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Managing Marketing: Ethical Marketing

Chris_Arnold

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Dr Chris Arnold is the Founder of the Creative Orchestra and The Garage. But he is also the author of the book Ethical Marketing & The New Consumer published by Wiley. Chris shares his thoughts on the rise of consumer demand for Ethical Marketing and the failure of Government to keep pace with social change. He discusses the drivers of these changes and the response from corporations, business and brands and the need for consumers and society to place pressure on achieving further change.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast where we discuss the issues facing media, marketing and advertising and have conversations with thought leaders and practitioners of the marketing world.

Today I’m at the Groucho Club in London and I’m having a conversation with Dr Chris Arnold, who is the owner of Creative Orchestra and also the author of the book ‘Ethical Marketing, the New Consumer’.

Welcome, Chris.

Chris:

Thanks.

Darren:

Ethical Marketing, some people would cynically say that’s an oxymoron.

Chris:

It seems a contradiction in terms but certainly what I got into when I was Creative Director at Saatchi and Saatchi, we were looking at this idea of, can we get brands to be more ethical.

There was a lot of talk of environmentalism there and exploitation of people but it was kind of early days and we bought someone in but it didn’t really work. Brands weren’t that interested but it’s kind of full circle.

Suddenly now every brand is realising it needs to be more ethical. It needs to have purpose at the core of its values. You look at brands like Proctor Gamble and Unilever where they are actually making it key to all their brands.

Those brands that have decided not to bother are inevitably going to suffer because research has shown consumers are having a tendency towards brands that behave properly, that respect the planet and respect people. People are actually more important than the planet.

Darren:

So how long ago did the concept of the triple bottom line sort of rear its ugly head? Was that last century?

Chris:

It goes back to the seventies.

Darren:

That long ago

Chris:

Yeah.

Darren:

Well definitely last century.

Chris:

It’s something that has been going round for quite a long time and they do many variations on it; the quadruple bottom line and other ways of looking at it. It’s quite interesting because you look at the western culture and you look at say for example by contrast in my book other cultures. One I cite is Islamic culture.

Islamic culture has that inherent in it; it’s not just how much profit you make but how you look after your workers and how you treat society and community around you.

If you look at companies like Quaker companies with very strong values or at Ford which is Presbyterian; these companies built their businesses with strong religious faith beliefs as well. Cadbury is a very good example and they respected community.

Darren:

Cadbury, their religious base was?

Chris:

Quaker.

Darren:

It’s interesting because a lot of companies now are trying to get back to those values because somewhere along the line we’ve lost sight of the purpose of business.

Chris:

I think the problem was someone put it, our God is money and if you look at the capitalist development society we have to make more money. It is good because in many ways money employs more people, goes into communities and society and companies make a lot of money back so there is nothing wrong in making profit.

But, the value set has changed to exploitation and if you look at the driving of prices down in retail for example you get fast fashion, you get sweat shops, you get exploitation and people are saying that’s not acceptable.

The problem is, and here’s the irony, the very people telling you they want to buy more ethical fashion then go off and buy from shops that are selling fast fashion. There’s got to be a marrying more between what people say and what they do.

Darren:

In actual fact there was the rise of the concept of the corporation. There was a time in history, especially western history where the corporation didn’t actually exist. It was individuals who were running businesses and then along came this idea of being able to create an entity that people would own.

And then increasingly that was through shareholding and then somewhere down the track it became that the shareholders were supreme, the interest of the shareholders and we forgot about the customers.

Chris:

There’s a very interesting economist who talks about the different approaches, I’ve lost for a moment one of the economists who created whole concepts of doing it differently but that is the case. If you look at the corporation making money, I mean there is a film called The Corporation. If you go back to the Second World War you see IBM over in Nazi Germany giving them all the machines that actually file people into the gas chambers.

You look at Coca Cola going over there and actually creating Fanta because they didn’t like Coke so they created orange drink, Boss with the clothing.

The ‘Corporation’ was so into money its ethics were so far removed it didn’t care. The trouble is those have kind of continued on and the big Corporations don’t really have a lot of ethics.

So, what you are seeing now is a real interesting one which is those companies that are genuinely embracing ethics and those who are just paying lip service to it.

Darren:

Do you think part of it was that they removed humanity from the Corporation. When the concept of the company or corporation was something that was bestowed on a group of individuals and in that bestowing the right to own a company was that you would do good, you would pay back to society.

