January 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
Ms. Roosevelt’s suggestion is undeniably eloquent, but at first pass it may seem a bit off. When we hear the word “justice,” it’s natural to think of a two-sided equation: Party A, who has been wronged, demands that justice be served, while Party B, the toe-stepping group, does their darnedest to avoid being served. So while justice, in both concept and practice, balances the scale, it seems that it does so by only benefitting Party A.
The upside of the justice system is obvious. But while it helps compensate for and defend against damages–pay for your crimes with cash, time, or both–it seems like the slighted are the only ones who experience the upside. So how can it “be for both” then?
The latest example of anti-counterfeiting justice occurred this past Tuesday, January 19th when U.S. District Court Judge Paul Crotty found a New York-based importer and online dealer guilty of peddling sham goods and awarded Burberry $1.5 million in damages.
In 2005, Designer Imports, Inc. entered into an agreement with Burberry not to sell counterfeit goods on its site. Two years later, Burberry sued the company after discovering fake versions of its products for sale on the same site. Burberry’s investigators found what they claimed were 14 examples of phony goods.
Five years later, the presiding judge agreed that 12 of the items were counterfeit and penalized the offending company. At $100,000 per violation plus attorneys’ fees, Designer Imports, Inc. has been ordered to pay Burberry $1.5 million, though the brand had originally sought $6.5 million. And while the settlement bars the offender from selling any more faux goods, the company is allowed to continue selling legit items on its site.
When we consider this recent example, Ms. Roosevelt’s meaning becomes a bit clearer. It may be quickly summed as ‘justice in, justice out.’ She was referring to fair punishment.
The process which penalizes the peddlers of counterfeit goods is designed to correct a specific wrong and to set things right again, but it can not exceed its mandate by delivering an unjust sentence. Burberry received 23% of its original request and Designer Imports was allowed to remain open, but was there justice on both sides of the equation? Was the punishment fair?
We certainly think so and congratulate Burberry and their diligent inspectors for ensuring that the counterfeiters know what lies in store for them. Ms. Roosevelt’s statement is clearer for their efforts.
We hope that future justices keep in mind that these cases are about something bigger than dollar amounts – lives brutalized by the production process of bogus goods cannot be quantified.
We do not ask that the two-sided type of justice advocated by Ms. Roosevelt be denied in the cases of criminals punished for these abuses, but we do demand that those responsible for punishing them always keep the big picture in mind.
January 18, 2010 § Leave a comment
Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it. -Plato
It’s early in the new year, so there’s a high likelihood that your resolution to exercise more is intact, but if you’re anything like us, historically these vows have had the shelf life of an un-watered orchid.
Most of our day would be put to better use exercising, unless you’re an emergency room doctor or crossing guard. Exercise is a truly wonderful thing and though, like us, you may not engage in it as often as you’d like, we all know the value of a good sweat.
Sweat is a particularly odd currency, when you think about it. It signifies effort and resolve, commitment and sacrifice, tenacity and perspective. It’s one of those unique things like hard work and baking – the latter shows our hand as far as our new year’s resolutions are concerned – that is a reward in itself.
Sweat means you care enough about something to fight your own limitations for it.
So, that said, we’re either ready to go for a jog or throw in a copy of Rudy.
Advertisers are aware of the motivating power of sweat. They know it sells. Can you think of a commercial for a sports drink or a new shoe line where the volume of the little bulbs of sweat peeling off athletes isn’t identical to the water off a sheep dog that has recently come out of a lake?
Here’s what the advertisers know: hard work is inspiring and contagious. That kind of commitment deserves our admiration and if we happen to buy a pair of shorts and pick up an energy bar along the way, so be it. But any effort so unbridled demands that we acknowledge it and, in the best of situations, we might even mimic it.
That said, we just put Rudy on pause and jogged over to the closet that’s become a graveyard for our infomercial peddled exercise equipment and grabbed the nearest dusty item that, were it not for the fluorescent plastic, looks like it belongs in a medieval dungeon.
The only thing about this ‘sweat sells’ knowledge is that the counterfeiters are aware of it too. In fact, all they require to throw together some sort of sham version of a legitimate item is that it fits in the aforesaid phrase: “______ sells.” If it sells, it’s going to be counterfeited, and if it is counterfeited, there are dangers that follow. And while they can’t counterfeit sweat, they can copy the items designed to stimulate its production, like the large quantity of fake exercise equipment – the Ab Coaster – recently seized by U.S. Customs in Long Beach, CA.
Customs is cautioning would be consumers to be wary of purchases made on Craigs List and online. Fake exercise equipment can lead to serious injury because the construction and the materials are of a lesser quality – they may work the wrong muscles and in the wrong way. And be wary of the stories that sellers may provided to give the fake item a hint of authenticity. The only way you’re sure to get a legitimate product is to buy from the manufacturer or a licensed dealer.
Make an informed purchase. And with all this talk of sweat, let’s not lose sight of how those exploited by the counterfeiters toil in miserable conditions to produce the fakery.
We won’t tire of this fight. We’ll expend ourselves to win it. and we encourage you to do the same.
January 10, 2010 § Leave a comment
As the influential author of several books and the subject of many others, Ogilvy, who was responsible for the memorable campaigns of many large brands, including American Express and Rolls Royce, was for decades considered one of the industry’s top pens.
It seems inevitable that an advertising professional looking back on his or her career would see a sizable pile of witticisms, a great heap of realized and discarded sayings, but Ogilvy not only saw a veritable mountain range of clever world play aimed at moving products in his rearview, many of his most memorable musings had a moral message.*
Ogilvy felt a copywriter ought to believe in a product before he or she sold it. He was famous for suggesting that if either you or a member of your family wouldn’t use a certain product, then you had no business endorsing it.
So when faced with the recent criticism of Google for taking profits from advertisers who peddle counterfeit goods, what is a most clever advertising professional to do?
A recent Times article states that “thousands of Britons are being duped into buying goods that are fake or simply never arrive, as well as putting their credit or debit card details at risk of fraud.”
We know for certain that there is nothing good in the exploitation of innocents for the profit of a few. This is what counterfeiting requires. We’ve detailed the human rights abuses that occur in the production process. We know that counterfeiting is often used to finance terrorism and other forms of illegal trafficking. So while we commend Google’s official policy that prohibits any advertising on behalf of websites that sell counterfeit goods, we believe the practice needs to be tightened.
If Google discovers a site slinging sham goods, a company spokesperson maintains that the site will be taken down immediately. Further, the company has security measures to prevent the advertisement from reappearing. This is certainly good, but when you consider the number of advertisers Google hosts, it is an admittedly difficult thing to monitor.
Though it may be difficult, it is not impossible.
We encourage Google to ramp up its security measures and to police dubious sites more frequently. An effective way to do so might be to monitor the original price set by the legitimate manufacturers and search for severe discounting.
We are the last to bemoan a good sale, just as long as it’s legal.
Remember, the responsibility does not fall on Google alone. As consumers, we all bear some, as does the name brand. We must work together to defend the art of luxury products and those that are exploited by the production of counterfeits. End the ignorance and by doing so, empower others.
This brings to mind another Ogilvy gem. “I prefer the discipline of knowledge to the anarchy of ignorance.”
So do we. Help us end the ignorance surrounding the fake trade.
*We can’t confirm whether or not Ogilvy cared for alliteration, but you know how we feel.