Just when you thought Komen had gone too far, they go one step further

Pink drill bits

I had to post the following story. The hypocrisy is almost as bad as their tie in with KFC. Guess they still haven’t learned.

Critics blast Susan G. Komen foundation for pink drill bits

Published: Monday, October 13, 2014

Outrage has been building after the Susan G. Komen foundation announced earlier this month it was going to paint thousands of an oil field services company’s hydraulic fracturing drill bits pink.

Online opposition, including a petition with over 12,000 signatures, is pressing the breast cancer awareness foundation to end its partnership with Baker Hughes Inc.

“It’s the height of hypocrisy for Komen to claim to be fighting to cure breast cancer, while helping the fracking industry clean up its much-deserved toxic reputation for exposing people to some of the very same toxins that cause breast cancer in the first place,” petition organizers stated.

While no conclusive link has been proved, some studies suggest exposure to benzene, a chemical used in hydraulic fracturing, increases the risk of cancer.

Industry blog Energy in Depth shot back at what it called a “fringe faction” pushing the petition, “spreading mis-and disinformation about oil and gas development.”

Susan G. Komen said in a statement that Baker Hughes made “a flat donation to Komen, not tied to sales of the pink drill bits or any other product. We appreciate the efforts of Baker Hughes employees to show support for women and men facing breast cancer” (Joshua Cain, Fuel Fix, Oct. 10). –DTB

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Breast Cancer and Pink Ribbons…it’s not over

Last week, it was announced that Hayley Williams of Paramore would be the Hard Rock Cafe’s Pinktober ambassador. In conjunction with this, the band is promoting pink Classic Hard Rock t-shirts (in limited supply on their website and at select Hard Rock locations), and donating tickets to their upcoming tour so that breast cancer survivors can attend “The Self-Titled Tour” and meet the band.

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In the last week I have been asked to support breast cancer foundations by buying pink Marvelous Moxie lip gloss, go shopping at BJ’s for items like Hershey’s syrup with pink bottle tops, or I could truly indulge by purchasing a pink Ralph Lauren leather bag, where half the $2500 purchase price will go to the company’s Pink Pony Fund.

These are just a sampling of the thousands of ways consumers will be asked to donate to breast cancer charities, and no one will protest. We have come to expect to be awash in pink in October, just as November brings turkeys, and December brings Santa Clause.

But we shouldn’t be so reticent to accept this painting of our landscape. Here’s why.

In an age of information overload, charities have become sophisticated marketers. Those that successfully create a brand—Susan G. Komen or Livestrong, for example—receive the most funding, particularly corporate funding, while simultaneously drawing attention away from smaller and more local charities. These underfunded organizations may be more significant from the perspective of the overall social good. Take the example of Alzheimer’s disease. Baby boomers are aging, and significant resources will be needed in terms of patient care and caregiver support. There is no colorful ribbon for this disease, no way to make it pretty. And without that, there is little or no corporate support. After all, why would marketers wrestle with the reality of a devastating disease when they can sell a glossy pink lipstick or simply slap a pink ribbon on a product package instead? That’s not all. With more marketing and more attention, comes misinformation. Today, because of the ubiquity of pink, women continue to believe that breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women. It’s not. Heart disease is far more deadly: 1 in 3 women will die of heart disease, for breast cancer the statistic is 1 in 31.

Tying products to charities is called cause-related marketing. While this started in the 1980s with the American Express/Statue of Liberty campaign, it is only in the last decade that it has become standard operating procedure for most brand companies. By 2010, 75 percent of brands used cause marketing, and 97 percent of marketers think it is an important strategy. Broad acceptance has been driven by two key events: September 11th, after which consumers increasingly expected corporations to demonstrate good corporate citizenship, and the rise in social media, which enabled people to easily share information about charities with their friends and followers. In addition, charitable tie-ins have moved out of corporate PR and into strategic marketing plans, where they are expected to generate profits, not simply goodwill.

