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Why participate in Pepsi greenwash? Answered

I don't know about the rest of Instructables community, but I am extremely reluctant to contribute anything to Pepsi's latest (https://www.instructables.com/contest/pepsirefreshproject/greenwash campaign, well, anything except criticism.

PepsiCo (PEP) is a company that produces semi-addictive, food-like consumables that, in the aggregate, are actually harming people's health. They're also littering the world with PET plastic bottles.

Previous Instructables alliances with companies that make tools or building supplies (Black and Decker, Leatherman, Gorilla Glue), these alliances made sense to me since these companies actually make products to help people to build things.

PepsiCo is essentially a manufacturer of recreational over-the-counter drugs, similar to beer, liquor, cigarettes.  Thus alliances with entertainment industry (e.g. ball games, car racing, crappy pop musicians) would make sense to me, but not an alliance with Instructables.com, whom I like to think is doing something more noble than just crass, brain-numbing entertainment.

If you'd like to see PepsiCo's official explanation of this "Refresh the World" business, but without being tracked by DoubleClick, the direct link is:
http://www.refresheverything.com/how-it-works

Pepsi says they want to change the world, but I think they just want to sell more soft drinks.  I don't see them as a serious agent for change in the world. 

IMHO, the revolution will NOT go better with Pepsi!

Update:  Many of people responding to this topic seem to think that I'm lobbying for the prohibition of soft drinks, but this is not my goal. In truth I wish more recreational drugs would be allowed to have the same legal "white market" status that sweetened drinks and snack foods enjoy.

The point I was trying to make is that Pepsi is an inappropriate choice for an Instructables alliance because the basic values of the two companies are so different. Pepsi does not embody the DIY (do it yourself) philosophy. Rather the values of PepsiCo are convenience and instant gratification. This is essentially a SEDIFY philosophy (somebody else do it for you), the polar opposite of DIY.

The reason I mentioned harm to the heath of people and the planet, is just to demonstrate that Pepsi does have cause to want to improve, or greenwash, their image, which is I suspect the point of their "refresh project", not just pure philanthropy.

29 Replies

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canida (author)2010-03-02

Instructables is quite careful about who we partner with for advertising, and has turned down advertisers before.  This Pepsi campaign is an excellent example of a big company doing good things with their advertising dollars - in this case, funding some great ideas with the potential to benefit lots of people.

When companies choose to spend a portion of their ad budget to fund a good cause, we should encourage and support this behavior

I appreciate that you brought up this discussion in a constructive manner - we're happy to have an open dialog about the direction Instructables takes on social issues. 

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Jayefuu (author)2010-03-23

What happened to this contest? It's gone...

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Jack A Lopez (author)Jayefuu2010-03-23

I don't know.  Maybe there was a decision to disappear it, or de-emphasize it. 

Something similar happened a while back with the Answers forum. Answers is still around, but they stopped linking to it from the front page.

BTW, canida might know the answer to this question, as it (robot gender, but she IRL) was the one posting the forum topics selected/featured for this contest.  Many of these pages are still here, and contain a small banner linking to the Pepsi mother-contest. (e.g. "http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;221953120;45120998;c")

https://www.instructables.com/community/Water-saving-toilet-hack/
https://www.instructables.com/community/Dachshund-wheelchair/
https://www.instructables.com/community/Universal-Nut-Sheller/
https://www.instructables.com/community/The-Neighbors-Project/
https://www.instructables.com/community/Plastic-Soda-Bottle-Prosthesis/
https://www.instructables.com/community/Tim-Anderson/
https://www.instructables.com/community/Quilt-in-for-charity/

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Jayefuu (author)2010-03-01

I agree with you. But people will still enter even if they agree with you.... money is involved.

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Jack A Lopez (author)Jayefuu2010-03-01

Yeah, there's money involved between Pepsi and its grant winners, but what's the role of Instructables in all this?  I'm assuming there's also money involved there too.  Why have they painted the front page sky-blue and put a giant Pepsi banner on it?  I mean it kinda looks to me like Instructables is selling eyeballs to Pepsi, just like any other print, or TV broadcaster.

Or maybe we're going to see some lobbying efforts on behalf of Instructables to encourage its members to vote for the staff's own favorites in Pepsi's contests, sort of a mad scramble to get some of those grants, or the prestige associated with the story of getting them.

In any case, I still think the whole thing reeks.

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Jayefuu (author)Jack A Lopez2010-03-01

Blue front page: Ugly isn't it! Doesn't even match the pepsi banner.

