CBS might be in the news more for its “high concern” over Charlie Sheen and his hit sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” but its sustainable media division, EcoMedia, is actually doing something newsworthy, innovative and earth-friendly.
Last week EcoMedia announced a new way to approach advertising. With EcoAd, companies invest in advertising and a portion of that money goes toward environmental and clean-energy projects throughout the country.
EcoMedia works with municipalities and other public entities to identify environmental projects that are underfunded, and then filters advertising dollars from some big names like Chevrolet and Safeway to those projects.
Companies and organizations already spend $300 billion on advertising annually as part of a traditional business model, but now 10 percent of an EcoAd spend is invested in community projects that are “stuck,” meaning they’ve been shelved due to lack of funding.
Paul Polizzotto, president of EcoMedia, said for him, EcoMedia was always a means to an end of funding these types of projects.
“I never thought I’d be in the media business,” he said. “I just thought advertising could do more than just communicate a product. What if we can harness this power to fund projects in communities that otherwise wouldn’t happen?”
Since the company began in 2002, it has helped Miami’s City Hall install solar panels, which helped reduce energy costs by 60 percent, and the airport in Long Beach put in rotating solar trees, which also reduces energy costs and carbon emissions. When it was acquired by CBS in 2010, EcoAd was devised as an extension of EcoMedia’s existing business.
Polizzotto said they measure three areas during projects – jobs, cost and carbon. For every $1 million spent, 11 new green jobs are created and, in the case of solar panel projects, cities write smaller checks to energy companies, which means they have more tax payer money for schools, parks or other community benefits.
EcoMedia also monitors these projects to ensure their quality and completion. Then they work with non-governmental organizations to measure performance based on the three areas.
“We’re leveraging advertising to have a profoundly different impact,” Polizzotto said.