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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Drinking Irony – Marley’s Mellow Mood

MarleyMocha “One Drop”:  Caffeinated.  Sugared.  Slickly
packaged.  At $2.99, seems more a source of healthy
profits than nutitous sustenance.

Want is just the things you want that people make; so I really want nothing.”

Ironically, this Bob Marley quote’s on the drinkmarley.com website, which sells stuff people make… sugary and sometimes caffeinated “natural relaxation beverages.”

Marley beverages pays homage to the famous late peace-loving Rasta, Bob Marley and his family. "He made his reggae music to uplift us, inform, entertain, inspire, and make change in the world,” says Cedella Marley, Bob Marley’s daughter.  Indeed, evidence abounds in the Caribbean of Marley’s ongoing mythical hero status... on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and yes, a whole line of drinks.

At $2.99 for 9.5 ounces, Marley beverages aint cheap.  Guessing they’re out of the price range of the average Rasta, who tend towards humbler living.

"Bob Marley’s Mellow Mood” claims “all natural relaxation.”
All natural is one of those official-sounding unregulated empty
promotional promises.  Then again, Bob Marley propaganda is
both popular and profitable even if Bob Marley is dead.
Guess he’s resting, mellow, in peace.
Selling products with a socially-oriented spin is all the rage these days. Marley Beverage Company, manufacturing and marketing Marley’s Mellow Mood in a joint partnership with VIVA Beverages, clearly cashes in on that trend. Prominently printed IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS on their packing, website, etc.: 
 ‘A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Marley’s Mellow Mood and One Drop go to benefit 1Love.org.’

What percentage?  Or, how much money does Marley Beverage Company contribute to 1Love.org’s causes?

Ahhh, that is less clear.  In lieu of that, I researched 1Love.org to learn more.

1Love.org is the Marley family’s charitable organization.  Its core values are: Youth, Planet and Peace (see 1Love.org for more). 

Always curious about the efficiency and efficacy of charable organizations, I looked for more info on them on the charitable watchdog sites.
  • http://www.charitywatch.org -- not listed
  • http://www.charitynavigator.org -- not listed
  • http://www.guidestar.org -- listed but you gotta pay for it, though in the preview they note assets: $141,105 and income: $10,552, which gives me the sense there isn’t a whole lot of money flowing in from Marley Beverages.  Quite possible I am missing something, given the limited, cryptic information from a watchdog organization wanting to sell its more detailed reports.

Next I looked critically at 1Love.org’s own PR.  The challenge was getting a handle on how much 1Love donated on their own, then getting a clear sense of the result.  1Love’s statements are in italics; mine editorial comments are not.

Fuzzy Examples
  • 1Love shared the love and fed the pandas by partnering with explore.org… resulted in a $500,000 donation – How much of the effort was traceable specifically to 1Love?
  • Alongside our parters, 1Love helped raise $350,000… bringing food to 21,000  children [for Save the Children of East Africa Famine initiative] – Great cause and result. How much of the effort was traceable specifically to 1Love? 

Small, Specific, Moderate Contribution
  • Donating $7600 for infant formula, baby wipes, disposable diapers, food and educational toys to the Glenhope Nursery in Kingston, Jamaica, a childcare facility serving 60 orphans – Not a huge contribution but likely a significant impact.

Wow!
  • Donating $100,000 to charity [to provide] clean drinking water to [over 4000 people in] Konso, Ethiopia where access to safe drinking water is only available to 30% of the population. – I’ll drink to that!  Maybe not with Marley Beverages though.  I wish I knew the name of the charity and could just donate to it direct.

As a college graduate with an Advertising degree and Fortune 500 marekting career, I’ve learned to not swallow everything I read.  I don’t expect to win any popularity contests, or make millions selling sugar water.  I’m okay with that.

IMHO?  If you want to drink Marley Beverages because you think they taste good,* or because you believe drinking them makes you look cool, and are content paying $2.99 for the privilege, go for it.

*I tried the green tea out of curiosity and it did taste good – though not so much I’d be willing to pay that for another, especially without any sense for what percent of sales or profits benefits charity.

If your interest is in donating to positive social change, and you want to get the best bang for your buck, I recommend making direct donations to an efficiently run charity whose balance sheet and results are more transparent than DrinkMarley beverage bottles.