Archive for the ‘Mktg – PLC’ Category

Sculley on Jobs … notable quotes

October 24, 2011

In one of the many tribute pieces to Steve Jobs, Business Week published a note from John Sculley.

A couple of lines caught my eye …

On PLC management:

When I first joined Apple, my priority was to squeeze three more years of cash flow out of the near-end-of-life Apple II so Steve would have enough cash runway to create and launch the Mac.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

Steve would say the hardest decisions are what to leave out, not what to put in.

He was the ultimate systems designer.

Always simplifying.

Everything began and ended with the user experience.

Simplify the steps. “Look, we can do it in three steps. … Not good enough, do it in one step.”

The master impresario:

The advances in technology over these years are extraordinary, but Steve wasn’t an engineer.

As an artist he barely drew anything recognizable on his white board.

But as a master impresario, the clarity and brilliance of his creations was genius.

Great companies, noble causes

Great companies must have a noble cause.

Then it’s the leader’s job to transform that noble cause into such an inspiring vision that it will attract the most talented people in the world to want to join it.

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At ripe age of 132, P&G’s first mass marketed brand gets a makeover …

October 17, 2011

Punch line: P&G launches Ivory soap in new colorful packages and with a redesigned logo, and a back-to-basics nostalgic marketing campaign.

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Excerpted from, “P&G launches for Ivory soap

… The remake is part of an effort to breathe new life into Ivory. It comes at a time when Americans are scaling back on spending in the down economy, but are looking for little, cheap ways to pamper themselves … As P&G has focused on bigger, faster-growing brands, the white bar of soap has lagged behind its rival Dove and faced increasing competition from Dial and Irish Spring.

Ivory isn’t among the 24 brands with at least $1 billion in annual sales at P&G … but the soap that floats has a long history with the company.

Ivory was the first brand mass-marketed by P&G. It is the namesake of a P&G research and production center called “Ivorydale.” It’s deeply entrenched in American pop culture as a sponsor of early television soap operas and the first televised major league baseball game …

Ivory is where our origins are … It has a special place in a lot of people’s hearts around here. It’s incredibly important to keep it alive and growing.”

… P&G expects the new campaign to remind people why their families used Ivory in the past, and to attract new users with quality for low price …

“There is so much tail wind at our back: the economic environment, this trend of getting back to things that work, and reminding us of a time when things were a bit simpler.”

… Instead of Ivory’s usual nearly all-white packages, new ones will be more colorful. One is mostly bright blue. The new package emphasizes the 10 bars compared to 8- and 6-packs sold by most competitors with a big “10.” A simpler logo plays off the previous of the 1950s and carries the slogan, “pure, clean & simple.”

… The ads have some understated humor, calling Ivory “meticulously scented to smell exactly like soap” and pledging that “when dirt changes its formula, so will we.” …

Edit by KJM.
Thanks to DM for feeding the lead

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The perils of ‘free’ … Netflix tries to divide and reconquer … bet the under.

September 28, 2011

Punch line: Netflix tried to ‘seed’ their steaming video business with an irresistible offer: free.  But, customers revolted when asked to pay.Now, trying to be clever, Netflix is trying corporate fission: breaking into 2 parts.

I’m betting the under …

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Excerpted from the Atlantic, by Megan McArdle:
The Qwikster and the Dead

Netflix admits that they’d really messed up the transition when they announced the end of free streaming, and that in order to fix it, they  decided to more decisively split their DVD and streaming services.

The DVD part will now be called “Qwikster” and have its own website; the streaming service will retain the Netflix brand.

The internet’s collective reaction sits somewhere between foaming rage, and an enormous collective “What the hey, Netflix?”

It’s so bizarre.. What problem does this solve?

Netflix does have a huge problem.

The company never wanted to be in the mail-order DVD service long-term; it’s not a good business.

Redbox was threatening to carve off the casual users, leaving them with the high-traffic movie buffs who don’t make them money.

Plus any idiot can see that the future is likely to be in painlessly streaming movies over the internet, not putting physical discs in little envelopes and mailing them.

The fact that the Postal Service is near bankruptcy tells you a lot about the viability of business models based on mailing things.

