Copy Conundrums

By Matt Van Hoven 

We just ran across a story on AdAge about Toyota and saving money by buying a hybrid &#151 or something like that. And though we maybe shouldn’t pick on our fellow journalists (too much) here’s a line from the story that, for some odd reason, caught my attention.

In context of Toyota branching into a the Hispanic market (which apparently accounts for 12 percent of the company’s overall vehicle sales), the author writes, “But research shows an uptick over the last few years in Hispanics’ interest in the environment and Toyota will start manufacturing the sold-out Prius in the U.S. in late 2010.”

Admittedly, this isn’t as much of a copy conundrum as it is a ridiculous sounding marketing tactic (blame=Toyota, not author). We understand that this is how it’s done, but to outright say, “research shows an uptick over the last few years in Hispanics’ interest in the environment” is to say that all of a sudden, an entire group of people just changed their minds about the planet we live on, just started caring, just stopped being wasteful &#151 let’s take advantage of that. OK, so they clearly weren’t that explicit about things, but one could easily come to such a conclusion.

Find out why after the jump.

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What Toyota fails to recognize is the notion that although the carbon footprint of a Prius engine (or other such hybrids) may be significantly lower than that of other power trains, the toll on the environment that’s needed just to produce said vehicle is probably never completely offset by the lowered emissions.

Let me explain it another way. Fiji water spends a lot of time telling us how they offset the carbon footprint of shipping their delicious delicious water (what, it’s from Fiji, it’s goodness isn’t in question here) across the globe by planting trees et cetera. But what about the carbon footprint left by the vehicles used to haul tiny little saplings into some field? How about the footprints of the people employed to plant said trees &#151 they have to get to the place where the trees and saplings are kept &#151 possibly by driving.

Carbon emission offsetting is a subjective art. And though kudos should be given to companies that work to be less harmful, we shouldn’t be so easily convinced that what they’re doing is really that great. Buy a water filter, take mass transit, and start using cash. Right? I mean, come on!