Jul 2023

Greenwashing vs. Sportwashing: The Sneaky Side of Media Manipulation

Written by Ellie Dibdin

Greenwashing vs. Sportwashing: The Sneaky Side of Media Manipulation

Greenwashing and sportwashing are two tactics observed in the media that involve manipulating public perception to create a positive image.

Greenwashing refers to the deceptive practice of presenting a false impression of a company’s environmental and sustainability work. Companies may use vague claims, irrelevant information, lack of transparency, or green imagery to make themselves appear more environmentally friendly than they actually are. The purpose is to attract environmentally conscious consumers and gain a competitive advantage by attempting to capitalise on the growing demand for environmentally sound products, but it undermines genuine efforts to address environmental concerns.

Sportwashing, on the other hand, is often associated with major international sporting events like the Olympics or World Cup. It involves hosting or sponsoring these events to divert attention from or improve the image of organisations with poor human rights records or controversial activities. By associating themselves with such events, these entities aim to create positive associations and enhance their global reputation, potentially overshadowing any negative attention.

From a PR standpoint, it is extremely important to be transparent with our clients’ messaging to make sure that no clients are portraying information on  greenwashing and sportwashing which is not true. It is also vital that everything we portray to the media on behalf of them is accurate and can be backed up if questioned by research data, certifications, or third-party endorsements.

Both greenwashing and sportwashing highlight the importance of critically evaluating information presented in the media. Consumers and the public need to be careful when evaluating claims and looking at what companies and organisations actually do.

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