We live in a society where brands are plastered on every inch of available real estate. We are constantly being solicited by brands. If you want proof, just tune into a NASCAR race and see how many you can count on a single car. We are emotionally driven to react to thousands of messages every day, but at what point does branding cross the line? What are the no-fly zones, so to speak?

The Pennzoil, Wonderbread, XBox, ALlstate, National Guard, KFC Chevy was on rails today.

Our own home town of Moncton, New Brunswick was affected by a tragedy that took the lives of 3 law enforcement officers on June 4th, 2014. As a result, the community collectively rallied to help the grieving widows and thank our policemen and women for their service. Tragic events like these can often bring people, communities or even companies together. People become empathetic and are ready to jump at any opportunity to help. This can become a grey area for branding. How can a corporation show support for a cause without creating the perception of exploiting the situation?

During this tragedy, a local restaurant chain advertised on radio stations. They offered to donate all profits from the sales of one day to support the victims of this tragedy. When asked what I thought of the idea, it was clear to me that this was no more than responsible corporate generosity. It left a positive impression of that brand in my mind.

And let's face it. I'm a sucker for a large all-meat with extra cheese.

At the same time, another business in the same industry had t-shirts printed with a simple design commemorating the tragic event but signed it off with “(Business Name) is proud to support our law enforcement officers.” All profits of the shirts were equally donated to the same cause. My thoughts on this? Although the intentions of this company may have been genuine, it is my opinion that this company was actually taking advantage of community vulnerability and using it to create the perception of a caring brand at the expense of its customers. The biggest difference between the two concepts is that the second business was using their brand on the t-shirts as an advertising billboard and taking credit for the generosity of its clients. If I was to buy a t-shirt to support a cause, why would I allow someone else to take credit for it and why would I continue to support that organization with my business?

It’s often been said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. If you decide to help out a charity, be sure that your intentions are pure and be careful of how you associate your brand. What you mean as a good thing could become more damaging in the long run.


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Fusebox Creative | 160 Millennium Blvd – Suite B, Moncton, New Brunswick Canada | Phone: 506-855-3591