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Taking the pizza by taking a slice of tips.

Pizza Pounds

It really is one of those stories that makes for great radio phone ins – a large corporation taking a percentage of their underpaid staff’s tips (the average gets the minimum wage, just £6.50 p/h).

But the recent protest against a ‘tip tax’ don’t just apply to Pizza Express but it’s claimed other restaurants and groups apply similar tip taxes, including ASK and CDG group which takes 10% (they own Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Belgo).

The actual claims, by the Unite union, are that Pizza Express take 8% fee from tips paid by card. These restaurants claim that this tax on their staff is to cover the costs of managing a Tronc system “correctly and fairly”, and insists it does not make any profit from the practice.

One researcher claims they take over £1,00,000 a year from their staff across 430 restaurants.

A recent report by Mintel cites ethics as a key consumer trend, “Growing awareness of customer rights and corporate misbehaviour will see consumers demand more fairness and justice from companies and companies consult consumers more.”

It’s ironic that 2015 is the 800th anniversary of the first ever citizen’s bill of rights – the Magna Carta.

Mintel highlight that the ethical treatment of workers is a key factor for almost half of all consumers (44%) and more important than environmental policies (33%). While in the US, 82% of diners believe a restaurant that treats its employees fairly influences their restaurant choice.

Mintel’s consumer trend ‘Buydeology’ has become a way to express one’s opinion on a brand, company, or issues and already features pay day loan companies, tax-dodgers, animal-rights abusers and companies that pay low wages!

The Unite union has backed the protests and is supporting restaurant workers with an online petition and survey.

David Turnbull. a spokesman for the union, compares the unethical practice used by Pizza Express to other restaurants. “The Restaurant Group (owners of Frankie and Benny’s, Chiquito and Garfunkels) hand 100% of tips paid on cards to their staff. If they can do it, why can’t Pizza Express?”

“The message is, tip cash only.”

In an age when consumers are becoming more ethical, in any competitive market the decision to go to one brand or another can be determined by how a brand behaves, not by what it’s gloss ads or social media says.

“Reputation is everything,” as they say, and Pizza Express’s is in big trouble

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LINKS

UNITE:  https://campaign.goingtowork.org.uk/petitions/pizza-express-stop-pinching-staff-tips-scrap-the-8-admin-fee-on-credit-card-tips-now

MINTEL: http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/social-and-lifestyle/mintel-identifies-four-key-uk-consumer-trends-for-2015

Ikea goes greener by buying its own forests.

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It’s a simple idea, if you want to control every aspect of your green credentials, when it comes to wood, then buy a forest.

Ikea have been very vocal about their commitment to sustainable and low-cost production, so it’s no surprise they have purchased woodland in Romania – 33,600 hectares – and the Baltics to coordinate there own forestry management and wood production.

They also own 10,000 acres of woodlands in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It’s estimated they have invested over €100m so far in woodlands, by buying forests it means they can control timber costs too.

They can also been investing in renewable energy and biomaterials,

Romania thus becomes the first country in which it has the whole cycle, starting with its own timber resources, furniture production via its direct cooperation with Romanian suppliers, and ending with the retail business via its stores.

Ikea also plan to alter the density and thickness of certain designs. Recycled wood is becoming a larger part of Ikea’s manufacturing and designs. They have also been working on optimising their product designs to make the best use of trees.

IKEA designs some of its Norden series tables so they use the tops of trees and irregular-looking bits that wouldn’t otherwise be used.

The Skogsta range is made of Acacia, a type of tree that is light blond in the middle and darker on the outside – the range use both shades of the wood, rather than just the dark wood, which the furniture industry has historically used.

By 2020 they aim to use only recycled or certified sustainable timber (by the Forest Stewardship Council) in all of their products – so far, about 50% of the wood it uses meets either criteria.

Ikea’s commitment to becoming greener and more ethical is more than PR hype.

They stopped using plastic bags. They are investing over $70m in clean technology start-ups, like solar. They recycles 84% of the waste generated in stores.

When a country introduces stricter emission rules, IKEA imposes the new restrictions on its global operations. As a result, Ikea’s policy reflects the strictest emissions policies in countries across the world, even though it sometimes drives costs higher.

IKEA’s sustainability initiative, IWAY, focuses on four areas: products and materialssuppliersclimate change and community involvement.

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However, Ikea has not been without criticism.

