November 2013

Is this innovative or scary?

Published on: 19 Nov 2013

I’m not sure about this. Is it innovative or rather scary?

Over in Germany the media company Sky Deutschland has been working with the advertising agency BBDO Germany and they have developed adverts which people will hear “from inside their heads”.

clever-advertisingHearing voices inside your head promoting products probably opens up a big ethical debate but the technology that has been developed enables adverts to be transferred from train windows directly and (rather ominously) silently into train passengers heads.

The idea is that when a person starts falling asleep or resting their head against the window they will hear an advert urging them to download the Sky Go app. The surprising thing is that they will hear it but nobody else in the carriage will hear it (unless of course they are falling asleep against the window as well).

The science behind this involves technology in effect turning the windows into speakers and when a person leans against the window the vibrations in the window travel up the bones on their face into your inner ear and the sound is heard. Similar bone conduction technology is used in hearing aids and Google’s glass headset.

The video below shows more details but I wonder whether this will appear in other places in the future. Is it just a matter of time before you casually lean against the window in the office to hear an advert from your employer telling you how lucky you are to be working there and to stop looking out of the window and to get back to work.

This is how not to be a chairman.

Published on: 18 Nov 2013

Here’s a question for you – if you’re the chairman of one of the leading banks in the UK and that bank holds itself out to be the “ethical” bank what should you do?

chairman-drugsShould you fully take on the responsibility of being the chairman and lead the business forward?

Alternatively, should you buy crack cocaine and crystal meth drugs?

Mr Paul Flowers who used to be the chairman of the Co-Operative Bank was recently filmed buying these hard drugs.

Those of you that are studying finance or business will know that the role of the chairman would typically involve ensuring that the board of directors is effective in its task of setting and implementing the company’s direction. You certainly won’t find buying crack cocaine in any job description for a chairman!

Questions will no doubt be asked as to how 63 year old Mr Flowers managed to get the position of the chairman of such a prestigious bank. He had limited experience in the banking sector and his knowledge of the Co-Operative Bank itself seemed way below what a chairman would be expected to know.

Earlier this month he attended a meeting of the Treasury Select Committee and told the committee that the bank’s balance sheet had £3 billion of assets. The bank did in fact have £47 billion of assets. The chairman of the bank was only wrong by a “mere” £44 billion!

It’s unclear whether or not he was on drugs at the time he gave his answer.

Will this model mean you’ll drink less?

Published on: 15 Nov 2013

It’s one of the classic economic models. Changes in supply and demand can impact on prices but should you be interested in this model if you like to drink a glass of wine?

wineMorgan Stanley, the American financial services firm has released a report on global wine supply and demand. Assuming that you haven’t had too much wine to drink already today then it does make some interesting reading.

First of all, global wine consumption has generally been rising since 1996 and the current consumption is approximately 3 billion cases per year.

This consumption (demand) of 3 billion cases of wine compares to the current production (supply) of 2.8 billion cases of wine. Unless you’re now on your second bottle of wine of the day you’ll be able to work out that demand exceeds supply by 200 million cases.

The report by Morgan Stanley predicts that in the short term “inventories will likely be reduced as current consumption continues to be predominantly supplied by previous vintages”.

In other words, the shortfall between annual demand and supply will be satisfied by wines that were produced in earlier years.

Once this stockpile has been used though it will simply be a case of demand exceeding supply and we all know what happens when demand exceeds supply. Yes, prices will increase.

If you’re a wine drinker then you’re likely to be facing a more expensive drinks bill in the future.

Those budget review meetings can get rather exciting…

Published on: 10 Nov 2013

Companies have a duty to look after their employees in the workplace but what about looking after them whilst they are in bed?

broken-noseAn Australian government employee was visiting a regional office as part of the budget review process and was staying in a hotel room which had been booked by her employer.

It appears that there was nothing of any great interest on the TV that evening as rather than settle down and watch television and enjoy the hotel mini-bar she had sex with a colleague she had invited into the room.

Things took a turn for the worse though as during the throws of passion a light fitting was pulled from the wall and fell onto her face injuring her nose and mouth (as an aside it’s unclear who was responsible for breaking the light fitting as the court transcripts highlighted that the fitting was pulled from its mount by either the woman or her acquaintance).

The evening’s entertainment was brought to a sudden end by the broken light fitting though as the lady needed hospital treatment.

After she had recovered she brought an employee’s compensation claim against Comcare (the government’s insurer) and in December last year she was in fact granted compensation by the Federal Court.

Comcare was perhaps understandably upset about the decision to award compensation and appealed against the decision.

They were successful in their appeal as yesterday, the High Court reversed the decision of the Federal Court and passed a ruling that shows that in order to be eligible for compensation Australian workers must be “expressly or impliedly induced or encouraged by the employer” to undertake the activity which leads to injury.

There was no evidence that her employer, the Australian government had induced or encouraged her to undertake the activity that led to the broken light fitting.

Is Heinz a bitter taste for McDonald’s?

Published on: 04 Nov 2013

They’ve been together since the Second World War but going forward Heinz tomato ketchup will no longer be on the McDonald’s menu.

tomato sauceSo, what has caused McDonald’s to drop Heinz Ketchup?

It’s down to the intense competition that exists between McDonald’s and Burger King.

Earlier this year, Heinz was taken over by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and the Brazilian investment fund 3G in a $28 billion deal. The new owners of Heinz put Bernardo Hees, former chief executive of Burger King in charge of Heinz.

Earlier this week McDonald’s announced that “As a result of recent management changes at Heinz, we have decided to transition our business to other suppliers over time”.

It’s interesting though as if you look deeper into the relationships you’ll find that as well as having a stake in Heinz, investment fund 3G also controls Burger King.

It arguably makes sense therefore for McDonald’s to drop Heinz as otherwise there would be the risk that by having Heinz as a supplier, McDonald’s would be increasing the profits of Heinz who in turn could remit those profits to 3G who could then use the funds to strengthen Burger King to win market share from McDonalds.

So there you go and the next time you’re munching on your Big Mac and realise it’s no longer Heinz Ketchup with it you’ll know why.

The ExP Group