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31.1.09

Taking photos of cops? You’re aiding terrorists, says UK 

As if Britain wasn’t already sufficiently heading down the V for Vendetta path (remember how last year, Mr Brown seized Icelandic funds on the grounds of terrorism—anyone know an Icelandic terrorist?), along comes amendments to the big catch-all Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 where people could be arrested and imprisoned if they take a photograph of officers ‘likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of ’, says the British Journal of Photography.
   Anything could really qualify, couldn’t it? A taking a photograph for a newspaper might fall foul of the provision. One time I photographed two French policemen hassling a street vendor. I never published it but it struck me that the gentleman was being hassled because he was black.
   Could this be helpful to a terrorist? Probably. While my motives were to document possible racism, a terrorist could use this image to show the prejudice against non-whites in the west and encourage attacks on the occident. Lucky I didn’t take the photo in Britain then.
   Equally a photograph of Big Ben with a police officer in front could be helpful to terrorists in figuring out just where policemen walked on their beat. Tourists beware. You could become a crook after taking pics of HM Life Guards (no, not the BaywatchAlerte à Malibu sort).
   ‘Set to become law on 16 February, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 amends the Terrorism Act 2000 regarding offences relating to information about members of armed forces, a member of the intelligence services, or a police officer,’ says the Journal.
   ‘The new set of rules, under section 76 of the 2008 Act and section 58A of the 2000 Act, will target anyone who “elicits or attempts to elicit information about (members of armed forces) … which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.’
   Someone found guilty could be liable for 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine.
   This goes to the heart of in the , something already eroded over the years by the European Union and now, under the guise of . If it were proposed in the United States, some would label it as ‘un-American’, striking at the heart of their . Well, this is un-British. Forgive me for having a memory, but when Britain was a regular terror target during the Troubles—when Britons were being blown up by the IRA—no such laws were required and the country muddled through.
   Policies regarded as anathema when I was a child, such as a UK , are now accepted; this is merely another in a long line of Labour policies of late that leave me unsurprised at the number of UK immigrants to New Zealand. Many are documented regularly at Alfred the Ordinary’s blog, which actually has a V for Vendetta (movie) line in its header. It is becoming more appropriate by the day unless the British public stands up—and recent events have shown that, in the words of Bob the Builder (in Neil Morrissey’s finest hour?), ‘Yes we can.’
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27.1.09

Thomas Phinney starts his new blog 

Thomas Phinney, formerly of Adobe, has started his own blog. It’s not ready for prime-time, but for those who want to read a few of his first entries, you can find them on www.thomasphinney.com. I make this note not only as a colleague, typophile and now fellow blogger, but because Blogrolling still isn’t running yet and I promised Thomas I would link back!
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26.1.09

