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June 26, 2005

The next revolution in motoring 

Ford is going to launch a replacement for the Excursion, which by my reckoning is over 19 ft long, that's even bigger. Somehow I think this is foolish given that oil has just hit $60 a barrel. Last time the Japanese walked all over the Americans when the Arab–Israeli War took place. This time, I'm betting it's Tata's $2,000 car that the Indian company is planning.
   Tata might not have a brand that is as well known as Toyota, and its exports have been fairly limited. But when the demand comes, it's going to be the only place with a small, cheap mass transport that the Smart could have been but isn't.
   It's going to be one of those cases where a great product defines or redefines a brand, just as iPod is doing for Apple. And at least its brand is already out there, in a limited way, which is more than I can say for the Red Chinese ones. Tata may well be providing the world with the next Fiat Cinquecento or Mini. And then Detroit will be wondering why it didn't remember the lessons of the 1970s.
   Oh, I'm betting the world's next revolution in software, operating systems and computing could well come from there, too.
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June 25, 2005

The least ethical prime minister I have ever been branded by? 

The reason why I nominate Tony Blair for this dubious honour turns on what he believes he's great at. He believes in communicating in the way that the most addictive advertising agent advises. He believed that the people's mass media the BBC is for him to use to power over- who needs truths when you dictate the voice, the stories.

The British people have learnt these things from the economics of truth over the Iraq war:
-Never again is the BBC the people's media to be under any more influence by government ministers than by ordinary people. In fact, one hour of politician conversation a week would be quite enough fear for most of us 50 million Britons. The news could always tell us where parilamentary or cabinet proceedings have been published on the net and what diversity of questions are being asked about their advice. If 21st C laws are not simple enough for most people to understand and feel right about, they have no place nor merit now most of us have seen how professions bereft of hippocratic oathes have been using them against the people too -, as cost-cutting and tax avoiding global accountants have been spreadsheeting these last 20 years. Remember how Andersen shredded true & fair; how KPMG has been pirating corporations' monies away from due national taxes to islands; ... all this happens because these Global Big 4 accounting folk have a monoply power applied to measuring badwill and destructive exponentials, whereas as the networking maths needed values intangibles of human relationships and sustainability investment truly, with see through maps interfacing all molecular value exchanges. Globalisation did not need to be measured in such a way as to destroy the livelihoods of as many of 6 billion beings as possible just because it suited a Global Big 4 century old way of adding up numbers. Bottom line arithmetic does not even recognise multiplication's compund impacts even though my 8 year old daughter realises that multiply is a different way to play at connecting, than add and its asumptions of separate

Now, besides locking up global accountants and image-men in the Tower until they vote for renewing true and fair hippocratic oaths, there is one more urgent way that Blair can recover my vote from least ethical British ruler in my lifetime to worthy of honour. Go meet Bill Clinton in New York in September at his Global Initiatve debate and take whatever action advice Mary Robinson gives the both of you. And bring it back and if you ever meddle with mass media again do so in the form of reality tv programmes, gravity pursuit quizzes, democracy cafe games and the like designed round the people networking to Make Poverty History and to redicover Gandhi-like community practyices informing every social work, instead of bureucrats, advertsing junkies, and accounting professions driven by money as more important than human trust.

By 2007, Blair can be Britain's special envoy to the world congress for Gandhi alumni in Delhi; in fact I will trat him to a room at the YMCA which is a stone's throw from India's parliament and national cultres conference centre where alumni from all over the world will try to relearn the Master's reality-making for those who believe in communion from the person up including BEING the values of faith, hope, and love. And who knows if Richard Branson will give us economy tickets to Delhi, I will buy Branson a room at the YMCA too.

Disruptive Mice -the only virtual commnuity dedicated to Imagine! what all people could be doing with above zero-sum economics - continues this conversational serial here. And Mice of every natural diversity are delighted to help co-script whichever challenges you want to talk up in any open space or transparent community.

