Don’t worry, he’s ok. In fact he’s more than ok as he…

A few years ago if a company wanted to advertise their products they mainly used the traditional media methods of TV, radio and print.

Nowadays the world is awash with viral marketing and social media promotion.

Although the main delivery methods used in advertising have no doubt faced rapid change I would argue that the basic technique of getting peoples attention and keeping it until the message is delivered in a memorable way is still key.

The “advert” below is in my opinion a great example of how advertising should be done.

It’s suitable for TV but importantly it’s also got the viral marketing angle to it as it’s great for viewing on computers (and of course pausing and replaying it).

What’s nice about it is that in less than one and half minutes it covers a range of human emotions. There are also no words spoken and the only text comes up at the end.

It also highlights the power of music in advertising. Three well known songs were used so there was no need to specially commission some song writing.

If you watch the advert without the music it has a far lower impact.

Have a look (and listen) and see what you think.

Oh and in case you get concerned mid way through don’t worry as it’s got a happy ending.

The interesting thing about this though is that it’s actually a fake advert. It was created by filmmaker John Nolan to showcase his animatronics skills.

John is clearly a creative genius when it comes to animatronics film making and I’m sure the big cheese companies would love to have somebody with his skills working for them.

Would you make your boss drink water from the toilet?

It’s a fact of life that in any job you are likely to receive some form of criticism from your boss.

If criticism is done well then it really isn’t criticism but instead is a form of feedback.

Making sure that the feedback is fair and reasonable can help ensure a productive workplace exists.

It’s also important how you react to receiving feedback. If you take the points on board and can learn from things then it will no doubt help you improve your performance.

It’s not always the case however that people take criticism or feedback that well.

Jonathan Oliver, a 40 year old from Hampshire in the UK had a job whereby he created designs for gravestones.  Note that I said “had a job” rather than “has a job”.

The reason he no longer has a job is that his boss criticised his work and he reacted in a far from professional way to her criticism.

After the criticism he secretly filled the sports style water drinking bottle that his boss brought to work with water from the toilet.

Luckily for his boss she noticed that the water tasted a bit funny and didn’t drink enough to make herself seriously ill.

His boss wasn’t flushed with happiness over this though and was understandably pretty upset. The police were called and further investigation led them to Mr Oliver who admitted filling her bottle with water from the toilet.

He was recently sentenced to a four month suspended prison sentence and has to carry out 150 hours of unpaid community service work.

The lawyer defending him was quoted as saying that his client had reacted to problems at work in “an entirely inappropriate fashion”.

It’s not a Lamborghini it’s a Volkswagen…

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When it comes to cars, things used to be simple. Most brands were known for a certain type of car.

For example, Mercedes produced luxury limousine cars, Porsche produced sports cars, Toyota produced mid range cars and Land Rover made 4×4 off road cars.

But that was a while ago and things have changed dramatically within the car industry.

The famous Maserati sports car brand for example is working on the Maserati Kubang and as the photo shows it’s clearly not a low slung sports car.

It’s a 4×4 off-roader and whilst there’s a good chance that the only time it will actually go off road is when the owner parks on the pavement it’s definitely more 4×4 than sportscar.

So why the introduction of the new product? (For those of you studying the various strategy papers then why the product development in Ansoff’s Matrix?)

Well it seems that they are hoping to follow in the footsteps of Porsche whose off road Cayenne model has proved to be a best seller.

As well as introducing new types of cars the car industry has also seen a number of major conglomerates appear with some serious car brands within them.

When people used to talk about Volkswagen for example they were generally referring to the ubiquitous VW golf but the Volkswagen Group is now home to far more cars than VW cars.

The VW Group with its headquarters in Germany is the largest carmaker in Europe and nearly one in four new cars bought in Europe are VW Group cars.

So does this mean that 25% of the new cars have VW badges on them?

Far from it in fact as the following car brands are all part of the Volkswagen Group:

Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Scania, SEAT, Skoda and of course Volkswagen.

So all of the above car makes are in fact part of the VW group.

Now if you’re an executive working for the VW Group and were offered a company car which one would you choose.

Now let me think.

Bugatti or Lamborghini. Which one would I go for…

ACCA or CIMA? …or MICE?

ACCA and CIMA are two of the leading professional bodies and as providers of some of the best finance and business qualifications in the world they have ethics at their core.

If you take a step back though, they are arguably in competition with each other and here’s an important question:

Have they been ethical in their approach to competing with each other?

In my opinion the answer is a resounding yes, and it’s a good example of how competition can and should be undertaken ethically.

