I got a press release yesterday that made me laugh. Not since I received a press release about an organic bottled water company that celebrates their water one PET bottle at a time (read my thoughts on that, here), have I marveled at the stupidity of a marketing department’s targeted choices.

By now, you’ve heard the term greenwashing, right? Basically, it’s a spin on the term whitewashing -- trying to make something seem better, more positive, and shinier than it really is. Greenwashing is trying to make something look greener than it is.

Domino's sent out a press release about “an environmentally friendly” way they are advertising called GreenGraffiti. It seems to me this entire campaign is a textbook definition of greenwashing -- literally.

“GreenGraffiti cleans part of the sidewalk and leaves ads behind,” said Tim McIntyre, spokesperson for Domino’s Pizza. “At first glance, it appears that something’s been painted onto the sidewalks. In reality, we’re just removing dirt and leaving ads behind. Domino’s is one of the first companies to use GreenGraffiti in the U.S. and has added the unique twist of an old-fashioned scavenger hunt for our consumers to have a little fun.”    
Here’s how this “environmentally friendly” campaign works.
  • Domino’s uses a bunch of water to write GreenGraffiti on major city streets, but really only cleans a small portion that ends up forming the shape of their logo and the words Domino's American Legends. The rest of the sidewalk is left dirty.
  • People find these logos, take a picture, and send the picture to Domino's for a free $15 gift card to use on certain products. They are giving away a whopping 250 of these coupons!
  • Domino's hopes that Americans think its company is green because it uses a process that has the word green in it while writing the word American on the sidewalk.
The pizzas they are advertising, the American Legends, are pizzas that are neither being advertised as healthier nor are they using ingredients that have been changed to be better for the environment. So there’s nothing green there.

The GreenGraffiti may not use paint, but it uses a lot of water to clean a very small part of a sidewalk, so there really isn’t anything green there.

There is nothing about this campaign that is going to help the environment. The fact that Domino's is trying to pass it off as if it does help the environment is insulting. When I feel insulted by a company I stop spending my dollars there. I also explain to other people why I feel insulted.

Whose bright idea was it to send this press release to green bloggers? Did the marketing department think we would applaud this? Perhaps they didn’t. The press release says it’s an “environmentally friendly” AND “potentially controversial” new marketing campaign.

At first read, I thought the potential controversy would be about the graffiti and the writing on the streets. But, perhaps not. Perhaps the company is hoping to create controversy within the green media. Maybe I and the many other environmental writers who are writing about this today are doing exactly what Domino's' marketers want us to do.

If pointing out how a company is blatantly greenwashing will help that company, someone please explain to me how that works. 

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