“Where will the new wave of global brands come from?”


Welcome back.

“Where will the new wave of global brands come from?” Not the USA, according to an article from www.marketingweb.co.za. “Apparently, America and its brands are no longer seen as ‘cool’ and desirable.”

The source for this fact?

A Seattle-based polling group that “found that 20% of Europeans and Canadians in the sample said their anger over US foreign policy deterred them from buying American products.”

Not much of a surprise there.

I grew up in the two thirds world and am an immigrant to the USA so I don’t have the anti-American bias that seems to mark a percentage of native born citizens…and about 20% of Canadians and Europeans. And, if you read the article, you’ll notice the disclaimer that when it comes to American appeal globally, nothing has changed. At least, not yet. The magazine may, in fact, be reporting on what it hopes will happen rather than on what is actually happening.

Nevertheless, there is truth here we should recognize. No doubt that American products are desired around the world. Nothing wrong with that.

But there is a growing awareness that we live on a small and diverse planet. Sophistication in our small world is becoming synonomous with enjoying a global feel enough to pour into one’s cup african coffees, thai iced tea, brazilian Guarana, or Boba.

Certainly even American companies, with all their marketing savvy, will soon begin to present a non-western feel [or even source of origins] to some of their products, if they aren’t already.

This is a good thing.

Babylon undone.

A secular pentecost.

This shift is an opportunity for Christ following leaders. Here are some things to remember for Christ following leaders located in the west:

  • The gospel was born in the east, not the west, and belongs not only to America but to the whole world.
  • Christ is a nonwestern savior.
  • We should be at least as in touch with the non-western origins of the Christ following movement as we are aware of our western context for mission.
  • We must be as alert to the emerging globally diverse western context of our mission.
  • We can engage emerging world cultures with our double identity: universal/global AND ALSO particular/local.

If “made in America” becomes less attractive, where will the new global brands come from? Nike and Coke must answer this question. The Christ following movement has since conception been global. Let’s let this dormant aspect awake in our midst.

What do you think?

into the mystic…

Alex McManus

Advertisements

23 thoughts on ““Where will the new wave of global brands come from?”

  1. I think you’re right on. I don’t think that we should jump on the band wagon to pooh-pooh (can I say that?) all things American, but neither should we hold to a false sense of Nationalism. As followers of Christ, we should not hold anything of this world too closely. When we remember that truth it allows us to enjoy this little world we live in a lot more.

    I also think that as a Church, it is becoming more clear that identifying ourselves with only certain groups (eg “Southern” Baptist have been international for almost a century, but who would know it from the label?) it automatically creates walls in the minds of people that are not biblical. I’m so thankful I live in a time where the lies of false divisions are becoming unacceptable.

  2. Market forces alone are a considerable factor in this regard. In the industry I’m aware of (technology), America is often still the largest buyer of goods but the market forces of the global economy have forced companies to shift focus to other regions. Most technology companies have recognized that India and China are the up-and-comers with over a third of the worlds population based in these two countries.

    Sheer market strategy alone requires companies to shed the national labels and focus on reaching a global economy. In those countries, companies products are considered ‘local’ products because they are made in that part of the world and sold in greater quantities in that part of the world.

    While I recognize the aforementioned bias (and some would say I have that bias), the market’s embrace of globalism seems to play a larger factor in my mind.

    The challenge for us…realize there is a larger world than these 48 states. Locals around the world identify their locale, culture, and religion as original. For example, christian Indians (in India) have been quick to point out to me that christianity has been in India longer than it’s been in America…

  3. Amy and Steve, you’re both spot on. We have an opportunity to locate Christ in the global, diverse, pluralistic world that is emerging rather than have him located only in “these 48” or in a ‘southern’ past that is receding.

  4. These things assume and agree with a very popular outlook among a number of economists that is in general highly optimistic towards future growth and stability. Dissenting voices are rising though that paint a picture of the fragility of the American and global economy and the underlying systems which are so complex nobody actually understands them… never mind manage them.

    “Babylon undone” is an interesting statement. And an interesting thing to celebrate. Babylon was something God did for a reason. “Babylon undone” is the obvious waning of the initial global impact of His actions. On the surface the whole story seems so innocuous to our 21st century global ears now… humanity was living in enough convergence they were going to build a big tower. Big deal. We’ve stood on the moon and will soon stand on Mars. Or will we? Are God’s reasons for Babylon I still valid enough that we should be looking around at all the modern day parallels to the biblical account and be realizing we are ripe for Babylon II? Should we even be astonished that it hasn’t happened already? What would Babylon II look like? Probably not like Babylon I. Would it involve the global economy rather than language? Or the digital divide? Or the environment? I’m not trying to be doom and gloom… I’m just asking questions. It would be fascinating to study the biblical account in depth and see what parallels can be drawn.

