Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Phil Mickelson and The Case of The Ridiculous Retweets

An interesting thing just happened on Twitter: an account claiming to be the golfer Phil Mickelson (unverified) just promised to donate $1,000 to the Exxon Mobil Foundation for every retweet.

A retweet is easy. It's what they call slacktivism. And the result is that tweet was instantly retweeted by 50+ people. That's when Twitter stops counting...I would assume it will be retweeted thousands of times. Without question.

But think for even a fraction of a second and you'll realise this is too good to be true. This is either an extremely awkward typo or a pointless prank. Or perhaps it is the real Phil Mickelson and he just hasn't got a clue how Twitter works (would the real Phil Mickelson have two underscores in his username?). Or...hopefully...it's true.

Regardless of the truth I'm willing to bet the Exxon Mobil Foundation isn't going to see any money off the back of this...


Let's look at this totally cynically...

The first thing I did when I saw this was Google the 'Exxon Mobil Foundation'. I'd never heard of it. When I think of Exxon I think tragic oil spill. So as a result of this tweet I now know about their foundation and the level of their generosity.

So could this be a truly underhanded marketing ploy? I genuinely don't think it is, but what if it was?

All it takes is an employee of an unknown charity organisation to set up a fake celebrity Twitter account, get a few followers and then make this outrageous claim. You deny all knowledge of it and publicly question why anyone would do such a thing. Watch the traffic increase. Just look at the mentions of this Twitter account and the Exxon Mobil Foundation. Let's keep an eye on the search trends and see what kind of spike this causes.

Totally unethical? Yes.

Would it work? Probably?

Did Exxon Mobil do this? I doubt it...if it was a marketing person they would have put in a link.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tick To Give...or not

Argos run a great fundraising campaign called 'Tick to Give'.

If you're familiar with Argos you'll know that you find the product you want in their catalogue, fill out an 'order slip' in-store, and take it to the cashier to pay for before collecting your purchase at a different counter.

On each order slip they have an additional 'product' added which is the option to donate 20 cent, added by the cashier to your order which is then passed on to Argos' charity of the year. This year it's the Teenage Cancer Trust. All you have to do to make this donation is tick a little box on the form.

Gratuitous use of Instagram

I like the campaign because it's a tiny amount, it's added on to your method of payment regardless of what it is, and it's reasonably prominent on the order slip. I assumed it would be a succesful campaign.

As a fundraiser, whenever I come across these sort of things I will always 'opt-in' because I'm curious to see how the process works. When I first ticked the box and took it to the cashier I was surprised to find afterwards that the donation hadn't been taken.

The next time I was shopping in Argos I tried again and, once again, it was overlooked by the cashier. And again. And again.

My donation has not been taken on SIX different occasions.

That's every single time I've tried. It's happened in Argos in Stephens Green, Blanchardstown and Santry. Different stores. Different cashiers. All overlooked.

What this tells me (besides the fact that I'm possibly buying too much stuff in Argos) is that something is wrong. This fundraising campaign isn't working.

Now I can't imagine a huge amount of people are ticking this box. But some must be. And if even one of these people's donations are being overlooked it is a painful, tragic waste. As a fundraiser it pisses me off. As someone whose family has been directly affected by cancer it pisses me off.

After attempt three I contacted the charity and Argos by e-mail with my solution to the problem, and it's this:

The cashiers need to be incentivised.

These cashiers are presumably on (near) minimum wage, extremely busy and probably not 100% committed to the job. Because the number of customers ticking to give is presumably a rarity the cashiers can be probably forgiven for overlooking it...I'm sure it's not the most important aspect of their day.

But what if each store ran a competition for the cashier that processed the most 'Tick to Gives'? What if the cashier that put through the most each month won a free dinner, or voucher, or pint? And what if Argos put up a leaderboard with all the cashiers names in the staff room or out in the main shop floor so the customers could see it?

I bet then they'd start to notice.

And what if Head Office also set up a competition between the different stores where the winner over a year got a dinner or night out for their employees?

Argos could pay for these prizes as part of their CSR, or the charity could pay for these as part of their fundraising budget. I'm convinced it would easily pay for itself.

Imagine that level of incentivisation. Cashiers might start asking customers to tick to give! And I bet nearly every customer would say yes...it's only 20 cent. I don't foresee any customer complaints as it's only 20 cent. And Argos would have raised huge amounts compared to what they are currently raising...something that they could make an absolutely huge deal of.

But so far nothing has changed. As it is the campaign sucks.

Something needs to change. Currently it is just such a waste of huge fundraising potential.