Sabbaticals Becoming Influential Marketing Fad

Posted on: Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Work/Life Hacking, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Kirk Horsted

Hey, would YOU like $30K to take four weeks off? Or how about being sponsored to spend 3 months in Italy revitalizing a fading village? Or, if all that sounds too cushy, why not embark on a 30-day eco-journey that reaches its peak with 10 days in Antarctica assisting with pollution research?

Sounds tempting, right? Of course! But there’s a catch. For starters, your chance in all cases are about, well, 1 in a million. Then there’s another catch: You’ll have to become a social-media barker for your sponsor. And there are more catches, including that a part of you (and your “content”) will forever be owned.

These are brilliant—and ultimately cheap—marketing schemes by savvy companies who prefer screen-based advertising to traditional tactics. Stok Cold Brew Coffee is behind the $30K sabbaticals. Airb&b came up with the Italian village concept. And if Antarctica is your fantasy, you can thank airb&b for that one too, along with their eco-partner Ocean Conservancy.

The upside here is that these promotions are calling attention to—and perhaps somehow doing something about—sad realities like dying small-town Italy and even-more-dying Planet Earth. (The Stok deal seems to not worry about social redemption—just social media).

On the sidelines, some pundits are thumbing their noses at these efforts. They note that candidates’ selection criteria will be heavily weighted on their influencer power, how airb&b’s success has worsened the affordable housing problem (which itself brings about pollution), and how dubious airb&b’s own record is when it comes to any environmental leadership or guidelines (not to mention that the travel industry is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions).

Welcome the relatively new phrase: Crisis Capitalism. Nowadays, certainly someone will have get-rich schemes from viewing dying species, seeing the ice caps before they melt away, and swimming with the dolphins while we still can. You can track back to Mr. Marx himself if seeking the roots of such opportunistic thinking.

Yet let’s hope the motives of and outcomes from this burst of sabbatical/save-the-world bingo makes some positive things happen. Heck, if the increased awareness about sabbaticals helps people move beyond today’s perceived priorities and toward a path beyond the BreakAway obstacles, then sign me up—however slim the odds I might actually find myself enjoying free lunch while spiffing up ancient Italy.

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