July 2013

Who earns the most out of the Top Gear presenters?

Published on: 28 Jul 2013

BBC Worldwide has just published its latest annual report and for any fans of the TV programme Top Gear there are some interesting figures.

top-gear-magazineTop Gear is an incredibly successful TV programme. The programme which is so loved by car addicts around the world is the world’s most widely watched factual television programme and is shown in 174 territories. That’s pretty impressive and shows what a global success the programme has become.

It stars Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond (the Hamster) and James May (Captain Slow) but who earns the most out of the 3 presenters?

It will probably come as no real surprise to find out that Jeremy Clarkson received the most last year.

Interestingly though the majority wasn’t from his salary but rather from dividends and a sale of shares.

5 years ago a company called Bedder 6 was set up with the aim to exploit the commercial opportunities of the Top Gear brand.

Top Gear Magazines, live shows and DVDs followed.

So who were the original shareholders of Bedder 6 when it was set up?

Well, the BBC was a 50% shareholder whilst Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman had a 20% stake and Jeremy Clarkson had a 30% shareholding.

Alas for poor Hamster and Captain Slow the other 2 presenters didn’t hold any shares.

The recently released BBC accounts show that the BBC bought out the shareholdings of Clarkson and Wilman.

How much did Clarkson receive in total from the BBC last year?

He received a salary of £1 million, dividends of £4.86 million from Bedder 6 and £8.4 million for selling his shares in Bedder 6 to the BBC.

In total, he received £14 million from the BBC.

That’s not a bad amount is it?

To be fair to the guy though he’s been instrumental in building the Top Gear brand into a global success with millions of viewers around the world so arguably he deserves the financial rewards that go with it.

With that amount of money hitting his bank account in the last year though one thing he can definitely do is to buy any car that he wants.

Congratulations to William and Kate but I bet Prince George won’t…

Published on: 25 Jul 2013

Congratulations to William and Kate on the birth of their son, George. Or to give the young Prince his full title, His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.

All of us at ExP wish him a long and healthy life but I wonder whether he’ll ever use something which most of us use on a regular basis.

You’ve all used a computer and the “qwerty” style keyboards which are named after the first row of the letters of the top row of the keyboard are things that we currently take for granted.

product-life-cycle_sThe interesting thing though is that 20 years ago keyboards weren’t very common and my feeling is that in 20 years time they also won’t be very common.

This means that we are living in a small window of time where humans use keyboards. Our grandparents never used them and I’m sure that our grandchildren won’t be using them in the future.

Our grandchildren will no doubt ask why we were hunched over a strange machine with our hands like claws!

Switching to business terminology and you can argue that keyboards are at the maturity stage and fast approaching the decline stage of the product life cycle.

The reason I’m convinced the keyboards will soon be on their way out is that we’re currently trialing some voice recognition software in the office and it’s very impressive.

A few years ago I tried an early version of similar software but it wasn’t very good. The version we are trialing at the moment however is completely different and in fact I’m dictating this article with this software. It’s very hood good indeed.

So that’s my prediction. Keyboards are at the maturity/decline stage of the life-cycle and we will be the lucky few in the history of mankind that had the pleasure of using the keyboard.

Anyway, back to Prince George though and he’s got far more exciting things to think about in the next few years than worrying about the lifecycle of keyboards. There’s the small matter of learning to walk and talk first.

Have GlaxoSmithKline employees been bribing doctors?

Published on: 23 Jul 2013

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. Last year its global revenues were £26 billion and their net income £5 billion. Their drugs include the anti-depressant Paxil (worldwide lifetime sales to date over $12 billion) and the diabetes drug Avandia (over $11 billion).

gskIt seems that all is not well for the company in China though and they appear to have undertaken some less than honest business practices.

It’s just been reported that the company has allegedly been paying bribes and these bribes are pretty significant. Over £300 million in bribes to be precise.

They are accused of paying £323 million in bribes to doctors and other officials in China since 2007 to persuade them to prescribe GSK drugs to their patients. They appear to have paid these bribes in order to win market share and agree higher prices for their drugs.

The Authorities claim the transactions were disguised as payments to “travel agents” who were middlemen who organised “conferences” for doctors. Instead of this money being spent on conferences though it seems that it was given illegally as bribes.

The Head Office of GSK is understandably taking this pretty seriously and the head of their emerging markets department, Abbas Hussain was quoted as saying “We have zero tolerance for any behaviour of this nature.”

