Brands can do a lot of good in the world. For example, they can do a lot of good for the causes and charities they are linked to. The right partnership between a brand and a cause can help raise not only dollars but awareness that money can’t buy, because they have a ready-made audience willing to listen.
Brands that align with a CSR plan can build a better business model in addition to more relevant marketing. This is why Cultural Movements work so well. A brand aligns with something important in culture to drive positive change, such as a growing passion, uniting advocates and its fans in support.
The concern of the moment is undoubtedly the tragic events in Japan. While curating positive deeds is clearly a goal, brands cannot be self serving.
Microsoft used the Japan disaster as a publicity driver for its Bing search engine. It offered to donate one dollar to quake victims – up to a maximum donation of $100k - for every re-tweet of a message which contained a URL linking it to Microsoft’s Corporate Citizen page, which explained how to use Bing maps and other services to help with the disaster.
Twitter users quickly attacked this as using Japan as a marketing tool.
Microsoft’s intentions were very good. They’re working with the Red Cross to provide aid to Japan and were only trying to provide an easy way for Twitter users to donate.
But clearly, it’s never a good idea for a brand to squeeze in a sales message on the back of a catastrophic event.
In the meantime, if you want to find out more on how you can help Japan, read this article from the New York Times.