It appears Baby Einstein isn’t the only company peddling products that may retard our children. On Tuesday, toy maker Mattel announced its second major recall in as many weeks.
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely has a cool job. He studies why people cheat, then devises variables to increase or decrease how likely they are to do so. In this TED talk, Ariely discusses his findings and suggests many of our current Wall Street woes further validate them. Turns out we may not be so different than the hedge fund managers and derivatives traders at whom we’re currently pointing our collective (middle) finger. And maybe the Ten Commandments have a place in our schools after all...
In 2007, a friend and retired international campaign consultant predicted this about the 2008 presidential campaign: “The Democrats will do anything to get elected. But the Republicans will do everything to get elected.” Indeed he was prescient, since we have since witnessed yet another sleazy Republican campaign, a tradition going back to Watergate and continuing on with the George W. Bush stolen election in 2000 and the swift boat ads against John Kerry in 2004.
That philosophy is particularism, a fancy word for a simple idea: that in our ethical lives, rules are useless.
Another column, another ethics dilemma. It seems the issue of ethical behavior can't stay out of the limelight right now. While the Democrats are grappling with the newly created Office of Congressional Ethics and two of their own representatives under investigation for, ahem, questionable behavior, the Federal Trade Commission is coming down on PR companies that are misleading the public by posting fake reviews on behalf of their clients. My thanks to the FTC for giving this rather silent, but ugly, issue the attention it deserves.
Big bank Goldman Sachs is trying to repair its reputation, damaged by charges of civil fraud and a criminal investigation — never mind an embarrassment of riches in the firm's report of over $13 billion of net earnings in 2009. So it may come as no surprise that Goldman Sachs is reportedly considering everything from an ad campaign to an appearance on The Oprah Show by CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
I may be looking too hard for hopeful signs but I think we may be at the threshold of a reformation in advertising, which will mean larger changes in the communications world overall. Here are two of them and why I think they’re important (and somewhat related).
As we look at the global financial crisis and how it has been dealt with, one often asks oneself, “can change really occur in such an interdependent and complicated economic model?” We may be preaching to the choir with this post that many traditional consumer tendencies have to be revamped when we take into consideration global climate change, sluggish economies and conditions of laborers. However, when we actually shop, how do we make decisions that matter?
Striving to do more good is associated with greater profitability, equity and asset returns, and shareholder value creation. But that's still not good enough. Today, the bar is being raised: success is itself changing. Those are yesterday's metrics of success — more importantly, maximizing good lets companies outperform on tomorrow's measures of success.
What should you do to rehabilitate your general reputation if you are in Goldman Sachs' executive suite at 200 West Street in New York? Beset by an SEC complaint, a criminal investigation, a Senate grilling, and the resulting loss in two weeks of more than $20 billion in market capitalization, Goldman has assumed a defensive posture. This is so even though the firm just announced $3.46 billion in first quarter earnings.
The legal and political consequences of the complaint brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Goldman Sachs have drawn most of the public's attention, but it is the cultural fallout that will be the more meaningful legacy of the case. The fuzzy link between a real asset like a home mortgage and a synthetic collateralized debt obligation is hard to grasp for people focused on Roth IRAs and pretax health care expense accounts. By ignoring the need most of us have to see how investments are linked to tangible assets, Wall Street generally, and Goldman Sachs specifically, have given us ample reason to believe the truth of the charges.
Allergan and Medicis Pharmaceutical are the Coke and Pepsi of vanity medicine. Allergan makes Botox Cosmetic, the well-known injectable anti-wrinkle treatment. Medicis markets Dysport, a competing anti-wrinkle shot, in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration has approved both drugs to smooth skin furrows between the eyebrows. And now Medicis has introduced a new marketing campaign that pits Dysport directly against Botox, essentially issuing a Pepsi challenge for the wrinkle wars. The campaign is even called the Dysport challenge.
Today, as the globe struggles with an historic economic decline, it's time for a new revolution. I'd like to advance a hypothesis: Today's great competitive challenge isn't going from Good to Great. For people, companies, and countries, it's going from great to good.