Pink ribbons and breast cancer are not the only campaigns. Products from tampons to telephones have tied their brands to charities related to health, education and the environment, causes that appeal to women who are the primary purchasers of consumer products. Pulling at women’s heartstrings has worked, but cause marketing is so omnipresent that it may become marketing wallpaper—it’s there, but you don’t see it.

For sure, charities need money, and businesses should be good corporate citizens. Rather than marry consumerism to philanthropy, however, companies need to embrace social innovation, a strategy whereby philanthropy and sustainability are built into the corporate structure. For example, Warby Parker sells reasonably priced eyewear and donates in a buy-one-give-in strategy. Participant Media produces positive content—An Inconvenient Truth, The Help and Lincoln, among others—and attaches pro-social outreach. Even Walmart—which rightfully has its critics—has moved in this direction by working with suppliers to reduce packaging, thus significantly reducing environmental impacts.

These are a vast improvement over cause-related marketing campaigns that come with consequences for sponsors and society alike. Campaigns are often in conflict with the work that the company does. In a well-known example, KFC sold pink buckets of chicken—a serious snafu in that fried chicken leads to obesity which is considered a significant risk factor for breast cancer. Additionally, consumers are unaware how much of their money, if any, is going to charity. Corporations have been trying to be more transparent in this regard, but the truth is that if a company caps the amount of money they are donating to a charity (“buy this bracelet and help us donate $50,000 to breast cancer research”) you don’t know when the cap has been reach and if you are contributing to the cause. More important, in the glare of the supermarket and the adrenaline rush of buying a $2500 designer handbag, we lose sight of the sick and the poor and the hungry, and maybe just a bit of our humanity. Finally, cause marketing relieves governments and corporations of their social responsibilities for solving large-scale social problems and puts them squarely on the back of consumers.

Cause marketing offers symptom relief—food for the hungry, money for research—but it obscures core problems. Hunger is in truth an issue of joblessness, for example, and buying lip gloss isn’t going to make that go away.

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The truth about Turkey…a bit off topic, but a place certainly where compassion is much in need

I received this email today as part of a listserv I am on. It is written by a Turkish media scholar. I felt it was important to disseminate his words.

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UPDATE: What’s going on In Turkey?
Irfan Erdogan

Followings include facts, results of my participative observation in
Ankara and Istanbul (Taksim/Gezi) between June 5 and June 17 and views
of many people that I talked with:
But first I would like to write the fact about the forceful evacuation
of the Gezi park:

