Friday, December 17, 2010

Innovative Design & Marketing Gives Back To Those In Need

Marketing and Design are great creative skills which are used daily by brilliant minds towards creating, promoting, and selling consumer goods. However in a world of people in need greater than one can fathom, I am so happy to hear stories of those skills going towards helping people over profits. I am also extremely disheartened by misrepresentations of benevolent deeds. Following are 1 example of each. 

First...words of wisdom on the subject of conspicuous consumption and the season of giving the genius himself, Theodore Geisel, aka Dr.Seuss.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

An Innovative Multi-Purpose, Socially Relevant Fashion Design Combines Materials with Huge Market Demand and Provided Badly Needed Jobs and Skill Training

I heard this story on NPR's All Things Considered last week, and I just love it. In contrast, I recently read an article from Fast Company that said that design schools are turning out students who are not equipped with the skills and mindset necessary to succeed. I think that if there are students in design schools like Veronica Scott (@veronikascott) founder of the Empowerment Project.

On a personal note, I have had pangs of guilt and a desire to use my [design] powers for good rather than evil (aka conspicuous consumption), but I haven't actively taken that step. I am inspired by those who do, and have set a resolution (for new years and life) to get off my butt and take action, in whatever way I can lend a hand. (If anyone has any ideas, please share!)

  • You can see hear about her inspiration, concept, innovative solution, and action plan here.
  • And read about the Empowerment Plan here.
  • And follow her updates on twitter here.

Here's the synopsis from the Empowerment web-site:

There are 18,000 people in Detroit that are cold and homeless
"This is my story about a humanitarian project called The Empowerment Plan. Meet the Elements Survival coat, the center of this system. It is self heated, waterproof, and transforms into a sleeping bag at night. Made by the homeless hopefully that will be paid, fed and housed to create these coats for those living in deep homelessness. Jobs for those that desire them and coats for those that need them at no cost. My goal is to empower, employ, educate, and instill pride." >> Continue to web-site and to donate

Marketing Goodwill Is a Formula for Getting More than Giving
Whatever you personally think about Walmart, its impact as a global superpower on local communities and businesses, this effort is a small start towards giving back.
However, I must say shame on you Walmart ($WMT) for your Scrooge-like stinginess, your donations are great and badly needed by the beneficiaries, however relative to Walmart's huge quarterly income (Total Revenues 2010 Q3 $101,952,000,000, Net income 2010 Q3 $3,436,000 ,000) it is only %0.044 of 2010 Q3 net income. 

And, considering what an ad campaign would cost that would reap these same benefits (priceless access to thousands of consumers through Facebook in addition to the Goodwill brand benefit) Walmart will save millions in marketing costs. 

Even the $2 billion total commitment through 2015 will be a fraction of a percent of Walmart's global Revenue in the same time period.

So, yes, thank you Walmart for helping those in need, however shame on you for the Grinchy, Scroogie, Leona Helmsley-esqe approach to giving.

Leona Helmsley
The Countdown is On: Facebook Gets Six U.S. Cities Closer to $1.5 Million from Walmart for Hunger Relief
December 16, 2010 from PR Newswire (source Walmart)

The Grinch (a remarkable
resemblance to Leona, no?!)
The end of Walmart's latest Facebook campaign for hunger relief is nearing and the company is encouraging last-minute "likes" that will help determine which of 100 U.S. cities will receive $1.5 million in grants. The "Fighting Hunger Together" Facebook campaign will end at 12 a.m. on Jan. 1 and is part of the company's $2 billion commitment to help fight hunger through 2015.

At the end of the campaign, the community with the most "likes" will receive $1 million in grants from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. The five communities with the next highest votes will each receive $100,000 in grants. Since Nov. 15, nearly 90,000 votes have been cast. Currently, Fresno, Calif., is leading the way with the most "likes," but Grand Rapids, Mich., and San Antonio, Texas, are not far behind.

"We know that there are people in this country who go hungry every day, so we are doing our part to support some of the neediest communities," said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. "We launched our Facebook campaign to help spread awareness of this serious issue and encourage everyone to do something to help."

Participants can visit or and "like" one of the 100 hungriest communities in the United States. These communities were chosen based on a study from the Food Research and Action Center that identifies c ommunities with the highest rates of food hardship in the U.S. during 2010.

In addition to the Facebook campaign, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation hosted a nationwide food drive and issued grants to nonprofits committed to fighting hunger this holiday season. For more information visit
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support the chari table causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. The Walmart Foundation funds initiatives focused on education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From Feb. 1, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $512 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally, $467 million of which was donated in the U.S. To learn more, visit
once again... a rant... sorry.... and ba-humbug
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