In fact there was a famous economist, I can’t remember his name.

Chris:

Who criticised that America had gone in this kind of obsessed shareholder-cut culture.

Darren:

But it’s interesting how the Corporation was almost given a legal entity as if it was an individual itself and that the people that ran it were no longer responsible as individuals.

Chris:

They were responsible for making money for the shareholders, that was their prime responsibility, not caring whether they trash society or communities or anything like that, that wasn’t on the agenda.

But that has changed dramatically and it’s changing more through the consumer who is so empowered now and can turn around and say, ’no we are not going to buy from you, we don’t like your ethics.’

A good example of a consumer back turn was actually at Procter & Gamble with Sunny D. When Sunny D was running around it was basically a complete con; it was basically coloured water with 6 spoonful’s of sugar in it, a bit of carotene to give it a bit of colour and about 2% orange juice.

They sold it to parents as a healthy orange drink which was a complete con. I did briefly work on an attempt to re-launch it and the parents found out. When the parents found out they turned against the company and the product just died a death.

When they tried to re-launch it I was at Saatchi’s at the time and I sat and listened to this person from P&G and I said ‘why bother, nobody likes it, it’s a dull drink and no mother is going to buy that for their kids, why don’t you just kill it off. Why don’t you make a drink the people want?’

That concept was alien to them. The idea of actually going out and asking people what they want and creating a product that met their values and needs was something that wasn’t in their culture. Now it probably is.

Darren:

Well because it was driven by the factory output of the world which is, we can manufacture this, we can make a good margin except that it leaves the actual consumer out of the equation.

Chris:

When you are in the search for profit the only thing that matters is how much profit you can make and so naturally you squeeze more and more and that means people get squeezed.

Darren:

A lot of people are saying this generation of millennials are driving this desire or demand for businesses to be more accountable, do you agree?

Chris:

It’s a myth.

Darren:

I’d be interested because you hear it all the time that it is the millennials that want the ethical and sustainable and environmental.

Chris:

If you are going to spend a pound it’s actually the fifties that are the biggest most powerful influencers of spending. The spending power in ethics is above fifty. They are the people that really drive the hard core market.

The millennials who are a lot less financially able than their parents and grandparents, they talk it but they don’t walk it. You look at fast fashion, who is the biggest purchaser of fast fashion? And if you look at all the unethical things like drinks who is buying that. It is largely millennials so they are quite a hypocritical lot.

But the danger of millennials anyway is a generalisation badge with an enormously complicated group of people. That age group, just under 25-35 age group for example are proverbially the highest in smokers so if you talk about health they are the biggest smokers. They are also the biggest drug takers; they are also the biggest drinkers so for all the talk the reality can be quite a conflict.

However, they have been bought up in a world where they are more sympathetic, empathetic and understanding of the environment. For example of health and the risks and you do see by contrast the myth of veganism, being it’s better for the planet and stuff being picked up by kids as a novel gimmick to follow for a while so you do see people wanting to do good things.

Darren:

So we have seen environmental protests or stop work to protest and the media is focusing on the fact that there are lots and lots of young people out there protesting and pointing the finger at the sort of baby boomer generation that are supposedly in power politically and saying, well you are destroying our future by not addressing issues like climate change and sustainability.

Chris:

It’s interesting because if you look at who are the two people most influential on climate change at the moment in terms of news story, you could say is it Greta or is it David Attenborough?

If you look at change, Greta has done pretty much not a lot, she’s had some nice protests but she hasn’t changed policy. David Attenborough has. His whole thing on plastics has forced big brands to actually change. So if you want to measure up who has made the most impact, David Attenborough who is way in his 70’s maybe 80’s. So the older generation has much more influence than in fact Greta has who has now kind of been knocked out.

Darren:

Accept Greta is polarising people because there’s a huge backlash. I mean we live in the world of social media where everyone has a right to be outraged still.

Chris:

Clarkson told them to shut up and go back to school.

Darren:

That’s right, there’s this huge group of very high profile baby boomers that feel like they are anti Greta because she is a young person speaking out and does that also mean anti addressing climate change?

Chris:

I think the problem is that when we did some research on this quite a while ago we found it is about responsibility, who is responsible?

When we looked at responsibility we found out firstly that governments were seen as responsible first, so that’s what we pay them to do and they have been partly responsible for not doing enough.