China is a major source of materials, providing 22% of IKEA’s sourcing and a country that is hard to audit.

The retailer used the equivalent of about 530 million cubic feet of wood last a year, excluding paper and packaging.

They produce a lot of cardboard boxes, probably more than anyone in the UK, much of which ends up in landfill rather than recycling bins. However, one creative company has come up with an ingenious consumer engagement idea that can reduce this by 70% called ‘Upp Cykle’ (not yet adopted by Ikea).

Ikea were banned from logging in the Karelia forest in Russia after the Forest Stewardship Council accused an Ikea subsidiary of violating its sustainability agreement because it was claimed to be ‘logging old forests that have high conservation value’.

There are no lack of eco-critics who shoot holes through Ikea’s claims.

However, big corporations can also make big differences when they turn their mind to it, and there is no doubt that Ikea is going in the right direct, for whatever reason.

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The Ethics of Pitching

Pitch Watch logo final

The MAA (Marketing Agencies Association) are taking the lead among trade bodies and demanding fairer pitches. This was something we tried to do at the DMA with both the Creative Council and the Agency Council (which I both chaired), but alas the DMA at the time didn’t have the punch to push through.

The MAA has to be admired that it really does take the bull by the horns and isn’t afraid to take on the big brands.

Scott Knox, managing director, the MAA, said, The Marketing Agencies Association has published a set of rules for clients to follow when pitching their business, to ensure “fair and reasonable pitch practice”.

The best practice guidelines stipulate that clients limit the number of agencies they meet for a chemistry to just six and the number they invite to actively pitch for their account to just three agencies.

The ‘MAA Pitch on a Page’ also recommends that full pitch feedback from clients is given within five working days and that any client pitching its business must make itself available for tissue sessions throughout the pitch process.

The publication of these Best Practice guidelines come shortly after the trade body branded AB InBev as displaying “despicable pitch practice”.

There are cases of pitches that have involved up to 50 agencies. the most famous ‘scam pitch’ was the P&G one in 2002 that cost the industry over £600,000 in costs. The MAA recommend no more than 3 to pitch, 6 for chemistry – after all, if you actually know what you are doing why do you need more? Alas there are too many clients who don’t know what they are doing and there’s nothing like a big pitch list to give it away.

There are few in the ad industry that wouldn’t disagree that pitching has got worse and more exploitative, and more expensive – some clients still think it’s all for free!

Hopefully the MAA may be able to pull us back to a more ethical process. I’m backing them all the way.

LINK: http://www.marketingagencies.org.uk/maa-demands-fair-treatment-for-agencies-during-pitches

At last, a political campaign we can actually like.

At last, something about politics that we actually want to see and want to share on social media.

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THINKING OF STARTING YOUR OWN AGENCY?

One of the joys of working in the creative industries, unlike finance, is the constant range of good ideas that pop up almost weekly.

As an industry, we are very vocal and like to share our views and ideas.

So I was very impressed when I heard about Creative Business Leaders, a sort of TED for our media industry.

‘I AM AN IMMIGRANT’ CAMPAIGN TACKLES XENOPHOBIA IN ELECTION RUN UP

It is ironic that the Chelsea football fans, who have shamed Britain with there racist attitude, probably can’t even spell ‘Xenophobia‘, let alone be able to define it.

For the benefit of thuggish football fans, Xenophobia is the ‘unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange’. Which includes the fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity.

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With HSBC now one of the least trusted brands, how will it influence voters?

Big brands, from HSBC to Google, are starting to become bad brands as the ordinary consumer turns against them for their tax dodging and corporate greed. Yet few politicians see the connecting between a socially conscious ethical consumer and how they’ll vote.

This week has not been a good one for HSBC, which means it’s not a good one for the Tories either as they are the party most associated with banking scandals.

MASK V

HSBC, the world’s second largest bank, helped wealthy clients across the world evade hundreds of millions of pounds worth of tax via Switzerland. The list, originally exposed by the French and a whistleblower, reveals 7000 UK clients alone, plus criminals, a blood-diamond trader, associates of dictators, big businesses and many other unsavory people.

 

In the USA, France, Belgium and Argentina HSBC is facing criminal investigation, but not in the UK, where it is based – it looks like it’s getting away with it here. And to date, only one person has been investigated and prosecuted for tax evasion linked to the Swiss scandal.

