This past Tuesday I found myself on the side of what appears to be an unpopular opinion, involving a campaign for what’s perceptibly a very touchy issue for many in our country. Let me explain.
February 12 was what’s known as “Bell Let’s Talk Day.” If you’ve watched the news, or know anything remotely about how to work a computer or smartphone, then you probably have heard of it before now. Nevertheless, allow me to explain.
Bell Let’s Talk Day is a day that’s set aside by the communications company Bell, that they say is designed to increase awareness for mental health issues. The campaign says that people should talk about mental health, because of a stigma that many believe is associated with it.
So far in this story, we’re doing wonderfully – I agree that mental health is something we do need to talk about, and bring more awareness to. Good idea.
Now, though, we move into an area that causes me to question a bit.
Bell Mobility, a division of the bigger corporation, was the main way people were to connect with others in order to bring enlightenment to the issue at hand.
Bell promised that it would donate five cents for every text message and long distance phone call made on its mobile network on Tuesday. They also asked people to Tweet on social media using the words #BellLetsTalk, and included that each tweet sent would also mean five cents.
Throughout the day, millions of calls, texts and tweets took place through Bell – it was like the floodgates opened, because, naturally, people wanted to help the cause.
But is anyone else weary about the fact that this issue was exclusive to one company, and in the end, brought perhaps just as much or more promotion to the corporation behind the campaign rather than the campaign itself?
Let me break this down for you.
Bell is a for-profit corporation – which means they’re in this to make money, regardless. While I’m sure they do their fair share of charity and philanthropic work, at the end of the day, if cash isn’t coming in, they have a problem.
By hosting a campaign that requires people to use your product in order to help the cause, is a little bit off-putting to me. Then, by requiring people to use a phrase in a tweet that contains your company name, but not the name of your cause is even more unsettling.
In the end, Bell raised a little over $4 million. I agree that that’s wonderful, and they’re to be commended for giving back even just a small portion. But what I’m interested in seeing are Bell’s profit margins for the day, and who came out on top: the company, or the cause?
Now some people immediately jumped on me when I expressed some of these opinions on Tuesday. One guy even called me a name that I’m not overly comfortable printing here in this newspaper. But I assure you, I’m not trying to be negative here. I’m trying to point out a principle that companies need to consider when they want to do charity work.
It’s more commendable when you do what you do, and ensure minimum success for yourself, and maximum success for your cause. Don’t plaster your company name bigger than the name of your cause, and don’t use the attention your campaign draws to possibly boost up new products and features.
A wise man once said: “I will not sacrifice that which costs me nothing.” Personally, I tend to agree – whether it’s the popular opinion or not.
– Rudy Norman