Darren:

Or anything in some cases, because remember I come from Australia where we had a Prime minister bring a lump of coal into parliament and say this is the future of Australian energy.

Chris:

Really. Well it was almost 30 years ago when Thatcher got up and said the oceans are warming and the atmosphere is getting more dangerous and we need to do something about it now and nothing was done, absolutely nothing.

The Corporations have carried on merrily you could say raping the planet if you use the words some of them use. Until someone actually legislates them and stops them doing it they will carry on doing it because their interest is not saving the planet, it is to make as much money out of it before it goes down.

The problem is that it is starting to have a consequence. People talk about the Amazon but it is actually the oceans that are the real thing that people miss. It’s the oceans warming which is the real catastrophic event that’s going to happen.

Darren:

Particularly if you live in the Pacific Ocean and you have a low level land mass were potentially even a 90 cm rise in the sea level is going to wipe out most of your land, it would be a concern.

Chris:

No more barbeques on the beach. I think the consumer doesn’t see itself as very responsible. What’s been interesting with the plastics campaign is that the consumers are starting to take more responsibility, they are saying maybe I’ll stop buying plastic or recycle it better.

It’s quite interesting because over in Spain at the moment they are fanatical about collecting bottle tops that can’t be recycled; I don’t know what they are going to do with them but they are getting quite obsessed with them.

Darren:

They could make them into necklaces or something.

Chris:

Maybe build houses out of them which is what they’ve been doing in Africa. They’ve been taking plastic bottles, filling them with sand and building houses, which is actually quite a clever idea.

There are a lot of new ideas coming about and of course with all the stuff saying let’s give up plastic and there’s a development pet but they are saying alternatives aren’t actually much better one way or another, it’s kind of swings and roundabouts.

I think that we’ve got to a point where almost anything we do isn’t necessarily any better than anything else, we’ve kind of gone too far down the road. It is a bit of a challenge now because if we had done something 30 years ago when Thatcher raised it we wouldn’t be where we are now.

So what does the consumer do, the consumer is confused and the consumer is very, very confused.

Darren:

But there is also a role of the media and of the Corporations in shaping the conversations around this. There is a lot of conflicting information and there’s a lot of vested interest in making that confusion.

Chris:

Absolutely.

Darren:

Climate change, how easy is it for people to go, it’s a much bigger problem than me so I won’t do anything.

Chris:

I think that is the problem. People do see it as too big so they say it’s not my responsibility and I can’t do much but I do expect governments and corporations to do something first and none of them are doing much. So they are not going to follow until they follow and that’s been proven.

If you want to make a change there are only two ways of doing it; one is legislation or you have to work out how to get the masses all to work together.

When they did some studies for example with recycling they discovered the most influential way to get people to recycle, was when there were neighbours recycling. It was back to the old principle of sheep behaviour social norms. They found out that by making it our social norms to recycle, people were happy to do that.

Darren:

So recently there was a round table of CEO’s in America that came out and when I say a round table it was something like 200 of the top CEO’s have come out and said they are re prioritising and that it is no longer about shareholder value, it’s about the good of all stakeholders including employees, customers, the lot.

And cynically someone said to me that immediately afterwards they phoned all their investors and said we were just joking, we’ll look after you.

Chris:

I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s very easy, we have the term green wash around or ethical wash and the problem is when you look back a couple of years and a lot of what people were saying then was just hogwash. It really was hot air to keep people happy at the time.

There was an energy company, if anybody was working on it they said any ads we’ll say to everyone we will be carbon neutral by 2020 and she said to the boss, is that true and he said, who gives a shit, by 2020 you’ll never remember you said it.

It keeps the crowds quiet and I think there’s been a lot of that going on, a tremendous amount of spin. But if you go to the media, they are kind of doing a different kind of spin; it highlights things. Like we should have more wind turbines, fantastic and then the next thing wind turbines are really bad because the carbon footprint will never be offset.

They swing from one to the other because it makes sensational news. They like writing about extension rebellion because it makes good news stories but nobody is writing and saying have they made any difference, in fact they haven’t really, they’ve made very little difference.

You talk to WWF they’ve made a lot more difference than those have made yet so they are not focusing on those people that are really making the changes and helping things change.

But even with a bunch of CEO’s sitting around a table promising change the reality is will they make any significant change.

Darren:

So it is very easy to give lip service isn’t it?

