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Anti-Americanism and Anti-Globalization - a time of danger and opportunity

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Anti-American opinion and misperceptions have escalated in every region of the world and this has threatened the business of multinational corporations. Further, there is a widespread lack of awareness, appreciation and sensitivity to other cultures in the domestic US market. It is a time of immense challenge as the escalation of this trend can tear the world asunder. As the Chinese say, it is a time of danger and opportunity.

Anti-American opinion and misperceptions have escalated in every region of the world and this has threatened the business of multinational corporations. Further, there is a widespread lack of awareness, appreciation and sensitivity to other cultures in the domestic US market. It is a time of immense challenge as the escalation of this trend can tear the world asunder. As the Chinese say, it is a time of danger and opportunity.

As the Co-Chair of the N American Marketing & Promotions of the Universal Forum of Cultures Barcelona 2004 yours truly was at Yale Universitys School of Management when a private sector task force, Business for Diplomatic Action, directed by communications, marketing, political science, and global development and media professionals formed to address this looming challenge. This task force was formed by Keith Reinhard, Chairman of DDB Worldwide, the second largest advertising agency in the world, to steer a collective of multinationals in the development, sharing and warehousing of ideas, insights, and guidance on communication and perception issues that US business are uniquely positioned to address.

On February 23, 2004 Business for Diplomatic Action announced their mission to the world with a panel discussion at Yales school of Management in New Haven, CT. It was an impressive group leading the discussion: the heads of two of the largest global advertising agency networks, Keith Reinhard, Chairman of DDB Worldwide and Tim Love, Vice Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi; the Dean of the Yale Universitys School of Management, and two distinguished professors from the Yale School of Management.

The topic was Global Brands and Public Diplomacy, a report and call for action from people who are in the forefront of the impact of the growing global anti-American sentiment. Business for Diplomatic Action envisions a new brand of diplomacy, one based as much on listening as it is on communicating. One spearheaded, guided and resourced by business in a sustained, coordinated effort that focuses on shared values, building dialogues, bridging cultures and supporting investment in local communities around the world.

The panel thought that multinationals were freer to make change because they are not tied to a government or bureaucracy. Operating globally and employing local nationals, multinationals are credible messengers and have the resources to make a difference in changing misperceptions and resentments everywhere they operate.

In the panel discussion they spoke of how the global business environment has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Countries around the world have gone from eagerly seeking out American business expansion into their countries to a rapidly growing anti-American and anti-globalization attitude. A Roper study commissioned by this task force found that American brands are particularly regarded as harmful because of the perception that:
1. American brands have a corrupting influence in changing their culture through aggressive marketing and advertising of non-local traditions and a push for hyper consumerism.
2. The receiving countrys unfavorable perception of American values
3. The receiving countrys impressions of Americas low regard for their country and their values: of Americans insensitivities and arrogance
4. The perception that they are being exploited and persecuted for profit

According to this Task Force, globalization of business is already a fact; trade, communication and travel have reduced the barriers to isolation of cultures and values. We are now living in a global society and what each individual, company and country does impacts the whole world. Tim Love quoted Martin Luther King saying that people must feel that they belong to something to support it, otherwise consciously or unconsciously they seek to destroy it. Yet today only 18% of Americans have passports, and Americans have limited and often unfavorable understanding of other cultures. In the age of a global economy, it is economically unsound, dangerous and unhealthy to have little understanding and appreciation for our neighbors.

Keith Reinhard stated that the greatest learning engine in the world is the multinational, the training and resources they offer the host countries is an invaluable resource. The Business for Diplomatic Action task force is encouraging corporations to share best practices, listen to the host countries values and act in a manner that honors their cultures. It is the way for globalization to be a force for good and to increase social capital and build lasting, enriching partnerships with local communities around the world.

To communicate the message to and to engage the youth, Business for Diplomatic Action is partnering with the N. American Marketing & Promotion arm of Universal Forum of Cultures Barcelona 2004 to sponsor an essay contest on two key issues: Diversity and Sustainability. This essay contest is open to college and graduate students with the goal of inviting American youth to participate in solving the cultural divide and sustainability challenges we face today.

The Universal Forum of Cultures Barcelona 2004 is a project of the United Nations, Spain, Catalonia, and Barcelona, Spain. The Forums mission is to gather people from all societies to participate in creating a better planet based on the principles of cultural diversity and economic and environmental sustainability. The first world event will be held in Barcelona May 9th through September 26th, 2004 with expected attendance of five million people. The Forum will feature forty-five Dialogues and hundreds of entertainment and cultural events. Through worldwide television broadcasts, web casts, and ongoing interactive web sites, at least 500 million people will participate in this world event as it offers a powerful ongoing means of global cross-cultural communication and action.

The synergy between the missions of Business for Diplomatic Action and Universal Forum of Cultures stimulated the collaboration on the essay contest. The winner in each category will be flown to Barcelona, Spain to the relevant dialogue at the Universal Forum of Cultures this summer and to present their essays there. The top 100 essays will be printed into a book of useful ideas on Sustainability and Diversity so that they can be shared.

There is much to be done to shift the cultural and sustainability concerns today and both Universal Forum of Cultures Barcelona 2004 and Business for Diplomatic Action are answering the call. If you are moved to help please contact:

For more information about the Business for Diplomatic Action, and to join the effort, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For the Universal Forum of Cultures Barcelona 2004 and the essay contest please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Marilyn Tam is an influential corporate leader, speaker, consultant, author, respected philanthropist and social activist. www.HowToUseWhatYouveGot.com

Marilyn Tams book, How to Use What Youve Got to Get What You Want, receives an average 5-star rating from Amazon.com customers. In her book, Ms. Tam talks about how to discover your own inner North Star, and how to use it to navigate your efforts to achieve maximum personal success. The hardcover is just $14.00 on Amazon.com. Check it out! Click here