You can see the Labour Party and the Greens rubbing their hands with delight. And media editors loving it too, especially the fact that Stephen Green was head of HSBC at the time, and then made a Conservative peer and appointed to the government.

Now Lord Green, he was made a minister eight months after HMRC had been given the leaked documents, serving as a minister of trade and investment until 2013.

With little between Labour and the Tories, this is one of several news stories that could have a significant influence upon voters, far more so than campaign ads could.

The one slogan that will be remembered forever from Thatcher’s period in office was ‘GREED IS GOOD’.  It symbolizes an era when we moved from when some would say was a caring society to one of self interest.

And there is no doubt that the Conservative brand is associated with corporate greed, with capitalism and the banking system, along with all the tax dodges they have associated with them. Not exactly a good association you’d want for your brand in the current climate.

According to the Daily Mirror (not a fan of the Tories) “Tax avoidance has increased to £35billion under David Cameron”. It just gets worse!

The consumer vs the corporate.

But there’s far more to this story than meets the eye when it comes to what is influencing the voter.

Every year we see the march against corporate capitalism growing in numbers as people pout on the V is for Vendetta masks and join the  global Million Masks March organised by the Anonymous Network. For some it’s just a fun day out, but for others it represents a frustration with corporate greed and power.

The most notable person at the march this year was comedian Russell Brand who suggested people shouldn’t vote, hardly an effective strategy if you want the Tories out, but then that’s why Brand is a comedian not a politician.

The rise of the ‘tax shaming’ movement and brand boycotts.

Vodaphone

Another organisation gathering support is UK Uncut, who have claimed that brands like Starbucks, Google, Amazon, Vodaphone, Top Shop and many more are not paying their taxes fairly. And as some politicians point out, if the big corporates don’t pay small, businesses are left to make up the difference.

Tax dodging has resulted in numerous boycotts of these brands which can be very damaging when they grow into movements. This is one time when social media is not your favourite friend if you are tax dodging brand.

Using the pound in her pocket to make a point…

It’s not just left wingers and radical anti corporate minorities that politicians need to fear but the everyday consumer, who 10 years ago may have ignored the behavour of the big brands and corporations, but today they are more ethically minded and even Mrs Jones from Romford is using the pound in her pocket to make a point, not just a purchase.

We are seeing a move back to local and independents, a move we have seen in the high street. Small is good, big is bad. Consumers are making choices based on ethics not just what is cheap.

We see big brands banned for their negative social and financial behavour and unethical ethos by student unions, schools and numerous groups like Mumsnet.

Tesco’s real problem…

When Harris & Hoole, a small but quality chain of coffee shops started to expand it hit social media and the news when punters discovered it was backed by Tesco’s.

To be fair to H&H, it was a funding deal only from Tesco’s investment arm, no different from taking money from a bank, but Tesco was seen as the evil greedy corporate damaging our high streets and H&H was tarnished with that brush.

NO TO TESCO

Local residents now often fight large corporates entering local high streets, residents of Belsize Park (many top celebrities) fought off Tesco’s desire to open there recently, as did locals in Hadfield.

Part of Tesco’s problem, and one they seem in denial of, is the simple fact they are too big, too greedy and like many supermarkets, have abused suppliers – both British farmers (the cost of milk being most recently in the press) and Third World farmers. That’s why shoppers have abandoned them, it’s their lack of real ethics, an ethos of greed – it’s not their aging brand identity, muddled shops or prices.

What the politicians are missing…

But this week, following years of scandal about how corrupt our bankers are, HSBC are in the dock. Yesterday it was all over the Guardian and last night Panorama showed how corrupt HSBC was.

So what has this to do with the coming election? Of course the headlines will pass in a few days, Lord Green will be hung out to dry and the all politicians will respond with claims they plan to tighten up tax dodging and punish the guilty.

But there is an underlying feeling by consumers that big corporates are too greedy, they have no ethics and their power is unhealthy – many now are wealthier than some countries. And they don’t trust the politicians that support the corporates, especially those who take money from them.

Ironically Labour has ben demonised by the Tories as a party that hates big business, even the head of Boots, Stefano Pessina joined in by hitting out at Ed Miliband and Labour. Ironic when you consider they have just moved Boots HQ from Nottingham to…yep, Switzerland! No wonder he’s no fan of Labour.

OXFAM

The recent Oxfam campaign pointing out that ‘The world’s 85 richest people own the same wealth as the 3.5billion poorest people’. 

 

This is not just another charity shocking us with another fact to get us to donate, Oxfam has its finger firmly on the consumer pulse, more so than the politicians (see their report ‘Working for the Few’).

Consumers are questioning the ethics of greed, it really isn’t good for anyone. So while the politicians argue and spin claims about immigration, the NHS. education and the usual topics that polls tell them (because they don’t ask the right questions) the real feeling that will ‘even it up’ could well be around ethics.

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Is the next election heading for an ad disaster?

Both Conservative and Labour Parties Misfire With First, Feeble Efforts,” was the comment on a recent article in America’s AdAge magazine.

ADVERTIISNG ISN'T WORKING

The two biggest parties will need to do better if they want to persuade the British public to vote for either of them.”

Even the Independent was less than impressed, “Although the Tory’s poster is about as poor a start to a general election campaign as you can get, Labour’s first poster isn’t that much better.”

Well when it comes to election marketing the Americans can teach us a few things. But if the Tories recent ad is anything to go by, the era of great British political advertising is well past. Not to say the last election produced any decent posters either.

Conservative election poster 2015

As we head for May 7th are we also heading for some all time bad ads? Based on the last few election campaigns, showing terrible strategic thinking combined with school boy jibes at the other side, I doubt any will be being voted for at D&AD.

Usually the term ‘stuck in the past’ is an insult but in this case, maybe the parties would do better to stick to the past when election campaigns were brilliant marketing rather than mediocre and middle of the road (somewhat appropriate when applied to the Tories poster).

Einstein said, Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Unless political parties shake off the current limp approach and radically reinvent the way they market themselves, we will get stick in a status quo of hung Parliaments and coalitions. I am amazed that many of the parties are still using old school thinkers – if they want to get a different result they need to take a different approach which means new thinkers.

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Political parties have become pathetic in their approach to using advertising to market their pitch”.

The great days of Saatchi ads, like EDUCATION ISN’T WORKING, has passed, and been replaced by limp campaigns driven by fear driven campaign directors running poorly thought through campaigns.

“The biggest challenge of the next election is not getting people to vote for your party but getting people to vote at all!”

In fact it has been suggested that all the parties would be more effective if they pooled their ad budgets and just ran a generic campaign to encourage people to turn up and put an X in the box.

“It’s not social media that will make a difference but the national media –The Sun, Daily Mail, Express, Telegraph and the rest, because they influence the minds of millions.”

As for social media, I followed that at the last election for Brand Republic and it was less than impressive. The spoof campaigns got more followers than the parties! At best it was talking to the converted. At worse bad news does more damage than good online.

I was approached by the Labour party with the question. “Will social media make a difference?” My reply, “Yes”. But I added probably more in a bad way than good. My point was proved when Gordon Brown made a big gaff and it went viral.

Politicians can be as gullible as marketing directors when it comes to the hyped claims of social media, preferring to ignore the reality and put faith in false numbers. The number that matters is how many votes you get and how many seats.

Any party that thinks social media will tip the vote is either being sold a pup or living in Pixel Land. And don’t kid yourself that it’ll make you cool with the kids, it won’t. You can Tweet, Facebook, Instagram as much as you like but it really will make bugger all difference.

It’s what the public say that matters, and remember real world conversations account for 80-90% of influential chat, only 10% is online.

One TV debate can make or break you, the headlines will be the real influencers. To prove the point look at the gaff made by the Greens.

Natalie Bennett, the Green Party leader, admitted on TV (BBC Sunday Politics Show) that they would make it legal to be a member of a terrorist organization. They also would to reduce immigration restrictions and get rid of the armed forces, to be replaced with a Dad’s army!

Whatever support the Green Party may have had as environmentalists, when it comes to real world politics, they have blown all credibility. To quote one comment, “Ms Bennet needs to stop tree-hugging and face reality.”

Einstein different

 “Iain Dale’s prediction of the European election was so close to the final results that his latest predictions must be making the Tories and Lib Dem’s very uncomfortable.”

Iain Dales’ recent article in the Independent is not good reading for either the Tories or the Lib Dems. Having successfully predicted the outcome of the EU elections, he has great credibility.

The biggest threat to any of the parties is themselves not the voter.

All parties are in a state of panic, but their mistake is thinking that old ideas will win in an election that requires new thinking.

 

“Unless one party does something radical, innovative or inspirational they may as well save all their ad and online budget and spend it on the post election wake instead.”

Having worked for two of the three parties, and offered advice to the third, I fear that all the learnings of a 100 years of advertising will be tossed aside by committees of inexperience middle managers, to be replaced by rational, multi messaging campaigns that are more about assaulting the competition than engaging the consumer.

The simple fact is, do the political parties really understand the consumer? It’s one thing to conduct a poll or get feedback from the doorstep, but do they use the sophisticated tools of consumer psychology, NLP or many of the others? Do the understand Behavioural Economics (about me) and Ecological Economics (about we)?

Shockingly, the Lib Dems have yet to even appoint an ad agency. A bit late I think. But maybe, just maybe, the need for speed may mean they will be more focused and less bureaucratic.

Are the political parties about to launch upon us ad campaigns that will be as bland as they are? I fear so. Politics and bureaucracy go hand in hand and both are the opposite of inspiration and the enemy of innovation.

So what are the brave to do?

When in crisis, take risks. Go to the edge and be prepared to fly or fall.

The biggest risk the whole political establishment faces is the lack of anyone voting. Being brave is probably the best way to communicate to consumers that you actually have something to stand for and therefore something to vote for.

Leaders stand for something, they make their voice heard and they know how to engage with people’s fears and dreams.

Advertising is still one of the most powerful tools when used well, especially TV and outdoors. But used badly it’s as good as useless. To use the oldest quote of all, if you don’t think brave then “you’ll get the advertising (and the result) you deserve.”

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P3 or not P3, that is the question? Is The Sun a relic of a Carry On age?

Is The Sun’s topless Page 3 an outdated sexist statement, soft porn that devalues women and encourages sexual harassment, or just a light heated image symbolizing the freedom of women to drop all and make a quick buck?

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It has draw a growing number of the public, politicians, groups and organisations condemning it. But The Sun’s page 3 is just the tip of an iceberg as the same criticism are also being applied to the ad industry for degrading and devaluing women, “Using crumpet to sell crumpets,“ as one blogger put it.

Though I often despair at people claiming we are all exploitative and sexist and then quote ads from 20 years ago, or other historic pieces like Hello Boys.

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The Sun is the UK’s best selling newspaper with over 2.2 million readers (it peaked at 4.2m in the 80’s), though mostly associated with male, white van driving types, builders, working men and taxi drivers.

Given The Sun is also one of the most read papers by under 16’s does it send the wrong message, that women are just objects of sex?

By contrast the Metro newspaper has over 3m readers (and rising), while the Daily Star and Daily Express both have dropped to below 500,000, less than the Telegraph. The Daily Mail has a circulation of 1.7m, the Daily Mirror is just below a million.

Almost all newspapers (except the Metro and the Guardian) have seen declining circulation (ABC figures).

In a society that has radical changed over the last few decades, condemning behaviour that may have been socially acceptable 40 years ago, it seems like it’s hanging onto an old world most associated with Carry On movies.

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Even News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch has agreed that the Page 3 is a little out dated, while Sun editor David Dinsmore admitted that it was a relic of the past.

After 44 years of featuring semi naked photos (the first images appeared in 1970 after Rupert Murdoch bought it), it was reported that last Friday’s edition of The Sun, staring Lissy Cunningham, would be the last one to feature the classic Page 3 image.

To many this was no surprise.  While many women’s groups applauding the decision the rest of Fleet Street wrote numerous pieces about how The Sun was finally accepting it was living in the past. Meanwhile The Star continues the tradition.

It was reported by fellow press titles that pictures will show women wearing “lingerie and swimwear”. The supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley was shown wearing Marks & Spencer underwear in Monday’s edition, a smart move to commercialise the page.

But this Thursday, much to the shock of the nation, The Sun returned with a topless model and the caption: “Further to recent reports in all other media outlets, we would like to clarify that this is Page 3 and this is a picture of Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth.”

Angela Towers of the No More Page 3 campaign, which has got over 217,000 signatures petitioning for a ban on the feature, commented, “So it seems the fight might be back on.”

The campaign group was founded by actor & writer Lucy-Anne Holmes in 2012 with support form Mumsnet, Breast Cancer UK, the Guide Association, NUT, British Youth Council, Rape Crisis, Unison, Royal College of Nursing and numerous community and women’s groups.

