Lists define PR – the industry loves and fears them. And when a researcher online takes and avid and assiduous look at brands and the dirt at their roots, there is nowhere to hide, as a list from the Multinational Monitor website proves.
“2008 marks the 20th anniversary of Multinational Monitor’s annual list of the 10 Worst Corporations of the year,” they say at the start of their fascinating article, entitled The System Implodes: The 10 Worst Corporations of 2008. “In the 20 years that we’ve published our annual list, we’ve covered corporate villains, scoundrels, criminals and miscreants. We’ve reported on some really bad stuff — from Exxon’s Valdez spill to Union Carbide and Dow’s effort to avoid responsibility for the Bhopal disaster; from oil companies coddling dictators (including Chevron and CNPC, both profiled this year) to a bank (Riggs) providing financial services for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet; from oil and auto companies threatening the future of the planet by blocking efforts to address climate change to duplicitous tobacco companies marketing cigarettes around the world by associating their product with images of freedom, sports, youthful energy and good health.
“But we’ve never had a year like 2008.”
It’s like I’ve been saying for a while – brands need to have core truths to their corporate story. The new age is about absolute responsibility for the actions and output. There is nowhere to hide. It’s astonishing that PR companies acting for big corporations feel that they can continue the old practices and try to spin their way out of issues that need addressing in a meaningful and difficult way. This activity is an egocentric misconception, and will lead to paralysis.
When will they learn that a brand is no more or less than the makeup of stories that define fame and its reputation? WoM holds a powerful fascination but bestows an incalculable value The story far exceeds what we in the business so chillingly call its ‘target group’.
The story of a brand is no more or less than the result of its fame: its reputation. And like a reputation, it can be found in only one place: in the minds of people. This can be found in only one place: in the minds of people, driven largely by word of mouth and encapsulated by STORIES. Unless we embrace this idea, the moral ambiguity in marketing will undo the future development of brands. The 21st century is now about finding compelling stories for brands that have brand integrity and real substance themselves and most of all the people they are selling to. Any deviation from that and this is where they end up…
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