Saturday, 8 December 2007

Who Can You Trust To 'Sell' A 'Green' Message?


It has been reported that marketing consutants Munro and Forster (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/dec/08/recycling.greenpolitics) are advising, although apparently somewhat at arm's length, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) not to use 'turn off' ministers in attempts to convince the UK public about the merits of recycling etc. This is hardly a radical suggestion, as trust in politicians is low and any UK politician will have supporters and antagonists and will only tend to be 'believed' by sections of the population (no doubt, aided or denigrated by a media that shows distinctly varied enthusiasms for such issues). The consultants suggest that DEFRA should pay 'eco-celebs' to advocate 'green' messages. Amongst the individuals they suggest as potential eco-oracles are actor and comedian Stephen Frye, actor and archaeology presenter Tony Robinson, presenter of 'Animal Park' Ben Fogle, BBC news presenter Michael Buerk, former 'Tomorrow's World' presenter Maggie Philbin and 'eco-guru and designer' Rob Holdway presenter of Channel 4's 'Dumped'. Frye seems to be an initial favourite but he advocates Robinson on the basis that he "spends half his life digging up Britain anyway and the other half fending off rude Baldrick remarks about middens and turnips." Munro and Forster are clearly aware that the 'wrong' celebrity would clearly reduce the credibility of any campaign and suggest that "in-depth research" is needed to ensure that no hidden scandal associated with the celeb could damage the launch. I think it is even worse that that. Any 'flagship' celeb is likely to have all their (and their relatives?) actions constantly picked over by a 'scandal' obsessed media in attempts to demonstrate that they are failing to 'practice what they preach'. That would include their travel arrangements, what they are paid, the size of their family etc. Celebs have the problem that, by definition, they do not live 'normal' lives. Although I think it unlikely that one could find a paragon of virtue (with a virtuous family) who could successfully carry out the described role long-term, I would be interested in any other names that people would like to throw into the mix!

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