Peter Clarke: 5 Branding Commandments for the Post-Crash Economy

29 08 2010

A very inspiring article by Peter Clark on 5 compelling branding commandents for marketers and agencies moving forward.  His straightforward summary of branding principals for a post-recession era reminds us that consumer’s expectations for brand behavior are forever changed.

Peter’s commandants are:

1.  Simplicity

2. Transparency

3. Responsibility

4.  Sustainability

5.  Affordability

Read the 5 Commandments Article Here.

Grass Image:  Dennis Wong





Counter-Intuitive Intelligence: Recession = Responsibility

29 08 2010

This article from Brandweek demonstrates that the recession has affected not only consumer wallets, but also brand perception. Kudos to the folks at Landor Associates, Penn Schoen Berland and Burson-Marsteller for their new consumer survey demonstrating that transparency and corporate responsibility have become far more important to consumers in a tough economy.

The survey measured consumer perceptions of corporate social responsibility practices and ranked companies that are the most responsible. It found that despite the recession, 75% of consumers believe social responsibility is important, and 55% of consumers said they would choose a product that supports a particular cause against similar products that don’t.

“[Corporate social responsibility] can be the olive branch between struggling industries and consumers in cases where consumers are experiencing the highest expectations and the biggest let downs,” said Scott Osman, global director of Landor’s citizenship branding practice, adding that the industries with brands that have performed poorly, are the ones in which responsibility is valued most.

While 38% of respondents plan to spend the same or more on products or services from socially responsible companies, more than half of consumers are unsure about the meaning of CSR. And those who do know what the term means, define it as “giving back to the local community” (20%), and as “self-regulation and accountability” (19%).

Additionally, the survey found that 70% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for products from socially responsible companies. In fact, 28% are willing to pay at least $10 more. That means companies have an opportunity to differentiate themselves if they can communicate clearly how they give back to their employees, communities, and the environment, per the survey.

When asked to name the most surprising findings, Osman pointed to the fact that nearly 50% of 18-24 and 25-34 year olds are more likely to take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company—a much higher percentage than any other age group. However, Osman added, “a year where there seems have been so much responsibility expressed, especially in light of the earthquake in Haiti, only 11% of Americans say they’ve heard corporate CSR communications.”





Cone Study: 75% of consumers grade companies as C, D, or F on engagement around sustainability.

25 05 2010

May 21, 2010 – A recent study conducted by Cone LLC finds that while the overwhelming majority of American consumers believe that their ideas can help business build more sustainable products, a much smaller number believe companies are doing enough to encourage communication about corporate sustainability.

The report, entitled 2010 Cone Shared Responsibility Study, finds that 84% of the 1,045 American consumers polled believed that their ideas could benefit businesses sustainability offerings, while only 53% felt encouraged to engage at any level. The four key areas consumers wanted more engagement in are: including how a company conducts its business (85%), its products and packaging (83%), its support of social and environmental issues (81%) and its marketing and advertising (74%).

In grading companies on their engagement levels, over 75% of those surveyed gave companies either a “C”, “D”, or “F” on customer engagement. Cone calls this a lost opportunity for most companies, as many more consumers would be more likely buy products and services and recommend companies with better engagement policies.

Consumers are also prepared to listen to companies willing to engage them, with a full 92% of respondents wanting more communication from brands. While this number sounds like an overwhelming endorsement for more brand communication, some other statistics bring to light the dichotomy of the situation:

  • Skepticism – 87 percent of consumers believe the communication is one-sided — companies share the positive information about their efforts, but withhold the negative.
  • Confusion – 67 percent of consumers are confused by the messages companies use to talk about their social and environmental commitments.

For a copy of the complete 2010 Cone Shared Responsibility Study fact sheet, please visit http://www.coneinc.com/research/.





Seventy percent of major companies plan to increase climate change spending.

25 05 2010

Here’s a report on the recent Ernst & Young survey about companies intentions to invest in climate change initiatives.  We love the idea that 89% report the efforts are driven by changing customer demands.

Seventy percent of major companies plan to boost spending on climate change efforts in the next two years, according to a new report from Ernst & Young.

Of the 300 corporate executives surveyed this spring, 89% said their green activities were driven by changing customer demands while 92% also pointed to energy costs as a driver. The fact that 43% of those surveyed said that equity analysts will soon consider climate change actions while valuing companies was also a factor.

Thirty percent said their company had a staffer in charge of climate change initiatives, a trend The Times explored in December.

The respondents hail from 16 countries, representing firms in 18 industry sectors that pull in at least a billion dollars a year in revenue. Nearly half said they intend to shell out between half a percent to more than 5% of that revenue – or about $5 million to $50 million each year – for climate change initiatives.

Two-thirds said they are talking with their suppliers about programs to limit carbon emissions; 36% said they are already in the process of cutting greenhouse gases from their supply chains.

Nearly 95% said national policies played a critical role in their company’s climate change strategy and 81% said the same of global laws. But in countries such as the U.S., Japan and Germany, regulatory and compliance issue was ranked as the largest challenge to accomplishing environmental goals.

The study was conducted by the research group Verdantix.

