Notes from Brands Under Fire

I recently finished reading Brands Under Fire by Ivan Arthur & Kurien Mathews. Simply put, it is a must read. The discussions and essays are insightful and thought provoking. This is not a review of the book but instead consider the comments, extracted from the book, as my notes for further deliberation or action.

Advertising Agency

  • ”And I think its rather unfair to condemn the advertising agency. Most of us do make a thorough study of what products we are going to advertise and to the best of our knowledge and belief, if the product is safe we do the advertising. And this happens in all forms of communication.“ – Roger Pereira

Regulatory Standards

  • ”One of the things that does strike me as salient is how murky the whole issue is – the debate or crisis about lack of regulatory standards, and so on.“ – Rama Bijapurkar

Responsibility to the Customer

  • ”Surely the responsibility of an organisation is to its customer. All these facts are actually making me quite annoyed because a company has to see to the well-being of its customer as a crucial responsibility.“ – Dr Gita Piramal

Brand Loyalty

  • ”All of us are familiar with the phrase, brand loyalty. And brand loyalty has always been seen as a unidimensional thing where the customer is loyal to the brand. We are increasingly approaching an era where the brand has to be  loyal to itself; the brand being  loyal to its meaning, the brand walking the talk.“ – Kiran Khalap

Managing Risk and Responsibility

  • ”And all these brands are coming under fire because at some level they were not managing risk and responsibility.“ – Kurien Mathews

Integrity of the Brand

  • ”So, how committed are you to the integrity of the brand? The number of brands that you see which are being built without a shred of communication is phenomenal.“ – Kiran Khalap

Language of the Brand

  • ”No, I think the language of brands, by itself, is inadequate to capture the stories. I think over time brands will be absorbed  in a new way and will need to reflect these new resonances of organisation, technology and integrity.“ – Prof Shiv Visvanathan


  • ”We have confused responsiveness with responsibility. Responsiveness is about speed. Responsibility is about owning up to a community in the future that has’nt happened.“ – Prof Shiv Visvanathan

Brand Whistle Blowers

  • ”The changing world gets brands into trouble, we need whistle blowers and the whistle blowers are already coming up, great. Thank you very much.“ – Kurien Mathews

Hear the Customer

  • ”But if we believe that customers count, then we must hear them – seriously, deeply, and from within their world.“ – Rama Bijapurkar
  • ”I think marketers need to see how they can set up a “˜murmur’ track to understand the unsaid issue that a brand may face in the future.“ – M. G. Parameswaran

Delivered Experience

  • ”Brands will need to attract believers and for that they must first believe in something. Advertising cannot remain a statement of hallowed intent and will need to become a vehicle of delivered experience“ – Santosh Desai

Brand Loyalty

  • ”Brand loyalty is mistaken for loyalty of consumer to brand. Well before this happens, the brand needs to be loyal to itself.“ – Kiran Khalap

Social Responsibility

  • ”As a result, the social responsibility of brands has not yet  been elevated to a strategic marketing decision.“ – Pranesh Misra
  • ”In a sense we are seeing unique expressions: brand as a social contract. The brand is created by the marketer, but is actually nourished and owned by the larger populace. And as we move towards a borderless world of interconnectivity, we will see consumers becoming an active player in putting out or starting new fires.“ – M. G. Parameswaran
  • ”We need to move from this to a point where the social as well as the physical environment is seen as a necessary contributory part of the total system (ecology if you will) in which the large corporation, by virtue of the economic power it wields , acts as the responsible custodian. It owes a debt not just to the debenture holders but also the rivers and the forests and the very air it breathes along with the people who live around it who may or may not have a buyer/ supplier/ employee/ service provider role in the business.“ – Late Prof S Ramchander


  • ”At the core all of successful brands lies that big T word – TRUST. When that trust is violated, the reaction is one of hurt and suspicion that can easily turn to anger and rejection.“ – Shekar Swamy

Knowledge System

  • ”Where does advertising as a knowledge system stand vis-a-vis science, theology, law, politics, ethics and philosophy? Eventually the future of brands as a cognitive aesthetic system will depend upon their interdisciplinarity as a knowledge system.“ Prof Shiv Visvanathan

Think about it. Make changes to factor the above and more.
Will write more on this shortly.