Chris Macrae,
London & DC

desperately seeking co-bloggers for:
  • Future of BBC and all Public Broadcast Media Maps

  • University of Stars and all mentors of deep humanitarian issues

  • Journalists for Humanity
  • & Media for Reality-Making as opposed to image puffery
    If the PM takes your YMCA offer, it will show a great deal of sincerity and an effort to win back votes. Substance before spin.  
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    June 16, 2005

    The computer industry doesn’t beyond-brand 

    For about five years, I filed a lot of the spam I got with Spamcop, and used its blacklist, but last year, I was introduced to McAfee's SpamKiller product.
       Initially, SpamKiller 6 did a good job, but then, they upgraded it. Features we didn't want and protested against. And regular program failures—I spent 14 hours on tech support sessions and reinstalled four or five times in a month. And what I saw as abuse by the company in the help forums. Most of this (that which wasn't censored by embarrassed technicians) is still on the record there. Eventually, I uninstalled the program for good.
       Considering I had been associated with McAfee as an end user for 16 years, and have the patience of a saint, it was a sad indictment on the company. It didn’t live the brand, unless the brand represents just another technical company getting too big due to acquisitions of other products. Sadly, this seems common in the computing world.
       But I wonder, now, just how good the program was. It claimed to have filed reports to ISPs about spam, but since I uninstalled it, the problem appears far worse than what I would have imagined had it never come along. I became complacent, relying on software rather than filing spam and getting spammers on to a blacklist.
       There are so many topics I could spin off from this introduction. I could talk about why Apple is a strong brand, because it stands away from the misbehaviour of regular hard- and software companies. However, I asked some friends to burn me a CD-ROM on an OS X-equipped machine and between the three of us, and two Apple techs on the phone in New Zealand and Australia (well, we never got through to the latter and was on hold), it took 90 minutes. Just to figure out how to burn a CD-ROM (the CD icon never appeared and tech support was none the wiser).
       So nuts to Apple and the ‘If you can point, you can use a Macintosh.’ I’m waiting for some chap from India or Pakistan, a latter-day Wozniak and Jobs, who will deliver on the 1984 promise by Apple that the Sculley years made them forget.
       The second topic is how spammers are getting so desperate at concocting fake addresses in the hope one of them might be real. None of them are, and what idiot buys from them, anyway? They can't brand, because branding there is the consumer’s friend: if spammers branded, it would instantly mark them out to be the bad guys. Since they don’t, they can never create a relationship with their audience.
       Even today, I remember the case of Linkshare. In the late 1990s, they spammed me over 20 times, after I had left the Linkshare network and demanded list removal. I even wrote two cease-and-desist letters, signed with my degrees. It was only until I notified merchants of their actions that someone finally responded. I never got an apology, but was removed from their mailing list manually by a staff member.
       I can understand missing one email, or even two, but I believe I had requested removal seven times in addition to the first one where I left the network. And I have a long memory. Sadly, anyone asking us to join an affiliate programme might not know of this history. The minute I see that name, even if it learned a lesson in 1999 and has changed its policies regarding spam, I switch off.
       Even the most high-tech companies, who should know better because they had a clean slate in the 1990s and all this marketing knowledge to call upon, fail to beyond-brand. Even though it is such an easy thing to do.
    Now I'm thinking, how long should we ban someone for? There are people out there still banning Nestlé because of the infant milk powder incidents of over 30 years ago.  
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    June 15, 2005

    Blog quoting blog quoting blog 

    I read this at co-author Johnnie Moore's blog that applies so much here.

    Evelyn Rodriguez posts a terrific story, lifted from Tom Asacker's new book, A Clear Eye for Branding.
       'In the [psychological] study two people, A and B, were seated on opposite sides of the dividing wall, looking at a screen. Each person was instructed to learn by trial and error how to recognize the difference between slides of healthy cells and sick cells. For each slidee, they had to push one of two buttons in front of them, "Healthy" or "Sick," at which point one of two lamps, labeled "Right" or "Wrong," would light up.
       'Person A received true feedback, meaning that his "Right" lamp would light up when he was correct and his "Wrong" lamp would light up when he was incorrect. These people—the A's—learned to tell the difference between healthy and sick cells with a high level of accuracy. Person B's situation was quite different. His right or wrong lamps lit up based not on his own guesses but on Person A's guesses. He didn't know it, but he was searching for an order where none could possibly exist.
       'A and B were then asked to work together to establish the rules for determining healthy vs. sick cells. The A's told the B's what they had learned and what simple characteristics they had looked for to tell the difference. B's explanations, by necessity, were subtle and quite complex—and completely bogus.
       'Here's the amazing part. After the collaboration, all B's and nearly all A's came to believe that the delusional B had a much better understanding of healthy vs. sick cells. In fact, A's were impressed with B's sophisticated brilliance, and felt inferior because of the pedestrian simplicity of their assumptions. In a follow-up test, the B's showed almost no improvement, but the A's scores dropped because the A's had incorporated some B's completely baseless ideas.' (sic)

