At the risk of being churlish, it's hard not to be a touch sceptical about Kiwibank's I Am Hope campaign.

The bank pledged to donate $1 to Mike King's charity Gumboot Up NZ for every person who used the frame on their Facebook profile.

The marketing team was a victim of its own success when the campaign went viral and about 500,000 joined in. The bank upped its cap from $20,000 to $50,000 and eventually — under pressure — to $100,000.


There's no doubt the donation is generous and goes to a worthy cause, but every I Am Hope frame also included the Kiwibank logo — something marketing experts were quick to point out was bargain advertising, given the huge interest meant saturation coverage on most Kiwis' facebook feeds.

Like any business, Kiwibank has a right to advertise and use whatever medium it chooses. The bank in this case may well have had the purest of intentions, but there's a sense of discomfort if we sense corporate drive masquerading as altruism.

It's a sign of the treacherous waters we swim in the social media age.

And it's as much an issue for individuals as it is for big business.

Many will remember the "ice bucket challenge" that saw people upload to Facebook a video of a bucket of ice poured on them. Does anyone remember why?

It was for motor neuron: a wretched, debilitating disease that attacks the nervous system and kills, usually within a few years.

Such serious issues can be reduced to gimmick; a chance to show how caring one is, rather than to actually care.

As we report today, there is a growing backlash. Conscious expressions of moral values are attacked as "virtue signalling" or, more recently, "woke". Both terms are intended to slight.

The rapid change in how we now live our lives in our own public showreel makes this a very contemporary problem. But as with most of those, there's a very old-fashioned solution: practise what you preach.