Attention please: How you help brands change our world

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?