by Michael dEstries
Categories: Film/TV.

The premiere for Pixar’s new animated adventure, Wall-E, went down last Friday in LA and was received with positive reviews. There’s no doubt that the studio known for such hits as Monsters, Inc., and Toy Story has another hit on its hands. What is interesting to note, however, is that they may have ventured into territory that for the first time will find them being criticized for not carrying their “movie lessons” into the real world.

The basic premise for Wall-E is that the earth has been trashed by over-consumption, consumerism, and envrionmental degradation. Humans have long left in search of other planets to colonize — while leaving robots to tend to their waste. I won’t delve any further, but let’s just say that love — and love for the earth — are two of the main themes.

According to CHUD writer Devin Faraci, it’s the latter that may end up proving ironic. Amidst the hundred or more movie tie-ins he had to witness as part of a marketing sales pitch, the only environmentally-friendly item the “PRbot” could point out was a post-consumer Wall-E branded Kleenex box. As Faraci pointed out,

“Every environmental group will beg you to avoid Kleenex, since they’re wiping out Canada’s Boreal Forest to give you a place to blow your nose, so the Kleenex connection is f**king pathetic in itself for a movie that trumpets taking care of the environment.”

Even worse, when the author asked if there was anything else green, the PR rep became “flustered.”

How is this possible? In a time when we now expect due diligence behind the scenes, as well as in front when it comes to promoting environmental themes — how is it that nobody thought to include a percentage of marketing tie-ins with green credentials? Worse — how does one not expect to receive questions of this kind amidst plastic Wall-E action figures, Wall-E branded clothing and bed sets and drapes?

Faraci points out this sad truth in his intrepretation of Pixar’s marketing strategy:

“Hey kids! The Earth is important, and we should protect it. Remember this by buying lots of bad for the environment Wall-E plastic objects! Also, it’s bad to sit around and eat poorly – you should enjoy the world around you! You can remember this by buying the Wall-E video game, or any of the Wall-E action figures! And also, following advertising is for suckers, and you should have an independent mind. Prove how independent you are with your new Wall-E clothes!”

What a missed opportunity. Check out the rest of Faraci’s fantastic article here.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • jerseycajun

    I think (not having seen the film yet, of course) that one must distinguish ordinary consumption from overconsumption. One is to buy things out of need for constructive purposes, the other, simply to have things, often in quantity. If this is simply the message of the film, then there need be no contradiction.

    Blankets and clothing all serve a useful function. The fact they feature Wall-E means it becomes a decorative choice. The old blankets and clothes, if still in good condition, are often donated to those who need those wares through charities. If the movie has positive repercussions, it might just mean people buy only what they know their kids will play with.

    And while toys in and of themselves are not necessity items, they too can be passed on through donations and charities when the child outgrows them. Overconsumption means buying ten of the same toy simply to have them without a child playing with them, or otherwise getting anything out of them.

  • michael

    Well put, Jersey. I do believe, however, that with such environmental “protect the earth” themes played throughout the film, that the marketing itself might have attempted to embrace a more sustainable feel.

    I understand that it’s not realistic to expect every aspect to be accountable in terms of impact, but including something — someway even — that kids could do help out in that regard would have been cool.

  • Mike R.

    While the marketing campaign for this movie may not be eco-friendly like the movie, it may be a good way to engrain the message in kids minds.

    Adults will see this movie and remember its message, whereas kids need some sort of reenforcement of the message. And what better reenforcement than to play with and empathize with Wall-E.

    This by no means excuses them from not planning a better, more green strategy to brand this film with, but at the same time it does give hope that in some way the message will overcome the media.

  • Sunrix

    Planet Green TV vs Wall-E vs common sense.

    Our W.I.P.O. research confirms was the first 24/7 green programming but Discovery’s Planet Green TV claims it was first and the only.

    My point: who cares and who really wins here? Trashing the Earth is serious stuff and who knows better than we in the New York “Justice” Department?
    Can we all just get along, stop confusing the general public and do our own little part in delivery the going green message?

    And yes, I have had a rough day and Green Drinks cannot begin soon enough.

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