While on my vacation to the city of lights and glamor, I couldn’t help but notice mobile billboards. They were everywhere, in a already congested city. They got my attention and I read every single one I saw, which is the point of advertising. Advertising means lots of green for those that do the advertising, sell the advertising and those that need to advertise pay big the big bucks. Everyone wants their name, logo or service to be seen by the prospective customers (you and me). Except, at what cost to the environment? Do we cut down trees and disrupt animals for road side billboards? Yes. So it must be okay to add more trucks to the road that do pollute, to some degree. Add up all the driving billboards and that’s more pollution then is necessary, in my opinion. To be fair, I wanted to ask one if these companies what they thought about the environmental impact and I randomly choose, Citi-mobile. I chatted with one of their online representatives and below is a copy of our chat:

sommer: Concerned about environmental pollution. Can you give me some information on this?
Stephanie (CS Agent 0057): Good Afternoon. How may I assist you?
Stephanie (CS Agent 0057): What information would you like?
sommer: I was wondering about the pollution impact with this type of advertisment?
Stephanie (CS Agent 0057): The impact is not huge… However, we are taking steps to reduce our smog foot print. We have moved to eco-friendly vinyls so that they are recycled and bio-digradable. We are changing out all of our units to Bio-Diesel fuel and Clean Gas, our drivers have also gone through training on accellaration of fuels and so on… we have also internally taking actions so that all of our office paper and other supplies are recyclables. WE have reduced the amount of printers in our office to one main one… As Global Warming is becoming a serious problem, we are doing our part to make a difference.
sommer: Stephanie, thank you. I’ll take all of this into consideration. I’m just doing some research. Is any of this on your website?
Stephanie (CS Agent 0057): IIt will be soon… It’s part of the 2008 Website update we are doing. Stephanie (CS Agent 0057): My pleasure…
sommer: Thank you. Have a nice day.

I guess it’s better than just not doing anything and they are at least trying. Back in 2006, Club For Growth, wrote that the Sierra Club was choosing to use this type of advertisment and it sparked a lot of controversay. A little odd seeing that Eric Olsen was quoted in a 2005 NPR article as saying that the mobile billboards are a, “blight on wheels” and that they add to traffic and waste gas. Hmmm, could this really be true? So I picked up the phone and called David Willet, National Press Secretary for the Sierra Club. His answer was yes, it is true. David Willet said, “We don’t make a practice of using them and we take into account the pollution.” He explained that they were used as one strategy to reach drivers stuck in traffic and for a campaign dealing with congressmen, Richard Pombo. David Willet, admited to this form of advertisment being a source of pollution and that it is not common practice for the group. Makes you scratch your head and think but the organization does need to reach people, somehow and even paper newsletters pollute to some degree. If I happened to be stuck in traffic,however, and saw a Sierra Club advertisment on a truck taking up more road space I would probably not be compelled to think too highly of that advertisment or cause. That’s just my thought. It’s hard to do everthing right 100% of the time and not create some type of pollution, nobodies perfect…not even the Sierra Club.

For those of you in Canada that are against this form of advertisment, there’s a petition started to stop mobile billboards due to the increase “eye” pollution, road congestion and envrionmental air pollution. I wondered about all of this while on my trip and thought it was a little unecessary to have these driving advertisments but then again, isn’t it their right to be on the road? The idea of mobile billboards, according to the New York Times, is not a new concept. It’s been around since 1882 when they used billboards on horse and buggy wagons. I guess the only pollution then was the horse doo but still there were appeals and bans even back then. Companies that need to advertise should probably think about what their advertisment says about them as a company. This is what makes me scratch my head when it comes to the Sierra Club. With more and more “green” consumers this should be a issue for all companies needing to advertise. In my very green and clean mom opinion, I think that the advertisment works at getting my attention but it is ugly, does nothing for the city, adds to road congestion and traffic and even if the companies use biodiseal and recycle, it’s more pollution then we need added to the air I breath! What are your thoughts?

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