Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day 2006. Two web conferencing vendors have fired up their marketing machinery in honor of the event.
On April 11, LiveOffice Corporation issued a press release stating that "Any American worker willing to telecommute to the office at least once during the month of April is entitled to a free 30-day trial of web conferencing from LiveOffice." (Their normal free trial is 15 days, and this is still what you see when you click on the website link.)
Not to be outdone, WebEx issued a press release today announcing a partnership with Carbonfund.org where people who hold two meetings during their free 14-day trial will have a tree planted in their name.
I have great respect, admiration, and thanks for anybody who consciously tries to moderate their negative impact on the planet. As a global community, humanity is causing changes to natural systems faster than the Earth usually has to cope with such things (meteor strikes and massive volcanic eruptions aside).
But the natural marketing cynic in me gets a little annoyed and a little creeped out when such good intentions are coopted for corporate lead generation and trumpeted as altruistic. Both press releases spend a lot of time talking about facts and figures associated with the impacts of travel. Neither company mentions what it as a corporation is doing to change its impact on the environment... only what its customers should do (mainly, use the products).
WebEx has long offered a 2-week trial, so that's not a new customer benefit. But the tree planting is a laudable and tangible action by the company, and I'm delighted to read about it.
I guess that advanced awareness of environmental impact and a call to action are good things to have in as many places as possible. It just seems so... so... manufactured a sentiment when it's placed once in a press release along with exhortations to use the corporate product. Perhaps the companies could keep the word going year round, perhaps with some examples of ways in which they were fighting the battle on their own property?