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EcoAd Platform


CBS Launches Innovative ‘EcoAd’ Platform Across All Media Properties. January 11, 2011 – EcoMedia launched its newest advertising platform this week, dubbed EcoAd, allowing advertisers across all of CBS’s media properties to purchase advertising packages that finance environmental and clean energy projects identified by municipalities and public entities as being both critical and under-funded.

All advertisements running through the EcoAds program will feature the program’s leaf logo, which is meant to provide added value by acting as a “green stamp of approval” for consumers and to communicate which brands are leveraging their advertising dollars to fund social and environmental projects.

Paul Polizzotto, President of EcoMedia, commented: "The power of the EcoAd leaf is extraordinary. When an ad features the leaf, it sends a powerful message to viewers that the brand is committed to both the environment and the communities they serve. In supporting local green projects, they are helping municipalities with needed funding which in turn saves taxpayer dollars and leads to job creation.”

As part of the EcoAd advertising package, EcoMedia will team its advertising clients with projects that meet their community relations "green" objectives. These public-private partnerships will result in the completion of projects such as solar installations, energy efficiency retrofits and the "greening" of schools and municipal buildings, all of which create jobs, save taxpayer dollars and cut carbon emissions.

A promotional campaign educating viewers about the EcoAd Leaf debuts on CBS Television today and the EcoAds themselves will begin airing on CBS channels next week.

Initial Advertisers and partners at the launch of the new program include: Chevrolet, Safeway, O Organics, SunPower Corp., Boston Scientific, PG&E, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Pacific Coast Termite, Port of Los Angeles and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Avidia Bank.

To harness the untapped power of advertising and channel it into tangible, positive environmental change.

Thus the "sustainable media" model was created. And in 2002, EcoMedia was born.

Since then, we've set about refining and executing that approach. For the past eight years, EcoMedia has directed millions of advertising dollars into green school makeovers, municipal energy retrofits, urban reforestation projects, solar, installations at city halls and airports, and cleaner urban waterways.

Our efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2009, we were recognized by the United States Conference of Mayors and given an Award for Excellence in Public/Private Partnerships.

And then things got bigger and better.

In 2010, our acquisition by CBS gave us the opportunity to bring our sustainable media model to a much larger scale, giving us the reach to do more, help more, and be more.

Now, EcoMedia is proud to offer advertisers our newest sustainable media product, a trademarked concept solely ours: the EcoAd.

The EcoAd is a proven, elegant, easy way for companies to deliver to consumers the "something more" they demand. EcoAds gives our clients the ability to transform their traditional advertising into real environmental change, creating jobs, saving taxpayer money, and reducing carbon emissions.

With the EcoAd, EcoMedia brings to market a new kind of offering: advertising that does more for companies, more for communities, and more for the environment.

That's the power of the leaf.


Prior to establishing EcoMedia, Polizzotto founded and served as CEO of Property Prep, an industrial environmental cleaning company aimed at helping clients become environmentally compliant.

Polizzotto has earned many accolades and recognition for his environmental stewardship.

Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Former Governor
"You are an inspiration to our public and private sectors, proving that you can do well and do good at the same time. And you are demonstrating, first in California and now all around the United States, that we can have a clean, healthy environment and a strong economy today and for generations to come."

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.,
Founder & President, Waterkeeper Alliance and Senior Counsel, NRDC
"EcoMedia’s EcoZone program has been one of the best ideas I have encountered to conserve and protect our natural resources...Cities get much needed funds; communities get cleaner water, air and green spaces; and corporations can put their resources to work for the betterment of society. Now as a CBS company, EcoMedia is partnered with a major media conglomerate to take the next logical and necessary step."

Debbie Levin, President, Environmental Media Association
"EMA helps creative companies and people in all forms of media to inspire and educate everyone about the benefits of environmental protection. I think EcoAds can be a similar force for change and an innovative source of new funding to make our communities greener and more prosperous."

Pauline Souza, Partner & Architect, WRNS Studio and Green Schools Advocate for the US Green Building Council
"EcoAd will create tremendous benefits for public schools and their communities. Funding from EcoAd will help schools become greener and more sustainable without placing further burden on taxpayers. At the same time, we’ll actually be able to educate parents, students, and school administrators with the message that, "We can all do better if we work together to make the small changes that have an enormous impact." EcoMedia's green makeover at Rosa Parks School in San Francisco is a great example of that. It had a huge impact on the community just by improving the conditions for one local school."