The problem is that they tried to build their streaming service by giving it away for free, as an add-on to their snail-mail service.

This was a good way to add customers.

But the history of the internet indicates that once you convince people something is supposed to be free, or close to it, you will have a devilishly hard time getting them to pay for it.

Unfortunately, users had been conditioned to expect unlimited free ice cream; they didn’t like having to pay for it.

Subscriptions dropped instead of rising.

Netflix stock went into a  rapid decline.


So I understand that Netflix was in a bad place.

But I don’t understand how Qwikster solves any of these problems.

It doesn’t improve their bargaining position with the content providers.

It doesn’t soothe angry customers who don’t like having to pay for stuff they used to get for free.

Thanks to Tags for feeding the lead.

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The death of the PC industry … as we know it.

September 6, 2011

Punch line: Like everything in tech, personal computers were always fated to become commodity appliances.

Excerpted from WSJ:”Steve Jobs and the Death of the Personal Computer

Great technology industries usually die with a whimper.

But last week the curtain came down with a bang on the most famous tech industry of all — personal computers — thanks to Steve Jobs’s retirement from Apple and the less high-profile announcement that Hewlett-Packard was leaving the PC market.

Hewlett-Packard’s announcement was more surprising. H-P was until recently the world’s largest maker of personal computers.

In recent years, though, cost-cutting competitors, market saturation and alternative hardware platforms have sucked most of the profits out of PCs.

Like everything in tech, personal computers were always fated to become commodity appliances.

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Kodak tries to hang on …

October 7, 2010

TakeAway: For years Kodak’s photo kiosks received little traffic as people decided that they’d rather print at home or keep their photos in digital form.

Now Kodak has caught on that consumers are interesting in specialty printing, such as collages, so the company is updating its kiosks for this functionality.

It’s an insight that the company hopes will change its stodgy brand association into something more cutting edge.  But there’s a catch.  You have to buy a mat or a frame.

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Excerpted from Brandchannel, “Kodak Touts Innovations at Photokina,” by Barry Silverstein, September 21, 2010

Kodak, a brand name that may find it a major challenge to shake its association with conventional photography, is doing everything it can to become a hip, socially aware digital photography provider. …

Kodak’s latest entry into the “cool, hot and worthy” category was unveiled this week … The company’s new retailer photo kiosk “automatically enlarges, shrinks, crops, aligns and arranges as many as 13 images on one print.”

… The new “collage option” software will be introduced in December at some 5,000 CVS stores in the US.

There is one catch … The consumer is required to purchase a mat, or a frame with a mat, along with the collage. …

“Most creative collage systems in the market don’t really take the presentation into account — you create the collage but then you have to mount or frame it. Kodak is taking it all the way to the wall,” …

While traditional photo prints have dropped in popularity because of digital photography, specialty printing is now booming for that very same reason.

Specialty sales of such items as posters, postcards and t-shirts made from digital images have increased from $738 million in 2006 to $1.3 billion last year.

Clearly, Kodak is looking to create its own “Kodak moment” and ride the wave with specialty photography products of its own.

Edit by DMG

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Attax hits a home run in the bottom of the ninth

March 25, 2010

TakeAway:  Subject to the product life cycle, popular high growth products will eventually decline into obsolescence unless they are regenerated. 

Baseball cards were following this pattern until Attax breathed fresh life into the age-old favorite. 

Attax seized a new favorite pastime – fantasy baseball – adapted it for baseball cards, and recaptured the hearts of America’s youth. 

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Excerpted from WSJ, “Topps Takes Trading-Card Game, Runs With It,” By Gregory Zuckerman, March 23, 2010

Attax, a sports-card game created by Topps, combines a once-popular kids’ pastime—collecting baseball and other sports cards—with a present-day “fantasy” games twist. Kids can build teams and compete against each other.

Since their 2007 launch, Attax cards, have sold over 100 million packs and now account for about 25% of revenue and profits for Topps …

Prior to the launch of Attax, Topps performance had been slipping … as some kids shifted to videogames and other diversions. Many adult collectors also moved on. When the economic downturn hit … there was worry that sales could fall as weekly allowances shriveled.

