What is Corporate Love?

Reader Supported News asks exactly this question in their new piece entitled, "Love, Corporate Style." Corporations spend big money on getting consumers to engage and interact with their corporate "friends" through social media and other means. But what are these corporations missing in their tweets and facebook posts?

From the article:

Mitt Romney famously said during his most recent bid for the presidency: "Corporations are people, my friend." Perhaps nothing else better surmises the state of our country — even the state of our culture — than a prominent politician running for the presidency openly advancing such a flawed opinion. It is no secret that corporations now wield immense power in our elections, in our economy, and even in how we spend time with our friends and families. Corporate entities, in their massive, billion dollar efforts to advertise and "brand" themselves, not only want consumers to think of them as people, but even as "friends." If a corporation could hit the campaign trail itself, one could imagine it uttering the phrase: "Corporations are friends, my people." I recently came across a full-page ad in the New York Times. The ad, which shows a tiny baby’s hand clutching the fingers of an adult hand, is captioned with the words: "Love is the most powerful thing on the planet." It goes on to read: "For all the things in your life that make life worth living — Johnson and Johnson, for all you love." Notably, this is Johnson and Johnson’s first "corporate branding" campaign in over a decade. This poses an interesting question. What exactly is corporate love? Love is a very human emotion — but, coming from a business conglomerate whose over-riding goal is bigger profits — this message rings hollow. An April 24 New York Times article (interestingly enough, the same paper the "For All You Love" ad appeared in) notes that Johnson and Johnson recalled 280 million packages of over-the-counter medication and two hip replacement models in 2010. Ten thousand lawsuits were filed as a result of these faulty hip replacements, including one lawsuit that forced Johnson and Johnson to pay out $8.3 million in damages. Suddenly, a clearer picture begins to emerge. In this case, "corporate love" is merely a two-faced attempt to establish trust after — or in anticipation of — the disclosure of a negligent product failure. The phrase "to err is human, to forgive is divine" comes to mind. But, of course, corporations aren’t human. The idea of "humanizing" a corporation is certainly not unique to Johnson and Johnson. Our corporate "friends" are all around us. They are dominating our publicly owned airwaves with their slogans, filling our skies with their logos on billboards, showing up on the sides of city buses, and collecting our browsing preferences so as to better appeal to us on the internet. One might say that "corporate love" has been a part of American culture as long as corporations have advertised. This idea of trust in a brand name — of allowing a corporation to "earn" your "friendship" — is one that perhaps has allowed the corporate entity to dominate so many aspects of our culture. People become attached to brands. How many people do you know that only use a certain type of shampoo or drink their preferred brand of beer? Read the full article here.

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