The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Illusion Of Compassion …
November 23, 2007, 7:11 am
Filed under: Comment

I’ve written alot about how some companies jump on the ‘Save The World’ bandwagon because they regard it as a short cut to sales maximisation … and I’ve written alot about how many in society choose these brands because it gives the illusion they care when really they just want a red iPOD or Motorola phone … however while in China I saw one of the greatest examples of a brand that pretends it cares when in reality, it demonstrates it couldn’t give a shit.

Have a look at the front cover of the Ritz Carlton hotel magazine …

If you can’t read it properly, this edition is dedicated to promoting ‘the greater good’ … encouraging and celebrating those who help the less fortunate live and lead a better and more productive / fulfilling life.

And they don’t just talk about poverty of individuals, they write about how we can all improve the environment through our actions and choices.

All good then?

Of course – however when you read some of the ad‘s that appear alongside the article, you get the distinct impression it’s all a bunch of empty words!

Exhibit A, B and C

Plane Hire 1

Plane Hire 2

Plane Hire 3

Jesus Christ … not one, not two but THREE ads dedicated to the hire of private executive jets. 

Yeah, that’s very fucking good for the environment isn’t it, not to mention a wise use of money.

I bet the difference between the hire of a private jet and a scheduled flight is huge.  Hell, even if the ego-ridden business executive flew First Class I reckon they’d still have enough money left over to help a massive amount of people in need. Come on, who the fuck really needs to hire a private jet?  Who?  [No Andy, not even you!]

However as bad as that is, it gets even more offensive … here’s an ad for the most pretentious watch of all time …


Yep, this watch tells you when the fucking stock markets around the World opens.

For fucks sake … if I ever saw someone wearing this I’d kick them in the head. 

Actually that’s not true – because a year or so ago I met a guy who had a watch that cost $750,000!


And do you know what his excuse was for spending such an enormous amount of money on a watch that was the size of Big Ben?

“It’s accurate”

Seriously, that was his pathetic attempt at justification!

Why not just admit he had a small penis and a big chip on his shoulder and be done with it?

Soooooooo in a magazine promoting ‘compassion, consideration and anti-consumption’, they have a bunch of ads promoting gratuitous plane usage as well as over-priced, over-sized pretentious watches  … yep, the Ritz Carlton magazine really believes in the greater good doesn’t it.

I should point out I have absolutely nothing against corporations making money … infact I encourage it because money can – and does – help make massive changes for the better … however when they claim one thing and then act in another then the veins in my neck pop out so much I scare away small children and animals!

[Though to be fair, it could be my dress sense – I have very bad dress sense!]

enron keychain 

OK … so the Ritz Carlton magazine is not a charity and they don’t pretend to be – however given they’ve dedicated a whole edition of their magazine to this very important issue, you can’t help but feel they’ve missed a chance to ‘lead by example’.

Of course they didn’t end up doing that because they’re [probably] a bunch of corporate toadie hypocrital wankers – however if they’d been smart, they could of taken a stand without having to turn away their copious amounts of plane and watch advertisers.

Like the Project [RED] positioning I suggested a while back, I reckon Ritz Carlton could of got major, major brownie points if they’d said that because this edition was focused on the ‘Greater Good’, they were going to ‘steal’ advertising dollars from corporate elite organisations and give it to the less fortunate.

I tell you, by doing that my view of the Ritz Carlton Magazine would of been very different indeed … from compendium of elitist arrogance and greed to Robin Hood of Magazines in one simple gesture.

Simple. Effective. Memorable.

It’s not hard to make a difference but with so many companies talking about it rather than doing it, is it any surprise that awareness for social causes are at all time highs but actual change seems to remain stagnant?

water DROGA5‘s Great Idea

I’ve said it before, I believe the role of advertising is to help make our clients rich and successful … however I still believe with a bit of thinking, you can do it in a way that also benefits society rather than just a few customers.

It can be done … it should be done … it needs to be done … because not only is the advertising industry better placed to do this than almost any other category, it will also demonstrate and ensure the longterm corporate value of what we do – which in the current climate is something that doesn’t happen very often at all.

Ooooooh I feel so much better after that!