Change Wall Street doesn’t believe in 

Right, President Obama is safely installed in the White House, but how come things haven’t changed?
   No, I don’t mean an overnight fix to the economy, and anyone connected to it, but the way is annoying.
   After five hours’ sleep, at 8.30 a.m.—half an hour before it’s kosher to call businesses here—I get a call from Robert from a Wall Street firm trying to flog me shares.
   Since it’s summer here, the chances of my having my extra half hour after getting rid of him on the phone were down to nil.
   It’s not so much I took a call at 8.30, but that the caller did not understand English.
   ‘It’s Robert [surname] from [Wall Street brokerage]. We called you a few months back [really?] and said we’d keep you up to date on opportunities. Well, Honeywell has announced it could take over —have you heard of them?—and we want to get all our investors on it.’ (You’ll have to bear in mind that my recall is not quite 100 per cent. Robert was trying to compete with that fast-talking guy off the FedEx commercial.)
   ‘Robert, what time is it? Eight-thirty. I’ve had five hours’ sleep. I finished at three.’
   ‘What would be a better time to call?’
   ‘I’m not interested.’
   ‘What are you doing with your money then?’
   ‘Not putting it into your exchange, for starters.’
   ‘Why not?’
   ‘Confidence.’
   ‘Yes, but the was at 11,000, and it’s now above 8,000, so it’s a great time to buy. So, Honeywell is planning to with United Technologies, and we’re going around our clients …’
   ‘Robert, I’ve had five hours’ sleep.’
   ‘What are you getting at?’
   ‘I’m not going to say yes to a guy who calls me at 8.30 in the morning after five hours’ sleep.’
   ‘Eh.’
   That’s it. Silence. No apology for waking me, no goodbye, nothing.
   Here’s how this call would have gone in the rest of the world. And by ‘rest of the world’ I even include most of the US and the states added in 1959. And I certainly include the rest of the English-speaking world such as the UK, India, Australia and New Zealand.
   ‘It’s Robert [surname] from [somewhere a bit more honest than Wall Street]. Honeywell has announced it could take over United Technologies, and we want to get all our investors on it.’
   ‘Robert, I’ve had five hours’ sleep.’
   ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize. Is there a better time to call you?’
   ‘Really, I’m not interested.’
   ‘OK, I understand. Sorry to have woken you. Thank you for your time.’
   ‘You’re welcome. Bye.’
   ‘Bye.’
   See the difference?
   Robert’s ‘Em’ at the end of his call bugs me and it has been one thing that has always got me about doing business in the US: that people think it’s OK to end a call without a goodbye.
   If you’re calling outside the 50 states, it isn’t. It’s downright rude.
   But that’s a small point. I’m prepared to give some leeway because of cultural differences and the fact that no American TV show features a caller saying goodbye. I like to think I’ve converted my American friends who used to do this.
   I just wonder what the American terminology is to be able to get the right reaction from the real Robert, because clearly, ‘I’m not interested,’ now means, on Wall Street anyway, ‘Keep talking and ask me private questions about my investments.’
   So, is it: ‘If y’all call me again I’ll hunt you down and I’ll shoot ya’?
   Or: ‘I ain’t buyin’ in the NYSE, not while there’s a n***** in the White House’?
   Or: ‘I don’t give a f***. It’s why I don’t have an ulcer, because I know when to say, “I don’t give a f***”’? (I have seen Lethal Weapon 2.)
   I wasn’t in the mood for debating but I was the guy who said many years ago that the Dow was overvalued if it went over 7,000; and who saw the energy crisis coming; and I certainly do not recall ever dealing with this Wall Street brokerage who decided to call an unlisted number.
   I was prepared to put up with sleep deprivation yesterday, New Year’s Day, but not two days in a row.
   It’s more reason to dislike Wall Street—and you just know that the markets there have not done any of the soul-searching it was supposed to have done in 1987.
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21.1.09

