Would you have done this with a new car launch?

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If you were in charge of a car company and you were going to launch a new car model, how would you do it?

all-new_range_rover_sport_daniel_craig_nyc_260313_LowResLand Rover has just released the new version of their Range Rover Sport model and they appear to have launched it pretty well and have “ticked all the boxes” as they say in management speak.

First of all let’s think about the Range Rover Sport – what type of car is it and what image is the company trying to portray about the brand?

Some would argue that it’s a rough, tough, 4×4 off-road car that is also sporty and “sexy” so that it can be driven to sophisticated events.

Who better therefore to launch such a car than James Bond??

Sorry to disappoint a lot of you but James Bond doesn’t really exist. The actor Daniel Craig who plays James Bond in the famous 007 films however does exist so why not use him?

Now that the lead person in the launch has been identified where shall we hold the launch?

In a nice bit of segmentation, Land Rover identified which urban area has the highest concentration of Range Rover Sport sales and lo and behold it’s New York (now, whilst some of you may well be thinking that New York has lots of roads so just how important is it to buy such a powerful off road vehicle if you live there but let’s just ignore that discussion at the moment and move on).

So, launching a new product that is sexy with a rough and tough yet luxurious image – what could be better than James Bond and New York City?

The official launch event involved Daniel Craig driving the car through closed off New York streets whilst live video footage of journey was shown on the internet around the world and can be seen below.

In fact now that I’ve seen the video it looks like “James Bond” was so impressed with the new car that he forgot to stop off and pick up one of his famous Bond Girls to join him for the ride as he arrived at the event all by himself.

Do you know the link between fashion, strategy and Ostriches?

What do you normally do when you go on holiday? Do you a) visit some historical sights, b) relax and put your feet up or c) buy a £5,500 handbag?

designers-financial-statementsTwo luxury fashion brands have just released their financial results and for one of them tourists have had a significant impact.

Fashion retailer Ted Baker had some great results and reported an 18% increase in revenues to ₤255 million while pre-tax profit increased by nearly 20% to ₤29 million.

The luxury handbag manufacturer Mulberry on the other hand has issued a profit warning forecasting annual revenue of £165 million and pre-tax profits of £26 million, both of which are significantly below analysts’ forecasts of £177 million and £31 million respectively.

Interestingly though if you look purely at the pre tax profit margin for both companies the Mulberry ratio of 16% is better than Ted Baker’s 11% but the market reacted badly to Mulberry’s announcement and their share price fell by 18%.

If you look behind the figures there are some interesting strategy issues which may give some clues behind what the market thinks of the prospects of the companies going forward.

A lot of the success of Ted Baker over the last year can be put down to a classic Ansoff’s Product – Market mix market development strategy (Ted Baker stores were opened on New York’s trendy Fifth Avenue as well as in Canada, China, Germany and the Netherlands).

This expansion into new territories is likely to boost Ted Baker’s earnings in the medium term and should be good news for their shareholders.

Mulberry however issued a statement saying that whilst their sales over the Christmas period were in line with expectations, their sales in the 10 weeks after Christmas were lower than expected. This was mainly put down to there being fewer big spending tourists from Asia visiting London than expected in this period (a classic external environmental PESTEL impact).

fashion-designers-financial-resultsThese high spending tourists from the Asian market have historically been major buyers of the luxury Mulberry handbags, including the £5,500 bag made from Ostrich leather.

Mulberry’s trading update was accompanied by a statement from Bruno Guillon, their chief executive officer and amongst other things he stated:

“We are focused upon optimising the distribution network and adapting our tactical marketing strategy to drive international brand awareness.”

“Optimising the distribution network” and driving “international brand awareness” – are we about to see a market development strategy from Mulberry?

If they get it right then it could be good news for their shareholders. As for Ostriches around the world however then maybe it’s not so good news…

Surely somebody should have registered this website?

Oh dear. Some unfortunate news for the world famous Michelin Guides.

Michelin Guides were first published in 1900 and are annual restaurant guides published by the top French firm Michelin.

michel-platiniNow, whilst the company has an undoubted level of expertise in reviewing restaurants, what they don’t appear to have is a similar level of expertise in registering websites.

One of the critical success factors for a lot of businesses nowadays is an up-to-date, informative and easy to find website.

Unfortunately for Michelin Guides though if you go to www.michelinguides.com you won’t find any details of the famous French firm or their products. Instead you’ll find some rather unusual photos of Michel Platini, the former French international football player and the current president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

It’s been reported in the press that 28 year old Adam Mascall managed to buy the domain name for £6 and has set up a humourous website which pokes fun at the UEFA president.

The website contains photos of Michel Platini which have been changed to show him in various “guide” situations. Mr Mascall claims that the website is a homage to Michel Platini and reads “Michel in guides” rather than “Michelin Guides”.

The French firm are understandably not happy about this and have threatened legal action against Mr Mascall. As at the date of writing though www.michelinguides.com doesn’t have any information on restaurants but does have some rather fetching pictures of Mr Platini.