Benjamin Grumbles, Asst. Administrator for Water, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
"Now one of the most exciting things about EcoZone and the partnership that we're embarking on here is that EcoZone relies on innovation, collaboration and the enthusiasm of corporate America to really help get the job done, maintaining America's economic competitiveness and also getting environmental results."

Jack H. Dunnigan, Former Assistant Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
"That's why something like this is so valuable. It gives everybody an opportunity to be a part of making the world a better place."

More Greenwash from CBS Eco-Ads?

“We are talking about a for-profit program that’s primary value (to the advertiser) is derived by including a “digital green leaf” on an ad and that uses privately held criteria, that receives funding from the sale of the products and that is potentially confusing to consumers.”

So, I want to start by saying that Paul Polizzotto,who among other things was named one of Ecoprenurist.com’s Top Ecopreneurs of 2008 and is founder of EcoMedia which was bought by CBS less than a year ago, is a man with a solid and laudable mission. I would like nothing more than to see this program succeed and become a model for the entire advertising industry.  So, let’s start with what’s right about the Eco-Ad program that launched this week:
Money from the sales of an ad in the program goes to funding environmental projects in a community; (Paul mentioned 10% in a lengthy call with him yesterday.)
They are donating money to credible and experienced environmental organizations.
They claim a 10:1 leverage – where every dollar of advertising is creating 10$ (?) dollars worth of environmental benefit.
They assert that only companies that have proven environmental, social, and governance  performance will be approved.

All good.  I think the mission is terrific. We should do everything we can to funnel corporate advertising dollars to environmental projects.  We should do everything we can to compel companies to engage in CSR when they otherwise wouldn’t (that’s really what this is at it’s core). Right on!

But here’s the problem: Knowingly or not, the CBS Eco-Ad program is another eco-label. CBS themselves call it a “visual digital leaf.” It’s the unintended consequences of the program that are so damning.

So what’s wrong with this ecolabel? GreenerChoices.org (A division of the Consumer Reports) offers this:

Generally, the best eco-labels are seals or logos indicating that an independent organization has verified that a product meets a set of meaningful and consistent standards for environmental protection and/or social justice. In specific:     Meaningful and verifiable: Eco-labels should have a set of environmentally meaningful standards.

Consistent and clear: An eco-label used on one product should have the same meaning if used on other products.

Transparency: The organization behind an eco-label should make information about organizational structure, funding, board of directors, and certification standards available to the public.

Independent and protected from conflict of interest: Organizations establishing standards and deciding who can use a logo should not have any ties to, and should not receive any funding from the sale of certified products or contributions from logo users beyond fees for certification.

Opportunities for public comment: All certification standards should be developed with input from multiple stakeholders including consumers, industry, environmentalists and social representatives in a way that doesn’t compromise the independence of the certifier.

And, according to the FTC:

Eco-Seals, Seals-of-Approval and Certifications:
Environmental seals-of-approval, eco-seals and certifications from third-party organizations imply that a product is environmentally superior to other products. Because such broad claims are difficult to substantiate, seals-of-approval should be accompanied by information that explains the basis for the award. If the seal-of-approval implies that a third party has certified the product, the certifying party must be truly independent from the advertiser and must have professional expertise in the area that is being certified.

The CBS EcoAd program, which is selling to its advertiser the digital green leaf/environmental seal of approval fails in a variety of ways:
EcoAds are not accompanied by information that explains the basis for the award; CBS asserts that a media campaign to educate consumers about the basis of the award is sufficient to avoid consumer confusion. I showed the promo ad three times to my MBA students and they was a general confusion as to whether they ads were portraying a green ad, a green product or a green company.
CBS is not making information about organizational structure, funding, board of directors, and certification standards available to the public. CBS sent me off-the -record benchmarks they use to evaluate a company’s environmental, social, and governance performance; BUT, and here’s the kicker, they explicitly reserve the right to evaluate any company that does not meets its stated benchmarks and sell them ads anyhow. This is how, for example, PG&E and Chevy made the cut. Doesn’t sound ‘truly independent’ to me.
The program is not protected from conflict of interest. Nothing to say here.

Eco-Ad’s response:

“EcoAd service is not a label.”

Hmm…looks like a eco-seal to me…

So, really, you decide.  We are talking about a for-profit corporate ad buy program that’s primary value (to the advertiser) is derived by including a “digital green leaf”  and that uses privately held criteria, receives funding from the sale of the products and is that is potentially confusing to consumers. Greenwash or not?




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