We have some funny conversations in this house. We’ll sit in relative silence during the programs and then loudly debate the adverts. Recently, the topic has been charitable donations by big companies and how they are portrayed.
I think that everyone can agree that charity, giving some of your excess to those in need to help better their situation, is a good thing. Companies are known to try and improve their public image by committing grand gestures of charity and reaping the benefits in improved sales and reputation. Large companies are in a great position to do real good in the world with charitable actions so these should be encouraged but are there right ways and wrong ways to go about this?
I think so.
The latest offering from multinational giant P&G is an exchange. For every P&G product sold, the company promise to donate one day’s worth of clean drinking water. Now, P&G have a large charitable program and do a lot of good as a company, however they have a tendency to publicise their efforts with these ‘For every product sold we’ll do this….’ campaigns. It feels like the company is holding the less fortunate as hostages and we must pay the ransom.
Sure, we get to feel like we’re good people, helping the world with our product choices and purchasing habits, but is it really the best way? Must we be coerced into buying certain products with a promise of good karma? There’s no doubt that clean drinking water is a worthy cause but haven’t we learned that long term solutions are better than short term fixes?
Conversely, a new advert caught my attention today. Pedigree dog food, owned by an equally giant multinational, show us the journey of a rescue dog in a heart warming story with only a slight emphasis on the benefit that good food has for the dog. The hook? Pedigree are donating one million meals to rescue dogs this year. We, the consumers, don’t need to do anything to make this happen, it’s a guarantee. So we may be more likely to but the brand because we now associate them with a good deed, not because our action is needed to secure the charitable action.
Now, any charity from any direction is to be applauded and encouraged but is it not better to make the commitment without needing sales than to set a condition on your charity?
I know which I prefer.