Editor's comment: Another way for green claims
A view from Lucy Barrett

Editor's comment: Another way for green claims

The Marketing Society's tie-up with The Prince's May Day Network to develop a common language for environmental claims should be met with both applause and trepidation.

On the one hand, it is high time the industry presented a united front on green claims. If we do nothing, it is very likely that, at some point, the government would intervene to clarify or standardise the various terms and claims that are being bandied about; action by The Marketing Society May Day Alliance to introduce cross-brand straplines, a climate-change traffic-light system and simpler language in communication could pre-empt complicated legislation.

On the other hand, pressure groups are wary of brands using the kind of phrases and taglines that they believe confuse consumers into believing a product has less, or no, environmental impact.

Getting brands to agree on common terms will be an uphill struggle, but it is worth remembering that many of the terms commonly used now are not understood by consumers.

Last week's inaugural meeting of the Alliance threw up some interesting ideas, the most popular suggestion being an umbrella strapline: 'Another way'. If it is successful, the line - formerly used in a not very convincing way by NatWest - will be used for any product that helps consumers save energy or water.

You do not have to be clairvoyant to predict that such a term will come up against some criticism - there will always be resistance to anything that paints big corporations as trying to save the planet. However, it is also a great deal better than some of the ideas rejected at the meeting. The attendees had the good sense to vote against an umbrella stamp that would have deemed products 'better for the environment'. One can imagine the headlines if that had got through...