       How true this is of brand consulting and our industry's gobbledegook, and if folks are cluing up to it, then all the merrier for many of us who practise and have stressed plain-English solutions in consulting. Might get some politicians worried, too.
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    Letter spray 

    I notice a lot of emails and letters addressed to me with 'Dear Jack Yan'. I thought it was ignorance that created these letters, but I was told today by a student that that was what she was taught!
       What does it say about a person when they hop on to a "convention" that has only been around for, oh, two years, tops?
       And what does it say when such a thing is on a cover letter to accompany a job application?
       While I am not advocating a return to copying out of Sir Isaac Pitman's guides, those sure as heck were better than the way people correspond today.
       For the modern "convention" tells me that the person is less than trustworthy, that they will hop on to a bandwagon or just plainly doesn't know, and they wouldn't last a day at my company.
       It's either 'Dear Jack' or 'Dear Mr Yan', and if I become Prime Minister, 'Sir'.
       How does this link back to branding? It stresses the need to research your audience. In this case, the traditions of someone over 30 who thinks text-messaging has been invented by RSI con-men. No one, I repeat, no one, who is in a position to hire someone else will consider 'Dear Full Name' as acceptable. As I told this young lady (she was not using her letter to get a job with me, it should be noted), I'd throw the letter in the bin and not look at her CV as a result of that. And if anyone should typeset their covering letter in Arial, God help them.
    Update: I learned the lecturer was trying to wean them off 'To whom it may concern' and 'Dear Sir/Madam', so in this context I could see how this arose—though I still stand by my post.  
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    June 12, 2005


    If we are forgiving the debt of the poorest nations on earth, then something very positive is happening on this planet. Let's hope the corporate sector will be able to carry through this very positive news into its own world. Even the cynic in me is having a hard time trying to find a way to diss this; the only thing I can think of is that this certainly enhances governmental brands in "competition" with corporate ones. That may or may not be a bad thing. Depends on the governments.
       Let's see how real this debt forgiveness is, and if the criteria that countries must meet are solid enough for them to build up a proper infrastructure and rid themselves of corruption.
       It makes sense, ultimately: more stable countries mean more destinations for foreign direct investment, which means the G8 will get its money back in five to ten years through taxation.
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    June 10, 2005

    Haven't had this many Chinese jokes since Benny Hill played Chow Mein 

    Every comedian wishes for fresh material. God (or some Marxist entity) bless Beijing:

    Blogging is to come under state monitoring by the Politburo. So much for free speech. China’s “growth” will take another knock. ‘Finally, those capitalist pigs will pay for their crimes, eh, comrades, eh?’
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    June 09, 2005

    Why the badness of Brand America has nothing to do with the Republicans 

    I made a comment in my earlier post about being a sceptic concerning the negative impact of American brands.
       It's one the so-called liberal media don't like to hear, but it also makes me out to be a hard-assed conservative, which I'm not.
       The theory is that the world (other than 52 per cent of the American electorate) hates President George Walker Bush, and as a result American brands are tarnished.
       I've commented a lot on this, and some good journalists have been balanced and quoted my comments, such as the diligent Thomas Mucha of Business 2·0. However, a few liberal outlets have opted not to, and that is their prerogative.
       I have always believed that anti-Americanism is largely due to nation envy. (A contrasting viewpoint may be found here.) I do not apologize for the wrongdoings of the United States—you'll find me harsh and critical of the country sometimes—but those who seem to be staunchly against the Yanks are often instruments of governments who cannot give their people the same freedoms and liberties.
       The latest economic data seem to contradict the "wisdom" that Republican misdeeds from Bush, Cheney and Halliburton have harmed the chances of American brands.
       The United States has closed the trade gap in the latest quarter with results. While economic data are hardly good indicators of brands, the earlier "evidence" was so apparently clear, so argued with conviction in the media, that you expected American exports to suffer—badly.
       There's been just a little too much politicizing about this during the last 18 months, but now that the figures have shown that some of it, at least, is bollocks, I hope we can get the branding dialogue restarted. Now, ladies and gentlemen, just what is wrong with Brand America? And American brands? Plenty. But it needs to be divorced from the old red state, blue state stuff.
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    What Chinese economic growth? 

