Editorials - Feb. 3, 2022
Walking the walk
With every successful social marketing campaign, a little controversy is bound to bubble up. Bell Canada held its 12th annual Bell Let’s Talk Day on Jan 26, eliciting over 164 million messages and resulting in the company’s largest donation of a little over $8 million to its own Bell Let’s Talk Fund, which is composed of three parts: Community Fund, Diversity Fund and Post-Secondary Fund. But the company has been called out on the treatment of its own employees struggling with mental health issues and last year imposing hundreds of layoffs just days after the campaign while also collecting government COVID-19 subsidies.
If you are going to attach your corporate brand to a social cause and use it for a marketing identity, there is a razor’s edge to walk. Mental health has touched everyone in some capacity, so there is the capacity for much good to be done, but it is also a flashpoint for many, so an important element of your marketing plan should be that your own corporate culture lines up with the ideals the campaign espouses.
Critics of such campaigns argue that Bell cares more about building its brand than combating the stigma around mental illness. Every misstep with its own workforce reinforces the idea that the company cares more about money than people, which helps prove those critics right. – DS
Whether you’re Team Freedom Convoy or Team Flu Trux Klan, there are strong opinions on both sides of what happened in Ottawa over the weekend, with many pledging to stay in place in the nation’s capital until whatever they want is implemented.
But what exactly is it that they want? Plenty of the rhetoric is tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, with many calling for the government to put an end to vaccine mandates, mask-wearing and lockdowns. However, footage from the crowds showed plenty of hate for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, including a lot of profanity, and the harassment and assault of journalists. Some organizers have called for sweeping resignations in government, while others are allegedly calling for the dissolution of government. Even its identity as a “trucker” protest is up for debate, with many rolling into Ottawa in passenger vehicles.
The Canada Anti-Hate Network has dismissed the protest as nothing more than a vehicle for the far-right, rooted in racism. While that too can be debated, many bad actors have made it hard for some Canadians to see the protestors’ side. Protestors have flown hate symbols, jumped on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, defaced a statue of Terry Fox and harassed a local homeless shelter into providing them food.
When the convoy pulled out of British Columbia, it was about vaccine requirements for transport truck drivers. When it pulled into Ottawa a few days later, it became about much, much more.
Bad actors and organizers insisting they’re not going anywhere, holding Ottawa hostage in the process, will not further this movement’s goal in the court of public opinion. Exactly what that goal is, however, may actually be the protest’s biggest public relations issue. – SL
No easy answers
News broke last week of a man in Boston who was denied a heart transplant because he didn’t want to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The hospital’s transplant committee had decided that, for the best chance of a successful transplant, recipients needed to be vaccinated. While it quickly set the pro- and anti-COVID-19 vaccination crowds into a tither, the situation isn’t exactly black and white.
D.J. Ferguson, the would-be recipient, had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a heart condition, and he was worried about the fact that the COVID-19 vaccine has been tied to other heart problems. He’s had other immunizations, according to his mother. Unfortunately, transplant recipients are more at risk when it comes to contracting diseases after they go under the knife, making the vaccine all the more important.
Ferguson isn’t the first person to face this situation and hospitals have made it clear that, like changing lifestyle and habits, vaccination is an important commitment for patients to make to guarantee the life they earn through a new organ will be a long and fruitful one.
While it would undoubtedly be easier to look at this issue if Ferguson were just anti-vaccination, this is a complicated situation with no right answer. There is a lot to unpack when it comes to organ transplantation, and each hospital in the United States has its own rules. Beyond that, as anyone who has received the vaccine should be able to report, there are warnings about how the vaccines could impact a recipient’s heart (though doctors and experts say the same issues can happen with the virus, and while still rare, it’s more likely to occur through infection than inoculation). It’s one thing to be healthy and scared of a slim chance of a side-effect, and another entirely to already have a heart that may be faced with even more problems as a result of the vaccination.
If the facts are as they’ve been presented, Ferguson’s case is not as cut and dried as many likely wish it would be. – JDS