There can be only one 

We weren’t thrilled today to have discovered, through long-time Medinge member and Global Brand Strategy author Sicco van Gelder, that the Hong Kong Institute of Marketing awarded, last November, awards with the name of Brand with a Conscience.
   Sounds familiar, right?
   But let me say now that it has zero connection to the Medinge Group’s Brands with a Conscience, being awarded in Paris for the sixth time shortly.
   It’s rather annoying for us, after building up BWAC for six years, that HKIM would call its award by the same name.
   And here’s why we don’t think this was just a coincidence, the use of four words in the English language.
   If you read their press materials, ‘Organized by HKIM, the Brand-with-a-Conscience Award aims to recognize organizations which contribute to the betterment of the society by humanity and . It encourages industries to develop their with conscience that helps establish a fair and ethical society.’
   We have said for many years that Brands with a Conscience ‘contribute to the betterment of the society by , and behaviour.’
   Specifically, ‘The with a Conscience list is shaped around criteria including evidence of the human implications of the brand and considering the question of whether the brand takes risks in line with its beliefs. Evaluations are made based on reputation, self-representation, history, direct experience, contacts with individuals within the organizations, media and analysts and an assessment of the expressed values of sustainability.’
   If you go back through the years of media coverage I am pretty sure you would find the real BWAC explained in the exact wording that HKIM has used.
   Not only has it been regularly covered in the international for a good part of a decade, BWAC—the real one, our one—has attracted enquiries from organizations wanting to be nominated worldwide. There is no way that companies even here in New Zealand have heard of it and a marketing institute in has not.
   My memory of Hong Kong English is that there was a move from the traditional -ize endings on words (as used by the Oxford dictionaries) to the 20th-century ‘chiefly British’ -ise (it looks French to me, personally); Medinge, meanwhile, has not, due to my intervention and insistence on Hart’s Rules. It’s interesting to note that even the spelling convention is identical.
   Finally, the heart symbol adopted by HKIM in November is not unlike the new BWAC visual developed by UffindellWest far earlier in 2008 (and publicized accordingly)—which also has a heart, but in our traditional green.
   We don’t object to HKIM presenting an award based around sustainability and ethics, but we do object to the same name being used, which causes confusion and undermines over six years’ work on the part of Medinge.
   We grew the awards in Paris from an unknown event to one that is coveted. They had humble beginnings before they became the formal event we now have. There’s even an award named for our late colleague, Colin Morley, which makes us even more protective of the BWAC scheme and its integrity.
   Now we see the Institute do a shortcut. Even the way the event is held looks like it’s straight out of the Medinge playbook.
   And it’s also very ironical that an award supposedly for ethics has been arrived at in what appears to be an unethical way.
   We do expect a casual Google search. I have made a web search, even in the AltaVista days, one of the first ports of call for creating any new name or venture.
   Call us suspicious, but it is the opinion of certain Medinge directors and members that a Google search gave HKIM the name, idea and wording, and possibly even the .
   HKIM should, given its position, have been far more diligent.
   The Google index has been tainted by this attack on our , as the HKIM awards are now appearing. It undermines those real BWAC winners who have gone through our strict process over the last six years.
   The sad thing is that if HKIM actually did what was right, and enquired with us to see whether it could do its own version of BWAC after finding ours online, we might have said yes, having set some criteria.
   Today I drafted a letter to the chairman of HKIM, Dr Chong Yan Chong, to advise him of this conflict and of our grave concern over what we saw as a less than ethical appropriation of our efforts.
   As this is the marketing institute in my home town, I really hope there’s some reasonable explanation, maybe even some naïveté or long-shot hope that they would not be found.
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17.1.09

Internet saves another life as netizens locate potential suicide, alert police 

Older, anti-internet are quite accustomed to tut-tutting this medium when something bad happens. Not long ago, the internet was the culprit when a young American man committed suicide live, and people were criticized for not going to his aid.
   I was involved in a situation, in a chat room many years ago, when I convinced a young teenager to not take her own life. Like so much in daily life—as I am sure that through conversation someone every day convinces another not to do something stupid—it’s not reported. But if it wasn’t for the ’net, that young lady could be dead today.
   And last May, a friend left a note online—and a whole group of people located him and saved his life.
   I read among the Tweets today that this happened again. Someone on Reddit was planning to commit suicide, and his fellow community members online located him, called the emergency services, and saved his life.
   That’s three that I know of, two of which I was involved in myself. Thanks to the internet, three people are alive who might not have been otherwise. Of course, these positive incidents don’t make the , because they go against their belief that they are the only media that have any merit.
   However, the interactivity and personal connections that the internet provides surely are a great merit that we are lucky to have in the 21st century.
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11.1.09

