We marketers get a tough time when we try to do some good. Cynics say we’re only looking for good press, they’re probably right. No matter how worthy the cause, how valuable the corporate social responsibility (CSR) scheme be it funding cancer research, paying college tuition or telling people to be sensible with their legal drugs, there’s always a voice in our head screaming: “but what are they really getting out of it?”
As I mentioned in a previous post, the relationship between individuals and commercial entities isn’t all that genuine because we have an agenda – to sell to you – sometimes we’re not even selling – we’re buying awareness or building brand as we call it.
Comedian Bill Hicks told any of us in advertising or marketing to just “kill ourselves“, do a YouTube search for this video, which really nails our profession in less than 3 minutes.
It’s not that I’m too lazy to embed the video, it’s just that there are some copyright issues and it’s sure to be taken down the minute I post it!
If we accept that corporations are “in it for themselves” (which incidentally I don’t have a problem with – I’m all for micro capitalism*), then surely as consumers we have to take some responsibility ourselves: we are the captains of our own destiny and we, as consumers, should make informed purchases and decisions based on our own moral compass rather than reading about Brand X’s latest do-good scheme which conveniently airbrushes years, possibly decades of unethical practices.
We can decide which newspaper to buy, which radio station to listen to, which products to buy and which services to engage based on what we find both comfortable and acceptable.
Recently, I purchased a gift of a pedicure for a friend, I had some choices. For more or less the same money, the “treatment” could be in a small salon run by a working mother who’s been regularly employing people for over ten years or in more opulent surroundings of a full spa with many and varied facilities in a stunning location.
I choose to buy the treatment from the provider who didn’t cunningly get 90% of their debt written off, declare themselves bankrupt overseas and continue to rub our (us lowly punters) faces in it by zooming by us in their latest A-Class vehicles both on land and air. When we get landed for almost €40 million of that debt, the pedicure, or any option there, doesn’t seem quite such good value.
It is up to us, as consumers, to be socially responsible and to avoid supporting businesses that are literally pillaging and plundering all around us.
*I’m sure there is a formal definition of micro capitalism, I deem it to be any gains from self-employment that are enough to reward and justify the risk without the supernormal profits that can either design or influence government policy.