This is just one of Warren Buffett’s quotes highlighted in Breaking The Brand’s Vietnamese New Year RhiNo campaign: The Gift Of Bad Luck.

When Breaking The Brand started interviewing the wealthy users of rhino horn in 2013 we asked them who they were influenced by. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama were the answers. We first presented these findings publicly in March 2014 at the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) Annual Conference held in New Zealand and and we expanded on it in an October 2014 blog: Giving up rhino horn to be accepted into a higher status group.

So, given our target groups’ expressed interest in global business and political ‘celebrities’ we have chosen to use quotes from Warren Buffett to drive the message home that giving rhino horn is not going to be a good strategy for building reputation in a globalised business world. Certainly Warren Buffett understands the critical importance of reputation on business success. His quotes about reputation, honesty and integrity are well known and we are using a few of the key ones to speak to select business leaders in Viet Nam.

Buffett not only understands the link between reputation and company value, he also knows how hard it is to build a reputation and how easily it can be lost. All of this highlights that long-term opportunities are, in the main, dependent on being able to preserve reputation and integrity. When these are called into question it can limit professional prosperity and success; two of the top Vietnamese New Year wishes. 

In addition, research has also consistently shown that a company’s value is linked to the reputation of its leader. One recent study, by Weber Shandwick, quoted 60% of a company’s market value is linked to its reputation and 49% of the reputation of a company is linked to the reputation of the leader.

As always, Breaking The Brand’s language to the target group is the language of business and leadership and not conservation or empathy. Using Warren Buffett’s quotes about reputation, honesty and integrity have a much greater chance of resonating with our campaign audience.

For our Vietnamese Lunar New Year Campaign, Breaking The Brand has written to a database of 40 influential Vietnamese businessmen, mostly based in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, to highlight the link between reputation, bad luck and giving the gift of rhino horn. In the letter, we directly single them out as influential business leaders and ask for their support over upcoming Vietnamese New Year holiday, by more openly condemning the actions of giving or accepting the gift of rhino horn as a crude way of buying status and opportunities.

The Lunar New Year holiday is an important time in Viet Nam, not only personally but also professionally. A time when people are reflecting on future commercial and career success. While we acknowledge that these businessmen may be reluctant to be seen as critical of individuals in their peer group, this action of condemnation may just be what saves their colleagues’ reputation and future prosperity. By condemning the practice of giving rhino horn these true leaders will not only help save the magnificent rhinoceros from extinction in the wild, but they will also help their peers to make the right choice. People who give or accept rhino horn cannot also be seen as someone of integrity and honesty. Reminding their peer group, who could be considering gifting rhino horn for the Lunar New Year, of this could help protect their reputations in the long-term.

You can see the letter and the pack we have sent to these businessmen by clicking on the image below:

This pack has also been forwarded to a number of businesses and business networks in Viet Nam and those with links to Viet Nam that are based in Australia, the USA and Canada.

We encourage anyone to forward this letter to any person or organisation they know who can influence the current users of rhino horn.

While we have kept our Lunar New Year campaign (RhiNo: The Gift Of Bad Luck) small, in February 2017 we will start fundraising for our 6th RhiNo Campaign. Our aim is that we can raise at least USA$80K to ensure that the target audience is exposed to the campaign adverts sufficiently often that behaviour change has the chance to occur.

These are the views of the author: Dr. Lynn Johnson, Founder, Breaking the Brand