Much-needed kudos to Agency.Asia and their Myanmar debate

Really touched by Agency.Asia’s Brand Burma debate between AirAsia, Neil French and McCann’s Philip Rowel. Much respect to a magazine on advertising for presenting in its pages a debate on whether to do business in Burma under one of the most brutal and least-noticed regimes in the world. They took an issue that the media has all-but-failed to bring to our attention and covered it while maintaining relevance to their editorial objective. Lesser rags might pretend objectivity. But these guys stated right off the bat where they stood, and even published a ‘dirty list’ of companies in Burma, which should mean that the listed can drop their ‘social consience’ cards from now on.

But they don’t. And shame on them.

Double shame to McCann for having the gumption to publish headlines like “Democracy won’t save us. But a low-cost airline might.” Infomercial testimonials couldn’t begin to approach their level of unintentional self-parody. In a few words they have cheapened everything every other corporation has done to genuinely benefit the peoples they were exploiting. In the process they stuffed bullshit into the mouths of 48 million oppressed souls.

Look, I get it. In the struggle for survival, huge conglomerates can’t pick and choose who they do business with, they have to do business with everybody. I understand that while on paper the money moving around seems like an unimaginable near-infinite amount to the rest of us, a few liquidity squeezes and the whole thing could come undone. But please don’t play dress-up.

McCann, Air Asia: how dare you declare that you are trying to benefit the Burmese people? Worse, how dare you denounce the rest of us for refusing to do business with a cadre of robbers, rapists, and murderers in uniform? If you really wanted to help, wouldn’t you take your business elsewhere and set up a drive to look after the people’s needs? More of that money would’ve gone directly to those who are suffering, and less of it to those inflicting it.

And finally, a warm ‘Here! Here!’ to Neil French, whose acerbic style echoed the very best satirists in his humorous-but-sound thrashing of his opponents’ arguments. And again, thank you Agency.Asia.

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2 responses to “Much-needed kudos to Agency.Asia and their Myanmar debate

  1. You might be interested in this: Aung San Suu Kyi says tourism may help the 48 million oppressed souls.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/asia/burma/6026879/Burma-opposition-leader-Suu-Kyi-Tourism-might-help.html

    • Thanks for that, and sorry I haven’t replied sooner.

      While it is conceivable that tourism could, in fairly specific circumstances, benefit only those being oppressed and not the junta, they are few and far between. I maintain that as a whole the opening of doors is going to do more harm than good because more tourism dollars are going to the government. Thus, the benefits to the country’s citizens is short-term, in the long term they are only making the tyrants stronger.

      Nonetheless, I urge readers to check out the article and decide for themselves. Thank you for the contribution Philip.

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