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 (

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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Microsoft Launches Comparative Advertising

Microsoft has finally stepped it's game against Apple and recognised that it actually has a competitive advantage, maybe not a so powerful long term one but it's still a competitive advantage. A PC basically costs much less then the equivalent MacBook and given Mac's premium pricing strategy, the advantage it's quite clear....

So what's interesting about this story? Everybody knows it's cheaper to buy a PC compared to buying a Mac, however few know what happened when Microsoft launched it's latest TV campaign. The TV spots launched by Microsoft feature shoppers who are on the lookout for a laptop under $1,000. They consider Apple's Macintosh models but dismiss them because they are too expensive. Upon seeing this advert, Apple's legal team phone Microsoft COO asking him to stop the ads because Apple had actually lowered the prices on some of its laptops. (see advert below)

Microsoft COO, speaking at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans this week, said: "Two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, 'Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices'. He was actually delighted to hear this and said that given this response he will sure keep running the ad as it is having an effect.

Microsoft's latest ads follow its "I'm a PC" ads, launched last year, which were created in response to Apple's 'Mac vs PC' ads, which feature a geeky PC guy unable to keep up with the "hip Mac user". What do you think about this campaign?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Twitter documents hacked...strategy revealed

Twitter has been affected from a security breech...a hacker managed to access a number of files that had been saved by one of its employees google files online and disclosed these files to the media. The files contained a number of confidential documents outlining the strategy of the company and the bank account figures.

The strategy documents outline Twitter ambition to roll out roll out a five-pronged commercial strategy aimed at helping it generate $140 million in revenue by 2010 and $1.5 billion in sales by 2013.

According to stolen documents published by Techcrunch, Twitter's long-awaited money-making strategy will focus on verified accounts, search ads, sponsored tweets, AdSense widgets and payments. The use of Verified accounts, will see the creation of paid accounts that can be used by corporate and celebrity users (like facebook does with users/advertisers wishing to create Fan Pages, as opposed to setting up a profile). Search ads would see heavy users of Twitter's search API required to run ads on the service. According to the leaked documents, Twitter will invest in engineering to make the offering ‘flawless' and ‘timely'.

The thirds phase of the strategy will focus on generating revenue via sponsored Tweets that could see advertisers charged for targeting consumers with direct messages offering coupons and discount vouchers.Twitter's strategy will also include AdSense widgets.

All these initiatives will enable Tweeter to turn from a free for all microblogging website to a money making machine. The importance of Twitter has also been highlighted recently with the turmoil in Iran. Tweeter in fact was the tool the US government was using to keep up to date with what was happening in a country that they have little access to. Hundreds of people were using Tweeter to organise themselves and report what was happening. All these have made the world even more global...will adverting on the other hand reduce the amount of people registering for Twitter's services?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ryanair comes up with another low cost idea...what do you think?

Ryanair strikes again...It was not enough to introduce a fee for using toilets, but they were able to come up with something more unexpected. Budget airline Ryanair is now considering making some of its passengers stand during flights in a bid to squeeze as many as 30% more people on board. Customers could elect to pay less (50% of the price) to stand and sit on a small stool with seat belts fastened around them.

The company is currently seeking users opinion on on the idea to see whether there's a market potential that could be exploited. Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, has reportedly held talks with US plane manufacturer Boeing about designing an aircraft with standing room (picture below).

Proposed Vertical seating (source:

A spokesman from Ryanair was reported to have said to the MailOnline that the seating would completely adhere to safety procedures. This strategy could lead Ryanair to increase seating capacity by 20% to 30% which could result in a good increase in revenues.

Ryanair does not seem to be the only airline considering this strategy. Chinese airline Spring has also put forward similar plans, estimating it could fit in up to 50% more passengers.

The latest idea of Ryainair is in line with the recent ideas, as it will introduce a charge for the use of toilets onboard as well as planning to make passengers carry their own luggage to the aircraft which would slash about 90% of its baggage handlers. Could there be anything else that wasn't thought of that Ryanair might come up with to reduce costs?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is it worth to keep a blog?

Who said that blogs and mini blogs are just a waste of time? This could have been the case some time ago however this is not surely the case today...the question today is - How many Twitter followers does it take to get a job?

Best Buy has the answer to this question...The answer is 250. This is the amount that Best Buy require from candidates wishing to apply for a marketing role with them. The ideal candidate should also have a ‘two plus years of mobile or social media marketing experience' and ‘one plus year of active blogging experience', as well as a Bachelor's degree and at least 250 Twitter. So now actually blogging really pays.

