Monday, March 05, 2007

I guess soup kitchens just have crappy lighting

And this may be the reason why Bono spent 100 million buckaroos in well-lighted marketing/promotion on his RED campaign. Now, I was a fan at the start, even blogging here and here, but now I'm pissed. His 100 million spent kissing Oprah's wallet, taking beautiful shots of beautiful people, sponsoring everything under the sun, and saturating consumers with what is at heart a great idea, ONLY YIELDED 18 MILLION IN DONATIONS. For those of you in marketing, or just into budgeting in general, you'll see that the ROI on this is horrid.

The result? Well, partner brand reputation is going to suffer. Companies that signed on to raise awareness for AIDS in Africa are now going to have to mess with damage control. The public will get wind of this and probably stop and think harder about buying RED products. Non-profits are going to kick their dwindling buckets of donations in anger. One heckuva parody effort, Buy (LESS) CRAP! launched.

But the biggest fear I have? a young consumer...I'm worried an opportunity at a new kind of consumerism was botched and will create yet more cynicism among a demographic that could, for years to come, change the donation model through better buying decisions.

Whew. That was a rant. But I'm mad. Cause marketing already walks an incredibly thin line and this doesn't help cause-based campaigns that are truly doing great work and watching their costs. They're out there. Find them. And they're getting great, positive press. I guess this might be a lesson to me, and others. Maybe I should have waited before jumping on the Bono bandwagon. Maybe I should have been more critical. But you know what, I hate to. I like trusting that people/companies are just plain being nice. I like thinking I'm part of something new and different.

In the end, the nearly 40 bucks I spent on a RED shirt might have better been spent as a donation to Aids Walk Kansas City. Or gas money from my house to a soup kitchen. I guess it's all relative, but it's certainly a wake up call to assess how each of us, as individuals, want to contribute to the greater good.

I'd love to hear from Mike (a former boss and cause thought leader) on this, at Citizen Brand. He's been at the helm of some great cause efforts that found the positive balance between marketing and impact. And others. Especially people in my generation. Those that accompanied me to the Hotel Cafe Tour and raved about its RED partnership, maybe.

Anyway...I'm done. Time for more coffee and a few deep breaths.

Listening to - Great Lake Swimmers, Ongiara

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Blogger Sara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Paul A. said...

Nail on the head, brother. Seems Apple, Gap and Motorola were more focused on Talking the Talk than Walking the Walk.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you have to get passed all the MBA terms and theories and realize Product RED is a business, and like most businesses, requires and initial investment. A 20% ROI in under six months is great.

10:07 PM  

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