Across the country today social media was rife with the #BellLetsTalk hashtag, a fundraising idea fueled by Bell Canada aimed at addressing mental health. For every tweet, retweet and Facebook post with the phrase, Bell Canada donated a nickel towards mental health services.
Outspoken Stars singer Torquil Campbell, however, saw another side to the corporation's campaign in a string of tweets this afternoon.
the way corps. use issues like mental health and cancer to publicize their brands leaves me not knowing what direction to throw up in first.— blue john (@torquilcampbell) January 28, 2015
you want better access to mental health care in canada? END CORPORATE WELFARE and make the bastards pay what they owe to all of us.— blue john (@torquilcampbell) January 28, 2015
i wonder what would happen if 500 people afflicted with schizophrenia went to headquarters right now for a chat with the CEO? yeah, exactly.— blue john (@torquilcampbell) January 28, 2015
if bell cares so much about mental health, why don't they give a billion dollars to the cause? it wouldn't effect their bottom line one iota— blue john (@torquilcampbell) January 28, 2015
According to Canada.com in an article headlined "All the #BellLetsTalk messages on social media don’t actually make much of a financial difference. Bell's marketing department thanks you, though," the campaign raised close to $5.5 million dollars last year. However, breaking the figure down shows that approximately three per cent of that total was through social media activity on Twitter and Facebook.
"For many, it's a rare opportunity to speak frankly about a topic that is still largely taboo in polite company, to bond with others over similar struggles, and to encourage everyone to come out of the shadows and seek help," Ishmael Daro wrote. "It's also a crass marketing stunt by one of the largest and most profitable companies in Canada."
A Huffington Post contributor also expressed similar feelings earlier today.
Campbell continued tweeting about the issue while later calling out Bell to assist customers with mental health issues through free phone service or, for those with a mental illness, to contact Bell and "tell them that you can't pay your bill this month. they'll understand."
the answer is that they don't give a shit about mentally ill people. they care about profit. the corporation is a psycopath. don't be played— blue john (@torquilcampbell) January 28, 2015
don't fool yourself into thinking that tweeting a hashtag is helping anyone. there is someone in your life struggling right now. call them.— blue john (@torquilcampbell) January 28, 2015
The singer then brought in former Toronto mayoral candidate Doug Ford:
remember when doug ford threw 20 dollar bills at his constituents in a housing project? that's what bell is doing with #BellLetsTalk.— blue john (@torquilcampbell) January 28, 2015
except they're using our 20 dollar bills! so they're not even as charitable as doug fucking ford! and they get a tax deduction for it all!— blue john (@torquilcampbell) January 28, 2015
While some understood where Campbell was coming from, others responded believing the awareness outweighed any corporate branding.
As of Wednesday afternoon the campaign's official site tallied the number of interactions at 65,445,422. Using simple math the total works out to $3.27 million thus far. Since 2010, Bell states it has "committed $67.5 million to mental health initiatives in Canada."
In conclusion, Campbell tweeted this:
and for those of you wondering why the little man is so angry;i have people i love deeply who fight every day with this shit. fuck you @bell— blue john (@torquilcampbell) January 28, 2015
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