There are fugitives arriving in my city every day. They smell. They are hungry. Their children wear no shoes. I know this because of my friends Joost and Diëp. My friend Joost has a busy job but he spends most of his nights helping people at Amsterdam Central Station. He welcomes them, he hands out clothing and he shows them the way to the Red Cross. My friend Diëp has managed – in two weeks time – to collect more than 1000 big boxes of clothing, shoes, and goods, with his friends of AMS Helpt. And there’s a truck with a driver that will take all those boxes to Lesbos, tomorrow.
Joost and Diëp aren’t saints. They’re just regular guys, with jobs, busy schedules and ‘things to do’. But I love these guys for getting up and doing something. And I would like to dedicate this space to them.
I know what Joost and Diëp are doing, because they tell me, and I follow them online. And because of them, I’m doing something too. I’m helping out a little at Central Station. I’ve donated some useful things. And I’m writing this. The point is: they inspired me. However, a lot of inspiration is lost. Because a lot of people, and brands in particular, do not talk about what they are doing to help. They keep it quiet, out of modesty. The efforts of most brands go unnoticed, because they’d rather not talk about it. And I think that is a big mistake.
Brands have the power to inspire. That is why I believe they should claim their efforts and show the world what they are doing to help. Not to boast, but to lead, and to be an example to their fans. I think it’s disturbing to see that so many companies are actually afraid of being less loved, for showing what they are doing to help solve a crisis.
I understand the need for modesty. I know a brand cannot pound itself on the chest yelling ‘we rescued the refugees!’. But silence doesn’t help. So use your power. McDonalds handing out McFugitive burgers to feed the famished. Google Maps putting up road signs to show the way from Lesbos, through Hungary (or around!) all the way to Sweden. The unsinkable Boston Whaler takes care of the boat smuggling problems. Better yet, Corendon and EasyJet collaborate to build an airlift that makes the one in Berlin in 1948 seem like child’s play. Portable battery packs are handed out by Tesla. And to finish off, T-mobile makes sure everyone can call ‘home’ to let their relatives know they are still alive.
And they all tell the world what they’re doing. I say: SHOW YOUR COLORS. Inspire all those millions of people who believe in your brand. Tell them: if we can do it, so can you. And if you’re still afraid that helping out will hurt your image, team up with a competitor. Do it together. This thing is bigger than market share. More important than competition. This is beyond business. So, does your company have a lot of shoes to donate? Just Do It (pics or it didn’t happen).
For now, thank you Diëp. And thank you Joost, for inspiring me today.
Keep up the good work and I’ll see you tonight.
FOR THE RECORD:
I know you’re not expecting this, but THANK YOU PRAXIS AMSTELVEEN for all the boxes! THANK YOU K-SWISS for all those shoes! AND THANK YOU TONY’S CHOCOLONELY for that final push to Greece!