AdAsia 2011 Day 3: When ethics is at the heart of business

Soon it might be driving a lot of businesses in the near future

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | November 4, 2011

There was disappointment in store for delegates when the second session of Day 3 of AdAsia 2011 on ‘Creative participation’ was cancelled. David Droga, Founder, Droga5, and R Balki, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas, were supposed to present their views about brands experimenting with revolutionary marketing strategies based on their acute insights into consumers.

However, the enthusiasm was back in full swing with an exciting session 3 on ‘Conscious Capitalism’. This session was moderated by Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Future Brands, who is also the author of the book ‘Mother Pious Lady’. In his opening remarks, he mentioned that though the term ‘conscious capitalism’ sounded oxymoronish, it is good that topics like these were being brought forward in a forum like AdAsia. He said that this subject was an underlining theme in many of the conversations that were held over the last two days.

The model of market capitalisation that we are following for development and progress has come under some challenge in recent times. The panelists offered their views on this subject and the emerging trend in this sphere.

Post the opening remarks by Desai, Anna Bernasek, who is a journalist and public speaker, made a 20-minute presentation about her book, ‘The economics of integrity’. According to her, this is the most important topic in today’s world. She said it was very important to have the element of trust in each relationship and if people did that, then great thing could happen. “Integrity is an asset, and has an economic payoff,” Bernasek claimed.

She illustrated this with an example as basic as buying milk. When we buy milk from our nearby shop, we trust that the milk is milk, that it’s fresh and free from all pathogens. So what we are doing is that we are putting trust in the whole chain of people who are involved in collecting that milk to delivering it at our doorstep. So, trust and integrity are two aspects of the same coin. To show how trust plays a vital role in business, Bernasek mentioned that more integrity with a business would result in more transactions and help create more wealth for companies.

According to her, in the DNA of integrity, D stands for Disclosure, N for Norms and A for Accountability.

It was then the turn of Duncan Goose, Founder & Managing Director, Global Ethics Limited, to share his views. He said he decided to get into business that would add value to the consumer’s life. With this in mind, he came up with a simple idea: that his new business under Global Ethics Limited would be about selling a product that people buy every day and the profits from this business would help in making an impact on developing markets

It is a well known fact that almost one billion people are without access to safe water supply and every day millions walk miles just for something to drink. So, the first business the company embarked upon was that of bottled water. The reason was that he realised that each company in the bottled water business offered the same thing, only the brand was the different. So they launched a new water brand called ‘One’. All profit from its water brand will help fund clean water supply projects in developing countries.

The Facebook community of ‘One’ water brand went up to 237,190 from zero in just two weeks. Over the past couple of years, Goose’s Global Ethics has engaged in various similar businesses which try to make a difference in the developing world.

After this enlightening session, Desai quizzed both the panellists on how they see the world four years from now. To this, Bernasek answered that she was very optimistic about the world in general but held pessimistic views about the USA as she felt it will be difficult for them to turn around. Goose on the other hand said that it is “a long-term programme and companies will have to make a long-term commitment”.

Desai concluded saying, “It’s interesting to see that in forums like these, such discussions are taking place. I think fundamentally more changes are called for. It is good to see that the conversations have begun and so has self-examination.”


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