    In the meantime, what strikes me about your post, Alex, is what represents the bottom line of this shift you describe? To me the bottom line is influence. The loss of dollars and cents resulting from this shift will most likely trigger market forces to try and bring about a correction… what is in place to try and correct a loss of something more nebulous and subtle like loss of influence?

    Greg from Winnipeg

  5. Now more than ever through the internet the rest of the workd is so much closer to us.

    In one day I can email my muslim friend in Libya, friends in India, get emails from missionaries in Jordan.

    What a time to live in.

  6. It is interesting to see the black youth in Africa loving the US brands, but voicing their objection against George Bush and Tony Blair.

    There has developed a negative sentiment towards the US over here, for sure! But as long as Snoop Dog, 50 cent, eminem, Jay Z and Beyonce still endorse the US brands, the black youth of Africa will be buying their products.

    Another interresting fact is that many socially concerned people have stopped buying major US brands exploiting cheap labour in 3rd world countries.

    Globalization, outsourcing is changing our world drastically!!!

  7. Something I have felt increasingly is the need to see myself primarily as a “citizen of heaven” and secondarily as English. I know that should be pretty obvious, but it is amazing how much easier said than done that is (especially when we beat the Aussies at cricket!) It is so easy too to interpret Christianity solely through the lens of our nationality/culture. I mean, Jesus WAS English wasn’t He?! (One of our nations favourite hymns is “Jerusalem”:

    And did those feet in ancient time
    Walk upon England’s mountains green
    And was the holy lamb of God
    On England’s pleasant pastures seen

    I will not cease from mental fight
    Nor shall my sword sleep in hand
    ‘Til we have built Jerusalem
    In England’s green and pleasant land)

    I guess one of the benefits of our planet shrinking as a result of technology is that it is now much easier to have a global perspective. But even with that we still see things very nationalistically. (You only need to look at the different levels of attention Harricane Katrina got compared to the far bigger tragedy with the Pakistani earthquake. Loads of the US blogs I read had posts about Katrina, yet I’ve only seen one I think about Pakistan.)

    As to the whole globalisation thing, has anyone read Colossians Re:Mixed by Brian Walsh? I read it earlier this year and thought it was very challenging and eye opening.

    Sorry, I think that’s been a lot of random ramblings which I’m not sure are all related to the post. And I’ve gone on for ages, so I hope nobody has fallen asleep.

  8. I just re-read my post. My comment about Pakistan being a “bigger tragedy” (in my opinion) than Katrina was not meant in anyway to minimise or downplay Katrina or be insensitive to what also is clearly a major tragedy. I just wanted to make the point that we see so many thing through nationalistic eyes. I get very frustrated at how when there is a plane crash, for example, and 200 people die, our news only seems bothered by the 7 Bristish people on board. I guess I’m just trying to say (very badly) that I think as Christians we need to see all of humanity through God’s eyes and to truly live out the reality that our primary citizenship is a heavenly one.

  9. Sam

    Thanks for your comments! I understood you after the first comment and I know what your’re saying!

    Gandhi once said: “The Christian Church birthed in the east and fashioned by the west shares the same troubles as western civilization as a whole!”

    I remember in the 80’s when apartheid was still standing strong how our Dutch Reformed ministers preached that we are the new Israel, the new pure race of God. We never viewed our black friends as one in Christ. I wonder if we thought that heaven would consist of white’s only and black’s only separation??

    In Christ we are one!

  10. Sam I agree with you about Pakistan. But something amazing is happening through the earthquake there. A dispute that has gone on for 50 years is being forgotten…if at least for now…so that families and aid can get in. It is HUGE that Pakistan is allowing aid from India. That would be like……..Cuba coming and bringing troops to help with hurricane Katrina here.

    I watch BBC news and whatever Asian news is translated on the international channel nightly to get the world perspective.

    Our world is soooo much bigger than the west. And it just happens my heart longs to be in the east.

  11. This just increases my awareness of the imperative for believers to so deeply understand the cultures of the world that we can effectively speak the Good News in metaphors relevant to their cultures. One of the great downfalls of the Christian culture has been the lack of “translation” of the good news into culturally relevant metaphors, especially into non-western cultures. Now, more than ever, our jounrey into the mystic must be understood by those who are watching. It can’t remain a mystery.

  12. Deana,

    I believe Cuba offered 1,000 doctors to Katrina relief but were turned town. Cuba is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited. The people are beautiful… but suffering under the crushing embargo. I’ve never felt so safe as a tourist anywhere else.