He went on to say “I want to make it very clear that we share the desire of the Chinese authorities to root out corruption wherever it exists. We will continue to work together with the [Chinese Ministry of Public Security] and we will take all necessary actions required as this investigation progresses.”

With a reference to their internal controls he said “Certain senior executives of GSK China who know our systems well appear to have acted outside of our processes and controls which breaks Chinese law”.

Somehow, I think GSKs internal control procedures need to be revisited urgently to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

One thing’s for sure though is that this is certainly going to cause a headache for the company and I’m not sure one of their headaches tablets will get rid of the short term pain of this.

You can remove this barrier to entry but it may well kill you…

Published on: 19 Jul 2013

Any organisation that can create a barrier to entry which prevents new competitors entering the market can, in theory, keep prices high.

Economies of scale (think Airbus or Boeing), branding (think Apple) and distribution channels (think Coke) are all excellent examples of barriers to entry but one of the toughest barriers to break through are government licenses.

If a licence is needed to operate in that industry then that is the ultimate barrier. After all, without the license the company can’t operate.

Japan is the home of sushi and as you would expect some of the top sushi restaurants can be found in Tokyo.

Sushi is fish and we all know that fish is healthy for you. It may come as a surprise then that one particular sushi delicacy in Japan could end up killing you rather quickly if it is prepared incorrectly.

Certain parts of the poisonous blowfish are considered by many to be the ultimate in sushi. It tastes gorgeous although to be honest I’ve never tried it so I’m taking somebody else’s word for this.

I’ve never tried it because I’ve never had the opportunity although even if I did have the opportunity I would have a few doubts. The reason is that as well as the edible parts of the fish, some of the organs of the fish are filled with poison called tetrododoxin which is more deadly than cyanide.

Now, if you’re eating blowfish then one thing for sure is that you want the chef to know what he or she is doing. You don’t want them making a little slip of the knife and including by mistake some of the poison as before you have a chance to say “does this fish taste a bit funny to you?” you would be on your way to a quick death.

The Japanese government have therefore heavily regulated this part of the sushi industry and there are only a handful of locations that have a licence to prepare and serve blowfish.

In October though new laws are coming into place which remove the need for a licence (or to use business strategy terminology, remove a barrier to entry).

So the good news for anyone that fancies trying some of the blowfish is that it’s likely to become a bit cheaper after October. The question though is whether price will be the key decision making factor when people are deciding to eat a meal which if prepared incorrectly could quickly kill you…

Ernst & Young is no more.

Published on: 10 Jul 2013

For years I’ve referred to the company as Ernst & Young and I’ve known some great people who have worked for Ernst & Young but at the start of this month “Ernst & Young” ceased to exist.

EY London_newlogoNow before any of you that work for Ernst & Young start panicking there’s no need to be worried as it’s part of their recently announced rebranding exercise and from now on they will be known as EY.

Their name is not the only thing that has changed. They also have a new Global Chairman and CEO in 51 year old Mark Weinberger who was quoted as saying “It is a privilege to lead this great organisation in these dynamic times.”

Not content with getting a new name and a new boss they have also introduced a new logo and a new “purpose”. Their new purpose will also be their tagline and is:

“Building a better working world”.

Mr Weinberger went on to say that “Every day, every EY person is part of building a better working world – for our clients, our communities, and our families. We believe that everything we do – every audit, every tax return, every advisory opportunity, every interaction with a client or colleague – contributes to building a better working world.”

That’s a pretty ambitious target and good luck to Ernst & Young EY with implementing their new plans.

So, EY have gone down the same road as pwc and KPMG by abbreviating their name to their initials. Does this mean that Deloitte will soon announce a rebranding to “D”?

Did you see what Andy Murray was wearing?

Published on: 08 Jul 2013

On Sunday Andy Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years. He beat Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in an enthralling match but did you notice what he was wearing?

Now, I’m not talking about his shoes, shorts or top but rather something less associated with the sport of tennis.

Andy_Murray_wimbledonSponsorship is big business for the top sports stars and some commentators are speculating that Murray will be able to earn up to £100m in sponsorship deals and appearance fees as a result of him winning the Wimbledon Championships.

As well as being a good opportunity for top sports stars to add some nice figures to their bank balances it’s also a good opportunity for the sponsors to be associated with such winning stars (and of course with the hope that people will buy more of their products!)

