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Monday, December 28, 2009

Theme Park to develop new ride and promises it will be the scariest ever

First of all Happy Christmas to all of you...For all those that have the patience to read an article today I have found this news to be very interesting...

Have you ever been to a Theme Park? If yes, you'd probably gone to a horror house and some times you laugh with what you see...however this is might not be the case of the new Alton Towers Resort ride. In fact this park is to launch "the scariest ride in the UK" next year, it announced a week ago.



Thirteen, the new attraction is going to built on the site of the old Corkscrew roller coaster (which has gone on pension) and it aims to combine physical and psychological fear and will become the first ever "psychoaster". The ride which is set to cost £15 million will be restricted to 16 to 55-year-olds only and visitors will be limited to one ride per day due to concerns of emotional maturity and physical health. Apart from this visitors will also be required to sign a waiver which assures the resort of their physical and mental health in an attempt to avoid any resulting lawsuits which may result from visitors experiencing the ride.

This is not the first success of Alton Towers' as it had successfully deployed rides such as Nemesis, Oblivion and Air. The new ride will be based on the discovery of an unearthed ancient burial site in an area of unexplored woodland known as the Dark Forest. Thirteen with be built on a burial site that is part of the original Alton Abbey, one of the main features will take place inside the unearthed crypt.


Will you be one of the visitors to take on this challenge?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ann Summers' rides on BA wave

Where you searching for innovative marketing campaigns? Then search no further then Ann Summers'. This company is very active in the online media industry and in fact was very fast to react to international events. iCrossing, Ann Summers' digital marketing agency, was very quick to bid on BA strike-related keywords (obviously when you think about it you will immediate notice the potential that these words have given the amount of Christmas travel that was expected) so that when users searched for the latest news on the industrial action, a sponsored ad promoting the retailer emerged.

The link read "The planes may be grounded but you can still join the mile high club!" A link through to Ann Summers Online is also provided. This campaign started a large wave of praise for people who are on the lookout for marketing geniuses especially on twitter... below are some examples of comments on Twitter:-

@funky72 wrote: " Enter BA strike into Google for example of great tactical search advertising ... nice work Ann Summers :)"
@annaats said: "Some nice rapid response paid search ads around the BA strike ;)"




This was not the first smart maneuver by Ann Summers'...During the cold snap in February this year, using snow-related search terms, the agency launched a sponsored link with the strap line 'Brrr...cold out there, why not stay in and get steamy with Sex Toys from Ann Summers'.

Lets all wait and see what's the next big news will be and how Ann Summers will react.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Procter & Gamble adds a new brand to its existing portfolio

Procter & Gamble is still going on with it strategic acquisitions in order to strengthen key areas of the business. In this regards, Procter & Gamble has agreed to buy the global air-care brand Ambi Pur for $470m from Sara Lee Corporation.

This acquisition of Ambi Pur strengthens P&G's global leadership in home care and specifically air care by extending the reach into new markets and strength the it's position in existing ones.




Ambi Pur which is a market leader in the Air-Care products in a lot of European countries will bring new innovative products to the existing Air Care portfolio of P&G. These technologies include car air fresheners, battery-powered air fresheners, toilet rim blocks and various non-energized air fresheners. P&G will now be able to leverage these additional technologies into it's existing brands in order to innovate and reinvigorate it's current brands.

Ambi Pur generated annual sales of approximately €260 million in the year ending June 2009.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Aer Lingus in a stuggle to save itself against another takeover attempt

Aer Lingus has started sounding the takeover alarm. The new head of the airline has warned the company risks being taken over by its larger rival Ryanair unless all employees agree to his restructuring plans for sweeping cost cuts.

The issue is that if Aer Lingus isn't capable to control it's own costs and plan ahead , then the likelihood of being taken over and hence remain non independent is more likely to occur. Aer Lingus biggest rival is Ryanair, which has already placed two bids for Aer Lingus over the past years. Ryanair first bid €2.80 a share for Aer Lingus in October 2006, valuing the company at €1.48bn. That takeover was blocked by the European Commission on competition grounds. A second bid worth half that of the first in December last year also failed after the Irish government, which has a 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus, said it undervalued the airline.

According to Irish takeover laws, Ryanair has the opportunity of making another takeover bid in late January...it is believed that the failure to reach an agreement with unions will increase the likelihood of the bid. Ryanair who already control just over 29 per cent of Aer Lingus is seeking to increase it shareholding to take full control.

The new chief executive officer of Aer Lingus who joined just a few months ago has devised plans and started talks to cut job and pays in order to save about €97m, however the Airline is still struggling in the negotiations with the pilots.

Aer Lingus this year reported a pre-tax loss of €119.7m and analysts say a failure to cut costs could jeopardise its independence.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

ASDA Against Man Boobs

ASDA is trying to improve men's image...but how? The supermarket's clothing brand George has launched a new range of Body Sculpture Vests in response to a growing concern over excess chest fat or ‘Moobs' (man boos) amongst British men.


This was done in response to a National Survey done by ASDA where 60% of the women admitted that their partners have beer belly and most probably moobs. Of these 60%, half of them would like to see their partners doing something to solve the problem.

The Body Sculpt Vests helps support and shape excess fat around the chest and stomach area to give the illusion of a flat chest. The Vest was launched for £7 and will be available only online for now so as to guarantee anonymity for those males that want to do something to solve the fat problem.

A recent survey from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) reported a 44% increase in male breast reduction surgery and stomach liposuction between 2007 and 2009. A representative for the ASDA's brand said that the launch reflects an increase in male body confidence issues. While woman have been provided with all the tool to control fat and boob issues (with push up bras and minimising bras), why can't men be given a helping hand too?