It was Saturday. Probably more than a million people, including
tourists, visited the Gezi park on Saturday. Taksim and Gezi Park was
full of people. They were continuously moving (some were coming others
were leaving). I went back to Ankara and brought my wife, my teenage kid
and nephew to the Gezi Park so that they witness the history in making
in the Gezi park and see that what they hear about Gezi Park are bunch
of lies produced by those who cannot change the facts/realities but can
create false images about realities in the minds of especially their
followers by forging and disseminating lies. In the park, they walked
and heard the announcement that there would be evening and night
activities such as theatre show, poem reading, dancing, music etc. There
was a festival mood in the park. We left the Gezi park and walked down
the Istiklal/Independence Street in Taksim just like masses of people
do. Later, we decided to return the park. We approached the park’s large
entrance about 50 meters. The park and surroundings were packed with
people. We did not hear any announcement by police. But later I learned
that police asked people to leave the park and Taksim. It seems that
people did not listen to police, because nobody expected that police
would attack hundreds of thousands people with gas and pressured water.
Suddenly, police started using pressured water that has an unknown
chemical in it. People started running. In a few minutes, Gezi Park was
covered with tick gas clouds. They used something other than gas and
water: I heard noises of bombs (extremely loud noise) and saw fires
where the bombs fall inside the Gezi Park. Police shot gas bombs to
people all around the park and on the streets of Taksim. I, my wife and
my two teenagers found ourselves in between people and police, and two
gas bombs were thrown to my teenagers. Luckily, two youngsters rushed
and took the bombs and threw them back to police. Eyes burning and lungs
full of gas, everybody was gasping for air and some were screaming for
help. At one moment, I thought I was going to die. I did not have my gas
mask and protective helmet, because I did not expect police would attack
during the day. I lost my wife and kids in the crowd. I, like many other
people, rushed into a hotel at a side street. I was choking and my
throat and inside were burning. I, with other people, stayed about half
an hour there, because street were full of gas and some police (not all
of them) were threatening us with their batons (There were people who
have their house right next door or around the corner, people who were
on their way to their home who support the demonstrations: People were
extremely angry). I had to go back to the Gezi park to see what is going
on and to get my car because I had parked my car right in front of it
(about 75 meters from the Divan hotel where wounded people were
treated). Police moved down the street away from the Gezi Park and I
left the hotel and ran toward the park. The park was in complete
darkness and completely empty. I saw fires at the street. My car was
there, only one car, surprisingly untouched. There were many police on
the street and in front of the Divan Hotel and a lot of demonstrators
along the street. Police were throwing gas on them. I took my car and
drove about 800 meters down the street where there was no police action.
I followed a small crowd back to where the action is. We saw gas smoke
in front of the Divan Hotel. (Later I learned that police threw gas bomb
inside the hotel. The Prime Minister was very angry at people and hotels
that opened their doors to people/demonstrators. He and other government
officials said that these hotels will be punished. He was furious and he
said that he knows who sent food to Gezi Park and let the doctors treat
the wounded in their premises. He threatened them by saying that what
they did will not remain unpunished). Police also threw gas toward the
street that I was at and chased the people. I run back too and took my
car and moved further away. I lost my direction because I do not know
Istanbul. I saw people looking for their kids, friends and relatives.
(Today,Monday, I learned that there are over 450 missing persons. We
also do not know what police did the demonstrators that they arrested).
I was lucky because my wife and kids have mobile phones.
Demonstrators/people were defending themselves in various streets
(especially Istiklal (independence) street. I spent almost an hour to
find my wife and kids. We left with car. We saw a lot of people walking
along one of the main highway. We went to a relative’s house and we saw
that the mayor of Istanbul called gendarme (a special section of the
army, like National Guard) for help to stop the people walking on the
highway.
On Monday, the assistant of prime minister declared that they will use
the army if needed.
On Sunday, all the roads going to Taksim were closed down and
transportations were suspended. However, we saw people demonstrating
around the Taksim and later other places in Istanbul.
Right after the evacuation of Gezi Park, Mteh ayor of Istanbul (who
behaved two-faced: as one person complained, he fooled people by kind
and considerate words like a satan before the attack and ordered the
police attack and lied afterwards) said in the news that police made
announcements about 40 minutes and asked people to leave the park. This
part of the speech was right. But the following explanations of the
mayor were sheer fabrication: He said that they evacuated the park after
people left the park and there were only 29 wounded. On the contrary,
the inside of the park and Taksim were full of masses of people when
police started the attack. He said nothing about the attack of police at
the masses of people all around the park, especially at the Istiklal
Street. He did say nothing about gassing the people on the streets,
because, we know that he and prime minister consider everybody who goes
to Gezi Park as enemy.
The prime minister, police and his followers claim that the
demonstrators are a marginal group. First of all, demonstrators are not
a marginal group because millions of people are demonstrating all over
Turkey. The prime minister, police and followers claim that the marginal
groups have no right to exist and demonstrate; demonstrators can be
gassed, attacked, arrested and beaten up. Participative democracy means
inclusive understanding, not exclusion of those who are not the
followers of the governing party.
The European Union Speaker said that Erdogan performed good deeds
for democracy such as measures he took and arrests he made in the army.
The EU speaker is completely wrong: The Europeans cannot comprehend how
the contemporary reactionary forces work: they ride the democracy train
with using democratic rhetoric while cunningly implementing their
policies of anti-democratic change. (1) The ruling party in Turkey has
to take revenge from the Turkish army because The army had the policy to
expel reactionary elements from the army,(2) has to transform Turkish
army into the army of the reactionary party dictatorship. The west,
especially the U.S. administrations still keep on creating monster
rulers in Africa, Latin America, Asia and all over the world. Some of
these monsters such as Saddam and Noirega later bite the hands that feed
them, and the west engages in policies to get rid of them.

