Smother the Earth

Corporate slogans often ask consumers to join them in their ambitions. For example, IBM wants to create a "Smarter Planet," and shoe company Toms uses "One for One" to highlight its charitable giving. Meanwhile, paint company Sherwin-Williams invites everyone to "Cover the Earth" with their product.

This message is odd and unpleasant to say the least—especially if taking the logo at face value. Is Sherman-Williams' ideal world one where every imaginable surface is painted? Does the company expect others to rally behind this absurd goal? Finding new efficiencies for the world and providing shoes for the poor are easy goals to support, but few people wish to cover the earth's natural beauty in gloopy, dripping paint. At a time when many companies tout their environmental commitments, Sherwin-Williams' message pushes in the opposite direction. Safe paint disposal and the legacy of lead contamination are current environmental concerns, concerns that "Cover the Earth" seems to mock.

Sherwin-Williams, founded in 1866, was the first company to create ready-to-use paint, and its slogan dates to 1906. "Cover the Earth" likely appealed to a rapidly industrializing America. It was a time when Ford aimed to bring the Model-T to the masses and radio broadcasts bridged distances. More than one hundred years later, the longevity of the Sherwin-Williams slogan still gives it value to be sure, but does that longevity outweigh all the negatives? A new coat of paint offers many marketable associations—vivid color, freshness, positive change. On the other hand, "Cover the Earth" coupled with the dripping logo conveys pollution, viscosity, and mess.