What could be the next item to come out for sale?..I leave it up to you imagination.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Henry Scandal has its repercussions

Everybody must have heard about the probably even watched Henry's (French Footballer) latest goal. Unfortunately for Henry he did not use his foot to put the ball in the net but used a "helping hand". As could have been expected, this goal lead to a huge wave of negative publicity against the French international player especially for his unprofessional behaviour.

What was the result of this negative publicity?

Apart from leading the same Henry to consider quitting Football, it left it's repercussions on brands which he used to represent. One of these brands is Gillette. The Sun (British Tabloid Newspaper) managed to notice something. Gillette had an advert on their website showing Federer, Tiger Woods and Henry all holding a symbol of their sport in their hand. It is useless to say that Henry was holding a Football in his hand.

However Gillette had to intervene and edit a little bit the advert on their French site. As can be seen from the following video (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/video/article300101.ece?vxSiteId=6247211d-66e0-4454-b73a-3f1610efa39a&vxChannel=Football&vxClipId=1347_SUN40364&vxBitrate=300 ), in the French version of the advert the Football was removed from Henry's hand. The disappearance of the ball could be seen as an attempt to save Henry further embarrassment after his scandalous lack of sportsmanship last week.

His double handball helped him set up France's goal which sent them to next year's World Cup at the expense of the Republic of Ireland.

Gillette in reply to this claim denied they changed Henry's picture in response to the recent scandal. They insisted Henry was not pictured with the ball in his hand on the French website

The shaving firm's spokesman James Nunn said: "We have spoken to the French Gillette team and they are not aware of any recent changes that have been made to their website."

Will this have further repercussions?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Everybody wants Cadbury

Cadbury has become very attractive, not only for it chocolate but for all it's business. After the hostile takeover attempts by Kraft Foods' all other major confectionery brands are starting to see whether they can produce a counter offer to takeover the British Brand.


One of these companies is Hershey which is controlled by a charitable trust. The Trust has encouraged the management to consider making a counter offer for Cadbury of around $17bn in such a way to topple the $16.2bn offer made by Kraft Foods.



However the bid is not imminent as there are a lot of things that Hershey has to analyse...one of these is to weigh the effect that such a huge transaction (that would include a combination of stock, debt and a multi billion-dollar contribution from deep-pocketed investors such as pension funds) would effect the overall viability of the company. Cadbury is larger than Hershey so the latter must be very careful not to end up like Porsche, who tried to take over Volkswagen but ended up being takeover by the same brand.

It is also thought that Hershey is seeking the cooperation of the Italy brand Ferrero so as to form a consortium that would bid for the British Brand. However, although Ferrero has expressed it's interest for Cadbury to the UK authorities, it is sill unclear whether Ferrero is ready to take this large step.

Hershey has an advantage over Kraft Foods as it has been working closely with Cadbury for a number of years by distributing the British Brand in the US. Hershey may be a welcome alternative in what has become an increasingly contentious standoff between Cadbury’s top executives and Kraft.

How would this end up? Will Kraft manage to takeover the British Brand or will Cadbury manage to hold back and defend itself from any takeover bid?

Friday, November 13, 2009

VW overtakes Toyota in manufacturer battle

A constant battle exist on who is to become the leading car manufacturers in the world and the crown seems to be always changing hands...This year the people seem to have wanted a leader driving a small unassuming little VW bug.

The U.K.’s Guardian wrote that, "Volkswagen-Porsche has overtaken Toyota to become the world's largest car manufacturer as the German group benefits from state-backed stimulus packages around the globe." Volkswagen was reported to have produced a total of 4.4 million vehicles so far this year. This is about 400,000 more cars than its closes rival Toyota. This milestone was possible as Volkswagen took over Porsche earlier this year (after ironically Porsche failed in the attempt to buy Volkswagen).

Apart from this there were other economical factors that helped VW to overtake Toyota...for example Toyota has closed some plans this year and also by looking at the net gainers from the European support for buying new cars, Volkswagen was the leader.

The question is whether VW can keep the lead as Toyota has an estimated total capacity to produce 10million cars a year...what do you think?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Marmite opens it's first branded shop in London

Unilever, the multinational FMCG group is trying to make the best out of it's marmite brand and after having undertaken various product extensions to it by introducing Marmite-flavoured rice cakes and breadsticks, it has now decided to trial it's first Marmite branded shop.

The shop opened this week on Regent Street and will be open seven days a week. The store stocks more than 100 Marmite-inspired products, some of which will be sold exclusively through the shop. It is surprising that the shop, apart from selling the famous jars of marmite and other marmite based food products, it will also be selling clothes, artwork and Christmas boxes.

This idea has been on Unilever's to-do-list from last year as the company wished to take a share of the lucrative and under served breakfast market. The tea & toast bar aims to promote itself through its social networking website such as Twitter.

So if you're in Regent Street it might be a good idea to drop...even if you don't like marmite as it sells other non food items...let us know what you think about the new shop.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Specsavers vs ASDA...who is the real specsaver?

A few weeks ago I posted an article relating to issue with patents and another article about Pimms and Sainsbury clash...apparently these are not the only clashes around. A issue has arisen between ASDA and Specsavers.

The issue arose due to the use by ASDA of a similar logo to the one used by Specsavers (see logos below). Specsavers have been using the logo for quite some time and hence said that the new logo being used by ASDA is misleading customers. Moreover, ASDA has been using a slogan which add a further link to Specsavers as it says 'Be a real spec saver at Asda'.

