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Brands Keep Companies Honest: Bruce Philp's Google Talk
Marketing | April 27, 2012

Brands Keep Companies Honest: Bruce Philp's Google Talk

At his recent Authors@Google talk, Consumer Republic author Bruce Philp spoke about why brands make corporations more accountable, how they empower consumers, and why they can ultimately save capitalism. Big claims, but Philp backed them up persuasively. His talk drew on sociology, consumer history, and his years in the advertising industry, helping make the world's leading brands more accountable. Philp argued that the soul of consumerism is political in nature—that corporations, through their respective brands, are running for election every day, and that consumers, who vote through their wallets, wield far more power than we realize.

Here's Philp, from his Authors@Google talk:

"I think that there's a lot of bad practice in capitalism, but I think that there's a central soul to this thing that has a whole lot to do with the relationship that corporations and consumers have through their brands, and that that very much is worth saving...The next time you go to the mall, rather than feel as if you're a predator, or prey, and rather than feeling as if you're potentially going to be victimized by a corporation, I'd love you to feel as if it's election day and you have a responsibility that while challenging and difficult is also kind of uplifting and empowering"

Philp's sweeping talk covers everything from the birth of capitalism, which helped destroy the oppressive feudal system of medieval Europe, to the new age of digital communication, which has made brands more accountable to their customers than ever. If capitalism is so evil, Philp argues, why does every totalitarian regime eliminate the free market to suppress its people? Philp also warns of the dangers of an unengaged consumer base. Just as low voter turnout and waning civic engagement can lead to irresponsible government, a lack of consumer interest can lead to monopolies, the commodification of entire industries, and poor corporate ethics. It is up to us as consumers to take control of brands, make better choices, and demand more. Through his talks, Philp aims to restore faith in capitalism and encourage his audiences to realize, and embrace, their own power in the Consumer Republic.
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