Editorial: Let's not fool ourselves

01:41, Dec 03 2012

Scientist Mike Joy has committed the sin of impure thoughts.

At a time when the admiring eyes of the world are trained on our fair shire and our marketers have agreed that we should be touting our "100% Pure" brand, Dr Joy muddied the waters by getting all nitpicky about "facts" and "truth" when what really matters is perception.

For this he has been called a traitor and had advertising hyperbole explained to him.

In marketing, it's often OK to be fearlessly extravagant; like saying your gumdrops are the best in the universe. No-one expects you to have ventured to the far reaches of space to test your claim. It is understood that this isn't literally true.

Just like we needn't really be concerned on behalf of some of the yappier advertisers who assure us their low low prices are the result of mental illness.

Prime Minister John Key has drawn a comparison with the "I'm loving it" McDonald's slogan, saying people understand that not everyone does love it.


Mr Key needs to be careful how blithely he defends assertions that don't stand up to scrutiny. He's only going to be reminded of those remarks the next time he needs to say, "but this time we really mean it".

Peter Jackson's The Hobbit is a story woven with special effects to invoke what has been called "the suspension of disbelief". Ditto the marketing campaign, apparently. Just another special effect, really, and one that we are being reminded could do without spoilsports shattering the illusion.

Dr Joy simply pointed to a compelling cluster of data that backed his contention that the reality was far from the marketers' picture-postcard images. His fellow scientists back him on that one.

And seriously, on a per capita basis, we have one of the world's highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions and our water quality is declining.

Shush, though. The rest of the world might hear.

Well, look, our environment is not a Weta Workshop special effect. Compared with the rest of the world we do have a wondrous landscape, but for all its beauty it is not pristine. We understand that it comes down to balance, not perfection, but by those standards the scientific message and our own experiences tell us we seriously need to put the brakes on the rate of degradation.

The 100% Pure campaign does over-reach. We shouldn't be deceiving others or, even worse, ourselves.

The Marlborough Express