The Label Printers’ Chief of Operations, Lori Campbell, was invited to make a presentation on the subject, “Brand Protection: Maintaining Credibility and Integrity” at Labelexpo Americas biennial Expo and Conference in Chicago. The presentation moderator was Michelle Garza, DantexRBCor’s Vice President of Operations. The presentation topic covered a wide range of brand protection issues of interest to virtually everyone in this era of rampant counterfeiting.
The conference and Ms. Campbell’s presentation were attended by label and packaging converters, suppliers, and brand owners, so her speech had to speak to everyone’s interests. She chose to take the point of view of building a brand protection strategy, rather than discussing individual solutions. As the Chief of Operations of a label converter that has been in the brand protection business for nearly two decades, working with multiple anti-counterfeiting technologies/solutions and their inventors/suppliers, she is uniquely qualified to take that point of view. As she says, “Converters are positioned to “vet” all of the different solutions, and we tend to be a practical bunch. For us, it’s ink on paper. So it’s more important to understand a brand owner’s problem and their existing supply chain.” She goes on to say, “There’s an ugly rumor that brand protection is expensive. It doesn’t have to be. It just has to be right for the job.”
To prepare for her presentation, Campbell says, “I started out with the assumption that there were naysayers in the audience or at least people that don’t yet recognize the scope and the size of the problem. So I talked about how consumer behaviors have changed over the years, especially with the advent of the internet. And I gave [attendees] a list of 30 counterfeited products that had been posted by the brand owners – and the list was just ridiculous – stuff like chainsaws and fake medicines, but also zippers, and Rubik’s Cubes. My point was if there’s a price tag on something you can bet there’s a counterfeit version somewhere.”
The challenge for solution providers is to get businesses to discuss their brand protection problems. For many of them issues such as diversion, the “gray market”, “parallel trading”, etc. are becoming a bigger problem than counterfeiting. Campbell’s presentation included a discussion of the three “typical” layers in an anti-counterfeiting solution – Overt, Covert, and Forensic – and some of the many tools – such as holograms, microprinting, security papers, nanotext, and forensic or molecular taggants – that are available to solution providers. The presentation also pointed out that brand owners have to consider the cost per application, the ease of integration, durability, flexibility, lack of availability, reliability, level of security, authentication ease, and the cost of devices.
Campbell concluded, “Companies have to understand the impacts beyond the technology and the problem, which cost $X. They also have to look at the organizational impact – training, marketing, the use of confidentiality agreements, etc. Virtually the entire organization needs to be a part of the process - legal, marketing, operations, quality, purchasing, logistics, supply chain, and human resources. Counterfeiting is a big problem, and it needs a complete solution.”
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