How Walgreens is using your heart to get your wallet

I just watched a very catchy commercial with a seemingly compassionate undertone called “Get a shot, Give a Shot” from Walgreens (turns out last year they ran a similar campaign called ‘Shot at Life’), and if you check out tScreen Shot 2014-09-03 at 4.19.02 PMwitter #GiveAShot you find a lot of moms and pediatricians promoting this campaign. Yet if you pause for two seconds and really think about it, this is a sad statement on our American Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 4.18.41 PMculture’s understanding of compassion:

We want to look like we care about poor people, but only if it gets us something in return.


Walgreen’s is trying to leverage your compassionate heart (since do-good-ism is our current marketing strategy) to get you to spend money with them. They don’t care about helping developing countries, they care about driving traffic through their doors.

If you read their website regarding this program you learn that Walgreens will donate to a shot through Shot@Life for every vaccine you have done with them so that potentially 3 million kids can get life saving shots…but only if you help.

Sounds kind, compassionate and caring–A great campaign to support…right?

Also, this makes you feel good about your kids crying after they get their shot.  Everyone feels good cause some poor kids are going to get the same shot, but only because you generated this generous “donation” from Walgreens.

But really Walgreens is saying that they will not use their $2.5 billion of net earnings in 2013 to cover the children in desperate need. Or even more dramatically, they are not willing to help at all unless you increase their bottom-line in the process. Or, that last year they sold 8.5 million shots but partnered with UNICEF to send only 3 million shots…hmm GetAShot and maybe your shot will help someone else.

Let’s do some math based on this graphic from Shots@Life and stat that 1.7million kids dies of preventable diseases each yearScreen Shot 2014-09-02 at 9.47.14 PM
$5×1,700,000=.34% of Walgreens 2013 Net Earnings
Pneumonia and Diarrhea
$15×1,700,000=1.02% of Walgreens 2013 Net Earnings
LIFETIME IMMUNITY from all three
$20×1,700,000=1.36% of Walgreens 2013 Net Earnings

I know what you are thinking. Well how can you find the 1,700,000 who will die this year. Well to vaccine EVERY unvaccinated child in the world would take 17% of last years profits; bold investment but spread that over 5 years they could end this entire epidemic by not sending the money to their advertising firm but directly to Shot@Life.  But something tells me it is more complex than this.  But it is a darn good way to make people feel good about spending money at Walgreens.

Is this the only way we will actually raise up and help those in desperate need?  As long as we continue living our normal lives, and they might get some secondary benefit.

**As I edit this post…I felt like I had written something like this earlier about the (Red) Campaign…yepyep again.

***Oh, by the way after doing all this math, I discovered their fine print. Walgreens caps their compassion at $1,000,000. So they are willing to cover 50,000 kids and let the other 1,650,000 get these deadly diseases even if your kid gets a red bandaid.Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 9.48.17 PM

3 thoughts on “How Walgreens is using your heart to get your wallet

  1. I realize what Walgreens is doing pales in comparison to what they are capable of doing, but without them you probably wouldn’t have heard of Shot@life. Now that you have heard of them, let me ask a more interesting question- what are YOU doing?

    If you really want to help, no flu shots or cash required, stand up for the cuties in other countries and tell your Member of Congress to fund GAVI.

  2. Sadly Melinda, if I may call you that, the problem with this mode of marketing is that I had already moved on and forgotten about Shots4Life until your comment appeared in my inbox, so though Walgreens drew momentary attention to this mission and my random rant, it does not create a sustainable impact–and as I showed above provides little financial incentive. It does however make suburban mom’s feel better about their kids crying over their shots–as Julie’s blog referenced.

    You’re “interesting question” though assumes that I would be drawn to the same mission as you. When in fact, I am confident that God has perfectly placed me for a particular mission, and that I generously use my resources to influence that mission. Please enjoy this website as one way that I live out my mission to “Equip and Send men to live out their faith in their sphere of influence.” Trying to strong-arm me through guilt to join your mission is not necessary.

    However, I am glad that you have found a cause you are excited about and would encourage you to keep sharing the story as Walgreens marketing is self-serving. And I have prayed that God will use you in an impactful fashion.

    Finally, I will not participate in your letter writing to the government, because I believe that it is the role of the church to be caring for the least of these mainly orphans and widows around the world, and would rather focus my attention and efforts into a community that brings real systemic change through Jesus Christ and not our temporary political institutions.

    By the way, the reference of “cuties” really diminishes the comment to a sappy appeal because whether cute or not these are God’s children in need of His grace and that is what motivates my mission.

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