But … a 26-year-old Topps employee was tinkering with a revamped sports card, one that aimed to capitalize on the success of fantasy sports games enjoyed by many adults … The Attax game began with soccer in the U.K.; a baseball set is timed for opening day … they were an instant hit …

Last year, Topps tested its baseball cards in the New York market. By the end of the summer, the cards … had sold out of most stores, sending some parents and children on desperate searches.

To introduce the game, Topps set up demonstrations at minor-league stadiums and Little League parks in the New York area, a tactic it plans to expand this summer …

Like traditional baseball cards, the Attax line features glossy player pictures. But rather than list dozens of statistics on the back, the new baseball cards have just three ratings for each player’s ability at pitching and batting.

In games, one player puts out a pitcher, face up, and another a batter, face down. The first player then decides which of several pitches to throw. If the rating for that pitch bests the batter’s rating for those types of pitches a strikeout results; if not, it’s a home run for the player with the batter card …

Fads come and go, of course, especially among fickle youth. And some children call the baseball Attax cards too simple, because each at-bat can result in just two outcomes, a home run or an out. That would make the excitement harder to sustain …

For now, though, interest seems to be building …

“It’s been a monster,” says store manager of a store called Attack of the Baseball Cards … “It’s given kids a reason to collect cards again.”

In recent years, the store manager resorted to running seminars to teach kids the basics about baseball cards, such as how to flip and collect them, trying to revive interest. Now he expects to sell as many as 200 packs of the new cards a week, up from 100 last summer …

Edit by TJS

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PLC regeneration – board games are back and better than before

January 20, 2010

TakeAway:  Board game manufacturers are taking advantage of technology to not only breathe new life into the board game market, but also to enjoy enormous price increases.

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Excerpted from WSJ, “New Twists to the Games People Play,” By Ann Zimmerman and Joseph Pereira, December 9, 2009

Mattel and other makers of traditional games these days are increasingly turning to technology to attract a new generation of players. Hasbro has updated the classic Clue with a Secrets and Spies edition … Monopoly became the No. 1 paid application in the iPhone app store … One of the hottest games this holiday season owes its life to medical science.  Part high-tech Ouija board, part Mousetrap, Mattel’s Mindflex purports to allow you to move objects with your mind through the technology in an EEG … 

Toys “R” Us, which chose the Mindflex as a hot Christmas toy, is also selling a similar product, Star Wars The Force Trainer, by toy maker Uncle Milton Industries , which claims that players can levitate a ball inside a clear plastic 10-inch tower with their minds. It sells for $100.

“It is the first time you actually can use the force,” says VP merchandising at Toys “R” Us, adding that the toy is selling well despite its steep price tag.

With titles like these, toy manufacturers are experiencing something of a game renaissance. While sales of toys in the first nine months of the year were down 2%, board-games sales rose 8%, ahead of almost every category …

It’s unclear if high-tech board games will have staying power, but they’ve definitely created a certain buzz. Despite its $80 price tag, Mindflex is almost sold out. Panicked parents have been writing pleading messages on Twitter and other social-media sites, followed by triumphant posts when they secure a game … The mother of a 9-year-old girl says she didn’t mind paying $110, or a 38% premium, for the game online …

The recession has given a big boost to board games in general—even low-tech ones—as families forgo vacations and costly outings in favor of spending more time at home. Hasbro, the largest board-game seller with 53% share of the market, has capitalized on the hunkering-down effect, partnering with food companies and retailers in 120 countries to sell products as part of a “Family Game Night” promotion in the past year.

To entice new sales of traditional games, Hasbro has tried to spice them up with modern features …

The board-game business is also getting a boost from some parents who resent the growing popularity of electronic games …

At $10 to $35 a pop for most traditional games, board games are cheaper alternatives to vacations, ski-trips or even visits to the movies …

“To tell you the truth,” says Mrs. Murphy, a real estate agent, “we had forgotten how much fun games like Clue and Scrabble and Uno can be—not to mention how much money we saved.”

