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April 08, 2005



It's very funny. I know the people at Patagonia and Stonyfield Farms for years, close enough to have spent a night at their house in New Hampshire and shared political conversations over dinner, just before the 2000 primary elections. One topic was whether they were going to let Al Gore sleep there. I also am a friend of Doug Tomkins who used to own Esprit and now is into deep Ecology in Chile.

I, myself, have been an executive and an owner of High Fashion company and a High Tech firm. So all of the concepts you have mentioned here are very familiar to me and have been for nearly 30 years. I also find them to be very noble and try my best to live by these principles.

That being said, outside of the cutting edge media, a category in which I put fashion, where is the growth in adherence to these values.

Balance, unfortunately, is a luxury for the elite. It does not really register with the mass of Americans who are 3 paychecks away from being out on the street.

To mention transparency in the current political and corporate climate is, in my opinion, ludicrous. Unless, of course, you are talking about how transparent the lives of the everyday people are to the Government and Corporate America (Run the simplest of Spyware programs on your computer and see what happens).

In the past 25 to 30 years, since these concepts were discussed very passionately by people my age, what has happened. Of course, we see lip service paid to these ideals. But, in the meantime, we have also seen the an unprecedented growth of corporate power over our lives. A lockstep mentality that worships price over quality. (Look around at a Walmart or a surburban supermarket and you will find out what America wears and eats.) Then take a look at the export this corporate "culture" worldwide.

Added to this is an ever increasing demand by corporations to protect "our" interests worldwide. Hence the blatant growth of militarism. If you missed the very clumsy metaphor in "Alexander the Great" it was that if Alexander couldn't pacify the Middle East, George the Junior won't be able to, either. Geopolitically, the world is in a race for markets and resources, all feuled by this corporate frenzy. Where is this all heading? You connect the dots.

You now live in a country that will soon force you to have a visa to go abroad, even to Mexico. The country that comes to mind when I think about this sort of policy is the old Soviet Union.

My point is this, I think you are having the same conversations I had with more or less the same people I had 25 years ago. That is not to say that you shouldn't have these conversations, which I still do have as well. But take a look at to whom you are speaking. They all agree with you. Then take a look around at who doesn't. The latter are in the vast majority.

I think, not only are you looking at the world through rose colored glasses, but the tint is the creation or your own marketing efforts. It is the height of self-delusion, but it might make it easier to fall asleep at night.


john winsor


Thanks for your comments. Like you, I am troubled by many things I see in the world, today. For the past two years I have lived in a small Mexican village for many months. It is very hard for me not to return to the US angered and saddened by the current political climate.

The issue you bring up is one of context. I think if we broaden our view, beyond marketing and branding, then there are many troubling things happening that can effect what we talk about.

As Jennifer laid out in the first post for this blog, the idea was to chronicle the shifting paradigm of branding in the context of a more networked, customer demanding world, highlighting those companies and happenings that can act as a guidepost for a proactive approach to addressing these shifts. In the context of the world, it has a limited mission.

We, as humans, all have lens that distort our worldview. In January, this hit me like a ton of bricks. I was in Kenya for a couple of weeks. It was a few weeks after the Tsunami had struck Asia. Having been there, I was saddened by the death and destruction that had occurred. When I discussed the tragedy with a Kenyan friend he reminded me that 150,000 people die in the Congo every 5 months, and nobody in the world seems to care.

Like you, I am also concerned that the new decentralized media, like blogging, is part of the problem. Instead of reading and listening to the same news sources and then engaging in a meaningful public discussion we can all go to our corners of the world and engage in a conversation with those of like minds, in the end, further limiting our world view.

My goal, as a human being, is much broader than BrandShift's. I believe that we must take action into our own hands, by being informed, traveling, seeking out diverse opinions that challenge your own and leading a life of giving more than you take.

In the end, I am hopeful that change, while difficult and painful, will be positive. The experience that has driven such hope is our adoption of two 8 month old boys, Harry and Charlie, from Far Eastern Russia. The boys have been apart of our family for three years now and have radically changed my worldview. Traveling to Russia and seeing the context of what their lives could have been like plus how fragile their existence was I am amazed by their blossoming, as humans.

Harry and Charlie not only give me hope that we can make the world a better place but they demand my participation in making that change possible.

So, TOC, thanks for pulling me out of one of the silos of my life, that of branding and marketing, and making me think more deeply about bigger issues.

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