    I'm not saying it won't happen, but I've never been a believer in this idea of a growing Red China. Call me one of the minority. Didn't believe it in the 1990s, don't believe it now.
       I was reading in The Epoch Times, where Zhong Wen spells out a simple truth, expected from freedom-hating nations like Red China: 'Under the CCP’s [Chinese Communist Party’s] autocratic system, much of the national wealth seems to have ended up in the laps of corrupt government officials, especially since state-owned properties are severely over-valued. The actual wealth represented by each unit of renminbi is much lower than its face value.'
       I don't think there's anyone out there who didn't know that, yet it's conveniently ignored by those pouring funds into Red China right now.
       I do know the average Joe Chang isn't any better off today compared with 15 years ago, or even the days before Tiananmen (which Beijing says did not happen). My father's own visit behind the Bamboo Curtain in 2003 confirmed much of it. He told me about state officials with nothing better to do than order a mountain excavated, for no apparent reason. The fact my great-grandfather was buried there was irrelevant.
       As much as the Politburo wishes for Red China to be seen as a major nation, it's still quite closed-minded. After approaching me to speak in Shanghai in September, I revealed to the Communist agency extending the invitation that my grandfather served with Gen Chiang Kai-shek in the Chinese Constitutional Army in the 1930s and 1940s, just out of transparency. I was not approached again; no reply, nothing, which is what I expected (nicer than getting arrested at the airport). The country with the world's biggest air force, scared of me. Like I would really pose a threat to armed members of the People's Liberation Army.
       Don't even get me started on the MG Rover débâcle, which I put down more to Politburo fears than a lack of desire for the parties to get together.
       When it comes to brands, Red China has a long, long way to go, even if some of them (Lenovo, Haier) are making the right moves—because fundamentally, state honesty and transparency need to go together with the successful expansion of Chinese firms.
       But are we meant to trust Chinese brands? For all those writing editorials about how American brands are in the toilet because of anti-Bush feeling around the world (I am sceptical of this, too—it's another story), then that rationale must equally apply to Red China. (However, the same people never mention this. Odd.) For a country with a dismal human rights' record, should we trust Red Chinese brands? Or can Red Chinese CEOs overcome governmental misbehaviour?
       For the sake of one billion decent people, I hope so, but it isn't going to be easy.
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    June 07, 2005

    On the starting line 

    How do we think of our human brand? Probably we consider ourselves quite advanced. That kindness comes before hate; that tolerance comes before intolerance.
       We know where we want to head, but Earth is not utopia yet. Sometimes, we need the reminder of Patti Digh's post (with thanks to Beyond Branding co-author Johnnie Moore for telling his blog readers of the link) to show how far we have still to go. In fact, we're on the starting line.
       For all those who don't believe in alien civilizations, think again: there has got to be something out there better than we are.
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    Category Sucks 

    The American-made mini-series, Category 6: Day of Destruction, aired on network television over Queen's Birthday weekend. This was so awful that the best bits were cut from a 2000 TV movie called Nowhere to Land. Typical disaster movie: think The Day after Tomorrow with no budget. Think Randy Quaid rather than Dennis Quaid. But when I read my comment below about Arnold Schwarzenegger and immigration not changing the Anglo culture greatly, I thought of this.
       California: English is still the main language, despite centuries of immigration. Liberals and the ACLU haven't managed to get rid of 'In God We Trust'. It may not be merrie olde England because the Constitution was founded on keeping George III and his mates out, but it's 2005 and I'm still wondering why it's a big deal that Tiger Woods has African ancestry or why a Chinese leading man still can't romance a girl in a Hollywood flick. (Chow Yun-fat, you're letting the side down, bro. An action hero who gets no action.)
       But California has a melting-pot image, and in many parts this does hold true. No one bats an eyelid if two men kiss in San Francisco. Or if an Indian American can get rich on Hotmail. However, when you see what Hollywood exports, it's not there.
       Back to the mini-series. Brian Dennehy was in it. And that wiener from that other sitcom. And that girl from Facts of Life. I remember Chandra West, for obvious reasons (that guest spot on Pointman left an impression). There was one black actor. So, for starters, you think you're watching some white show on the WB or Friends. What did the black character do? He was a cameraman. What happened to him? He fell down an elevator shaft (of course, the wiener guy, who was white, saves the day).
       It's been nearly 40 years since Bill Cosby on I Spy and Greg Morris on Mission: Impossible. And yet, the racial mix in these TV series is so far removed from reality and the Californian brand. As to fellas like me—where the heck were the Chinese Americans? We've been there for a long, long time, too. But you can bet that if we were in this mini-series, the action we'd get would not be of the romantic nature. We fight for peace but can't get a piece. Boy, I'd be pissed if Hop Sing on Bonanza was the best Hollywood could do for us.
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    June 06, 2005

