NBC’s Green Week is Here

3p is proud to partner with the Presidio Graduate School’s Managerial Marketing course on a blogging series about “sustainable marketing.” This post is part of that series. To follow along, please click here.

By Ilana Lipsett

Fall TV means: finally new episodes of Parks and Recreation, no longer seeing my football fan friends on Sundays, and NBC’s 5th annual Green Week, scheduled for November 13-20. NBC executives have declared that “Green is universal,” backing up this catchphrase with two weeks a year (the other week is in the spring) of programming that incorporates sustainability-related storylines, Public Service Ads from popular TV figures, cameos by the likes of Al Gore, and ads showcasing green companies or products.

Having just watched Morgan Spurlock’s “Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” I’ve begun noticing product placement more. But it got me wondering – since Hollywood and the entertainment industry elite are a preachy bunch of liberal, global-warming fear mongerers, why isn’t there more green product and behavior placement? Why limit it to two weeks a year on one network and its affiliates?

Much of Hollywood has rebuffed an EPA-funded effort to encourage incorporating behavior placement into movies by “having actors bring cloth bags to the grocery store, recycle soda cans, use worm bins, and consider how to properly dispose of a computer monitor and other electronic waste accumulating in their closets.” I can see the difficulty of weaving computer monitor disposal into a storyline. But recycling? Cloth bags? That’s easy. Even a worm bin mishap could provide perfect fodder for a romantic comedy.

I understand there exists a segment of viewers who are turned off by the very mention of the environment. Their disdain is fed by the unsurprising criticism from the right about the “pernicious promotion” of green principles, and is manifest in online rants from angry TV viewers.

Those critics will always exist, but they’re a very small segment and if they aren’t complaining about green-influenced storylines and products, they’ll find another issue to attack. So if TV execs are willing to be “preachy” during the highly advertised Green Week, why not do it year round?

NBC’s Green Week has attracted upwards of $100 million in ad revenue for the network from companies who want to be associated with all things green. Subaru has been sponsoring Green Week since 2008, and for last year’s ads alone, they are rumored to have spent $10 million. Their investment paid off heavily: NBC’s numbers show that viewers who saw last year’s Subaru’s ads were a whopping 64% more likely to remember the ads if viewed on NBC during Green Week versus another channel. The associative link indicates that consistent messaging of Subaru’s green credentials with NBC’s explicit green programming had a profound impact on the minds of viewers.

Lately NBC has not exactly been hurting for ad revenue, but $100 million from two weeks worth of sustainability programming is no small drop in the bucket. Green Week is a financial win-win for both NBC and advertisers. So if NBC is serious about going green, and can profit from it, why not make sustainability a part of its regularly scheduled programming?


Ilana Lipsett is an MBA candidate at the Presidio Graduate School.

5 responses

  1. Ilana-
    We are working to change all that. Please check out our website. We’re a brand new emerging upstart media product placement company who seek to place and promote green, sustainable, socially enterprising and/or local entrepreneurial brands in television shows and feature films.
    We’re just getting started, but are already doing some pilot placements in a new major cable network show.
    The idea grew out of an online conversation on TED.com in the spring, between myself and Morgan Spurlock while he was promoting “Pom Wonderful”. He very much supports and believes in our venture. We’d love to talk to you about this more!
    Cheers, Beth from GPP

  2. Another important question to ask is what is NBC and its employees doing in their own business operations to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases and make their day to day operations more sustainable? Are they powering their energy intensive studios with solar power and are they switching to LED lights? Do their office buildings have green roofs? Are they conserving water throughout their divisions? What are their corporate wide recycling practices? If you’re not walking the walk yourself as a company then showing actors doing it in sitcoms seems pretty hypocritical and ineffective.

    1. Although everyone knows that movie and tv making are extremely wasteful businesses, according to EMA, the Environmental Media Association, all the major studios have departments of sustainability these days.
      Reel Green Media says that many studios have begun to incorporate solar panels and green roofs into their studio complexes and many have individual production iniatives to do things like compost food waste and recycle.

      Still,there’s a long way to go….

      1. Now here we are two years later and NBC’s “Green is Universal” remains ineffective window dressing. Even worse, NBC is doing a very poor job of reporting the climate reality. The EMA’s goals are too weak and do not have the necessary sense of urgency our climate situation calls for. The entertainment industry needs to lead on this issue and not lag. There’s no excuse for playing the stenographer’s role as they do today.

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