In the King James Bible, Proverbs 22:1 reads like this: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches; and loving favor rather than silver or gold.”
Over the millennia that “good name” has morphed into the idea of “The Brand” – the near-priceless emblem of what a person, place, thing or country stands for. In business – for example, Coca Cola or Walt Disney DIS -0.15% or Hermes – the brand itself has financial value in the P&L statement. Even countries are “brands”: what does Made in China mean to you? Or Made in France (perfume, fashion)? Or Made in Germany (cars)? And just as businesses want a CEO who will protect the brand, citizens turn to political leaders whom they feel will protect the “brand,” the values, of their country.
“It’s one reason why Vladimir Putin has such a strong following,” says global events and branding specialist Richard Attias in an interview in Paris for this blog. “We are living in a world that’s unpredictable and unstable – terrorism, an economy that’s not so solid, Brexit. At the end of the day, people turn to someone they think is a strong leader who will support their ‘brand.’ People everywhere today think a strong personality will protect the national brand.”
CEO of the eponymous Richard Attias and Associates, founded in 2009, with offices in New York, London, Paris, Dubai, and Rabat in his native Morocco, Attias assists global companies and countries in creating their own brands. His key clients are in Africa and the Arab world – perhaps a bit unusual for someone of his pedigree: Jewish, married to a former First Lady of France, Cecilia “ex-Sarkozy” as the French press refer to her.
The man has nearly single-handedly turned the concept of “events” into landmark occasions, beginning with the events management company he started in Paris in the1990’s, producing such prestigious global events as the World Economic Forum. Global media company Publicis bought into the company in 1998, and Attias assumed the role of Chairman of Publicis Dialog and Publicis Events Worldwide, as well as advising the European Central Bank, global beauty products leader L’Oreal, and, after leaving Publicis, advising Dubai’s Sheik Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. Argentina’s new President, Mauricio Macri, recently enlisted Attias to help mend that country’s relations with the global financial markets – and expanding his roster of clients solidly into Latin America. It’s a lucrative, global consulting business that attracts investors as well: Global media services company WPP holds a 30% stake in his business.
It’s natural to ask him what he thinks of Apple AAPL -1.72%’s current tax struggles over some $14.5-billion in back taxes the European Union thinks are due to Ireland, where Apple has set up its EU headquarters. Public outcry globally over Apple’s minimal, albeit legal, tax payments has been harsh, and the company’s standing as a “good corporate citizen” is coming under scrutiny. While it may not seriously hurt sales, the accusations do add to the general distrust of large corporations fueling current grass-roots ideologues and hurt consumer confidence. Attias says these feelings should not be allowed to fester.
Editor’s Note: This Article originally appeared on Forbes and is featured here with Author permission.