There is another side of the situation: European rulers who invaded
Turkey after the First World War, but lost at the end, have found the
chance of revenge from Atatürk via the Erdogan government, just like the
reactionary forces of Ottoman Empire found a chance of revenge via the
same government. Pursuing the aim of historical revenge, Europeans close
their eyes to the fact that the main goal of Atatürk was to establish an
independent state of western type. They are, just like the reactionary
forces in Turkey, after taking a revenge.

1. Now there is no Gezi Park movement in Gezi park, but people are
demonstrating against the government all over Turkey: Everywhere in
Turkey is Gezi Park. People say the issue is not saving a park from
plunder and misuse by powers who abuse religion and religious beliefs to
rule and destroy democracy in Turkey using the name of democracy,
freedom etc. The issue is the struggle against the political party that
is making the Turkish state “a state of a reactionary party supported by
the some Western interests”. They say the issue is to fight the empire
of lies and oppression. They say the party dictatorship of Erdogan is
aimed at eliminating democratic historical and cultural foundations of
Turkish republic. His followers see themselves as “soldiers of the
Ottoman Empire,” not soldiers of democracy, freedom and human rights.
2. The demonstrations in Turkey did not end after the forceful
evacuation of Gezi Park. It is easy to guess that there will be many
“Gezi Parks” in Istanbul and other cities.
3. People in many cities in Turkey are still demonstrating. Police
are attacking people all around and many places day and night in Istanbul.
4. We do not know how many people are injured since the forceful
evacuation of the GEZİ Park. But we can expect more death and injuries
since the demonstrations continue all over Turkey. However, we have some
statistics before the evacuation. The following statistics excluding the
number of deaths show only the number of people who asked for medical
treatment. A lot of people do not ask medical help either because of the
fear that they will be included in the list of government (blacklisting
for immediate and later punishment) or because they think they do not
need medical help (Numbers of these people — e.g., I still have nausea
from the gas — are probably hundreds of thousands. I also saw young
demonstrators with dislocated shoulders and wounds all over their
bodies: they do not seek medical help because they do not want to leave
the struggle even for medical treatment).
5. Doctors, medical students and medical workers who helped the
wounded in the park and in Divan Hotel were arrested by police. The
governing forces consider and declare anyone who treats the wounded as
enemy to be punished.
6. Lawyers who support the demonstrators were arrested.
7. Today (Monday), the labor unions performed one day work stoppage
all over the country.
8. According to Statistics of the Chamber of Turkish Doctors, Until
June 14 (before the evacuation), there were 11823 wounded and 5 deaths,
and according to the records of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation,
2636 people arrested. 48 of them were arrested because of their twitter
messages. These numbers are increasing since the evacuation. The
government speakers declare that they will find and prosecute those who
used the internet for the purpose of demonstration.
9. Now there are a teenager and a university student in extremely
critical condition in hospital.
10. There is visual record of the police officer who shot in close
range, with a 9 mm handgun, at one of the protesters who died later.
There are many visuals about how police brutally beat people, however,
there is no action taken by the justice department.
11. People think that the prime minister divides the people as “US”
and enemy “THEM”. Speakers in pro-governmental media use lies, curses
and threats; they promote hatred, enmity and hostility towards people
who are not with them. Strong and feverish hate speeches fill the air
day and night.
12. While pro-government media incite hate and hostility, few media
that provide news about the demonstrations are fined by the RTUK (RTUK
is a government controlled institution theoretically similar to The U.S.
Federal Communication Commission), and the license of one tv station was
revoked.
13. In order to justify the oppressive measures and policies, they
ask people questions like “Do you want the terror to be ended?” There is
only one answer to this question: “yes”, and then they declare that
people support them.
14. According to people, the prime minster does not tell the truth
and uses and repeats many fabricated lies in his speeches that include:
a. He said 17 people died during the Occupy Wall Street
demonstrations (He justifies killing by the fabricated lie that the US
Embassy statement was invalidated. People say that no human being tries
to justify oppression and killings by the killings and oppressions
happened elsewhere). This is only an example of many lies that are put
into circulation and used by the Turkish prime minister and propagandists.
b. He repeatedly says that Gezi Park smells like urine and
demonstrators shit everywhere in the park. (There is one modern toilet
in the park, continuously cleaned by the attendants and open 24 hours.
There are also modern portable toilets. There were over 900 tents and
10000 citizens/people staying 24 hours in the park; and they were mostly
highly educated young people: They do not have the custom of shitting
where they sleep).
c. He claims that girls with turban (turban is the fashion dress of
the industrialists who market their goods by using/abusing Muslim
beliefs) are molested in Gezi Park. (I saw girls and ladies with Turban
walking in Gezi Park and nobody bothered them. There is no probability
of molestations, because people in the park are for freedom, human
rights and democracy, not for the oppression).
d. He claims that demonstrators engage in sexually indecent
activities in the park. The prime minster also talked about girls
sitting on the lap of men in the park. (He means girls are making sex
with many men in the park. I was there and spent a few nights and did
not sleep all night like all of them, because always there were rumors
about police attacks at certain hours of late night: People staying in
the park were there not for sex but for freedom, democracy and human
rights. Furthermore, people resent such interference of government to
their life and decisions and fabricated lies. This is one of the main
reasons that people are in demonstrations).
e. He, angrily as usual, repeats that demonstrators entered the
mosque with their shoes on and drank alcohol in the mosque. (In order to
believe in such claim a person should be really mindless or heartless,
because people were escaping from the police, they were gassed and they
were trying to save their life, and hodja –priest of mosque— let them
in and Mosque became a temporary infirmary to treat these people. People
were in pain, some were in shock and some were screaming. Reacting to
lies, the hodja declared that nobody drank alcohol in the mosque. Hodja
was punished for telling the truth: He is not working there anymore.
f. He calls Ataturk and Inonu (two founding leaders of Turkey) “two
drunkards” and accuses the people in Gezi park by saying that they use
alcohol. People resent that the prime minister calls the founding
leaders “two drunkards” and resent the administration’s interference
into their life, decisions and things they do. I saw some youngsters
drinking beer in the park; it is their choice as long as they do not
bother other people. I also saw two or three drunk bummers –if not
plain cloth police– coming to the park late at night and trying to
create disturbance.
g. He talks about 50 percent of the population that support him. In
the last election, 46 million of people voted and the governing party
received 21 million votes. The population of Turkey is nearly 80 million.
h. The prime minister calls demonstrators “looters.” There was not a
single incidence of looting. Demonstrators were mostly highly educated
and sensitive people with good heart and social conscious. They were
from all walks of life including high school and university students,
artists, professionals such as lawyers and teachers.

