From the well-known “image washing” two marketing techniques or strategies are born, Green Washing and Social Washing. These strategies seek to sell a socially accepted idea of your company or product, when the reality is different from the image they show.
The purpose of these two practices is not to add value to the brand but to grow in sales. This can jeopardize the image of the company and make it more difficult to meet the expected objectives.
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Social Washing, what is it?
Social Washing consists of implementing a “social” marketing strategy with emotional advertising campaigns, when the reality of that company’s values are completely opposite.
These campaigns show the company’s concern in relation to issues such as racism, women’s empowerment or LGTBIQ+ visibility. The link with the cause is usually purely aesthetic.
Companies that carry out Social Washing usually join movements such as #BlackLivesMatter but avoid inclusion and diversity in their teams. They sell a product saying that 20% of the proceeds will go to social causes but the production of the company is based on exploitation to benefit its wealth creation.
In times of pandemic it has been possible to see campaigns that talk about family conciliation when this is not an option for their workers.
Green Washing, what is it?
The term “Green Washing” was born in the 80s, although in the 60s there were already cases of advertising to clean up the image of brands marked for their environmental impact. These practices are a painful transition to a sustainable economy.
As with Social Washing it is a marketing strategy. This consists of showing an ecological, sustainable and environmentally friendly face, when in fact it does not exist.
The Canadian consultancy TerraChoice classified seven ways to identify greenwash under the name “The 7 sins of Green Washing”.
- Sin of the hidden background: a product is sold as “green”, based on limited characteristics and ignoring other important environmental issues.
- Sin of lack of evidence: their environmental propaganda is not backed up with data.
- Sin of imprecision: use of unsocised words that cause confusion.
- Sin of worshipping false labels: using labels that look certified and are actually created by the company itself.
- Sin of “irrelevance”: giving importance to small details that do not have it.
- Sin of the lesser of evils: adding, when not necessary, sustainable characteristics to products that are not sustainable.
- Sin of “lying”: falsifying data, inventing statistics…
How to avoid Green Washing and Social Washing?
As a company you must build trust and a positive image for your audience. If you use unfair techniques, your brand image or your products may be harmed.
Trust is achieved by showing your brand values, putting into practice everything you defend and being honest and transparent with your consumers.