Perhaps we'll get some of the communication from Eric that Rachel promised.

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caitlinsdad (author)Jayefuu2010-03-01

And for the fine print readers...I think this contest is only for US.  They're trying to save the world, only the US part.

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steveastrouk (author)caitlinsdad2010-03-10

Yes, yet another case where the rest of the world doesn't exist.

"The Grant Program is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, 13 years of age or older, residing in one of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia at the time of submitting an Application"

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Lithium Rain (author)2010-03-01

I wouldn't go so far as to call the soda PepsiCo produces a "drug" in the commonly used sense of the term, but I agree they're not exactly a Green Role model.

But the light bills got to be paid. Dollah dollah bills, ya'll.

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caitlinsdad (author)Lithium Rain2010-03-01

<Thank you, Paula, have another sip of Coke, now let's hear what Simon has to say...>

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NachoMahma (author)Jack A Lopez2010-03-03

.  If you buy anything just because a celebrity endorses it, you deserve everything you get.

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user

Yeah, bills to pay, right. 

First Instructables is begging for alms from its users with this "go Pro" business, and next they're selling ad-space to Pepsi.  It just seems very promiscuous to me, as if there isn't anything they won't do for money.   Also it makes me wonder to whom the Instructables management is most loyal, to its members, or to the world's biggest advertisers?

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Instructables is a business. It's not a charity nor a social mission. The people with a stake in it - and that's not solely staff - want to turn a profit, and they will do that however they can. I fail to see why they should stick with either pro or ads. Why not do a mix? Or, they could dump ALL advertisers, make pro mandatory for all users, and raise the price...and then people would have something else to whine about.

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wenpherd (author)2010-03-03

This is a very valid argument, I wonder why I didn't see it featured on the Instructables home page............

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Lithium Rain (author)2010-03-02

Your argument, by logical extension, bars anyone from buying anything if they "really" stick to the DIY ethos.

Don't buy raw materials! DIY!

Don't buy tools! DIY!

In fact, the entire site, by this argument, violates the DIY ethos, as it's *other* ppl doing most of the projects.

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NachoMahma (author)2010-03-01

.  I have yet to see anyone standing in line to buy a Pepsi (or any other PepsiCo product) with a gun to their head. PepsiCo wouldn't be in business if ppl didn't want/buy their products/services. PepsiCo doesn't kill ppl, they kill themselves.

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Jack A Lopez (author)NachoMahma2010-03-01

I think you misunderstand me. I am not troubled by the fact that PepsiCo is in business, or by their product line.  In fact I wish there were more choices for white market recreational drugs. 

What bothers me is the fact that Instructables is willing to affiliate, and/or sell ad-space to absolutely anyone. I mean what affiliation could be lower than Pepsi?  Banquet?  The National Gaurd?  Pretty soon this place is going to be so plastered with ads it resembles a race car!

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NachoMahma (author)Jack A Lopez2010-03-02

.  Welllll, I'm totally confused.
> I am extremely reluctant to contribute anything to Pepsi's latest (https://www.instructables.com/contest/pepsirefreshproject/greenwash campaign
> PepsiCo ... produces semi-addictive, food-like consumables that, ..., are actually harming people's health. They're also littering the world with PET plastic bottles.
.  The rest of your rant contains similar language.

.  Do you have any idea what the purpose of a business is? It's to make money for the owners/stockholders. If you are expecting altruistic behavior from a corporation, you will be disappointed most of the time. Akin to expecting a cat not to kill a mouse.
.
.  Just who is good enough? Are you going to expend the resources to vet every advertiser?
.  I'm at a loss as to how you determined that the National Guard was an unsavory associate.

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Jack A Lopez (author)NachoMahma2010-03-02

What is the purpose of Instructables?  Is it also first and foremost a business, whose primary goal is to make money for its owners?

If so that would explain why they solicit money from their members by way of the "go Pro" campaign, and why they sell ad-space to Pepsi too.  This is simply because making money in the short-term is their primary goal.  Perhaps we can also conclude that Instructables is most loyal/responsive to whoever, again in the short-term, pays them the most money? 

I wasn't expecting altruism from PepsiCo.  But I was naive enough to think that Instructables might be looking out for the interests of their members, by not showering them with ads, or trying to rope them into other ventures, like  doing volunteer work for PepsiCo.

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Yes. Instructables is a business. It is meant to make money. That's what the shareholders (or whatever they are - I don't recall for sure how it's set up corporately...) want. Making money is sort of the whole point of a business. I mean, duh.

