Archive for August, 2011

August 28, 2011

How Abbott is playing the good guy….

They are not the first and they are not the only ones…..the brands that do not give just money for good causes but participate in delivering solutions. The choice of where to work should not always be guided by promise of commercial returns but most often it is. Abbott is working on malnutrition in Haiti. Why not in India? India has one of the highest rates of maternal and child malnutrition in the world so it probably deserves some attention for anyone focusing on this route for doing good.

Will Abbott make what is most certainly a larger and a more complex commitment to India?

August 27, 2011

Why do responsible brands buy bad advertising?

Here is one example. Not only is this insensitive it is hard to see how it can drive brand loyalty or build trust in the brand. It is not even ‘creative’. It shows bad taste and worse humor.

August 24, 2011

In adversity, an opportunity?

September 11 still has a lot of energy left for brands to ride on it seems….is this good or bad? Should this ‘commemoration’ go on and on as a reminder of the horrific or is this one time horror which we hope will never again be repeated turning into an annual event like the multitude of disease days on the calendar? And if it is should the remembrance be done with some amount of sensitivity and finesse or should T-shirts and other brand gambits be welcomed as well?

Brands See Sept. 11 Anniversary as Opportunity

August 24, 2011

Big Tobacco should Back Off! But they are fighting back…

The latest in the anti tobacco story:

Nothing brings industry together better than adversity.

Tobacco giants suing FDA over warning labels mandate

June 23, 2011

US FED releases 9 graphic warnings for cigarette packs

Once again industry has chosen to take the legal rather than the socially and morally correct route to a business challenge.

Our question: How does all this play out in South East Asia since this region is being considered the next hunting ground for cigarette makers. Not fair. But there is no denying that this part of the world could teach the rest about a variety of addictions!

For Big Tobacco South East Asia is the final frontier (For Subscribers Only)

Not very responsible behavior considering that tobacco consumption in the form of cigarettes has been conclusively linked to cancer and a host of other chronic and life threatening medical disorders. Is there no good way out of this troublesome debate? In India the traditional mode of imbibing tobacco was and is through chewing, smoking the hookah or in the form of bidis. Not that any of these is a safer than cigarettes since what is at the core of the issue is not just tar and carbon deposits in the lungs but the damage done to the body through increasing levels of nicotine. So now that developed societies ( for this also read more informed societies and consumers) have rejected or are rejecting cigarettes, the emerging markets are the next frontier. Profit before people? Always! What a shame.

And here is Phillip Morris telling us that cigarettes are not hard to give up….

An encouraging word from the Marlboro man

August 23, 2011

How do you define Creativity?

“If you look at the definition of creativity,” Howard told us today, “it’s to make the complex simple in elegant fashion.” (Here’s a Merriam-Webster definition, in case you’re interested.)

August 21, 2011

Who is afraid of Greenpeace…Not Nike

It has been a long tussle and it will continue. NGOs against corporates. Holding them responsible for a multitude of sins. Going overboard and becoming vicious. Willing to talk but only on their own terms. And this has created a psychosis at the other end, with business refusing to engage or talk with NGOs, preferring to take the legal route or throw the ball into the regulatory space. So it is good to see Nike accepting what is considered an environment challenge by Greenpeace, willing to see something tough and challenging as good for business in the long-term. Let us see how this story develops.

Nike Accepts the Greenpeace’s Detox Challenge

August 18, 2011

Whole Foods shows us how to make money and be sensitive at the same time…..wait a minute, this may not be the best idea!

July 30, 2011

Iftar, the Whole Foods way….all halal foods in  a large variety of cuisines to impress Muslim customers.

It is a large minority to consider, it is at the moment a minority under stress everywhere in the world. While proud of many things there is a significant number of intellectuals and followers of Islam who wonder how they became so separate in their identity that they can no longer live at peace with others in so many countries and why above all some among them created this wave of fundamentalism that got a reaction from almost every other religious group.

But social and religious considerations apart Muslim “consumers”, not to mention Muslim “investors”  seem to have gathered enough clout for companies and brands…and banks….to want to do things in a way acceptable to them.

Is this good or bad in the last analysis?

August 18, 2011

Well it turns out that the scheme has been withdrawn after protests from various quarters….

Another story on this…

August 8, 2011

Bill Gates’ obsession with polio is being criticised

Why? Because he has decided that he will succeed no matter what? Because the virus has become his personal armageddon? The only real point his critics have is that perhaps some part of the donation should be made to pinstitute fresh research into the virus and its mutations. Why doesn’t it die like smallpox did? The oral drops have made a huge difference. But now the vaccine makers say that you must add the injection to the drops to ‘fully’ eradicate polio. The injections are hugely expensive. Government in India does not have the funds to include the injection in the national immunization program. There are so many candidates waiting in the wings to enter this program. How should these be prioritised? It took the government over 15 years to include hepatitis B in its national immunization program for children. Cost played a role in this decision as well till Indian companies were able to wrest control from MNCs and bring down this cost. Perhaps the point both sides are missing is that polio control and eradication could require not just immunization but publc health improvement, sanitation for example. So unless this rides in tandem polio recurrence is a given in some form or other. Add in the inherent nature of a virus: mutation and we have a far more complex problem. Bill Gates is a man committed to a course. He has a vision and gaol and it is hardly fair to go after him with categorial requests and unfair criticism. No one who does as much as he does in so many health areas should be actively criticised.

August 8, 2011

Brands and Health: A much needed engagement

IBM shows a way. Here is a brand playing to its strengths and doing good as well.

Big and ambitious this project sounds like just the answer to what is likely to be the next wave in disease management: Patient Empowerment. Doctors treat illness but patients will have to learn to manage the disease. And one of the better ways to do this is to share life experiences. So far all the patient related websites have given information encouraged some degree of interaction and most certainly contributed to this empowerment process. Now IBM has created a Patient Social Network that integrates and interlocks hard core medical information with soft human and personal elements that will probably allow people to hold hands in cyber space and across vast distances. This is providing value beyond calculation.

Read more about it here:

August 8, 2011

The Logo Debate continues…

Branding is a subject that gets written about over and over again. Most often it is the same stuff that is recycled with a few new sparklers. Perhaps there is no way out of this repetition. There is nothing new to say. But from time to time a smaller debate inside the big brand circle comes up and presents opportunity for experts to flex their mental muscles and give us something specific to discuss. And of late this whole business of should brands change their logos and if so when and why is an interesting one. Soon after the Starbucks mermaid went in for a makeover and GAP squared off for the wrong reasons there has been a spate of comment and commentary on the right and wrong of this action. I do not think that logos are sacrosanct or that they cannot evolve and change. I think since logos are a visual artistic expression of the brand and since art is reflective of social creative sensibility and this sensibility undergoes change with time so should the visual expression of the brand.