  13. I understand Gregg. I was trying to make the point of how big of a deal it was that India and Pakistan were working together. And what a lesson to learn from two third world countries. In the midst of chaos and destruction, they turn to eachother for help instead of being pig-headed about it and not taking the help where they can get it. Believe me I saw it as a HUGE opportunity for relations to grow when Cuba offered help…and India…and Iran…and Germany…and France…and…and…and…here is a list of all the countries who offered aid.

    It is time for America to wake up and start accepting the extended hand from the rest of the world, or we will always have people who look at us as self-centered Americans!

  14. The more disturbing trend in the middle east is how America=Christianity. Ugh. They hate american politics and leaders, and somehow Christian religion gets thrown in… Just emphasizes the need for us to continually strive to create personal relationships with those of other cultures….

  15. There’s a lot of semantics in all these comments! But one thing that strikes me is the way that the USA is referred to as America! When I did Geography at school I seem to remember that America was divided into North and South and that the US of A was only a part! So why do you refer to America? There is a certain arrogance about it, which is probably why the global market issues are becoming a problem. The USA thinking that it is bigger and better is maybe due for a downsizing. Stretch limos and Hummers are an example to start with. Gas guzzlers, green house emissions need to be addressed and rapidly. Sign up to Kyoto!
    I know that this will probably annoy a lot of people. Truth hurts as they say!
    Jesus is not a non-western Saviour, Jesus is Global and always has been. He may have come to earth in human form in the Mid East, but he was there at Creation with His Father. He is as much a western Saviour as he is eastern, northern or southern.

    I’m not sure what ‘globally diverse western context of mission means’, but I think that a double identity is not such a good thing! Takes me back to earlier thought of wanting it both ways!

  16. Pete, your comment strikes to the exact point of the post. Your comment presumes Americans to be arrogant among other nations, ignorant regarding the environment, and generally self-centered. These exact perceptions can be very limiting in our ability to influence the rest of the world for God.

    Please know not every American is ignorant of environmental issues nor drives Hummers and stretched limos.

    Regarding the term America, (I suspect on the behalf of most here) it is not an arrogant use of the term. In my travels around the world, I have never encountered someone asking if I was from the USA. They ask if I am from America. The popular term around the world for a citizen of the USA is an ‘American’.

    Note – even the article quoted in the original post is from New Zealand yet referring to the USA as ‘America’.

    If you’ve traveled, I’m sure you’ve seen the blank looks on faces around the world if you’ve tried to explain the difference between UK, Great Britain, and England.

    I’m glad to see your comments here and would love to meet you next time I’m on your side of the pond.

  17. I love listening in on this great coversation. Pete, don’t worry, those of us who are regulars in the Mystic welcome the pain of truth that hits home.

    Just a couple thoughts about Alex’s evocative characterization about the globalizing of American brands:

    “Babylon undone. A secular pentecost.”

    I took that first quip to mean (please correct me if I’m wrong, Alex) that the Babylon of American economic/cultural “imperialism” was unraveling, at least in the sense that big American brands (America-based multinational corporations etc. etc) are moving away from exporting “America is coolness!” and moving towards savoring the specialties of various regions and locales (even if it means occasionally marketing a blended coffee as being particularly “African”, or a potent strain of guarana from a hydroponic farm in Ireland as being “Brazilian”, in order to sell them better).

    I agree with Alex that this is good (even if Madison Avenue lies continue to abound). Ever since I heard the reggae song “Babylon is Falling” and realized they were prophesying the fall of America (or to give benefit of doubt, prophesying the divine spanking of those American/multinational firms which, b/c of their exploitive practices, deserve it), I have been very sensitive to how America is selling itself abroad— or more importantly, how American brands are shaping values and mores at home and abroad. This move to exalt other locales, lots and lots of them, many different cultures and places and faces and colors and climes, to value them and hold up to the world “BUY THIS, IT’S GENUINE GUATEMALAN!” (rather than the decades-old “BUY THIS, IT’S GENUINE AMERICAN”)… this is a huge sea change, a good and necessary one.

    It’s Alex’s second quip that has me thinking more deeply: “A secular pentecost”? Hmmm. On one hand, I take that to simply reiterate the first quip: the monocultural upper room (this time of Hollywood/Madison Ave) suddenly shouting fluency in a thousand cultures, and actually valuing them, not merely translating “Levi-Strauss” into every possible dialect.