So in conclusion, the business lesson to be learnt from this is to make sure all important website names for your business are registered and re-registered when they expire.

Otherwise you take the risk of a 1980s French Footballer appearing in front of your customers rather than your products…

Is your corporate logo truly global or does is only stretch to cover a single continent?

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104 years ago Theodor Tobler and Emil Baumann invented the chocolate bar Toblerone. The name is a play on the names “Tobler” and “Torrone”, the Italian word for honey and almond nougat.

tobleroneIt is one of the most recognizable brands in the world and anyone that has travelled through a major airport will almost certainly have seen the famous chocolate bar produced by Kraft Foods for sale in one of the duty free outlets.

One of the most important aspects of a successful brand is the logo.

The Toblerone logo is well known but do you see an animal hidden inside it?

Toblerone originated in Bern, Switzerland – a city whose name is rumored to mean, “City of bears”. Look at the logo again closely and you will find a bear facing to the right and stood on its hind legs.

Although I’m biased I love the ExP logo. According to the designers it is fresh, sharp, simple and easy to remember. Also, the “ExP Man” in the middle emphasises the people aspect of the business.

It’s great but there is another logo which I think is extremely clever.

If you look at the Yoga Australia Logo what do you see?

At first glance the logo may look like a simple picture of a woman doing her yoga exercise but if you look at it carefully the body posture is creating the Australia Map.

A great design and thankfully I didn’t pose for it as the map would have looked like a crumpled mess.

Forget your Gucci handbag, you’ll just be scratching the surface…

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We all know that the pharmaceuticals industry is big business.

The industry is facing considerable challenges however, with a large proportion of the “blockbuster” drugs due to come off patent in the next few years.

risk-exampleDrug companies are all too aware that they might well need a big breakthrough soon in order to sustain their historical levels of shareholder return.

A lesser known threat to the industry, and more direct threat to us individually, is the rapid growth in fake prescription drugs.  Patents protect a patent holder against a legitimate business from copying their product.  It’s not much use against criminality.

Fake Gucci handbags may be an annoyance to Gucci, but nobody dies when they are purchased.  Fake drugs can be sufficiently dissimilar to the real product to allow diseases to build up resistance to the genuine drug.  An overdose may be fatal in the short-term; an under-dose may be fatal in the longer-term.

So there’s a significant incentive for all concerned to maintain integrity in the production and logistics chain that gets the genuine drugs to those in need.  Countries where prescription drug usage is culturally common and poorer countries are probably most at risk.

A Ghanaian company, mPedigree, has come up with an ingenious and simple solution.  Working in conjunction with bona fide drugs manufacturers, it assigns a code to each packet of pills.  This is then added to the box, in the form of a scratch card.

When customers buy the product, they scratch off the scratchcard style covering on the box and then send a free text message / sms with that code.  If the product’s codes are genuine, a text message is immediately sent back to verify their authenticity.  If not, the customer knows that they have just been sold a potentially dangerous dud.

Of course, there will be risks to this process, such as criminal elements infiltrating the process of allocating codes, but this is a smaller risk to contain than the wider risk of fake drugs, but this is a process that an auditor could even give an assurance opinion on.

Given the worldwide very high penetration of mobile phones and the cheapness of text messages, this is a fascinating solution to a big problem.  Maybe in future it could be refined to also warn if drugs are genuine but beyond their sell by date (time expired drugs can also become dangerously lacking in efficacy).

What a wonderful, simple idea.

What does your car number plate tell us about you?

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The US state of California has a lot going for it.

car-advertisingIt has some of the most scenic coastline to be found anywhere in the world, some great wine and with Hollywood and Silicon Valley it  has a wealth of artistic and creative minds.

What it also has however is a budget deficit of around $20 billion.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former actor and now the Governor of California certainly has a challenge on his hands to reduce the deficit.

One idea that is being discussed though is in my opinion really rather clever and introduces us to a potentially new form of advertising medium.

The State is considering introducing digital adverts onto car number plates. The idea is that the digital plates would look like normal plates when the car is moving but after it has been stopped for more than a few seconds at traffic lights or in a traffic jam the device would switch from showing the car registration number on the plate to showing a digital advert.

When stationary the registration number would still be shown but would be smaller and the advert would take the dominant position.

In effect, the car would become a mobile billboard with significant advertising revenue being generated for the state. Advertising Agencies in California are no doubt licking their lips in anticipation at the opportunities that this would offer in terms of creativity.

Whilst on the subject of creative adverts involving vehicles I think that the following advert for Copenhagen Zoo that appeared on a bus in the Danish capital will take some beating.

For those of you with a nervous disposition rest assured that it’s only art work on the outside and not a 100 metre long Boa Constrictor taking on a bus.

What’s in a pair of shoes? Quite a bit if it’s a Jimmy Choo shoe but…

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With celebrity clients such as Angelina Jolie and Victoria Beckham, Jimmy Choo is one of the most famous shoe brands in the world.

