Friday, October 15, 2010

Some Things Just Get On My Last Nerve

I may get some critical mail about this. Or maybe not. I feel compelled to write about something I just don't understand. I'm not sure I would lump the basis of my complaint under the general category of corporate greed. But it rubs me the same way.

Here's my issue: The less than altruistic intentions of companies which loudly proclaim support (read create an ad campaign) for a socially compelling movement only to withhold that support unless the consumer public first jumps through unnecessary hoops.

In plain English, a yogurt brand got on my last nerve years ago by creating a campaign in support of breast cancer research. Now before you start clattering away on your keyboards out there, I am not saying I don't support breast cancer research because I do and I have for years. My beef is when a company says for every "this" or "that" you do, we will donate "X" amount to cancer research.

Said another way, not until a consumer does the certain thing (e.g., jump through "hoops") will the company make a donation. And when the "hoops" include unnecessary sanitary missteps and require the additional cost of postage, to me that's just slippery business---a way to get out of making the donation in the first place. Personally, I stopped buying the product and switched to another brand as my own private protest.

Why can't a company accept the transaction at the point of sale as evidence of a customer's support for the targeted social agenda? After all, I'm certain someone in the company has the job of tracking sales volume down to the last yogurt cup. So, why all the roadblocks?

I could be wrong here. But, at the risk of sounding totally naive, does it appear the business side tends to trump good intentions? If an ad is crafted to cast the company as being socially responsible, then why shouldn't the company simply honor their implied commitment to support the good cause from the outset and make a donation based simply on sales volume alone?

If there is a concern about business liability (that is, the unknown and potentially high cost of the donation), couldn't the company simply state their donation limit up front? How about "We will support the cause up to a maximum of "X" thousands or millions of dollars"? Or "Because our company is proud to support the cause, we have made a donation of "X" dollars on behalf of our loyal customers". Both seem like reasonable approaches to the same end.

So, why do I feel compelled to comment now? Well, another company (one competing for market share in the same niche) has designed their own variation of the "lick and mail" campaign. It's a bit more polished and uses the Internet and purchase codes to squeeze out customer "buy in" (pardon the pun). But the approach is essentially the same---jump through these "hoops" or we won't make a donation.

Sure they steered clear of the licking and the mailing. But what does entering a code on a message form do? Potentially, it gives the company a trace back to the computer or smart phone of every customer who sends a purchase code to the company via its website. Forgive my suspicious streak. Maybe companies don't do that sort of thing.

Bottom line is, wouldn't it be easier and much more effective for a company to step up and do the right thing all by themselves? Just wondering.

2 comments:

  1. Ironically, the chemical-laden yogurt that shall go unnamed is probably attributing to the growth of cancer in some way. I read a study about the levels of mercury in several high fructose corn syrup foods, and a very popular yogurt company's strawberry flavor was really high up on the list. Apparently, there is something about the process of making high fructose corn syrup that can lead to mercury contamination.

    At any rate, I've long since switched to plain, unsweetened yogurt (local, and organic when I can afford it) and as such find the leading yogurt much too sweet for my taste.

    In general, you'd be much better off buying a different brand and continuing to donate to cancer research on your own.

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