Mea culpa: when Twitter makes sense 

I hate being wrong, but on this subject I was. And I apologize to Alan Howard in Australia, who suggested to me that could be a good tool. I disagreed.
   I was a total sceptic. And in some ways, I still am. Twitter, I argued, was a security risk, people telling others where they were so burglars could do over their homes. That 140 characters was stupid because whenever I wrote, I would need more (never mind that Twitter, often, cannot count). Not being part of the generation and still refusing to use these gadgets regularly, I am unaccustomed to writing brief messages in SMS style.
   In those respects, I still dislike Twitter. I signed up for it in 2006 and never touched it regularly till 2008. However, I do see the value of it, though in a slightly different fashion to what Alan suggested.
   I plugged in my blog posts via Twitterfeed (at Simon Young’s suggestion) so the headlines would be rebroadcast as Tweets. That meant I did not have to spend any real time on Twitter. It would keep me in charge of the technology, not the other way around.
   The worth of Twitter is not so much this communicating, but the following. I initially followed only my friends, building a small community on the service. In that respect, Twitter reminded me of the early days of the , which I often lament as having passed. Look on the or at some comments on YouTube, and you’ll realize how inane part of the internet community has become. It’s a reflection of the real world, with all its stupidity—whereas once upon a time, the internet was a reflection of a select group, prepared to be polite in the quest of uniting the planet. Or at least among the circles I moved in.
   It became an alternative means to reach some friends, people who already understood where I came from.
   While I still rely on Twitterfeed, I have found some worth to substituting my time with Twitter, using the 140 characters to update my Facebook status (especially after my gripe with that website). And for some reason, this is attracting attention.
   I stand by my other belief that people will flock to they trust online, rather than the social networks, because they only have so much mindspace—and Facebook fatigue, even Twitter fatigue, will set in. They will want the internet to be an entertainment and research tool.
   But for now, Tweeting is marketing, in that it draws and communicates to an audience, whether it is fed through another service or whether one spends a few moments a day writing a few 140-character messages. People come to you because they either know you or they find an affinity with what you write. It’s by no means as in-depth as getting to know someone over numerous blog posts, but in this glance-and-skim and surface world, where Milton Glaser’s I heart New York sign is in danger of becoming classical literature, it might suffice at that very basic, introductory level—akin to a digital means of handing out your business card at a function.
   If you like, then please feel free to follow me on Twitter. It won’t be an introduction to those of you who are regular readers. But somehow, those updates might make some sense.
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The Chinese New Zealand identity, in Sonia Yee’s The Golden Tide 

For those of you outside , Radio New Zealand National has put up the episode of The Golden Tide that features yours truly. Sonia Yee, who produced the series, introduces it, and I have had a lot of good comments already about it. (It seems a lot of people, even in New Zealand, prefer to listen to the MP3 online than wait for the programme to air.) My comments seem to have struck a chord with other men about the ’s perception and treatment of our race. Here’s the MP3.
   And for those of you in Hong Kong, I believe there is a story on yours truly today in the Sunday Morning Post. It’s been a pretty good few weeks for my press coverage in Asia, with coverage in my home town and in the Dainik Bhaskar.
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8.1.09

Will the Foreign Office aid a British subject? 

My worst fears were confirmed today with my Permanent Identity Card (PIC). I went to the consular services’ department at the “embassy” on Glenmore Street (only two protesters this morning) and was told by the chap there that he would not renew my card without my becoming a comrade.
   But as blogged earlier this week, I am proud to be and I am not giving up my nationality on principle.
   And the PIC is mine by right, even under Red Chinese law. It was the subject of a Sino–British Joint Declaration and this was ratified by both nations. It is, therefore, a matter of law in .
   There are no legal grounds for forcing a British overseas national to change his nationality to get something he is entitled to.
   I drove to the British High Commission afterwards and the security guard, an expat Brit, agreed that this was indeed something that HM Government needed to help me with.
   Unfortunately, my contact there at the High Commission, with whom I went to high school and had a business venture for a brief period in the early 1990s, has left, and his colleague, Nicky Baughen, was in a meeting. But she was the person I had to contact, and I had to write to the passport section at the High Commission.
   I have since done this and await their response.
   One only hopes that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office sees a duty to help a British subject living abroad, because as noted in that earlier post, a problem with my passport and HM Government’s practice of was ignored by the High Commissioner in 2001. It was then ignored by the Foreign Secretary, and his Tory counterpart in the Shadow Cabinet. Only PM Tony Blair’s office saw fit to respond. I trust it will not come to this, but I have briefed at least one journalist on this matter just in case.
   I never had this problem in ’s day and sometimes detest having to be this forearmed in dealing with the .
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6.1.09

