Ethical Funds defends

By Doug Watt | February 5, 2003 | Last updated on February 5, 2003
2 min read

(February 5, 2003) The president of Ethical Funds has rejected complaints that the mutual fund company’s current advertising campaign trivializes environmental issues. The print and billboard ads show a business professional with the caption “I don’t wear hemp, burn incense, or hug trees.” The complaint came from the head of a Vancouver hemp clothing retailer.

“It’s certainly not our intention to offend anyone,” Ethical president Margaret Yee told “Our intent behind the ad was to put to rest outdated stereotypes of socially responsible investing — that it only appeals to a very narrow segment of the population.”

The campaign was based on research, Yee says, after a survey commissioned by Ethical last year revealed that Canadians interested in SRI were mostly mainstream investors. “Canadians have adopted environmental views, such as composting,” she says. “These are typical things that most of us do without even thinking about it.”

In an interview with on Monday, Hemptown Clothing president Jerry Kroll said the ads were “off the mark” and accused Ethical of dismissing environmentalists as a fringe element. “It’s an unsavoury message when people are out there trying to make a difference,” he said.

Yee admits the campaign may be considered unconventional in the investment world, but she says that’s part of the price companies like Ethical pay for taking a leadership role. “We’ve only received about half a dozen complaints, considering this is a national campaign that’s been running since early December. That’s very few.”

Kroll has asked for a meeting with Ethical to discuss the issue. Yee wouldn’t say whether that’s going to happen, but did indicate she would respond to Kroll’s concerns.

Related News Story

  • Vancouver hemp retailer “mad as hell” at Ethical Funds
  • The current ad campaign is drawing to a close. Yee says Ethical is planning another campaign for the RRSP season, but will likely take a different approach. “We like to keep our image fresh.”

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    Doug Watt