Attention please: How you help brands change our world

Simon Mainwaring / Brands / 9 years ago

Emily Chang kindly pointed out this new Foursquare ad. As the copy explains, when you check-in on Foursquare at the “Earthjustice ad”, one of their donors will donate $10 to stop unsafe oil drilling.

This is a very interesting and powerful new way to leverage location based services for change, but more than that, it highlights one of the unexpected benefits of the tsunami of information now available on the web.

The demands on our attention from the millions of pieces of advertising, information and social media connections now available to us is so great that brands quite literally have to pay for it. And since they can’t demand that attention by talking about themselves, they are wisely commanding it by contributing to causes that are meaningful to consumers.

The upside of this is threefold:

1. Brands are slowly getting over their habitual exclusive self-interest and the marketing techniques that attended it.

2. Brands are realizing that contribution to worthy causes is now a critical part of good business.

3. By supporting brands in this new dynamic, consumers are incrementally changing the world for the better.

When you consider all the possibilities this creates – from texting donations to NGO’s in Haiti, sharing cause concerns on Facebook or checking in on Foursquare to trigger brand donations – and you factor in the number of people and brands now engaged in social media, it’s easy to see how this new dynamic is potentially transformative. It certainly makes looking after other people easier. So easy, I hope, that looking after others because a daily habit for the more fortunate consumers and brands around the world.

Do you think such a hope is possible? Or are people simply too lazy, busy or self-interested to care?


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  1. Avatar @TheGirlPie says:

    You ask “Do you think such a hope is possible? Or are people simply too lazy, busy or self-interested to care?” and the timing couldn't be better.

    I was just talking to a talented, successful young internet entrepreneur about how her generation (you guys) CAN make stuff like philanthropy, volunteerism and global care-taking a part of your life habit… And I know lots of.. well, I've seen pictures of lots of Boomer Generation giving back in funds, actions, retirement Habitat building, etc. But I think it's somehow much more organic to, more in the DNA of, the “connected generation” to think globally.

    It's no excuse, just exposition, but I'm an old bag that's way too self-centered to think past the feel-goodness of giving for my own selfish reasons (and being child-free I'm not as tuned into the save-the-planet stuff as I should be), but even I can get into the habit of making Brands feel/look good by triggering donations with my actions. My every purchase allows that chance to vote with my wallet. But this pure idea (used by EarthJustice) seems even easier and smarter, as long as Brands need the tax break for/want to give, it seems very scalable. It's got legs.

    So yes, it's possible to, not just hope but, make this happen in a big way.

    And yes, a lot of a certain market is too lazy (set in our ways), busy (penny-wise & pound-foolish) and selfish (my navel has a twitter account too) to get into it. BUT we're dying out, and you kids'll have more room and momentum and reward for pushing on with the big give as a daily maintenance of the social planet (much like we habitually maintain our teeth.)

    And that's a real win-win. Thanks for getting the gears turning…


    PS: Seems like I'm always apologizing for guest posting in comments, so if you want to break this up into a buncha separate comments, feel free.

  2. Thanks so much. I appreciate your candor and yes, different generations and life stages do have different feelings about global contribution. And I agree, these tools make it so easy it removes even the most entrenched barrier to giving. The one thing we need is momentum, and by that I mean enough voices to give everyone permission to care and show they care and for it to become as normal as feeding the meter or recycling your trash. I think we'll get there – and thanks for the support. Simon