After a negative experience, Crowne Plaza Today Gurgaon impresses 

[Cross-posted] Wow.
   That’s all I can say after the ’s contact with me yesterday.
   I wasn’t that complimentary about the Crowne Plaza Today hotel during my time in on my personal blog. The service was a trifle slow for such a top-rated (and expensive) establishment, and I blogged about it, almost in a throwaway fashion.
   Yesterday, two of the staff—Monica, as well as Nitin Sharma, the assistant director of the food and beverage department—called me to apologize. And this morning, I awoke to find a written from Mr Sharma in my email inbox, which I have gratefully accepted.
   His words: ‘I would like to extend my sincere apologies for the delay in service at the bar.
   ‘I hope you will accept my apology and give us another opportunity to showcase our hospitality. Once again I am truly sorry for the inconvenience caused.
   ‘I would request to give us another chance of proving the real of Crowne Plaza.’
   If I wasn’t already enamoured with the high quality of Indian hospitality, I am now.
   Of course I will be delighted to return to Gurgaon and check out the Crowne Plaza Today once more.
   This is real in the 21st century. It shows (a) ; (b) the fact that are now being steered by audiences and that the legal trade mark owner tends to be a steward steering perceptions; (c) that the Crowne Plaza is willing to its customers, safeguard its , and help steer those perceptions positively.
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5.1.09

You can have your PIC in a shade of Red 

I entered as many of us old colonials would: with a (air hair lair, what) and a falling-apart Hong Kong Permanent (PIC).
   I did have a few problems with the latter, because it was issued in 1995, and it did not have much of the information that the new ones now contain, like your thumbprint, a photograph without a Melrose Place hairstyle and samples of my DNA contained in hermetically sealed vials of sweat, or whatever these newfangled things they have nowadays on identity cards.
   (In fact, I had problems with my British passport, notably at Waterloo Station where the passport controller insisted I was not and had to queue up with foreigners. It was ironic that she was black and was herself practising . I had been British for longer than she had, thank you very much. The matter was ultimately raised with the PM after correspondence with the British High Commissioner, the Foreign Secretary, and the Shadow Foreign Secretary was ignored. I was going to expose all this and had some Fleet Street friends willing to aid and abet in the cause of true , but then HRH Princess Margaret went and inconveniently died on us and took out available column inches.
   Since then, armed with this correspondence, I have not had any problems entering the on a British passport. I was under the impression we overseas British had the same whose ‘Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance’. Funnily enough, this is respected in France and Germany, even the US where we are allies on the War on Terror, but not Britain herself. But I digress.)
   I was still let through because the PIC number matched what was noted on my passport, though the controller, a very charming lady by the name of Y. T. Chan, advised I should get the PIC changed ASAP.
   Fast forward to today. We are very law-abiding, we British, so I began checking. There’s nothing at the British High Commission site about the PIC, but the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region website does have an application form and some notes.
   The problem, as I discovered, is that like me cannot get a new PIC without applying for a passport at the same time, which entails becoming a .
   And I know from experience that my definition of ‘Chinese citizen’ somehow differs from that of the politician and the bureaucrat.
   My father did not escape from the in just so his son could get into bed with the Reds.
   My mother did not insist on in 1976 to avoid the perceived peril of just so her son could get into bed with the Reds.
   I am proudly . I am proud of my culture. I am proud of my heritage. But I do not believe that the chaps who came to occupy my family’s land in ’49 have much of a right to it.
   Or the chaps that overran Beijing.
   Not while the Chinese people lack , a basic requirement under the if China wishes to call itself a state.
   Some of my family members are technically, if not willingly, communists, but it doesn’t mean I have to join them.
   All I want is to retain my as a and get a PIC to which I believe I am rightly entitled by my domicil of origin.
   Back in 1995, this was perfectly feasible and I was under the assumption that the Reds would continue respecting the status quo ante when it came to administrative matters like this for an uninterrupted 50 years. And since when have Hong Kongers gone and pissed off Beijing? Well, apart from every June 4?
   We have contributed quite nicely to the Pekingese capitalist public purse, and the sayings of the old Chinese profit.
   I do hope, one day, there will be a united China, possibly a commonwealth of independent states. I also hope to see self-determination by all Chinese people exercised in my lifetime. But I have zero affinity with communist régimes, anywhere in the world, and certainly won’t be looking at changing my allegiance from HM the Queen, even if modern Britain is in a mess and it gave us Gary Glitter and selected nonces. There are some of us who are proud to be old , who remember what it used to mean to be British, even if it is couched in some idealist, double-decker-bus-and-cobbled-street world where John Steed could poke a baddie with his brolley—and without us colonials kowtowing to any body, thank you very much.
   And quite simply, I agree more even with a faded modern Blairbrown-shaded Britain subservient to some Brussels Bonaparte than with a totalitarian régime that did its best to try to knock some of my family off, or shove them into jail on no charge.
   There is quite a price to be paid for to Her Britannic Majesty, but there you have it. It is a choice I quite publicly make.
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1.1.09