According to Specsavers this was done on purpose and Specsavers filed a court order for ASDA to stop using the logo and slogan. Given the hot issue, the judge agreed to treat the case urgently, ruling there was enough evidence that Specsavers' reputation was threatened by Asda Optician's marketing campaign, which was launched last month.

In response to this, Asda yesterday agreed to stop using the slogan after this week but will continue to use the logo. Do you think that ASDA will win this case or will Specsavers manage to beat the giant?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Marketing Stunts...do they always work?

It is said that guerilla marketing or marketing stunts are the best way to attract attention and get free press coverage. However is the result always desirable for the company...apparently not, or at least this was the case of Tele2.

A publicity stunt involving a fake meteorite strike in Latvia has totally backfired with Tele2 (a Swedish telecoms company) possibly losing a government contract. Tele2 admitted that the meteorite crash has been staged in the Latvian countryside and the hoax claimed that this strike caused a 10 metre wide crater. This stunt has alerted the Latvian emergency services who went rushing to the scene together with scientist only to find that this was all a stunt.

All this saga was recorded and posted on YouTube, with the video registering more than 400,000 views. Tele2 said that the stunt was part of a wider marketing campaign that is due to be revealed later on this year. However this has not gone down well with the Latvian Government. The interior minister has told that it is not acceptable for a company to promote itself using public fund, especially in a period when Latvia has been very hard hit by the economic downturn registering a very high rate of unemployment and the biggest fall in GDP in the European Union. In an attempt to save its face, Tele2 has reportedly said that it will reimburse the government over any expenses incurred by the stunt.




Will this be enough to save it from losing all contracts in the country? We'll wait and see...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Advertising Standards Authority rule against Bet365

How many times have you read or watched an advert promoting free bets? The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has now taken action.

The ASA has pulled two press ads featured in the Racing Post for igaming site Bet365.com, after it received complaints that the ads were misleading. The complaint read that the advert did not clarify that the free bet was not free at all. In fact to get the maximum advertised free bet of £200 the punter had to part with £900 of his own money. Bet365 replied by saying that the advert stated that the offer was subject to terms and conditions.


Bet365 said that the terms were too complex to be included in the ads but were readily available on its website. It felt the magazine’s readership were an educated betting audience and would automatically understand the terms of the free bets. The ASA took noticed of the fact that consumers were required to spend £900 to obtain the full £200 of free bets, with a minimum spend of £25 to receive a bet worth £25.

The ASA considered that these conditions were very important and that if publish they would have influenced consumers’ understanding of the offer and because the information had not been included in the ads they were likely to mislead.

The ASA has ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form. Will this revolutionise the igaming adverts?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Legal Disputes against giant companies

Big companies are always under the spotlight when it comes to the introduction of new technologies, however sometimes smaller companies question whether the new technology is really new or whether it actually belongs to another company...this is the case of Elan against Apple. Apple, lately has been acclaiming the fact that it has a lot of multi-touch patents however it must be a little bit concerned about the fact that last week a news came out that it's on the receiving end of a lawsuit from Elan Microelectronics.



Elan makes keypads for laptops, more specifically those used in the EeePC. It claims that Apple has infringed two of its patents and is seeking an injunction on the sales of the MacBook, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Although they are unlikely to get the spot on sales, and given the fact that they have already won a similar case against another company (Synaptics) on one of the same patents, the chance is high that Apple might be forced to settle.

The issue of patent infringement does not only happen between small and large companies but it also happens between large famous companies too...it is interesting to try to find out whether patent infringement is done knowingly or due to a lack of proper patent research. The fact is that the purpose of patents is to protect the inventor of new technologies in such a way that inventors continue to come up with new inventions...hence it is important to protect these inventors ideas while at the same time making sure that everyone can benefit from the new discoveries.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Failing to Act is Acting to fail

It is interesting and at the same time a pity to read how a company can drive away huge clients and lose money without taking immediate action to tap the source of the problem. I'm speaking about Royal Mail and the strikes which have been on and off since last July. This left a sizable dent on the image of Royal Mail, a reliable postal partner, as well as its bottom line.



Two huge companies, Amazon.co.uk and ebay.co.uk have take action to avoid being caught in the issue both directly and indirectly. Whereas Amazon has decided to act directly (given that it contract the postal provider itself) ebay is using lobbying to try to diminish the impact that such strikes are having on sellers depending on Royal Mail.

It was announced that Amazon is searching an alternative mail partner that will ensure as minimal disruption as possible to its services in the run up to the Christmas period, which is seen as vital after the recession. This could lead to Royal Mail losing a contract of a reported value of about £25 million (Amazon is the second largest client of Royal Mail). Apart from this, one needs to consider the extensive damage that these strikes are having on the brand of Royal Mail. While companies are starting to look at alternatives (which will give a boost to competition), many customers are trying to avoid Royal Mail as it is slow and inefficient.

In my opinion, although the company should not give in to any request made by Unions (who sometimes use strike measures as a threatening tool), it must sit around a table with the representative of its employees and Unions and try to find a solutions as quickly as possible. The sooner this is done the less the harm Royal Mail will suffer...Should it decide to wait and see it might face a higher damage then if it gave in to union request.


P.S. This will be my last article for the next two weeks as I won't be having access to Internet...will see you soon.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Diageo withdraw legal actions against Sainsbury

Some time ago I had written about the case where Diageo, the company which owns Pimm's, had initiated legal action against supermaket giant Sainsbury. Today we have more news about the issue...at the time I had asked who will win the game, will it be the supplier or the distributor. The answer is that an amicable deal was reached as probably the threat was too large for Diageo.