Chris:

That’s the problem it is too easy to give lip service. Sharp PR agencies are very good at making people look good. Coca Cola is running an ad about recycling. Probably a bit late in the day but then what about all the other things they do like stealing ground water off people in India and all the rest. They are not saying anything about that. It’s like Shell doing an advert saying we are using the excess CO2 to grow flowers; yeah 0.1%!

It was a classic greenwashing ad giving the impression they were doing a lot when they were doing bugger all. This is a problem; a lot of the companies now running campaigns are doing this and doing that but actually on the bigger scale it is not enough.

Darren:

So Chris are you saying we are destined to fry in our climate-change induced hell.

Chris:

No because as species go we are the most agile and adaptable on the planet. If everything else dies we will still be here long after that.

Darren:

I thought it was the cockroaches. Everyone said they are the only ones that survive a nuclear blast.

Chris:

Them and ants. I was listening to someone today talking about it and they were talking about the warming of the oceans and they were saying the oceans have traditionally been the stabilisers of the planet. And for all the fear the water underneath has only gone up 0.01 degrees which is not significant but the surface water is going up.

So it does have some consequences, it will change in time how the world does but the world will adapt and it will change and alter. Like when there was an ice age people got coats and warm boots, if it gets too hot we will just get more sun tan lotion. Humans adapt but it will have a catastrophic effect upon our capitalistic lifestyle.

That’s the bit that’s really going to change and someone very sarcastically said when someone from extension rebellion said we’ll all become extinct, someone said so what’s wrong with that, at least the rest of the species on the planet will live.

Darren:

I think in fact a group of scientists have worked out how long it would be before Mother Nature returns the planet to a pristine state. It’s only a few thousand years, relatively small in the millennia of the Earth.

Chris:

You look at how long the dinosaurs were on earth and we’ve not been here a fraction of that yet so if we die out the Earth isn’t going to weep.

I think the challenge that is starting to come is the Corporations are looking and going we might have a big problem. If you look for example as you go towards the equator in say Africa you are going to have much hotter climates.

In about 25 years half of Spain for example could be desert. So being one of the biggest suppliers of agricultural products to us and especially to others in Europe, that’s gone. That affects America, their wheat fields are all gone and suddenly where are you going to grow all that stuff and food.

That would have an economic impact on big companies who make their money on that so they are starting to think where is it going to hurt?

Darren:

Well we are already seeing with the extreme weather events that are happening around the world, most scientists are pointing to climate change for the occurrence of these.

Chris:

What do the Brits say, fantastic, we are getting better summers.

Darren:

Except we are also getting more hurricanes, we are getting more fires.

Chris:

Well that’s because most of the weather in the Atlantic has moved across and we are getting the tail end of it.

Darren:

So it’s impacting on insurance. Insurance companies are finding themselves paying out huge amounts of money for the devastation.

Chris:

So Insurance policies go up and there’s a consequence of climate change. When it hits people in the pocket, that’s when they start to get concerned, but they can’t push that Atlantic weather back anymore. It is shunted over by about 150 miles and that’s why we are getting the tail.

Environmentalism is obviously a hot debate. What’s been very hot previous to that is ethics of people. Animals have been a very big issue with animal husbandry.

Darren:

Well animals were really the first point of pain. I remember the Body Shop was one of the first brands that I was aware of that made a big stand and in fact it was built on a purpose of not being tested on animals.

Chris:

Absolutely.

Darren:

And what was that, was that the 70’s.

Chris:

She built it on ethics and she built it on civil ones. One was about people as well, that fair-trade of making sure people were properly paid. That farmers weren’t exploited and the environment wasn’t damaged in doing these things. Plus of course animals and animal testing then ironically the company is bought by L’Oréal who then promptly started using products that have been animal-tested.

Having reassured everybody they would never do that, they did it. The story is that L’Oréal was so siloed that nobody really connected the dots. The guys at Body Shop who used the products hadn’t realised they’d been tested on animals.

Darren:

As an example of a positive purchase by a big corporation, a lot of people point to Ben & Jerry’s the ice cream brand which was bought by Unilever. And people will say they understood the value of that brand they were buying and even within a big international corporation they’re managing to maintain a lot of the values and principles.

