2.2
May 25, 2010

Pepsi to Greenies: “How much for the conscience?”

Update: now the White House is helping Pepsi out!

Ideals for Cash?

A Rant inspired by a $20 Million Ad Campaign—and by a Ballsy Green Blogger who isn’t Swallowing It:

From comments by myself and others on Anna Brone’s pro-Pepsi blog on elephant (this forum is about dialogue, not partyline):

“I’m reading a great book called Baked In right now that’s all about the brand and message and marketing being an organic expression of said product, not an apology or hyped manifestation of such. Meaning, if Pepsi made its drinks less horrible for children, that would be real generosity.”

“Perhaps they should fund anti-childhood obesity programs that would undo 1/1,000,000th of what they do, day to day, every day, night and day. Instead, they share a little blood money with cool blogs like Good, or Intent.com, which otherwise wouldn’t be partnering with such a questionable behemoth.”

“$20 Million for Pepsi is lunch money and the ‘core to its identity’ that GOOD’s Ben Goldhirsh is speaking of is simply Pepsi seeing the marketing value of dropping some “coin” into the do-good side of social media. The exposure on Hulu, AOL and MTV is a surefire way for Pepsi to temporarily erase the damage they have done to millions of people globally pushing water+sweetener+chemicals…Now I am always a glass half-full kind of guy so I sincerely hope that there has been an executive management change and environmental epiphany inside Pepsi…If Pepsi can show the world that their “Identity” has changed through more that a green-marketing-giveaway then I will be an avid supporter.”

“What’s interesting is where the money comes from: the average Joe who wouldn’t give a damn about anything ecological/social etc. indirectly pays a tribute to a better world. Long overdue, the big brands need to rediscover philanthropic values. It would be nice to see more of these initiatives growing into what could become a better place, one soft drink at a time.”

~

I want to buy your Conscience. How much for the Conscience!? Sell it to me!

Zen Koan: What’s greener, a tree or an ad campaign?

They throw cash at sustainability-focused blogs, and greenies grin.

I just got done watching an old 80s movie with Richard Gere starring as a Class A sell-out who used to care about politics and integrity but now, as a political operative, just cares about making a buck. And he makes lots of bucks. The whole movie revels in his sharp suits, his flying around in a private jet, his fancy office with a lit-up floor and built-in-shower and his built-in-office-affair with his secretary.

Then, predictably, this bad man has an awakening…he makes like Jerry McGuire and, with millions in the bank, redeems himself in the last half hour.

I’m sick of it. I’d rather watch a movie about my mom, who’s done the right thing all her life. Even if she lives in a cute one bedroom apartment and doesn’t have much, she’s happy, and more importantly perhaps makes many others truly happy.

It’s been my personal philosophy, which I’m intent on proving, that we no longer have to make such a choice. We can get rich and change the world—and ourselves!—for the better. We can do well because we do good, not despite it.

But, still, our society is built around success. Money. As Scarface said, first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the woman. Excuse my French, but fuck it.

There’s a new paradigm in town.

Companies who make billions, literally, by spreading dis-ease and then give back in the form of tax-breaks-made-into-foundations, fuck it.

One serving of Pepsi and Coke or flavored “milk” has more sugar and fat than a child ought to be taking in, each day…but then these very same companies make a “Dream Machine” and throw some ad money at green and spiritual blogs and…see the publicity flow. Fuck it.

*Now, to be clear, I don’t have a big problem with these blogs taking ad money from questionable sources. I’ve always proudly said, “If Hummer wanted to advertise, I’d take their money—as long as we were allowed to insult them and their ad the whole time. My readers are adults, they’re no fools, they can decide for themselves what’s what. Media needs money to survive.” It’s the positive editorial, the articles, that I have a problem with. Editorial has to be sincere. It’s tough to be honest about a friend’s company, or a sponsor—but we have to do it.

elephant journal dot com deserves to exist beyond June 17, 2010, for one simple reason. We’ve found the secret to new media success: it’s called integrity, which breeds loyalty. While we may post on sexiness and controversy and funny stuff and inspiring stuff, like every other traffic-hungry blog, it’s not what we’re about.

We’re about making the tough decisions behind the scenes and doing the right thing when no one’s looking.

That’s why, after seven and a half years of publishing elephant, first as a magazine and now as a web site, and after four semi-serious offers for investment, I’ve (barely) managed to turn each one down, and stay independent. That’s why we went online in the first place—not because we weren’t making money as a magazine—we were, it paid for my mortgage and my staff and my office and my car—but because distributing a national magazine is hypocritical, from a karma- or eco- point of view.

So we took one step back, and I’ve lost two years of my life rebuilding ele online. On August 11, I’ll lose my house (unless I borrow some dough). But there’s plenty of good news: many of you, our readers, have stepped forward to voluntarily pay for the content you enjoy. Many of our writers, even more remarkably, have done the same (I should be paying them, you know—and will when we break even).

But the story that is our brash, silly experiment in walking our talk as an eco-responsible business isn’t over. It’ll be over on June 17. That’s the date my business loan runs out, and this new media vessel either sinks, or swims.

It’s up to you.

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