I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot of advertising lately that is attempting to be green or to connect with consumers via social media or create community. Too often, my response has been “REALLY?” The idea is somewhat sound… give consumers what they want and like to get them more involved with your brand. Create some love.  I get it.  The problem is the execution.

Today on my way in, I heard a radio spot for a body groomer for men. The ad highlighted two things: 1) the company will plant a tree for each unit sold and 2) you can go to their website to create an avatar, a virtual shaved you. Honestly, what’s the point? They have a series of humorous videos to both explain the product benefits and drive interest, that makes sense to me.  But the social/green aspect feels out of place.

First, if your brand wants to go green, that’s great. But don’t greenwash. If you go green it needs to be related to your product. So if you plant trees but still use toxic chemicals or kill indigenous plants and birds to make your stuff, that’s no good. How could a body shaver go green? Maybe they could make the product more energy efficient or use a high percentage of recycled plastic in making it. Those would both be relevant. Otherwise, don’t bother.

Second, not every product needs or deserves a community. Using a viral video to highlight benefits, drive interest, etc. makes sense. If it’s cheap and you think it will have any impact, do it. The problem is do I really want to be in a community for a product like this? Do I need an avatar just for me? Does any guy really talk to their friends (or strangers for that matter) about grooming and how they look?  The answer is not really. So while you might think it’s great for your customers to talk to each other about your product or brand, you still need to understand if they’re actually going to do it.

I’ll give some brands like this credit though. They provided a few how-to videos to let guys escape embarrassment and learn about new ways of using the product on their own.

Green and social were new and interesting and have become “expected.” However, as with anything else in life, they’re only worth doing if you do them well.”