It is a real success story having been started 14 years ago by Tamara Mellon, a former editor at Vogue magazine, with a loan from her father of £150,000. There are now reports that it could be sold for up to £500 million.

Ms. Mellon started the business after meeting a shoe maker called Jimmy Choo during her time with Vogue. Mr Choo used to make a small number of handmade shoes which the magazine used for photo shoots. Ms. Mellon saw the potential in scaling up the business and 14 years later there are now over 100 stores around the world with prices for some shoes being well in excess of £1,000.

So, why has the business been so successful?

Whilst design and quality are obviously key features, the brand arguably took off when famous celebrities such as Julia Roberts and Beyonce started wearing them.

But it’s not just shoes that they sell. They have also expanded into items such as handbags, sunglasses and scarves.  In business speak this is referred to as “brand extension”.

A further example of brand extension is also in the pipeline for Jimmy Choo. Last year they signed a licence agreement with Inter Parfums for producing and distributing perfume under the Jimmy Choo brand.

Another well known footwear manufacturer is Cat®. They are renowned for producing tough, hard wearing “work boot style” footwear.

The brand itself came about as a brand extension of Caterpillar® Inc, the construction and mining equipment manufacturer.

The key thing that needs to be present for brand extension to be successful is the “fit”.

Glamorous Jimmy Choo shoes work well with fashionable sunglasses and high quality perfumes whilst the “toughness” of Caterpillar® Inc equipment works equally well with rugged work boot style footwear.

Will we see Jimmy Choo expanding their brand into mining equipment? Somehow, I don’t think so.

If you wear a fluorescent jacket at work you’re not necessarily an engineer.

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Health and safety procedures can be vital for safeguarding workers.

If you happen to be driving by the town of Els Alamus near Barcelona in Spain though don’t automatically assume that the workers in the road wearing the yellow vests are repairing the highway.

Women wearing very little clothing and standing by the roadside on the outskirts of major towns and cities are a common sight in Spain. There are an estimated 300,000 women working in the country as prostitutes.

Sex workers in the town of Els Alamus though have recently faced a significant number of fines.

Surprisingly, these fines were not for the prostitution itself as this is currently legal in Spain.

Instead, they were fined for breaching a 2004 law which states that workers on major highways must wear high visibility clothing. A classic health and safety policy which helps protect road workers and drivers from harm.

Not to be outdone by the legislation the sex workers have simply decided to wear fluorescent vests when looking for their customers.

Looking on the bright side for these ladies, the wearing of bright yellow vests not only enables them to satisfy health and safety rules but it also makes it easier for the reported one in four Spanish men who have paid for sex to spot them.

It’s not until you qualify that you appreciate it.

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ACCA P3 and CIMA E3 are great papers. Students often say to me that they love them but strangely enough they only realise this once they have qualified!

This may sound a bit confusing but the thing with these papers is that they are genuinely interesting. With the pressures of passing the exams as well as work and family life however it’s often the case that students cannot appreciate the interesting areas within the subject until they’ve got the exams out of the way.

Over the years one major area that has distinguished the good students from the not so good students is the ability to be aware of what is happening in the economy and the business world and to link this in to the exam subject matter.

This doesn’t have to be hard work. It’s not an ongoing test but rather the ability to look at everyday news and link it to the concept of strategy. For example, it was recently reported in that despite there being a recession in the UK  the cinemas were having the highest admissions for over 7 years. Year on year, the attendance at cinemas had increased by over 5%. It’s argued that the reasoning behind this is that it’s one of the cheaper forms of entertainment. People are therefore cutting back on certain more expensive forms of entertainment in favour of the less expensive versions.

Having read this in the news the good students would then ask themselves what other businesses could be doing well in the recession and what ones will suffer.  Linking this to the exam, is there an easy mark or two to make a note of the industry the case study company is involved in and how the recession will affect it? Will it be in a strong position when the recession comes to an end?

Showing an awareness of what is happening in the real world and linking it to the exam will go down well with the examiner.

Australia. Welcome to the land of sun, sand and intervention orders served via Facebook.

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Police forces are classic Not-for-Profit Organisations and whilst they don’t have similar revenue streams to those which are found within commercial for-profit organisations they do have to balance the books between their funding (revenue) and their costs.

The Police force in the Australian state of Victoria came up with a novel approach to serving an intervention order that not only ensured that the offender received the order but also saved money.

An individual in Australia had allegedly been harassing and threatening his ex-partner. An order was made against him instructing him to cease this behavior and to stop contacting her.

It was however proving difficult for the police to track him down. They had tried actual visits, sending details by post as well as phone calls to serve the order on him but all to no avail.

They identified that he was an avid Facebook user and in a novel approach to matters the police transcribed all the court documents and sent them to his Facebook inbox.

Going one step further they also recorded the following video for him which was again delivered through the medium of Facebook.

After receiving everything via Facebook, the offender has now agreed to comply with the intervention order although it is not clear whether he clicked the “like” button on his Facebook page after he first viewed the video.