PACT underwear, known for organic ingredients and a solid social mission to share profits with worthy causes has a new holiday campaign: buy a pair of holiday themed underwear and send a solar lamp to Haiti. The campaign will send a solar lamp to Haiti for every customer purchase (i.e. you’ll probably buy more than one pair, and each swipe of your credit card represents one lantern.) PACT has teamed up with with EarthSpark and Citizen Effect’s Light Up Haiti Program to offer the lamps.
Gift with Purchase campaigns that include both expensive luxury goods and desperately needed utilitarian goods delivered with the same swipe of the credit card often strike me as gratuitous. That’s because the donation is being used to hawk products. We can more easily justify a purchase if it’s “for a good cause.” But the good deed loses some of its shine if it comes with unnecessary products. Especially sexy ones. Check out the press photo at left.
PACT’s traditional lines sell for $20 a pair for the ladies and $24 for the gents. Buyers of their underwear are not exactly hurting for money. Yes, things are better over here and we can buy luxury underwear for ourselves and our loved ones at Christmas. Yes, we should donate money and goods to those in need. Must we be encouraged to donate by the dangle of a tempting luxury bauble in a department store? I can see where the idea came from. Many of PACT’s collections feature a designated non-profit. Previous lines have benefitted children’s literary groups, clean water campaigns, and land conservation. These have all been well received by the blogosphere and shoppers. I can just imagine the brainstorming session where someone said “lights on our underwear… it’s still dark in Haiti!” While lights are desperately needed in Haiti, I don’t want to have to buy whimsical expensive sexy time underwear to provide them.
I’m all for donating to worthy causes. I just wish that PACT could have stepped back from this particular pairing to realize the company was delving into a more urgent need situation than any of the other charities they’d worked with. If they had realized that this might put a bad taste in shoppers’ mouths, perhaps they would have restructured the campaign a bit. Instead of putting the onus on the customer to make the gift with their purchase, imagine if PACT had made the gift to Haiti at the outset of this campaign as a holiday present in honor of their new line of light themed undies. I’d find that much easier to applaud.
Readers, what do you think? Does this campaign cross the line or am I being overly sensitive to consumerism and first world guilt?