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Clorox Mocks ‘Ridiculous Green’ Consumers

You don’t have to be ridiculous to be green, according to Clorox.

The company’s Green Works brand of cleaning products has launched a new marketing campaign with digital ads and interactive elements poking fun at eco-fanatics and attempting to make “eco-friendly people friendly again.”

According to Green Works brand manager Shekinah Eliassen, the campaign says “green is for everyone,” not just the rich. She says the company’s cleaning products support this message by being priced comparable to non-premium traditional cleaners and by being sold at mainstream retailers.

You Don’t Have to be Ridiculous to be Green print ads and new Green Works packaging will follow this spring.

The Clorox campaign follows a survey commissioned by the company, which found that women think it’s trendy to be environmentally conscious, and say they feel more pressure to be green (39 percent) than skinny (29 percent).

KRC Research conducted the survey of 600 women.

Some 51 percent of respondents said “green is the new black,” and that throwing recyclables into the trash is the green faux pas that makes them feel the most judgment.

Ninety-three percent of women in the survey agreed that being environmentally friendly should be accessible to everyone. Meanwhile, 63 percent said affordability increases green products’ accessibility more than any other factor, and 59 percent agreed with the statement, “I introduce environmentally friendly practices only when it is practical given my lifestyle.”

Clorox first started selling its Green Works cleaners in 2008, with great fanfare and a Sierra Club endorsement. As of 2011, however, sales had fallen from about $100 million to $60 million a year. Shortly after the brand’s launch, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus told Clorox to clarify in its advertising that Green Works products work as well as traditional cleaners, but only when it comes to most soils.

In 2011, Clorox became the first company in its industry to disclose preservatives and dyes in all US and Canadian cleaning, disinfecting and laundry products. Last year, however, Clorox cleaning products were among hundreds that received failing grades in an online safety and disclosure guide published by the Environmental Working Group.

Clorox reduced its normalized greenhouse gas emissions by 4.2 percent in 2011, according to the company’s most recent sustainability report.

A 2011 report by OgilvyEarth found that 73 percent of Americans would choose an environmental product from a mainstream brand, such as Clorox Green Works, over a product from a specialty green company, such as Seventh Generation. It also found that the biggest barrier holding Americans back from green purchases is money.

The same year, brand consulting firm BBMG published research saying brands can no longer rely on “dark green,” hyper-ethical consumers to drive the growth of sustainability, but must engage a broad swathe of consumers making up 30 percent of the market. 

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7 thoughts on “Clorox Mocks ‘Ridiculous Green’ Consumers

  1. Not the best headline, makes it appear that Clorox is mocking green consumers as “ridiculous”, which is not the case. That was my thought at first glance.

  2. Excellent article. I have seen anecdotally, as well as through surveys, that a large swath of Americans brand being “green” as something for the rich or for “hippies”, a code word for meaning people with sensibilities different from them. Rightly or wrongly. This has to change for environmentalism to grow and really become mainstream.


  3. It’s sad that people are more likely to act due to peer pressure than doing the right thing. But keeping that in mind, it’s good news that sheep people think green is “trendy.”

    I also wish we could break the misconception that you have to spend a lot of money to be green. Yes, to buy green cleaners and organic cotton clothing you might. However, some of the greenest things you can do are some of the cheapest–and done by our grandparents. Things like making your own cleaners, in reusable bottles, turning the heat down, riding a bike, reusing everything possible, making your own everything possible, hanging the wash.

    Too bad that overconsumption is so trendy. Overconsuming green products isn’t very green either.

  4. Hmmm. Long before green was cool, I ran a green cleaning service (nontoxic plant-based cleaners, and non-disposable tools). Mainstream moms rang my phone off the hook to hire me. When I asked what interested them in my service, it was always about providing a safe environment for their kids, and my cost-effective method. Environmentalists showed no interest in my service until green went mainstream.

  5. Right idea, just poorly, poorly executed.

    Clorox’s theme – which does seem to imply that green consumers are somehow “ridiculous” — is pretty much the antithesis of what they hoped to achieve: making responsible, environmentally-friendly purchases the norm and more mainstream. This is not achieved by implying that green consumers are ridiculous.

    Perhaps a better strategy would have been to communicate that Clorox believes everyone should have access to healthier products AND that they’re willing to drop their prices to make that happen. Instead they chose to execute an ad that seems to mock those who are currently making those choices. Too bad, a missed opportunity for them.

  6. Unfortunately a bad marketing plan and poor disclosures impacted a product platform that had potential. I think the true feelings of clorox are reflected in the overall message (or missed opportunity) as highlighted by some other posters. Once again a brand “may” show another example of misunderstanding the market. Consumers are more savy and more cynical than traditional business understand.

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