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  • Posted by: Tom Zara on Thursday, September 18 2014 10:12 AM | Comments (0)
    People's Climate March

    Photo courtesy of peoplesclimate.org

    On Sunday, September 21st, New York City will host the world’s largest human rally in demonstration of Climate Change. This will be a seminal moment when the voices of informed and concerned citizens will gather to influence the community, the nation and the world. They will note that indifference to our environment is an offense to humanity. Words are insufficient in addressing the future plight of the blue planet. PWC, the multinational professional services firm, recently published its annual “Low Carbon Economy Index” and the data is startling. Pledges made by the industrial nations to reduce CO2 pollution have proven to be hollow. The gap between the goal and the reality is widening each day and the pending catastrophe of climate change is fast approaching. We can no longer look in the reflection of our actions and expect a different outcome. Now is the time to take a closer look at our values, our priorities and our behavior when we consider the consequences of man-made climate change.

    Einstein quote

    As an eternal optimist, I know that we have the will and the capacity to be intentional about the choices we make. We, as individuals, are the forces that create, sustain and flourish the levers of change—and how we consume the brands we love is a powerful way to accelerate change. Consider how Wikipedia changed the concept of knowledge, how Nike changed the definition of wellness, how Facebook changed the definition of community. Brands have the power to change the world and those that understand their role in stemming and reversing Climate Change are the new heroes of social responsibility. The solutions for Climate Change are inexorably linked to how we behave. Brands that will thrive will be those that address their impact on the planet before they measure their impact on the bottom line. Such brands will motivate and reward their millions of customers to join the challenge and serve as willing agents of positive change.

    As we participate in Sunday’s march for Climate Change, consider the brands you love. Do you consider the impact on the environment when you consume brands? Are your brand choices contributing to CO2 reduction or are they perpetuating the problem of Climate Change? Are there brands that you admire for their leadership in CSR and sustainability? If so, now is the time to salute them and encourage others to join the movement.

    Tom Zara is the Global Practice Leader of Corporate Citizenship at Interbrand. He can be followed on Twitter at ‪@zaracsr4change‪. ‬‬

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  • Posted by: Julia Bland on Monday, December 23 2013 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

    Canada’s second largest airline, WestJet, has set the bar incredibly high in the low-cost arena this festive season with its heart-warming "Christmas Miracle: real-time giving" campaign. With more than 32 million YouTube views in more than 200 countries, making the news in at least five of these, the campaign that touched 250 unsuspecting passengers on their voyage from Toronto Pearson to Ontario airport has far surpassed the brand’s expectations.

    With a Christmas campaign in 2012 that saw them score 700,000 YouTube views, the airline had modestly predicted hits nearing 800,000 this year on their campaign that had been four months in the making. It is precisely this humility and the very human integrity and personality of the brand that has accentuated the emotional impact of this heart-warming five-minute clip.

    Although the airline announced that it was not for the sake of the brand, but with a unique focus on spreading cheer amongst their "guests," (brand vocabulary that itself reveals something of the business’ people focus), WestJet has received an unprecedented leap in attention on the world scale. As a result, the brand is naturally benefitting from the increased exposure of its core values in the public domain, and hence understanding of what the brand stands for, as people are encouraged to spend time with the brand that they would never have done normally.

    From a brand perspective, what the campaign demonstrates is employee behaviour completely aligned with the brand’s stated mission of “enriching the lives of everyone in WestJet’s world” (sic) and that fulfils the human quality that the low-cost carrier prides itself on. It allows the external world a view into the inner workings of WestJet’s corporate culture, one that is built around truly caring for its people and customers as they seek to create the best possible guest experience.

    From an emotional, human nature perspective, the reasons for the campaign’s success are patently clear – there won’t have been many dry eyes amongst the 19 million views. Its small scale, confined to one airport and a select number of passengers, made WestJet’s initiative all the more memorable and powerful, as the impact they had on individuals ‘ lives became greater.

    The brand has undergone an almost unbelievable level of dedication, making an out of the ordinary effort with their random act of kindness as they looked to create a "remarkable experience." The campaign really pulls at the heart strings of the audience and builds genuine emotion as it captures the overwhelmed reactions of the passengers whose Christmas it has improved. Apart, perhaps, from the fondly nicknamed “pants and socks guy,” who may be regretting his most humble request…

    This time of year is one where brands look to make a parting flourish and gesture towards their loyal following to see their goodwill carried through into the new year. This campaign by WestJet, however, is so much more than a hollow end-of-year gimmick or a purposeful tear-jerker.

    What the brand has succeeded in showing is that it is embodied every day by its people, who are real and who provide a service for real families, who often do not possess the means to buy everything they would like to. The brand is going above and beyond and adding value through a simple act of genuinely listening to its customers, even when they least expect it. It constitutes a stellar example of a brand living and breathing its brand values as WestJet revels in its fun, caring and passionate side, appreciative of its guests’ needs, whatever they may be.

    Julia Bland is an Analyst, Brand Strategy, at Interbrand London.

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  • Posted by: Amy Edel-Vaughn on Thursday, November 15 2012 06:14 PM | Comments (0)
    BP Statement

    “How will admitting to negligence and misconduct, as well as a historic $4.5 billion settlement impact the brand?” is a natural question on the heels of breaking news about a global brand of the scale of BP. Tom Zara, Global Practice Leader for Corporate Citizenship at Interbrand, contends, though, “Everybody’s focusing on the wrong thing.”

    While the penalty against the brand is unprecedented and something of this magnitude has not happened to their competitors, the question is not will people stop buying BP, in fact at the end of last month the company announced a higher quarterly dividend and while fourth quarter profits slipped, BP's share price has climbed around 57% since April 2010. So Zara suggests, the question is, “What are they doing to ensure it never happens again?”

    “Good corporate citizenship and responsible crisis management means that a company can’t hide critical information simply because it fears the backlash,” says Robert Khuzami, Director of the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Division of Enforcement in a Department of Justice Press Release issued today. What has BP done to redefine itself so there aren’t future lapses in values?

    Tom ZaraThis is the time, Zara says, for the brand to look at its own “ethical bone structure,” to look within to assess what they have done to be sure “their culture, operations and governance have embraced new brand values. This is an opportunity to affirm internally what their values are.”

    The key to overcoming this latest blow to its brand image Zara notes is more than taking its lumps in the form of fines and accepting guilt. “Tenets that guide behavior must be in place with a commitment to safety, accountability and responsibility,” he says. “The answer people are really looking for is to what degree have they demonstrated these key values.”

    BP worked hard to craft an image of itself before the Gulf Spill as “Beyond Petroleum” and since 2010 has promoted tourism in the impacted region and sought to leverage its sponsorship of the London Olympics to improve its reputation. Now the company says it will appoint a safety and risk-management in the Gulf of Mexico and an ethics monitor to examine the brand’s code of conduct, implementation and enforcement.

    “The explosion of the rig was a disaster that resulted from BP’s culture of privileging profit over prudence,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in the DOJ release. “We hope that BP's acknowledgment of its misconduct – through its agreement to plead guilty to 11 counts of felony manslaughter – brings some measure of justice to the family members of the people who died on board the rig.”

    Zara warns, “Notoriety of criminality isn’t the death knell of a brand, but corruption of culture will kill the brand."

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