Nokia, the cellphone manufacturer, has a secret weapon in its marketing portfolio. His name is Jan Chipchase, and he’s a living action figure. He might be the new face of global corporatism: handsome, slightly unshaven, with a vaguely European accent. Most of all, he likes to be brutally honest about what he does.
“When we travel, we are often hiring people for the very short term, so we have to carry enormous amounts of cash with us.” FLASH SLIDE showing bundles of hundred dollar bills wrapped in CitiBank stationary. “On the last day, typically, I spread the money in piles all over a bed in a back room. If people were to come in there at that moment, they’d think there was something very shady going on, and in a way, there is.”
It’s a clever corporate tactic. Be honest about your excesses, and the public will forgive, then forget, then applaud. But what exactly does Jan Chipchase do? Why is he keynoting a “Better World” design conference?
“What is this work all about?” he asks, as if reading my thoughts. The question hangs in the dark room as a hundred or so 20-something engineers await the secret formula.
The word “ETHICS” flashes onto the screen. I interrupt his flow, to ask what the word ethics has to do with spying on remote villagers, and reporting what he finds back to Nokia.
Chipchase squints at me through the spotlights, asks me to repeat the question. He mutters something unintelligible, then an apology about not giving a very satisfactory answer. His presentation, like a dorm room YouTube video, ends abruptly.
Outside, I corner two students, one male, one female. “Was I too hard on him?” I ask. “Did his work seem unethical to you?”
“It bothered me a little,” says the woman, “It seemed like he was just doing what ever he wanted in those countries, and I’m not sure what the point was.”
“Still,” interrupts the young man. “I’d kill to have that job.”—M. Power
Posted: 1/24/2010 10:38:50 AM by
Matt Power | with 0 comments