    But the most important part of pentecost was the Holy Spirit falling in power on those disciples, filling them with new perspective, purpose, power, passion, and Presence. A secular pentecost, then, would entail a new perspective (which we’re seeing), and by definition omit the Presence of God (otherwise it’s not secular)… but I see the purpose and passion also remaining unchanged (sell our products, maximize our profits), and the exercise of power only slowly, and marginally, changing (abolishing forced labor and child labor, for instance, to say nothing of still-rare “fair trade” practices).

    Yes, a secular pentecost will probably preserve the old purpose (make money), that’s the morally-neutral nature of the beast. But a true secular pentecost will embrace new passions: to do justly and love mercy, to steward wisely, to benefit every party involved in its course of business. These new passions will lead to a very different exercise of economic power, which we all ought to look forward to, pray for, encourage.

    If this “secular pentecost” is going to come in its fullness, we need to be part of making it happen. As far as it lies in our sphere of influence to do so, let’s be the “Spirit” blowing through the upper room of international business, marketing, finance, manufacture, etc.

    Whew. Yes, Alex touched a hot button in me, can you tell? I am open to ideas and opportunities to do my part; I am eager to help/encourage anyone else ready to do their part.

  18. Coke is pretty stinkin’ famous. It has done such a good job of marketing that, in most of the world, it’s name is synonomous for all carbonated beverages (here in Texas, all sodas are called “coke”). It’s particular style of branding strives to use the same name in every culture, no translation needed. That’s pretty big. But it is not renowned. While most humans may speak the name “coke” at some point, nature is silent about it. The stars do not sing the praise of coke. Neither the birds of the air nor the flowers of the field tell of coke’s greatness. All creation tells of something greater. The rocks and trees sing the glorious praise of our Master, who seeks to have a greater response from the people He formed from the dust of the earth. We are to spread the word of His renowned. We are to speak the words that allow the people of the global village to know about our great King. Our task is to go beyond “Made In America” to “Made By The Creator.” Our lives are the global branding that Christ desires to use to spread His kingdom. As the Scriptures say, Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer…May all the kings of the earth praise You when they hear the words of Your mouth. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…Amen

  19. Hi
    Just got a computer 5 days ago. My last one was a commador 64, back in 84. How things change.
    My name is mark.
    I am just following a lead I found at jesusfreak.com. I am a Mavrick apologenics studentr. Found some interesting things, but it’s all about Gods speed. The blind will stay blind unless convicted of thier sins.
    I play gutar and write songs. That would knock out the windows of most churches.
    mark grabill

  20. Thanks Steve for your comments. I know not everyone in the US rides in 4X4s, stretch limos and Hummers. (I know California and other states are actively trying to reduce emmissions and conserve energy). The problem is that’s the perception that can be easy to fall into on this side of the pond. When you had Katrina your demand for gas drove the price sky high we were also affected. The cost of a gallon in the UK is now £4.50 ($8?)

    Steve I’ve been on your site a couple of times and the images are stunning. I spent 2 years living and working in a Christian school in Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, S India and travelled up in the North, Jaipur, Jaisalmere, Jodhpur, Udaipur. Its a wonderful country! Talking about US global brands I drank lots of Coke and bought Levis whilst there and I know Microsoft does a lot of development in Hyderabad.

    Although the images of your travels are wonderful I really like those of Max. He is beautiful. I had a daughter who looked so perfect when she was born (she only lived 10 hours) – its hard, so hard.

    Nicolas, you mention fair-trade, well there is very well developed fair trade lobby in the UK. Maybe you also have one in the US. Check out http://www.fairtrade.org.uk

    Sorry to go on so on your site Alex!

  21. Okay…whew! A great deal has indeed been discussed regarding global markets, forces within those markets, strategies, and economic factors. However, there is still this burning question…

    What does this mean for the Christ following church within the movement?

    Some would argue that this shift in global markets signifies or even triggers a shift from an “us-centered” mentality to a “them-centered” mentality with focuses changing to embrace other cultures. Many could, in addition, argue successfully that this shift in global perspective might bring about a propensity to engage cultures more successfully. Indeed, as Alex put it, “We must be as alert to the emerging globally diverse western context of our mission.”

    We must not overlook the mystic nature of God in doing so. I echo Alex’s words again, “The Christ following movement has, since conception, been global.” When you investigate this claim, you inevitably discover the Pentecost in the book of Acts. Reading the account, you number over 15 different languages or cultures represented at that place at that time. (Sound a lot like the emerging technological community?) The kicker…towards the end of that chapter, you read that “they all had everything in common.” THAT, my friends, is what God can do mystically in a Pentecost experience! You read on that the Lord added to their numbers daily.

    How is it then, that I can’t seem to find one person in my nearly all white church community with which I have everything in common…much less an “emerging globally diverse western context of mission”?

    In steps our mystic God…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s