As an employee of a media agency and self-proclaimed environmental activist, I always assumed that I was living a double-life. Perhaps my interests, when combined, created the ultimate oxymoron; on the one hand, tangled in the unforgiving world of big business, and on the other, an unyielding soldier in the fight for social and environmental justice. I continuously struggled with the thought that one could truly be attracted to both for-profit and non-profit missions. Despite strong suggestions from friends and family that the two could be integrated, I had stubbornly concluded that these two were mutually exclusive, and therefore settled for my double-life, as it were. That is, until NBC Universal rocked the boat with "Green Week."
Upon receiving the dish in an industry e-mail regarding the network's renewed project, I was immediately skeptical, as I am with all ventures of this breed. My immediate reaction was that it was a mockery of the environmental movement. How could an affluent entertainment company market environmentalism, and furthermore, would the overexposed capitalist approach damage the grassroots appeal? After some research into the project I learned that NBC is not only marketing the movement in primetime, but practicing what they're preaching behind the scenes, beginning with solar panel installation at the company's movie studios in California, as well as the elimination of all plastic foam from company cafeterias.
As an industry insider, I'm well aware of the negative associations held by the public in regards to advertising and the media industry as a whole, most revolving around the complex idea of persuasion. However, what NBC is referring to as "behavior placement" may somewhat reverse the negativity associated with advertising. The network is hoping, by implementing green themed plots in popular shows as well as eco-friendly commercial advertisers, that viewers will be more likely to adopt more environmentally responsible actions, as well as more likely to purchase products by the same merit.
In two weeks time, 40 separate NBC Universal outlets will feature over 100 hours of green-themed programming, complete with a green network logo. Programming includes an episode of Bravo's in-your-face Millionaire Matchmaker in which a 30-something entrepreneur with an eco-friendly clothing line is set off by his date's taste for red meat.
The incentives for writers and advertisers to create eco-friendly commercials and insert green product placement into shows have exploded. NBC implemented data that shows that consumers are willing to spend more money if the product is socially and environmentally responsible. This led to not only "Green Week" but NBC's own "Green is Universal" corporate campaign, in which the network encouraged eco-friendly brands to advertise on the network. Over 20 million dollars were raised by brands including Soy Joy. While these efforts have increased in the past three years by the network, executives try to steer clear of controversial environmental issues like global warming, by simply promoting general eco-friendly tips like recycling, and other actions that are less likely to cause debate. To top it off, ratings increased dramatically as viewers begin to not only associate environmental responsibility with their favorite programs, but with the NBC network overall. Overall, maybe "Green Week" is another subtle hint that environmentalism has become a mainstream movement. It's good for business and it's good for Mother Nature. What more can you ask for?
The upcoming event, taking place the week of April 19, will be the second of its kind in six months, and the fourth year for the project as a whole, stemming back to November of 2007. One of the network's first editions, then referred to simply as "Earth Week," in 2008 featured famed news show Meet the Press broadcast host Tim Russert grilling presidential candidates on environmental issues. Whereas last fall's featured "Green Week" was most remembered for The Today Show: Today Goes to the End of the Earth series during which the anchors were filmed in Antarctica, Greenland and the equator, where reports were broadcast regarding crucial environmental concerns abroad. Another memorable appearance was Al Gore's unforgettable comedic performance on a 2009 episode of 30 Rock.
Check out the link to peruse a few of the most interesting green-themed plots that will be featured during Green Week 2010 on NBC Universal outlets. My personal favorite is the potential for zany character Dwight from
The Office to be featured as eco-friendly superhero "Recyclops." Green has never looked so cool!