Monday, May 7, 2012

Marketing Silliness: Plant a Tree

One of the banks I do business with tells me that if I will sign up a certain feature, they will plant a tree in my honor. This is one of those things that looks good on paper, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As I stated on Facebook, since they aren’t going to plant it in my yard, I don’t see the point. Now that might upset some of you green hugging environmentalist types, but have you really thought about it?

Suppose for a moment that I signed up and sure enough, they plant a tree in my honor. Now, you realize that banks don’t have workers who plant trees. So to plant my tree, the bank will pay someone to plant a tree. That’s what makes it sound so great. We need trees, don’t we? The more the better, right? But who are they going to pay? The stated goal of the bank is to plant 25,000 trees. If they are planting the trees 12 feet apart, they will need about 83 acres for the trees. I very much doubt they are planting them on the lawn at corporate headquarters. Instead, I suspect they pay some tree farmer to go plant some trees.

Now here’s what’s really silly. The tree farmer is going to plant the trees whether some bank asks him to or not. After a forest is cleared of its timber, worker plant young trees to replace the mature trees that were removed. This helps prevent soil erosion, but the primary reason is so that there are trees for the next generation to cut. What father would want to hand off his logging business to his son and say, “sorry, but I cut all the trees and there aren’t any left.”

But let’s suppose there weren’t people out there already planting these trees. It would still be silly for me to have a bank plant a tree that I will never see. Both of my next door neighbors have oak trees growing in their yards. Every year, in the spring, I start seeing these thin wooden stems coming up in my yard with oak leaves on them. I mow them off.

If I did let them plant a tree for me, it might be fun to walk into their corporate headquarters and say, “I’m here to see my tree.” I’m sure they would think I was crazy. Unfortunately, they are located several states away. But if I ever happened to be in their area, I wonder how they would react.