Today it’s time for my semi-regular Way Off Topic post, where I get to rant about a topic that has nothing to do with gardening or farming. My husband spotted the Sherwin Williams logo on a paint truck the other day and brought it to my attention. Oh my. This is a public relations nightmare. Who was the marketing genius that had this terrible idea? What are they trying to imply exactly?
A little research turned up some of the answers. According to the SW website, the “Cover the Earth” logo was originally created by SW’s one-man advertising department in the 1890s. It was patented and first used by the company in 1906. It’s stunning to me that the logo is that old, because I’ve never noticed it before.
In 1906, there was little, if any, government regulation of U.S. industry and corporations. There was no 40-hour work week, paid vacations, or minimum wage. (Those came in the the 30s, thanks to labor unions & Democrats.) Companies routinely polluted the air, water, and people by putting things like lead in paint products.
To me, that mentality is exactly what the 100-year-old SW logo symbolizes.
I don’t mean to imply that corporations today are perfect, but they have cleaned up their act since 1906. Not because of some sense of fair play, mind you…they’ve had to, due to government regulations. And too, consumers have developed a sense of environmentalism and a love of nature. We still don’t fully know (or care) about all of the environmental damage done by corporations with their synthetic chemicals, manufacturing processes, and unfair global trade, pricing, and employment practices. In many ways, we’re still just gorillas with wallets, but at least we understand that polluting the earth and poisoning humans just to make a buck is wrong.
SW is very proud of its history–their company was founded in 1866. Although on their cute little animated timeline, I didn’t see any mention about lead paint and all the people that have been poisoned by it and are still being poisoned by it today in areas with primarily older housing stock, like New England.
I should explain that in Rhode Island, a jury recently decided that four paint companies, including Sherwin Williams, were liable for the state’s tremendous lead paint problem. Even though lead paint was banned in 1978, most houses here are much older than that. My own house is nearly 200 years old. Never having lived in an area where lead paint was a problem before, my husband and foolishly stripped a lot of old paint without realizing the hazards. (Hey, what’s this shiny silver powder that won’t dissolve?) So it kind of blows my mind that SW would allow trucks with the Cover the Earth logo to drive around in Rhode Island.
I guess they have some kind of sentimental & historical attachment to it. But it seems kind of perverse, sinister, and frankly, ridiculous in this day and age. It’s time for them to stop covering the earth and get a new logo.