Leadership

Listen – your pets can make their own purchase decisions…

Published on: 08 Jun 2014

Who makes the purchase decisions in your household? Is it you, your husband or wife, or perhaps your dog?

Nestle, one of the world’s largest producers of pet food recently undertook an interesting marketing approach by producing adverts aimed directly at the pet as opposed to the owner.

TV commercials screened on Austrian television used high frequency tones which could be heard by dogs but not humans.

According to Anna Rabanus, Brand Manager of Beneful for Nestle Purina PetCare Germany, they “wanted to create a TV commercial that our four-legged friends can enjoy and listen to, but also allow the owner and dog to experience it together.”

Now, whilst it’s not clear whether that many dogs had read the TV listings to know that the adverts were going to be on or in fact whether the dogs themselves were already engrossed in the latest episode of Animal Cops Houston on another channel and missed the adverts, it certainly was a novel approach to advertising by Nestle.

This wasn’t the first innovative pet food advertising that Nestle had undertaken though.

Last year, Nestle Purina launched an award winning “Stop sniffing” campaign that enabled dogs to sniff the scent of Beneful dog food from special posters on advertising boards in German towns and cities whilst out for a walk with their owners.

Although not related to Nestle, a few years ago there was another advertising campaign which utilised the sniffing habits of dogs.

Small posters scented with… (let’s just say a smell produced by dogs that other dogs find attractive) were put on lampposts at ground level.

Whilst the dogs stopped to sniff these posters there was a bigger poster at human eye level advertising the Animal Planet TV channel which was aimed at the dog owner that was stood there waiting for their dog to finish sniffing.

Luckily for the advertising production team the smell that was put on the small poster to attract the dog was artificially created in a laboratory.

Sorry to break the news to you but Christmas is cancelled…

Published on: 14 Oct 2011

3 years ago in the middle of the financial crisis when some of the best known banks in the world were on the verge of collapsing, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was rescued by the British tax payers to the tune of £45 billion.

Since then the bank has been under a lot of scrutiny. Not just from the point of whether it would survive but also when it would turn things around so that the business became profitable and the tax payer would start to get their money back.

Along with lots of other companies that have suffered in the crisis, RBS has undertaken a cost cutting exercise over the last couple of years.

Chris Kyle, the CFO of the Investment Banking division of RBS yesterday announced some additional cut backs to his staff.

An internal memo to his staff told them amongst other things that:

– No-one will be given a new Blackberry phone or other handset.

– There will be no magazine or newspapers subscriptions (I guess this now means that they won’t be able to do the daily FT crossword over morning coffee in the office)

– People working late in the office will not be able to claim a taxi expense to take them home unless they are working past 10pm (it used to be a 9pm cut off)

The bank has also banned all staff entertaining for the rest of the year so there will be no bank funded Christmas party for the RBS investment bankers and instead the bankers will have to pay for their office Christmas party themselves.

Now, whilst some people will think this is good cost control some others may feel that this is just “window dressing” to give the impression that the investment bankers’ excessive remuneration and benefits are being stopped.

Some of the RBS employees may well be a bit upset about having to pay for their Christmas party but last year over 300 key staff within the bank reportedly shared a bonus pot of £375 million which equals an average bonus of over £1.1 million each.

I guess these particular individuals are quite relaxed about buying their own Christmas drinks…

Would you fire somebody if they drank the last drop of milk in the office?

Published on: 30 Sep 2011

In today’s work environment the pace of life seems to be getting faster and faster. Work and study pressures can all increase the amount of time that we spend at work.

I must admit that I need a coffee in the morning before I’m fully up to working speed.

That kick of caffeine always seems to help get my brain into gear.

Over in the States though it’s been reported that Keith Zakheim, the president of multimillion dollar PR firm Beckerman PR, was a little upset when he got into the office early only to find… (in fact this is so bad that I’m finding it difficult to write)… but he found that there was… wait for it… no milk left in the fridge to go with his coffee.