Diageo who started legal proceedings against Sainsbury's in August over Pitcher's, was resolved last week. Sainsbury's can continue to sell the Pitcher's brand, but will add its name to the label and change the colouring from gold to orange. Sainsburys' own brand Pitcher's is cheaper than Pimm's and is currently priced at £10.79 for a single 70cl bottle on the Sainsbury's website.

In a joint statement the two companies said that Diageo and Sainsbury's are pleased to confirm that the dispute regarding Diageo's Pimm's brand and Sainsbury's Pitchers brand has been amicably settled and the legal proceedings withdrawn. Both companies are very pleased with the outcome and look forward to continuing our strong trading relationship

Before this amicable deal, things did not look good at all as Diageo had issues a statement in August saying that they can confirm that they had initiated legal proceedings against Sainsbury's in relation to an intellectual property matter. However Sainsbury dug its heels in and replied back with its own statement saying that they intended to vigorously defend themselves against these allegations. They claimed that customers are savvy enough to know exactly what they're buying.

The saga has come to an end but there could be other companies who try to go down this route to defend their brands...there will always be a power struggle however in these cases an amicable deal is always worth it for both brands!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Woolworths set for revival

I was reading an interesting article on the big brands which went bust during the credit crunch over the past year. I remember it all started with the fall of the banks and Woolworths. It was headline news everywhere, the big and long surviving brand lost it's battle...however the economy is recovering and new stores are opening again...it was here that I read that even Woolworth's is being reopened (in it's brick and mortar format) and it seeks to relaunch under the new name 'Alworths'. Could this be the proof of the end of the recession?





The idea is the brainchild of former Woolworths commercial director Tony Page, former UBS banker Gareth Thomas and former Woolworths store development manager Andy Latham.The Independent claims the plan is set for the launch of 50 stores, which will be Woolworths in all but name.

However problems started to merge as Page will not be involved in the new launch and is now threatening legal action against Latham who is set to launch the store on his own. According to the Indipendent, Alworths stores are set to open in Didcot in Oxfordshire, Faversham in Kent and Wokingham in Berkshire. The new chain will not be able to sell Woolworths' former own-brand products which have been bought by various chains including Argos (which bought Chad Valley toy range) and Shop Direct (which bought the Ladybird childrenswear brand).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Taxi's go 2.0

The new Taxi Service is called greentomatocars (http://twitter.com/greentomatocars) and the company claims to be the first private hire service in the UK to take Taxi bookings via Twitter. The company's green credentials are based on using what it claims to be the greenest car on the market - the Toyota Prius.

Bookings can be made by sending a direct or private message to greentomatocars with the details of the journey required. The company will then Tweet back, containing a unique booking reference confirming and hence confirming the booking.




The company is trying to build a community about it...a way of increasing word of mouth about it's service riding the wave of it's green credentials. Visitors can participate in an online conversation around environmental issues. Asked about why Twitter, founder Tom Pakenham, said: "Twitter has become such a phenomenon and with so many people in London using it, we are delighted to be able to use Twitter to build a closer relationship with our customers and make booking a car simpler and easier than ever."





This is not the only booking service via Twitter, last week, a Twitter-based hotel booking engine launched called Inoqo. This booking engine enables customers to book and check-in within 48 hours and take advantage of special deals.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tesco Model found to be an illigal immigrant

Fatou Cham, a checkout girl (checkout number 6, Tesco, east London) was picked by Tesco to model for a glossy advertising blitz however she was later exposed as being an illegal immigrant.


Ms. Cham came to the UK from Gambia in 1998 on a student visa (studying banking, economics and finance at London Metropolitan University) however stayed after it expired in 2001.



Ms. Cham was chosen to model for the Florence and Fred clothing range by Tesco from a pool of hundreds of hopefuls for an ad campaign used in women's magazines. The advert showed Ms Cham modelling in a blue dress with the words below the image saying "Designed by F&F. Priced by Tesco. "

Immigration officers questioned her at her home in East Ham, east London, on Monday. She was quoted to say that she was excited to be chosen for the Tesco campaign and had hoped it would bring her other opportunities. However everything went wrong.

How do you think this might affect Tesco's image?

Friday, September 25, 2009

First Direct Embraces Web 2.0

Speaking about digital advertising and Web 2.0, First Direct seems to have embraced this concept to the full. In fact the brand, has decided to launch a campaign that will include both positive and negative consumer comments about its service and brand.

The press, outdoor and digital campaign will use a selection of comments about First Direct made on blogs and forums from all parts of the net. It is setting up a new microsite, Firstdirect.com/live, that will serve as an aggregator of all mentions of the brand (both positive and negative) that would allow the users to form their own opinion about the brand.

It's all about being open with one's own customers and try to make advertising more credible and more impartial. According to Natalie Cowen (Marketing Communication Manager of First Direct) ‘It's a very open and transparent way of demonstrating why we're the number-one bank for customer satisfaction...It's a campaign not many brands, let alone banks, would be able to launch.'

The bank has been report that it will be reducing its use of conventional advertising and turn more toward online advertising and speak direct to its users via Web 2.0 application such as blogs, forums and social networking sites.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Lost Symbol Release - Record Sales Registered

Two days ago was release one of the most expected book this year... 'The Lost Symbol' by Dan Brown. Its sales broke the record by selling one million copies in hard cover and e-book version in the US, UK and Canada.

In the US the book's publisher Random House was forced to release copies to the media a day before the release after the New York Times posted a review of the book on Sunday. All he papers, as expected, swiftly followed suite and published their own book reviews.

