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National No Print Day…Really?

What on Earth Were They Thinking?

by Karen Hall
Created: July 1, 2012
Toshiba’s latest PR campaign raises ire in the print community

What a bunch of morons! That was my initial reaction when I first heard about Toshiba’s latest promotion, National No Print Day. Are they serious? What PR birdbrain hatched this idea, who was crazy enough to present it, and how on earth did it ever get past the people who actually understand what the company does to make money?

I’m not the only one who was gobsmacked by this apparent lunacy. Printing Industries of America and The Print Council, two defenders of the faith and promoters of all things print, weighed in right away. Printing Industries of America CEO Michael Makin says, “We find such a proposal ridiculous and an insult to the more than 800,000 Americans who owe their direct livelihood to our industry.” Booyah!

Wait a minute. Back up. Before we get carried away, let’s take a look at what this project is about and how it is presented.

Toshiba has posted a well-produced video at www.nationalnoprintday.com that encourages office workers not to print anything on October 23. The mascot, a guy wearing a tree-themed sports mascot outfit, tells us he really needs a day off, then treats us to a montage of all the wonderful things he plans to do on October 23 while no one is printing.

This part comes across like a frat boy fantasy scene. It ends with tree guy in a bedroom having a pillow fight and finally tumbling onto the bed with a couple of cuties in a semi-politically correct version of Girls Gone Wild.

Back in the office, tree guy asks you to “Take the Pledge”. Then a young woman tells us that, of course, Toshiba makes copiers, but it is so committed to sustainability that it’s willing to make this sacrifice. Oh, and it will plant up to 1.5 million trees by 2025.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for sustainability. But how does a company whose livelihood is, at least in part, generated by making copiers justify contributing to the gross misinformation about print’s effect on the environment? This is greenwashing at its most egregious.

Most paper comes from well managed forests and is manufactured using renewable energy. Print’s carbon footprint is infinitely smaller than that of electronic communications.

If Toshiba is really concerned about the environment, maybe it should create a viable recycling program for the e-waste its products create. Now that would be something worth crowing about.

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