Objectives. The author aims to establish that contemporary slavery exists and that there is need for more fair trade practices, and to explore how select marketing communications can enhance awareness, influence consumer perceptions and create actions that foment anti-slavery activities, human rights and fair trade in supply chains. The Rugmark and Cafedirect campaigns from the carpet and coffee industries respectively provide model cases for the study.
Assumptions. The author's assumption is that, "Changing the nature of the coffee market to introduce fair trade, rather than free trade, would have immediate impact on several stakeholders in the supply chain and symbolic importance" which could "also influence trade practices in other commodities/industries." [pg. 646]
Method. An interpretive research design, spread over three years, was adopted covering site visits, interviews, and examination of extant policies, documents and trends. [pg. 646] Eisenhardt's (1989) eight-step procedure for theory development was used. Analysis was done by a process of coding, memoing, and developing propositions, which were then confirmed through triangulation. When ambiguity arose respondents were invited to comment on the author's theoretical developments. The public confusion regarding the terms 'slavery' and 'fair trade' due to interpretations by various agencies is addressed by offering standard definitions.
Slavery: People generally believe slavery to be a historical phenomenon abolished years ago. [pg. 648] Contemporary slavery is however a flourishing business despite its obvious cruelty and illegality (Lees, 1995; The Economist, 1996) and a matter of human rights. Anti-Slavery International (ASI) which works to promote 'the basic right of human beings to be subjects rather than objects' (Anti-Slavery International, 1995a) defines slavery as the status of a person on whom the right of ownership is exercised by capture, acquisition, disposal or exchange, tantamount to acts of trading or transportation of the individuals.
Fair Trade. Culled from interpretations of several fair trade organisations including the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) the article suggests that when organisations benefit artisans, work with co-operatives employing democratic principles, reinvest profits to benefit communities engaged in production, and work towards moving more processes to the Third World, it constitutes fair trade [pg. 643] and their products display a fair trade label.
The Rugmark and Cafedirect Campaigns. The Rugmark Campaign espoused by ASI in 1994 is an illustration within the UK of interconnections between the first and third worlds. A Rugmark label on hand-knotted carpets from India indicates that no child labour was used during production, and that workers were paid the prescribed minimum wages. The author agrees that the ASI initiative was intended more to convey to the developed world the alienation suffered by 'slaves' lacking the basic human right of freedom and how their efforts to merely subsist sometimes impacted environment, making it a green issue also, than an utopian effort to close the North-South divide. [pg. 650]
As for Cafedirect, UK's pioneering fair trade coffee brand, its phenomenal success (4% market share since launch in 1992) was attributed to the impact on distributors and