It looks like the folks at NBC Universal (owners of eight television channels, Universal Pictures, and more) have gotten bitten by the green bug. This week is the beginning of NBC’s “Green is Universal” campaign, with a seven days of green-themed programming “aimed at entertaining, informing and empowering Americans to lead greener lives.” All of the major NBC programs seem to be on-board; for example, the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” has a green wedding, and the characters on “The Office” (set in a paper company) weigh the benefits and costs of using recycled paper. Even local NBC news stations are getting in on the act.
Green Week will no doubt rankle some critics as, variously, being too commercial, not green enough, not serious enough, not entertaining enough, or whatever. Says Lauren Zalanick [president of Bravo Media, who heads NBC Universal's Green Council]: “We’re going to be under a microscope. We’re going to plead for a lot of attention, and we’re going to get it, and we’re really going to try to do everything right. What I hope is that the shoutdown of our perceived imperfections doesn’t scare anyone else from trying to do it.”
Viewed in its entirety, NBC Universal’s approach, imperfections and all, strikes me as a substantive — and welcome — contribution from the mainstream media: a synergy of internal programs to reduce the company’s footprint and engage its employees and talent, with an external focus on the company’s massive, hydraheaded audience reach. And to do so in a wide range of styles, voices, and depth. One internal document positions the approach as “hopeful, empowering, and pragmatic, not moralistic or preachy.” Sounds about right.
Joel’s full piece is worth the read. What do you think? Is this yet another attempt at “greenwashing” by a large corporation? Is it crass and shallow? Or is it on the right track?