Our most recent crisis (...and where are the brands...?)

LAHORE - Pakistan has been hit by the worst floods in 80 years. More than 1600 people have lost their lives. The UN has stated that the situation in Pakistan is worse than the tsunami in 2004.

Unfortunately these figures are on the rise as the rain continues to mercilessly pour down in the southern province of Sindh.  There has been much criticism of the current government and its inability to respond in a timely manner. Meanwhile, our President had a couple of shoes flung his way during a party meeting in the UK in protest to his trip out of the country at such a critical time.

Pakistan has a fairly active civil society that has shown its ability to mobilize resources in times of crisis. Once again a large segment of Pakistani people have started to collect food, money, medicines, anything they can to send to the affected areas.  

Until this point the only involvement missing in this massive relief effort seems to be the big brands of Pakistan.  These multinationals claim to undertake massive CSR programs every year.  From time to time, they launch campaigns boasting about setting up schools for the poor or sponsoring elitist charity balls for the blind.  The important question is where are these brands today?

In one of Pakistan’s most trying times, are they deliberating in their boardrooms?  If so, where is the credibility of the brand promise to be there for the Pakistani people, the promise of care and love that almost every one of these multinationals exploits in order to get into the "hearts" of their respective target markets.

In a country like Pakistan, where everything seems so touch and go recently, if brands really want to connect with their consumers on a real level then they must get very serious about responding in times of crisis.  We are in the business of communication  and about 10 days after the first flooding in Pakistan, there has not been a single piece of communication from any brand about this living tragedy.

How long do these brands believe they can flourish and make the emotional connect they spend millions researching and analyzing when in reality they are living in a bubble.

It’s never too late to make things right and in this case the rehabilitation of these displaced Pakistanis is a daunting task that lies ahead for our nation.  These brands still have a chance to do their part and I for one hope that they will stand up and be counted.

Sabene Saigol writes the From Pakistan blog on Brand Republic

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