We weren’t thrilled today to have discovered, through long-time Medinge member and Global Brand Strategy author Sicco van Gelder, that the Hong Kong Institute of Marketing awarded, last November, awards with the name of Brand with a Conscience.
Sounds familiar, right?
But let me say now that it has zero connection to the Medinge Group’s Brands with a Conscience, being awarded in Paris for the sixth time shortly.
It’s rather annoying for us, after building up BWAC for six years, that HKIM would call its award by the same name.
And here’s why we don’t think this was just a coincidence, the use of four words in the English language.
If you read their press materials, ‘Organized by HKIM, the Brand-with-a-Conscience Award aims to recognize organizations which contribute to the betterment of the society by humanity and ethics. It encourages industries to develop their brand with conscience that helps establish a fair and ethical society.’
We have said for many years that Brands with a Conscience ‘contribute to the betterment of the society by sustainable, socially responsible and humanistic behaviour.’
Speciﬁcally, ‘The Brands with a Conscience list is shaped around criteria including evidence of the human implications of the brand and considering the question of whether the brand takes risks in line with its beliefs. Evaluations are made based on reputation, self-representation, history, direct experience, contacts with individuals within the organizations, media and analysts and an assessment of the expressed values of sustainability.’
If you go back through the years of media coverage I am pretty sure you would ﬁnd the real BWAC explained in the exact wording that HKIM has used.
Not only has it been regularly covered in the international marketing media for a good part of a decade, BWAC—the real one, our one—has attracted enquiries from organizations wanting to be nominated worldwide. There is no way that companies even here in New Zealand have heard of it and a marketing institute in Hong Kong has not.
My memory of Hong Kong English is that there was a move from the traditional -ize endings on words (as used by the Oxford dictionaries) to the 20th-century ‘chieﬂy British’ -ise (it looks French to me, personally); Medinge, meanwhile, has not, due to my intervention and insistence on Hart’s Rules. It’s interesting to note that even the spelling convention is identical.
Finally, the heart symbol adopted by HKIM in November is not unlike the new BWAC visual branding developed by UfﬁndellWest far earlier in 2008 (and publicized accordingly)—which also has a heart, but in our traditional green.
We don’t object to HKIM presenting an award based around sustainability and ethics, but we do object to the same name being used, which causes confusion and undermines over six years’ work on the part of Medinge.
We grew the awards in Paris from an unknown event to one that is coveted. They had humble beginnings before they became the formal event we now have. There’s even an award named for our late colleague, Colin Morley, which makes us even more protective of the BWAC scheme and its integrity.
Now we see the Institute do a shortcut. Even the way the event is held looks like it’s straight out of the Medinge playbook.
And it’s also very ironical that an award supposedly for ethics has been arrived at in what appears to be an unethical way.
We do expect a casual Google search. I have made a web search, even in the AltaVista days, one of the ﬁrst ports of call for creating any new name or venture.
Call us suspicious, but it is the opinion of certain Medinge directors and members that a Google search gave HKIM the name, idea and wording, and possibly even the logo.
HKIM should, given its position, have been far more diligent.
The Google index has been tainted by this attack on our intellectual property, as the HKIM awards are now appearing. It undermines those real BWAC winners who have gone through our strict process over the last six years.
The sad thing is that if HKIM actually did what was right, and enquired with us to see whether it could do its own version of BWAC after finding ours online, we might have said yes, having set some criteria.
Today I drafted a letter to the chairman of HKIM, Dr Chong Yan Chong, to advise him of this conﬂict and of our grave concern over what we saw as a less than ethical appropriation of our efforts.
As this is the marketing institute in my home town, I really hope there’s some reasonable explanation, maybe even some naïveté or long-shot hope that they would not be found. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:29
So Jack, no reply from Dr. Chong yet?
# posted by Addy: 2/18/2009 04:13:00 AM
I will need to check with Medinge’s London ofﬁce as the letter was ultimately issued from there, but there’s no response, to my knowledge. I’m sure I would have been alerted to it if something had arrived.Post a Comment
I will say that I had no email response when I sent them a version of the letter electronically, to inform them that the hard copy would be arriving on their shores.
If nothing has been written then it does not paint HKIM in a particularly good light.
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