Friday, March 28, 2008

Company celebrates Earth Day by killing trees

One of the great things about working from home is that my life is now (almost) blissfully free of weird come-ons from PR agencies. With that, a friend who still works in an office and gets these come-ons writes: "Just got a FedEx, marked urgent, from a company in North Carolina called McNeill Communications Group. So I opened (and discarded) one medium FedEx box, transported from NC to New York. I removed (and discarded) some packing paper that was securing a cardboard box. I opened (and discarded) the cardboard box to find a plastic box wrapped in styrofoam. I threw out the styrofoam and opened the plastic box to find more paper packaging, a plastic bag of styrofoam peanuts, a plastic swizzle stick, and a three-page press release. The title of the release? "TharpeRobbins Celebrates Earth Day by Leading the Way with Environmental Initiatives." The gimmick is that the styrofoam peanuts dissolve in water. My jaw just dropped. I feel like this might almost be a joke.The best part is that I have never heard of TharpeRobbins before, and the release gives no indication of what the company is, does, or sells except for the boilerplate at the end: "The privately held TharpeRobbins was created through the February 2007 merger of The Robbins Company, founded in 1982, and the Tharpe Company Inc., founded in 1981. Customized programs include products ranging from personalized jewelry to fine art, electronics, sports equipment, and outdoor merchandise. The company also offers rewards through local and national services, entertainment and recreation." Clear as mud. The other three pages of the release are dedicated to TharpeRobbins' environmental initiatives and awards. So essentially, what this boondoggle of a press kit did was to bring TharpeRobbins to my attention and provide no information about them except that they appear ludicrously hypocritical, by announcing their commitment to environmentally sustainable operations with a really wasteful mailing. Nicely done, McNeil Communications Group!

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