Mayoral candidate Jack Yan believes his policies on creativity and innovation are needed more than ever in light of the recent Fonterra disaster and has released a statement and a new video (speaking in English, te Reo, French and Cantonese, no sign language sadly) highlighting the need for the next mayor to be able to bridge cultures at a global level:
Wellington’s innovation can be a safety net when Fonterra-level scares hit
If mayors aren’t part of this dialogue, talking to the top 40 cities in the world and opening doors for our exporters, then we’re going to be affected terribly when our nation brand is damaged,’ he says. ‘We have seen real evidence of this week.’
‘In the meantime, Wellington is the home of companies like Weta and Xero, along with numerous independents¬ has a reputation that can stand head and shoulders above this scandal.’
Mr Yan, who issued his manifesto for the Wellington mayoral election in April, months before his opponents, has remained on message throughout about the need for Wellington to become a global hub for innovation and identifying export champions.
Given Wellington’s urban base, those champions were likely to be outside the primary industries.
‘New Zealand is a primary products’ nation and I recognize the sector’s importance. However, this scare shows just why it’s important for cities to back up national economic activity and to have strong brands themselves.’
‘Wellington is in an enviable place to deliver greater innovation, with high-growth firms and strong creativity, which will be more rigorously grown if I am elected,’ he says.
Mr Yan has authored books on branding and has practised in the area since the 1980s. His work at the Swedish branding think-tank, the Medinge Group, has seen him lead the way on international brand thinking, making him better equipped to develop a proper city brand, get Wellington businesses exporting, and being an advocate for them globally.
He agrees with earlier commentators, including Prime Minister John Key, that the scare has harmed New Zealand’s national brand. As he predicted in his 2010 and 2013 campaigns, strong city brands will have to come to the fore to promote economic activity in export markets.
Mr Yan says, ‘There is a certain level of pride in saying something comes from Wellington, but we haven’t recognized this properly. We have export earners here and by promoting a diverse economy, we can ensure that we have more of a safety net when scandals in our primary sector occur.
‘I have long been concerned since the days of the “New Zealand Way” brand in the 1990s that we were missing the mark on promoting our nation. Even then, I was outspoken on saying that the likes of Karen Walker and Tait were being excluded. Yet Kiwi innovation is unique: it comes from a sense of isolation and independence,’ he recalls. ‘We have export markets criticizing our “100 Per Cent Pure” campaign again. I have to say we deserve every criticism and it is time for cities to step up.’
As they say, never let a serious crisis go to waste. You can watch here.