Conservation proponents set to score Pyrrhic victory on incandescent lights

Advertising guru David Ogilvy once wrote that good advertising is the fastest way to sink a bad product. This applies just as much to dumb ideas. We’ll see how right he was if and when various provincial governments across Canada jump on the stupid ban-the-incandescent-lightbulb bandwagon.

When Canadian consumers respond to the hype about the environmental virtues of compact fluorescent light bulbs, they’ll find out what we early adopters have known all along: that the compact fluorescent’s light quality is markedly inferior to that of an incandescent, and that the energy savings, as reflected on the bi-monthly power bill, are too negligible to outweigh their hefty price tag (which is about 20 to 30 times that of an equivalent incandescent).

There is a ton of media hoopla surrounding the calls to ban the incandescent—this is Ogilvy’s good advertising. The arguments underpinning the proposal are laughable, but ultimately the positive advertising will serve a useful purpose. When consumers, furious from having been taken in by the hype, reject the over-priced, under-performing, and mercury-laden compact fluorescents en masse, somebody will inevitably turn to the conservation proponents and say: “that’s your recipe for fighting climate change?”

At that point, having dispensed with the idiocy, we might finally get serious about the issue.

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