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HP spends a lot of money to tell you it’s doing 0.0001% good

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Harmonization with gibbon noises.

Screenshot by ZDNet

Let me tell you what a great guy I am.

I always tip 50% in restaurants. I always slow down for jaywalkers. And if you knew how much I donate to charity, well, you’d be instantly desperate to follow me on Twitter and be my friend. Or even tell everyone you saw me on the street.

None of this is true, of course.

But I wanted to know, just for a moment, what it was like to be a tech company boasting about your do-gooding credentials.

I was moved, you see, by a new announcement from HP. The company spent a lot on the ad. It was shot in a beautiful forest. It lasts three minutes. And it’s not just the famous anthropologist and environmentalist Jane Goodall, but also the famous actor Rebel Wilson.

They take a forest bath. Which, if you’ve never done that, means sitting in comfy chairs in the forest while a film crew captures your every word and thought.

And the sound of gibbons. Goodall and Wilson rehearse their gibbon harmonies for their new band, tentatively called the Tree Gees.

Only then do we get down to business. Selling the goodness of the HP brand.

Wilson wants to know if the world will end in ten years. Goodall reassures her that we could last a little longer if we do something about it.

It is then Wilson’s job to introduce the idea that Goodall and his foundation are working with companies to help them not look like rapacious profit maximizers. I’m sorry, I mean to help them direct some money towards saving the Earth and regenerating the forests.

Goodall explains how important it is to plant trees and protect forests. Which allows Wilson to introduce sponsored selling and let Goodall explain himself.

“Some companies have seen the writing on the wall,” Goodall begins. “HP is planting a million trees in conjunction with the Jane Goodall Institute, and it’s part of the One Trillion Tree Challenge. One Trillion Trees by 2030 to save the planet.”

As the bragging goes, not too bad I guess. This is the only mention of HP in the ad. Other than the HP logo perched in the lower right – always a sign of the company’s insecurity, this – throughout the announcement.

But while HP can be highly commended for its commitment to “treeing”, is it necessary to make fancy ads to talk about it? Aren’t the most beautiful and true benefactors those who remain discreet or even anonymous?

Especially when my calculator tells me that HP is contributing just 0.0001% of the trillion tree goal.

Perhaps, however, there is a sonic need to brag. Many potential employees — and, indeed, customers — should know that big tech companies have at least a little heart.

And what better way to excite them than to run expensive advertisements about it?

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