‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity,’ a phrase linked to the 19thcentury American circus owner Phineas T. Barnum, is clearly something still believed by some companies in their approach to marketing. However, it does not hold water in today’s society.
Earlier this month at INFOSEC in London, the company Radar Services used women in red ball gowns as part of the marketing hype on their stand despite the show organisers having a policy banning ‘booth babes.’ The girls themselves were not from Radar Services, they knew nothing about the products the company was selling and were clearly there as sexist ‘eye candy.’ Rightly, a social media storm highlighted this continuing unacceptable practice.
The industry-leading author, CISO and champion for women, Jane Frankland, highlighted the issue and reported in her LinkedIn blog the following responses from the show organisers:
“Eleanor Dallaway, the editor of U.K. trade publication Infosecurity Magazine, an official media partner with close ties to the Reed Exhibitions (Infosecurity Europe’s event organisers), gave the following statement:
Hi all. @infosecurity does have a no booth babe policy, which it has worked hard to enforce over the years. They are looking at the exact terminology of what is considered ‘booth babe.’ It’s sad that exhibitors are insulting visitors by misunderstanding what they’re looking for.
Around the same time, Infosecurity Europe responded.
@K4tyS @KateOflaherty @JaneFranland @infosecEditor @drjessicabarker thanks for raising, booth babes are indeed a step backwards for the industry which is why our contracts expressly forbid this. We’ve addressed this directly with the company involved #womenintech #infosec18”
The use of ‘booth babes’ has been in the news several times in the past few months as event after event bans the practice. The RSA event and ISC West in the US have banned them and the Geneva motor show 2018 has too, the practice has no place in today’s marketing mix in any industry.
Fast forward a couple of weeks we have IFSEC, one of the largest commercial security events with keynote speakers such as Frank Gardner and Christian Horner and you walk past the QVIS stand and much to my surprise and shock handing out brochures and screwdriver sets was a gaggle of young girls in tight union jack minidresses with QVIS on the front hand back. All the QVIS staff were in smart work attire.
One of the marketing managers from QVIS said: “we have the girls in Union Jack dresses to emphasise we are a British Company.” The girls, when asked about QVIS, said they were a CCTV company but knew nothing else about them as they had been hired for the event.
Just as I spotted them I asked IFSEC what their policy was as I couldn’t find it on their website.
The girls were clearly embarrassed as when they went off for breaks they put coats or tops on over their minidresses before walking off the stand and they certainly did not look comfortable on the stand. The fact that they were being used is not their fault.
QVIS booth babes at IFSEC 2018 – their faces have been blurred
I was there on the last day and only spotted them late in the day but I know at least one person working on another stand formally complained to the organisers UBM and to QVIS and met with silence. Having chatted to a number of industry leaders they were shocked and dismayed that someone thought this acceptable and that UBM didn’t stop it.
Gerry Dunphy, Brand Director of IFSEC & FIREX, replied to my questions saying, “We have a set code of conduct which is sent to every exhibitor and the teams are drilled to be watchful when the shows are operating. It’s hard to police however and even more complex when the companies don’t see any damage in how they’re presenting their business. It’s an issue which is all pervasive in the events industry and we’re all on a mission to remove this activity from the shows. Our Sales Director spoke to them to remind them of the policies and highlighted the responsibilities they have for stand personnel wearing appropriate dress. ”
However, it seems that QVIS didn’t listen and their ‘speaking to’ was ignored. The time has come for the industry to stand up and make this practice unacceptable. Rather than generating leads I suspect QVIS marketing has just generated a bad taste in all who passed their stand.
The historic meeting in Singapore between Kim Jong Un the North Korean dictatorial leader and Donald J Trump the quoted leader of the free world is certainly raining more than one or two interested eyebrows around the globe today. Was it Kim and Donald playing their game of Top Trump if so who got trumped?
2 Hours after the 13-second historic handshake between the 2 leaders they signed a Joint Statement that stated:
The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
Reaffirming the April 27,2018Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
The text of the statement is not as strong as Bill Clinton got in November 1994, but nothing came of that agreement and nothing in the Joint Statement is as groundbreaking as President Trump made out in his press conference. However, the one positive is that it is a start and like eating an elephant, you have to do it one bite at a time.
President Trump’s post-summit press conference was interesting, he said some truisms and the most profound was, “The past does not have to define the future – our adversaries can become friends.” This is something politicians across the globe should listen to and in particular Sinn Fein and the DUP in Northern Ireland.