He already has a number of sponsors including Adidas who supply his kit, Head who supply his tennis racquet and RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland) who provide somewhere safe for him to keep his money.

Back to what he was wearing though and did you notice the watch that he wasn’t wearing during the match but was wearing when he was presented with the trophy?

Another of his sponsors is the Swiss Watch Manufacturer Rado and after Murray won the match he quickly put his £3,000 Rado Hyperchrome XXL onto his wrist before the presentation.

The end result was no doubt a very happy Rado company whose watch was on the front pages of all the newspapers.

Some great publicity for the company.

Will we see this trend for tennis players putting designer watches on before they are presented with a trophy expand to other sports?

Will we see the captain of the winning team at next year’s football World Cup in Brazil wearing a watch when he lifts the trophy??

Not the best time for your phone to ring.

Published on: 07 Jul 2013

Has your phone ever rung at an awkward moment when you were at work?

judgeIt’s always best to turn your phone off or onto silent mode if you’re in an important meeting but a judge over in America forgot to turn off his phone and experienced his phone ringing at a rather inopportune moment.

Judge Raymond Voet was listening to a prosecutor’s closing argument during a jury trial at Ionia County District Court in Michigan when his new smartphone started asking for voice commands.

To make it even more interesting for the Judge he had previously posted a policy at the court stating that any electronic devices which caused a disturbance during court sessions would be treated as a contempt of court and the person responsible would be cited with contempt.

So, imagine the situation. You’re the Judge and you’ve just introduced a policy that anyone whose phone caused a disturbance would get into trouble and lo and behold what happens but your own phone starts causing a disturbance.

What would you do?

Admirably Judge Voet was pretty ethical about it all and he actually fined himself $25 for contempt of court.

Is this segmentation or discrimination?

Published on: 06 Jul 2013

The banking profession has had it pretty rough over the last few years. Whether you refer to it as the credit crunch, the liquidity crisis or the banking crisis it’s been tough for the banks and a number of banks have had to be rescued by government funds.

There’s also a lot of competition between the banks and a French based bank, Societe Generale, has attempted to win new customers by introducing an innovative product targeted at a particular segment of the market.

In simple terms segmenting the market is ….. wait for it ….. splitting it into ….. wait for it ….. segments (not the most detailed explanation in the world but hopefully it gets the point across!).

These individual segments can then be targeted using the marketing mix (the 4 Ps).

See if you can guess which segment of the market Societe General are targeting with their pink and gold coloured “Pour Elle” bank card.

First of all if you understand French then the name of the bank card may give you a few hints but if not then two of the main items within the “Product” component of the mix are:

1. Handbag theft insurance of up to Euro 200 and

2. A hotline where card holders can call out an electrician, locksmith or handyman free of charge twice a year.

Yes, the new bank card seems to be well and truly targeted towards French male accountants the female segment of the market.

A nice move by the bank but surely this is discrimination as what’s to stop a man wanting handbag insurance or being able to call out an electrician?

Well the good news for any men out there that are interested in these things then there’s no discrimination as the card is available to both men and women and in fact it’s been reported that approximately 5% of the holders of the “Pour Elle” bank card are men.

Would you have been quick enough to think of this?

Published on: 03 Jul 2013

Sometimes people can be in the office and come up with a great idea. Whoever it was that came up with this idea at the Fiat office in Sweden should in my opinion get a bonus.

There are creative guys in many offices but my feeling is that what happened below was more of a “thought of on the spot” idea rather than a project that was planned weeks ahead.

The Google “Street View” website is a great site and enables people to (as the name suggests!) see the street view of many locations around the world.

The panoramic photos on the site are taken by special Google Street View cars that have roof mounted cameras on them.

Over in Scandinavia it looks like a creative individual at the Fiat offices in Sweden saw that a Google Street car was in the area and followed it before getting ahead of it and quickly stopping outside the main entrance to their rivals, Volkswagen.

Anyone who currently does a search on Google Street view for Volkswagen Sodertalje offices in Sweden will see an image of a lovely red Fiat 500 parked right outside the main entrance to the Swedish Volkswagen offices.

Brilliant! A great bit of creative thinking and guerrilla marketing by Fiat.

To be honest it’s probably pretty good for Volkswagen as well. After all, there are now no doubt more people who have seen the image of their offices in Sweden than would have been the case if a Volkswagen was parked outside instead of a shiny new red Fiat 500.

The ExP Group