David Jones, the CEO of Havas and Euro RSCG Worldwide, made the case for better behavior from corporations last night in New York. Jones chose the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to launch his book Who Cares Wins, a slim (~170 pages) but instructive text that argues that doing good must be more than a marketing message but come from the core of a business.
Transparency, authenticity, and speed are the markers for corporate success in what he calls the "age of damage" we're living through. Moreover, CSR cannot be siloed into its own department, he said. If it is, "you've missed the point. This cannot be a marketing tactic."I'm not going to lie. I fail to swoon upon hearing the words "authenticity" and "transparency" fall from a marketer's lips. PRWeek declared "transparent" a word we didn't want to hear again in our 2007 annual Book of Lists. It's not a new one to the communications industry. But, the fact that the global chief executive of a massive advertising holding company is willing to publicly - and loudly - declare "it's not about image, it's about being open" certainly demonstrates the seismic shift happening in marketing today.
The decision to take his message to what many consider the heart of American capitalism was clearly strategic. Guests - including former New York Gov. David Paterson, bankers, executives from IHG, Bristol-Myers Squibb, NGO representatives - milled around the darkened desks that make up the post-closing bell NYSE as they waited for Jones and his interviewer ABC News' Bob Woodruff to take their places. Outside the exchange was lit up with a Who Cares Wins banner featuring its Mad Men-esque character.
During his quick Woodruff interview, Jones cited Wal-Mart and Patagonia as leading examples of good decision makers, while BP's former CEO Tony Hayward was the recipient of the advertising executive's reproach. Jones ducked a question on the Paula Deen controversy, noting that the latest company she's lending her name to (Novo Nordisk) is a client, but otherwise proved himself willing to, as they say, walk the talk.