You may have recently read news that Iran is quitening down a bit, hampered as it is with stringent economic sanctions. Or you have noticed things seemed to have quitened down merely by the absence of bombastic headlines foretelling a nuclear Iran.
Nukes are just one of myriad subjects that the power centre of Iran – namely, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad – seeks provocation over. Another is a dispute over three small islands that the UAE also lay claim to.
Mashable picked up the story from where this week’s The Economist left off, saying that Iran is taking umbrage to Google’s proclomation of said area as the Arabian, rather than the Persian, Gulf. The Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Bahman Dorri said such “lies” would cause Google’s users to lose faith in the company.
Maps have always been an intensely political construct. And this isn’t the first time the maps service has run into trouble. Google probably wasn’t intending to step on any toes here, or stir any controversies in an area of the world where there is already enough ire to go around. What is curious is that until a few days ago the map apparently did indeed note the area as the Persian Gulf. Rather than dithering, Google should commit to one as soon as possible and give a good reason for doing so.
Reputations can be hard to maintain online. Habitat learnt this the hard way last summer when it inexplicably started tweeting about their various furnishings along with the hashtag for the protests in Iran. To say that people were not amused is an understatement.
The “It” girl (if “It” referred to “don’t touch it, even with an extremely long pole”) Peaches Geldof was today fired by lingerie retailer Miss Ultimo, who have her featured in their current campaign. The reason for this abrupt contract termination stems from a recent night of pleasure she undertook with one Ben Mills, who thought it best to document the scene (NSFW). Brand Republic reports a spokeswoman as saying, “Miss Ultimo is a brand geared towards a young female audience and, as a company, we have a social responsibility to ensure we are promoting only positive role models that young women can aspire to.”
Quite what they were thinking would happen when hiring someone of Peaches’ sybaritic tendencies is anyone’s guess. The insight is that brands need to think about their ambassador not just in terms of how much coverage and awareness to the brand they will bring, but about what form that will take. It sounds simple, however in this instance it clearly was not fully thought out. Zeitgeist suggests tennis star Daniela Hantuchova next time.
From the Winter 2009 Zeitgeist…
“Even in the face of tyranny, people insisted that the world could change.” So said President Obama at the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Both Obama and the destruction of the Wall demonstrate the power of the populous. Weʼve seen time and again that when people have come together, online, to demand action over something, they have precipitated change. From Facebookʼs accession to Canuck privacy requirements, to HSBC changing their policy for student customers, social networks can help upset the order of things.
When more is at stake than the reinstating of an erstwhile chocolate bar, what then? Horace wrote some time ago “The mountains will be in labour; a ridiculous mouse will be born.” Thousands spoke out online in protest at the rigged Iranian elections – Afghanistan, with only 25% mobile and 1% fixed-line penetration, didnʼt stir similar attention–demonstrating a heart-warming solidarity with the Iranian people. But did it achieve anything substantial? CNN said Twitter and Facebook posts provided the US with “critical information in the face of Iranian authorities banning Western journalists from covering political rallies.” However, the camaraderie was not terribly helpful for Iranians. Despite months of protests on the streets, Ahmadinejad is still in power, and those caught face harsh punishment.
This past week has seen an event of potentially similar import in Denmark. Representatives of the developed and developing world alike attended the COP-15 summit in Copenhagen, debating how best to combat climate change. Ogilvy Earthʼs Hopenhagen campaign, charged by the UN, is designed to give people from all over the world a chance to show their desire for action to be taken. The 6.2m petitions may have played a part in the ensuing (albeit diluted) accord reached.
As Zeitgeist composes this article in the rugged environs of a remote WPP outpost, a radio station is playing Bachʼs Brandenburg Concerto No. 2. If intelligent life were to ever intercept the Voyager spacecraft jettisoned into space all those years ago, this piece of music would be the first thing they would hear. Though we can only hope for something to come of that mission, there are
pressing things on our planet that do require immediate action. Sometimes all that is necessary is to speak up and be heard. The alternative, as Niemöller pointed out, is surely far worse:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.
From the July Zeitgeist…
In the quest to save money during these stringent times, an industry can be inclined to cut corners; to produce something subpar.
As this video so effectively reminds us, there are few things more influential to a potential customer than having someone they know recommend a product or service to them, even when, as in the case of the video, it’s something as innocuous as “Blank”.
This power of advocacy is of course nothing new. The notion of trying to do this online is also not an especially revolutionary one. However, as Digital Buzz points out, brands could and should be committing more to this idea, where one person’s purchasing decision can have huge ramifications as they blog, tweet or mention it on Facebook. Really focussing on digital activation is an absolute must, right now. However, it’s important to be mindful of Habitat’s recent foray into Twitter‐ville, piggybacking on current machinations in Iran. For just as the positive ramifications have huge potential, it also makes it that much easier for dissenting voices to be heard. Bad news has always travelled quickly, but the speed at which rumours and hearsay can now affect a brand’s reputation has increased exponentially.
As Campaign details, though Domino’s dealt with their recent crisis quickly and effectively, the damage to the brand was considerable given the almost 1m YouTube views of the incriminating video in 24 hours. The spreading of misinformation can still be consequential even when it is unintentional. The recent rumours of Jamie Foxx playing Sinatra in an upcoming movie make this all too clear, if amusing. It’s vital then that an agency should always be ready to respond quickly and proactively to damaging news.
Do you know how you would respond, if your brand was subject to a Domino’s‐style attack?