June 16th, 2011
Branding: When Good Guys Go Bad

Take one young mother struggling to pay her son’s school fees, a lucrative casino (is there any other kind?) and a tattoo parlour. The result: ‘GoldenPalace.com’ tattooed across said mum’s forehead for the princely sum of $15,000 (roughly £9244.50). Check it out here: http://j.mp/maGWOG

GoldenPalace.com undoubtedly gained some global attention from this stunt: some might argue that the tattooed woman was mad to agree to it; others would argue she was manipulated by a global brand. Either way, it seems a tad unethical. A bit like a US confectionary brand we’ve been reading a lot about over the last year or so…

We love chocolate. But it’s fair to say that the actions of Kraft’s Irene Rosenfeld have made us think twice about where we want our Stripey pound to end up.

Rosenfeld, who Forbes names as the second most powerful woman in the world, led the hostile takeover of Cadburys in 2010. Since then, and despite promises to the contrary, hundreds of Cadburys workers have been made redundant, with talk of manufacturing plants moving abroad.

Rosenfeld has repeatedly snubbed requests to appear before British MP’s to answer questions about why she backtracked on her assurances. Now, those MP’s are pushing through legislation to prevent similar takeovers happening again.

Perhaps the saddest part of the Kraft debacle is that Cadburys, a unique piece of British history, is systemically being dismantled by a superbrand with little regard to its historical and cultural significance. Not only that but rumour has it Kraft also aims to tamper with the sacred recipes of our beloved Cadbury’s chocolate! Thanks to Rosenfeld, the Kraft brand is certainly leaving a bad taste in a few mouths, and they’re not the only ones.

Take the fashion industry for example. In particular Nike, which certainly hasn’t escaped the spotlight in previous years. Having admitted to using child labour in the past, Nike has, according to The Global Alliance ‘acted in good faith, and developed a serious and reasonable remediation plan’. Although not every quarter is convinced, it’s clear to see they’ve made an effort to change.

WWF however, were so disturbed by the unethical activities of other fashion brands that they came up with a novel idea to counteract it.

In 2007, WWF undertook a study of businesses and their ethics, with some shocking results. Right at the bottom of the list was Tod’s, a luxury Italian leather company, who scored the lowest marks across every aspect of the survey. Another surprising report arose from Garnier, who were found guilty of racial discrimination after attempting to ban non-white women from promoting its shampoo in French stores.

WWF, after realising the power of celebrity endorsement behind these big brands, came up with the great idea of a ‘star charter’. The charter encourages celebrities to consider the ethics of the firms they endorse. And if the success of PETA is anything to go by, then the ‘star charter’ for big brands could be the one to watch. That’s assuming that the stars endorsing the brands are ethical themselves…

Maybe the real question is not how good or bad brands are, but whether their ethics make any difference whatsoever to their popularity. And if it doesn’t, what does that say about us as consumers?

Interested in reading more? Take a look at these articles:

http://j.mp/lW9TU9
http://j.mp/miCKbg
http://j.mp/mnm86M

http://j.mp/l73XhG

 

Filed under: Brand identity, Branding, Graphic Design
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