Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) cub coming out den and playing around, Wapusk national park, Canada.

Give money or the polar bear gets it

This piece of ‘sponsored’ propaganda was served up to me today on Facebook:

The picture says: Adopting a polar bear is the best way to ensure ongoing support for this iconic species.

 

The advert says:

Adopting a polar bear is the best way to ensure ongoing support for this iconic species

I am pretty sure that is not true. If Coke thinks about this long and hard, I think they will find that making a concerted effort to tackle climate change is the best way to ensure the continued well-being of polar bears, rather than a bear sponsorship scheme.

But perhaps this ‘iconic’ company is not ready to tell people that?

2 comments on “Give money or the polar bear gets it”

  1. The link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_gTBDFTXE0) is to an old interview with Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace and founder of the Sea Shepherd Society. It provides a timeless and very accurate inside view of how marketing when in conflict with empiricism can distort both the message and incentives of professionalised advocacy groups. In the long run, such behaviour discredits credible groups, shifts resources away from where they can provide the most good while providing a good living for the minority in control of that organisation. Since 1978 this phenomenon has increased in numbers and intensity through the internet and social media with the drop in marketing costs and rise in fundamentalism as people find it ever-easier to reside within their own at-times very distorted and intolerant world views. 
    There was a previous blog regarding the definition of ‘Do No Harm'; another way of looking at this phrase is to see it as a repudiation of tactics and messages which may be financially successful but which are at odds with what in the long run really works or what doesn’t in the developmental sense. Poverty porn, ‘Kony’, donating T-shirts etc. and the organisations behind them are the aid equivalents of how the needs of the organisation and those in control take over the raison d’etre of a worthy purpose. 

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Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development, a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics, and an Associate of the Institute for Government. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and