A hill, a giant chasm, and a cloud-covered peak. Close your eyes and picture a lopsided "M" for a second. That's the new landscape of advantage. And the recent skirmish between Google and China is its best example yet. On one side is the old high ground of the industrial era capitalism; on the other, the new high(er) ground of next-generation capitalism. The yawning chasm in between them is the gap between the 20th century and the 21st.
Are crises predictable? That's what most economists are thinking about these days. The great Hyman Minsky spent a lifetime building a model of macroeconomic crisis, striving to do exactly that. I spent an afternoon building, presented for you here, a tiny model of microeconomic crises: how industries crash and collapse. Our subject? Why media just might be the new Wall Street.
Today our social rules seem to have been overloaded by our always on, always connected culture. Behaviours developed for the industrial age simply cannot cope with the new possibilities for information sharing.
Noreena Hertz had to seduce Bono. The Cambridge University economist was writing a book on the developing world, and Bono's personal saga of getting the U.S. government to cancel more than $400 million of debt was just the pop-culture bridge she needed to move her ideas beyond the wonkish corridors of academia. After all, Hertz's motive for The Debt Threat -- a deep dive into the debt trap that, she argued, would have global consequences for all -- was to juice the campaign that had been building slowly in activist ranks. The book itself would be a battle cry (a postcard inside made it easy for U.K. readers to urge the prime minister to cancel billions owed by the world's poorest countries), and its release was pegged to hit before the 2005 G8 meeting. Hertz sent Bono an email, unsure if it would find him. To her astonishment, it did: "I'm so glad you got in touch," read the rock star's reply. "I'm a real fan of your work. Bono."
I received an email not too long ago from a professional colleague. It was a private email asking me to do them a favor. It was written rather tersely and almost demanded that I adhere to their request. The more I thought about it, the more it saddened me that their outward persona via their blog, Twitter channel and so on was upstanding and respectable, but just a ruse to disguise someone so manipulative and greedy.
Hoping to reach children at school and shoppers at the store, a growing number of national brands are turning to an old medium: milk cartons. The ads on the smallest cartons, the half-pints that are distributed through school lunch programs, are aimed at children. Larger containers, like gallon jugs, are intended to reach the adults who do the shopping for their households — the people who decide whether to pick up a box of brownie mix or try a new cereal.
It landed with a resounding electronic thud. On Tuesday evening, the Silicon Valley based Techcrunch blog received a zip file containing 310 stolen documents from the micro-blogging start-up Twitter. That thud is still echoing through Silicon Valley. It is, of course, all-too-easy to bash Arrington as a William Randolph Hearst 2.0 willing to use any unscrupulous means to dramatically compound his publication’s already significant readership. But given that I’m writing this in the Daily Telegraph, a newspaper that published “leaked” content about MPs expenses, I’m certainly not going to join the bloodythirsty mob baying for Michael Arrington’s head.
For generations, The Washington Post has been a scrupulous watchdog over the capital’s cozy world of power networking. For a short time, it almost became the network’s host.
Yesterday the NY Times published a story about Pizza Hut's quest to hire a summer Twintern -- an intern that would spend the summer handling Twitter for Pizza Hut. I found it odd, especially coming on the heels of the Domino's fiasco. So I asked around Twitter to see if anyone else thought it a good or bad idea.
I've seen a few commentaries lately, suggesting that we need to rethink how ethics and social responsibility are taught in the nation’s business schools...as the graduates of said programs are the leaders and operators responsible for turning our economy into a catastrophe. Opinions on the nature of business leadership frequently include mention of ethics, much in the same way that critics of medical education bemoan the lack of bedside manners among doctors.
The Guardian recently sat down with Rob Bondurant VP of Marketing at Patagonia and asked him to discuss their sustainable model and how they will continue to innovate for the future. Beyond simply furthering the reach of their own brand, we found Patagonia’s desire to provide leadership in the areas of ethical business practices to be particularly noteworthy.