Businesses attract mixed reaction over ‘donations’

CHARITABLE INTENTIONS?:Some netizens accused stores which exchanged Facebook ‘likes’ for charitable donations of dressing up marketing as philanthropy

By Chen Wen-chan and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 - Page 3

A recent wave of online campaigns in which business owners invited netizens to “like” their Facebook posts in exchange for goods being donated to disadvantaged groups have drawn mixed reactions, with some people lauding the efforts while others said they were merely marketing ploys.

The philanthropic campaign was sparked after a Japanese-style curry restaurant in Greater Kaohsiung’s Lingya District (苓雅) posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday an image of an employee holding a cardboard sign that read: “The restaurant owner said he would give away 60 dishes of curry and rice if this post gets 50,000 likes.”

To the restaurant’s surprise, the post received more than 440,000 “likes” within five days, prompting the proprietor to plan to give out an additional 120 free lunch boxes tomorrow and on Wednesday.

Seizing on the trend, a pet store in Taipei recently announced on its Facebook page that it would donate 50kg of dog food to animal shelters if the post accumulated 50,000 likes in a week.

Aside from attracting scores of “likes,” the post also encouraged many animal devotees to help stray animals, including a netizen from Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華) who donated seven 15kg packages of dog food to the pet store, and even carried them there in person.

Touched by this benevolence, the pet-shop owner raised the quantity of donated animal feed to 100kg and invited netizens to join him in making donations in person.

However, some netizens accused the stores of cloaking attempts to boost awareness of their stores as philanthropy.

“Trading a lunch box for an average of 8,330 likes, is good advertising and means increased visibility. What a great bargain for the restaurant,” said a netizen who identified himself by the surname Liu (劉).

Another netizen who goes by the moniker “Wanderer” said that it would be reasonable if the restaurant gave away 60,000 lunch boxes in return for 50,000 likes.

On the other hand, some netizens said that the stores’ willingness to contribute to society was commendable.

“Having the willingness to give away free goods is in itself laudable, and it could also rub off on other storeowners and set the nation on a path toward a kinder society,” another netizen said.

A neitizen nicknamed “Yen” said that if these establishments had done something good, “there is nothing wrong with wanting to get a little publicity in the process.”

In an effort to avoid being caught in the crossfire, a restaurant recently posted a message on its Facebook entry saying that regardless of the number of “likes” it received, it would continue to routinely donate 100 cakes to those in need.

“After all, philanthropy should be inspired by an intention to assist others, not by an eagerness to get ‘likes,’” it said.