How stupid can you be? On Aldi’s conflict with CIRPosted: October 7, 2010
Spiegel online today reports about a conflict between the German NGO CIR (which is part of the CCC network) and the German discounter ALDI. Background of this conflict is a CIR campaign in which the NGO basically argues that Aldi’s cheap prices are based on the exploitation of workers in the supply chains. Part of this campaign is a flyer CIR printed 30.000 times and which somewhat resembles the dicounters’ flyers. A quick look shows that it is a persiflage: The product descriptions present CIR’s critique against Aldi.
Aldi reacted to these accusations. End of September 23 Aldi lawyers wrote a letter to CIR in which they threatened to go to court, if the NGOs did not stop the campaign. They criticized that with the distribution of the flyers, CIR breaches brand and picture copyrights, that the flyer contains wrong accusations and that the accusations are out of all proportion (“eine Vielzahl von unzutreffenden Behauptungen” … “Art der Auseinandersetzung … ist grob unangemessen”). The “quasi identical” use of the Aldi-logo would mislead customers, as the design suggests that Aldi produced the flyer (sic!). This sounds like satire: Does Aldi think their customers are stupid? The lawyers argued that CIR deceives consumers in order to follow the own aims. In their letter they demanded that CIR signed a declaration to cease and desist and refrain from distributing the flyers (very nice formulation: “und sich insoweit zu unseren Händen strafbewehrt zu unterwerfen.”).
How stupid can a company be?! This is again best practice in “How not to do CSR”. Did Aldi not attend the BSCI meeting, in which Tony Webb of Ethical Corporation told companies how to deal with media? His key lesson: “The media is relatively gentler with those who openly admit they screwed up or don’t know all answers”. It should be added that a company should seriously engage in CSR.
CIR continues its campaign and demands that Aldi stops any jurisdictional efforts against them. In addition, they demand what the CCC always demands: implement the CCC CoC, audit by independent organizations, adapt purchasing policies and create more transparency.