Posts tagged ‘social responsibility’


What a great opportunity for New Zealand that lies before us

09.11.2016


Above: When I refer to Hillary in the below blog post, I mean the self-professed ‘ordinary chap’ on our $5 note.

As the results of the US presidential election came in, I didn’t sense a panic. I actually sensed a great opportunity for New Zealand.
   I’ve been critical of the obsession many of our politicians have had with the US, when they were in an excellent position to carve our own, unique path as a country. Aotearoa, with its bicultural roots and multicultural awareness, has the advantage, in theory at least, of appreciating traditional notions of Māori and what had been imported via pākehā; and on an international scale, our country has sought trading partners outside the Anglosphere, having been pushed into it by factors outside our control. The loss of the UK as an export market and the damage to New Zealand–US relations in the 1980s might have seemed anathema at the time, but they pushed this country into new relationships, which now looks prudential.
   New Zealanders are welcomed wherever we go, our passports aren’t looked down upon, and we still largely enjoy a freedom of movement and safe passage without much hindrance. And it’s a reality that the centre of the global economy has been shifting eastward over the last decade.
   We don’t need something like TPPA in order to form trading relationships with China, and when I went to India on two occasions, there was a great acceptance of the potential of a trade deal with another cricketing country. In fact, my audiences, whenever I gave a speech, were rather miffed that we hadn’t gone to them first. But we only make good negotiators when we deal with our own cultural issues successfully, for how else can we claim to understand others and then do a deal? Deal-making, regardless of what certain American politicians might tell you, comes from understanding the other side, and at our best New Zealanders are good at this. It’s why we need to confront our own racism head-on and to say: this shit needs to stop. In fact, this shit needn’t even be an issue. We’re too small a country not to be working together, and we need knowledge of all the cultures that make up Aotearoa now more than ever.
   We are frequently confronted with the need to look at our national character. Perhaps an early sign of it was in the 1970s with the Commonwealth Games in 1974; certainly I’ve noticed New Zealanders begin to find our own identity as a Pacific nation, not a post-colonial Anglosphere satellite. We’re beginning to discover our national brand. And wherever you were on the flag debate, at least that, too, forced us to consider who we are. The sense I got was that we want change, but we didn’t like the design—but certainly there’s no real fondness to be tied to Empah. Anti-Americanism over the years suggests that there’s no real desire, either, to keep importing economic ideas, corrupt governmental practices, and failed health care policies, even if certain political and economic élites seem drawn to them.
   We know where they will lead: greater divisions between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, urban and rural. Those tendencies exist but here is an ideal opportunity to nip them in the bud. History has taught us sensible solutions, more humane solutions, that at least recognize human actors, social responsibility, and kaitiaki. The younger generations have accepted these as they have grown up in a globalized world, and we can see that in their own consumer choices, where they favour responsible companies, those that have a cause. They believe in a form of global citizenship, and want to be treated as such—and those ideas are present in their politics, too. It is right for people like my friend Simon Anholt to run global polls on matters that influence us all, including the US elections, and realistically it will be our technology and the free sharing of ideas that will help with our progress as a planet. If we seek our own destiny, we at least will be able to show some leadership again—and then we’ll really have something to talk about.
   When I was in Reefton last month, the first place in New Zealand to get electricity, I noted that it was up to a bunch of mavericks who brought this newfangled technology in. New Zealand suffragettes won their battle first to secure women the vote. And another person called Hillary succeeded where no other had done so before when ‘We knocked the bastard off.’ Kiwi leadership isn’t new to us, but in recent years I held a great fear that we had lost our mettle. That did indeed spur me to run for office, among other factors, to say to people: stop listening to foreign companies and foreign-owned media who don’t have New Zealand interests at heart. New Zealand has been filled with people who call themselves ordinary but it’s always been those—like Sir Ed—who have shown real leadership, not some political lobbying group in another hemisphere. But you can only be great without following, and it’s high time we stopped following divided nations and recognized that we already have the right stuff—and by that I mean our smarts, our innovation, and our independently minded way of thinking.

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It’s official today: I am running for Mayor of Wellington again

16.04.2013

It’s probably the worst-kept secret among some of the political circles, but I am running for Mayor of Wellington.