In the UK the competition was between the two big book retailers, Waterstone and Borders. Each held a competition on who will become the first retailers to post their own reviews of the book after having both received advance copies of the book. The first to announce to have finished the book was Waterstone's press officer Jon Howells, who update the retailer's Twitter page and claimed to have finished at 5.10am.

Even though the book was expected to attract a high premium due to the massive demand, ASDA was quick to set a low price record by offering the book at at selling price of £5, a massive £13.99 below its recommended £18.99 price. Was the book in the end worth all the fuss? If you have read it post a comment and let me know what you think :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

KIA goes Green

Kia goes Green and it is launching a sub brand to highlight this feature.

The Korean car manufacturer Kia is launching a new sub-brand to help consumers identify its most fuel efficient vehicles. With this brand Kia is answering to the go green plea.

The EcoDynamics brand was unveiled this week at the Frankfurt Motor Show and said this brand will be applied to the eco-friendly car within each Kia model range. During the Motor Show Kia has unveiled three new hybrid models:- the Kia Forte LPI Hybrid, the Kia cee'd Hybrid and the diesel Kia Sorento Hybrid. The usual badges will be removed from these cars which will only have the new EcoDynamics legend brand signage.



This move is expected to continue grow car sales as Kia has seen UK sales of new cars rising by 16% year-on-year, benefitting from the Government's scrappage incentive scheme.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The merger of the Titans

It seems that companies are moving fast in trying to secure business deals before the economy recovers so as to try to capitalise on the recession. After the acquisition of Marvel by Disney, Kraft Foods (the owner of brands such as Oreos) tried its luck with Cadbury.


Although a heavy premium was being proposed to be paid (31% over the share price of the day), the initial offer has been rejected. Kraft offer was of £10.2 billion
Kraft said said that the acquisition of Cadbury made good business sense as adding Cadbury would create a company with global revenues in excess of $50bn and create savings across the enlarged entity of $625m annually.

According to the chairman and chief executive of Kraft Foods, the proposed combination is about growth. Basically Karft would continue to build upon Cadbury's iconic brands and strong British heritage through increased investment and innovation. Kraft believes that the next stage for Cadbury will be a very challenging one however given the strength of Kraft,this will be facilitated as it has the experience in expanding and capitalising on brand growth. In rejecting the offer, Cadbury said the offer undervalued the company, and expressed confidence in its standalone strategy and growth prospects as a result of its strong brands, unique category and geographic scope.


The market is eagerly awaiting the next steps that Kraft will take...will it increase its offer further or will it try a hostile take over by trying to lure in large shareholders on Cadbury?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Facebook being used by Scammers

I read this article and although not directly related to marketing I thought it could be helpful to anyone for two reasons....you learn how to avoid a new kind of online scam and at the same time it highlights how scammers piggyback international brands.

Jayne Scherrman lost about £2,500 in a Facebook scam after her friend, Grace Parry, had her log-in details stolen. Jayne started receiving requests from her friend Grace stating that she and her husband had been robbed in London and needed money to get back home. Apparently apart from the numerous messages, Jayne received a call from a man with a British accent claiming to be an immigration official. He claimed that her friend Grace and Grace's husband were being detained and that they needed money to fly them home.




Jayne, given that the request came from her friend, sent three different wire transfers to London. Meanwhile the real Grace was trying to get hold of her account back but was very difficult as she was locked out.

In these cases the problem is that people have become too trusting of messages they receive via social networks. It doesn't mean that if you receive a message from you friend it is a genuine message as you friend's account might have been hacked into! Especially when it comes to money request, better try to contact your friend on his mobile and double check the story before actually sending out any money. Even after contacting your friend it would be advisable to contact the embassy in that country to report the incident (if your friend claims to be abroad).

Just a word of advise, it's better to be a bit sceptical in these cases...most probably your friend will understand you :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Employees criticise customers on Facebook

Brands invest hefty sums of money in PR to try to improve their image in the eyes of the consumer and make them shop more however DSGi, the parent company of PC World and Currys, was surprised to learn what was going on, on Facebook.

A Facebook group named DSGi Employees appeared on Facebook and it had quite opend conversations between DSGi staff with contemptuous comments about the chain's customers. In this group the employees provide ample criticism towards customers, with discussions ranging from 'Chatting up customers....' to 'Arsehole customers!', 'Really Stupid Customers!' and 'Some customers are really really stupid.....'. The group itself points out that it isn't a group for those who love and adore DSGi, just one for people who work/have worked for the same company. The group ask visitors to bear in mind that this is an UNOFFICIAL Dixons Stores Group plc, Discussion forum/Community, any views/opinions expressed on this page by either the group creator or it's members are those of the individuals only and not of DSGi plc or any of its affiliates."
Similar staff mutterings on Facebook have resulted in employee discipline, including Virgin Atlantic, which launched an 'investigation' after staff were found badmouthing their customers last year. In July, Primark promised to probe its staff after several employees posted "malicious" Facebook comments about customers, calling them fat, pikeys, and twats.In January, Waitrose and Tesco also launched investigations following the revelation that some employees had posted abusive comments about customers on various Facebook groups.

I believe this event further proves the need for companies to monitor forums and social media as it must make sure that such occurrences are minimised and promptly tackled. How much do you believe such comments left by employees of these companies leave would have on you if you were a customer of these companies?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Disney to buy Marvel for £2.45bn

Walt Disney is to grow exponentially as it agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment, which is the owner of such comic characters such as Spider Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Iron Man, for £2.45bn in a cash and shares deal. The agreement entail the ownership of about 5000 characters created by Marvel. This will give Disney a more diverse portfolio of characters that appeal to all ages and taste....family figures such as the Disney Classics and violet figures such as X-Men.



