Just back from the On Hollywood show at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles where something tried to seduce me big time.
Included in my bag of goodies was a black envelope with the following invitation from Audi:
TEST DRIVE AN AUDI TO HELP FIGHT AIDS
Audi provided all the attendees at On Hollywood with a simple value proposition: they promised to donate $50 to the Elton John AIDS Foundation in exchange for test driving an Audi motor car. No purchase necessary, although they promise to donate $500 in the event of a purchase.
It's a classic seduction -- a double win-win. Audi wins by shoving me into an Audi and associating its marque with the global fight against AIDS. I win by guiltlessly getting into an Audi and having $50 donated "in my name" to AIDS research.
In this win-win, are there any loser-losers?
Mercedes, Jaguar, Lexus, BMW and other high-end car manufacturers are all potential losers in a struggle to win my business. To keep up with Audi, I would advise them to do some seducing themselves. How about donating one of the Google $100 laptops to a child in Africa anytime some good soul test drove a Beamer?
Another loser is good taste. Such a flagrant play on my conscience is tasteless. I don't mind giving my cash to Audi in exchange for a well engineered commodity. But mixing this concrete economic transaction up with an abstract moral argument is offensive. Instead of being seduced by good works, I want to be seduced by a good time. Show me a Jag and a blonde and I'll buy the image instantly. But not a Jag and a blonde bundled with a not-so-subtle reminder of global hunger.
So here's my response to Audi. I am going to donate $50 of my own to Elton John's AIDS charity in exchange for NOT test driving an Audi. No purchase necessary. That's my moral gesture of the day -- my own little win-win over the marketing preachers at Audi.
========= GENERAL INFORMATION ========= Merchant : Elton John Aids Foundation IncDate/Time : 04-May-2006 09:53:36 PM ========= ORDER INFORMATION =========Invoice : 4673Description : DonationAmount : 50.00 (USD)Payment Method : MasterCard ==== BILLING INFORMATION ===Customer ID :First Name : AndrewLast Name : Keen