Managing the Brand: In an Age of Anti-Americanism
Kuehn, Kurt, Executive Speeches
Good afternoon, everyone. It's a delight to be here. In the spirit of full disclosure, let me just say that the title of my presentation--"Managing the Brand in an Age of Anti-Americanism"--might imply that I'm here today to tell you how to manage your global brand in these turbulent times.
That's not the case.
UPS shares its hometown with some of the world's most respected and powerful brands, If anything, we could learn quite a bit from you. So I'm not here under the pretense of knowing all the answers.
Rather, I'd like to think of this more in terms of benchmarking. You're going to hear some ideas from me ... but I also want to hear from you folks. So, I look forward to a healthy question and answer session today.
What I really want to accomplish in the next few minutes is raise awareness about the troubling perceptions of American brands abroad. Collectively we are painted with a broad stroke overseas ... and the portrait at the moment is cause for some deep concern.
I also want to share some of the lessons we've learned in managing our brand internationally at UPS ... not just since the advent of the Iraq war ... but over the course of the last three decades.
Our brand is not immune from the anti-American backlash, but because of some actions--and course corrections--we've taken over the years, we've been able to navigate the current environment with no dire impact to our business or reputation.
Maybe it's best if I start with a quick snapshot of our international scale and scope.
UPS has been operating internationally since 1976 when we first ventured into Germany and Canada. Since then we've expanded service to more than 200 countries and territories. On any given day, we deliver more than 13 million packages--roughly seven percent of the U.S. GDP and two percent of the world's GDR
The vast majority of those international packages travel via the world's 11th largest airline, and are delivered through a network that includes 40,000 non-U.S, based employees. Last year our international revenues exceeded $5.5 billion dollars, or about 17 percent of our total $33.5 billion.
This year we're on track to eclipse $6 billion in international revenues. Our international business is clearly our growth star and has been now for the past few years.
But we don't take it for granted. We continue to make huge investments globally, and we are concerned about anti-American sentiment.
Part of that investment is our branding investment. Advertising, public affairs, public relations, customer communications, web communications, signage, people, and a retail presence through 1,100 Mail Box Etc. stores outside the U.S. give us a wide swath of branding assets to work with globally.
A major risk entailed in the current wave of anti-American feeling is on the progress of globalization--an economic movement that is very important to our future business and to most American businesses.
We know that, increasingly, the line is blurred between "Globalization" and "Americanization". We suspect for many people the terms are synonymous. For some, "globalization" is an American led phenomenon designed to benefit the U.S.
American heritage multi-nationals such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Ford, Nike, Microsoft, UPS and others are widely seen as the symbols and promoters of globalization.
I recently had an interesting conversation about globalization with Thomas Friedman, the foreign affairs columnist of The New Fork Times. I'm sure many of you read The Lexus and the Olive Tree. If not I highly recommend it to you. He's working on a new book project and he came to UPS a few weeks ago because he was intrigued by our vision of synchronized global commerce and how we are enabling companies large and small to participate in the international marketplace.
Friedman made an interesting point in distinguishing between what people want and do not want from Americans. …