He was so upset that he sent the following email to his staff

From: Keith Zakheim
Date: September 27, 2011 8:20:21 AM EDT
To: Beckerman Staff
Subject: I don’t know what else to do…

I have repeatedly requested until I am blue in the face that the person that finishes the milk must replace the milk. Its not complicated and is a simple sign of respect for fellow employees.

So, imagine my chagrin this morning when I stumbled in at 715 … only to find that the skim milk in the refrigerator had three drops of milk left. Literally 3 drops, an amount that would maybe fill the tummy of a prematurely born mouse. The person that did this is either incredibly lazy, obnoxiously selfish or woefully devoid of intelligence – 3 traits that are consistent with the profile of FORMER Beckerman employees.

As you can tell from the tenor of this email, I am not happy and at my wits end … and I have repeatedly beseeched you to replace the supplies that you consume – whether its pencils, paper, or MILK. This costs you nothing – I pay for it! Yet, it is still repeatedly ignored.

So, I am gravely serious when I write this – if I catch someone not replacing the milk, or at least, in the case where the downstairs store has close already, not sending an email to the office so the first person that arrives (usually Christa or me) can pick one up upon arrival – then I am going to fire you. Im not joking. You will be fired for not replacing the milk, and have fun explaining that one to your next employer. This is not a empty threat so PLEASE don’t test me.

99% of this office consists of great people that work hard, treat their employes with respect, and understand that they are part of something that is bigger than them. However, there seems to be a small element that doesn’t understand this. So its time that they do or else they should start refreshing their resume.

For those of you who have worked for me for years, you know this is not my style so PLEASE take this seriously!

Thank you for your cooperation.

KZ

KEITH ZAKHEIM | CEO
BECKERMAN
ANTENNA GROUP

It’s not been reported what happened when Mr Zakheim subsequently went to the biscuit tin and found there were no biscuits in it.

You would have to be a really sick person to agree with this…

Published on: 06 May 2011

According to pwc, the British do it twice as often as the Americans and Japanese.

Within the UK, if you happen to be a civil servant or state employee then the chances are that you will be doing it 20% more often than the average UK worker.

After polling over 2,000 firms and public sector employees around the world, pwc found that UK workers have an average of 10 days unscheduled absence from their jobs each year.

This is approximately twice the level that is found in the US (5.5 days) and Asia-Pacific (4.5 days), but roughly the same as Western Europe (9.7 days).

They estimated that the total sick days taken across the UK cost the economy in the region of £32 billion a year.

Richard Phelps, HR consulting partner at PwC, says that “absenteeism is a malaise for British business.

With sickness accounting for the lion’s share of absence, the question for employers is what can be done to improve health, morale and motivation. The line between ‘sickie’ and ‘sickness’ can be blurred, with disenchantment at work sometimes exacerbating medical conditions or preventing a speedy return”.

Whilst genuine sickness should be looked upon sympathetically there are no doubt a certain number of people who maybe take a day off due to “sickness” when in fact they aren’t really too ill to go to work but instead just fancy an extra day’s holiday or two.

Now, as a lot of you are members or students of professional bodies I’m sure you’re too ethical to throw a “sickie” and will only be out of the office on sick leave if it is a genuine illness.

Less scrupulous friends of yours though may have noticed that there are various sites on the internet that provide advice on how to take a “sickie” from the office.

One bit of advice is that when phoning up your boss to tell him or her that you are ill you should “make the phone call to your boss whilst lying on your back as you automatically sound groggy”.

This also means that you don’t even have to get out of bed to make the call…

If you found this interesting you may also like:

If you’re overweight, lazy and have a tattoo then maybe this is the perfect job?

Published on: 06 Dec 2010

During the Icelandic volcano eruption earlier this year when air traffic was severely disrupted I travelled on a Stena Lines ferry. The staff were great – polite and very helpful.

There are certain things that employees look for in a leader.

