Brands rally for Red Cross in Japan

As the crisis in Japan worsens, brands like Aeroplan, Scotiabank, ING Direct and Spin Master are starting to pitch in financial aid for relief efforts.

For a high-profile program like Aeroplan, which has a vast membership of about five million, it’s ‘absolutely imperative’ to contribute to relief efforts when a humanitarian disaster strikes, says Alden Hadwen, director community engagement, Aeroplan.

The loyalty program this week announced that it has donated one million Aeroplan Miles to the Canadian Red Cross in response to the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which has destroyed entire cities, resulted in about 4,000 confirmed fatalities and left more than 15,000 people unaccounted for. Recent fears of nuclear meltdowns at power plants in Tokyo have made the situation all the more difficult for search and rescue teams.

‘I think that we have set a long precedent of doing this,’ says Hadwen, of Aeroplan’s long-standing commitment to the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières for whom it has supplied miles accounts since the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. ‘I think our members expect it, and I’m glad that they expect it because that shows that they consider us to be a business with integrity, and also to be aligned with the way they would think,’ says Hadwen.

Aeroplan is also encouraging members to donate their personal miles to the Red Cross on their website, and it is matching all employee donations – a move that other companies have also announced this week.

Financial institutions Scotiabank and ING Direct are raising funds, with Scotiabank aiming to donate $100,000 to the Red Cross’s Japan Earthquake/Asia-Pacific Tsunami relief efforts by matching employee and public donations (made by April 15) and ING matching up to $50,000 in client and employee contributions. The LCBO in Ontario is also collecting donations at its 600 locations province-wide.

Toronto-based toy company Spin Master has annouced it is donating $100,000 to search and rescue initiatives in Japan, while on the media side, Rogers Media is asking Canadians to text ASIA to shortcode 30333 to donate $5 to relief efforts.

Even agencies are responding to the call: the photo above is of a print designed by W+K Studio in Washington to raise donations for the Red Cross. It can be ordered on the studio’s ‘Goodness’ blog for a minimum donation of $25 (‘good’), $50 (‘gooder’) or more (‘goodest’).