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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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“Greenwashing or Not: Palmolive Eco+ Product Analysis”

 “Greenwashing” in the United States has come under massive criticism as an unethical practice that breaches the legislative marketing policies with a high potential of causing health consequences among consumers. Advertisement labels using ‘green washing techniques present overrated eco-friendly environmental benefits and superior green health benefits. According to statistics from Terrachoice, there has been a tremendous increase in the companies applying the PR marketing strategy to mislead consumers (Dahl, 2010). A total of 2,219 products were found guilty of ‘greenwashing,' an increase of 79% from the previous two years ("Greenwashing Report 2007 | The Sins of Greenwashing: Home and Family Edition," n.d.). At present, 98% of eco products bear a significant degree of ‘greenwashing, a fact that Scot Case suggests is as a result of vague legislative frameworks on greenwashing. Commercial advertising has highly escalated the problem, and the absence of strict penal codes by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) further worsens the condition. This essay will critically examine Palmolive Eco+ washing detergent advert and conduct a product analysis to determine whether or not the product “Greenwash” consumers. Precisely, identify whether the products claims of being eco-friendly are justified to consequently show that Palmolive Eco+ advert is an example of the products guilty of green washing PR marketing strategy. Not only are the products highly overrated in the advertisement but also bears a significant potential risk for consumers.

Green Guide codes currently used by the FTC developed in 1992 and updated in 1998 tries to exhaustively protect consumers from ad claims that lack substantiated evidence proving their environmental sustainability based on carbon-offset levels, production using renewable materials and packaging with green materials that are recyclable. The commission's director in 2008, Laura De Martino argues that the guidelines state that only products that meet these standards qualify as being advertised as green products (Egbon, 2016). Further, she adds that environmental advertising should be used to enhance consumers' awareness on an individual product supported by the evidence of its ingredients, potential benefits, and packaging materials. On the contrary, Palmolive Eco+ dish washing detergent only uses the term “eco” on the lower part of its product as shown in the ad label below without stating its ingredients.

As mentioned in the Green Code regulations, natural ingredients are one of the requirements to indicate the eco-friendliness of products. In the view of this matter, Palmolive is ultimately greenwashing. The natural fragrances stated in the advert lacks supporting evidence of ingredients to show that it is natural. These claims, therefore, are substantiated. Also, the dish washer detergent contains chlorine but instead uses the term “eco” to fool consumers that they are buying a natural washing solution while in reality it is manufactured using chlorine. Chlorine is a known toxic substance both to users and the environment. From the users, health perspective, Chlorine is known to cause cardiovascular complications, asthmatic conditions and also emphysema (Key & Scott, 1986). Therefore, based on these facts any substance that contains chlorine such as Palmolive Eco+ does not qualify as an eco-friendly product. It puts users at a risk if not used handled as a healthy eco product. Chlorine products should be treated with extra care to ensure that the users to do not expose themselves to the risks associated with improper handling of chlorine products.

On this note, it is accurate to state that Palmolive Eco+ dish washer detergent is one of the products using the “Green” PR marketing label to appeal to the public but in essence is not eco-friendly. The products require special handling, in particular among unsuspecting users. Chlorine is also a known environmental air pollutant in the immediate environment it is used. According to environmental specialists on air pollution, Chlorine especially when used indoors can have adverse effects on the users (Key & Scott, 1986). Palmolive Eco+ dishwasher detergent is meant to be used in kitchen environments that are mostly, indoors and this is a huge environment air pollution threat. Additionally, dishwashers emit a lot of steam when in use and potentially chlorine quickly vaporizes under heat. Evidently, Palmolive Eco+ should not be marketed as an eco-friendly product. On the contrary, it should handle with care by users, and they are supposed to make aware of the hazard risks of using the products indoors to clean dishes. This information should be displayed on the product and users should be aware of this fact to take the necessary measures. It ensures that they do not fall victim of the chlorine effects of the highly toxic chlorine substance contained in Palmolive Eco+.

The attempts of the product manufacturers to advertise the product as eco+ in the commercials and the sticker labels are unscrupulous. They hide the fact that Palmolive Eco+ contains chlorine bleach for cleaning the dishes by substituting “Chlorine Bleach” with Eco+. This is misleading to potential buyers because it is not safe or environmentally friendly to use like other legitimate eco products that do not contain chlorine bleach as shown in the evidence above. In summary, Palmolive Eco+ promotes its product as green without any proof, they remain vague on the specifics of what makes it “Green” by using endorsements of green organizations using fake labels and in the packaging perspective insert false labels to show the consumers they are green without including the evidence that supports the claims.

Palmolive Eco+ is harmful to the environment in that it contains chemicals that potentially contaminate the water, air and if the dishwashing water comes to contact with the earth, it may increase its acidity levels hence polluting it. Eco-friendly products should pose such threats to the environment and should instead promote a healthy environment. Also, the poor ingredients disclosure attest to the fact that in a way it has aquatic pollution capacity due to the chlorine components. It also contains Sulfuric acid that is highly cancerous and potentially leads to allergies and respiratory irritations that cause cancer ("185. Assessment of Health Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Low Levels of Chlorine," 2006). Benzene and Sodium Hypochlorite, other known ingredients of Palmolive Eco+ is known to cause endocrine organic developmental effects on users. On the other hand, Sodium Polyacrylate stimulates biodegradation while Zinc Chloride acutely toxifies aquatic life. The evidence presented in the product research overwhelmingly shows that Palmolive Eco+ is harmful to the environment. Essentially, this is the main reason for the poor ingredient disclosure, and the use “Eco” is only used to drive up sales of the product among unsuspecting buyers.

In conclusion, as the evidence of this essay shows, Palmolive Eco+ is not an eco-friendly product and therefore qualifies to be classified as a form of “Greenwashing advert” of the many products marketed using false labels to stimulate high sales. There is no evidence supporting the claims of the manufacturer, and therefore the “Eco+” name tag should be scrapped from the product.

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