How a bid to win hearts and dollars can backfire
This story is about a very slow moving train-wreck that’s happening on Twitter right now. Gloria Jean’s has declared July to be “With Heart” month: the idea is that each Gloria Jean’s store makes a donation to a charity in it’s local area and the company publicises these donations to get positive PR around their brand.
Thankful for the financial support, charities like Variety Australia have suggested that its supporters should buy a coffee in tweets like this:
When marketers realised that people subconsciously prefer to buy products they identify with, a whole new era of marketing began. Instead of talking about the properties of their products, modern brands try to draw a subconscious link between how you would like to see yourself and what they’re selling.
They do this on the premise that a consumer will favour brand A over brand B because they believe that brand A is like them. And, who doesn’t want to believe that they’re good-hearted, community minded individual?
In this world it makes sense for a chain of coffee shops to support local, worthy causes because their customers can feel as if they’re connected to their local community. People tend to follow local charities on social media for this very reason.
On the surface it seems like a good deal: the charity gets much-needed cash, the company gets advertising, the consumer gets coffee and everyone is happy. So why is this a social-media train-wreck?
The Gloria Jean’s campaign has been “tagjacked”, instead of being full of local charity stories and people saying how they’ve just bought coffee to support their preferred causes, many Twitter users are using it to talk about a boycott of Gloria Jean’s. The #WithHeartLocal tag has filled up with angry tweets, such as:
Last month it became very public in social media that Gloria Jean’s and its owners have been among the largest financial contributors to many anti-gay marriage organisations, including Australian Christian Lobby, Family First, Hillsong Church, Mercy Ministries and organisations that sell faith-based ‘gay cures’. The company even apologised on its Facebook page for any offense these donations may have caused.
That’s why the #withheartlocal tag is full of Tweets expressing outrage at co opting local causes for PR aims:
I can’t imagine anyone in the Gloria Jean’s PR team is at all happy with the tweets coming through on #withheartlocal, but many of them are rip-snorters, including my personal favourite so far:
Gloria Jean’s has a simple choice to make – it can either further embrace the values that made it donate to Australian Christian Lobby, (thereby alienating 67% of Australian voters who support gay marriage), or it can dump the Australian Christian Lobby. Just like the #qantasluxury mess, the Gloria Jean’s #withheartlocal debacle reminds us that social media doesn’t forget.
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