By Vincent Vizachero
January 25, 2012
Today I posted some of my thoughts about the new partnership between the National Wildlife Federation and Scotts Miracle-Gro over at Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens. This has become quite a controversial topic in the past day or two, in part because it calls into question the ability of the NWF to act as an impartial advocate for wildlife in this country.
There is one aspect of the news that I didn’t emphasize in that post, though I did mention it, in part because I’d already written more than most people want to read at once.
But one thing that it is interesting about this new partnership is the “we’ve been down this road before” aspect. In 2000, the National Wildlife Federation formed a partnership with oil conglomerate BP/Amoco in which BP gas stations would sell stuffed “Endangered Wildlife Friends” with NWF branding.
This is interesting on several fronts. One is that BP/Amoco went on to cause one of the great environmental disasters of our time. A disaster that prompted the National Wildlife Federation to produce and air several public service announcements on the damage to wildlife.
We can only hope that this current NWF “partnership” with Scotts does not end in the same kind of tragedy that the former “partnership” with BP did.
Also interesting is how similar the language used by the NWF to defend the BP partnership is to the language they’ve used this week to defend the Scotts one. From the PRwatch piece linked above:
NWF’s Vice President of Communications, Philip B. Kavits, he declined to say how much money his group had received from BP/Amoco, and he defended the partnering because it helped NWF “reach a new audience.” . . . He also said that NWF’s partnership with BP/Amoco did not imply an endorsement.
I’ve said before that I think the National Wildlife Federation staff have the best intentions, but their judgement doesn’t seem all that strong when it comes to these arrangements.