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Archive for February 16th, 2007


This morning, I found this headline in my morning paper: “Man sentenced to die in ant-breeding scheme.”

Once I got past absurdity of the ant-breeding scheme part, it hit me: This is for real. Somebody is actually going to be executed for having committed fraud. Wow. Here’s the article:

Beijing – AP –

“A chinese executive was sentenced to death for swindling $385M from investors in a bogus ant-breeding scheme. Wang Zhendong had promised returns of up to 60 percent for buying kits of ants and breeding equipment. he sold the kits (which cost $25) for $1,300, the Xinmin Evening News reported. Ants are prized for medicinal concoctions.”

Sentence to death. Forget ten years of hard time with full restitution to the defrauded investors and $20M in fines. Forget minimum security country-club prisons. Forget cable TV in your cell, kosher meals in the cafeteria, and weekly unsupervised conjugal visits. Forget house arrest and community service.

Death.

This guy is going to die because he sold $25 ant farms for $1,300 and managed to convince enough investors to give him $385 Million for… a bunch of ants. It would be pretty funny if it weren’t so tragic.

I can’t help but wonder what the penalties are for false advertising, securities fraud and accounting fraud in China. But… more importantly, I wonder how the business/corporate landscape would change in the US if laws here suddenly became as tough and unforgiving as they are in other parts of the world.

Would anyone at Enron or at any of the companies on the seemingly endless list of corporate scandals that have rocked our nation’s economy in the last ten years have dared to cook the books or rip-off investors and shareholders had the death penalty been a very real possibility if caught?

Hmmm. Food for thought.

I just think it’s pretty lame that we’ve come to this: Countries having to impose desperately harsh penalties to discourage executives from being dishonest and ripping people off.

It’s just sad.

Ultimately, creating remarkable, positive, enriching products and experiences for your customers and clients seems like a much better game plan. Especially in the light of this nonsense.

Have a great… honest weekend, everyone. 🙂

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Some brands have a hard time making clear statements about what they’re about.

Others don’t.

For the most part, I don’t think I am going out on a limb by saying that brands that embrace specific lifestyles (to the point of embodying them) tend to be a lot stronger than those that don’t.

Why? Because they mean something. And people like to look for meaning in things. Their coffee. Their cars. Their clothes. Their toys. Their food.

Nike knows this. So does Jaguar. And so do North Face, RayBan, Apple, Stetson, Levi’s, Thule, Opinel, Smith & Wesson, Tivo, Gucci, Fossil, Starbucks and DKNY, for starters.

No, Specialized’s little declaration of independance from desk jobs isn’t enough to steer me towards a purchase, but I understand the company a bit better now – and I like the fact that they take their work seriously: Designing bikes and gear for folks who know what to do with themselves when they’re off the clock… and demand a certain level of passion for design from the people behind those designs.

What you have to ask yourself if you’re a brand manager or work as a brand planner, is this: Does your (or your client’s) brand embody a particular lifestyle? Does it mean anything to anyone? (If not, don’t you think it should?)

And if you could print your brand’s mantra on a T-shirt, what would it say?

have a great weekend, everyone.

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