Ethical competitive approaches include for example focussing on your strengths rather than deliberately trying to harm or damage your competitors.

If you’re looking for the other extreme though and want an example of how to compete unethically then head over to Philadelphia in America.

Nickolas Galiatsatos, the owner of Nina’s Bella Pizzeria in Philadelphia came up with an extremely unusual and completely unethical approach to winning business from his competitors.

Mr Galiatsatos was spotted by the owner of Verona Pizza, a competing restaurant, heading to the toilet of the competitor restaurant carrying a full plastic bag but then emerged a couple of minutes later minus the bag.

Doing nothing to dispel the stereotypical view of US policemen spending a lot of time at Donut bars and Pizza restaurants, there just happened to be two policemen sat in the restaurant eating pizza at that time.

Further investigation by the police found a number of mice in and around the empty bag in the toilet and when they headed out of the restaurant to find Mr Galiatsatos they found him depositing some more mice around the back of another nearby restaurant.

Mr Galiatsatos has now been charged with criminal mischief, harassment and disorderly conduct as well as cruelty to animals.

Importantly therefore if you’re thinking of ways to get ahead of your competitors please don’t involve bags of mice…

These boots are made for walking, or should that be, these boots are made for getting off quickly?

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Students of the “people papers” within the various professional exams should be aware of the joint responsibility for “health & safety” within an organization.

In other words, a number of legal systems around the world place the responsibility for health and safety on both the employer AND the employee.

Employers have various obligations such as providing safe equipment to use. For example, they should undertake regular electrical checking of any IT equipment that is used.

Employees’ duties include being responsible for their own health and safety and not acting in a manner that may endanger a colleague.

A product from Levi Strauss, the famous jeans and clothing company has a nice link to health & safety.

One of the styles of boots sold by Levis are based on the shoes that were worn by Californian railway workers in the 1800s. Their design is such that they are easy to get off. This enabled any railway worker that got his foot stuck in the tracks as a train was speeding towards him to get his boot off quickly so as to avoid being hit by the fast approaching train.

An early example of health & safety at work!

I wonder though how many people that buy these boots at the Levi’s stores work on the railways? Either way, it’s always nice to be able to easily kick off your boots after a hard day of chatting to friends!

IKEA and Porter’s value chain analyis (and the hot-dog at the end…)

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At the weekend I bought some furniture at the local IKEA. For those of you not familiar with IKEA it’s a very successful home furnishings group with over 650 million people visiting 300 stores in over 35 countries last year and producing sales of Euro 23 billion. They specialise in “flat pack”, self assembly furniture.

I’m a great fan of IKEA. You know exactly what you are getting with them. A great design, good quality and a reasonable price. IKEA make a great strategy case study and I’ll no doubt be referring to them as this blog progresses. I’ll highlight a couple of things I liked about the whole experience of shopping with them and them briefly link it into a strategic model.

As any of you that have been to an IKEA store before will verify, a trip there can turn into a day long event if you’re not careful. You are guided through a labyrinth of nice displays which will get your design thought processes working nicely. You are then funneled towards the checkouts tils where straight afterwards if the fancy takes you you can enjoy one of the classic IKEA hot-dogs!

Using Porter’s Value Chain when analyzing IKEA and linking it to my purchase shows what worked for me. (See our free P3 ExPress notes for more detail on the value chain)

I didn’t want to spend too much time at the store so what was useful for me was in that their website was very user friendly and easy to find what I wanted. They had up to date stock levels and estimates for the next few days. I could simply go to the website, highlight the item I wanted along, identify my local store and it would tell me the actual stock levels.

Each box within the Value Chain has numerous items in it but for me this element of “sales and marketing” was exactly what I wanted.

Another part of the Value Chain which is important for IKEA but I’m relieved to say I didn’t need it was the “after sales service”. As well as the normal guarantees and warranties that are provided, IKEA have a helpline for people to call if they get stuck when building the self assembly furniture. This could prove to be a key component of the value chain!

This is only a brief post about IKEA and the Value Chain but I always tell my students to look out for real life situations that link to the syllabus. Ok, so my purchase of furniture at IKEA is not the most exciting thing in the world but for anyone who has struggled to put together flat packed furniture “after sales service” component of IKEA’s value chain could save a frustrated hour or so!

Have you ever wondered why you can only find the one sock?

There are good bosses, there are bad bosses and there are, well let’s put it this way, slightly strange bosses.

socksAmerican Apparel founder Dov Charney famously once attended a staff meeting wearing a single sock… and nothing else.

