Keeping tabs on the situation in Japan? Throw any money in that direction yet?
Tonight I saw a television commercial for the red cross–an appeal to text 30333 to donate a few dollars to Japanese earthquake relief. Am I missing something, or did Haiti not get one tenth that kind of attention when the entire country was levelled?
If I felt tempted to donate to Japan I would grab a firm hold of my wrist and steer it over to the Haiti pot. Think about it: cholera outbreaks. Mass starvation. Living in hovels a full year later. I know that the Japanese are having trouble getting supplies into parts of Miyage, Iwate and other areas, but–nuclear crisis and temporary misery aside–what the Japanese are facing is a logistical crisis that’s transitory at best.
What happened is horrible, I admit, but we’re talking about 7% of the country’s economy and less than that in its size. It’s the richest country in Asia. Why is it we feel we can forget about Haiti, still struggling to raise its head, but open our wallets to wealthy Japan?
For many reasons, but there are some great lessons here for you graverobbers and war profiteers:
* It’s all about the moment. Haiti was then, Japan is now. You have your moment–make the most of it.
* Japan put on a better performance, in pictures. In Haiti, lots of buildings fell down. (The fact that the entire country was destroyed is besides the point.) In Japan, lots of buildings fell down AND there was a huge tidal wave, caught on camera. That inexorable wave created the most macabre visual candy on the news.
* The public doesn’t think things through. By and large, people go with their gut. They see well-publicized hardship and they act the way you would expect them to.
* The second act to the Japan tragedy, the ongoing potential nuclear meltdown, doesn’t let us forget the first and move on. It keeps that first event front and centre in our minds.
* These are our kind of people. Hate to say it, but we’re used to seeing black people in misery every time you turn on the television in the wee hours (or so it seems to me). We have, to our discredit, internalized the belief that bad things just happen to foreign black people. That it’s just a fact of life. What’s the lesson here, marketing-wise? Pick your darlings carefully.
Japan is a tragedy, Haiti is a disaster. There are some great lessons here for the marketer, but if you feel the need to donate, do everyone a favour and give your hard-won dollars to those who really, really need them.