Accordin to Robert Iger, president of The Walt Disney Company this deal will combine Marvel's strong global brand and character portfolio with Disney's creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories.


As with all major buyouts, this deal will be subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Look beyond the wrapper...Maoam story

I was reading some articles on the net and came across a very interesting article...have you ever come across the sweet label Maoam? If yes you should read the following article:-


The Haribo brand did not go down well to a shopper who noticed that the wrapper illustrations appeared to depict pieces of fruit engaged in sexual activity. The complaint was made public by various media including The SUN and The Daily Mail. Mr. Simon Simpkins from West Yorks said he had a "heated exchange" with the shop manager when he saw Maoam's wrappers.


All Maoam wrappers feature a lime character close to, or holding, different items of fruit depending on the sweet's flavour. Mr. Simpkins went for the lemon flavour, however when he looked at the wrapper, the image was quite interesting...but at the same time shocking. He said: "The lemon and lime are locked in what appears to be a carnal encounter. The lime, who I assume to be the gentleman in this coupling, has a particularly lurid expression on his face."




Honestly by analysing the wrappers and try to look at them in different light you might say that Mr. Simpkins is actually right. Have a look at the cherry flavour packaging which is even funnier. It features Mr Lime "tasting" a cherry while another one watches.

According to Haribo the wrapper design was introduced in 2002 and was an attempt to make the wrappers "more lively". It denied there were any sexual connotations intended in the illustrations. Haribo did also confirm that they received the complaint from Mr. Simpkins and published the email.

After having read all this what do you think? Do you think that brands use these imagery as subliminal cues or do people try to interpret images in their way?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Microsoft accused of discriminating in advertising

It's unbelievable but some companies still find it difficult to include people from different cultures in their marketing material. The last company to fall pray of this potentially discriminating activity is Microsoft, the software giant. It was found that an image was edited and swapped with a white man's photo on its Polish website.




The image appeared in its original form on Microsoft's US website and in an edited format on the polish site. Microsoft has apologised for the incident and taken the offending image down. Microsoft admitted the mistake and reiterated that diversity and inclusion are core values and business imperatives of Microsoft. It apologiesed for any offence caused.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blogger seeks compensation from Advertisers

It is a known fact that people are exposed to numerous adverts each day without actually having the ability of doing anything to stay clear of them...However, McCruddon's a blogger was not happy with this situation and in his blog he examines the time he has spent sitting, viewing, queueing and waiting in restaurants, the Post Office, on the Victoria Line, watching TV and in sandwich shops over a six-week period.

From the calculation he made he found that he lost quite a large amount of time in front of adverts and he estimated that the time lost accounted to £6,000. What did McCruddon do when he discovered this fact?

He has actually written to more than 50 companies, and invoiced them for the amount of time he has spent with them. Funnily enough, Pret A Manger was the first company to have paid McCruddon. They have paid him the sum of £62, however the managing director of a fruit and nut stall has taken this battle to the next level...he is actually now demanding McCruddon to pay him for time spent reading his letter and blog.




How will this battle end...will McCruddon claims be met? Companies could actually pay the small amounts and use this opportunity to generate positive PR. McCruddon claims he wants to challenge the the general assumption that consumers are subservient to brands. What do you think?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pimm's to sue Pitcher...a battle to the last bottle!

Diageo the drink giant, owner of such brands as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff Vodka and Pimm's, said that it will be taking legal action against Sainsbury supermarket over what it claims is a copycat version of its popular summer drink...Pimm's.

The dispute started when Sainsbury released the drink, which it called Pitchers, in mid-April and started heavily advertising the product in the same way as Pimm's. It said that it could be mixed with lemonade and fruit (which is how Pimm's No. 1 is traditionally served). Apart from this, the bottle carries a high resemblance to Pimm's same bottle. In fact the bottle has the exact same shape, the letters are written in the same font and they both have a golden boarded with a coat of arms on the top.

Sainsbury, as all other supermarket brand didn't shy away from competition...to the contrary it use price comparison advertising to state that it's Pitchers was cheaper than competition and it performed better in taste tests. This has made it the obvious choice to many consumer for the summer season as the brand was launched in time for for all the top summer events...mainly Ascot, Henley and of course, Wimbledon.

The biggest problem for Diageo is that Sainbury's is one of the country's biggest retailers and one of their major customers...could this affect their trading relationship? Let's wait and see how it goes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

TalkTalk uses innovative promotions...what about put pocketers!

I'm back...I was in London for a wee time and could not update the blog unfortunately as it was really difficult to find free Wifi spots! However I came across this article and thought it was a good example of a proactive company using innovative solutions!

TalkTalk undertakes another guerrilla marketing campaign...and what a campaign. The company has decided to start distributing money between now and the end of August in areas of central London and on the Tube network. You might think how will this money be distributed...and this is the innovative part!

TalkTalk has employed a team of 20 ex-pickpoketers to actually start "put pocketing". The company has confirmed that lucky recipients of put pocketed cash will receive a branded card along with the cash.The campaign is being promoted with posters at relevant locations proclaiming "Rejoice!

The campaign however has met with a mixed response from those who like the idea of finding a fiver in their trousers, to those who have been victims of bag snatching and other street crimes questioning the sense of such a campaign. However this is what make the campaign successful...it makes people talk about the company. TalkTalk has also anticipated such fears and informed Metropolitan Police about this campaign. Apart from this the put pocketers have been given ID in case they do get caught in the act. Have a look at this Talk Talk Video that shows some of these stunts...what's your opinion on it?


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Best Buy offering Unbelievable prices during the recession.

