Today's Picture: The crater at the top of Mount Eden, Auckland
Compel means make somebody do something by using some force or threat. Sometimes companies are compelled to release documents or give evidence by legal action. If someone makes a compelling argument, it’s so strong that you feel forced to agree with it. The noun is compulsion. Of course, this can be problematic, since if people are forced to do things, they may not do them well or honestly!
She was compelled to give evidence against the company by the threat of legal action against her.
You may participate of your own free will – there’s no compulsion.
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Last week, I gave you an exercise based on interview questions. The situation was an interview with a Brazilian brand manager for a major multinational confectionary company. Now you have the answers to the questions - but there are two answers below for each question. One is the real answer to the question: the other one is written in correct English, but just doesn't answer the question.
Question 1: There’s a lot of discussion about the negative effects of sugar-based products. Is it possible for you to remain neutral on the question given your role in promoting them?
A) Not only possible, but essential. In fact, I would say that this is probably one of the most important responsibilities of a brand manager - that is, to defend the brand. And in the case of these exaggerated claims, it's not difficult at all to do so.
B) Well, that’s a good question. In fact, we do offer a range of sugar-free products, and we have put a good deal of effort into their promotion. However, the fact is, they are not huge sellers.
Question 2: Am I right in inferring that you don’t believe it’s your responsibility to change the consumer’s behaviour?
A) Yes, that is my basic position. If I were selling a really harmful product like tobacco, I might take a different view. But you have to keep things in perspective. There are far greater social issues we need to resolve before turning our attention to candy!
B) You have every right to do so, of course, but I continue to believe basically in individual responsibility in purchase decisions of all kinds. The real question is whether or not consumers have access to accurate information about products. In our case, we make every effort to ensure this is done.
Question 3: Is regulation seen as a significant issue for brand managers in Brazil?
A) You might expect me to say that business people would prefer to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own actions. However, I do appreciate the need for a common code of ethics and a legal framework that we all work within. Otherwise, you have anarchy.
B) On the whole, not to any great extent. This is more the role of the human resources department, particularly in the larger organisations. When I started out with a local company, I was involved from time to time, sitting on an interview panel, for instance, and sometimes even taking part in negotiations. But it's not really what you could refer to as a 'core competency' of a brand manager.
Question 4: You work for a multinational. How widely do you need to consult your overseas counterparts on product development?
A) Very rarely. In fact, the last time I was able to do this was more than 18 months ago. It's partly a question of time pressure, though costs of course come into it. Not only airfares and accommodation but the 'opportunity costs' of spending several days away from my desk. So we tend to rely on the phone, email or videoconferencing instead.
B) Our Latin American operation is fully integrated, so everyone needs to be involved in product development. This means daily contact - essentially we see ourselves as part of a team despite the geographical separation. That said, the Brazilian market is distinct and large enough to require its own marketing mix for certain products in our range.
Interesting article of the Day: One shot of coffee and two shots at changing the way Starbucks is run
Vocabulary from the article: glimmer / die on the vine / indifference / coin a term / scarred / harnessing the power / an advocate / to foster / enthused / a hub / a constituent / a petition
Comprehension questions from the article:
The writer introduces a number of new terms for new developments discussed in the article. Can you explain what is meant by:
vendor relationship management
an idea partner
the gift economy
a digital democracy