Chris:

I agree. When big companies take smaller companies and let them get on with it. When Innocence was purchased by Coca Cola, they said get on with your Innocence drinks but we’re going to do the orange juice because we want the orange juice name. Coca Cola bought Innocence having been an early investor in it, which also stopped them going bankrupt, but they bought it because they wanted the name for the orange juice because they were competing heavily against Tropicana (PepsiCo), the biggest selling orange juice.

It’s an enormous market. The smoothie market is nothing compared to orange juice. So Coca Cola had an agenda but the benefit for Innocence was they had financial stability—they’d nearly gone bust 2 or 3 times. They had investment and people who knew how to market. They had better retail connections so they could sell what they were doing and do it better. Meanwhile, Coke was off selling orange juice.

McDonalds investing in Pret a Manger was similar. People say they’re getting into bed with the devil but sometimes you have to work with corporates. The rub off the other way round is sometimes the values of these companies can be pulled over and it can make a difference.

Darren:

To pick up on that point, McDonalds have introduced salads and all sorts of things to change the profile.

Chris:

And the equivalent of Fair Trade coffee. We used to work for Trade Craft which was a charity start-up initially bringing products back from Africa on return trips and were heavily involved in Fair Trade. I worked with them at a time when Starbucks was selling non- Fair Trade coffee (they had one Fair Trade product). They were marketing the one pack of Fair Trade beans like every coffee in the shop was Fair Trade.

It was a very dirty bit of marketing and we went after them.

Darren:

That’s called misleading and deceptive.

Chris:

Absolutely. So, we went after them and it got back to the CEO in Seattle and apparently he said ‘well, why aren’t we selling Fair Trade coffee?’ And there was lots of grumbling down the line ‘well, we make lots more money this way’.

He realised his company, that had started with very good values, had lost the plot because accountants and procurement people were just so focused on bucks that they didn’t see value. So, he said, ‘no, we’re going to sell Fair Trade’. As a consequence Starbucks, because of the campaign we lead, became the number one Fair Trade bar in the world and a lot of people’s lives have been bettered by that.

Darren:

So, you’re saying it is possible to bring about change?

Chris:

Oh yeah, and big companies can do it. I was talking to a guy at Pepsi who was saying, ‘we only have to reduce our plastic by 1% in a bottle and it will make more difference to plastic recycling than anybody in the world because we sell a billion bottles a day.’

Darren:

Just the sheer scale of it.

Chris:

This is the thing about the plastics in the oceans; when you look at the brands you’re pulling out; Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Coca Cola, Kraft and all the rest you have to say there’s a big issue and you guys have produced all these products. Why are you not all getting together and solving the problem at the root?

I think the problem we see with environmentalism is we don’t solve the problem at the root; we scream and shout about the end results. We want another plaster. If you look at the plastic in the oceans, which comes from about 7 key rivers (none of which are the river Thames). It’s all very nice that people in Soho are not using plastic straws but it’s making f-all difference.

If those companies got together and backed recycling and refuse collection schemes in places like China, India, and South America, that stuff wouldn’t end up in the rivers in the first place. And this is the fundamental problem; people don’t address the core problem, they always shout about the end.

And consumers are starting to see that but it often requires big corporate and governments to work together.

Darren:

Yet, governments have not taken the action, either legislative or tax (the other big lever). A carbon tax would have made a huge difference to all businesses.

Chris:

Yes, a 10% reduces consumption by 4%.

Darren:

But to introduce a responsibility across the supply chain so you legislate that everything you manufacture you have to be responsible for it right through its lifetime to the reclaiming of it at the other end would make a huge difference.

Chris:

That is starting to happen because the technology now tracks everything through. The food companies have had to track stuff because of legal requirements on contamination and stuff. This came out in the horse burger incident and they were able to track stuff through.

But now the big companies are tracking all the way through their supply chain so they can be accountable. IBM has got a fantastic system so you can see what seed crop it came from, which plant in what field. I know an olive oil company that claimed that if you scan the bottle number it shows you which olive grove the olives came from but we discovered it was a complete fraud. It was just completely made up, a lie.

But accountability is a key thing. When you’re using technology to create better accountability then you get greater responsibility. If you look at what happened with the collapse of the sweatshop in Bangladesh—they started pulling all the labels out and those labels had some pretty shocking names on them—some very big brands.

And they were all saying, ‘oh no, they’re making fake products with fake labels’ and everyone’s going ‘bullshit’. Sometimes the brands don’t really know because they’re buying into the front—the nice-looking sweat shop where people are treated nicely. What they don’t know is that same guy is running the darker one. This is the problem.