About two weeks ago I have told you about the launch of Palm Pre and the Pricing mistake that Best Buy did (issued it at a fantastic price of $99). Did you think this was going to be the last mistake done as they would pay extra attention from now on? Unfortunately this was not the case...




Best Buy is apparently trying it's best to try to help customers through through the recession, but no one could have imaged that they could go as far as offering a 52-inch TV for just $9.99! It happened on Wednesday however as usual it was too good to be true.


As soon as the people noticed the price Bloggers and Twitterers lit up the Internet with posts about the offer, some insisting Best Buy must honor it, others making jokes. However the decision of the retailer this time, unlike with the Palm Pre mistake was not to honor the $9.99 price posted Wednesday morning on its Web site for a 52-inch Samsung flat-screen TV but to refund those that bought it. The price was then adjusted by early afternoon to $1,799.99, almost half off the original $3,399.99 price.

Obvious such repeated mistake left it's mark on the share price as it fell 27 cents to close at $36.50 Wednesday. Do you think they should at least subscribe to their own newsletter maybe in this way they can check their own best offers?

Asda to Launch Social Networking Site

ASDA has decided to give more power to it's shoppers and go embrace Web 2.0. Ithas announced that it intends to launch a social networking site, which will allow shoppers to connect with the Brand.





The site, that will be called Your Asda, will allow shopper and potential shoppers to tell Asda what they don't like, what they like and what they would like to see and will also be able to comment on products they want in their local stores. Although one might think they they are a bit late in following this trend it is a very good sign that even retail giants who's main focus is price are willing to take in customer comments. It is always better to have customer speaking of their dissatisfaction to you (the Brand) rather than say the same things on other formus.


Your Asda will comprise a blog, step by step guides to products, a live Twitter feed and a photo gallery. Asda will also launch a site for staff called The Green Room in which employees can vent their opinions about the retailer. Do you think other grocers will follow this trend?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Absolute Vodka goes Rock

Absolute Vodka, the Pernod Ricard brand, will launch a limited edition bottle...it will dressed in leather and studs and will go rock "Absolute Rock Edition"


The New Absolute Bottle


As can be seen from the picture above, the exclusive bottle will celebrate rock and the company aims at creating initiative that support the Absolute's new bottle jacket. The latest bottle will launch in Selfridges in early September 2009 and will be sold at £19.99. Following the exclusive launch, the bottle will be rolled out to other retailers at the beginning of October.


As part of this campaign Absolute will create a digital activities on it website that will focus on delivering humorous insights into a rock band's, the person behind the band and lifestyle. As with other big marketing activities, such as the launch of Eminem new album, Absolute will be present in key areas of London, especially those areas that capture the vibrant UK rock scene. This will enable the brand to reinforce it connection to the lifestyle and increase the experiential power of it campaign through gigs and rock concerts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Marketing Blunders

McDonald's Tainted MP3 Players

In Japan, where technology frenzy is common place and where even virtual pets have their own MP3 players; McDonald's ran a contest in which customers were eligible to win their very own MP3 device.

After distributing around 10,000 gadgets, customers discovered that each MP3 came loaded with 10 free songs and a trojan malware, capable of communicating user logins and passwords. A software patch was dispersed and a recall was instituted, thereby ending McDonald's worst campaign.

Icy Response to Snapple (Natural Juice Company)

Snapple decided it was time to do something big…as big as attempting to overtake the Guinness World Record for the largest ice lollipop, made out of the company's tasty kiwi-strawberry drink. The company however had a serious flaw in it plans…the record breaking attempt took place mid-June. Immediately upon unloading, the melted juice poured from the truck, creating a syrupy tidal wave which became a major headache for cleanup crews.

LifeLock CEO Tempts Fate

The personal fraud protection company LifeLock guarantees the security of your identity under their employ. So much so that, in a nationwide ad, CEO Todd Davis posts his personal social security number on the side of a van — daring identity thieves to give it a shot. Turns out, they did.

No fewer than 25 motivated thieves stole Davis' social security number — with one successfully receiving a $500 loan. LifeLock maintains its diligence, claiming that for a nationwide ad, only one case of stolen identity isn't too bad. It doesn't advise posting your mom's maiden name on your car, however.

General Motors Inspires Amateur Filmmaking

Three years ago, General Motors did its own marketing blunder too…it tried to tap in the young drivers market by tapping into the YouTube craze. GM launched a website allowing users to create their own commercial about the Chevy SUV and upload it for public view.

That was a good idea however GM forgot one thing…monitor what was being uploaded. GM hadn't realized that it bore favorable connotations, and participants started producing short films about global warming, the war in Iraq, or negative attacks against the auto's quality. The problem was that it took the company one month to realize this!

KFC Underestimate Fan Frenzy

Companies use giveaways as a way to increase popularity and visibility for their products…so what could go wrong? KFC started it own promotion by giving away free KFC meals…a good idea you might say but…

After Oprah announced a KFC giveaway on her much-watched program, the food chain couldn't keep up with the lines of customers…this stampede gave way to a flood of protests which obviously back fired…so be careful as promotions might be too successful which becomes a problem when you can’t keep up with the demand.

Zombie Invasion Credited to Dr. Pepper

It's hard to dislike a treasure hunt, unless the “X” spot lies somewhere over a historical landmark. An international campaign from Dr. Pepper's then-owner Cadbury Schweppes hid coins within 23 American cities to promote the soft drinks’ "23 flavors."But the agency in charge of Boston's location selected the Granary Burying Ground; a historical landmark.

