The Danish CSR initiative called ‘Lys i Afrika‘ (Light in Africa) that was launched on Facebook 12 May has been met with heavy criticism. The project is being accused of greenwashing, of keeping people for a ride and being a piece of ‘slactivism’.
Behind the project is Danish energy company Energi Nord, who launched a Facebook page promising its fans – now Likers – to donate solar cell lamps to Uganda for every 25 new Likers to the Facebook page.
The goal was reached by Energi Nord
On the page, the goal was to reach 5,000 lamps which equals 125,000 Likers. On the 2nd August that goal was reached and from now on people can choose to donate a lamp themselves for 100 Dkk. The explanation is that Energi Nord has to drive a healthy business and therefore does not have unlimited means to donate lamps to Uganda.
Some of the skeptics criticize the fact that Energi Nord from the very beginning had their mind set on a certain number of lamps, which in some way renders the Facebook campaign superfluous. It is also criticized that Energi Nord in the end makes their marketing more aggressive, inviting their community to participate in events.
I can see why some of the criticism may be OK and it shows that you really need to think your initiatives all the way through and be 100% honest with people from the beginning. But sometimes I think we as professionals get a bit carried away.
In this case, Energi Nord is a professional business that wants to do some good in the world (there is enough companies out there not doing anything) and at the same time add those values their brand. This is understandable. They came up with a good and fun idea that could go viral by using social media.
125,000 people is now following the project and Energi Nord keeps people posted on the story of the lamp’s journey to their final destination while encouraging people to donate a lamp themselves. The result might well be the birth of a movement. What if 5% of the 125,000 took the small amount out of their pocket and actually bought a lamp – that would be an additional 6,250 lamps.
My point is simple. Yes, Energi Nord could just have donated the 5,000 lamps they wanted to, but with a campaign on Facebook, there is an actual chance of creating a movement maybe doing an even bigger impact than the 5,000 lamps. The number of donated lamps right now is 5,260, so some people have got inspired by the light so to speak.
Get inspired – send a lamp
The criticism of this campaign has reached the media. If you turn to the Facebook page, some are arguing and some are saying they are leaving the page and think badly of Energi Nord, but the negative energy and people leaving seems to be less than 0,01% – again my point being, if people get the idea and get inspired, it does not matter what we as button belly oriented professionals think.
And just to be clear, I have no connection to Energi Nord or a possible agency helping them. In my ignorance I actually don’t even know if they have an agency assigned. But what I know is that I like to get inspired by good ideas and like the idea that I can take a measly 100 kroner’s and send a lamp to Uganda. It’s concrete – I know what I am giving and to whom. One lamp from every employee at Mindjumpers is now on the way to Uganda.
What’s your opinion on an initiative like this?