Marketing that exploits feelings

The United Nations has urged the richest countries since 1985 to destine 0.7 percent of their GDP to help the poorest countries. It is a just initiative to fix the systematic exploitation by the developed countries of the natural and human resources of the so-called Third World.
Prestigious medical international authorities in the investigation field of cancer have denounced the campaigns that promote tobacco consumption. They reminded people that the Spanish health care system spends about 2.7 billion dollars each year in diseases related to smoking: cancer, coronary and pulmonary disease, with more than 50 thousand deaths each year. Now, a campaign against the advertising of tobacco has been launched, as if during decades the taxes on this monopoly did not benefit the State, which promoted the excessive consumption.
It is a new trend that some companies announce the donation of 0.7 percent of their benefits to some NGOs. It would be right if these were healthy products and if their help did not depend on the purchase of their product. It does not seem ethical to abuse a trend when it has taken more than ten years for the message in developed countries to help developing countries reach public opinion.
The end does not justify the media. They will soon advertise alcoholic beverages, drugs and weapons “in exchange for help to NGOs.” Money that comes from products that damage health, peace or the interaction between people cannot be taken.
We witness the manipulation of the feelings with the message that if we do not buy this or that product, we are responsible for the disgrace of the poor and the “unhappy children” because our aid does not get there.
It is not ethical that humanitarian associations participate in this ceremony of confusion. It would be more worthwhile to worry about the working conditions of those who produce the raw materials in those impoverished countries dominated by these companies.
It is the so-called mandatory social clause, according to the International Labour Organization.
It is not fair to take advantage of the effort of so many people and institutions that give the best of their lives in their struggle for a society with more justice and solidarity. While helping the poorest one must question the causes of injustice, analyze reality and come up with valid and sustainable alternative proposals.
Couldn’t the companies that want to help the poor destine what they spend in their advertising campaigns to improve the research on the secondary effects of their products?

José Carlos Gª Fajardo
Translated by Carlos Miguélez

This article was published in the Center of Collaborations for Solidarity (CCS) on 01/17/2005