I fail to see how instructables is acting against our best interests by "showering us with ads". Every. Other. Site. On. The. Planet. Has ads - including sites that have pro plans (see, for example, deviantART). 

"Roping into doing volunteer work for PepsiCo"?
Please. It's an idea contest with grants to execute the ideas. You're asked to vote on entries and submit your own. I see no sign saying thou shalt participate in this or get kicked off, nor anything pressuring you to do so other than one contest ad and a change of color on the front page. It's the equivalent of a billboard and an ad in the newspaper. Nobody's trying to rope anybody into anything.

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NachoMahma (author)Jack A Lopez2010-03-02

.  It's time to come back from Fairytale Land. Yes, Ibles most certainly is a business that has to make money in order to survive. It costs money for servers, bandwidth, employees, &c.
.  Do you think it would be fair for Eric and any other owners/investors to invest their money and time without receiving a return on that investment? They have bills to pay and families to feed just like the rest of us.
.  Ibles is not forcing anything on you. You do not have to click on the ads or participate in contests.

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caitlinsdad (author)Jack A Lopez2010-03-01

Son, absolutely no one messes with NASCAR.

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Goodhart (author)2010-03-02
Interesting comparison without statistical backup. Although Black and Decker, and Gorrilla glue, etc are firms more in alignment with the theme of Instructables; the portion dwelt on seems to be Pepsi's "Greenwashing" themselves.   Have you any stats on the companies mentioned; whether they are green "in any way" or not?  What are their factories like, is there more waste output then say PepsiCo?  

Without something to compare with, there is no argument, as far as I can see.
(how about how Pepsi started, does that "embody" the essence of starting from scratch and building one's own business?)  :-) 
 

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Jack A Lopez (author)Goodhart2010-03-02

No. I possess no statistics regarding who among Black and Decker, Gorilla Glue, or Pepsi, is the most green, even if we could agree on a metric with which to measure green-ness.

I think the argument for who has more DIY-cred is stronger, but as you point out: one could argue that Pepsi had DIY-cred, maybe during its larval stage.

I think mostly I was just irked by the fact that Instructables saw fit to repaint the front page sky-blue and put a giant Pepsi banner on it.     It's not like I don't see enough of Pepsi's advertising everywhere else.  To me it feels like a betrayal, like Instructables is more responsive to Pepsi than its own members.

Or maybe the membership here, for the most part,  does not feel uneasy about an affiliation with Pepsi.   In fact that's sort of the impression I'm getting from reading the responses here.  Seems, most people, except me, are in favor, or neutral, or meh, about the topic of Pepsi taking over Instructables. 

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Goodhart (author)Jack A Lopez2010-03-02
I think mostly I was just irked by the fact that Instructables saw fit to repaint the front page sky-blue and put a giant Pepsi banner on it.

Well, I suppose that Pepsi "paid" for the ad, as well as it's size etc.  It would be kind of discriminatory to start eliminating ads because one doesn't like the product, etc.  Although I get a blue opener, I have only seen the Pepsi ad once, so I am wondering why some people seem more "targeted" then others, or is it just the luck of the draw? 


 
except me, are in favor, or neutral, or meh, about the topic of Pepsi taking over Instructables. 

I highly doubt that Pepsi wants to "take over" Instructables, anymore than any advertiser here.    BTW:  do you live by the motto:  "Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get me!"  ?  :-) 
 

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crapflinger (author)2010-03-01

pepsico doesn't litter the world with any PET bottles. the idiots who can't be bothered to find a recycling bin, or the cities/townships/establishments that can't be bothered to set up recycling at their location are littering the world with PET bottles.
 
i don't have statistics but from my limited knowledge of plastics manufacturing the majority of their reject bottles get recycled until they're no longer recyclable. yes i know that plastics have a finite recyclable life span (i.e. they can only be remelted so many times before they cause issues in the melt) but the amount of PET put into landfills or directly on the ground by Pepsico themselves is negligable compared to the amount put on or in the ground by your fellow consumer. so be careful who you shake your finger at.

are ammunition manufacturer's to blame for all the spent cartridges floating around in the desert in iraq? no, the US (and other countries) government is, and they should be cleaning them up.

as to pepsico selling a drug, so what? they're not taking advantage of anyone and they're not forcing anyone to buy their products. amy's frozen burritos are freakin tasty! they're relatively healthy too, but if i eat 12 a day i'll run into health concerns. it's my responsibility not to eat 12 burritos in a day just the same as it's my responsibility to not drink a 12 pack of pepsi in a day.

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