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.
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:
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.