Tiffany Hsu, The Los Angeles Times





International Award-Winning Short Ana’s Playground To Screen At the Santa Barbara Film Festival

29 01 2010
Ana’s Playground, a short film about children living in armed conflict has been accepted to screen at the 25th annual Santa Barbara Film Festival.  Ana’s Playground will screen twice – once as part of Shorts Program One on Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 9:30 p.m. at Victoria Hall and again (Shorts Program One) on Tuesday, February 9 at 10 a.m. at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.  Producers Mary Jo Howell, Jean Johnson and Bruce Johnson will join writer-director Eric Howell at both screenings and are available for interviews to discuss the film.
Since its release in September, Ana’s Playground has won top honors at the Norwich, New Hampshire, Cenflo and Foyle film festivals, including a ‘Best of the Festival’ and an Academy Qualifying win for the 2010 nomination cycle.

Set in a non-specific, war-torn country, Ana’s Playground is an examination of children living and dying in a world of armed combat.  Told through the eyes of 11 year-old Ana, the story opens on a group of children playing soccer surrounded by the signs of conflict.  When their soccer ball is kicked into a sniper zone, Ana is sent in to retrieve it.  Once inside, a dangerous game of cat and mouse ensues, as Ana becomes the sniper’s target. Connected through the power of sport, the characters all listen to the same professional soccer game which plays in the background.  Viewers will be kept guessing as to how the story will reach its ultimate conclusion — will their games end up in harmony or tragedy?
Ana’s Playground is an allegory about the moment a child is forced to choose between humanity and ideology,” said filmmaker Eric Howell.  “The film is not a political statement about a particular war or conflict, instead it directly examines the delicate nature of a child’s humanity and how the world at large is connected to and responsible for preserving it.”

The objective of Ana’s Playground is to raise awareness about how war and violence affect children by communicating with the largest audience possible.  There’s also an opportunity to provide information about organizations working to improve the lives of children living in violent conditions.
Ana’s Playground powerfully communicates the effects of armed conflict on children trying to play” said Johann Koss, president and CEO of Right to Play.  “The film’s conclusion will resonate with viewers leaving behind a powerful message audiences will be unable to forget.”
Raven Bellefleur, an eleven year-old actress plays Ana, leading an all-Minnesotan cast, and producers Marsha Trainer and Jillian Nodland worked hard to pull together and organize resources to shoot the film in one cold November week in the Twin Cities.
With a background that demonstrates a balance of studio films and independents, writer-director Eric Howell is on a mission to raise awareness for short films, as well as the plight of war-affected children around the globe.  Early in his career, Howell developed his directing skills by working as a stuntman/coordinator on numerous feature films including North CountryJoe SomebodyFargo and A Simple Plan as well as hundreds of TV commercials and music videos.  Howell has directed several short films as well as various episodic television projects.  He continues to work in the industry writing and developing his own material.
Our hope is that Ana’s Playground will entice audiences to explore more of the exceptional film work being done in the short film category,” said Howell.  “Short films are covering ambitious subject matter and the quality of the final product looks like what audiences expect from feature-length films.  Short films have simply never had the same kind of exposure.  So we’ll continue to get the word out and let more people in on the secret.”
The filmmakers are interested in partnering with corporations, foundations and individuals who can help sponsor Ana’s Playground at film festivals and screening events to help audiences learn more about war-affected children and organizations helping them.
Production
Production of Ana’s Playground was made possible entirely through charitable donations. George Lucas’s Skywalker Sound provided all sound engineering post-production; and the Coen brothers’ latest production A Serious Man donated much of the physical set support.  A long list of other industry insiders also shows up in the film’s credits.
Awards
Ana’s Playground won “Best International Short Film” at the 2009 Foyle Film Festival in Northern Ireland (a 2010 Oscars-qualifying film festival), “Best Short Drama” at the 2009 New Hampshire Film Festival, “Best Short Film” and “Best of Fest” at the 2009 Norwich International Film Festival (Norwich, England) and ‘Best Short Film” at the Cenflo Film Fest. Ana’s Playground is based on a script that also won the best screenplay award at the 2006 Los Angeles International Short Film Festival.




Watch post-Copenhagen fall-out on The Age of Stupid Show

19 12 2009

The last team standing (sort of) at the end of the Copenhagen Climate Summit was The Age of Stupid TV Show production team.

The Stupid Show Recaps Copenhagen

You can watch a post -conference Age of Stupid Show with hosts Franny Alexander and Mark Laynas featuring interviews with attendees, dignitaries and others who left with strong opinions about the “agreement”.  A re-freshingly non-American-centric perspective.





Ana’s Playground takes New Hampshire.

19 10 2009

Picture 1

Like the first important primary of a presidential election, New Hampshire represents a key milestone for another candidate.  Ana’s Playground— the short film about children as victims of armed conflict—won Best Short Drama in this past weekend’s festival in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.   More than 80 independent films were screened over the weekend.

With award winning honors in three of its first few screenings, Ana’s Playground continues its world tour.  Check out the Ana’s Playground filmmaker blog for other news and updates.

One of the largest film fests in New England, the four-day event draws celebrities, academy-award winners, film industry veterans and local film lovers. Most importantly, NHFF offers workshops and discussions for young and new filmmakers to interact with industry pros and learn the art and business of film.

Learn more about the New Hampshire Film Festival