Monday, 11 June 2007


Once in a while I'll think about why the credits on movies include everyone involved with the production down to the second gaffers' illegitimate child. Why wouldn't the same happen on my Kellogs cornflakes? I can't help but think how theatrical it would be to have a full list of credits on a cereal box even down to Fred the forklift truck driver at the Kellogg Warehouse.

Well.. on that theme Jan Chipchase asks a splendid question today that may offer a taste of the future of marketing. What happens in a world where the kid who stitched the uppers on your Vietnamese/Chinese manufactured trainers is part of the legend/PR disaster of the brand? In an increasingly transparent world, would it be that hard to make the staff the stars. Jan Chipchase is a blog worth following as he traipses round the world with a sharp eye for what is often going on around us right now.


  1. It's less egregious than sweatshop labour, obviously, but Asda manage to make the staff the stars in this country, whilst doing their level best to stop said staff organising and joining unions. Asda, of course, is now brought to you by Wal-Mart, who, though their labor practices are documentably awful, also feature their non-unionised, under-insured flexi-workers in their ads. All of which is to say that I wouldn't be terribly surprised if sweatshop labourers did become the stars of an advert, but wherein the sweatshop is rebranded as a sort of poverty-elluding feed-yourself opportunity in the competitive global marketplace.

  2. Hi Dan, thanks for your comments. I guess there is potential for the scenario you've outlined although it would be a short sighted manufacturer that lionized exploited staff. Feedback is only an email away and although silence is often enforced with the threat of a lost job it doesn't seem to me sustainable as a communications strategy.

    I suspect that the awfully named 'consumer society' has revealed its excesses though obesity, possible climate change and general unhappiness. The answer is surely to 'consume' less but to add depth to what we own. Maybe by knowing where they are from, who works on them and that those 200 Dollar sneakers really do have a direct connection with humans in far off lands. If its managed right and stems from integrity its quite a powerful idea. If not its exactly as you suggest.

    I'm reading Alan Bullock's biography of Ernest Bevin at the moment and the penny has dropped why post-war Britain kicked the Conservatives out and ushered in the Atlee government. I suspect our sympathies for honest hardworking people being rewarded fairly, are somewhat in the same direction.

  3. I imagine that you're right about the short-livedness of my scenario... but I still wouldn't put it past them to try.

    I like what you say about how, perhaps, if people realised the human consequences of their $200 sneakers, they'd think twice about buying them. It seems interesting to me, following on from that, that British people have of late become so obsessed with food-miles and the provenance of their groceries. Perhaps one might advocate a sort of "work miles" rather than food miles, as a way of demonstrating the "true" cost of consumer goods?

    As for the Atlee government, I mostly agree with you. It's worth remembering, though, that the Conservatives weren't "in" power during WW2, technically it was a national government of which Atlee, Bevin etc. were major parts - and they were often seen domestically far more than Churchill who was frequently abroad on diplomatic missions. I've always read it as the Welfare state pretty uch being what Britain - and particularly the returning servicemen, who overwhelmingly voted Labour - had been promised as the spoils of victory. (Stopping now as my history academic side is rising...)

    Cool blog, btw: nice design.

  4. Charles - sorry, I posted under the wrong Google account... Should have been my "Dan" not Skippy..

  5. Hey Dan, I stumbled across the Skippy site only last Friday and love the action there - very funny. Of course you're completely right about the returning soldiers and the tacit agreement for the welfare state. The national government assembled for the war could do interesting stuff like call Bevin into a Churchill led government despite his lack of parliamentarian experience. They needed him bad after a lifetime devoted to fighting for elementary workers rights. They trusted nobody else and were about to be called to make the usual sacrifices both domestically and abroad.

    Anyway between you and I (and the internet) I've been ruminating for a few years on how to triangulate for a sweet spot between profitable brands, sustainable wealth creation and social harmony.

    Do chip in on this blog if you have any ideas and get in touch if you're in London town for a pint. I'd like that. cefrith at hotmail dot com

  6. i heart that pic too charles. i love this post, i love where are a fair bit of the blogosphere discussion is going at the moment, it's a welcome change!

  7. Hi Lauren. Thanks for your comments. Responsible consumption is a real issue and brands can help us build value around it instead of volumetrics.