Yesterday, Facebook announced that its billionaire CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to donate $100 million to the downtrodden public school system of Newark, NJ. But we'll have to wait for the formal announcement on The Oprah Winfrey Show, with Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a giant check with a red ribbon, frowning unfortunate students from the system, and puppies for effect - check, students, and puppies are figments of my imagination but you get the gist.
The approach is certainly well-timed for coverage, just prior to the October 1 debut of The Social Network, but it's potentially ill-timed for effectiveness in terms of Zuckerberg's image. In this day and age, consumers don't tend to respond to a donation or cause that seems contrived. In this case, the situation may be an attempt to fix what critics are calling a negative portrayal of his character in the film, as well as Zuckerberg's early dismissal of Facebook's privacy-related criticism.
Yes, it's a positive contribution for a city with a very cool, well-received, young mayor, from a CEO who's also cool and young, but Zuckerberg and his team will need to make a significant connection to the cause that's personal and/or directly related to the nature of the business for it to make the kind of wide-spread, genuine impact for which most corporate leaders strive.
What do you think? Too contrived? Genuine? It doesn't matter?