Snow day musings from the Great Midwest

They canceled classes this morning here at Kent State because of the snow. I came to work as usual, and it should be a quiet day. franklinsnow.jpgThis is where I work — our new $21-million home. Where have all the students gone?

Snow days in Ohio remind me of the decade we spent in Buffalo, NY, where harsh winters are the norm and no one makes excuses. It took barely four inches of snow to scrub classes at my mega state university today. In Buffalo we called that a dusting. Anything under a foot of snow was brushed off the streets by morning and the school buses along with commuters hit the pavement on schedule.

You gotta be tough to live in Buffalo. Snow is up to your keester for 4 months each year and sometimes longer. Then there’s the crappy economy, the high taxes and the crumbling infrastructure. And should I even mention 4 consecutive Super Bowl losses? Like I said, the folks in Buffalo are tough, and on days like this I miss them a lot.

A couple more musings before I get to work:

vid_ad_20071226_stakes.jpgThe Democratic debate comes to NE Ohio tonight, and Barack Obama needs a few knockdowns to put this fight away. He may not get them. Polls show Hillary leading Barack by about 10 percentage points in Ohio with voting just one week and a thousand TV commercials away.

obama08_01thumb.jpgMy local newspaper attributes Hillary’s lead to these factors:

First, men in Ohio don’t vote in the same proportion as women. Maybe they’re busy standing in the unemployment line or maybe they’re still brooding over that BCS Championship game. Yeah, I know. Which one?

Second, Ohio has a low percentage of college-educated voters. Let that sink in, OK? It’s doesn’t surprise anyone that Hillary has an edge among women voters. But why is her candidacy more appealing to those with a high school education or less? You tell me.

So, like it or not, my adopted state again sits in the catbird’s seat for a presidential election. That’s a pretty cool thing unless you remember what we did with that same opportunity in November of 2004. I’m still apologizing for it.

greenwashing.jpgColor me green with skepticism over the myriad marketers who suddenly love the planet. As they harangue us with what they’re doing to reduce the footprint, I can’t help wondering where they’ve been the past 30 years. It’s all so disingenuous.

I’m guessing these companies are responding to their research. And I’m certain at least three-fourth of their ad agencies and PR firms are doing the clients’ bidding — you know, business as usual. Who will finally tell them what bullshit these green messages have become?

Desiree Bartoe, a student in my PR Online Tactics class, got me thinking about greenwashing the other day with her post about the greening of the booze business. I linked to it Saturday as well, but hey, she’s a new blogger who can use the traffic.

logo.jpgMy green cynicism was reinforced this morning when I spotted a TV commercial for LubeStop, a chain of quickie oil change centers in my area. I’m pretty certain LubeStop is handling used oil and filters with great care, since the law requires it. But giving themselves a role in maintaining a “green city” on a “blue lake”? That’s a little over the top for a bunch of grease monkeys.

LubeStop is one of many exploiting the nation’s new love affair with green. I single them out today because theirs was the last “green” commercial I saw this morning. They’re no more guilty than the rest.

5 Responses to Snow day musings from the Great Midwest

  1. Corporations are turning green faster than fishermen in a storm. My eye turned to Wal-Mart Canada’s recent “For the greener good” campaign this morning (http://bensprblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/spin-quickie-wal-mart-goes-green.html).

    I’m as much for renewable energy and reduced waste as the next, but I can’t help but feel like the King of Corporations is a little misguided. Presumably, since being green costs money, Wal-Mart is trying to reduce the garbage hurled at them from higher income, small business supporting shoppers who wouldn’t shop at a big box anyway.

    Are companies going to be even greener in the face when they realize that they went environmentally friendly while ignoring the bigger issue with their critics? Would love to hear your thoughts.

    As for the snow…Nova Scotia has already blown through the snow removal budget. Another storm or two and we’ll look like The Day After Tomorrow.

  2. Breeze says:

    This is where I work — our new $21-million home. Where have all the students gone?

    Maybe they’ve gone to use the rest room in a less voyeur-friendly location? 🙂

  3. Bill Sledzik says:

    Breeze: I’ve added a link to your comment to create context for those who missed my “peeing professor” post last fall.

    Ben: I’m envious of anyone who gets regular snow and lots of it. I’m wishing now I were in Nova Scotia. Our blanket in already melting away, a product of the hot air that’s building in Cleveland right now in preparation for tonight’s presidential debate.

    As for WalMart being “green,” let’s remember that Wally is moving more and more into high-end merchandise (electronics, mostly) and seeking to curry favor with a customer base that has a higher income and education level than past targets. Green sells to that market. And Wally know how to sell.

    WalMart also must woo local and state officials if it hopes to continue its expansion. The company’s “bulldozer diplomacy” of old doesn’t play well in the more tony suburban areas. Of course, Wally could be doing the green thing because it’s the right thing to do, but — nah!

  4. Judy Gombita says:

    Going for the green (rather than Snow White, which I’ve had enough of here in the T-Dot this winter, thank you very much), I mentioned to you offline that I was planning on hearing Michael Dell speak at my alma mater this a.m. When asked what were some of the biggest changes to his company over the years, one of the things Michael Dell focused on was the vision for Dell to become the “greenest” technology company on the planet. In addition to their introducing computers with lower Co2 emissions (and they’ve already tracked that their average desktop computer has moved from an energy consumption of $100 a year to $22…which is significant energy/money savings in companies that have multiple Dell units in place), Michael Dell also spoke about the company’s newer (and global) initiative for the responsible retirement of used computer equipment (i.e., free computer recycling of any Dell-brand product, whether or not the consumer is replacing the used equipment with a Dell product).

    He commented that he was genuinely amazed that to date none of Dell’s competitors had made a similar commitment to responsible recycling. BTW, post discussion I found the audio file for the media launch of the recycling initiative here. Plus Dell’s Environmental Responsibility website.

    I’m a pretty jaded audience member when it comes to high-profile speakers…unless they are brilliantly articulate and personable (like Stephen Lewis) or they just ooze authenticity. My take is that either Michael Dell is an amazing actor or his commitment (and that of his company’s) to the environment is very sincere. They are a business selling products, but they also are looking at long-term, global vision of corporate social responsibility, not just short-term business restructuring and goals.

    (And BTW, Dell’s social media channels weren’t at all highlighted; the only mention was that a significant portion of its customer support and crowd-sourcing innovation had moved to the Internet.)

  5. Bill Sledzik says:

    Sounds as though Michael Dell has his company in tune with “green” issues. Kudos to him, and better later than never, I guess. I just hope he doesn’t make “green” a central message of Dell’s branding campaign. I doubt he will, as there is plenty to talk about in his business — that is — plenty of ways to differentiate companies and products. That isn’t the case with commodity products (like oil changes), so companies are constantly scanning the “what’s hot” lists and looking for ways to tie it.

    I’m not listening the to green claims anymore unless they come with hard evidence versus boastful marketing slogans. I hope companies know that performance should precede communication. Dell showed us over the past few years he understands that. The dude listens.

    And as for being “jaded,” join the club. But remember that jade is green!

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