Apple recently released the “Mother Nature” ad, showcasing its environmental commitments and attempting to subtly convey its social responsibilities through the chosen actors. While this video is well-polished, it serves as an illustration of the power of communication and manipulation. Yes, I said manipulation, and in this article, I aim to dissect precisely why.
In the midst of the sustainable transformations that companies like Apple should embrace, they are essentially signaling that they won’t change. Even worse, they make you feel that it’s perfectly acceptable to continue buying their products.
In the opening scene, we witness all of Apple’s management sitting around a table, waiting for Mother Nature to join them. However, there’s a significant catch: Mother Nature doesn’t schedule meetings with us humans. Nature is indifferent and impartial; we are mere visitors. We cannot negotiate our net-zero targets. The laws of nature supersede everything in this world.
Apple proudly declares that its offices, stores and datacenters operate on 100% clean energy. But what about the numerous suppliers in its value chain? Apple mentions that 300 of them are committed to using clean renewable energy, but the “when” and “to what extent” remain vague and unclear.
While Apple boasts of eliminating plastic from all packaging by 2024, using 100% recycled aluminum in all products, and phasing out leather in iPhone cases, these efforts represent just a small step toward circular economy. It would be more impressive to hear about repair and reuse programs that extend the lifespan of their products, but apparently, that’s not part of the business strategy.
Perhaps the most notable claim is Apple’s investment in projects aimed at protecting the Earth’s soil, plants, and trees, with the declaration that “We’ve planted forests!” However, carbon offsetting remains a contentious issue, as it is challenging to verify its true impact. Recent research into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard, suggests that over 90% of rainforest offset credits, commonly used by companies, may be “phantom credits” that do not represent genuine carbon reductions.
Additionally, the Apple CEO proudly announces carbon-neutral products, showcasing an Apple Watch, and states that all products will achieve net-zero climate status by 2030. In a particularly striking scene, he looks at Mother Nature, seemingly awaiting her approval, until she says, “bye, see you next year.” This implies that Apple has passed the sustainability exam and can continue selling as many products as it desires, all while giving customers the false impression that everything is perfectly fine. We keep planting forests, and you keep changing your iPhone every year.
The noteworthy aspect that deserves exploration is the personification of Mother Nature as a Black woman. In the five-minute video, the focus is solely on the environment, with no mention of the social impact. Diversity and inclusion are nicely portrayed through characters from various ethnic backgrounds, which is excellent from a communication perspective. However, when you look into Apple’s internal structure, you’ll find that the executive leadership is far from diverse—it’s essentially a white-led company. Moreover, only 9.2% of employees are Black.
Apple is a marketing genius that is gradually attempting to label its products as “eco-friendly” while riding the sustainability trend. Despite being one of the world’s largest companies, it appears unwilling to transform its business model, instead opting to reduce its environmental impact without fundamentally altering anything. However, doing less harm is not the same as doing good!