Monday, October 20, 2008
Thom Forbes, October 20, 2008, 11:00 AM
  • Numbers, Numbers, Numbers ... Is That All There Is? The Wall Street Journal

    It's one of those days when dreary metrics seem to dominate the business pages, as if American business has retreated to the foxholes of balancing spreadsheets from the frontlines of moving product. Or maybe everybody's metaphysically hung-over from the ANA convention, covered here by our bright-eyed bloggers, Nina Lentini and Karl Greenberg.

    The Journal reports that if General Motors and Chrysler merge, more than half of Chrysler's 66,000 employees in Michigan could lose their jobs. Thousands more from GM would also be jettisoned. Circuit City may close more than 150 stores; Yahoo is planning major cost cuts including layoffs;  and the Journal's advertising column informs us that marketing budgets are being trimmed in Asia, too.

    Perhaps the most surprising news in the Journal today comes in a guest column by a professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management, who tells us something that we all may intuitively know but dare not say: Employee performance reviews suck.

    Samuel Culbert writes that the "one-side-accountable, boss-administered review is little more than a dysfunctional pretense. It's a negative to corporate performance, an obstacle to straight-talk relationships, and a prime cause of low morale at work. Even the mere knowledge that such an event will take place damages daily communications and teamwork."

    Sounds like the only thing worse might be the employee separation chat. Read the whole story...

  • 'Big Bang' Auto Launches Fizzling Out Brandweek

    Another sign that bottom-line metrics are in the ascendancy comes from this Brandweek story reporting that the launch campaign for the Ford F-150 that begins next month may be the last "big-bang" automotive campaign we'll see for a while.

    "The days of spending millions to launch every vehicle has seen its day," says Art Spinella, president at CNW Marketing.

    The marketing campaign for Kia's Rondo is presented as model of what's happening. It was trickled out to dealers in the fall of 2006 in relative silence as it prepared for a full-on launch in February 2007. There was no TV, little print and some Web.

    "You can't afford to sustain TV for months," said Ian Beavis, who at the time was Kia's vp-marketing and is now evp and executive client services director at media agency Carat. "The departure from big bang launches is totally a function of ROI." Read the whole story...

  • P&G Selling Products At Direct-To-Consumer Site Financial Times

    In a tiny story with potentially massive implications, Jonathan Birchall reports that Procter & Gamble is "supporting" a Web site devoted exclusively to its brands. "In an indication of the sensitivities involved, the site is being operated by a third party, which owns the inventory," he writes.

    The Web site -- theEssentials.com -- brings P&G into direct brand competition with its retailers.

    Birchall also writes that Wal-Mart, P&G's largest customer, is hiring a strategy executive whose tasks include assessing the potential effect of direct-to-consumer sales by its own suppliers. Read the whole story...

  • Report: Arnell Leading Overhaul Of Pepsi Brands Ad Age

    Ad Age reports that Beverage Daily reports that the lead agency on new CMO Dave Burwick's push to restore the sparkle to Pepsi's soft-drink marketing is not long-time agency BBDO but its Omnicom sibling, Arnell.

    Arnell, which was named to the SoBe business in January, is reportedly working on the redesign of many of the brands' packaging graphics, as well as a redesign of the Pepsi globe logo. Agency principal Peter Arnell directed calls for comment to PepsiCo. A PepsiCo spokeswoman said more information on the rebranding will be forthcoming.

    Ad Age writes that "clearly it's a blow for BBDO, which made Pepsi 'the choice of a new generation' and has worked with the brand since 1960." And it points out that "talk has heated up in recent weeks about the beverage giant reaching out to BBDO siblings -- especially TBWA/Chiat/Day -- for ideas on marketing its beverage brands." Read the whole story...

  • Who Says Coors Light Is Iconic? BrandChannel

    This story, which is about the labels on Coors Light bottles changing from white to blue when the beer reaches 39 degrees Fahrenheit, totally lost me at the top of the second paragraph with the following phrase: "The iconic beer, long known as the Silver Bullet ..."

    Coors Light is iconic? Is that because it's 30 years old now? Or because it's the No. 3 brand in the domestic light category? Or is it because Coors Light press releases throw the "i" word around in describing its jejune mock press conferences with washed-up coaches? Read the whole story...

  • Jameses Are Bonding With Marketers USA Today, Ad Age

    Theresa Howard tells us the newest James Bond on the silver and digital screen, Daniel Craig, has attracted marketers of younger, hipper products to a franchise that has long been known for its placements and tie-ins. Among those cited for "Quantum of Solace," which opens Nov. 14 in the U.S., are Coke Zero, Swatch and Avon's Bond Girl 007 Fragrance.

    We'll take at face value the words of Georg Leon, Sony's executive vp, consumer marketing, who says: "What we are finding now is that he not only crosses demographics, men and women, young and old, he has helped extend and broaden Bond so that it's become a culture event."

    Given another sentence, I've no doubt he'd be dubbed iconic, too.

    Writing in Ad Age , Rich Thomaselli says that another James -- Lebron -- probably needs to win a championship ring if he's going to achieve his goal of becoming a global icon along the likes of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods or Muhammed Ali.

    There's also some discussion in the article about whether James' approach to iconic status might be a little too deliberate. "The marketing strategy doesn't quite match the effortless grace of one of [Lebron's] three-point shots," says Don Hinchey, vice president of Denver-based sports-marketing firm the Bonham Group.

    But cry not for the not-yet-iconic Lebron, for I have buried the lede: As it stands, he's the highest-paid endorser in the National Basketball Association, earning an estimated $25 million a year from a cornucopia of top marketers including Nike, MSN, Upper Deck and Coca-Cola. Read the whole story...

  • New Breed Of Shopper Seeks Discounts On Every Purchase Chicago Tribune

    No surprise that they sound like the hondlers of yore. Read the whole story...