Phillip Morris International (PMI), through its agency, Bates CHI & Partners, reached out to B/NDL Studios and requested our services to produce a coffee table book aimed toward educating PMI’s internal community on the lives and livelihoods of global Low to Middle-Income Consumers (LMICs).
The goal of this project is to develop a clear narrative portrait of LMICs in countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico, India, Russia, and China — among others — to better understand their struggles, their priorities, as well as to gain deeper insights that allow the private sector to make significant contributions in helping LMICs close the income gap.
The challenge of this project is how to keep the narrative portrait of this particular community honest, while retaining their integrity — without downplaying their struggles or underestimating the value they bring to global economy.
Understanding the importance of LMICs in sustaining the momentum of global economic development is key for us when we first approached this project. After all, they make up more than 50% of the world’s laborers, yet their vulnerability seems to be overlooked, or worse, ignored, by the world at large. LMICs often find themselves stuck between the expanding middle-class and the poor, always striving for the more stable middle ground, as they aspire to climb the economic ladder higher toward the upper middle-class status — though largely to no avail. The key component to this project, therefore, is our creative team’s ability to identify the most pressing issues facing this community, while recognizing their dreams and desires to improve their socioeconomic status.
Our strategy is to redefine the community’s challenges, recapture their deepest and most basic desires, and reframe their identity as a community driven not by despair and powerlessness, and rather by resilience and resourcefulness. This is how we structure the research data, and eventually, the story we hope to share through the coffee table book.
“Through the Looking Glass” is the Big Idea behind the book titled “A Global Market View: Through The Working Class - Understanding the Low and Middle Income Consumet Segment” taken from one of C.S. Lewis’ masterpieces, Alice through the Looking Glass. In C.S. Lewis’ book, Alice enters a fantastical world where the logic, like a mirror’s reflection, works backward. Left is right, and up is down. Creatively, this is where we need to take the narrative portrait of LMICs — to change the readers’ perception toward this particular community from “vulnerable” to “resilient”; “powerless” to “resourceful”; and, most importantly, from “struggling” to “striving”. Like in Alice’s fantastical world, many in the higher rung of the economic ladder view the logic with which LMICs live their lives as backward, or not sensible — and this is where the coffee table book plays the biggest role: bridging the gap of understanding through stories.
Therefore, the solution we develop for PMI is to treat the community not as passive actors in the economic wheel, but rather as active participators seeking higher rewards and greater contributions in driving economic growth. In this way, we hope to generate a powerful portrait of LMICs as economic drivers, rather than collaterals — heroes, rather than bystanders — and in so doing the book is expected to deliver what PMI hopes to achieve through this project: finding a common ground between the private sector and its consumers.
Find our pitch to Bates below.