Monday, December 12, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished

Saturday night, Chase Bank sponsored the "American Giving Awards" on NBC. Well, sponsored isn't exactly correct. This was a one hour infomercial for the centerpiece of Chase's annual corporate giving program where five charities were awarded between $125,000 and $1,000,000 based on an online vote that took place on the Chase Community Giving Facebook page.

I've always been a believer in the "Do good. Take credit." school of public relations, but something about this feels a little unseemly.

With negative PR continuing to taint the big banks from the "Occupy" movement and huge pay and incentive programs for bank CEOs – Chase's James Dimon earned over $11 million last year according to Forbes, down from $30 million in 2007 – it makes sense that Chase does everything possible to tell its side of the story. I'm just not sure this is the best way.

Yes, 1.5 million people watched it (for reference over 5 million watched Rudolph which aired on CBS at the same time).

Yes, To Write Love on Her Arms is an incredibly deserving charity.

Yes, Chase has every right to promote its charitable giving.

Maybe that's the problem I have with it.

Chase is promoting their good works as they would a new checking account or rewards credit card. It feels like they're more interested in taking credit than actually doing good. Packaging it as an awards show, making it seem as though it's endorsed by an independent third party is disingenuous at best.

I'm sure Chase does a lot of good in the communities they serve. They've given out over $18 million to 500 charities since 2009.

I'd just feel better about it if I actually believed their primary intent was to do good in addition to selling credit cards and checking accounts.

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