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An impressive lady but competition is coming.

She’s an interesting lady.

Her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. She’s 56 years old and has had over 150 different careers including being a lifeguard, a doctor and a Spanish language teacher. Perhaps most impressively of all she travelled into space in 1965, four years before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

She’s managed to do all of this despite being only 29 cm tall.

The Barbie doll is the centrepiece of many a child’s toy cupboard and it’s been estimated that over a billion of them have been sold in more than 150 countries since they were first introduced in 1959.

There have been a number of business issues faced by Barbie recently. Even though there’s an Accountant Barbie, I should in fact clarify that and say that there have been a number of business issues faced by Mattel, the owner of the Barbie brand.

Some of you may have heard of Bratz dolls.

Bratz dolls were a competitor to Barbie dolls back in the early 2000s and they were pretty successful. They were so successful that by 2004 they had taken more than 40% of the UK toy doll market and had in fact also taken the top spot for sales of dolls which had been held by Barbie since records began 10 years earlier.

In 2006 Mattel sued MGA Entertainment, the owners of the Bratz brand as they claimed that the Bratz doll creator Carter Bryant was working for Mattel when he developed the idea behind Bratz.

In essence Mattel argued that as they were paying Mr Bryant to work on Mattel matters and not those of another venture the Bratz doll idea was Mattel’s and not MGAs.

Back in 2008 a Californian judge agreed with Mattel’s claim and told MGA to stop making and selling Bratz dolls and also ordered MGA Entertainment to pay Mattel $100 million in damages.

However, MGA weren’t happy with this decision and the case went back to court in 2011 where a federal jury delivered a verdict supporting MGA.

Now whilst the court cases between Mattel and MGA are all very interesting, if you’re a parent of a young daughter what is probably of more relevance is that the Bratz dolls are being relaunched onto the market this coming weekend.

So, if you’re queuing up with your daughter to buy a Bratz doll this weekend you can impress her with your background knowledge of who owns the brand as well as let her know that the UK doll market is the second largest and second fastest growing segment of the UK toy market and has grown 11% over the last year to reach £288m.

I’m sure she’ll be very impressed with your discussion and won’t at all be interested in the doll she’s about to get….

Is it a good thing to be smelling of beer?

I’ve checked the calendar and it’s July. It’s not April or to be more precise, it’s not 1 April.

It may sound like an April fool’s joke but it’s not.

Carlsberg, the famous Danish beer company has just released a new product.

“A new product?” I hear you say.

What would be a suitable new product for a beer company?

Some of you may be thinking that it’s a new flavour of beer or maybe a complimentary product such as a “stay chilled beer glass” but no, Carlsberg have taken the concept of brand extension a step further.

They have just announced the launch of a series of male grooming products. Yes, shampoo and body wash for men made out of Carlsberg beer.

In a partnership with cosmetics producer Urtegaarden, Carlsberg has launched a product range which contain the main ingredient found in Carlsberg lager (barley, hops and yeast) but instead of producing it in such a way that you drink it, it is produced in such a way that you rub it on your hair or body to wash.

Now, whilst some of us have no doubt ended up with beer on our hair and/or body when we were younger this time it would be a deliberate move to keep clean.

A survey conducted by Epinion found that 65% of men in the UK were daily groomers and nearly half of the men used their girlfriends or wives grooming products on a weekly basis.

Zoran Gojkovic, who not only has a great job title being “Director of Research at Carlsberg Laboratories”, was also quoted as saying “Men do care about looking good, but they often seem to lack alternatives to the more female-friendly beauty options available. And what better way to give them just that, than to introduce a grooming series made from beer?”

Each product in the Beer Beauty series contains 0.5 litres of real Carlsberg beer which is freeze-dried into powder and then mixed with organic ingredients in order to create products including shampoo, conditioner and body lotion.

More details can be found here and will this mean that wives and girlfriends the world over will no longer be criticising men when they say they “stink of beer”?

Be careful what you say as you never know who can hear you.

As you progress through your career there’s a good chance that at some stage or another you’ll have to make a presentation involving a microphone.

It may be stating the obvious but whenever a microphone is near you think carefully about what you say.

microphoneAmerican basketball player Nigel Hayes unfortunately didn’t appreciate that his voice would be picked up so clearly before a press conference started.

Whilst waiting for the press conference to start, Mr Hayes noticed a journalist by the name of Debra Bollman in the audience. He turned to his fellow players who were sat next to him and whispered “God, she’s beautiful”.

With the microphones doing what they were supposed to do they picked this statement up loud and clear and the journalists all laughed.

Mr Hayes’ reaction when he realised that his comments had been overheard can be seen in the video below.

Looking on the bright side for Mr Hayes though, at least he thought the journalist was attractive as it would have been a lot worse had he said “God, she’s ugly”.

James Bond – from Mexico with love.

The James Bond franchise is one of the most successful film series in the world but this success doesn’t come cheap.

It’s been reported that the producers of Spectre, the latest 007 movie, are facing a spiralling budget and the current gross budget is over $300 million which would make it one of the most expensive films ever made.

james bond in mexicoThat’s a lot of money and the producers are under pressure to cut costs to reduce the film’s budget to $250 million.

