Okay, so we’ve all seen them. I’m not exactly sure how to classify them. These overly progressive companies. Maybe not overly progressive, I don’t want to paint being progressive in a negative light. I’m all about progress. I just mean this new strategy that companies have around social good. Don’t get me wrong, it’s refreshing. I always feel a little better when a company tells me where my waste is going, and I’m willing to pay a little extra if a fraction of that money goes towards suffering Micronesian children. It’s a really cool thing.
Let’s take a start-up like Warby Parker, for example. They produce eyewear at an affordable price. They even include the price of prescription lenses in their rate. Their whole idea is to disrupt the way we normally get glasses. No more ridiculously marked-up frames stacked upon the high costs of prescriptions. On top of that, they work in partnership with charities like VisionSpring.org to provide glasses to those in need. They’ve built their entire company around around the concept of doing good.
It’s a very original way to do business, except it’s not. There is at least five other companies doing the exact same business: Tom’s eyewear, Proof eyewear, Contego, 141, and 4sight. But, this isn’t an article about eyewear companies. The idea of social good is infecting the start-up community. Again, I don’t mean to put it in negative terms. It’s great that we’re being a little more conscious about these things. Places like The Melt and Super Duper Burger boast that their packaging is compostable, and their meat is free-range and grass fed. Patagonia is probably the greenest company in the world.
It’s almost as if this business model could be applied to any business, and my generation (the generation of slacktivists) would respond positively to it... Almost any company.
That’s why today, I’d like to officially announce my brand new company: guilt-free cigarettes! From this day forward, we promise to only produce the finest, additive-free, tobacco products. We plan to grow all of our tobacco locally, and support only the smallest of organic farm communities. With a high-demand product such as tobacco, we are certain this will create many jobs in our currently struggling economy. Our packaging is made of 100% recycled cardboard, and our filters are bio-degradable. Not only do we plan to be the greenest cigarette company, but we plan on using our profits for good as well. We’ve already formed partnerships with Ronald McDonald house, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the American Cancer Society. We really hope to better the world with our product. It’s literally never felt this good to smoke!
Alright, lets leave the twilight zone, now. Would you buy those cigarettes? I mean, be honest with me. Can you start from the top and work your way down to paint any company in a positive light? I mean, seriously. Could it work with cigarettes? These new companies seem to think that being good is the ultimate selling point. So who’s to say that a company like guilt-free cigarettes couldn’t exist. Would it be as easy to attach a stigma to a company that has made an exceptional effort to appear as the savior in an otherwise bleak world of “greedy corporations”? Is that how we view all corporations? I mean, it’s just so easy to hate the rich. Unless they’re a philanthropist.
I’m not against it. I’m exceedingly neutral about it. I just want everyone to realize that this is a marketing ploy just like anything else. Don’t be fooled by the Invisible Children of this world. Just because you say you’re active, doesn’t necessarily mean that some of your bankroll isn’t going to other, more questionable, places. Take advantage of the transparency that these companies provide, and then decide for yourself who you want to support.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments thread!