Making a political blogs’ index 

A slip down the Alexa rankings since this blog launched on a bit of a high in 2006 is no surprise—which reminds me, this blog is now three years old.
   In fact, it turns three right after President Obama is inaugurated.
   Back in 2006, I used this blog as a mental retreat, and I updated daily or even more than daily in the first year.
   I also shared a lot more of my business ideas—but like all good ideas, many of them do not change. If I were to blog new principles all the time, then they couldn’t have been principles to start with.
   All the trivial, personal updates wound up on my Vox blog, just because it was easier to add videos and images, and Alexa doesn’t count my URL separately from other Vox members’.
   So I know I haven’t seen this blog counted in the top marketing blogs’ indices for quite some time, though I was interested to note that I made no. 37 in the Tumeke! New Zealand blogosphere rankings for November 2008.
   Tumeke! counts blogs and since I was a candidate in the , this blog was counted and given a ranking. From what I can tell, the formula uses, inter alia, the Alexa ranking and number of Technorati blog reactions, which interestingly puts me ahead of both the Prime Minister, John Key, and the leader of the New Zealand First party, Winston Peters. The ACT Party was two places ahead of me, at no. 35, combining four bloggers’ writings. My party, the Alliance, was at 65.
   I was glad to see non-candidate blogs score far ahead, such as The Hive at no. 11.
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Medinge announces 2009 Brands with a Conscience 

I’m very happy to announce that the Medinge Group has officially made public its list for Brands with a Conscience for 2009. Being on the voting committee, I have to say it was one of the toughest decision processes ever. We had more nominees than before and the committee received more votes than ever before. The press release is below, and it has just made the Medinge website a few moments ago.

International think-tank announces 2009 Brands with a Conscience awards

Stockholm, Seal Beach, Calif. and Wellington, January 1 (JY&A Media) The Medinge Group (www.medinge.org), an international think-tank on branding and business, today releases its sixth annual Brands with a Conscience list. In the Group’s opinion, these diverse organizations show that it is possible for to succeed as they contribute to the betterment of by , and behaviour.
   The international collective of brand practitioners meets annually in August at a secluded location outside Stockholm, Sweden, and collaborate on the list, judging nominees on principles of humanity and ethics, rather than financial worth. The Brands with a Conscience list is shaped around criteria including evidence of the human implications of the brand and considering whether the brand takes risks in line with its beliefs. Evaluations are made based on reputation, self-representation, history, direct experience, contacts with individuals within the organizations, media and analysts and an assessment of the expressed values of sustainability.
   Two years ago the group added a unique category commendation, the Colin Morley Award, recognizing exceptional achievement by an NGO. Mr Morley, a member of the Medinge Group, died in the London Underground bombings on July 7, 2005. The award commemorates his visionary work in humanistic .
   For 2009, the group has singled out the following organizations as Brands with a Conscience:

Chhatra Sagar—an -resort in Rajasthan (India)
Ekomarine— responsible paint (Sweden)
Kiva—microfinance lending (USA)
One—enlightened bottled (UK)
Ragbag— accessories from materials (the Netherlands)
TOMS shoes—developing nations’ shoe distribution (USA)

2009 Colin Morley Award
   The third Colin Morley Award for a non-governmental organization is given to the American actor and philanthropist in posthumous recognition for an exemplary life of truth-telling and generosity.

