Vol. 5, Issue 5, September 11, 2007
Marginal Industries Combine Efforts, For What It's Worth
An unlikely new industry association has held its first international conference in Glasgow, Scotland, where a strategic plan to raise public awareness of a variety of industries was unveiled. The Marginalized Industry Society (MIS) has pledged to boost awareness of what it calls an international conspiracy driven by corporate consolidation and greed.
"It is no coincidence that Wal-Mart has just claimed the number one spot on the Fortune 500 list," said Ewan MacFarlane, president of the Scottish Citrus Industry. "The big companies just get bigger, and they are pressuring governments around the world to let them get bigger still. It is the only explanation for the marginalization of our own businesses."
The membership roster of MIS is unusual for an industry association. In addition to the Scottish Citrus Industry, there are computer companies (the Inuit Semiconductor Association); pharmaceutical companies (Insipidine, best known for its anti-chocolate vaccine); publishers (Kalliman Studios, the world's largest publisher of Esperanto books); and even a labor group (the Operatic Mime and Cobbler's Union). They span the globe, from the heartland of the United States (battery-powered pretzels) to deepest Asia (Tibetan web server). What they share, primarily, is a bottom line often in the red, as well as modest to nonexistent brand recognition.
"The public has been conditioned to eschew the unfamiliar in favor of increasingly homogenous brands," said MacFarlane. "Giants such as Tropicana have fostered unrealistic associations of palm trees and paradise with their product. Now, orange juice is a bracing, cold beverage. Don't the wintry peaks of Caledonia speak more effectively to this image than palm trees? Why not reach for a quart of refreshing pulp-free Glasgow Gold instead?"
An advertisement campaign has been commissioned showcasing all of the member industries' services in a thirty-second television spot. The commercial is still in post-production, but has been described as "genuinely surreal" by head-shaking observers. Due to limited funds, the commercial was filmed during the lunch hour on the second day of the conference, using company delegates instead of actors and with special effects improvised by the Holographic French Cheese Simulation delegation, which was the only one to bring a camcorder.
Surprisingly, some of the better known industry groups are taking serious notice of the upstart association, pumping money into new advertisement and lobbying campaigns designed to boost their already considerable brand recognition.
"Increasing corporate mergers have created families of companies which would have been ludicrous to contemplate just twenty or thirty years ago," said University of Chicago economist Stephen Dolen. "Intel just bought Pepsi, for example, and Mitsubishi produces Play-Doh. It's not surprising that they see a threat in this new conglomeration of brands, however unlikely the combination may be."
However, for members of the MIS, thoughts of threatening world-spanning corporations take a back seat to just staying in business.
"Both of my employees are wantin' me to pay their salaries in cash money instead of product," said MacFarlane. "It's a bit of a problem. Would you be interested in buyin' a fresh glass of juice? Only £13 a cup!"