Stemming from complaints filed by Dell with the Better Business Bureau’s advertising division, Apple has started calling its fleet of MacBooks “the world’s greenest lineup of notebooks” as opposed to “the world’s greenest family of notebooks”
What’s the difference between a ‘lineup’ and a ‘family’? Who knows, but apparently it was worthy enough to warrant Dell’s attention, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal.
Supposedly, the word “family” isn’t specific enough about which products Apple’s environmental claims apply to, and the Bureau’s National Advertising Division therefore wanted Apple to switch the word “family” to “lineup” in order to clear up any potential confusion. Specifically, BNAD wanted it to be crystal clear that Apple’s environmental claims pertain to all of its notebooks, and not, let’s say, one particular model or an entirely different product altogether.
Call us crazy, but we see no difference at all between the use of the words ‘lineup’ and ‘family’, and if anything, the convoluted arguments as to why it makes a difference is the most confusing thing of all.
In its advertisements for its MacBook’s, Apple stresses 4 points of environmental friendliness – recyclability, reduced packaging, less toxic materials, and increased energy efficiency. Dell, however, was peeved because it argues that many notebooks also sport the above-mentioned qualities. That being the case, Dell argued that “Apple must, but does not, establish superiority over all of its competitors in all four pillars to support its broad superiority claim.”
This, of course, isn’t the first time that Dell has gotten snippy regarding Apple’s environmental claims. In December of last year, Dell VP Bob Pearson took Apple to task in a blogpost where he criticized the Cupertino-based company for.. well, it’s actually hard to explain, so here’s what he wrote about Apple.
#1 – Be Part of the Conversation – It is important to listen, learn, ask more questions and be willing to admit it when you are wrong. We don’t recall Apple joining the conversation about the environment, either via key conferences or the blogosphere or via reporter meetings. In fact, we believe Apple employees are not allowed to blog, as far as we can tell…
I’m not sure what Pearson is longing for there. For Apple to attend environmental conferences? To admit that it’s wrong about something that Pearson won’t tell us? And I’m not quite sure what Apple’s blogging policy for its employees has to do with anything.
#2 – Stretch Goals are Different than Wild Claims – We have repeatedly said we want to be the greenest technology company on the planet. This is our aspiration. It really motivates us inside Dell to chase this goal. It’s very different than saying “we have the greenest laptops,” which Apple has said. Apple hasn’t stated any goals, just made claims, which as far as we can tell, are not accurate…
Apple doesn’t just claim that it has the greenest laptops. It explains why in its commercials, on its website, and even at big-time Apple events such as Macworld. And isn’t the goal pretty clear – to make environmentally friendly products?
#3 – Focus on Actions, Not Ads – we are highly focused on tangible actions, not rhetoric. It was in one of our regular sustainability meetings that Michael challenged us to offer free recycling worldwide for consumers. A big goal and we did it. We hope Apple does the same someday. We challenged ourselves in 2007 to meet a carbon-neutral goal for our operations in 2008 and we did it in August, about five months ahead of schedule. We hope Apple decides to do the same.
Another misguided point. Apple doesn’t ignore actions and focus on ads. Rather, its ads are a reflection of the work Apple does to make its products more environmentally friendly.
Either way, I guess you have to give Dell credit for its follow-through. Using the above blogpost as a launching pad, Dell proceeded to contact the Better Business Bureau and get Apple to change it’s advertising tagline. Now we all know what’s up. Well-played, Dell.
While we’re all for doing everything possible to make products more environmentally friendly, Dell running to the BBB to tell on Apple seems, oh I don’t know, a bit juvenile and silly.