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Tomorrow is Dr. Seuss’ Birthday. Typically this day is celebrated in schools with children wearing [amazon_link id=”039480001X” target=”_blank” ]Cat in the Hat[/amazon_link] hats as part of Read Across America. This year, the new Lorax movie will be released on this day.
About a month ago, I was approached to write a compensated post on the movie’s release. I agreed, as I love the book [amazon_link id=”0394823370″ target=”_blank” ]The Lorax[/amazon_link]; however, I had some reservations after viewing the trailer. I went ahead with the post, hoping that the mainstreaming of the movie would bring across the Lorax’s message to a wider audience.
Apparently, I was right, only this time the conservation message has been turned into one of consumption via 70 Lorax product endorsements.
Dr. Seuss was motivated to write The Lorax because of “his frustration at the overconsumption he found in his community”. Now, this very story is being used to for branding 70 different products. GreenBiz.com writes:
I moderated a panel last week in Washington for HP, one of about 70 companies, nonprofits and government agencies selected as sponsors for the movie, and I moderated another on Tuesday afternoon in San Francisco. That got me thinking about how dramatically business has evolved in the last four decades — although obviously there’s much more to be done…
The panel in DC last week featured executives from HP, Seventh Generation (another sponsor), WWF and the Forest Stewardship Council, all of whom agreed that we’re messing with the earth in unsustainable ways that need to stop. But they are working together to attack some unsustainable practices.
For example, HP, WWF and the FSC are all trying to persuade more companies and consumers to buy FSC-certified paper to protect today’s equivalent of Truffula Trees. Only about 10% of the world’s forests are certified as sustainable in any way, Etienne McManus-Smith of FSC told me…
Seventh Generation, for its part, has pioneered environmentally friendly cleaning products,and it has set standards for transparency when it comes to ingredient disclosure. But Chris Miller, who leads the company’s sustainability work — he joined after a stint as a climate campaigner at Greenpeace — says the entire green cleaning category represents less than 10% of cleaning products. Maybe putting the Lorax on the package of Seventh Generation products will broaden their appeal. We’ll see.
Other sponsors of the movie have strong environmental cred, among them the EPA, Whole Foods Markets, Stonyfield Farms’s YoKids brand in the US. (Here’s a list.)
Then there’s IHOP (huh?) and the sponsor that’s drawing the most negative flack, Mazda, which calls itself“the first and only carmaker to receive the honor of the Truffula Tree Seal of Approval.” The company has created a TV spot showing the 2013 Mazda CX-5 small crossover SUV travelling through the “Truffula Valley.”
There are some truly green companies on the list of Lorax endorsed products, but really, do they need Universal Studios stamp of approval? Hardly. Their own ethical standards should be enough.
Honestly, I lose all respect for the Lorax when I watch this commercial.
The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood explains it well:
For more than forty years, Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax has been a clarion call for conservation. Generations of children have been moved by its powerful tale of how rampant greed and consumerism destroyed the forest of Truffula Trees and the Brown Bar-ba-loots, Swomee-Swans, and Humming-Fish that depended on them. But now the book’s powerful message is in danger of being crushed by a real-life landslide of corporate greed.
This Friday, Universal Pictures’ The Lorax arrives in theaters—with dozens of corporate tie-ins. While the story teaches children to conserve the earth’s finite resources, these heavily advertised partnerships compel them to consume, consume, consume.
Read the book with your children. See the movie if you must. But tell the corporations that have kidnapped the Lorax you want nothing to do with:
- The new Mazda CX-5 SUV—the only car with the “Truffula Seal of Approval.”
- Seventh Generation household products and diapers festooned with the Lorax.
- IHOP’s kids’ menu items like Rooty Tooty Bar-Ba-Looty Blueberry Cone Cakes and Truffula Chip Pancakes.
- In-store promotions featuring the Lorax at Whole Foods, Pottery Barn Kids, and Target.
- Online Lorax games and sweepstakes for YoKids Yogurt, Comcast Xfinity TV, Target, IHOP, and HP.
- HP’s “Every Inkling Makes a Difference” in-school curriculum produced and distributed by Scholastic.
I feel like I sold out Eco Child’s Play writing the compensated post. I hope, dear reader, you will forgive me.