And when you look at exploitation, especially Fair Trade—bananas are a good example—you find the worst exploiters are their very own people.

Darren:

What do you mean?

Chris:

Well, if you look at the banana problems they had in South America, the people exploiting the people and killing the union leaders were their own people within the community itself. It wasn’t foreign companies coming in. Foreign companies were just buying bananas and in many cases had no idea what was going on.

Darren:

Do you think part of that is because of the desperation or just greed?

Chris:

It’s greed a lot of the time. Economics, positive and negative, are without doubt the cornerstone of everything when it comes to environmentalism for example and ethics. And it’s not something that’s talked about.

If you look at the economics of the rainforest and why people are chopping it down; the vegetarians will tell you they’re chopping it down to feed McDonald’s cows. They’re chopping it down to grow soya, which is now going more towards vegetarianism for soya milk because they get a bigger price for it than for animal feed.

However, why are they growing soya? Well because they make a lot of money out of it and they can’t grow heroin. If they could grow heroin they’d do that instead and make even more money. If they could make more money out of turnips they’d grow turnips. The problem is economics. These people are poor. They need to grow to survive and earn money.

It’s not the chopping things down to feed hamburger cows; they’re chopping them down just to live.

Darren:

In Indonesia there was the whole issue that Nestlé got caught up in: palm oil. They were destroying rainforest to grow palm oil. The interesting thing was that the appeal was the orangutans were losing their habitat so that we could have palm oil in our food.

Chris:

And KitKat was cited very heavily. People say they want palm oil-free and Iceland said there was no palm oil in any of their products—very clever. They said ‘their products’ implying any products.

However, that’s a generalisation because there are good palm oils and bad palm oils. Some are fine and other products are very bad.

Darren:

It depends on where they’re sourced and how they’re grown.

Chris:

I feel sorry for a company called Palmolive. It’s very hard to get away from what you built your business on. You see these trends and consumers suddenly say they don’t want this or that but interestingly they have this surge of gluten-free or vegan and a year later they bounce back again to where they were because consumers go back to where they’re comfortable.

Darren:

So, Chris, what do you think about the idea of values being almost colonialised. What I mean by that is where in the West we have a high standard of living and economies and then we try and apply those values to emerging and what were called 3rd World countries.

Do you think that’s legitimate? Is there one set of values for the world or do we have to recognise that circumstances, their economies and standard of living means that often values get compromised?

Chris:

I think there is a big danger in the Americanisation of standards for example. America wants to impose its values on everyone in the world and as Brits we wouldn’t want to see a lot of their values because we’re not very comfortable with them.

Darren:

You don’t want to carry a gun?

Chris:

No way.

Darren:

It must just be me.

Chris:

Americans are not particularly good poster boys for values, certainly not Trump. Also there are many aspects of what they do that threaten our environment—the potential in the Middle East for war stimulated by Trump will have a devastating effect upon all our lives and will have a dramatic impact on millions of people who live in the Middle East.

But if you look at values and go globally—cultures, attitudes, and different ways that people are brought up—look at religions. Most of them have core values; respect for each other, not to kill other people or torture them even though in the name of religion a lot of people have died.

But there are core values that are fairly common across the planet and are important.

Darren:

Humanistic values.

Chris:

And we do apply values to animals in the UK more than anywhere. You go to Spain; they don’t get it. Talk about Orangutans—it wouldn’t bother the Spanish because they’re not animal lovers.

Darren:

They’re the people who brought us bullfighting.

Chris:

Precisely. Banned it and then brought it back. They haven’t humanised animals in Spain as we have here because they’re a strong farming community. More than anyone in the world we’ve humanised animals along with the Americans. So, we get very upset about animals.

Other parts of the world it’s so what. Go to certain parts of Asia where they eat dogs. There are common values that need to be adopted. Unfortunately, mankind has shown either through war or commercial gain that human beings get treated pretty low on the pecking order.

Darren:

It was a complete eye-opener for me when Apple got caught up with Foxconn the Taiwanese company that makes most of their phones having a huge factory in Shenzhen, mainland China and one of the international human rights groups reported on the high number of suicides amongst the workforce.

There was a global outrage—Apple who are supposedly responsible sourcing it. From the Chinese perspective, which was never reported on in the West—for the number of employees, the actual suicide rate was relatively low compared to the general population.