15. He degrades and insults people who did not vote for him and
demonstrates against his deeds:
a. He degrades women by saying that “pots and pans, all usual tune”
(Namely, he calls women’s demonstrations as “hot air”. He degrades women
who use their pasn and pots to make noise on the street and from their
houses’ balcony to express their opinions and support for demonstrations).
b. He calls demonstrators and his opponents “bunch of hoodlums.” (The
fact is that the great majority of people with high education do not
vote for him. His supporters unfortunately are uneducated, misled and
misinformed masses. Some of these masses get financial and food help
from the government. A lot of poor people vote for the governing party,
because they get periodical food assistance.

16. He continuously threatens people by stating that they will hunt
down those who participated in and supported the demonstrations and
provided food and shelter to them. Examples of hunting down and punishment:
a. Storming in their homes and arresting youngsters using twitter and
internet.
b. Announcing that “we know who they are (people and institutions
that bring food to demonstrators, hotels that open their doors to people
who escape from police gas and beatings) and they will not be remained
unpunished.
c. Police stormed a political party headquarter and arrested the
party personnel.
d. They tried to find the names of doctors and medical staff who help
the wounded in and outside the Gezi park. I am sure they collected
enough information about people for witch hunting later.
e. He accuses BBC, CNN and other international media and journalists
for their support for the demonstrations. I watched CNN last night and
saw that the CNN news are basically pro-government (supporings the prime
minister by saying that, e.g., he did a lot of good things for the
country). The BBC provided balanced news.
f. He threatens everybody in Turkey by saying that he can hardly hold
the 50 % of people” (he means that 50 percent of Turkey are ready to
smash the demonstrators all over Turkey). I know there will be
increasing attacks on people demonstrating in their neighborhoods by the
organized groups on top of the police.

