The Cause of the Clueless: Who Really Benefits From The Cause


It probably started with Body Shop supporting the cause of everything in the planet or MAC (MakeUp Artists of Canada) for anything AIDS related.
When these two companies started, there were real passionate people behind it, with Body Shop of course, there was Anita Roddick whose life, if you google about it "tallies" with her real intentions to help.  With MAC, there were Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo who intended their line for make-up artists, thus a support to the cause close to their hearts, AIDS has a genuine ring about it.  It made sense because it was genuine.
Since then, Anita has passed away, Body Shop has been bought by the biggest company in makeup.  MAC has likewise been bought by Estée Lauder.
Now, just about all cosmetic brands HAVE TO support a cause.

Nothing wrong with supporting a cause-  we are led to believe that it is noble to think of something bigger than ourselves.

But you know what bothers me?

My bullshit antenna is ringing- fake, fake, fake!

And you know what?
It IS fake.   
It may seem as real as a faked orgasm - BUT it is still fake.  

We really do not care about these causes, we are just doing it because that will make you like us and if you like us, you will buy us.

Why, it makes it easier for you to buy your 212th peach shade of lipstick even if you do not really need it- because you are doing it for a good cause.

Okay, so let me take you to a meeting I had with Public Relations, the geist goes something like this -

Moi : Trending report says our consumers will like us more if we support a cause and care about something - what causes can you suggest?
PR : Well, we can reinforce our natural positioning and support the environment.
Moi : Bah, Body Shop already took all the causes there is to support environment-wise.
PR: Well, we can save some endangered species, like the rhinoceros or the monitor lizard.
Moi : Nah, first, that is not sexy to my target market.  Second, it will not get me a lot of press. 
PR : Ok, what about children related causes?  
Moi : If I support children, only consumers with children can relate.  My target market are those that revere SexInTheCity. Can you actually see Samantha caring about children?  There has to be something else.
PR : Well, what about woman empowerment?
Moi : Our evil nemesis is already is doing that.  And making much noise about it.  Gawd, I hate them.
PR:  Ok, what about about relationships.
Moi: Hmmm, intriguing... like what? 
PR: Mother -daughter relationships, we can have a Mother-daughter beauty contest to start with.  Then we can have have a popularity contest, where customers who buy a product can vote for their contestants.  And contestants will push our cause because they want to win.  And then, proceeds will go to mothers and daughters, scholarships, shopping spree.
Moi: And does it agree with our positioning?
PR: Well, even Samantha, I imagine will have a mother.
Moi: Ok, and how much will this cost us?
PR: 2Million tops and we can have media mileage that is worth 10Million at least. You save 8Million, if you think about it- rather than just buying advertising.
Moi:  Great then, go ahead then- and time it for the holiday shopping season, will you?  And btw, the donations we will give - they are of course tax-deductible aren't they?

So, If we really care about these causes-
  • how come, we cannot support them anonymously and really have the pleasure of giving selflessly?  
  • how come you have to buy our products for us to give a donation to the cause?  
  • how come we have to have our big logo and even worse, name the foundation after our company?
Because, we do not really give a f*ck, that is why.
The only cause we care about is the cause of the Council of the Clueless bank account.

There is a line that divides SUPPORTING a cause and USING it. 


I say you really support a cause if 
  • you expect nothing from it in return, 
  •  even if it is not in your strategy, 
  •  even if it is not receiving a lot of media mileage 
  • and not unless you have the most amazing pair of bee stung lips and are married to Brad Pitt, (because she makes it her job to use her popularity to drive attention to the cause)- support a cause anonymously i dare you
Support a cause- if you really care.

The road to beauty need not be filled with bullshit- beauty companies need not make suckers out of us.

If we really want to make this world a better place,  I say we should cut the crap and give women the real deal.

19 comments:

  1. This post kinda makes me sad. I have a Viva Glam MAC lipstick that is very old hollywood and I love it. But I only got it because the gay guy ma told me it suits me so I shouldnt really care as I didn't buy it for the aids thing but anyway :(

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  2. So sad.. but I had a suspicion that this was true, which is why I rarely buy into that type of marketing. I just buy that 212th pink shade of lipstick because it's pretty. :(

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  3. Oh, i wish it wasn't true- but it is:-( What is worse, we just pay these groups peanuts and attach our names to their causes like remora to a shark.
    With MAC who first used RuPaul as model and realize the influence of gays as professional allies to realization of beauty- supporting AIDS is right on strategy.

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  4. hmmm irreverent but I guess true...which suddenly makes me want to examine my motives for supporting my groups cause, or any cause for that matter...is it for selfish reasons too, albeit not in the scale of MAC, which I absolutely love because I dont break out when I use MAC. Maybe it's the self satisfaction or the self pat on the back kind of ego massage...hay rowena...I pray I get my act straight...

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  5. Great post! You nailed it and the nasty truth about "some" CSR hypocrisy! (see am playing it safe now hence I don't get funding for my causes! hahaha!) Truth is, I wish I can tell most of them to go f*ck their profits!

