While I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” I can appreciate the benefits the show provides for a variety of deserving families, as well as the boost a product can receive from being featured on it. So when I heard one of my clients, Akeena Solar, would be providing a featured solar system to a family in Southern California that was being highlighted on the show, I started getting excited. What could be better for a solar company than a little celebrity endorsement from none other than the well-tanned, well-groomed Ty Pennington with the well-spiked hair?
When I first heard the news a few months ago, the episode wasn’t set to air until the end of March. Immediately, Akeena crews hustled down to San Bernardino to install the system in what amounted to a matter of hours. It was then that I started paying a bit more attention to the show: nearly every weekend the builders featured a new green building element—bamboo floors, eco-friendly paint, energy efficient appliances, and lots and lots of solar systems. And each time the green element was explained, it seemed to become more and more…well, normal, to feature these types of products. They look great and are environmentally friendly, the designers said. They are quality products with real cost-savings benefits, the builders said. They just made sense, Ty said.
Had going green become mainstream?
For a while, my public relations team was able to rely on the uniqueness of solar when pitching the media. We could leverage the story of that kooky family down the block who installed a solar system, watched their meter spin backwards and never paid the electric company more than $12. But that was because not everyone had a solar system; people weren’t accustomed to seeing silicon panels popping up on rooftops everywhere. Fast-forward a few months, and solar—while not reaching the point of widespread adoption by any means—is no longer unfamiliar. Journalists tell me that the latest installation isn’t big enough, it isn’t sexy enough, and it’s something they’ve already covered. During those lonely hours watching late-night television, green suddenly begins to work its way into the vocabulary of infomercials and QVC. And green guides everywhere are popping up telling consumers how to shop.
It’s still a long road for green products to be the default choice in consumer’s brains. But with millions of viewers tuning in each weekend to see how easily green elements can be incorporated into homes, it’s going to get a lot easier to be green.