    New Year, New Zealand 

    Today, we get a day off—no, it's not Memorial Day, but the Queen's Birthday. The Queen?
       While HM Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state in New Zealand, there is a growing number of New Zealanders wondering why we should celebrate the monarch's birthday—especially considering it's not actually her birthday. As John Campbell revealed on the ever-popular after-news programme, Campbell Live, the only queen he could find celebrating a birthday around this time is Harvey Fierstein, who recently played the mother in Hairspray on Broadway.
       There's a Queen's Birthday Honours' List, but these days New Zealanders can't get knighthoods any more, so the vestiges of Empah are diminishing even further. And, interestingly, despite claiming to be multicultural, New Zealand celebrates no days off for holidays originating in exclusively southern hemisphere culture. (There's Waitangi Day, commemorating the signing of a Treaty between united Māori tribes and the Crown, but it is hardly exclusive.)
       The point has been discussed quite a lot over the last two months at the New Zealand group at Yahoo! Groups, with most contributing posters agreeing that Matariki—commemorating the new moon at this time of the year and celebrating the Māori New Year—makes more sense.
       Considering that New Zealand hasn't even got as far as incorporating the Māori language on its own banknotes, underlining its Anglo-monoculturalism, shifting to giving a Māori holiday may seem a gargantuan task.
       However, this underlines that the monoculture is not under threat, as one MP—the Rt Hon Winston Peters—says, because despite all the immigration, all the political correctness of the Labour Party, all the connecting on the internet, nothing fundamentally has changed about New Zealand in the 29 years I've been here. Culture is a lot stronger than the fearmongers state (either that, or Mr Peters must lack so much patriotism to think New Zealand culture is so weak), and it's the last thing that shifts.
       As I wrote recently in Scoop, Californians are not suddenly eating Tafelspitz because of their Governor.
       So what does all of this have to do with branding? Quite a lot when it comes to the nation brand of New Zealand, and to considerations of corporate culture. New Zealand's nation brand tends to be based around its agriculture and cleanliness, something that Sweden, Ireland and Israel can tout—hence there is little differentiation. But if we want to live the things we are proud of—the fêting of Peter Jackson's films, the innovative thinking—then the reality has to begin shifting, too. Something that is top-led may need to take place, to encourage the country to unite itself and show that it's the best in the world.
       While I can't think of a better place to live, this is no time to be complacent. That cultural shift needs to begin, and that means instilling pride as a nation, and finding a goal for all of us. Sadly, in this election year, hardly anyone has come out to talk about a grand idea. We have party leaders who would rather be janitors than principals. And the only one with a vision and a public profile is a religious leader who also prefers to gather fear rather than communicate tolerance.
       And I am not talking about reinventing the wheel. A New Zealander pioneered motorized heavier-than-air flying, as many here believe (not two brothers at Kitty Hawk), Edmund Hillary scaled Mt Everest (and lived to tell the tale), and dual-fuel, non-polluting natural-gas cars were zooming about and ending reliance on the Arabs as early as the late 1970s (commonplace through the 1980s, probably before Big Oil dictated otherwise, which the Green Party seems to have forgotten to praise as it tries to equate Muldoonism with Nazism).
       So as the Māori and I celebrate the New Year—it makes sense to a Chinese to celebrate a New Year based on lunar cycles—we need to take stock as to where we are heading. I see a tolerant, independent society, one that has the purpose and advancement of a Scandinavian nation and the risk-taking nature of Kiwis of years gone—or Peter Jackson for that matter. New Zealand's call to arms should be (ladies, excuse me, for I mean this only figuratively): show us your balls. They're there, and the next step is someone who will tell us that they're not to be ashamed of. New Zealand: independence, innovation, inventiveness. Sounds like a believable and attainable nation brand to me, with a dash of beyond to it.
    How could we co-brand public service in a hi-tech world?