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  6. Hi Georgia, Renee-
    I have inserted a background of how Body Shop and MAC started- which in fairness-had the truth of passion behind them.
    Now, it has become a must do for us-because trends say so.
    and yes, the best reason to buy a lipstick is because it suits you. Do not let others sway you in thinking of that as egoistic- as this is a the most genuine reason one can have. If it ain't for you-no "cause" should convince you to buy it.

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  7. Hi Lanibi, thank you for your so truthful comment-

    Yes, alas it is sometimes difficult to know where the line starts. But if you are sincere about your intentions, nothing wrong with giving yourself a boost of a credit-you are only the judge of yourself. Think of it as shopping- after that hard work, you want something to show for it!
    I am writing this as to let you know how supporting a cause is actually using a cause in the beauty industry's case. And as Georgia and Renee pointed out- buy because it suits you. That is genuine and no false cause can take that away.

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  8. Hi Zena-
    Good to hear from the other side of the coin- the recipient of the cause. Would be keen to know how other industries also use the cause.

    (BTW, for transparency reasons, Zena, is my sister, she is a single mom, 4 kids and working for a cause of suicide prevention- aside from the fact that i ask her to write her comments on the blog itself, I would like to believe that what she writes here are her own thoughts and words)

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  9. *sigh*

    I really have a strong need to stick my fingers in my ears and sing LALALALALLALALALALALLLLLLAAAAA
    about this.

    This practice really does fall into the "NOOOOO! Really?! Dang" category :(

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  10. Hi Joella-

    Thank you for the honest feedback. You stated it so funny though, heehee!
    I will be the usual light and bubbly the next post - promise. Though this is all true, i could have humoured the revelation to make the impact softer-I usually lose my sense of humour just before my birthday:-( I will soon be 18- in dog years. LALALALALLA!

    Working on "How to Get a Job in the Beauty Biz" to make up for this shocker (a special post for Lily, one of the followers who emailed me).

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  11. Intriguing post, since Pink Ribbon (an initiative by Evelyn Lauder, who is a breast cancer surviver) is coming up this October. Do all these companies really care about BC research, or do they just want to sell us as many (pink) items as possible?

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  12. There's a lot of hypocrisy directed at charitable giving from all companies, industries and even individuals. The financial bottom line is that a charitable group can use the money regardless of the source, whether high profile or anonymous.

    If the IRS didn't give tax breaks for charitable giving, I'm sure many people wouldn't part with their money. I only give to causes I believe in, but I check how much I've given over the calendar year to be sure I'm where our accountant recommends. I think that's practicality, not hypocrisy.

    It would be nice to see someone take their $80 they could spend on eyeshadow to save the Tasmanian Tiger, and just send it to the charity.

    I've been enjoying your blog. Please keep it coming.

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  13. wanna hear more?

    we are having a difficult time getting funding from corporate social responsibility funds because my cause is "depressing" and will not be good for their product image.

    So, my board is looking at an angle to make the campaign light (and bubbly) so products would want to be attached to us and give us funds.

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  14. Hi miss-m010
    Well, my answer might cause me libel charges. Hell knows I will not pick a court fight with the beauty industry.
    All I can safely say is, if you do not really want those pink things, do not be dissuaded to buy them for a good cause.
    While we are on the subject, check out this article:
    http://sexliesandhollywood.com/bonos-nonprofit-charity-one-campaign-took-in-14-9-million-and-gave-away-184734-to-the-hungry

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  15. Hi Z&#39, hope i spelled your name right (for a while there, i thought you were cursing at me. heehee!)

    Hey, i agree with you, if it were a choice between giving to charity or giving it to politicians, i will save the Tasmanian Tiger- also because, gawd, that is such a sexy name.

    Thanks for the kudos! Happy to say I am back to my post-pms cheerful chirp chirp self.

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  16. Hey Zena-

    But your cause is really depressing. In fact, supporting you will be suicide.

    Sseriously now, not unless Lady gaga commits suicide (knock on wood), your cause will not be sexy enough to be supported by cosmetic companies. That is very sad, but true.:-(

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  17. Great post. I'm glad I found your blog.

    I work in philanthropy (I should say, The Philanthropy Industry) and the hypocrisy goes deeper than most would imagine. And lets all remember who started it, a group of unscrupulous businessmen collectively known as The Robber Barons.

    You lost me when you cut Angelina Jolie a break. Who more than a Hollywood actress (raised in the shallow Hollywood culture no less) known for her bizarrely self-centered antics could use a brand makeover?

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  18. Hello Ms.-
    thank you for the comment- and sharing more info on the other side.

    And gawd- you could be right about la Jolie- though I always thought that she doesn't need the publicity herself and doesn't care what people thought of her. So it is precent in the celeb biz then? I am naive that side of town.

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  19. Here is a related posting from Seth Godin on the subject-
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/10/generous-gifts-vs-free-samples.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+typepad/sethsmainblog+(Seth's+Blog)

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