   Wellington is a world-class city, with generous, creative, industrious, innovative and independent people who punch above their weight. And it’s time, I believe, for some leadership and some 21st-century thinking, to bring the right people to the fore.
   We’re part of a global economy now, and Wellington needs to be promoted to a global level.
   And, frankly, Wellington needs an advocate and a new face that can reflect our modern values.
   In my last campaign, I was blessed to have 12 per cent vote for me, and I’ve had a steady stream of people encouraging me to stand again.
   I’m glad to announce this morning that I will.
   This is an inclusive, citizen-focused campaign. Just like last time, I want to hear from Wellingtonians. While I’ve outlined a manifesto at this website, I want to hear from you on how we can build these ideas even more. I’m here to represent Wellingtonians and to move us forward—not hold us back with same-again thinking.
   The three overlapping themes we’ve identified are: growing our economy, keeping a lid on our rates, and uniting Wellingtonians. I am looking to the you to give me your feedback on the issues and ideas that matter most to you.
   We’ll be chatting about a lot of this at my Facebook page, and we can have a focused discussion at my Facebook group. I look forward to seeing you there.

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Thinking to the future as Lucire turns 15

21.10.2012

I’ve written so many editorials about Lucire’s history for our various anniversaries that now we’ve turned 15, I feel like I’d just be going over old ground. Again. I’d do it maybe for the 20th or 21st, but the story has been told online and in print many times.
   But 15 is a bit more of an occasion than, say, the ninth—so it deserves some recognition. The biggie this week is not so much that we have turned 15, but that we have officially announced a print-on-demand edition to complement our others in print and online, one that sees Lucire printed off as it’s ordered. It combines what we know—the digital world—with an analogue medium that everyone understands. It also gets around that sad reality that for every 1,000 copies printed, 500 usually wind up getting returned due to being unsold and pulped. In publishing, two-thirds sold qualifies as having “sold out”. And that’s not really that great for the first fashion magazine that the United Nations Environment Programme calls an industry partner.
   We’re also celebrating the Ipad and Android editions, which actually launched in August but we didn’t get an announcement out till September. We also débuted a PDF download via Scopalto in France, and there’s one more edition that we’ll announce before the year is out.
   So rather than look back—which is what we found ourselves doing at the 10th anniversary, at a time when the recession was about to bite and there was just an inkling of a fear that our best days were behind us—we’re now looking forward with some relish and wondering just how these new editions will play out.
   If I were to take a look back to 1997, it would be to remark that being the first (at least for New Zealand) does not necessarily translate to being the most profitable. You carve out a niche that no one else had done before, prove a point, and someone else makes it work a bit better. So is the lesson in commerce.
   It used to bug me but no more; we have a good record of doing things in a pioneering fashion, and when you look at Lucire, it’s one of the very few fashion titles from the original dot-com era that’s still being published today, and in more forms than we had imagined. We were always happy to put value labels right next to pricier ones in coverage or in editorials, because that is how real people dress, and because we based our coverage on merit rather than advertising budgets. We looked at the advertising market at a global, rather than regional, level, something which we see some agencies taking advantage of as greater convergence happens in that market.
   I like to think that some day, all magazines will be printed as we’re doing them, but from more bases around the world, to alleviate the burden on our resources. They’ll be, as I predicted many years back, mini, softcover coffee-table books, publications to covet, and be less temporary. (I also said newspapers will become more like news magazines, but I live in a city where dailies are still printed as broadsheets, which reminds me that predictions can often take a lot longer to be realized.) Features will dominate ahead of short-term, flash-in-the-pan news, a path which the 28th New Zealand-produced Lucire issue takes, and something foreshadowed by Twinpalms Lucire in Thailand five years ago.
   We’re also in a very enviable position with a cohesive team. You could say it’s taken us 15 years to find them. At 1 p.m. local time on October 20—15 years and one hour after we launched—our London team met to toast our 15th anniversary, while fashion editor Sopheak Seng, Louise Hatton, Michael Beel and Natalie Fisher worked on a photo shoot today in New Zealand for issue 29. Around the world, our team continues to deliver regular content, and I hope they’ll forgive me for not naming everyone as I fear accidental omissions. Just as I felt a little uncertain but excited about where things would lead with Lucire on October 21, 1997–the 20th in the US—I have a similar feeling today. And that’s a good thing, because if we’ve managed to get on the radars of millions in those last 15 years, I’m hopeful of the changes we can effect in the next 15.