Turkish policy in the Middle East was based on the non-interference
until the current government. The world press and intellectuals know
that the Turkish government is involved in the dangerous politics of the
Middle East and meddling with Syrian and Iranian politics. It seems like
Turkey will be deeply divided along the religious sectarian lines,
secular and religious lines, Kurdish and Turkish lines; Turkey will be
turned to be just like other Middle East country in deep civil war and
terrorist activities. The solution is (1) that the Turkish government
should stop meddling with Middle East Politics and stop being part of
the bloody politics of the Western powers in the Middle East, (2) there
should be a democratic government in Turkey. As one religious person
told me, “we are ruled by sons of iblis/devil/satan who are disguised as
God’s and people’s servants”.

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When a nonprofit is not a nonprofit

Today’s New York Post called out Jenifer Rajkumar, a rising politician in NYC, for having a do nothing nonprofit.

W-Spin (2)

According to the article,

W-Spin claims to have a mentoring program that “educate[s] 8 to 12 year old girls all over the world on political leadership,” as well as a program that teaches “young women from Abu Dhabi to Cairo” the story of “forgotten heroines all over the world.”

In reality, the nonprofit is a line on Ms. Rajkumar’s resume and, from what I can tell, a Facebook page that hasn’t been written on since 2011 (other than to change the cover photo in 2012)–what better metaphor for marketing over substance!

Update: The New York Post now says that the nonprofit has not raised any money, and that the nonprofit mention has been removed from Ms. Rajkumar’s resume. Small comfort for legitimate nonprofits, who have a hard enough time raising money for their causes.

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Boston

September 11th…Hurricane Sandy…and now, Boston.

Each new tragedy raises expectations that corporations will do something to aid the victims. “Something,” however, has gotten ever more complex. After all, how do you support those affected without looking like you are cashing in on tragedy? And, in the case of Boston, who are you raising money for? Unlike Hurricane Sandy, for instance, where the Red Cross was an obvious recipient, this was an event where individuals were affected within the context of their daily lives. Their homes weren’t destroyed; their bodies were.

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For Adidas, one of the sponsors of the Boston Marathon, doing something meant creating a t-shirt for which the proceeds would go to the One Fund Boston (see below). Ever the smart marketers, they had the shirt out almost immediately, they priced the shirts at $26.20 reflecting the 26.2 miles of the marathon, and the company logo was prominently displayed on the sleeve as you can readily see in the picture above. With people not knowing how or where to donate money, Adidas provided a focus and the product was successful beyond measure, selling out within a day according to Businessweek. Through the sale of this shirt, Adidas donated more than $1 million dollars, a company spokesperson told the Huffington Post.

Not to be a naysayer, but let’s ask some questions:

1) If the sales of the t-shirt are generating the donation and there is obviously consumer interest, why stop at $1 million when the money is raised from the shirts’ proceeds? (It is the proceeds from the sale and not the entire purchase price that contributes to the donation so this is not directly coming out of the company’s pocket. Note: Initially the website said “proceeds;” it now says “profits.” I suspect because the original term was deceptive. Note too that while the shirt pictured above is no longer offered, Adidas is selling a simple grey t-shirt as a pre-order. There is no mention of a monetary cap, but there most likely is one given that this is standard cause marketing practice), and

2) Why create the t-shirt and not simply give a donation? With a market cap of $21 billion and more than $2 billion cash on hand, it’s not like Adidas couldn’t give the money themselves and take the accompanying tax writeoff.

The answer, in part, has to do with why any company engages in a cause marketing campaign: it generates goodwill, it provides significant and overwhelmingly positive PR and, in this case, for as long as those t-shirts last, the purchased item acts to promote Adidas and connect the company in consumers’ minds as a corporation that cares. A donation is a one-time event with no visual reminder; a t-shirt lasts forever.

