i’d like to buy the world a coke. and a new york times.

Coca Cola is teaching us to live positively…
This website announces Coke’s new healthy-living initiatives: among them, a new “slimmer” 90-calorie soda can (oh i just can’t resist: “Yes we can” ?) along with moving “energy information” to the front of all packaging. Energy Information is an updated form of “nutrition facts.” I suppose it’s a kindler, gentler way of referring to calories and sugar…

The Coke folks care enough about this image-shift to buy ad space in the Daily Beast’s daily headlines, and that can’t come cheap. (I discovered this sandwiched between healthcare, Copenhagen and Britney Murphy. “The World is Changing.” Coke declares, “We are too.”)

Giving back and/or improving life is a big trend in corporate marketing. Target gives back 5% to communities. Walmart wants us to Save Money, Live Better. So it’s a marketing ploy; if the results are good, can altruism ever be bad?

This week CBS Sunday Morning had a story on celebrity philanthropy, wondering whether cause celebs are motivated by selfish marketing along with a selfless love of mankind…I bristled at this premise a bit. After all, John and Kate’s shenanigans get way more celeb-press than Angelina’s trips to Africa. There are easier, more glamorous ways to make headlines—if that’s the sole motive. Besides, if celebrity endorsements bring more attention to a cause or support to an aid organization, everybody wins, right?

I guess I need to put my cynicism in check. I find it easier to doubt big companies vs. individuals. And that kinda leads me to my next thought: the human connection.

Have you heard about The Neediest Cases? (or, more accurately, read about them?) This project of the New York Times (you may have heard about this thing before. They call it a “newspaper”…), started way back in 1911 (a little history here) and raises money for causes in NYC through illuminating individual stories of those served. Readers have donated almost $250 million since the beginning.

It’s all about the story, the human connection.
The web makes these connections even more vivid, with photos and video of profiled individuals. (proceed to the site with caution, you may stay there a while.) This is journalism: good storytelling that expands our world and inspires us to act.

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