However, try as he might he had some veiled threats pointed at Chairman Kim when he said, “Chairman Kim has an incredible opportunity to seize…” and highlighted, “I had 300 sanctions, very big and very powerful ones, I didn’t apply last week as I thought it would be disrespectful….” Trying to suggest that he was leading the talks. Chairman Kim won’t like that.
There are lots of things that Chairman Kim will like. He hasn’t actually made any new concessions. The suspension of joint exercises between the US military and South Korea has been a long-standing desire and he has been given that assurance, without the South Koreans having been informed apparently.
More importantly to Chairman Kim, he has been given legitimacy and it is based on his possession of Nuclear weapons. He will see the possession of his nuclear weapons as the reason he has been able to get the US President to come to meet him, the reason why he believes the world now sees him as being at the top table alongside President Trump.
So, what is Trump’s motivation? President Trump genuinely wants to be seen as a good guy, as someone who when he threatens another nation, they back down and he gets the glory. He sees North Korea as an opportunity, an opportunity that may see the world moves closer to peace, an opportunity for him to grandstand on the world stage, an opportunity for him to continue his rhetoric against his predecessors, an opportunity to achieve something on the scale Obama did when he found and had Osama Bin Laden killed, an opportunity to have his ego stroked with the smell of a Nobel Prize. He is a bit like Muttley in ‘Chase the Pidgeon’ when offered a medal by Dick Dastardly (now I’m showing my age).
What does Chairman Kim want? Legitimacy and an easing of sanctions so he can increase his wealth, he wants to be seen as an equal on the world stage. He has got most of that already! China and Russia are likely to increase sanction busting trade relatively quickly to ensure they remain in favour with Chairman Kim and in the knowledge that to preserve the negotiations, America will turn a blind eye.
He also wants to court increased favour with other like-minded world leaders. He admires Xi Jinping who he will see as a grandfatherly figure and is pleased with President Putin, after all as Trump stated Xi has been sanction busting already and Putin has put a fast internet connection into North Korea. The one thing he doesn’t want is to give up the very weapons that have put him on the world stage, but he knows he can string negotiations along, eking out concessions and he can hide technology whilst putting a show of destroying it on.
So, who are the other players and what do they want? President Moon Jae-in of South Korea was elected on a promise of seeking Korean reunification. He wants peace on the peninsula and all Korean people to be free. He has been the warm-up act for Trump and has arguably contributed most to facilitate the current position and cooperation with Kim Jong Un.
Xi Jinping is next, he wants the US focus off his border region, he doesn’t want the prospect of a nuclear conflict near his borders and certainly doesn’t want a regional conflict of any kind as he is not ready yet. He wants the US military presence in the South China Seas area to decrease rather than the escalating presence with 3 carrier groups that has happened because of Kim Jon Un’s activities. Xi has developing ambitions around the Spratley and Paracel islands that he wants to be able to get on with quietly.
Xi Jinping wants to strengthen his hand in negotiating away any trade barriers with the US and wants his long-term plan to progress without interference. By positioning himself as a “Grandfather” figure to Kim Jong Un, keeping Chairman Kim sweet with trade, he can keep President Trump sweet with promises of keeping Chairman Kin in line. It is not by accident that Chairman Kim went to meet Xi Jinping twice before this meeting.
Then we have the final player. One not immediately associated with North Korea, but one who has been developing his relationship with Xi Jinping and with Kim Jong Un, but we don’t know why. He keeps popping up in many global scenarios and it is President Putin of Russia. Last year TransTelekom a major Russian telecommunications company that owns one of the world’s largest networks of fibre optic cables and is a full subsidiary of Russian national railway operator, Russian Railways who are owned by the Russian Federation put a fast internet connection into North Korea.
Around the same time, the North Koreans went from having a small nuclear capability with short-range missiles that failed more often than not, to have a hydrogen bomb capability with ICBMs that worked more often than not. None has explained how that technological advance happened so quickly in a country under strict international sanctions.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, Xi Jinping hailed ties with Russia as he held talks with President Putin who was on a state visit ahead of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with the Chinese leader calling Putin his “most intimate friend “and presenting him with the Friendship Medal. The dots start to join up!
We have a new world order developing – and it is those countries who can plan 20+ years out as they have predictable political conditions versus those countries tied to prime ministerial or presidential elections every 5 ish years. Add in a pinch, nay glug of ego with a sniff of Kompromat that may or may not exist and we have a recipe for changing political times.