    Almost every sci-fi story - let alone James Bond - has rehearsed this since Orwell's visionary possibility of Big Brother taking over the world, or perhaps HG Wells similar if slightly more fictions into how time machines let you explore the future of human history, and indeed where did our species doom its own loss of sustainability?

    So this thread should be one of the top 7 global village debates of the life and times of the death-of-distance generation 1984-2024 , and the mother of all media revolutions it struggled to time warp through.

    With this context in mind how do interpret the latest news stories;
    July 2006 America
    Click to video replay of Public sector tv broadcast testifies to new evidence that USA has as rigged a voting system as anywhere in the world that shouts its democracy

    a few ripostes for , ten - why not tell us yours

    1 jk writes at PBS's RoseBoard: would like to complement you on having Robert Kennedy talk about voting fraud, which has reached a new level of corruption in America. I was responsible for writing the specs for the first touch terminal built by CDC, the "Digiscribe," in 1963, and I can assure you that a paper audit could be implemented successfully ... but Diebold is too beholding to the Bush inner circle to allow this to happen. I feel you need to ask Kennedy back, because he has considerably more information available than you let him discuss. I've never seen you as abrasive as you were with him, and as a Republican I was embarrassed by your visible dissaproval of what he had to say. The Republicans would be wise to admit they made a horrible selection in replacing their conservative party with a corrupt neoconservative inner circle of power that has destroyed the republican party. I was once close to President G. Ford, and he opposed any party, religion or dynasty ever gaining too much power, and that's the mistake the Bush regime has made. Please help America stop this blatant abuse of our voting system before our next election. Having fought for my country, I can no longer support this corrupt Bush Regime that has embarressed our country all over the world. Please stay on this subject, and thanks for having the guts to air it on your program.

    2 a ScotsEconomics & brand chartering riposte
    It's sad because the individual who founded Diebold - now dead and long since ousted from the control of Diebold the corporation - was one of the great visionary questions of IT Entrepreneurs. Goog his origins; see how he was there before silicon valley, probably a role model for many of today's IT billionnaires - I wish those who do remember his appetite for questioning what futures could computing and man team up with would stand up and testify. Remember bit for silicon bit, there's never been a more extraordinary young-person's inspirationary future of: collaboration between man and computing that Kennedy's vision of getting to the moon in the 60s. If only presidents since JFK had chosen one inspiring humanly open vision before they came to rule and stuck at as their prime erason fore public sevice; and if only we the people had both the fair voting channels and the wit to choose a public servant with an inspiring mission that unites us all in the future rather than squabbling about historic systems which in these times of exponential chnage can never be patched up without compounding even worse leaks.

    In retrospect, the US voting system was so bust around the change of millennium that we needed a time out - a government of unity while we fought the 3rd world war - not of nation versus nation but mankind's short-term fixes versus nature's sustainable action learnings? Is it too late to propose a government of national unity be elected in 2008;

    a dream ticket a woman republican should be president, and a male democrat vic-president - Condoleesa Al, Rice & Gore

    Am I on a different planet? If so, I don't want to be on the lost public servant democracy planet we now co-inhabit thanks in large part to tamepring with numbers through IT machines non-transparently spread out of the USA worldwide. However accidentally, this is the poison chalice from which all terror waves - nature's and human are transparently mappable

    Well my father interviewed more leaders from more places than any other jouirnalist between 1950 and 1990. Diebold was one of his sponsors. He never ask my father to chnage a word as long he wrote up future stories that entrepreneurs from rich to poor constituenceis from east to west could openly network in global vilage debates (defing technology's advance in terms of how transparenctly they empowered such debates so the smallest lonegst deepest vopice could be integrated at least as muich as the big power, vested interest voice).

