Categories
Business Communication

Advanced marketing:A tobacco company sponsoring a smoke free future

It appeared in my Facebook timeline and took me by surprise.  A Greek island is aiming to be smoke free.  Nice initiative.  Nice touchy feely video and all.  Oh, wait a minute.  It is sponsored by Philip Morris.  How does that work?

I mean seriously.  How do we allow that to work?

The first set of problems are the legal issues.  In Greece nobody enforces smoking laws.  People smoke everywhere.  I was in court recently sitting under a sign that read “smoking is prohibited by XYZ law.  Smokers will be arrested and prosecute immediately.”  Two people were smoking right under the sign and next to a policeman.  I asked him to do something.  He asked them politely.  They declined.  End of story.  So is Philip Morris going to pay for better policing?  Of course not.

Which brings us to the second set of problems.  When they say “smoke free” they don’t mean that they will help everyone quit.  They mean they will help you switch from regular cigarettes to their new smoke free products.  Which even Philip Morris admits have not been proven in any way to be better.  In their words: “Studies on our most advanced smoke-free product, IQOS, are progressing rapidly and the results are encouraging.”  So they are pushing people from one of their products which we know for sure is bad for you, to another one of their products which we don’t know yet.

The third, very glaring problem, is the selectivity of it all.  Funnily enough in Greece they recently passed a strange law against vaping products without nicotine.  It is almost as if someone bribed law makers to bend laws in their direction.  No, wait, that is the sort of thing that happens in films.  For example films depicting what the tobacco companies did in the past in fact.

And of course there is a fundamental, logical problem.  Philip Morris is in the business of selling products for smoking.  “We’re dedicated to doing something very dramatic – replacing cigarettes with the smoke-free products that we’re developing and selling.”  That  is the closest you get to a mission statement.  So they are not are not actually going to help the inhabitants of any Greek island reduce smoking.  They just want to get visitors and locals to switch to their products.  This would be acceptable maybe as a step in the right direction if:

a) we were sure it is better for your health and

b)if they did it all around the world. 

 

But of course in other countries where they can still sell traditional cigarettes, that is what they sell.  They are lying in your face and not even holding crossed fingers behind their back.

The history of American Tobacco, their lies and deceits and illegal monstrosities has been relatively well documented.  This new chapter in their history emulates Donald Trump’s sheer audacity in lying straight to your face but makes it worse but applying a veneer of do-goodery.  A tobacco company paying a municipality to pretend it is doing something about a public health problem when in fact it is just giving free reign to Philip Morris to sell and promote their products like crazy all over the island.

 

It would be great if there was someone that could do something about it.

Categories
Business Society

Apple is gay.  But not as gay as the world needs it to be.

When Tim Cook came out to the media as gay I was not surprised.  We all knew that Apple products were disproportionately favored by gays.  The statistics occasionally cropped up and then disappeared in a very…Apple sort of way.  A very “gay” sort of way in fact if you wanted to use a crude and unfair generalisation in terms of stereotyping 5-7% of the world population and the richest corporation in the history of homo sapiens.  Interestingly enough that is about the market share of Apple products globally. (If you add smartphone and computers it may be a bit less but both kind of statistics are really hard to nail with any precision.)  Apple is the perfect demonstration of how hypocritical a gay CEO can be when he is the one in a position of power.

 

We don’t know exactly how many people on the planet are homosexual.  And to be honest, we shouldn’t really care. I have walked Gay Pride marches enough to know that all my gay friends, and the friends of their friends are a fantastically varied collection of human beings.  In fact I don’t even think classifications help. There is no “gay meter”, human sexuality is a wonderfully complex thing, nobody is completely “straight” and what people fantasize about or do in terms of their sex life is nobody else’s business.  It shouldn’t even be mentioned in business.

 

Oh wait.  Actually it is.

 

One of the biggest, most consistent and absolutely fair demands of all of us who believe in equal opportunities, is the push for fair pay.  I want my daughter to get paid as much as a man when she works doing a similar job. Hey Siri, is this true in Apple regarding gay employees?  Hmmm…no response, eh? I want my kids to grow up in a world where we don’t need quotas in upper management. Hey Siri, are there disproportionately more gays in Apple?  Siri won’t tell you.  Apple won’t tell you. It is their right after all not to tell you.  But why is nobody asking? We ask about all sort of other groups of people.  We do our politically correct best to help minorities of every kind.  We read and write about how a corporation needs a coherent mission and values.  If Apple is more camp than others why is not openly projecting it?

 

It seems rather impressive that we can #meToo ourselves until we are blue in the face and turn a blind eye to this opportunity.  If Tim Cook was a Yankees fan, when he met the President of the USA, we would read “and they joked about the game”. If the CEO of the richest corporation in the history of humanity was married to a woman we would probably see her at his side there too.  Through a combination of good timing and the all powerful Apple PR machine, since he bravely came out openly as gay however we have heard almost nothing.  A few carefully planned and executed, possibly paid for, high profile, profiles about it then. And since? Is Tim Cook in some way obligated to bring up LGBT issues since he has the ear of the world?  Should he be doing more?

 

Of course it is a personal choice.  And he should have the right to a private life.  Other CEO keep their families away from the media.  But the case of Apple and Tim Cook is a remarkable demonstration of the limits of selective political correctness, the limits of #metoo type of approaches and our extremely hypocritical approach to demands for transparency and “the truth” about our world.