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November 04, 2007


Mark McElroy

Hi Joel:

This will, indeed, be interesting to follow. So many questions to answer. Like how can a company that utterly relies on unsustainble consumerism, via advertsing revenues, possibly undertake a sustainable course? Will they forswear all advertising that encourages consumers to consume unsustainably, or producers to produce unsustainably?

And what about their social footprint? If NBC cares so deeply about their social impacts, why are they restricting their efforts to only environmental (aka, "green") issues? Has anyone explained the meaning of sustainability to them -- as in that there are multiple non-financial bottom lines, not just environmental ones?

And last, exactly what approach will GreenOrder be taking to perform that comprehensive "environmental footprint" (oops, there's that missing social dimension again)? How do we know that what GreenOrder will be doing will have anything to do with actually assessing the sustainability of NBC, and not just evaluating its recycling or energy usage habits? Is there real rigor going on here, or is it just the usual attempts by a company to bask in the halo effect of green superficialism?

Indeed, is there any generally accepted definition of "green" out there, or do we all get to define it in anyway we like? So far every definition or usage of the term "green" that I've ever seen arguably has nothing to do with sustainability, and instead actually undermines it as if it does. So which part of that, and the prospect of another big company like NBC adding fuel to it, are we supposed to feel good about? Perhaps NBC could do us all a big favor this week and answer that question.



Chris Hansen

Joel, great comments here. Are we seeing the greening of major corporations with NBC leading the way, or is it more corporate greenwashing? You pose some thoughtful questions. We'll see. I took the liberty of commenting further on my blog: marketgreener.com. I've been a fan for a while and I'm glad I can now join the conversation.


Hi Joel,

Thank you for this enlightening article. We were contacted by NBC universal recently and they wanted to do something with our new "green" ATV prototype, I hadn't heard of their "green week" initiative, now it makes perfect sense! Thanks for tying it all together!

Thank you,
Melissa Brandao
barefoot motors

Christopher Haase

Nice piece and comments on the Green media frenzy NBC has put together.

The new NBC site and coverage look "green", but smell "brown" to me.

I am never absolutely sure why they do or start these campaigns when they do.

Global warming has been serious PBS and government content for over three decades.

Timely covered by NBC ONLY when it is marketable and profitable.

I would also love to be cynical about the whole thing... but,
I believe people are smarter than the "green" facade NBC is hiding behind.

And after all is done, a few who watch will take the important sustainable issues to heart and continue to protect our future.

Thanks again Joel,


David Fox

In May this year, Murdoch committed News Corp to being carbon neutral by 2010:
and it sounds like they're taking action:
Competition for the greenest media company? Bring it on!!
(Of course as Mark rightly points out in the first comment, there is a lot more to being sustainable...)


It is official! NBC has gone over the deep end. I guess the next step is for them to change their name to the DNC-BC. This way everyone will know that NBC supports a political party versus the truth.

What is the truth? We do not know why the planet is warming. We do not even know if the planet is warming. The planet Earth has been hotter in the past than it is now. The Earth goes through cycles of heating and cooling. The computer models that are predicting the crisis cannot even predict what the weather will be in 10 years or what the weather was like 10 years ago so why are we relying on them to predict the weather 100 years from now.

Change the channel! Save your brain!


NBC being green? NBC doesn't fart without GE saying it can do so. This whole directive is about making money for GE. Jeff Immelt says it's good to be green because it makes some green for it's stakeholders. (full discloser - I am a GE stakeholder). Why not add to this story and talk about the green projects that are available and in the works at GE. Only then will you understand why it's green week. If it wasn't a money maker would they still be so green? Not likely, as the saying goes, it's not easy being green.


As a graduating student from the GreenMBA program at Dominican University I find it interesting that a number of people go out of their way to point out that NBC wouldn't be doing this if it weren't going to be profitable. Well Duh, they are a for profit corporation, what could be more obvious. I think what is actually interesting is that NBC and GE are finally beginning to realize that green is the future, and sustainability is profitability.

Jason Gingold

Lots of good dialogue here.

I think at this juncture, any major media company that makes an effort to stir and steer the conversation must be lauded. And so I doff my cap to them.

That being said, I too must admit my own skepticism with Green Week. I think the proof would have been in the aftermath (as you've pointed out "what comes next"). If Green Week kicked off a new commitment to deeper rooted policies and procedures for NBC/Universal, I think there would be a higher mark on the report card. I'm not suggesting integration of a green platform into all future plotlines of programming, but an internal commitment to tout and talk about. Lead the way by taking a walk down that road, rather than settling for letting others know the road exists.

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