September 22, 2005
I’m not sure why I remain so charitable toward my compatriots Down Under. Lucire had its party at Crobar in Manhattan, attended by Fox & Friends, New York Post, The New York Times, Al Hurra, Fashion News Live, StyleZone TV, MAMi and many others. I saw coverage in The Palm Beach Post, New York and elsewhere, including the blogosphere. The New Zealand media were conspicuously absent, and no one followed up on licensing footage, despite earlier emails. Post-party, the usual suspects (mostly online) helped us get the news out, with print and television not among them.
Before some of the regular readers of this blog tell me it’s because I’m outspoken, a bit of a backgrounder: every business I have started in this country became known abroad ﬁrst, even in the days before I exercised my PR connections. My font software business received its ﬁrst item of coverage in the American national press in 1994 or thereabouts, and 2004 in New Zealand. My brand consulting work took less time, but again it was better known outside this country than inside. Lucire, as a web title, was already doing business with AltaVista and getting in to USA Today long before the local crowd knew about it.
This can only be narrowed down to two things: I am right about the ever-strengthening tall poppy syndrome and its unwillingness to help the New Zealand entrepreneur. Or, if others have experienced differently, maybe we can conclude that it is racism.
I wrote to a colleague to tell her that I wasn’t after Tom Jones-style fandom with knickers being thrown at me during branding lectures, but I do ask for the same respect that I show others. (Maybe that does entail the knickers.)
So where does this leave us? For a start, it leaves New Zealand as a completely untenable basis for country-of-origin-effect branding. What the Prime Minister told Inc. magazine in August about her pro-entrepreneurial stance is misleading. Now, I have met the PM and found her charming, and for a politician, honest and free from Hackerese. But whether or not her cabinet colleagues and their ministries are carrying on that wish is open to question. Hence, I could not, and did not, vote for her—nor did I vote for her clueless principal opposition in last week’s General Election.
The only solution to these ills is to start championing New Zealanders for their success. I don’t mean the regional bludgers’ awards, which I have blogged before. I do mean getting over our fear of letting one or two people shine. New York has shown me a contrast that I knew existed deep down from my earlier visits, to the point of 15 to 20 cameras vying for my attention, and three microphones, along with my 700 guests. Domestically, somehow, this is not seen as news—although I am struggling to consider who else from here has been launching magazines in the United States presently. Maybe the priorities between the Murdoch Press in New York and the Fairfax and Packer Press in New Zealand are quite different.
Oh well, let the Australian-owned media focus on the story about a failed Green Party MP candidate run through the streets of Auckland naked. That obviously is far more in the public interest than my creating jobs for New Zealanders, and putting foreign exchange into this country.
The Australian-, Canadian- and Irish-owned media may ﬁnd, in the not too distant future, that I have joined them, moving my HQ offshore and abandoning the once-proud “made in New Zealand” mantra that we have used in consumer marketing for a year. I take no pleasure in the change, but I have to eat. permalink
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