In a recent post I mentioned CSR (Consumer Social Responsibility) as a long-term corporate strategy where companies will try to enhance their public image and increase consumer spending.
Clearly one of the most well advertised CSR campaign has been the Product (Red) Campaign which delivers high end products through companies like Gap, American Express, Apple, Motorolla and Converse.
On March 4, Mya Frazier of Ad Age wrote an article, "Costly RED Campaign Reaps Meager $18 million." Which criticized Product (Red) of spending $100 in advertising to raise only $18 million.
This has inspired a number of responses, including responses from Bob Shriver, Red CEO, and Richard Feachem the executive director of the Global Fund.
Yet Advertising Age is not the only whistle blower. The situation for many, like NYU economics professor William Easterly, is much larger, as many have recently been critical of foreign aid in Africa suggesting it supports a larger problem in Africa, which is government corruption, which hinders African countries from becoming democratic of achieving sustainable economic growth. (I instantly think of the movie The Constant Gardner)
Is criticism over the (Red) Campaign unnecessary criticism, and just a result of our critical culture? Or are these concerns legitimate?
Personally, in age of CSR, I think companies like Gap Inc. should back off from advertising their social responsibility by traditional ad means. Instead release press-releases and inform local activist groups of the project, and train company employees to be able to speak about the project. Using buzz marketing principles, this CSR campaign could potentially be very profitable and at the same time protect these companies from appearing as though they were exploiting disease and poverty to gain wealth, and spending 5 times as much to promote their campaign than they are able to donate.
I appreciate the Buy (Less) Crap campaign that encourages people simply to buy less and give instead of participating in these corporate campaigns which encourages consumption of unnecesary luxary products. And yet, I also acknowledge to power of large scale organizations to chanel the masses into opportunities to give big by everyone giving small. (It's like the money they made in Office Space by taking the rounded pennies and putting the money into one account).
It may be eutopian but I wish we could live with the mindset of the Buy (Less) Crap slogan: "Shopping is not a solution. Buy less. Give more."
You can also check out the Red Blog here.
(More here and here)
Related Tags: economics, csr, consumer social responsibility, red, campaign, gap inc, apple, american express, social justice, Africa, aids, health, consumerism, advertising, William Easterly, Bob Shriver, Richard Feachem, Global Fund, World Poverty