Open Letter to Havas CEO David Jones

9780273762539Hi Mr. Jones.  I caught your MSNBC interview this morning with Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski re: your new book, Who Cares Wins: Why Good Business is Better Business.  You made some excellent points re: how transparency, authenticity and speed will win the day for corporations; about how companies who expect to do well must increasingly expect to do good, as it is becomes ever easier for consumers to suss out egregious behavior and punish bad actors (from un-friending to public humiliation).

This is all well-worn territory for Social Media geeks, of course, but it’s always good when execs who can regularly bend the ears of the Davos set preach the Cluetrain gospel. Good on ya.

Towards the end of the interview, Ms. Brzezinski asked, “Do you like iPhones?”  I saw this as a big set-up question.  I thought she’d ask you how Apple could possibly be so popular, given the damn near nefarious practices of its manufacturing partners in China. Turns out she was just pissed that she’d broken her new phone. What a wasted opportunity.  So, I’ll ask you, Mr. Jones:

If – as you posit – we live in a dawning era in which lame and/or evil business practices will be readily discovered by consumers who are increasingly empowered to publicly discuss and punish such practices, how do you explain the outsized popularity of Apple?

Based on numerous articles in well-read and esteemed publications such as The New York Times and Wired, among others, it’s been made crystal clear that Apple is no friend to U.S. manufacturers (nor to American workers), nor does it seem to take more than a cursory interest in the working conditions of Chinese workers.

Where is the outrage?

For the record, I don’t have the answer – and despite my harangue above, I freakin’ love my iDevices.  For the record, I sincerely believe in what your book evangelizes.  I haven’t read it yet; maybe you talk about “The Apple Exception?”  Is it an exception?  Is a company that produces superb product (and pays lip-service to the proper causes) exempted from the new paradigm?

I write this Open Letter because a) I could not believe the plum-sweet opportunity that Ms. Brzezinski criminally let slide(!!), and, b) because I genuinely wonder about the answer.  You seem a smart, decent, and well-connected fellow – heck, you probably have Apple CEO Tim Cook’s cell phone number! – and I hope you can help me figure this out.

UPDATE:  If you write an Open Letter to someone and they respond within 24 hours, they deserve more than just an “approved comment.”  Mr. Jones was kind enough to reply last night.

todd
it’s a great point – and consistently over the last few years the number one company that people have used against my argument that business must behave better is apple – i actually talk about them and jobs in the book and make the point that the massive decline in share price with the iphone 4 quality issues was caused because they weren’t transparent authentic and fast and instead kept avoiding the issue and coming up with poor excuses – they were using a command and control model not an open model – i don’t have tim cook’s email but i do believe that we are seeing signs that he gets it – they recently published a list of where they source and produce 97% of their products – a total first for apple – and something they would never have done in the old regime – so hopefully we will see much more progress in this space from them – it’s a huge opportunity – but also a huge necessity – and i honestly believe that if we don’t, apple will be the ones who suffer, maybe not this month or this year, but it’s coming…………..



Posted on: February 8, 2012 at 11:12 am By Todd Defren
4 Responses to “Open Letter to Havas CEO David Jones”

 

Comments
  • Todd, I’m almost as impressed that David Jones responded as I am with your initial post on this topic. I have been writing in my HuffPost blog since November about Capitalism in the context of the 2012 election and, more recently, about creating “A Better Form of Capitalism.” My most recent blog entry, from last week, addresses this very point about Apple’s abhorrent labor practices via Foxconn’s China manufacturing facilities and whether what may be marketing eyewash (i.e. having the Fair Labor Association undertake an audit of Foxconn) will assuage the guilty consciences of Apple loyalists. Here’s a link to that blog entry. I would love to get you (and David Jones’) responses on my blog. I have been, thus far, unable to get through to Mr. Jones, despite the fact that this week’s conclusion to my 3-part series will mention his new book. Thanks.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-smirniotopoulos/a-better-form-of-capitalism_b_1285017.html

  • JOhn Cass says:

    Todd,

    This is an interesting post because at its core I think you are exploring the issue of what’s the value of transparency, authenticity and openness on the part of a company, if you will, what the value of implementing a culture that both uses social media, and embraces some of the ideas we’ve come to think of how the culture of social media works. That issue of culture is different from thinking of social media as communications device, but rather the strategies that might be implemented for product development, customer service and marketing that don’t have to be limited to social media, but are often best implemented within. And is that a policy that always should be taken (I think you argue so) and if so are their consequences for the companies that don’t?

    I had a few ideas here…

    * Is Apple’s policy of a lack of openness a factor in their success?
    * If so why? I think I’d suggest Apple is a leader (or the gorilla int he market as Geoffrey Moore describes the category leader) and that leadership gives them a pass with many people. If the company missteps on its technology strategy and doesn’t satisfy customers on its core value proposition, then other concerns will come to the fore.
    * Wasn’t Dell an example of a company that lost its way with product, and as a result when their problems with customer service came to light it was roundly criticized. Dell’s example has been puzzling to me because while the company is doing very well, it never regained the position it had before Dell Hell. Though recently their profits are doing very well.

    There’s a puzzle here and it has everything to do with success; success in technology leadership, category leadership and what’s really important to the customer.

  • Jessica Parker says:

    Who cares wins is the best book I ever read, it is so helpful. I would reccoment it to everyone

  • david jones says:

    todd
    it’s a great point – and consistently over the last few years the number one company that people have used against my argument that business must behave better is apple – i actually talk about them and jobs in the book and make the point that the massive decline in share price with the iphone 4 quality issues was caused because they weren’t transparent authentic and fast and instead kept avoiding the issue and coming up with poor excuses – they were using a command and control model not an open model – i don’t have tim cook’s email but i do believe that we are seeing signs that he gets it – they recently published a list of where they source and produce 97% of their products – a total first for apple – and something they would never have done in the old regime – so hopefully we will see much more progress in this space from them – it’s a huge opportunity – but also a huge necessity – and i honestly believe that if we don’t, apple will be the ones who suffer, maybe not this month or this year, but it’s coming…………..



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