Using Widows for Profit

I am a cynic.

I admit this, I admit this, I admit this.

That being said, I am also a realist. And, once again, the makers of 5-Hour Energy drinks disgust me. Back in November, I wrote this post about the company’s efforts to exploit cancer in the name of making money. It was sickening stuff, even from an American corporation that, literally, sells a sickening beverage.

Now, they’re back. With little surprise or fanfare, 5-Hour ENERGY has a new red, white and blue bottle of its cherry-flavored drink. And, when you purchase the bottle, you help contribute money to benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF), an incredibly important charity that supports the military’s special operations forces and their families through myriad programs.

But how much money?

I watched the commercial, then watched it again and again and again. It features the family members of slain soldiers, telling the stories of their husbands and fathers. It’s heartbreaking stuff; the sort of material generally reserved for military-related documentaries. Through it all, I kept missing the most important detail—how much money, exactly, would go to the SOWF? I looked. Looked some more. Blew the commercial up, then up again. And, finally, I saw it: $1.01 per bottle.

Now, by comparison, this isn’t awful. McDonald’s donated, literally, one cent from every Happy Meal to the Ronald McDonald House. Yet there remains something sickening about it. There is no chance in hell the people at 5-Hour ENERGY would run these commercials, and offer these promotions, if they didn’t generate profit for the company. How do I know this? Because if they were genuinely interested—first and foremost—in the families of killed soldiers, they’d give all proceeds to charity. Furthermore, if this were a great one-sided deal for SOWF, 5-Hour ENERGY wouldn’t hide the $1.01 information in teeny tiny letters at the bottom of the screen—as it does here.

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No, it’d brag and boast and scream, “Look at how generous we are!”

I hate this stuff. I really, really hate this stuff. We are a greedy people, obsessed with profit and public relations and looking good over doing truly right.