    Lest we forget the men who spent their lives exploring an inspiring idea only to find it turned round on them after life had run ist course. At we tell a simple story

    the world's biggest brands are epicentres of social networks of extraordinary power that can be used to compound goodwill or badwill ends; sadly we have taken no measures whatsoever to protect the biggest goodwill brands from being taken over by those wither with badwill ends, or just random blind ones that fulfil short-term measures of succeess and their own rewards. Mathematically there is no systemic in between; if your goverance blind people from interacting a global org's goodwill gravity, the end consequence (however blinding or noisy the in between channel) will be to compound the opposite of what the founding godwill explored's purpose had been

    Will we wake up to this greatest ever media crisis in time  
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    June 05, 2005

    June 4, 1989 

    I am a day late typing this, but I write in memory and in tribute to the greatest Chinese patriots since Sun Yat-sen and Gen Chiang Kai-shek: the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Which, according to Beijing, never happened. If there's any evidence one needed for my post below—where I say that Sweden is more significant than Red China's entry into the WTO—this is it.
       Honesty in commerce and honesty in policy go hand in hand oftentimes, more so in a command economy. Till that happens, denial of massacres, failure to give people self-determination and some rather undiplomatic diplomats will go hand in hand with piracy, bureaucracy and a capricious nature to contract law.
       I fear for one thing in this context: that the growth of Red China is as illusory, as steeped in mumbo-jumbo, as the growth of the dot coms on the Dow Jones in the 1990s, because the official figures are about as reliable as the date of Leonid Brezhnev's death.
       Leading countries allow criticism because they can sustain it, but small countries clamp down on it.
       The great irony of my words is that I agree with Beijing on one thing: a single China. However, we just don't agree on the form it should take.
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    Sweden's tops in nation branding 

    It's nice to be right. In 2001, I felt Sweden's nation branding was more significant than Chinese WTO entry. In 2003, I spoke at the Swedish Marketing Association (MIS) and told them that Hans Blix's being Swedish was a good thing. Swedes, in their modesty, don't really think they are that wonderful, but Beyond Branding co-author Simon Anholt's nation-branding survey has just put their country tops.
       It's with little surprise. This is a country that just gets on and does its thing, and an Observer report today sees Simon mention, 'Basically, Sweden is the country that nobody minds.'
       But Swedish success goes a bit further. It lives its nation brand—there is a sense of unity behind everything it does. While there are things creeping in that are a bit disturbing—I didn't remember the need to tip earlier this century, but it is more commonplace; and the job situation has been topsy-turvy in years past—the success of a nation brand is dependent on how well matched the vision and the reality are.
       In terms of exports, it figures every other country is a "domestic market", an attitude which I am sure many nations would like to follow. In Sweden, there is usually not much distinction between a local and a foreigner when it comes to corporate strategy. Now, if we were to perceive others as equal to ourselves, we'd end a lot of the tension that exists in the world today.
       Not that Sweden has got it all right: I've heard from locals and expats that it's hard for one person to stand out too much, for fear of being accused of showing off. Even the top advertising man in the country has a small Audi, not a flash Merc. It may be a good thing, but it also means that giant leaps are that much tougher.
       However, temperature and short winter days aside, it's one country I would be happy to call home, too—and there is no secret that I enjoy my nearly annual visits there.

    'Branding in the early 2000s: the new forces at work', in CAP Online (and some other places)
    I think Sweden has an undisputed brand image. At Brand Greece we hope to attain a similar position soon!  
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    June 03, 2005

    EU discusses fear - well almost 

    I started a debate at the EU's web site on the subject : do we know the sources of fear?

    It's become quite a lively debate - take a look if you can

    One recent post began: It's on the first page of a salesperson's - and consultant's - handbook: scare the living daylights out of them and they will buy what you have to sell !
    (It certainly worked with Y2K).
    Fear gets people's attention: adrenaline starts pumping, pupils dilate, hair follicles contract. Everything from that moment on is geared to self-preservation.
    It often comes from uncertainty: the not-knowing what is on the other side, what will happen (and hence people's imagination has free rein to come up with the worst doubts, i.e. a lack of trust or belief (in oneself or someone else).

    To which I have over-replied as follows:
    Phillippe - I know a bit about what you say, in fact most of my career has involved understanding how marketing works.

