Sponsorship. I don’t get it.
I’m not talking those annoying mini-adverts at every break in play or before every new episode of…whatever. I get that. Mostly. Why Sky, who I pay a handy amount of money to, need Jaguar to help purchase the rights to a cricket match I don’t know, but I understand the principle.
I was talking about the other kind of sponsor. The man running a half marathon dressed as an alarm clock. The woman sitting in a bathtub full of Helmans mayonnaise. The misguided souls who dream up seven hours pogoing for world peace. Why are we more likely to give money to a (notionally) worthy cause if the person asking is wearing the back half of a horse costume?
The presumption of one’s own self-interest or stupidity is insulting. We don’t have the intellectual ability to understand complex issues. Or the emotional depth to feel pity or sympathy or grief in the abstract. No, we just need a tit in a big hat to make us chuckle before we part with our small change.
Key example: I was recently talking to a friend who does charity work. She told me of a man who was doing a pub crawl for cancer dressed as Zippy from Rainbow. I inwardly shuddered. He’s also planning to shave his head if they manage to raise X amount in Y days. You know the sort of thing.
Key question: What is the dynamic here? It’s important we deconstruct it, and that can go one of two ways:
A)The public won’t give you the money unless you do something ridiculous/embarrassing/dangerous.
B)The public are just giving to a good cause and would gladly give you money anyway, therefore you have absolutely no need to do anything to draw attention to yourself.
Either people are massive sadists, or pathetic glory hunters. Bleak.
Lets role with the sadist angle first: They give you money, you shave your head. Or wax your pubes. Or run a mile backwards singing the theme from Neighbours. Whatever. These people give you money to shave your head. Essentially, you have become a self-humiliating business that just happens to turn its profits over to charity. I suppose that’s mostly a good thing. Not a very healthy dynamic though. If a homeless man asked me for change and I produced a unicycle and told him if he could stay on it for fifteen minutes I’d give him a pound, he would think I was a total dick. And rightly so.
Now the second one. The worse one. Glory hunting. I don’t want to be cynical, really, I try not to be. I try very hard to believe adverts and politicians and newsreaders. But if someone willingly humiliates themselves I think it’s because they want attention. If someone streaks at a sports ground or does demeaning things on Big Brother, I think it’s because they want people to look at them. And I think these sorts of people tend to use charity work as a cover. Not only does everyone have to look at them, everyone has to think they’re great too. Sorry, but a wanker standing on a table and burping the alphabet is still a wanker, whether he’s dressed as Pudsey bear or not.
There’s a simple cure for this of course: stop them. Next time someone approaches you and says “Hi, I’m Simon and I’m doing a sponsored piss-drink so that people will plant more trees.”
….simply tell him you’ll give him fifty quid for the trees if he does nothing. Tell him you’ll double all his sponsors rates for every hour he’s just normal. Tell him anything. Just don’t let him drink that piss. You’ll be doing the world a favour.