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Watchdog Groups Claim CBS ‘EcoAd’ Program Is Greenwashing

Posted 20 April 2011 by Anastasia O'Rourke to Ecolabel News.

CBS Eco Ad LogoSustainable Life Media reports that several groups have petitioned the FTC about the “EcoAd” program created by CBS and EcoMedia as greenwashing that is in violation of the FTC’s Green Claims guide.

The petition centers on the idea that the ‘digital green leaf’ shown in the ads is an ecolabel, and one that could be misinterpreted given the lack of “meaningful or verifiable criteria”. In addition, as a company selling advertising space, CBS could be conflicted in who are awarded the “label”.

The EcoAd program doesn’t itself claim to be a formal ecolabel per se. Participation in the program means that a percentage of revenue that CBS brings in from the ad is donated to local environmental projects.

However, neither the content of the ads, the products or services being sold, nor the companies selling them have to meet any criteria, which is a bit of a problem as many people are could make this inference based on seeing the stamp. In our view, the logo displayed on the ads does look rather like an ecolabel. This, combined with the fact that the program is called a “stamp” indicates a similar concept, i.e. a stamp of approval.

This, along with the Windex Greenlist case, Koh v. S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., will be interesting bellwethers for how the FTC intends their guide to work in practice.