doing a good job with its environmental marketing claims," said EnviroMedia CEO Valerie Davis. "We're providing a venue that educates consumers on what to look for in green ads and an easy mechanism for evaluating them. Scores will range from 'good,' to 'pushing it,' to 'total greenwashing.'"

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