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Intel debuts conflict-free microprocessors and explores purpose as competitive advantage
Intel has enlisted activist film-maker Paul Freedham to help tell the story of its shift to Conflict Free microprocessors.
Freedham, a documentarian who has looked at central African issues with film such as Rwanda: Do Scars Ever Fade?, Sand and Sorrow and After Kony: Staging Hope is now helping the chip manufacturer communicate a new purpose-driven product initiative.
This time, Intel’s Carolyn Duran, who runs the company’s conflict minerals programme and directs its supply chain, is the star, explaining the company’s ethical responsibility to the sourcing of its minerals. ‘I am an Intel engineer,’ Duran says in the spot, ‘But more importantly I am a human being.’
‘You can’t solve a problem by abandoning it,’ another of the spot’s rallying cries says, as it explains how tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold, conflict minerals, have an impact in Intel developing conflict-free microprocessors. A microsite explains the company’s position further, featuring communications from NGO and activist group partners.
The two-minute film, part of the brand’s Look Inside strategic platform and developed alongside agency I, shows the plight of workers in the Congo.
Earlier spots feature on the platform have looked at an effort to 3D print prosthetic limbs, profiled a disabled mountaineer and featured a teenager’s attempt to develop an early detection method for pancreatic cancer.
Price isn’t value / Just as conflict diamonds, or blood diamonds, began to become more visible around the turn of the century, so too are electronics and the raw materials that are components in consumer electronics goods, particularly smartphones. Western consumers are increasingly beginning to factor in origin into purchases, with price and value being decoupled. KPMG estimates that 55% of consumers are more likely to choose a product that supports a certain cause while 70% say they are willing to pay a premium for that product. Fairphone, for instance, has so far sold 8,200 ethically produced smartphones. Of course that’s small fry compared to Intel’s business, but it suggests a groundswell of support for conflict-free consumer electronics.
The tough tasks in transparency / Intel has had a target on its back for environmental issues, such as waste water pollution from its factories, for years. It’ll be under heavy scrutiny as it rolls out this certification process, and as it continues to employ factories and producers in its supply chain that may or may not be adhering to the business practices it suggests. It’s incumbent on Intel to stay one step ahead of malfeasance in its vast network of suppliers.
Purpose as competitive advantage / In owning an issue the microprocessor industry has whitewashed for a long time, Intel is positioning a more purpose-led approach as a competitive advantage for its brand, and that it can bring consumer interest into these issues into a point of differentiation against competitors like ARM and AMD. However, while we applaud this strategy - and have tracked companies that are adopting this route in our Purposeful Brands trend and shared learnings at our Most Contagious 2013 event - it feels like Intel has missed an opportunity with this film to show how it is producing conflict-free microprocessors. While the film covers off the ‘why’ and the ‘what’, an insight into the momentous process involved in moving from conflict to conflict-free minerals would have been interesting.
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