This month, Hamburger Helper launched their ‘Land A Helping Hand’ campaign in partnership with Feeding America, featuring Beyonce as their official celebrity spokesperson. Causes often use celebs and high profile figures as a way to reach the mainstream market and quickly generate mass exposure, so I wasn’t all that surprised to see the golden-flocked femme fatale of hip hop flash across my screen. But the commercial looks more like an ad for America’s Next Top Model or one of those artsy shoots for The Gap than a charitable cause, and if you view it quickly, you likely won’t even know that it has anything to do with Hamburger Helper, let alone Feeding America or the growing hunger crisis in this country.
The one message that the nouveau black and white studio shot manages to communicate, assuming you listen beyond the skinny jeans and six-inch heels, is that the goal is to provide over 3.5 million meals to local food banks to battle hunger in America. A significant effort. And a more than worthy cause, so I applaud General Mills on the initiative. I just question the execution.
Sure, it’s great to have a diva promoting your cause, and I’m all for creative partnerships to maximize exposure and response — especially when it’s aimed at serving the greater good. But this feels like a disconnect. Even the website, which does offer more substantive information about the program, and ways to get involved, prominently features Beyonce with a seductive stare and provocative pose on the home page. Wouldn’t showing her serving the homeless in a soup kitchen or giving food to a family be more compelling and meaningful?
Just as brands partner with high profile charities to appear socially conscious, celebs can have similar agendas, and I’m certain it doesn’t hurt Beyonce’s image, or the ‘I AM’ Tour to be the face of helping to feed hungry families in America. Now I’m not saying that Beyonce doesn’t care about hunger, but there’s no personal connection to the story. It would be so much more powerful to have someone — famous or not — share their experience with dealing with this issue firsthand, and the struggles they faced. It’s about humanizing the cause, and facilitating emotional connections, not dressing it up in a polka dot Betty Crocker halter top and promoting it like Studio 54.
I talk a lot about the importance of brands partnering with causes that are aligned with their mission, and the same holds true for choosing celebrity spokespeople. Will this campaign have a lot of visibility with Beyonce center stage. Definitely. But what happens to the cause when Beyonce’s smiling face is no longer attached to it? What lasting impact have they made with the consumer? And what will motivate them to take action when there’s no longer a handy concert tour to tie it to?