Thank you for taking the time to understand our thoughts on advertising. This is such an important topic because what we all buy (or choose not to buy) has a profound impact on our planet and all of its inhabitants.
Fundamentally, we see two important opportunities with respect to advertising on Care2:
Let’s face it, corporations have tremendous power in society – but only as much as we as a Society give them – so Care2 has a great opportunity with our millions of members to help move companies, and society, in a more sustainable direction. We can influence both Supply and Demand, through who we choose to work with, as well as by supporting more informed personal actions and empowering collective action. While advertising is just a piece of the overall puzzle, it’s important because it has direct impact and it also reflects our values.
Advertisers make it possible for Care2 to provide free services (such as email, e-cards, newsletters, healthy living tips/recipes, opportunities to connect with people who share common interests, petitions, click to donate races and many other ways to make a difference) and keep the business going. Maintaining free services is key to achieving our goal to reach and engage the broadest possible audience to live healthier, sustainable lifestyles.
The role of corporate advertisers on Care2 is very similar to advertisers in other forms of media: newspapers, magazines, radio and television. However, where we differ is that we seek out companies with products that are better for personal health and more sustainable than what is typically available in the market. While accepting a sponsorship is not an endorsement of the product or company, we strive to find products and services that are appealing to our members who are looking for healthy and sustainable options and are consistent with our (collective) values.
Yes and No. We believe the notion of “Environmental and Social Responsibility” is really an ongoing journey rather than a destination. The definition of “responsible” is both ever changing and highly subjective, so by that standard no company (or nonprofit for that matter) is 100% socially and eco responsible. So, if not 100% responsible, then where does the boundary lie? 95%? 90%? 80%? And by whose standard shall that be judged?
Thus, we believe the only practical answer is to judge companies by their commitment to the journey toward responsibility. i.e. Is the company demonstrating a genuine commitment toward making products and services more sustainable? If they are, we think it’s appropriate to recognize this, and support such progress.
This is an area where there are fairly divergent views even among well-informed, highly committed people. It’s basically a carrot vs. stick debate. The carrot folks believe that by working with a corporation, you can help pull it along in the right direction. The stick folks believe that you boycott and basically shame a company into doing the right thing. There are “success” stories on both sides, and of course organizations often use a combination of both strategies. The third approach, common even among our colleagues in the socially responsible business space, is to be entirely neutral – i.e. accept all advertising – because few of us have the means to effectively screen all companies and products. That’s not the approach we at Care2 want, and we’ve heard loud and clear from our members you too expect us to be more than just “neutral” participants.
Thus, we use the carrot approach on the advertising side for three primary reasons:
At the end of the day, big corporations are going to move toward the profits. And that’s often a good thing when it comes to reducing costs, using less resources, creating superior solutions, etc. And if we can help educate and inspire consumers about greener alternatives, companies will follow the money and move in that more sustainable direction.
One of our most important commitments to our members is to not allow deceptive advertising or harmful products on our site. We will not accept advertising for gambling, pornography, alcohol, firearms or tobacco products. Nor will we accept advertising that we believe is unsafe, discriminatory, or spam-like. We also do not accept advertising from companies we believe show egregious disregard for sustainable practices. While we don’t publish the list of companies we blacklist, we will and have turned down advertising requests from these companies. Bottom line, we listen to our members’ feedback, we consult with our nonprofit partners, we listen to our hearts, and we modify our approach as appropriate to maintain our standards.
While our sales team finds many of the advertisers you see on Care2, a small percentage of our inventory is usually dedicated to advertising networks (such as Google). The benefit of these “contextually relevant” networks is that even the smallest, local companies can advertise on Care2. The downside is that we cannot screen these ads before they appear on our site, so sometimes we end up with some doozies. (For example, Red Lobster restaurant ads started showing up on our Race for the Oceans. Ouch.) Since Care2 has a higher standard than other sites in these advertising networks we are not always able to proactively implement our criteria with them.
If you feel that an advertisement on Care2 doesn’t conform to the principles outlined above, please use our Feedback form to send us a link to the site advertised, a link to the page on Care2 where you saw the ad, and an explanation of why you believe the ad is inappropriate. We will review all suggestions and take action as needed. We may not always respond as quickly as we’d like, but we do pay close attention to the feedback we receive. We’re a small team with big goals and a lot of members, so sometimes we do get a tad behind on our communications…
If you’re interested in advertising on Care2, please see our Advertiser Info page.
Thanks for taking the time to understand our thoughts on corporate advertising!