    But there are many of us who now believe that the paradox- I would go further and say the ethical crisis of valuation - is that human beings cannot sustain relationships if all the largest powers they meet use medium to propagate fear. Its a mad mad world and unless those leveraging the biggest systems- the largest .govs and .coms - come in from this cold war against the people, there is no future to it 1,2,3 generations out.

    It would transparently do the EU's core identity/gravity a lot of good -and sustainable energy - right now if it mapped back the last week's 2 no votes for undercurrents of fear, of which systemically there are many amongst ordinary peoples, if not amongst powerful bureaucrats. To be European was surely not to be the most fearful species on the planet- is that the actual vision 2010 that Europe's spin-men will materialise? and by the means of budgeting the people's money on systemising such an end??

    I am not a fan of the way the world's largest public media - the BBC - has been coopted into fear. Nor are most of the British people if you read their thousands of testimonies here. Ironically for a Prime Minsister who though himself more media savvy than any predecessor, his abuse of the media has lost more respact among British people than just about any act from Numnber 10 in living memory. Is it really the case that leaders have to go through the crisis of disrespect before they rise again- perhaps Bill and he should start their fall leadership transformation inquiry by exorcising that knowledge of fear

    Having said that one part of the BBC has hosted dozens of people cafes in the last month all to do with how people live community, of which I have been to four. In everyone of these cafes, people ended up seeing that fear had been stopping them make better community, even go out and network, talk, play, find time to breathe beyond being too busy to live.
    So thank you BBC Through fringes and knowledge collaboration cafes, iCAN, UCAN, weCAN
    You're right, Chris. Fear can certainly be marketed, and everything from Y2K to raised terror alerts can cause runs on computer gear to gas masks. Seems rather out of place in the supposedly "advanced" 21st century. But like so much in life (and in marketing), we're re-enacting an old playbook here. The 2000s aren't particularly more caring than the 1980s. Every decade we say how much better we are, and in fact our advances are so incremental, so tiny, that these past-millennium techniques still sucker us in. Unless, of course, those with a sufficient profile can paint a better path for us to travel on—which I imagine is part of our drive with Beyond Branding and with our work beyond this book.  
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    June 02, 2005

    The sore loser's column, take two 

    The Wellington Region Gold Awards are still annoying me. Don't get me wrong: the good outweighs the bad that I encountered. I met some great people at Agenda, the organizers. I met radio DJ Phil O'Brien, who helmed the most entertaining programme (Matinee Idol) that was ever broadcast in the history of New Zealand's Radio Network. I met some great fellow nominees. And I met the Prime Minister.
       I was just asked if I would like to buy some advertorial in a newspaper that was doing a Gold Awards' special. I had already turned down one such offer from another paper during the awards, and not having been victorious, why would I want to remind people that we didn't win?
       As I have already diarized here, the Awards came across as the bludgers' awards. They were very untrue to their brand. They were portrayed as a celebration of innovation and business ingenuity, qualities which Wellington, New Zealand prides itself on. Yet, so many winners had government contracts. Or were being propped up by public funds. There was no room for the independent innovator: my table was full of them and they were losing out to well connected parties.
       A radio station manager said to me yesterday, 'Jack, I've seen it year after year. Don't worry. You get in now. Eventually you'll rise up the ranks and they'll give you one.' Sorry, mate, it's a single shot. We won't be entering again. I'd be discouraging anyone from entering. I had to apologize to a friend yesterday for even recommending the Gold Awards.
       The timing of the newspaper advertorial was bad, because it was after the Awards. But in addition, if the Awards proved to be at such odds with how they are represented, then why would I want to align ours with them?
       The sales' rep wrote back on email to say that perhaps it was not a good idea to do this advertorial section. I agreed with her.
       This was a case of brands failing to live up to their promises. The Awards for one. And that doesn't really matter that much for my everyday life. I didn't expect we'd win, and we didn't.
       But I think about what the judges were trying to do to Wellington. The city has been marketing itself as an innovative place. The Mayor (who was a judge in the Awards) has said as much. Filmmakers like Peter Jackson insist on staying here. But this supposedly high-profile awards' ceremony communicated one thing: that the powers-that-be in Wellington don't really believe in championing our innovative abilities. For them, it is better to go with croneyism and validate bludging.
       I don't even mind that, but can we please have a definitive statement about what my city stands for? Or shall we fail at branding our city just as we have failed at branding our nation?
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