You are on page 1of 1

842 A/THE HUMAN PREDICAMENT: FINDING A WAY OUT

concern over the corporate image with respect to pollu- the population situation by refusing to produce ads
tion was no doubt a necessary first step, but more than featuring large families. Under pressure from population
advertising of environmental protection is required. and women's organizations, some of the obvious changes
Environmentalists have been increasingly irritated by have already been made in ads for many products. Other
self-serving ads showing how Company XX has always ways have been found to promote heavy-duty washing
been deeply involved in protecting the environment. machines than as an item for large families-dormitories,
Those emanating from oil companies—among the great- hospitals, and other institutions use them also, for
est destroyers of the environment—are especially galling. instance. Families with three or more children have
Ads from polluters posing as environmentalists have lately been depicted as large families, and the two-child
been christened "ecopornography." Much more accept- family appears the norm. Women are increasingly fea-
able are ads that offer useful informadon to consumers on tured playing roles other than homemaker and mother,
how they can cooperate with business in environmentally and the convenience of many goods is being stressed
beneficial projects, such as energy conservation or re- more as a value for working women than for the
cycling materials. While we certainly do not condone overburdened mother, as they once were exclusively.
heavy promotion of new versions of products whose This trend should be encouraged.
environmental contribution is negligible or questionable, The critical problem, of course, is to find a way to
such as certain gasoline additives or disposable flash- swing both advertising clients and agencies in the right
lights, we welcome ads that feature genuine improve- direction. While public utilities, for example, could and
ments, such as unleaded gasolines or non-aerosol spray should be prohibited from promoting greater use of
containers. Admittedly, the line dividing such cases is electric power through advertising, similar legal controls
not always easy to draw. over all advertising would undoubtedly prove too
The advertising industry can do much more than it has cumbersome. -fvt (r/i t$ I V c f
so far to encourage its clients to promote products by A court decision in August 1971So held that, under the
stressing such qualities as durability, economy, and ^fairness doctrina radio and television stations that carry
versatility. For example, automobile advertising should advertising for big, high-horsepower cars also must
emphasize economy of purchase and operation, espe- broadcast information about the environmental threat
cially low gasoline consumption, durability, compact- such cars represent. The suit had been brought by
ness, comfort (but not massiveness—interior room can be Friends of the Earth and the Environmental Defense
maintained even as weight is greatly trimmed), engine Fund after the Federal Communications Commission
efficiency, safety, and low pollution emissions. For a time had ruled against such a policy. If it were widely applied,
after the energy crisis of 1974 the trend was in that this^nterpretation of the fairness doctrine might dis-
direction, but by 1976 there was a move back toward the courage jnanufacturers and advertisers fromjjromoting
bad old days. Advertising that stresses large size and high <:nHally_jind environmentally undesirable pjroducts^jo,
power in cars should be permanently discontinued. .date, unfortunately, it has not been widely applied.
Beyond cooperating with clients in antipollution pro- The late 1970s and early 1980s will be crucial years for
motions, advertising companies could by agreement everyone. The business community in the United States
refuse to design ads promoting wasteful or polluting and around the world is faced with a particularly difficult
products—for example, ads featuring throwaway prod- choice. It can continue to pursue the economic goals of
ucts, food in throwaway cans and bottles, or goods the past decades until either an environmental disaster
wrapped in unnecessary layers of packaging. Above all, overtakes civilization or until governments and the
every effort should be made to expunge from advertising public compel a change; or it can actively initiate novel
the idea that the quality of life is closely related to the rate approaches to production and industry, with a view to
at which new products are purchased or energy is protecting the environment, preserving limited re-
consumed. sources, and truly benefiting humanity.
Advertising agencies can also make a contribution to '"Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals.