Saturday, May 5, 2007
BRAND NEW JUSTICE by Simon Anholt
Brand New Justice is an exposition of marketing guru Simon Anholt's strategies for emerging market nations to develop their economies through branding. In this way, he suggests that emerging markets can begin to close the economic gap with the nations that have powerful brands, which continue to make most of the profit while poorer nations that supply the raw materials and handle the manufacturing make little profit and are often on shaky economic ground. Additionally, not only can products be branded by these countries, but the countries themselves can be branded.
Anholt begins with a list of five conventional objections to why poor countries cannot develop their brands: they cannot produce high-quality goods, they cannot afford to promote them internationally, they do not have the expertise to build international brands, people in rich countries would not want to purchase these products anyway, and corrupt individuals would suck up any profit (p. 10). The fourth argument, that, for example, Americans would not be interested in buying designer anything from a poor, prestige-less country, seemed most important, but Anholt goes on to address and, to a great extent, refute all these statements throughout the rest of the book.
In his quest to teach emerging markets branding, Anholt seems to show little regard for the consumer. The tone of Brand New Justice suggests that the consumer will buy whatever product is marketed best. That is, the consumer is, at least to some extent, a slave to marketing, or else they are fish to be lured by the most tantalizing jig. Anholt says, "Either marketing works, and it is a powerful tool for change, in which case it must admit responsibility for the absolutely central role it has played in creating the ever-widening inequality between rich and poor during the last century; or it is nothing…" (p. 17). Brand New Justice makes it clear that Anholt believes the former. So while Anholt goes on at length about the moral possibilities of marketing, he has little to say about the moral implications of consumerism.
Anholt speaks generally about how brands from emerging markets can achieve international credibility. Perhaps specifics are impractical; certainly there is no hard-and-fast formula to follow for brand success, and each brand's scenario has myriad variables.
The task that Anholt proposes, to use branding to help emerging markets achieve economic stability, is a noble, difficult and complex one. Brand New Justice is merely the beginning of a discussion on the topic, not a treatise on how to implement this strategy. If taken as such, as an impetus for creative planning and strategizing rather than a full treatment of the problem, then this is quite a good book that could benefit anyone in marketing, advertising, or international diplomacy.