In what was almost certainly one of the more memorable workdays for the other people at the meeting, Mr Charney fine-tuned his outfit by leaving both his feet bare (I’ll give you a couple of minutes to work out where his only piece of clothing, the sock, was strategically placed).

Mr Charney has been in the news again recently as he has been sacked by his fellow board members after claims of sexual harassment. It’s not been reported what the allegations of sexual harassment were in respect of but it sends an important message that even if you’re the millionaire founder of a global brand you still can’t get away with sexual harassment of your staff.

On a separate note, there is still no news on whether any action will be taken by the “fair treatment for socks” action group.

Location, Location, Louboutins.

There’s a saying that the best place to open a restaurant is next to a really good restaurant. The reasoning behind this is that people who go to the existing restaurant will see the new restaurant and are more likely to try it out.

When well-known organisations move to an area there can be lots of other businesses that benefit.

louboutinConde Nast, the publishers of numerous magazines including arguably the world’s most famous ladies fashion magazine Vogue, are just about to complete a move from times square in midtown Manhattan to the new World Trade Centre in the South of Manhattan.

According to reports in the New York Times, local businesses offering services such as hairdressing, manicures and lunchtime spas were feeling very pleased with themselves that the 2,300 mainly female staff of Conde Nast would be working in the same local area as them.

Unfortunately though the definition of “local area” isn’t the same for all people and the NYT reported that a number of businesses who originally thought they would be well-placed to serve the employees because they were only a 15 minute walk from the new offices have now realised that 15 minutes is too far.

And the reason 15 minutes’ walk is too far?

Well the reason has been put down to the fact that most of the employees of Conde Nast are wearing fashionable high heel shoes such as the £545 Louboutin shoes pictured above.

As any self-respecting Louboutin loving female (or Louboutin loving male for that matter) knows very well, it just isn’t possible to walk more than a couple of minutes in your killer 6 inch heels.

Not even if it means missing out on the new organic Amazonian vegan Bulgar wheat facial that the trendy spa 15 minutes’ walk away is offering.

This crackdown has caused a bit of a headache.

When governments try to crackdown on corruption and bribery it is normally good news for the “good people” and bad news for the “bad people”.

ShuiJingFangUnfortunately for Diageo, the world’s largest spirits maker, they haven’t done anything wrong but have been caught up in an anticorruption drive in China.

Diageo make the world-famous Johnnie Walker whiskey and Smirnoff vodka but they also make the Chinese spirit “Baijiu”. To most people outside of China, Baijiu is unknown but for people in China it’s extremely well known and is considered to be an expensive luxurious drink.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has led an anticorruption drive which has seen businesses reducing the level of luxurious gifts that they give out. Expensive watches, fine food and expensive cigars were all commonly gifted by companies to encourage business and win favours.

The Baijiu drink was also commonly bought by companies to give away as gifts but following the anticorruption clampdown sales have collapsed in the last year.

Diageo owns nearly 40% of Shui Jing Fang, the Chinese company that manufactures Baijiu and the sales of Shui Jing Fang fell by nearly 80%. As a result, Diageo has written down the value of the investment in Shui Jing Fang by £264 million.

Have a break. Have a fish and chip flavoured chocolate bar…

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Nestlé’s Kit Kat is one of the world’s best selling chocolate bars.

It is estimated that over 400 Kit Kat fingers are consumed every second worldwide and every 5 minutes enough Kit Kat fingers are produced to out stack the Eiffel Tower.

Whilst most people associate Kit Kat with its red wrapper alongside the classic wafer and chocolate taste, Nestlé actually segment the market rather nicely in a number of countries. They produce a range of flavours which are only available in certain countries according to local tastes. In simple terms they are dividing the market (segmenting) and then adjusting the marketing mix accordingly.

In Japan for example, Nestlé recently launched 19 new flavours. These flavours reflect the food specialities of certain districts and are only sold in these specific districts.

For example, you can buy a yubari melon flavour Kit Kat in the Hokkaido district, a strawberry cheesecake flavour in the Yokohama district and a cherry flavour one in the Yamagata district.

Different flavours are available in other countries (segments). For example, peanut butter flavour can be bought in Canada.

Now, originating from Scotland where my favourite dish was crispy cod and chips my obvious question to Nestlé is:

“When will a fish and chip flavoured Kit Kat be released in Scotland?”

I feel it’s only a matter of time so if any marketing executives from Nestlé are reading this then over to you…