Gone are the days of relying on the revenue from cinema tickets and DVD sales to cover the costs. Film companies are looking at ever inventive ways of generating revenue.

One idea which has been around for a while is that of product placement. This is where a company pays to have its product on prominent display in the film.

We’ve blogged elsewhere about Heineken paying to have their beer placed in the previous Bond movie but the latest Bond movie has taken that a step further and instead of simple “product placement” it has now got “country placement”.

It’s been reported that Mexican officials are paying the Bond producers up to $20 million to portray a positive image of Mexico in the film.

$14 million will be for filming approximately 4 minutes of footage in Mexico in the opening scenes and $6 million will be paid for the producers highlighting the skyline and modern features of Mexico City.

The idea behind the payment is that it would be a great showcase for the country’s tourism industry. After all, James Bond rushing around in some fantastic scenery should be a great advert for the country.

They also went further in promoting the country as the agreement included a Mexican actress being cast in a leading role. It was recently announced that Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman has joined the cast of Spectre as Bond girl Estrella.

Whilst $20 million is a lot of money, in my mind it seems pretty good value for the Mexican tourist board. They will have stunning shots of Mexico included in the film and the film itself is going to be shown worldwide.

Mexico’s famous tequila drink though won’t be featured in the film as Mr Bond will be drinking sponsored vodka in his vodka martinis (shaken not stirred) as Polish Spirit maker Belvedere has signed a multi-million pound deal to product place Belvedere Vodka in the film.

Somebody is calling him a loser…

Having a good website is vital in today’s business environment but if you’re looking for a certain name for your website there’s a chance you may have to pay a lot of money for it.

360.com has reportedly just been sold by Vodafone to the Chinese security software and mobile services company Beijing Qihoo Technology company for $17 million.

loser business manThe Chinese Technology company previously used 360.cn but they wanted the .com domain to drive their global strategy.

One website that was sold for an undisclosed sum of money is loser.com. Whilst it’s not clear how much was paid for the domain it’s fair to say that it would have been pretty expensive with some people estimating it to be up to $500,000.

But what was the return and what was the website used for?

If you go to loser.com it redirects through to the rapper Kanye West’s Wikipedia page.

Yes, whoever bought the loser.com domain obviously doesn’t like Kanye West but does have a lot of money!

If you’re interested in other expensive domain names, the top 15 most expensive web domains which have been sold are:

1. Insurance.com $35.6 million in 2010
2. VacationRentals.com $35 million in 2007
3. PrivateJet.com $30 million in 2012
4. Sex.com $24 million in 2014
5. Internet.com $18 million in 2009
6. 360.com $17 million in 2015
7. Insure.com $16 million in 2009
8. Hotels.com $11 million in 2001
9. Fund.com £9.99 million in 2008
10. Porn.com $9.5 million in 2007
11. Porno.com $8,888,888 in Feb 2015
12. Fb.com by Facebook for $8.5 million in 2010
13. Business.com $7.5 million in 1999
14. Diamond.com $7.5 million in 2006
15. Beer.com  $7 million in 2004

Looking at the above list makes me think what a great idea it would have been if I’d thought of buying up a load of domain names back in the 90s when the internet was just getting going and domain names were very cheap.

The people that bought those sites and then sold them are no doubt doing very well and flying around in their (number 3 in the list above) whilst drinking lots of (number 15 from the list above) and possibly wearing lots of (number 14 from the list above).

Will you meet your future partner at a segmentation event?

Online dating sites are big business.

Years ago you would more than likely have met your future partner face to face at some social event whereas nowadays there is a high chance that you’ll meet your future husband or wife on the internet.

anonymous_coupleThe online dating industry is also great at segmenting the market. In addition to the more mainstream sites such as match.com and friendfinder.com there are more niche dating sites out there including for example:

tallfriends.com – where as the name suggests, you can meet tall people;

farmersonly.com – to meet people that work in the farming industry;

meetingmillionaires.com – where yes, they do check your wealth when you join up, and

womenbehindbars.com – where you can meet women that are currently in jail (this has the added advantage of not having to pay for an expensive meal on your first date).

One particular dating site in America called Positive Singles has been in the news for the wrong reasons recently.

The market segment that it is aiming for is people who have sexually transmitted infections and who want to meet potential partners who have the same infections.

Understandably, people who sign up to the site are keen to keep their situation confidential and don’t want their details made public. Unfortunately for some of the members of the site their images and certain information were made public by Successful Match, the company that ran PositiveSingles.com.

The end result was that some of these individuals took the company to court claiming that they were misled about their privacy when they joined the site and a jury has just ordered the dating company to pay $1.5m in compensation and $15m in damages to one particular individual.

So in summary, from a business point of view the company was pretty good at segmentation techniques but not very good about maintaining privacy policies.

And whilst the one gentleman that complained about his details being released was no doubt very upset, hopefully the $16.5m he received as a result of the breech of confidentiality is making it easier for him to find a girlfriend and in fact he may well be switching from the positivesingles.com site to the meetingmillionaires.com site.

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.

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…

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!

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.