Even a few years ago it would have sounded like science fiction, but a new app has been launched that allows consumers to find out in seconds companies’ political donations and affiliations.
BuyPartisan has been developed by the US-based firm Spend Consciously. Using the smartphone’s camera, it scans a product’s barcode, which then reports back on the political spending of the company in question. At present the app can only scan barcodes made by the Fortune 250 companies, though there is potential to expand that number further.
The implications for brand strategy both in North America and Europe are enormous. Companies would be unable to espouse one thing in their advertising yet donate to a ‘contradictory’ political cause behind the scenes. Brands that promote themselves as ethical would have to be scrupulously watertight.
Leonie Nimmo, Director of Ethical Consumer Magazine gives it a tentative welcome. “If the information is robust it could revolutionise the way people shop and think. Theoretically, it could prompt brands to tighten up their ethical stance. But political donations are only one category to look at; there are also issues like workers’ rights, tax avoidance, pollution and toxic waste. It sounds great but you would need more information to get the full picture.” - Will Simpson
Image credit: Spend Consciously