Posted by: hepowers | October 20, 2009

Rick Mercer – Comic With A Cause

Rick at Simon Fraser University, BC

Rick at Simon Fraser University, BC

You know Rick Mercer right?  That Newfoundlander who made us proud, embarrassing the Americans about their lack of Canadian smarts?  He’s intelligent, hilarious and seriously sarcastic.  Well, this comic also has a compassionate side with his Spread the Net Student Challenge.

Spread the Net is in its third year and has raised $650,000 to purchase 65,000 mosquito nets for African countries.  Highschools, colleges and universities compete each year to see who can raise the most money in this partnership between Rick, Belinda Stronach and Unicef.  The nets save lives by protecting people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes which bite at night.  Unbelievably, a child in Africa dies every 30 seconds from malaria.

From my public relations perspective, I think these factors contribute to the success of this socially responsible initiative:

  • Rick is cool and that appeals to the teenager/young adult demographic
  • His humour sets a light context for a serious cause and makes it enjoyable to be involved
  • The challenge is a contest which builds school spirit and identity
  • You get to be on Rick’s show if you win!

This year the challenge has a new twist with western Canada and eastern Canada fighting against each other for the prize.  My first thought was, yikes, do we need more division?  But his show, The Rick Mercer Report, fuels federal togetherness through his cutting rants, political satire and visits to interesting Canadian places.  So is it appropriate to say that he makes a social contribution in all of his work?  Sounds a bit mushy for Rick’s style but it may be true none the less.

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Responses

  1. Social responsibility is a very interesting concept that unfortunately many people and companies lose sight of during an economic turndown. Yet that is when agencies need us the most. In my days in the corporate world, as part of a large corporation we took it for granted that we would be involved in giving back. As an entrepreneur, it is still a very impotant part of the fabric of a small company.

  2. I applaud Rick Mercer for choosing a cause and putting his passion and celebrity status behind it.
    I believe that celebrities, especially those with a high profile and lots of dollars, have a social responsibility to use those two things for good.
    You can point to Bono of U2 and a number of multi-million dollar athletes. In some cases it is a bit of a token gesture, but others are sincere.
    Of course, it is easier for me to preach because I’m neither a celebrity or wealthy. But if I was … I would have to put my money where my mouth is.
    Mark Skeffington


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