Recently University of Nottingham’s Students’ Union was the latest to remove the sale of newspapers with Page 3-style content from its student shops, joining another 32 who have banned it.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who is also women and equalities minister, said the move to remove the Page 3 feature was “Long overdue”. Stella Creasy, Labour MP, added “The objectification of women in this way was basically saying to all of us that what mattered, frankly, were our breasts not our brains.”

For many of the models, Page 3 has launched their careers, like Suzanne Mizzi and Maria Whittaker and made Samantha Fox, Katie Price (Jordan), Melinda Messenger and Linda Lusardi household names.

There are endless objections to why Page 3 is unacceptable in todays’ society. The No More Page 3 campaign highlights the fact that until 2003 models as young as16 were being featured, questioning if it encouraged the sexualisation of children, especially after one dressed up in school uniform

They highlight that it’s soft porn in a family newspaper, read by many young people so sends out the wrong message about women. And it degrades women. The list is long…

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Quite rightly they point to the hypocrisy of the The Sun when it publishes a half naked women on Page 3 and then on the next few pages writes condemning stories about rape, sexual violence, paedophilia, sexual harassment, domestic violence or celebrities having sex with under age groupies.

Although all of their points are valid there are a number of people that still support Page 3, not just the models, claiming it’s a form of “freedom of speech” – really!? I fear pro campaigners may be considering a ‘I am Charlotte’ campaign!

The ad industry certainly needs to think carefully about how it portrays women in the future, even if most ads featuring women don’t go through ad agencies (the fashion and perfume industries don’t always use ad agencies). But we also need to rethink some of the stereotypes. Women hate the patronising portrayal of women in many ads and in one survey 91% of women thought brands didn’t get them, which is more frightening because it reveals a cold truth – that ad agencies really don’t understand the female consumer. Maybe it’s because they spend too much time reading Page 3!

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Je suis Charlie – there’s a fine line between ‘morally correct’ and ‘morally corrupt’.

There’s little more anyone can add to massive amount of coverage of the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo offices. If there is anything positive that has come out of it, it’s the world uniting against terrorism (and not giving in).

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The JE SUIS CHARLIE slogan has gone global across all media channels, social media and word of mouth. Overnight it has entered the consciousness of almost everybody (becoming one of the most popular on Twitter of all time) and will probably still be known in 100 years time.

Not surprisingly, those in the public arena were quick to support the social campaign and as expected, a good few celebrities joined in at the Golden Globes like Kathy Bates, George Clooney, Helen Mirren and many others. Though Kathy, Helen & George brought their own signs, turns out many were handed them by photographers just to get a good picture!

There’s a fine line between ‘morally correct’ and ‘morally corrupt’, especially when it becomes exploited for marketing.

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The Hoxton Hotel has used #jesuischarlie in a promotion of its upcoming Paris hotel and posted pictures of their new venture on Facebook along with the phrase ‘Very chic don’t you think?. No we don’t!  The press has condemned them as ‘despicable beyond belief’.

Already one brand in France has been slammed for showing the slogan with their logo on. Free speech does not mean exploiting it for marketing.

Consumers in coffee shops when asked “what’s your name” (that irritating Americanisation of customer service that Brits find too intrusive) are replying “Je suis Charlie”. But that’s ok as long as the coffee shop brand is exploiting it to sell coffee.

Sainsbury’s got criticized at Christmas for exploiting the first world war in their attempt to outdo the John Lewis TV ad, and even though it claims more YouTube views (not that anyone trusts views anymore) their sales failed, so I guess that didn’t work. Death is a delicate subject and after 9/11 anyone using the imagery of the twin towers found themselves in the media and public firing line.

Even 5 years later when we presented to a health charity a dramatic image of two burning cigarettes looking like the twin towers with a headline highlighting how more people are killed because of smoking every day, the charity felt it was too sensitive, and probably they were right.

On a lighter note, the Simpson’s have already paid tribute to the campaign and featured baby Maggie holding the slogan.

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But I fear that there are some insensitive brands, or irresponsible creatives, who will be hell bent of self publicity or worst, winning an award, will exploit this campaign for personal gain.

Just how sick and exploitive are people? Well over some people have tried to trademark the slogan! The French Office for Intellectual Property reported that more than 100 attempts to get a trademark on the phrase have been thrown out since last week. Similar attempts have been made in other countries. In Belgium one businessman defended his action by saying, I can see a lot of big brands will want to use ‘Je Suis Charlie’ to sell products… and I want the money to go to the victims families.’ (Really!?).

How low can some people get?