Why did the Chinese punish UBS after its contrition over “Chinese Pig” remark?

There is a mystery to be solved in why the Chinese are so worked up by UBS, even after its chief economist unreservedly apologize for his snarky comment.

Below is my post at maverick.co.id and a video that I think holds the clue to solving this mystery.

Apologizing.
UBS Chief Economist Paul Donovan  – Pix from Bloomberg

 

This is an interesting case for crisis management aficionados.

We live in interesting times indeed when hypersensitivity meets the mob mentality on social media.

UBS Chief Economist Paul Donovan was commenting in his podcast on China’s economy and how there’s been some inflation caused by sick pigs in China. The country has recently had to cull 1.1 million pigs because of an outbreak of swine fever.

He tried to add a bit of color to his commentary instead of dishing out the usual cut-and-dried tone of economists: “Does this matter?” he asked. “It matters if you are a Chinese pig. It matters if you like eating pork in China.” see more

 

 

 

 

The Monsanto Dossier case puts stakeholder mapping on back footing

It is now being dubbed by the Press as the Monsanto Dossier case, where a usual public affairs practice – stakeholder mapping – is perceived as a crime and a sinister move that violates privacy.

The context: Bayer had hired international PR/PA firms FlieshmanHillard (FH) and Publicis Consultants for public affairs work for its pestiside company Monsanto.  The year was 2016 when there was a high-profile debate on renewing authorization for glyphosate, the key ingredient in its controversial Roundup weedkiller.

FILE PHOTO:    A woman uses a Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller spray without glyphosate in a garden in Ercuis near ParisLike all PR/public affairs outfits FH and Publicis set about trying to know the influencers in this debate. One of them is the media and they compiled information on 200 journalists from public sources and possibly private sources as well.

Learning about the list of journalists, French newspaper Le Monde and broadcaster France 24 filed a complaint with French prosecutors alleging that the list broke several laws:

  • ‘Implementation of the processing of unlawful personal data’;
  • ‘Collection of personal data by fraudulent, dishonest or unlawful means’;
  • ‘Computerized storage of personal data revealing the political and philosophical opinions of a person without his consent’; and
  • ‘Unlawful transfer of personal data which is or is intended for processing to a State not belonging to the European Union or to an international organization’.

Bayer has taken the unusual step of suspending FH and Publicis. It’s actions as well as the complaint by le Monde and France 24, however, rises important questions on where to draw the line where gathering information on professional journalists that can influence the course of debate on an issue.

Stakeholder Mapping is standard practice in public relations and and public affairs. You gather information about stakeholders. There is nothing sinister about this but its a matter of framing.  Supporters of this practice ask how else can you understand and hope to educate or persuade stakeholders on an issue. Opponents, however, see this as some sinister attempt by underground forces to compile dossiers on others for nefarious ends. 

Yet this is a process that we all do, even in our daily lives when we compile a mental list of impressions of people, what their LinkedIn accounts say or do not say, what they like on Facebook and what they post on Instagram.

The line, if one is to be drawn, is between information obtained from public sources including public posts social media, or information obtained from muck raking, including hacking into accounts and databases.

In the meantime, however, all European  companies that have to adhere to the GDPR (general Data Protection Regulation) should keep a close eye on how the Monsanto Dossier case pans out.

For a thorough analysis of this case check out The Holmes Report.

 

 

 

 

Brown Jesus says Happy Easter

Good writing is hard to come by, so what we do with recruits at my workplace is to teach them to write well.

Being a former journalist and being one who writes moderately well, the task fell on Unspun to conduct the class.

Being a firm believer that writing is a reflection of your mental processes, I’ve always started the course with Critical Thinking 101 and the first slide in this presentation asks the participants to tell me which of the two images is a more accurate depiction of Christ.

Jesus

To Unspun the comparion is a no brainer. Jesus was a Jew and a middle easterner, a native of Galilee.