Inspirational, empathetic and knowledgeable are just 3 of the characteristics that successful leaders often exhibit.

Mr Pim de Lange, the director of Stena Lines North Sea route which travels between ports in the UK and the Netherlands recently made comments in a Dutch newspaper where he referred to some of his team in less than inspirational ways.

The majority of workers on the North Sea route come from the UK, the Netherlands and the Philippines.

Mr de Lange was quoted as saying the workers from the UK were fat and covered in tattoos. He also said that it was difficult to find UK workers who were both young enough or fit enough for the physical demands that the job entails.

He did however rush to apologise for the comments later and stated that the comments were taken out of context.

In summary though, it’s probably not the best way of motivating your team and I guess he may not receive a lot of Christmas cards from his UK workers whatever shape or size they are.

Forget who’s in charge of the TV remote control, who’s in control of the TV channels?

Published on: 25 Oct 2010

BSkyB is the largest broadcaster in the UK, reporting a profit of £11.7 million on revenues of £5.9 billion in its most recent financial statements.

Its ownership structure is dominated by News Corporation, the transnational media conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdoch, whose other ventures include numerous newspapers and Fox studios in the USA.

It’s fair to say that Rupert Murdoch is a controversial figure.

A review of the most recent financial statements shows that News Corporation presently owns approximately 39.1% of the shares of BSkyB.  The next two largest shareholders own 5.02% and 3.01% of the votes in the company.

In other words, resisting the might of News Corporation to impose its will on BSkyB would require something more akin to a peasants’ revolt than a more standard company vote in the AGM.

IFRS 3 defines a subsidiary as an entity that is controlled by another entity.

Looking at the evidence, it would appear that the 39.1% ownership would be enough to give control of BSkyB to News Corporation, on grounds that it would be almost impossible to resist decisions favoured by such a dominant investor.

One such decision was appointing James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch as chairman of BSkyB.  Lots of investors didn’t like this, but Murdoch took the helm of the company.

News Corporation produces its financial statements under US GAAP and has always consolidated BSkyB using the equity method, as an associate.

Under IFRS, it would have been arguable that full consolidation as a subsidiary would have presented a more true and fair view, as IFRS uses more principles based recognition of control than US GAAP.

However, a shock recently came to News Corporation, when it tried to increase its holding from 39.1% to a clearly controlling 61%.

The board of BSkyB refused to agree with the chairman that an offer of 700p per share should be accepted.  The board defied its biggest investor and said that they would recommend refusal of any offer less than 800p.  This appears to have come rather as a surprise to the dominant Murdoch family, who show signs of thinking of BSkyB as their fiefdom.

It’s just a nice example of when apparent control is not control and thus how to be cautious in deciding when to consolidate a company as a subsidiary, even if it generally does everything you tell it to.  If there appears to be a chance of the other investors saying “enough” and refusing to give into your will, it’s not a subsidiary.

John Terry and John Adair – what’s the link?

Published on: 05 Feb 2010

Some of you may have been following the press reports this week on the alleged extra-marital affair that John Terry, the current England football captain, had with Vanessa Perroncel the ex-girlfriend of his England football team-mate Wayne Bridge. Terry is due to meet with the England football manager Fabio Capello later on today and will no doubt find out whether he will still be the England captain.

Now whilst this raises some interesting discussion points about whether he should still lead the England team some of you may well be linking this story to various leadership theories! One of the most well known theories is John Adair’s action centred leadership theory.

As a quick reminder of this theory remember that Adair argued that there are 3 core leadership responsibilities of achieving the task, managing the team and managing the individual. The fundamental principle behind this theory was that the leader should adopt each element to the particular situation. On some occasions for example the focus should be more on the team whilst on other occasions the focus would move towards one of the other responsibilities.

If Terry did in fact have an affair then I’ll leave it up to you to decide which part of Adair’s model he was concentrating on at that stage…

The ExP Group