Did you see the bit on HLN about bedbugs infesting firehouses in Albuquerque, New Mexico the other day?

What caught my attention wasn’t the bugs, which are popping up all over the place like Tea Party candidates.

Nor was it the fact that the Firefighter Wives Auxillary Association went to a national high end mattress company and asked them donate 170 mattresses to the firestations, which they did. (You can read the whole story here.)

What hooked me was that the mattress company has requested to remain anonymous.

That’s right — anonymous!

As some of you might know, I co-authored a book with Dr. Richard Steckel about cause related marketing titled “Making Money While Making a Difference: How to Profit with a Nonprofit Partner.”

The entire book is about the positive bottom line benefits of cause-related marketing, an absolute win-win when done right, and while I wrote it over a decade ago, I’m pretty sure I didn’t put in anything about the benefits of anonymous donations.

BECAUSE THERE ARE NONE! At least not to marketing or sales. There are the tax benefits, of course, which must be monumental for 170 mattresses. And as my wife suggested, there may be a religious angle, which I guess would be good for your soul and future accommodations in whichever afterlife you may believe in.

But you have to agree that it’s an unusual move, in this day and age when organizations from NASA to Oakley were falling all over themselves to milk the publicity from helping out the Chilean miners. (Can you say $450 sunglasses, or $41 Million in media exposure?)

I’m still dumbfounded by it. Companies are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to, well, make money while making a difference. Opportunities like this one.

Which leads me to wonder, can someone please explain whether I’m right, or whether I’ve become so jaded that I can’t see an act of charity as anything other than a missed marketing opportunity?

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Comments
  1. Ron Arden says:

    Jeff,

    I think you are right. It’s one thing for an individual to make an anonymous donation, but why should a business do it? A business is in the business of making money. If that’s not it’s purpose, then it’s a non-profit organization. I think the mattress company could have done it without all the hoopla that we usually see, but why not get the publicity. I could see the headlines, “Mattress giant extinguishes bedbugs” or something like that.

    Businesses today are getting kudos for going green and helping out people. This was a great thing the company did and should get kudos for it. With all the municipal budget cuts in the country, they helped out our firefighters in a time of need. I think that deserves attention and would make me feel good about that company.

    • jlsimons says:

      Well, that’s one for right, not jaded! Thanks for the comment, Ron. And you make a good point: there’s a way to capitalize on good works without going over the top.

  2. A Fan says:

    Talk about jaded — it occurred to me that by staying anonymous, they are warding off further requests from other groups for similar donations. Shame on me, maybe.

    I like the new format/graphics.

    • jlsimons says:

      Thanks for the comment, A Fan, but we’re not trying to decide whether you’re jaded. (I’ve suspected it for years, anyway, but now I have proof!) You raise an interesting point, although, the Firefighters Wives found them easily enough. After all, how many national high end mattress manufacturers are there? And thank you for noticing the new design.

  3. Josef Katz says:

    Your right and you are a marketer. OK you might be jaded too but not on this matter. Ron is also right there were some great PR opportunities here. Firefighters sleep tight after the bedbugs bite thanks to…. OK I am no copywriter but they missed a great PR moment.

    • jlsimons says:

      Hey, I like your copy suggestion, Josef. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It reminds me of the classic from that other Katz, the deli on the lower east side of Manhattan that makes the best Pastrami in the world: “Send a Salami to your Boy in the Army!” But you dodged the question: I am both right and jaded. So that’s 2 right, 2 jaded on 3 replies. And thanks, as always, for the comment.

  4. Josh says:

    Jaded.

    If it’s a privately held co., the owner can ease their heart’s burden without inviting the circus.

    • jlsimons says:

      All right, Josh! Jaded pulls into the lead! You’re correct in saying that the owner of a privately held company has the right to make a bad business decision without getting fired by his board or his shareholders. And maybe the owner is making amends for something, such as shipping mattresses WITH bedbugs in the past (I’ve seen some news stories about that recently, too, although I don’t know if this is the same company or not, because, of course, they’ve remained anonymous). But to accuse the media of being a circus? Now who’s jaded? Thanks for the comment.

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