Edit by TJS

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Extra mayo, please: extending the product life cycle

December 1, 2009

Takeaway: As Americans have tightened their budgets throughout the current recession, the relatively mature mayonnaise market has experienced significant growth.

Sensing a large jump in top-of-mind awareness, Unilever has been making a strong push of its Hellman’s brand to take advantage of the rise of brown-baggers.

With the economy hopefully turning around, the brand is now in a classic dilemma of figuring out how to extend the product life cycle.

Their plan: pushing the “real” ingredients that make up mayo and give it the mystique of the secret ingredient you’ve had in your pantry that can enhance all dishes, from appetizer to dessert.

Creating new uses for a product is a tremendous way to extend that product life cycle; just ask Arm & Hammer. And with Thanksgiving just around the corner, maybe Hellman’s can continue to grow…one clogged artery at a time.

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Excerpted from BrandWeek, “The Mayo Clinic” by Elaine Wong, November 7, 2009

Thanks to the recessionary rise of eating at home and brown-bagging lunches for the office, mayo is no longer the staid standby in the back of the kitchen cupboard. And so sales growth — any sales growth — is welcome news for the folks who work in Hellmann’s nondescript office park in Englewood Cliffs. But Fish’s efforts raise some hard questions, among them: As the recession lifts, will mayo’s popularity fade once more? Will vigorous marketing be enough to overcome the market’s vicissitudes? And, in these health-conscious times, is it even possible to overcome the fact that mayonnaise is among the fattiest foods on the market?

Nonetheless, Fish is confident he can get fat-conscious, weight-obsessed Americans to eat more of the stuff. He plans to do that through a combination of creating more uses for the condiment and through the nostalgia sell — appealing to consumers who long to recreate the good-old days of meat and potatoes and other so-called “real food.”

“Remember,” Fish says, “Hellmann’s has always been made with eggs, oil and vinegar.” It’s the sort of message that purists would appreciate — and there seem to be a growing number of those. They’re the sort who devour books by culinary journalist Michael Pollan, and who thrust Julia Child’s half-century-old Mastering the Art of French Cooking back into best seller status in the wake of the film Julie & Julia.

Fish’s approach is on full display in this month’s “Hellmann’s real holiday helpings” campaign, which stars chef Bobby Flay. The Food Network personality is appearing in print and online ads touting Hellmann’s as an essential component in family-oriented, Thanksgiving meals. Ads from OgilvyEntertainment show Flay cooking alongside mothers and their kids. (It is Hellmann’s contention that involving children in the cooking process renders them more willing to eat the results. Plus, introducing them to mayo can’t hurt, either.)

“Recipes that require you to go to the grocery store and buy 10 new things that you didn’t happen to have is asking a lot of people,” Fish says. “This isn’t the time to be asking people to go the extra mile.” If mom is cooking and happens to have a jar of Hellmann’s around, she won’t have to go that extra mile at all.

At the same time, much of Fish’s strategy also hinges on getting home cooks to consider Hellmann’s mayo as their “secret sauce — that special something that I’ve done that you don’t know about that makes this dish taste so good,” he said. “We know from research that consumers love recipes with a secret ingredient in them,” Longfield adds. And mayonnaise, in this instance, does the trick.

Unilever has, in fact, been a staunch proponent of the “real food” movement. The basic line of reasoning is that consumers are more likely to buy goods from companies who can readily tell their ingredients’ stories. And Unilever’s not alone. In introducing Select Harvest, for instance, The Campbell Soup Co. touted it as a soup line “made from only ingredients that people can readily recognize.” Haagen-Dazs also has a line called Five named after the ice cream’s total list of ingredients.

Americans might not like the idea of fat, but they’re still willing to accept it. As the resurgence of Julia Child’s landmark French cookbook proved, Americans’ fear of fat seems secondary to their appreciation of honest and wholesome foods — many of which have lots of fat.

But how long would the good news last? With economists having just declared the recession officially over, it’s only a matter of time before brown-bagging it for lunch will lose its retro cool and families will again go out to eat for dinner. In fact, according to senior associate brand manager Jessica Teilborg, “the biggest competitor we deal with every day is out-of-home dining.”

Edit by JMZ

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