Today I’m attending a supply chain conference, and while my friends are confused and my colleagues amused, I’m unabashedly excited. I eagerly arrived at the airport this morning for a dark flight to San Jose so that I can be early to Santa Cruz and not miss a minute of today’s action.
Because I believe supply chain is the new sexy. And, given that you found your way to this column on our AHA agency blog, I think you will too.
In a world of increasing transparency and growing expectations for corporate responsibility, supply chains are rife with challenges including labor practices, water management, resource extraction, raw materials sourcing and more. PR careers have been ruined over mishandling of crises over the years, and memories are long. When I say “child labor,” chances are you think “Nike.” That was 1998.
To the growing contingent of purpose-led marketers, it’s worth saying: Beware the supply chain. It can bite you.
But I make my living by pursuing a world of possibilities, and I see supply chains as chock-full of them. And that’s where the “sexy” comes in. Marketers keen to bring purpose to their brands will do well to put aside their preconceived notions that supply chains have nothing to do with marketing and instead embrace them for the treasure trove of gems they offer.
Let your corporate responsibility team be your guide on this unfamiliar journey, for this is their turf and they know it well.
They know about the supplier that, with your company’s support, now offers educational opportunities to their workers so that they may become managers and increase their families’ economic well-being.
They know about the water management policy your company instituted that saved millions of gallons of water and helped create new sources of clean drinking water for a community.
They know about the farmer who has provided raw materials to your company for three generations.
They know about the careful tracking of conflict minerals from mining to manufacturing and through use and disposal.
They know this and a lot more.
I don’t have to tell you that each one of these is a powerful story for your brand. Each one of them attests to your values as a company. Each one is a little nugget of compelling—“sexy,” if you will—content for your marketing campaign.
Importantly, each one is evidence that backs up whatever inspirational line your expensive agency of record came up with.
In fact, if said agency didn’t examine your supply chain before coming up with that line, check your own list of suppliers and find one that will.
I could go on, and I hope today’s conference gives me plenty of chances to talk with others who love supply chains too. I have a pile of buttons we made at the office yesterday that each proclaim supply chain is the new sexy. If you want one, or just want to learn more, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.