Don't fall for corporations' 'wonky' propaganda about how ethical they are – Vladimir McTavish

This week I received an email which summed up the the doublespeak employed by large corporations to make them appear more ethical.
Vegetables comes in many different shapes and sizes (Picture: Mychele Daniau/AFP via Getty Images)Vegetables comes in many different shapes and sizes (Picture: Mychele Daniau/AFP via Getty Images)
Vegetables comes in many different shapes and sizes (Picture: Mychele Daniau/AFP via Getty Images)

We are all very familiar these days with the PR spin that multinationals will use to highlight their inclusiveness, massage their previously toxic public image or boost their green credentials. Most of it is, of course, purely cosmetic.

The oil companies are probably the worst offenders. Companies like Shell and BP will take out full-page newspaper advertisements, or primetime television slots, to waffle on about what lengths they are going to in order to protect the future of the planet, how much they are investing in the green energy of the future, blah, blah, blah – while at the same time still planning yet more oil fields in the North Sea.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The supermarkets are just as dishonest. How often have you picked up a one-litre carton of milk with the self-satisfied claim on the label that “10p goes to the farmer”. “Hang on”, you think, “this milk costs the best part of a quid. Where does the rest of the money go?”

I think we all know the answer to that one. It’s about time we had some more honest labelling, such as “we take most of the cash. Sod-all goes to the farmer. And the cow gets even less.”

Read More
Helen Martin: '˜Wonky' veg is real veg

In my local supermarket’s fruit and veg aisle yesterday, I got a bag of “wonky carrots”, which seemed to imply somehow that it is at the forefront of some radical movement to restore naturally shaped vegetables to our countryside.

As you open your mouth to eat your “wonky” carrot, just take a second to digest this jaw-dropping hypocrisy. What this piece of marketing fluff totally forgets to admit is that it was the supermarkets who refused to buy misshaped carrots in the first place.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In the frozen food section, I could also buy a bag of “wonky peas”. In case anyone is wondering what a “wonky pea” looks like, it looks exactly the same as a homogenised pea. In other words, it is round and green.

I was sorely tempted to take my “wonky peas” back and ask for a refund on the grounds that they weren't “wonky” enough. I reckon if a bag of peas is labelled as “wonky'', you should insist that at least 25 per cent are yellow or square or both.

But for mind-boggling doublespeak, my bank has to take the prize. It issued me with a new plastic debit card in August of this year. Its expiry date is the end of August 2025.

However, according to the email I received the other day, this will be replaced by the end of 2021 with a new card made entirely from sustainable materials. Even although the old plastic one would have been valid for nearly another four years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This is dressed up as being some kind of answer to the problem of plastic waste. In effect, it is the exact opposite. It adds to the problem.

When I get my new “sustainable” card, what am I supposed to do with the old plastic one? Throw it out, of course. Which will lead to more plastic waste. Now the logic there really is wonky!

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.