People like that, as in the BBC reconstruction from a skull found there during the period of Jesus, tended to look like the chap on the right. He may not looked exactly like the man portrayed but for sure he would have been swarthy and would NIT look like an Anglo-Saxon savior right out of the paintings of Byzantine artists.

Inevitably, however, there would be one or two – sometimes more – participants in the class who said that Jesus would have looked like the person on the left. The reason? That’s the image of Jesus they’ve seen growing up and the image that adorns the churches they go to.

Which was perfect for us to begin our discourse on critical thinking, the importance of not accepting anything at face value and why we need to ask questions more.

Inevitably too, someone would raise the argument that too much critical thinking is bad for us because it makes us cynical. We should just accept things based on faith.

The answer is that too much of anything is not good for anyone. At any rate critical thinking, if practiced skillfully leads one not to cynicism but to skepticism, which is not a bad thing.

In this world, if we question more without becoming cynical (which Oscar Wilde defines as “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing”) we’d be enjoying oour lives more, not less; and socially and politically we would be ensuring that much of the ugliness and hate in this world we see today would be minimized.

Happy Easter everyone.

 

 

Leica ad draws heat in China for a photo shot by a Nikon

The advertisement below is dramatic to say the least. It depicts how journalists risk their lives to bring us the images that will change the world.

One of the most iconic images in the world is one shot in Tiananmen  Square on June 4 1989 when a lone man carrying shopping bags stopped a column of tanks by standing in their way. It came to stand for the students defiance against an authoritarian regime and was dubbed the Tank Man.

tank man

Leica released an advertisement last week telling a story of what it must have been like for the journalist who took the photograph. All powerful stuff and expertly shot and quickly drew the ire of the Chinese Government and other Chinese.

The Tiananmen Incident remains till today one of the most sensitive issues in Chinese society. The Govenment has banned all mention of the incident. Other Chinese, however, have hailed the ad as something that needs to be said. Still other point out that by airing the ad, Leica is jeopardizing Huawei in a sensitive time, because Huawei uses Leica lenses in its handphones.

Leica has since disowned the ad, saying that it was unsanctioned by Leica and it was the fault of the agency that produced it for loading it onto the net. Yeah.

The political fallout is one thing but what strikes Unspun as ridiculous is that the journalist depicted were almost certainly using Nikons than Leicas. There were actually four journalists that managed to snap photos of the tank man.

Three of them told The New York Times that they were using Nikons. The fourth did not say but there is no evidence he used a Leica.

So you decide whether the Leica ad was a good ad that spoke truth to power, an ad where poetic licence was more important than facts, or a needless provocation of the Chinese Government and some of the Chinese?

 

The Biden affair: emerging stock phrases for harassment allegations?

Since the #MeToo movement, one of the dreaded developments for male politicians in America must be to be accused of inappropriate behavior toward women colleagues.

Former US Vice President Joe Biden was accused last week of “inappropriate behavior” by a Nevada politician. She said he tried to kiss the back of her head.

190331094527-lucy-flores-exlarge-169.jpg
Nevada politician Lucy Flores started the ball rolling by accusing Joe Biden of inappropriate behavior

This was followed by another woman who also alleged that Biden acted inappropriately toward her.

Was this it for Biden, who may still want to run in the upcoming presidential elections? Has Uncle Joe morphed into Creepy Joe almost overnight? And what is one to do in the face of such potentially damaging allegations at a time when men in high and powerful have regularly been outed for inappropriate behavior toward women and have had their careers destroyed, sometimes deservedly, sometimes not?

Biden’s carefully crafted response to the allegations is worthwhile looking into for crisis managers looking for clues to handle such situations.

In many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort and not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested that I did so I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.

I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. But we have arrived at an important time when women feel that they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention, and I will.

I will also remain the strongest advocate I can be for the rights of women. I will fight to build on the work I’ve done in my career to end violence against women and ensure women are treated with the equality they deserve. I will continue to surround myself with trusted women advisors who challenge me to see different perspectives than my own.

