What's the common thread between penguin porn, a plastic bug habitat toy and an eco-friendly bong? They're all winners of this year's EcoBunk Awards, presented by the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA).
Some 200 people jammed the top floor of Plaza Flamingo on College December 7 for the 16th annual fundraiser and comedy show that pokes fun at "advertising excellence in confusing the public and compromising the environment."
Take, for instance, the gas-guzzling Dodge SUV that, as TEA co-executive director Katrina Miller announced, encourages its drivers to "be environmentally responsible without looking the part," which left everyone in the room laughing.
Miller said this type of advertising taps into a broader consumer movement. "It's kind of the new chic, the ungreen-green and fake fur," she mocked. "I can see Bay Street CEOs getting into this [vehicle] or Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten."
In the "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" category, presenter Karen Clark of the Ontario environment ministry's air policy and climate change branch honoured U.S. beef producers for their ad depicting a slab of meat with the message "We love vegetarians - more beef for us."
Newly elected green councillor Gord Perks showed that he's still as earth-friendly as ever, auctioning off the parking pass he received from the city. "I don't even have a driver's licence," said Perks.
Another presenter, Bob Gibson , an enviro studies prof at the University of Waterloo, denounced 2006 as the "death march of the penguins," referring to the flock of ads featuring the tuxedoed waddlers. In fact, he said, 64.8 per cent of all penguins are working part-time in advertising, from Willie, the Kool cigarettes penguin, to the oil-slicked birds in those Dawn dish soap commercials and the hundreds starring in the flick Happy Feet. Said Gibson, "There's a new set of enemies, including climate change, the hole in the ozone layer, overfishing and irritating moviemakers."
And while there was no one winner, perhaps the most heart-warming nomination of the night went to Canadian Tire's collection of six individual all-terrain vehicles for the entire family. "They even come with their own licence plates," laughed presenter Beth Jones , TEA's traffic campaigner. "The family that rides together stays together. I'm actually getting choked up."