Read the first part of this two-part series here.
Apple Inc.’s TV ad highlighting its corporate values was a feel-good quality ad. It was a breakaway from the usual new technology topic associated with Apple’s promotional campaigns.
Surprisingly, Bloomberg News reported that it failed to connect with its target markets. According to consulting firm Ace Metrix, from the usual 700 ad score of Apple’s prior advertisements, the TV ad made an insipid score of 489, one of the lowest for Apple’s TV ads. Worse, it’s even below the industry average score of 542. Consulting firm Ace Metrix delivers detailed analytics for in-market television and video advertising.
For advertising professor Edward Boches, the TV ad had a hint of political angle and Apple fans were not used to the approach. Apple had been a subject of international news due to dismal working conditions at the company’s contract manufacturing firms in China and for its well-crafted tax avoidance schemes. While users of Apple products were highly loyal to Apple brand, they believed the ad on corporate values was too much for a political push.
Christian businesspeople have a few points to learn from the plight of the aforementioned Apple TV ad that is also related to the foundational verse of this article:
Not all enticers have a human face. The biggest enticement does not come from the existence of high-profile personalities offering illegal or unethical ventures. It comes from a desperate situation needing a seemingly immediate resolution. A crooked businessperson may not be able to entice a Christian business owner or leader whose needs are well met. The challenge for Christian business owners and managers is to ensure that efforts to practice resolve should be always within the boundary of appositeness.
In-your-face corporate values are double-edged. In an effort to protect and redeem brand integrity, Apple utilized an aggressive promotional material, which was actually pretty safe. Safe in the sense that it did not violate any ethical or legal directives. However, considering Apple’s past issues with the United States Congress and the Chinese manufacturing firms, and the fact that established theme of Apple ads was far different, it did not sit well with its markets. The challenge for Christian business owners and managers is to determine what costumers and employees consider in-your-face presentation of corporate values. In-your-face approach to communication can either be a source of satisfaction or apprehension.
Ethics is as important as the quality of the product. The good news for Apple is the muds being thrown at the company do not gravely affects its markets. They are still loyal to the brand. Thanks to the perceived quality of Apple’s products, controversial issues hounding the company have little effect on the buying habits and electronic product preferences of consumers. The challenge for Christian business owners and managers is to improve their products all the while adhering to ethical standards. Reality dictates that brand loyalty has the same power as ethical practices.
In reference to the aforementioned takeaways from Apple’s corporate-value-focused TV ad, below are three steps Christian business owners and managers may apply to inculcate corporate values among employees:
Identify values clearly and concretely. Identifying corporate values is crucial to the recognition of any possible source of enticement. When employees understand their own corporate values at its core, they can distinguish them from their anti-thesis when they come knocking. The company may not be liable when employees choose to violate corporate values even if they’re aware of them. But when employees violate certain legal and ethical standards because of misunderstanding, misinformation and miscommunication, that’s another story.
Strong corporate values are more than just crafting nice-sounding sentences together. They must be well communicated and well understood. Easily understood corporate values have a greater chance of being translated into action and then hopefully, into a culture. However, without the process of clear and concrete identification, nurturing a company's corporate values may prove to be shaky.
Encourage peer monitoring. Establishing corporate values with the goal of making it at the core of a business culture needs some form of check and balance. Peer monitoring is an effective way to do this. However, for a company to be able to create an atmosphere of trust, peer monitoring should start with the person in charge. This means that all workers of the company, from top down the bottom lines, are subject to the evaluation of their co-workers. Nurturing corporate values need a concerted effort, and the strongest, wisest approach to do it is to utilize every worker of the company like an internal compass. Additionally, data from peer monitoring would reveal whether in-your-face approach works with and for the employees or not.
Develop a long-term model. A long-term model will help business owners and leaders gauge the actual effects of investing in corporate values. It will also ensure consistency in implementation even if the company is transitioning from one leadership to another. With a long-term model, prevailing corporate values will not be dependent on the people in the leadership position. Rather, they will become a part of the fragments of company’s culture regardless of whoever is in the leadership roles.
Originally published at cfcbe.com. © 2013, The Center for Christian Business Ethics Today. All Rights Reserved.
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