Monday, July 23, 2007
Commercial, or not?
This piece from the Baltimore Sun got me thinking this morning: Turning to corporate America to save the world.
It talks about how the lines are getting blurry between celebrity fundraising and the corporate sponsors who help make the events a success. Discussed specifically are Bono's Red Campaign and Al Gore's Live Earth concert event. Both of these are highly visible campaigns to support a worthy social cause. Both of them included extensive advertising sponsorships--necessary to make them successful.
But, is the mix of corporate advertising and fundraising all good?
From the article: "By intertwining political messages in corporate advertising, Mr. Gore and Bono are attracting support for their causes, but they are also blurring important boundaries between commercial advertising and politics. The emerging role of advertisers as gatekeepers for political messages is a trend to be feared, especially with a Supreme Court that stands ready to bury the doctrine that distinguishes commercial speech (which may be regulated to protect the public) from political speech (which is protected by the First Amendment)."
Of course, this is the author's take on this (Robert Koulish). And, he has more to say:
"Mingling commercial and political speech would allow corporations to mislead - even lie to - the public about such matters as product safety, product effectiveness and corporate profits. Another danger is that once corporations start calling the shots and setting the agenda regarding global warming or HIV/AIDS, potential remedies for these ills would likely be limited to those that are also profitable."
I'm really struggling with this. On the one hand, I do understand the fears of big corporations misleading consumers, hiding behind the good message of a good cause.
On the other hand, I like the fact that more and more people and large organizations ARE standing behind a good cause. They're putting their money and their time into it--why shouldn't their brand benefit?
Regardless on where you stand on this topic, I do believe that this type of partnership between a celebrity, a social cause and big business is here to stay. It's an effective way to raise money and let the corporation build their positioning and their brand.