I suppose I am the last commentator to get my hands on brochure for the DTC “[Ex]-Sightholder Support Programme,” but I don’t think the reports get across the seriously weird tone-deaf nature of this document, so I will let it speak for itself. Here is the intro …
We have no idea, at this stage, how many clients we will be supplying in the next contract period, that number will be an output of our objective selection process but we are keen that all Sightholders are aware [of] the impact of less availability, increased competition and our complete commitment to the beneficiation objectives and requirements of our JV partners … this will inevitably mean that we will not be able to supply as many Sightholders as we currently do going into the new contract period commencing 31st March next year.
Therefore DTC is pleased to announce the launch of its Sightholder Support Programme, a package designed to assist those clients who will no longer be Sightholders from 31st March 2008. This programme has been designed to help de-selected Sightholders by offering high profile consultancy support in managing its reputation and relationships with key stakeholders. [Italics added.]
They are pleased?! If the tone of all this is really more-in-sorrow-than-anger, how can they be pleased?
According to the brochure, here are the questions these counseling sessions will look at:
What facts do I need to communicate about this change?
How should I present these facts?
What are my options?
To change or not to change my strategy with [retailers and other customers]?
I actually have my alternative list of questions sightholders are more likely to ask:
How do I get the time back I spent on filling out those forms?
Come on. De Beers knew ahead of time I would be cut. Didn’t they?
Know the name of anyone at the European Commission?
On a serious note, rather than comforting people, the document seems to have increased the gloom in attending sightholders (not to mention insulted them). Obviously, the DTC wouldn’t go through the trouble of printing up a document, and setting up this program, if just one or two people are getting axed from the list. It is being seen as the DTC’s characteristically unsubtle way of preparing clients for a “bloodbath.”
I think Chaim is right when he talks about alternative ways DTC could handle its diminishing supply. If they really want to give sightholders a “soft landing,” there are more creative solutions than calling in the counselors. At this point, many sightholders are just in it for the prestige anyway – and even that may fade. If being a sightholder means that you are an “excellent” company, how does that square with all the undoubtedly excellent companies likely to be left out in the cold?
The last sight also reinforced the idea that marketing and branding – the hallmarks of SoC1 – are all but dead, and the DTC is turning its attention to its new mandate to set up factories in African producing countries. It announced a “beneficiary” department, to insure sightholders in producing countries contribute to local charities. Meanwhile, the DTC’s marketing department is being slashed and its recent marketing seminar in Bermuda was canceled.
At this point, it is hard to see where all of this is going, only that it all seems like a big mess. Counselors or no, when the new sightholder list comes out in December, it will probably get even messier.