I never thought I'd see Crikey having a go at Earth Hour.
But they have. Thanks, David Salter.
What tends to be forgotten — or deftly sidestepped — is that Earth Hour began in 2007 as a promotional campaign for Fairfax dreamed up by an advertising agency, Leo Burnett (the Earth Hour website now describes this genesis as a “partnership with brand co-owners, Fairfax Media”). The basic idea pitched by the advertising “creatives” five years ago was to cloak the Fairfax broadsheet mastheads with the feel-good moral superiority of joining the Good Fight against global warming while adding to paid sales and making an extra little pot of cash from spin-off custom display advertising. To clinch the warm-inner-glow value of their pitch, the World Wildlife Fund was enlisted as a partner, complete with their heart-tugging little Panda Bear logo.
This was the cynical commodification of concern — flattering readers with a false sense of empowerment while hoping to make a fast buck behind their backs. And it worked. Pledges to participate in the empty gesture of turning off the lights for one hour boomed and Fairfax pocketed a tidy profit from a 56-page colour liftout crammed with conscience advertising largely gouged from energy companies greenmailed into buying space. (There’s been no sign of a similar supplement this year, a measure of how much the corporate world has lost interest in buying environmental brownie points.)