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Ken Magill

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This is Green!? Seriously!? Pshaww!!

By Ken Magill

Look, I’m all for cynical marketing attempts to capitalize on trends, but what has to be one of the most blatantly cynical ploys in marketing history is the magazine New York House: The Voice of Green Living.

The way it is distributed alone is as about ungreen as marketing gets. I found it in a pile in a local Chinese takeout joint—right next to Auto Shopper, Truck Shopper and the Pocono Real Estate Guide.

Can you say: delivery vehicles chugging throughout the Hudson Valley? Wasted distribution?  Energy-sucking glossy print?

Please understand this piece isn’t meant as an opinion on the current environmental movement one way or the other. The Magill household recycles and composts, but mainly because of pressure from the wife.

My contribution generally amounts to saying things like: “For chrissakes, honey, you’ve got us washing friggin’ garbage.”

In any case, New York House is a real estate advertising rag gussied up as an enviro-advice-and-feature magazine.

Throughout it are ads for homes from the $300,000 range and into the millions, including a Sotheby’s ad for the Storm King golf club in Cornwall, NY for $1.5 million. “Rare opportunity to create a destination restaurant in an upscale setting,” says the ad.

My, how green of them. Who wants to take bets on how much solar heating is used in the million-dollar homes listed in New York House?

To be fair, in the December edition there are some features on supposedly environmentally friendly buildings.

But the piece de resistance is an inside-back-page article by Matt Garrison, director of product strategy at UBS Financial Service Group, where his responsibilities include sustainable investments, according to New York House, and Joanna Black Garrison, who runs New York-based sustainability and consulting firm G-Squared Group.

The article describes the Garrison’s so-called eco-friendly wedding. In the most unintentionally hilarious passage I have read in a very long time, the Garrisons describe how their friends pitched in to put their in-home wedding together:

“It was an amazing and beautiful thing to see. Within a half hour the large wood table on our back deck looked like Mission Control at NASA. Each of our friends had set up their own ‘wedding station,’ with an array of iPhones, laptops, and papers sprawled out everywhere. Five weeks later we hosted a wedding at our home with 60 guests. We did it as green and local as possible…”

Pfffffft!!! Excuse me. Beer just shot out my nose.

A NASA-like array of iPhones and laptops?! Papers sprawled out everywhere? Sixty guests?! As green and local as possible??!!

Are they kidding with this? What: The guests rode yaks to the wedding? Even if they all popped out of a clown Prius, the wedding wasn’t remotely as green as possible.

“As green and local as possible” would involve just four people—the two soon-to-be newlyweds and two witnesses—and the closest justice of the peace reached by bicycle.

Like I said, I have no problem with most cynical marketing—the phrase “cynical marketing” being possibly redundant. And again, the Magill household recycles, but nobody would consider me an enviro-nut. And I certainly don’t begrudge the Garrisons their wedding. It sounded wonderful—just not as green as they would like us to believe.

But New York House’s marketing cynicism is so transparent it’s an embarrassment.

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