In 2005, General Electric launched an Ecomagination campaign to address the company’s concern for the environment. Seventy Ecomagination products and services were developed for this campaign which included a Super Bowl ad for Smart Grid Technologies. Smart Grid Technology was advertised as an effort by GE to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Prior to this advertisement, smart grid technology was required by 42 states. GE is among many corporations including Royal Dutch/Shell, Mobil Corporation, Dow Chemical, and other Fortune 500 companies that advertise and take credit for environmental activism, but continue contribute to the problem (Lechner and Boli 194).
This is one example of greenwashing, the use of environmental themes to mislead the public and shift focus away from corporations. Greenwashing is accomplished through confusion, deception, and posturing. GE’s campaign was deceitful because it involves exaggerated claims. The strategies corporations employ, give the illusion of ethical actions in response to the public environmental concerns. In 2007, GE was the fifth largest producer of chemicals in the electrical equipment industry according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory. The behaviors of the company do not match; they are spending millions on campaigns to express their environmental activism and at the same time doing little to improve their environmental impact.