Above: Lucire copies get finished at Vertia Print in Lower Hutt.

Also published in Lucire.

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As News of the World closes, we might be getting better at making business accountable

08.07.2011

So James Murdoch has announced the end of the News of the World. It’s no biggie: as others have discovered, a domain name for The Sun on Sunday has been registered, and if this is by an agent of News International, it simply makes sense for the Murdoch Press to consolidate its tabloid brands and raise the circulation of The Sun.
   Chatting about it here at work today, my view was that the problems plaguing the Murdoch Press were cultural, and shuttering one paper really wouldn’t make much difference. I described Rupert’s former hands-on style and, like him or not, the man was the master of his craft for years. He knew the sort of headlines that would shock and get sales. Whether one admires the craft is another matter, though, it should be noted, it made the guy a multimillionaire.
   It’s easy to forecast that News will allow the shock of the death of the 168-year-old newspaper brand to set in, push through with the BSkyB deal, and relaunch the paper under its new name, hiring some of the 200 staff back.
   It’s not the first time Murdochs have rejigged or renamed a newspaper. Already I can envisage a ‘Reach for your new Sun’ headline being proclaimed in a Saturday edition, apeing what happened in the 1960s.
   Interestingly, another writer also believes in the cultural explanation. Simon Dumenco points to how News behaves in the US, seemingly operating in a fantasy-land.
   In Britain, on Wednesday morning, every newspaper carried the hacking scandal on the front page—with the notable exception of The Sun, which led with a pregnant Victoria Beckham. (The Guardian had all 10 papers, but The Sun’s page one has since disappeared, presumably due to a copyright complaint. I have put that front page below.) The hacking scandal appeared on p. 6. Dumenco points out that when gay marriage became legal in New York, everyone there carried that news prominently, except for the Murdoch Press, which relegated it to a bottom-of-page headline in its New York Post, and a second ‘What’s News’ in-brief item in The Wall Street Journal.
   Dumenco predicts that the public will tire of it, though, as I blogged earlier this week, in 1997 a lot of people swore off tabloids. Not a lot changed in the immediate years after that. But we can only hope: one of our predictions in Beyond Branding was that consumers would demand greater transparency and integrity. That certainly has held true for a lot of sectors. They are true, even of media, but the cycle is longer thanks in no small part to the habits some people have with news providers. Nevertheless, it is happening.
   As news consumers move online—and there is plenty of evidence of this shift—it’s possible that the audience will shift to media that are perceived to be fairer. Those wanting confirmation of various biases can find them in niche media or blogs. There are more people analysing the media, so it may be easier for people to discover critical thinking behind the stories.
   There’ll always be a mob mentality (people have banded together since they began socializing) and tabloid journalism will not disappear (there’s a sense of Schadenfreude, especially of celebrity stories, while there’s inequality in society). But this week’s example of the fairly rapid withdrawals of advertising accounts from the News of the World—Ford, Reckitt Benckiser and Renault come to mind—shows that the public has a line that shouldn’t be crossed. The internet has allowed people to group together to make their viewpoints known, and it’s refreshing to note that, more often than not, we do so for good causes and a sense of justice, rather than for divisiveness or harm.

The Sun, Wednesday, July 6, 2011

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Medinge announces seventh annual Brands with a Conscience awards

08.01.2010

Muna Abu SulaymanThe Medinge Group has announced the 2010 Brands with a Conscience winners, and we’ll be presenting the awards at the end of the month in Paris. The release is below.
   Can you believe we’ve done this for seven years now?
   I was particularly stoked about the awards going to Selco and Muna Abu Sulayman (right), so much so that I ensured news of her Colin Morley Award appeared at Lucire soon after it went up on the Medinge site.