The result:- A flood of shovels tried to find the coin but Cadbury Schweppes ended the contest. However the graveyard had to be closed to prevent a zombie outbreak.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Microsoft and Yahoo! to collaborate again Google

Finally Microsoft has achieved its target, or nearly...The deal that has been signed between Microsoft and Yahoo caps more than two years of effort by Microsoft to get hold of Yahoo's search business in an effort to become a serious challenger to Google. Although less drastic than the $48bn bid for the acquisition of Yahoo that Microsoft had proposed last year, the move would be still be a very expensive one for Microsoft and it will not an easy one to implement but could help Microsoft to become a credible rival for Google.

Microsoft and Yahoo! have announced a ten-year revenue-share search pact. Microsoft's Bing will now power Yahoo! search while Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies' search advertisers.

Microsoft announced that the agreement will provide it's search engine (Bing) with the scale necessary to attract more advertising revenue and increase the visibility of the brand. This will enable it to compete more effectively with Google in an attempt to come out from a defensive strategy to a more aggressive competing strategy.

Microsoft will acquire an exclusive ten-year license to Yahoo!'s core search technologies, and Microsoft will have the ability to integrate Yahoo! search technologies into its existing web search platforms.

Should this deal pass antitrust scrutiny, do you think this relationship will be a successful one? Do you think Yahoo! and Microsoft will be a real threat for Google?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Palm Pre Launched...and this was done at a very special price!

Palm Pre, the Iphone's competitor, has been launched and customers searching for a bargain online were just surprised! Best Buy had lowered the price of the Palm Pre by more than half over the weekend. Unfortunately this surprise was short lived as it turned out to be a mistake, although it was one which many were able to exploit.

The confusion stemmed from an in-store promotion offering the device, usually sold by Best Buy for $199, for $99. It appears the idea was to simply promote Best Buy’s standard offer, but an error with promotional material unintentionally turned it into a sale deal.

Palm Pre

If this had happened in the early nineties the impact of this mistake would have been very limited however with the spread of the Internet, the consequences were not small. Potential buyers started noticing the price and started informing others online. As the word spread out the number of units sold started to increase.

Best Buy confirmed, through its marketing manager, that the discounted price as actually a mistake. He said that the company is composed of humans and that these are bound to making mistakes. He also confirmed that the orders were honoured even those that were made at the price of $99.

Some people do not believe the mistake issue but are coming up with various theories of why Best Buy came up with a discounted price. One of these theories suggest that Palm or Best Buy is planning a price cut for later in the year, perhaps for a back to school promotion, and that this promotion was activated in advance by mistake. Another advanced theory is that the firm wanted a relatively cheap way of researching how popular such a price cut would be. The incident has certainly generated plenty of publicity for the idea that a $99 Palm Pre would be good value. However, there’s no guarantee that people giving the obvious response that $99 is better than $199 would translate into a suitable increase in profits.

It's important to know your product well...surely ASDA missed this point this time last week.

ASDA, Walmart's arm in the UK, felt it was in the forefront to score a PR coup when it went trumpeting the arrival of "Britain's cheapest bike" in its stores. For £70, customers could walk away with a brand new adult's mountain bike. A total bargain! ASDA might have though how could this go wrong!

However they did not consider everything. Although the price was surely a killer, not everything was perfect. They did not take care of all details and someone actually noticed this. The offer actually turned into a PR disaster, when late last week the supermarket was forced to pull a TV advert, which was created by Fallon London, for the bicycles after viewers noticed they had been built so badly that they were dangerous.

The Problem Bike - British Eagle Verona Model

Mark Brown, director of the Association of Cycle Traders, was the one who noticed the mistake. Actually the the front forks of the men's bike in the advert faced the wrong way. The meant that the bicycle would not steer correctly and the brakes would not work properly, thus representing a health hazard for the users. The ASDA bikes come in parts, meaning customers have to attach the pedals, front wheel, handlebars and saddle themselves.

Brown commented on the advert on the Guardian Website and said that "Not even ASDA know how to set up their own bikes. This is indicative of the problems which arise from what we in the bike industry call 'flat-pack bikes'. However, unlike flat-pack furniture this could seriously damage your health."

ASDA spokesperson admitted the mistake and said that "As soon as we spotted the error, we put the brakes on the TV ad and pulled it". ASDA is working on a new ad which will replace the problematic one and this will be launched in the coming weeks. Hopefully this time they leave the bike's assembly in expert hands!

ASDA in the meantime thanked thousands of customers that have already bought one one these bikes and who have managed to correctly follow the instructions on how to assemble the bike, better than ASDA."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sexual Connotation in adverts...does it really pay off?

There is a new soft drink advert going round online and it's now being banned from YouTube. It is being claimed by many that that the promotional video is taken from a banned German advertising campaign for Sprite.

The TV ad opens with a shot from behind of a girl performing oral sex on man. While she's at it, she starting thinking and then she stops to say she would like a Sprite whereupon the ad cuts to a side-on shot of her sucking the bottle before it is explodes over her face. The ad uses the Sprite endline of 'Obey your thirst'.


The ad was quickly pulled from YouTube at the beginning of the week, with the site initially blaming copyright infringement. I managed to find a copy for you on this site as a person managed to download it and post a copy online (http://asheq.co.uk/2009/07/22/sucking-sprite-off).

Eventually director of the advert Max Issacson came forward and admitted the ad was actually intended as an experiment to see how many people would be fooled into thinking it was real.

This advert was not the first advert of its type, Perrier had made a very similar ad back in 1976 and it is basically exactly the same as the Sprite one, but without the blow job. This goes to say that the idea is not new...however what do you think such ads pay?





In my opinion, they are very valuable if one wants to produce a lot of PR however one must be really careful with the potential damage that this could cause to the brand.