Whatever idea you are representing as a public speaker, it’s critical that you behave in a manner consistent with your message. If you’re preaching family values it’s a bad idea to have a second family stashed away somewhere. And if you’re telling your employees you’re imposing an austerity program and you’ll have to cut back on their benefits, it’s a bad idea to arrive at the office in a limo every morning. Saying one thing and doing another can destroy your credibility and make it impossible for you to be an effective advocate.
Which is why it’s so disturbing to see Dr. Seuss’s Lorax, that icon of 70’s environmentalism, being used to sell kids’ meals at IHOP. After all, the Lorax and his fight to save the Truffula trees is often the first conservation message children hear. Now, as part of a tie-in with a Lorax movie, IHOP is offering Green Eggs, Ham (possibly from one of those exploding factory pig farms), and Truffula Chip Pancakes. Having never encountered a Truffula chip before, I have to assume that it’s a byproduct of logging and milling all of those Truffula trees, kind of like the redwood mulch that I use in my garden.
I know that these big movies depend on licensing deals in order to be profitable, but it’s hard to understand how this one came to pass, though I suppose there is only so much money to be made in children’s bedsheets and promoting “energy-efficient” cars. But this seems especially strange since the estate of Dr. Seuss used to be known for being so protective of his legacy. It’s a bit like Al Gore opening a Hummer dealership.
Remember that any time you’re speaking to a group it’s your job to persuade them. As the face or voice of your message, it’s crucial that your actions match your words. If you’re going to speak for the trees, you probably shouldn’t appear to be selling them out. Even if, as my five year-old nephew Felix suspects, Truffula chips are really just donut sprinkles.
Once you’ve lost your credibility, it’s really hard to earn it back.