Thursday, January 25, 2007

A word to the wise

I'm still trying to figure out which was worse: Jennifer Garner's new movie "Catch & Release" or the smell of the middle-aged woman sitting next to me who kept burping the most horrid smell. Combined, it was a lethal combination. Even though it was a free screening, I feel like I should be reimbursed for my time.

Speaking of movies, the Beeb posted this article on an Oscar-night celebrity promotional campaign being organized by the US Diamond industry.

According to the article, the campaign called Raise Your Right Hand Ring for Africa campaign will donate "$10,000 (£5,000) to African charities for each star raising a hand with a ring at events including the Oscars."

The article quotes the director of the recent movie Blood Diamond as pointing out the cruel irony "that the raising of one's hand and the using of one's hand to vote was the prompt for the Revolutionary United Front to chop off hands in Sierra Leone (where the movie chronicles the use of diamonds to fuel the bloody civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced over a third of the country's entire population).

The spokesperson for the Diamond Information Center (the group organizing this promotional campaign) said in response to Blood Diamond's director: ""It's sort of strange that someone who is apparently so concerned about the needs of Africans is making public statements to stop jewellers from making large amounts of money available to African charities. It's unfortunate because it may be that people hear this and hear this very unfortunate connection that has been constructed, and decide not to do it."

The spokesperson goes on to say "The people who would be hurt by that are the beneficiaries of the charities."

Now that's quite literally a bloody cheek. Diamond Exporting from Africa is a hundred billion dollar business. If the Diamond Industry really was concerned about "beneficiaries," they'd concern themselves with the disgusting wages and working conditions of the diamond miners.

This is another example of "social responsibility done wrong." Listen, is the first site I read in the morning, I buy Us everytime I'm on a plane. So this campaign is geared at people like me, people who are influenced by celebrity culture. And I just hope that my fellow Us readers and TMZ surfers see this campaign for what it is. An ironic, insincere, and crude attempt at buying a little good PR.

From a cause-marketing perspective, the lesson here is that "poorly executed cause-marketing" does more to hurt your brand than help it. The idiots who conceived of this campaign are of the same ilk that thought-up Dove's failed attempt at stimulating viral but ended being mocked and angrily criticized by the YouTube community.

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