   Announcing the 2009 Brands with a Conscience, Stanley Moss, CEO of the Medinge Group and chairman of the initiative, remarked, ‘This year’s Brands with a Conscience winners are all superior brands who exemplify environmentally responsible conduct and community involvement. Three of these winners have a direct interest in water-related issues. And Medinge’s selection of Paul Newman for the Colin Morley NGO award acknowledges a hero whose humanistic beliefs accompanied authentic, compassionate action.’
   Thomas Gad, Director and Chairman of the Medinge Group commented, ‘The 2009 Brands with a Conscience awards show a sensational variety, and not only geographically; we have award winners from all corners of the world, in a variety of business categories. Everything from eco-resorts, environmentally responsible boat paint, microfinance lending, enlightened bottled water, fair-traded fashion accessories from recyclable materials and shoe distribution for developing nations. Once again, for 2009 we honour a person with our Colin Morley NGO award: Paul Newman—a legend not only as an brilliant actor, but also as a business and a brand doing good for the world.’
   Ian Ryder, a director of the group added, ‘Every year we seem to say that the quality of entrants to the BWAC Awards increases, but the truth is that this year was absolutely outstanding. In every category, from all corners of the globe, each and every one of the finalists would have made worthy winners. All of which says that those who won came from a very select group, and they embody all that is best in our tough test of brand sustainability and conscience.’
   ‘Each of the Brands with a Conscience winners display awareness, responsibility and action. Sustainability here is not limited to a temporary green perspective, but is celebrated as a life-long dedication to future generations,’ said Patrick Harris, a Medinge director. ‘One Water is a wonderful example of a humanitarian focus, founded on an elegant concept. It is a complete solution, harnessing a commercial opportunity to serve communities in need, utilizing the natural energy of children. Pure genius.’
   ‘This year’s nominees have been the most amazing yet,’ agreed Jack Yan, Director. ‘We received more nominees than ever, and competition was incredibly strong. The bar was set very high, and it was one of the most difficult decision-making process I have been through since the Awards’ inception. There was greater advocacy among the Medinge Group’s members this year, showing what passions these brands generated. In the end, our winners are organizations that admirably forward the Group’s agenda in humanistic branding.’
   The 2009 Brands with a Conscience awards will be presented at a private ceremony held at the Management Institute of Paris on February 5, 2009.

The winners in detail
Chhatra Sagar
http://www.chhatrasagar.com/ABOUT.HTM
   Chhatra Sagar is an eco-friendly tent camp in Rajasthan, India, a lifetime project by direct descendants of the Maharajah of Jodhpur. Established in 2001, this small resort overlooks 365 protected acres, where over 200 varieties of wildlife have returned to the habitat. The sustainability quotient is optimal—all locally sourced food, furnished by indigenous craft, employs 30 local families, sponsors teachers, provides medicine, classroom furniture and brings specialized educators who address subjects ranging from family planning to recycling to soil conservation. The family’s personal involvement and constant presence reinforce the commitment.

Ekomarine
http://ekomarine.se/en.html
   For boating-intensive parts of the world like USA, Australia, UK and Scandinavia, the foul painting of boat hulls is a serious and not-ecological business. Sweden-based Ekomarine’s researchers created the Neptune Formula, a naturally-based vegetable-protein alternative, with the added benefit of improving performance by reducing hull friction.

