Heavy Handed

It’s no secret that major corporations espouse popular causes in order to a) build social capital and b) sell more product. These causes are generally non-controversial and obvious by the time Corporate America catches on, such as breast cancer awareness and cure research, AIDS prevention in Africa, and global warming remediation (which is still semi-controversial in the USA – but not to this writer).

Unfortunately, in the pursuit of public goodwill and profits, commercial operations tend to smack us in the head worse than their typical ad campaigns. I think that’s part of what pisses me off the most, too. The shoddy quality of planning and/or content really seems to cry, “we threw this together” much louder than, “we care about the cause.”

Take breast cancer awareness. Have you been able to visit a store over the past few months without seeing a pink version of a product sold “for the cure”? Kitchen Aid has a set of pink appliances. Target carries a special pink Shuffle. The cheerleaders at the Georgia Dome wore pink football jerseys when I was at the MNF game. I believe Delta Airlines slapped up a special pink logo on the big screens between every play.

There’s also the (PRODUCT) RED campaign launched by and Bono. Sure, this was an initiative formed with the intention of product sales generating charity dollars. But we still ended up with a host of ridiculous products – or at least a tacky reimagining of existing merchandise with a red hue.

And finally, the business decision that inspi(RED) me to write this post: NBC’s “Green Week“. You see, Valerie and I watch a fair number of NBC programs: Chuck, Heroes, SVU, and the four comedy shows on Thursday evenings.

Well NBC, which is a component of NBC Universal, which is in turn 80% owned by GE (who manufactures locomotives and jet engines, among other things), really put their imagination to work these past several days, stuffing contrived script and story elements into every major prime time television show. We had Adam Beach‘s character on SVU admonishing a co-worker about recycling for a mere thirty seconds. We have environmental themes forced into a “scared straight” prison program on My Name is Earl. And Randy has environmental tips on his blog? I already thought character blogs were stupid in the first place, but content that’s out of sync with the character is even worse.

I support all of these charitable efforts, and I believe awareness is a key component of furthering any cause. The in-your-face methodology of these corporate campaigns, however, does more to turn me off to their messages than instill motivation.

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