Ethics and Business


We have entered our Fiasco wine in the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.  A medal at these prestigious awards would be just the ticket we need to get things humming.   We received our invitation to the dinner in the mail today.  An invitation to a six course dinner at the cost of $210 per head.  It’s marketing genius to get away with transforming a $210 invoice into a $210 invitation.  This does however get you six courses of food  (six!!) and alcohol . . . can’t help but to wonder if we are being sold back the wine we have sent in for judging.   But in fairness to the awards, they are very professionally run and are a great way for new brands to break into markets because judging is done blind – there are no labels on the samples, no pre-conceived ideas to get in the way … no punishing one wine because they dissed the awards on their blog :-). 

However, the ethics I wanted to get to was not about the Air New Zealand wine awards per se but about us and our responsibility as a business.   Is it ‘right’ to pay over $1000 to go to the awards (factoring in the airfare to Wellie & accomodation).  It is vital for our brand to have a presence at this event and a fantastic opportunity, however six courses is more than many people in this world eat in a week, let alone in one feed.  I could sponsor a starving child through World Vision for two years if we didn’t go.   But, what if we go and are successful and we were then able to generate enough disposable income to sponsor a child for a lifetime.  If businesses are successful, isn’t there a flow-on effect for many people?  What do you think?


9 Responses to “Ethics and Business”

  1. September 29, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    You should bring this one to Frank’s attention – no doubt he’ll have an opinion. Personally, I think that you can argue both sides equally. I guess it depends on whether or not you actually would use any money you made, it’s easy to say what you could do..

  2. 2 fiascowines
    September 29, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    I know, I know – someone once told me that if you don’t give money to charity when you are poor you wont when you are rich. Perhaps the solution is the old ‘give a tenth’ plan – dare I say it, some wisdom in the ‘tithe’

  3. September 29, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Its a bit like the Mastercard add…

    Dinner for 1000 with 47 chefs and 104 waiters…. $47609
    Cost of the food…….$22304
    Marketing and promo….$16703
    Actually paying the judges, venue rental, insurance, the live band, the themers, the sound team, the lighting team and the production manager…$?

    Cost of the ticket…. $210.00

    Winning gold at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards… priceless.

    (and if you win give World Vision $1000…. and ask Air NZ too as well….)

  4. 4 Tina
    September 29, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I’d go.

    It is an ideal opportunity to have fun, learn lots and mingle. You need to know what you are up against in the wine world and this will be a great chance to do so.

    Gotta go and drink some wine now- good South Australian stuff



  5. 5 fiascowines
    September 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Cheers Paul, great to have a real organiser’s perspective. Hows things going at Jade? Hi Tina – what about the Alice Springs vineyard – is it still going? I’m already feeling the need for a trip to Oz for some marketing…are you teaching in Alice?

  6. September 30, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Great post!

    Rachel is right, I have an opinion 😉

    Let’s be realistic, to make money and make a success of a business, you’ve got to spend some money. I spent money to get http://www.hcweb.org looking the way I wanted it to. If, in the wine industry, attending that dinner is a good investment for your business, then it could easily be seen as money well spent.

    The questions revolve around how you build your business and what is done with the return.

    It is smart business now to market yourself as an ethical choice. This can be taken into consideration over and above your own personal decisions.

    Think of your business as something that leaves footprints – then think, what can be done to minimize those footprints.See the dinner as part of that footprint and think about what you can do to offset it. For instance – I’m sure in the wine industry, there are some who well and truly cross the ethical lines in hiring workers during harvesting (I’m guessing). You can make choices that maintain an ethical standard there. You can make choices that see a percentage of the revenue go to humanitarian organisations (yes, there is sense in the ‘tithe’… just not when it’s made a law in churches). From a business perspective, highlighting these facets of your business can be downright good marketing as people look for ethical choices more and more.

    There will be many ways you can do this and I’m sure it’ll be very interesting looking for them if you decide to head down that track.

    On a personal note, I’m just looking forward to tasting it 😀

  7. September 30, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    I mostly (and as usual!) agree with Frank,

    If businesses are successful, isn’t there a flow-on effect for many people?

    Though you probably don’t mean it this way (and durn-sure didn’t ask for the following rant!), this sounds like the language used by capitalists, i.e. ‘the rising tide that lifts many boats’. In this meta-narrative (that’s really what it is – a story), ‘growth’ is the key word: everything grows, grows and grows – spending, businesses, economies (local and global), market-shares, stock-prices (remember: U.S. ‘economic stimulus’ back in May and now the current ‘crisis’ and scrambling to ‘bail out’ this house-of-cards economic construct)… and yes, the pocket-books of some individuals grow as well, thus giving them the ability or capacity to be generous.
    So – responsibility is everywhere… in our use of time, our use of our affections (what we give ourselves to), our ‘use’ of relationships/others, and yes, our use of money.

    Within a meta-narrative of growth-for-growth’s-sake, the trip to Welly is one more example of ugly greed…
    Within a meta-narrative of growth-on-behalf-of-others, the trip to Welly could be a perfectly good thing…

    based on what i know of you, I think you’re a ‘on-behalf-of-others’ kind of person… 🙂

    p.s. – Wine… mmmmm…



  8. October 1, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Hi Frank & Dale

    Thanks for stopping by. Frank, your advice sounds sound. Do you think people really are looking for ethical choices and if so, why are they doing that more and more? And most importantly, why aren’t my smiley faces working, testing 🙂


    Are you opposed to capitalism? Assuming that capitalism is “the economic system in which the means of production are owned by private persons, and operated for profit” (Wikipedia) then yep, that makes me a capitalist and not opposed to the idea that the ‘rising tide lifts many boats.’ I know and admire several people in my hometown who have invested in businesss and I have seen the positive flow on effect with my own eyes. I think I hear what you are saying tho, that there is a lot of responsibility that goes with it..ie, how you treat your staff etc and what you can do on behalf of those whose boat may be sand filled…

  9. October 1, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Ignore that smiley face question – it worked. And for those new to blogging, just type a : then a – then a ) without any gaps between and it will automatically translate to a smiley face – nice. And I don’t know how to do a growly face, no-ones fired me up enough on here yet!

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