Kiva
http://www.kiva.org
   Kiva is microfinance with a peer-to-peer platform. Lends modest amounts direct to developing world entrepreneurs. A brilliant combination of technology and humanity, which connects people through lending for the alleviation of poverty. Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, rallies 10,000 bloggers to promote good causes, and upturned the innovation of Zopa’s direct lending model, applying it to philanthropy. A branded giving process in an economic and powerful way, never preachy and never sentimental.

One Water
http://www.onedifference.org/uk/water/
   One sells bottled water in the UK and gives away 100 per cent of all of its profits to water projects in Africa. Profits are used to install PlayPumps, effectively, children’s roundabouts that, when played on, pump water to a storage cistern. Active since May 2005, One water is aligned with the Millennium Development Goals of getting clean water to 1 billion people who do not have access to it and helping the 2 billion people who die each year from water-related diseases.

rag-bag
http://www.ragbag.eu
   rag-bag produces fashionable and colourful bags and wallets made entirely from waste plastics (bags, sheets, etc.) collected by rag pickers from garbage tips in India, Cameroon and Brazil. They are paid a fair price for these waste products and they are trained to manufacture the products. The bags are sold online and in fashionable and fair trade outlets in Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. Rag pickers earn a better income and learn valuable skills, while waste is reused to create new, valuable and practical products. rag-bag sets a high example for social, economic and environmental sustainability.

TOMS Shoes
http://www.tomsshoes.com
   For each pair of shoes you buy from this LA-based company, TOMS will donate a pair to needy children in developing nations. Once a year the company does a hands-on ‘shoe drop’ into communities, and customers participate. The shoes are comfy like slippers, and customers effectively vote with their feet. The website is very transparent, and the thousands of shoes distributed are a more direct good deed than throwing money at a cause.

Paul Newman (Colin Morley Award)
http://www.newmansown.com
   Paul Newman set up a company in 1982 to make marinades, sauces and dressings from natural ingredients. All the profits and royalties reverted to Newman, who, from the business’s inception, gave away every cent to charitable causes. In particular the money supports Hole in the Wall Camps, which bring together children with serious and terminal illnesses for a free summer-camp experience. Paul Newman disdained fame, opposed the star–celebrity system, and gave over $250 million to these causes in his own lifetime (in per capita terms the most generous individual on earth). Newman’s life’s work reminds us that an individual can act unselfishly and humanistically, according to his own values and make a real contribution to a better world.

Images
Images for this release may be downloaded from <http://jyanet.com/090101pr0.htm>.

2009 Medinge Brands with a Conscience Committee
Thomas Gad
Sicco van Gelder
Ava Maria Hakim
Patrick Harris
Pierre d’Huy
Nicholas Ind
Tim Kitchin
Sergei Mitrofanov
Stanley Moss, chairman
Johnnie Moore
Luke Nicholson
Simon Nicholls
Simon Paterson
Anette Rosencreutz
Ian Ryder
Erika Uffindell
Jack Yan

About the Medinge Group
Founded in 2002, the Medinge Group first published a brand manifesto of eight statements encapsulating a vision of healthy brands for the future. In 2003, the group authored a collection of essays entitled Beyond Branding, which explored the ways in which brands could add value within alternative business and social models. In 2004, the group established the annual Brands with a Conscience list to recognize organizations who epitomize humanistic behaviour; in 2006, Medinge added a special category of recognition named in honour of its late colleague Colin Morley, which acknowledges excellence by an NGO, in keeping with Colin’s humanistic vision. The Medinge Group maintains an online, automated speakers’ and experts’ bureau accessible through its web site, www.medinge.org. In 2007 Medinge launched an online resource, The Journal of the Medinge Group, a digital anthology of papers and articles written by Medinge members.


   I also note that this year, Medinge will have a round table session on branding and the recession at the Sorbonne, which I think ties in well with some of my own messages that I presented to the Proton Business School last week.
   For those wondering, the Rackspace techs have sorted out our email issues and everything on the server seems to be back on track for a nice start to 2009. Happy ’09 to everyone.
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Note

Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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