And I will continue to speak out on these vitally-important issues where there is much more progress to be made and crucial fights that must be waged and won.

It is a clever response. Not apologizing and not admitting to any wrong doing or inappropriate behavior yet not dismissing the allegation. In fact he paid lip service to the importance of how we have “arrived at an important time when women feel that they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention”

All reverential and paying tribute to women and their views. Then he moves on to his track record of defending women’s rights and how he will continue to do so.

The rest of the response was in the hands of his defenders – co-workers and colleagues. There is little else that he can do really. To try to defend himself more would make him sound defensive and only third party voices would have credibility at this stage.

One of his defenders was Susan Rice, the US’s Ambassador to the United nations during the Obama administration. Her choice of words was also interesting and her words, taken together with Joe Biden’s statement, seems to suggest that some new stock phrases for facing allegations of inappropriate behavior may be in the making.

Rice tweeted:

I respect every woman who chooses to share her uncomfortable (and worse) experiences with men. Their perspectives must be heard and taken seriously. I have worked closely with @JoeBiden for many years. In my experience, he is warm and affectionate with women (and men). But never have I found his actions inappropriate or uncomfortable. I have always appreciated his kindness and warmth.”

Most importantly, I know @JoeBidento be a dedicated ally, champion and defender of women and all of our rights. There is no one I would rather be with in a foxhole. He is one of the most decent, honorable men I have been privileged to work with.

There it is again. That reverence (I respect every woman who chooses to share her uncomfortable (and worse) experiences with men. Their perspectives must be heard and taken seriously) before stating her position supporting Biden.

So you have it, expect to see more of the  reverence-denial stock phrases cropping up more in the future.

 

Award, award, my kingdom for award

In his dotage Unspun forgets things and gets worked up with what he has forgotten.

What’s been making Unspun envious and full of FOOM the past two days is his timeline on Linked in and FB of colleagues in the PR Industry beating their chests in absolute humility and congratulating themselves, being grateful to their colleagues, cousin and their dogs for winning a REGIONAL PR AWARD!

Why aren’t we in the limelight, wearing decent clothes and tuxes receiving such awards. Did we even bother to enter for the prestigious award? In a foul mood Unspun rounded on the junior Mavbro who’s been charged with entering our work for PR Awards.

“Why aren’t we winning any of those awards?” Unspun bellowed. “Did we even submit any entries/”

The hapless junior stammered, “Well, we didn’t submit for it this year. We did but it ended in a bad way…”

Then it clicked. Unspun’s grey cells rallied for a reach into the distant past 12 months. Luckily he had chronicled the incident here.

It turns out that the whole enterprise had been a rapacious scheme to squeeze hard earned fees from PR firms. We were called early by he organizer to attend because we would win an award, but to attend it we had to pay. And pay for the award and the accompanying video.

We decided that it was not worth it. And time has proven us right. Our business has not suffered an iota without that award. In fact we have been doing very well, with an EBIDTA that would make some of the big boys green with envy.

So now Unspundoesn’t feel that bad anymore not being on stage, smiling the pepsodent smile, proclaiming to all the world how humbled I feel while blasting his humility all over social media, thanking colleagues and wonderful people whose support he could not have done without.

What this means at the end of the day, though, is that the tux would have to be mothballed  for another year, another award.

 

Bragging, ever so humbly

I just have to vent on this. I open my FB timeline and there it was: another person being humbled for being chosen to be on a list of notable humans or the recipient of an award, scholarship, fellowship etc. etc.

Do they really feel humbled? Humility tends to make one silent, introspective as one thanks the cosmos for such undeserved benificence.

But when you go on FB, Instagram, LinkedIn and Good knows what other social channels to trumpet your recognition, you may be chuffed, delighted, happy or pumped. Humbled you are not.

So enough of that humble bragging now. It’s not fooling anyone. We’d be more impressive if you told the truth, shamed the Devil and told us how you really feel.