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Repair as PR stunt: retailers, give us more than clever campaigns

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We are all for repair gaining a higher profile, in an age of incessant consumerist messaging everywhere. We want to see more focus on repair and product longevity. If companies embrace this in their advertising and PR, all the better, right?

Clever cracked screen adverts

When we saw clever adverts by a major UK mobile provider promoting a repair service, we were immediately charmed.

The campaign featured “cracked” and “damaged” posters and billboards. We were amused until we read the fine print. This carrier was extending their “free” mobile screen repair offer to only the most high-end, new mobiles on expensive contracts. (Uswitch breaks it down here.) There is very little information available from this provider on their website about the costs of screen repairs for all other kinds of phones.

After all of the outdoor and tube adverts are paid for, who will actually benefit from this campaign? The privileged few.

And this is the same company known for its “change your phone as often as you change the tube” campaign, promoting a yearly refresh of devices.

While this provider does go to great lengths to promote recycling of mobiles, this is simply not good enough if they are promoting accelerated purchases of new phones. We have shown how the global mobile carbon footprint is significant, and needs addressing through slowing down our consumption. If that does not convince you, many of the minerals in our mobiles are simply not recouped or recycled, and the impacts of mining these are significant. This is why accelerated consumption, even when paired with accelerated recycling, is still not good enough.

IKEA in on the action

Meanwhile the company that uses 1% of the world’s commercial wood annually was spotted with an interesting alternative to Black Friday in Norway this year.

In Norway, IKEA was encouraging visitors to its website to maintain, fix or simply tighten up their furniture with its famous key tool. They were quoted as saying the day “provides a great opportunity to focus on making the products last longer” (machine translation).

Again, we were charmed. Until we remembered the many IKEA lamps we’ve seen at Restart Parties that were designed to be dumped after little use.

And of course this infamous Spike Jonze advert.

Clearly the IKEA mothership has changed loads since then. But for us to believe that IKEA – and other retailers – are serious about repair and reuse, we need to see them fully integrated into their whole business models. We need evidence of design for longevity, and greater guarantees on products.

[Feature image by Flickr user Genista]

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