Does that mean that Adidas was simply being opportunistic? Not necessarily…and this has more to do with consumers than corporations.

After a tragedy, there is a natural need for a talisman, something physical to hold on to in order to control your fear. A psychology theory, called terror management theory (TMT), hypothesizes that a function of culture is to help lessen anxiety around death. Awareness of one’s own morality is heightened after violent events like Boston, and people look for ways to manage their fear of the inevitable. Fear can be lessened by bolstering your self-esteem, which we often do by acquiring possessions, that is, we go shopping. Buying and wearing the t-shirt increases your positive sense of self (while assuaging your terror) because it reminds you that you have helped others while simultaneously demonstrating to others that you are a caring person. This is something that writing a check simply cannot do.

One-Fund

Alternatively, John Hancock–also a marathon sponsor–donated $1 million in cash, which became the “cornerstone donation” for the creation of the One Fund Boston, a charitable fund established by the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts. I suspect this charity was created for a couple of key reasons: First, for those inside–and importantly outside–of Boston, the fund becomes a focal point for those wishing to help out. It’s about branding really. People are talking about “Boston” — the city, the marathon — it’s that one word that is on people’s minds. They aren’t thinking “Red Cross” or “United Way”; they are thinking “Boston” and the One Fund Boston provides a direction for people’s generous impulse. Second, in the wake of September 11th, a slew of charitable organizations appeared. Many were legitimate, but just as many were simply raising funds to cash in on the tragedy. (See The Huffington Post). Creating the One Fund Boston enabled the city to get ahead of those sorts of abuses.

So which is the better corporate response?

Both are acceptable within context. While I am not a big fan of attaching donations to the purchase of a product, we cannot negate people’s urge to have something physical to hang on to. I give Adidas kudos for clarifying their donation is based on profits; better would be if they said “$10 from the sale of this t-shirt goes to the One Fund Boston.” In terms of John Hancock and the One Fund Boston, the issue is going to be one of transparency: about how much money is raised (there is a tally of funds prominently displayed on the website) and about how the money is being distributed and to whom–that question remains unanswered.

Whether a tragedy or not, corporations have a responsibility to the communities within which they exist. We used to call that being a good corporate citizen. John Hancock and Adidas were both sponsors of the Boston Marathon. But these companies didn’t have a responsibility because they are sponsors, per se, but because they are members of the community affected by the tragic events: John Hancock as a member of the Boston community and Adidas as a member of the community of runners.

Since the bombing, many more companies have donated money with little publicity for themselves. This is right and good. Brand visibility needs to take a back seat in cases like these. Moreover, donations other than money need to be considered. There are often ways in which companies are in a unique position to help. For example, after Hurricane Sandy Home Depot not only donated $1 million including cleaning and building supplies, but they also organized volunteers and used their stores as drop-off sites for donations. Did this generate goodwill for the company? Yes. Was that the only reason the company did it? I don’t think so. I’m not that cynical.

Unlike other heartbreaking events, the need for immediate funding seems less acute. People will need assistance over the long term learning how to walk again and laugh again and maybe run again. We have all heard the heartwarming stories of people who were injured vowing to run the marathon. Maybe there is a company that can donate a lifetime supply of shoes, or the sports companies probably have trainers on staff and can provide access to those skills. In the end, it is up to the company to understand their expertise and see how they might use it in the service of good in a community that has been so sorely touched by evil.

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Clarins–A lesson how not to do Cause Marketing

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Clarins has created a new cause marketing campaign in conjunction with Macy’s and the Feed Project, which it is calling a “gift with purpose” instead of a “gift with purchase” — the standard in makeup promotion.

According to the NY Times:

For 10 days beginning on Wednesday, when shoppers buy two Clarins items at Macy’s, along with adding the typical premium of six trial-size products, Clarins will donate $1 to an antihunger group, the equivalent of paying for 10 school meals. The promotion is a partnership between Clarins, Macy’s and Feed Projects, which addresses children’s hunger and malnutrition globally.

