November 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm Leave a comment

Why not be the hero you always wanted to be? Like, for real.

One thing would be easy: to satirize everything. And, truth be told, Mrs. Resnick does have the markings of a ready-made Saturday-Night-Live character. If I kept your attention this long, I may as well entertain you for two minutes. You may recall this from earlier:

But satire quickly turns into self-righteous hipsterism. Why not take the rubies-in-the-orchard mantra seriously for a second.

Once upon a time, in 1986 to be precise, the Resnicks bought a California pistachio orchard that also contained some pomegranate trees. They debated whether to get rid of them. Lynda Resnick decided not to do that and continued growing them:

They discovered that the “Wonderful” [who, what do you think, named it?] variety of pomegranate was naturally sweet and juicy and grew exceptionally well in the central Californian climate. The fresh fruit was soon embraced by retailers. But the season for the fresh fruit is short (October – January), and the Resnicks needed to find a way to make the delicious-tasting fruit available to consumers year-round. They began to experiment with juicing the pomegranates. In 1996, in response to the folklore and references in ancient texts about the fruit’s healing powers, the Resnicks engaged Dr. Michael Aviram to begin research on the antioxidant power of pomegranates. In 2000, medical research was published indicating the beneficial effects of drinking eight ounces of pomegranate juice a day.

With the research in hand, Lynda Resnick came up with the POM Wonderful logo and her in-house design team developed an hourglass-shape bottle. POM Wonderful pomegranate juice was first marketed in 2002.

Despite building small business empires with citrus, almonds, pistachios, flower delivery, etc., pomegranates feature significantly in Mrs. Resnick’s own narrative. She christened them Rubies in the Orchard. Her personal memoir/meditation bares the same name. In which she advises her readers how to find, keep and grow “your own, metaphorical rubies in the orchard.”

As before, this is not a pile-on. Keep the company, do well with Fiji Water, do even better if you can. It’s not easy. But the Vatukaloko Trust Fund schemes won’t do, not for IP colonists. This whole story, again, has nothing to say on what possible cocktail of incentives, pressure, idealism and shame could have Apple and St. Steve’s disciples change this iHell.

But in instances where companies do not just go abroad for Exploitation 1.0 (the old colonial biz model of getting labor and physical resources from rights-free global ghettos, ala Congo’s Coltan for Sony’s Play Station) but to actually get intangibles that underwrite their products’ retail value in Western markets where intangible value is king these days, in those cases cognitive dissonance should no longer be bearable.

Lynda Resnick, the educator and inspirational speaker, and her company’s British-colonial-officer-style condescension cannot stand together:

“They don’t have a ton of options for economic development,” Mooney [Fiji Water’s VP for Sustainable Growth] told U.S. News & World Report, “but bottled water is one of them. “When someone buys a bottle of Fiji, they’re buying prosperity for the country.” Without Fiji Water, he said, “Fiji is kind of screwed.”

It may take Tahrirs, Syntagmas, Zuccottis and all sorts of other parks and squares – orange, velvet, saffron, green and the rest of the palette of revolutions – to correct the old business model, but in cases of IP colonists an updated CSR standard will suffice.

# When you partner with locals in order to extract intangibles, you can no longer pretend that that is not what you’re doing.

# Your local partners should grow (and options are many) with you, the way you do, with intangible value and brand equity, not just production margins.

# If that is too tall of an order, and you still do everything to avoid it, the very least a company must do is (to pull out of Development’s phrasebook for a second) build capacity for brand ownership and management and (now the top biz buzzword) help leverage your brand into other export income opportunities for your local partners.

In other words, build a small band of supply chain analysts, brand managers, licensing gurus, and help them learn how to own, manage, and both exploit and create intangible value that gets rewarded with solid retail tags in developed markets: equip them with the know-how to capture the kind of share of retail value biz and b-school textbooks consider standard: 40-50%. Just like FIJI Water does.

It could be fun, too. Fly in Arianna Huffington, all marketing VPs and chief creative officers, and the rest of who’s-who in Mondo Marketing you’ve known for decades, for workshops, wisdom and inspiration (and some minor brandwashing opps for some of them, sure). Simon Anholt, too. Show the guests a good time in paradise and shoot a lot of good video of optimistic young brown people in good suits.

In addition to the Vatukaloko Trust Fund (apparently “0.15% of its Fijian operation’s net revenues,” but who knows) and perhaps even instead of it, give what amounts to pennies to finance feasibility studies of Fiji’s New-Economy cadre you help educate so they can secure implementation financing for their best projects. There is even a roadmap for that:

I think all this, or a variation on the theme, is in Mrs. Resnick. The world perhaps can be half-saved by pinko-liberals who got old, wise, rich, a little bit tired, and very very skeptical about the feasibility of saving the world.  Do do they need much to reignite the old flame? These 30 seconds below are as revealing as they are awkward. We haven’t been waiting for Obama, we’ve been waiting for Mrs. Resnick.

Soon enough invitations from the Church of TED would come and we would be listening to some strange, amazing stories coming out of Fiji, all told by a glowing Lynda Resnick.

IP colonist no longer. A social entrepreneur.

Continue reading An IP Colony: A Short Story


Entry filed under: campaigns & advocacy, collective branding, marca equatorial, margins & strategy, traditional knowledge. Tags: , , , , , , , , .


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