The Alternative War espoused in JJ Patrick’s book of the same name has just taken on new dimensions. Donald Rumsfeld was so right when he said “you don’t know what you don’t know” and the reality is you can’t see it unless you open your eyes. So in the game of Top Trump, Kim trumped Donald but Xi and Vladimir are yet to play.
Note: This blog is written by Philip Ingram MBE, a former British Army Intelligence Officer who has served in the Middle East and Cyprus and visited the Far East, having recently walked the path in Singapore the 2 world leaders took. If you would like any further comment from Philip, please contact him by clicking HERE
The poignancy of the lyrics to the opening theme tune to one of my favourite TV shows, MASH, is something I never thought I would realise personally but when you get to that moment, suicide is painless.
In the UK we have just had Mental Health Awareness week and the US has Mental Health Awareness month. The reality is, mental health awareness should be all year round. The World Health Organisation (WHO) say that 1 in 4 people will suffer from some form of mental illness through their lifetime.
Mental Health by the very nature of the wording seems to generate a stigma and is something people are reluctant to talk about. Those self-same people are happy enough to explain how bad their cold is or the last time they had food poisoning or the time they were in a hospital for an operation. Why should mental health be any different?
That stigma is killing people, in the past few days we have seen the death of Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef, Kate Spade the fashion designer, it seems that ever 2 or 3 days there is another post on social media paying tribute to a veteran who has committed suicide yet the government with combat stress stated that the rate of suicides among UK veterans is comparable to that of civilian statistics.
There are 2 issues with that, the first is that veteran suicides are not recorded in the UK. Until this year it was only Scotland that had a policy where GPs asked their patients if there were veterans, the MoD doesn’t gather any statistics. The second is with the military population being very small compared to the population of the UK and given flawed data collection, it is easy to provide statistical analysis that says what you want, and the Government doesn’t want to admit to a problem
I decided, when I got a call from Maxine Mawhinney to appear on her new YouTube Show “The Moment” and she asked me to choose a moment in my life, that that moment had to be the one that nearly killed me. One that led to me suffering horribly for almost 20% of my life. One that changed my life dramatically but one I have recovered from and can use to improve awareness.
I am not afraid to speak out and say I suffered from a mental health illness, I feel no stigma attached to it, I am me and I have been successfully treated and I have normal Philip back. I urge you to watch my moment:
On the back of that I was asked to do a piece for BBC Northern Ireland with Vinny Hurrell on the very popular Stephen Nolan Show. Baring my soul to my home country but also to a place where people will just judge me negatively because of my old profession. I say to those people, I can look back on my military career and see the lives I have helped save. The smiles on the faces of the children in a little destroyed village in Kosovo when they gathered around my Land Rover – the cheeky children throwing snowballs at our vehicles in Sarajevo and playing football in the street when all around them was destruction, but the shelling and sniping had stopped. Please listen to my interview here:
And then to the Sunday People who took my story and published it on the day after the Royal wedding. Given the help the ‘young royals’ are giving to mental health awareness I felt honoured to be in that edition. Please read my story here:
‘I put a gun to my head’: Hell of high-ranking soldier hit by crippling PTSD
Mental illness is something you don’t know you have until it is often too late. Those around you may see it and certainly get hurt by it. People shy away because they don’t know what to do and are afraid of being tainted by it. Some people rebel and see your weakness and for unexplained reasons want to try and hurt you further.
Not everyone gets PTSD, not everyone’s mental illness is PTSD, as a phrase, it is thrown around a little too liberally and is used by some as a marketing ploy to get charity money or as a badge of honour by misguided individuals, which it most firmly isn’t. It takes a long assessment process to be properly diagnosed. I do not feel fortunate for having suffered but I do feel fortunate to have survived.
For those I have hurt, I am sorry, for those who have hurt me, I forgive you, for my friends who broke off contact, I have missed you, for those who had responsibility for me and saw my suffering but did nothing, I forgive you but beg you take action if you see someone else suffering, for those who have stood by me and picked me up when I have fallen, I salute you, for those who still try to hurt me, please stop.
The time has come to recognise that there are illnesses where you will never get a ‘get well soon’ card. The time has come to recognise those casualties of war who have died because of their service but at their own hand. The time has come for our remembrance services in November each year to have a moment of reflection for those who are not here because they have made the ultimate sacrifice to get rid of their demons.
For anyone who is suffering in silence, watch, listen, read my story and talk to someone. You can get normal you back.