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#BellLetsTalk Day: Dialogue, Brands, and Microdonations

#BellLetsTalk Day: Dialogue, Brands, and Microdonations

Bell Let's Talk 1

It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada, which means that telecommunications giat Bell Canada is promising a 5¢ donation for every text message or long-distance phone call sent on their network, or Tweet with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, or share of their Facebook images, to select mental health projects in Canada.

It’s a popular pay-per-use and pay-per-share program, with 42,510,009 interactions of this writing. It even got a signal boost from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. All while working to raise awareness of the need to end the social stigma over mental illness.

Beauty, eh?

In some ways, yes. Talking about mental heath/illness/differences is good. It needs to happen every day, but at least today it’s high on the radar. And Bell does provide some decent resources.

Is it self-serving? Of course! Bell is buying attention on the coattails of an issue that is very, very important to many people. But isn’t that how “Corporate Social Responsibility” works? It’s an even trade.

More suspect is when other brands get involved.

Here’s Harvey’s, a national burger chain:

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 1.49.36 PM

I found the passive tense a little suspect, so I asked the brand directly whether the 5¢ they promised was in addition to Bell’s promise, or if they were just “piggybacking.” No response.

This underlines the danger of campaigns that promise donations for engagement: They’re open to all kinds of opportunism. From politicians, to rock stars,  media moguls and consumer brands (above), the campaign enables slacktivism at all levels. Some of it will spur helpful conversations, some won’t; but all will add to the perceived social media status of everyone involved. Myself included.

My question to you is: Can we find a better way to meet the needs of brands and causes?

Let’s spark a conversation here, if you’re up to it.

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more

1 Comment

  1. Reuben Turner 9 months ago

    Hi Tom, I think this is really interesting and something that’s exercising me at the moment. On the one hand, it’s real progress that brands are aligning themselves with knotty, previously ‘no go’ areas such as mental health and homophobia.
    And of course, it’s good that they’re doing something at all!
    But I think where social purpose is heading is for brands to aim to have a more meaningful and lasting impact on society than just throwing money at a nonprofit (and hoping for a short-term uplift in sales). That’s about collaborating with others to genuinely solve social problems, by using ALL the resources at the brand’s disposal –people, networks, suppliers, communications channels and ultimately products. Arguably that’s where long-term relevance, brand salience and loyalty lie.
    It’s fascinating that Barbie, having started with a fun social purpose film, have now retooled their product range (if that’s the correct term!). Reuben

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