And the people were committing suicide at work because their families would get paid, which is why the numbers looked high but it was actually quite low. So it seemed to me that we can easily fall into a trap of having a lens on other nations that is actually unfair.

Chris:

A good example of this is kids sewing footballs—outrage—12-year old kids sewing footballs—exploitation. That’s applying Western values. Bearing in mind that in many African countries their education stops around 12. Many kids do go out to work to feed their families from 12 years old—that’s normal practice.

Being able to sew a Nike football is like going to Cambridge for a lot of kids and they were paid quite well. When the liberal lot came in and protested, started boycotts against Nike, they had no choice but to say nobody under 18. The outcome was the kids were left with no employment. Instead they ended up in drug-dealing and prostitution.

That liberal, lefty, human rights lot who don’t get their facts right actually condemned a whole generation of kids to far worse and they just walked away and left it. They didn’t take responsibility for their actions.

Darren:

It is complex. Charlie Wilson’s War, the film written by Aaron Sorkin shows that if America had invested in Afghanistan after driving the Russians out then a lot of the modern issues with the Middle East and Islamic terrorism would not perhaps have occurred. There’s this whole interconnectedness.

Chris:

It’s the same argument about the rainforest. If America would invest money in South America, which it won’t do then there wouldn’t be the rainforest problem. We could create other industries. It was the same in the 2nd World War. The British said the way to stop Germany going to war again was to invest in it. We invested a fortune in building a car industry—Volkswagen and many other industries.

Actually, Germany is prosperous because of what we invested in it after the 2nd World War.

Darren:

Just to paraphrase this whole conversation, which has been terrific, governments have not being doing what they’re meant to do, corporations are reluctantly feeling the pressure, huge numbers of consumers of all ages are all feeling they should be doing more but on an individual level that is largely pointless anyway.

It seems to me that the only solution from this conversation is that people should become more politically motivated to actually force government to bring about the legislative and tax changes to force business to make the mass-scale changes as in the Pepsi example.

Chris:

We need a paradigm shift really in values. The problem comes down to money. The reason governments don’t like banning cigarettes for example is because they still make money out of it.

Darren:

There’s a terrific ‘Yes Minister’ where Sir Humphrey points out that the tax is greater than the health cost. In fact, Britain’s are dying for the good of the British economy.

Chris:

An American tobacco executive actually pitched this to one of the Eastern Bloc countries that wanted to ban cigarettes completely; ‘the money they earned from the tax was 6 times the pay-out plus’ (the really controversial bit that hit the Press) and ‘you have to remember’, he said, ‘these people will die early so you don’t have the burden of them in old age’.

But there are good things happening. Brands that have adopted a more ethical stance tend to do very well. Look at Proctor & Gamble, Unilever–some of the most profitable brands are the more ethically minded.

Some of the start-up brands that have built themselves on ethics have been kicking the asses of the big companies so there is a tendency towards that and it’s a slow movement. But companies need to do more and that will probably require legislation and even shareholders saying it’s not what you make; it’s how you make it that matters.

Governments need to pull their fingers out and start doing something and some are doing things. But take cigarettes for example—only 40 countries have banned cigarette advertising altogether. 181 are signed up to the World Health Organisation yet less than 20% of all the countries in the world have banned cigarette marketing completely. It still goes on freely in other countries.

There’s a long way to go. If you’re not doing that on cigarettes what hope have you got on the rest? We’ve got a long, long way to go. The question is have we gone too far as some would have us believe. Or are we just going to have to adapt our world? Will it be the world that forces us to change the whole way we look at economics? I think we need to look more at economics now than anywhere else because economics forces change almost more than anything else in history.

Darren:

So, Chris, we’ve run out of time but if people want to read more about this, Ethical Marketing, the New Consumer is on Amazon and published by Wiley. But you’ve also got a new book coming out called Flip, Unthink Everything You Know.

Chris:

Yes. That’s a book that started about creativity but we realised we were talking much more about how you think. And in today’s world, thinking differently is critical. So, it’s got a lot of new thinking in there, a lot of existing ideas on thinking and it’s quite a radical way of looking at things.

Darren:

We’ll have to do another podcast when that comes out to the market because I think it’s a fascinating topic. Just to finish this up; we now live in what many people call a post-truth world. What’s the impact that has on bringing about change?

Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals, Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by Darren Woolley and special guests. Find all the episodes here

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Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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