International think-tank announces seventh annual Brands with a Conscience awards

The Medinge Group (www.medinge.org), an international think-tank on branding and business, today releases its seventh annual Brands with a Conscience list. In the Group’s opinion, these diverse organizations show that it is possible for brands to succeed as they contribute to the betterment of society by sustainable, socially responsible and humanistic behaviour.
   In announcing the winners, Stanley Moss, CEO of the Medinge Group said, ‘This year’s awards indicate that principles of compassionate branding are being applied globally, by businesses large and small, across categories from finance to retail to energy, in established and emerging economies, in new markets. Today, brands with conscience can work to build bridges of understanding between nations and societies.’
   Ian Ryder, a founding director of the Medinge Group commented, ‘Winning a BWAC award is more than public recognition—it is a clear statement of your organization’s values, one of the most powerful competitive differentiators in existence!’
   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.
   Three years ago the group added a unique category commendation, the Colin Morley Award, recognizing exceptional achievement by an individual or 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 branding.
   For 2010, the group has singled out the following organizations as Brands with a Conscience:

Alibaba Group/China
Co-op Bank/UK
Marks & Spencer/UK
Merci/France
Pictet et Cie./Switzerland
SAP/Germany
Selco Solar Pvt. Ltd./India

The Colin Morley Award is given to:

Muna Abu Sulayman/Saudi Arabia

Detailed descriptions and web links follow:

Alibaba Group
www.alibaba.com
A young Asian brand built on the idea that it must exist as an experience to elevate their own or other people’s level of happiness. Jack Ma founded Alibaba in his cramped apartment with 17 colleagues. A decade later, Alibaba Group is the largest ecommerce company in China, with 15,000 employees and more than 100 million users. It also has a B2B unit with a community of more than 42 million registered users from more than 240 countries and regions. This year Alibaba will unveil partnership plans for Grameen China, a project to significantly increase access to micro-credit for poverty alleviation in Sichuan and Inner Mongolia. (Medinge named Grameen Telecom a Brand with a Conscience in 2005, and its parent Grameen Bank was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2008.) Employing the Grameen Bank microcredit model, the group hopes to impact more than 72,000 lives in its first five years.
   Ava Hakim, IBM exec and member of the Medinge Group, remarked that Alibaba is a business ‘built on trust, one which respects intellectual property rights and will remove sites which infringe upon the rights of others.’ She also was impressed by the six core values named, which they have successfully applied to their business.

Co-op Bank
www.co-operativebank.co.uk/servlet/Satellite/1193206375355,CFSweb/Page/Bank
The Co-op, founded in 1872, from its origins has focused on serving local communities. Today the Co-op is the only UK clearing bank to publish an ethical statement. Medinge director Patrick Harris lauded the brand, noting that ‘since 1992 Co-op has been building its ethical stance by asking its membership to vote on issues such as animal welfare, human rights and ecological impact.’ It claims to have turned away over £900 million in loans to businesses not in keeping with the Co-op Ethical Policy. The commitment to improve their food business’ ethical and environmental performance is in line with expectations arrived at in consultation with 100,000 members. Co-Op was double-nominated this year, for both its banking and food businesses.

Marks & Spencer
plana.marksandspencer.com
In her nomination, Medinge director Erika Uffindell emphasized the focused approach to climate change, waste and sustainability that Marks & Spencer have adopted. With their Plan A campaign, the company established 100 commitments to achieve in five years, clear targets for their business, actionable by people across the group. Uffindell finds the brand very accessible and involving: they have engaged 17,231 customers in making pledges to support climate change and a commitment to sustainability.

Merci
www.merci-merci.com
Merci is a 1500 m² shop for fashion and home furniture based in Paris, France. All sales profits are destined for women and children in Madagascar. The store sells new or artist-reworked donated goods and has had a huge impact. Some goods are sent directly to Madagascar. Merci’s website is especially minimal and modest, yet effectively states the store’s mission. In his nomination, Medinge’s Philippe Mihailovich expressed the hope that Merci’s actions influence others to follow.

Pictet et Cie.
www.pictet.com
This Swiss-based private bank started in 1805. Medinge director Nicholas Ind cited two significant aspects of the brand.
   First, its focus on sustainable development and the redirection of funds in this direction by encouraging the maximum investment in sustainable areas for a given risk: the bank’s management of a water fund, launched in 2000, which has become the world’s largest of its kind, with over €4 billion in assets; and a Clean Energy fund. The second aspect is the Prix Pictet—the world’s first international prize dedicated to photography and sustainability—mandated to encourage the use and power of photography to communicate vital messages to a global audience. This year’s theme is Earth.

SAP
www.sap.com/about/SAP-sustainability
Today, many B2Bs are silently doing a fantastic job to adapt to our global challenges. Medinge’s chairman Thomas Gad nominated Germany’s SAP, a software company whom he admires because ‘they actually help other companies to create usable metrics in their CSR and sustainability.’ Over the past 10 years, SAP has been recognized by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for upholding ethical, environmental, social, and governance values in products and services.

