I will admit that it’s nice to see celebrities at awards shows asked questions about how they’re helping to make the world a better place rather than who they’re wearing (which, I don’t know about you, but that question always brings Silence of the Lambs to my mind). But I think that Unilever stamping its annoying #brightfuture hashtag on celebrity causes that have zero to do with Unilever is a trifle disingenuous.
A Facebook ad that Unilever cleverly posted during the Academy Awards said, “You know his name. Now learn his cause. Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey spoke to us on our Yellow Carpet about his wish for a #BrightFuture.”
Unless you were paying attention to the color of the carpet in the text of the ad, you would likely assume that the interview was from Oscar night. But the Matthew McConaughey video clip was from the day before at the Independent Spirit Awards. Standing in front of Unilever and Project Sunlight logos, Sarah Michelle Gellar interviews celebrities about how they’re creating a “bright future” in their lives, subtly feigning association with these charitable organizations and using the celebrities to publicize their own corporate campaign. The company was also clever to use Gellar as their interviewer, as the assignment would’ve brought some unknown journalist to tears trying to do these interviews.
Here’s the awesome Angela Bassett talking about her cause, which I guess is being a mom. (note: Not sponsored by Unilever):
And here’s Matthew McConaughey talking about the nonprofit he and his wife started, the Just Keep Livin Foundation for kids, which also has nothing to do with Unilever:
Jane Lynch and director Steve McQueen were other celebs pestered by Gellar, but we’ve given the pointless Project Sunlight more than enough press for doing nothing already. The campaign, supposedly a bold initiative by Unilever to usher in an era of corporate environmental responsibility, is essentially a coded message to buy Dove soap (or else our children will inherit a diseased and damaged planet). This charity-jacking is made all the more cynical given Unilever engages in egregious acts of environmental vandalism to ensure it continues to supply its customers with its products.
Attaching a fake cause to celebrity interviews in which they talk about their own cause isn’t the worst thing a corporation has ever done, but it’s definitely not helping give the world a #brighterfuture.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.