When did the National Geographic Society become “one of the leaders in the rug industry”?

It must be a typo, or an editorial snafu, or something. But this press release (issued last week) is still a useful reminder of what can happen when the National Geographic Brand gets… well, let’s say “over-leveraged.”

I’m quite certain “we” are not “one of the leaders in the rug industry.”

But in Ms. Newberry’s defense, it’s not easy keeping track of what business we are in,
given the head-spinning variety of licensing deals we’ve signed over the years.


Coming soon:
My four-part video interview with a business school professor
who specializes in marketing and brand management.



  • Therese

    Well, when you have “National Geographic” furniture (do they still do that?), it would make sense to have rugs….LOL!

  • Therese

    Oops, change what is in parentheses to “(do they still have a furniture line?).” Was laughing so hard at rug line that my mind couldn’t concentrate.

    • Hi T –
      The NG Home Furnishings collection is alive & well: http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/ngs/category/national-geographic-home-collection

  • gjessie

    Alan, we knew you were cheap, but as they say on ESPN “c’mon on man.”

    You know full well that Ms. Newberry is referring to Concord Global Trading Inc. as the “leaders in the rug industry” and not National Geographic.

    You wonder why people think you’re out of touch, this is a perfect example. You go from a legitimate discussion around “open journalism” to taking a cheap shot at an employee’s use of language.

    There are so many changes happening at the Society. It’s interesting what information you decide to disclose from your sources inside and what you don’t. Your focus on the micro is so fervent that you’re missing the macro.

    Maybe one day you’ll begin to “report” the full picture. But we doubt that will ever happen, since the Society only matters as much as it fits your world view.

    • Hi Jessie,

      Welcome back! It’s been a while, but it’s always great to hear from you. Funny that you chose this post to make your re-entry. My parsing of one sentence in a press release is, as you say, pretty micro. And I thought I made it clear at the top that I knew it was an editing mistake — and that I understood what Ms. Newberry was trying to say. I just thought it was funny — and, in its own way, telling. NGS has so many retail balls in the air that it can be hard to define exactly what business we’re in these days. 

      I don’t agree that I focus relentlessly on the micro. In fact, I spend most of my time focusing on what I think is the big picture: News Corp’s ownership of the Channel, and the damage it’s doing to National Geographic’s reputation; and the Magazine’s inability to say or do anything that will pull the Society out of what looks (to me) like a business plan that’s fundamentally unsustainable. 

      In addition, I’ve asked John Fahey repeatedly to address the macro issues, but he refuses to speak to me — or to any reporter, for that matter. I can’t find a single substantive interview where he’s faced any serious questions about what’s happening at the Society. The fact that you jump on this post to scream “micro!” — well, I respectfully disagree. 

      “There are so many changes happening at the Society,” you write. Wonderful. Tell me what they are. Describe why these changes give you hope that NGS is on the right course. Tell me all about the macro. You can do it here. On your own blog. In an email. Any way that you choose. 

      In fact, I think I’ve offered this to you before, but here’s the invitation again: Drop your cloak of anonymity… tell us who you are… and then step up to the microphone here (or elsewhere) and give us the big picture. Share all the details — the big and the small — that you think I’m missing. As long as you’re civil, and you don’t libel anyone, you can criticize me or anyone else. In the process, you can correct what you perceive to be my many mistakes, and educate the rest of us in the process. A win-win. 

      You game? I hope so. 

      Think it over…


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