Selco Solar Pvt. Ltd.
www.selco-india.com/index.html
Medinge CEO Stanley Moss described Selco as an interesting small business, 14 years old, who supply solar power solutions, mostly in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. They rely on microfinance loans, employ 140 people, and have done around 100,000 installations of small to large size. They are partially funded by Grameen. Moss was impressed by their cradle-to-grave attitude about product, longevity in the marketplace after a tough start-up, good work on the individual level, private ownership, and the understanding of need for innovation.

The 2010 Colin Morley Award to Muna Abu Sulayman
helwa.maktoob.com/%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%A1_%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%AA_%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B6%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D9%85%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%843966-%D9%85%D9%86%D9%89_%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88_%D8%B3%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86.htm
Simon Nicholls, a member of Medinge, nominated Muna Abu Sulayman, who receives 2010’s Colin Morley Award, for excellence by an individual or NGO, acknowledging their contribution to the betterment of society through sustainable, socially responsible and humanistic behaviour. In giving this award, the Medinge Group recognizes Muna’s outstanding work in educational development, poverty alleviation and strategic philanthropy; as Executive Director of the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, developing and implementing operations for humanitarian assistance across the globe; her role as the first woman in Saudi Arabia to be appointed by the United Nations Development Programme as a Goodwill Ambassador; and for exceptional reporting as co-host on popular MBC-TV social programme Kalam Nawaem, in particular her advocacy of rights for women. As a public and media personality, she speaks about issues relating to Arab society, media, building bridges of understanding between east and west. Since 1997, Ms Abu Sulayman has served as lecturer on American literature at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. She frequently appears as a panelist at the Davos World Economic Forum, Jewish Economic Forum, C-100 of the World Economic Forum, Brookings Institute Conferences and other venues.

   Patrick Harris, a Medinge director, added, ‘In the list of 2010 Brands with a Conscience winners, we can see a clear focus on commerce and finance. This is no accident. Instead, this is a sign of the world’s markets responding to the need for responsible and inter-generational business activities.’
   Regarding his nomination of Co-op Bank, Harris said, ‘The UK’s Co-operative Bank is a prime example of a highly principled business within a traditional competitive landscape. The Co-op are being recognized by Medinge for their values-led business focus and for the impact that they bring to a beleaguered sector.’
   Jack Yan, a director of Medinge said, ‘Again, the Medinge Group’s international influence has resulted in a global list of winners, all of which practise our ideals of humanistic branding. I’m thrilled we’ve recognized our first Chinese and Saudi Arabian winners this year.
   ‘In particular, Selco Solar of India shows a commitment to green energy that is very poignant in the 2010s. Just because fuel prices have dropped from their 2008 highs does not mean that the energy crisis is over, a fact the Medinge Group recognizes.’
   Medinge Group member Ava Maria Hakim commented, ‘The message to the world—and Alibaba’s 100 million users—is that China’s Alibaba Group has set a global brand and business benchmark that goes beyond corporate social responsibility to building an integrity-based business driven by long-term vision. Alibaba Group is a Brand with a Conscience of the future.
   Erika Uffindell, a director of Medinge, commented, ‘Marks & Spencer is a great example of an organization living by its beliefs. M&S has been recognized by Medinge for creating the innovative Plan A—an initiative that involves customers and partners in their ambition to help combat climate change and reduce waste. Plan A focuses on five key areas: climate change, waste, sustainable raw materials, health and being a flair partner. Marks & Spencer’s ability to involve their stakeholders in such a simple and accessible way has been reflected in their significant achievements to date.’
   Nicholas Ind, a founding director of Medinge stated, ‘This year, the Medinge Group’s Brands with a Conscience awards shows impressive diversity and reflects the commitment that brand owners are demonstrating around the globe to building organizations that meet the needs of all parts of society. The 2010 winners come from the UK, China, India, Switzerland, Germany, France and Saudi Arabia.’

Special thanks to Medinge’s 2010 BWAC nominating committee
Paulina Borsook
Thomas Gad
Ava Hakim
Patrick Harris
Pierre d’Huy
Nicholas Ind
Philippe Mihailovich
Sergei Mitrofanov
Stanley Moss, chairman
Simon Nicholls
Anette Rosencreutz
Erika Uffindell
Jack Yan

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