The article goes on to explain–at some length–that the charity is connect to the Bush family and Ralph Lauren and other celebrities. Women who purchase the cosmetics will get a “Feed 10″ bag as shown in the picture.

Quoting a spokesperson for Macy’s the real point of the campaign becomes clear:

“This idea of a ‘gift with purpose’ is a really great opportunity,” Ms. Thomas said. “With no energy or lift on the customers’ part, they get this really feel-good element with the shopping experience.”

While consumers get to feel good (and presumably look pretty), they don’t have to think about children going hungry nor do they get information about how they can really help or a picture of whom it is they are helping–something that Carol Cone so aptly notes.

The last thing that needs to be questioned is why is a cosmetic company donating to a food cause? Sure, it appeals to its consumer base but it has nothing to do with their business. Wouldn’t giving free makeovers to survivors of cancer, for example, make more sense?

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Vaseline…Does anyone else find this misleading?

I recently saw an ad similar to the one below in a woman’s magazine.

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Given the rise in cause marketing, I thought the copy was going to go on to explain the charitable good that the company was doing. Rather, it talked about the attributes of the lotion.

Unilever–Vaseline’s parent company–has a strong commitment to social innovation. Can’t blame me for thinking this was about social good and not how good my skin is going to feel. It’s truly how far we have come.

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Supporting Gay Marriage

Budweiser, a company you might not think of as a bastion of liberalism, has shown its support for gay marriage.

Anheuser-Busch is not alone. In the midst of the Supreme Court debates about gay marriage, a number of consumer goods (and service) companies have come out on either side of the argument. Not surprisingly, most companies have come out in favor of gay marriage because the vast majority of Americans (also known as consumers) are pro-DOMA. According to an ABC/Washington Post poll:

81% of Americans under 30 support gay marriage, but so do 44% of seniors…Both of these age groups have shown substantial increases in support over the past ten years. Along political lines, 72% of Democrats, 62% of independents and 34% of Republicans support gay marriage. Clearly, most Independents are siding with Democrats on this issue. Again, among all groups, support for gay marriage is on the rise.

This quote is from a recent Psychology Today article which also notes that Amazon’s Kindle comes out for gay marriage as does Expedia. The latter “ad” is really a short viral video, which won Ad Age’s Tear Jerker of the Year Award. When you see it, you will understand why.

My hat is off to this type of corporate responsibility. It does not ask consumers to buy anything, but when they do they know what they are supporting…Which might not always be the case. Take for example, this piece about Chick-fil-A…now talk amongst yourselves.

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A simple thing….

I got this in my email box and it was so simple, as some of the best ideas are.

As you may know, TV and movie academy members get DVDs (known as screeners) so they can watch programs or movies that may be up for an award. The TV academy sent out the following email:

Attention members: If you have old DVD screeners or other discs that you’re no longer using, don’t throw them away—bring them along the next time you attend Film Group or other events at the Television Academy’s headquarters and leave them in the recycle bin we have placed in the lobby of the Goldenson Theatre.

Instead of winding up in the trash, the discs will be collected by Project Hollywood Cares and sent to U.S. military service personnel deployed overseas, wounded servicemen and women in military hospitals and the surviving spouses and children of fallen heroes. We ask that you please limit donations to DVDs—we regret that we can no longer accept VHS tapes. In addition to DVDs, we welcome financial donations of any size, which will help enormously to defray the considerable costs of shipping your donated materials abroad.

Arrangements may also be made to donate DVDs/CDs, etc., at Project: Hollywood Cares on the CBS Studio Center lot in Studio City. Call (XXX) XXX-XXXX or email tfick@projecthollywoodcares.org to schedule studio parking/admittance and check hours of operation. Thank you for your generosity. To donate, volunteer, or for more information about Project Hollywood Cares, click here.

…now that’s a thanks worth working for.

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What is Charity?

On December 12, 2012, there will be a concert to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

As with all such efforts, the questions are: how will the money be raised, how much and how will it get to those in need.

Charity fundraising and it’s lack of transparency are addressed in Storm Charity: 15% of What? a recent article in the New York Times in which Compassion, Inc. is highlighted.

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