On danish TV2 today Arla CEO Peder Tuborgh mentioned the ethical statement of Arla which dictates respecting cultural differences. And this is why, the CEO continued, we are now taking a clear stand against the cartoons published by JyllandsPosten.
My question is: Why did Arla have to think about this for several months? If taking a stand against the cartoons published by JyllandsPosten is a natural consequence of the ethical statement of the corporation I would think that the logic would be obvious to the CEO (or any member of the organization) within minutes. My question is; did the authentic stand against JyllandsPostens drawings suddenly appear out of nowhere and if so, how authentic is it?
I have no doubt in my heart, that Tuborgh is sincere in his statement. I am just questioning the level of awareness one has about the values and norms that are part of the culture of the organization. If Arla wants to show the world (and especially their customers in Saudi-Arabia) what they think and what Arlas authentic position is they have to act much faster and they have to show what they think in actions that are seen immediately. In Politiken the international brand-peptalker Martin Lindstrøm is quoted for saying that “As consumers we become more advanced in understanding what seems authentic and what doesn’t seem authentic”. I agree. And I might add two things:
1. Expect your customers to be able of telling what is authentic and what is not – much faster than you (marketing director or CEO) can yourself.
2. The only thing that builds a brand (not just these days but always) is action. Your colleagues don’t react on your messages, but what you do. Just like your wife, your children, your friends and… Your customers. The days of posting a note (or ad in the paper, for that matter) and expecting it to do something great for your brand are over. Messages can create awareness but they are only effective if they convey meaning of something you did.
Being authentic is about acting in accordance with yourself in the given context and moment.