24 Comments so far
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George will be pleased “Rob Campbell is back”.
I think you’re being quite harsh on what is a hotel chain magazine, but as usual you raise valid points and some interesting solutions. I have personally seen such a shift in clients attitudes to issues, especially the environment, that it has left me in awe of the power of social pressure. The disappointing element is that people are so easily satisfied because the reality is most companies only pay lip service to the issues they are supposidly so passionate about. Of course any change is good change but in many cases the wool is definitely being pulled over the publics eyes. I’m sure you’ve said it before, but we live in a time of instant gratification so as long as a company “says” it cares, many people seem content, it’s only when an outsider points out that they were empty words that the majority jump on the bandwagon and demand real action. But like you said all those years ago, we’re all hypocrites at heart aren’t we 🙂

Comment by Pete

Mate this is a fucking brilliant post. I laughed out aloud at those jet ads. My god…

Yes Pete, tell George, prepare Andy for some insults… “Rob Campbell is BACK!!!!”

Comment by Age

You’re absolutely right at how wrong it is to promote private jet hire in a magazine dedicated to social and environmental causes when Virgin Atlantic Upper Class offers executives an experience that can easily rival private charter firms for a mere fraction of the financial and environmental cost.

I’m sure you won’t mind affording me that plug given we afford you your delightful lifestyle.

Putting aside my commercial instincts for a moment, this is a wonderful post and I shall be bringing up this issue at a meeting we’re having next week.

Thank you for the opportunity to “plug” VA as well as inspiring the topic for my forthcoming presentation however do not think you can get away with charging me for it, you’re an advertising company, not a law firm. (Thank god)

Speak soon and it was delightful to catch up in China.

Comment by Lee Hill

Hello Lee …

Well at least you’re open about your parasite actions – most companies would try and pretend to be interested in the topic of conversation whilst unsubtely plugging the shit out of their brand.

But don’t worry it’s OK – not just because you’re a client – but because I know the money you have just saved by using my blog to reach such a highly influential group of people will be invested in both environmental and social causes.


Comment by Rob

Fair point Robert. Just let me know how you would like the US$3.19 media value of your blog to be split and I’ll get cheques dispatched immediately.

Comment by Lee Hill

Smartarse 🙂

[Though I thank you for being so generous with your media evaluation, it’s way higher than anyone else would of rated it, Ha!]

Comment by Rob

Great Campbellesque post. And a funny ‘Hillish’ comment to it.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Shall I not mention the decreased emission per passenger of the new giant Airbuses and Boeings until after I am sure VA have one Rob?


Comment by Rob Mortimer

And if you got a joint bubblin then get money now
Cause in a minute, there’s gonna be some real trouble comin out
“Just a warnin, as usual some cats wont heed it
The hard headed always gotta feel it to believe it
It’s a shame that jealous gaze is too short to see it
But when they face hit the cement, they nod in agreement
We could play nice and decent, or dirty like the 7-1 Precinct
Call it a day or make it a long evenin
You keep on schemin, man give me some more reason
to have the women in your mama’s church screamin” Mos Def

Salute Mr Campbell..keep anger alive…

Comment by niko

We already have one of the youngest fleets in the sky and have ordered multiples of the new breed of energy efficient planes including the A380, though they are a few years from delivery.

With all that in mind, I look forward to welcoming you on board a VA flight very soon Mr Mortimer.

Maybe this blog should be on our media plan, it’s proving very useful for branding and sales 🙂

Comment by Lee Hill

And as you’ve already pointed out already Lee, it would be dirt cheap media in the broadest sense of the word.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Personally, I’ve never doubted their emissions.

Comment by SFA

Me neither.

Comment by CIP

Indeed I am aware of the young aircraft, having flown on VA to Hong Kong in 2006.

(I would have gone to Mauritius with VA but they only started flying after we were going!)

Good to know you are looking forward though.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Creeping won’t get you an upgrade Mr M. We’ve been trying it for years to no avail. But that could be more to do with us that Virgin’s policy 🙂

Comment by Rob

Actually I’d probably fly VA or Cathay anyway. Worth a try though…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

You’ll probably get it now just so Lee can piss us off 🙂

Comment by Rob

Fine by me 🙂 I have to go to HK at least every few years, so those discounts now can help build up some brand loyalty for when I’m flying lots!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Brilliant. You are the Pied Piper of blogging.

Comment by Charles Frith

He does too, they all sing:

“Oh we are the cynic Mob
We drink and rant except for Rob
Billy always wants a rise
while Andy’s eating all the pies
Oh we are the cynic mob
we fly Virgin Atlaaaantic”

Comment by Rob Mortimer

(to the tune of We Three Ships)

Comment by Rob Mortimer

We just might record that Mr M … then you’ll be sorry, but not as sorry as the people over at MDA, ha!

Comment by Rob

Now that would be funny…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Maybe it could be our Christmas present to you.


Comment by Rob

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