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Charity or opportunism, that is the question

We’re big fans of heated debates here at StopPress and a heated debate kicked off yesterday after the Christchurch earthquake relief efforts of t-shirt company Mr Vintage were pegged by Ana Samways in her NZ Herald Sideswipe column as a cynical marketing ploy to try and make a quick buck from the disaster.

“How generous … Or is it? The T-shirt costs $29.95, so if they sell 150, Mr Vintage will bank $2,842 (minus an estimated $6 each to make) and Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Appeal will get $750,” Samways wrote.

The Mr Vintage folks, who were giving $5 from the sale of each quake t-shirt (but had put the wrong price on the press release that it sent out) weren’t too pleased with the criticism and responded, fairly emotionally, to what it claimed were inconsistencies with Samways article.

It also raised the stakes with a little bit of friendly ‘reputational blackmail’ as one comment labelled it, by creating a $1,000 ‘I Love Sideswipe’ t-shirt and asking Samways/APN to buy it. If it was bought, Mr Vintage would match it with $1000 of its own.

Judging from Mr Vintage’s last blog post, it appears as though the t-shirt remains unpurchased. But it decided to throw in $1,000 of its own cash anyway (possibly to remove any suspicion about its motives) and, through the t-shirt sales yesterday, added $3,500 to the Christchurch Red Cross appeal.

It seems like a generous act for what is a pretty small business, and many commentors applauded the effort, but there’s also plenty of negative sentiment being directed at the company for its immature response.

Whaddaya think?

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