While a lot of companies are specifying the need for people to have social media experience, Best Buy is believe to have been the first one to actually ask for a specific minimum number of Twitter followers. Best Buy explains this requirement as Twitter is part of the corporate culture at Best Buy, in fact chief executive Brian Dunn recently encouraged customer and investors unable to attend the company's annual shareholder meeting to follow the proceedings via Twitter.

Dunn in fact has an active twitter account and has currently over 1650 Twitter followers, so he is surely more than qualified for the role. So I'll better start increasing my followers as I'm quite behind when it comes to number of followers :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Piracy on the decline

Piracy could be on the down turn in the UK as people are turning to streaming sites rather than P2P file sharing. Teenage web surfers are turning their backs to old-fashioned methods of online piracy, including file-sharing and P2P sites, in favour of live streaming, according to new research.

The study by analyst Music Ally found that overall levels of file-sharing are on the decline. Figures show that downloads are down from 42 per cent , to just 26 per cent when it comes to teenagers between 14 to 18 year filesharing once a month.

The overall percentage of filesharing has gone down about a quarter, 22 per cent of those surveyed were regularly filesharing two years ago to just 14 per cent now. This is despite the fact that the percentage of music fans who have ever fileshared has increased, rising from 28 per cent in December 2007 to 31 per cent in January 2009.

The shift to streaming sites such as YouTube, MySpace and Spotify is evident with the research showing that many teens (65 per cent) are streaming music regularly (more than once a month).

Research also shows the comparative volume of pirated tracks to legally purchased tracks has halved since their last survey just over 12 months ago. In December 2007 the ratio of tracks obtained from file-sharing compared to tracks obtained as legal purchases on an ongoing basis was 4:1. In January 2009 the ratio had narrowed to just 2:1.

The new trend is online streaming...this is the way to beat piracy as these services can be licensed (as are YouTube and Spotify) and are easier and more fun to use.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Google to compete directly with Microsoft

The battle of the titans could be on again. After Launching Google Chrome to compete against the market leader Microsoft Internet Explorer and launching Google Docs to compete with Microsoft office, the final assault has been announced...

Google will now be launching its own computer operating system next year. This will take it head to head again with Microsoft and now it's the final fight. Most of the PC's and Notebooks around the world run on Windows, more specifically on Windows XP which is now nearly a decade old and hence i hasn't been developed to run efficiently on the net...Hence Google has seen a window of opportunity...

Modelled around its Chrome browser, Google Chrome OS will be initially developed for small netbook computers, launching in 2010, before eventually rolling out across every platform, including all Windows, Mac and Linux based systems. A report on Marketing, says that Google said the software will be "fast" and "lightweight", with minimal bells and whistles "to stay out of your way", much like its search engine and browser. The Operating system seeks to reduce the frustration inherent in Windows-based computers, such as slow loading times and computer viruses.

As with all other products offered by Google,, Google Chrome OS will largely be internet-based and open source, meaning web developers can create applications for the system, as with Google's suite of online products. The announcement had been made early so as to give developers time to begin working with Google's source code, which is likely to be released at the same time Microsoft launches its new operating system, Windows 7, before year end.

We have to wait and see before we can run into conclusions but it seems that Google has all the intention of wanting to dethrone Microsoft in all areas....will it succeed?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tesco aiming to add a Bank to its portfolio

What happened of Northern the Brisith Government seeking to rebuild the bank or will he try to sell it off with the aim of making a profit?

I found the answer while reading an article on a marketing magazine online...apparently Tesco is reported to be considering a bid for Northern Rock, the bank which was nationalised last year after running into liquidity problems stemming from the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Tesco, the largest supermarket in UK, already offers a range of Tesco-branded financial products, including savings accounts, credit cards and loans.

Opinion at the moment is that consumers see supermarkets such as Tesco and Marks & Spencer as more trustworthy than banks, and these brands are keen to capitalise on the sentiment. The Cooperative group for example already offers banking facilities to its customers. This is not the first attempt by a private company to buy the nationalised bank Prior to this Virgin had tried to buy Northern Rock. The Times reports that it is also considering making another bid, along with private equity firms.

The paper says that prime minister Gordon Brown is keen to sell Northern Rock back into private ownership at a profit before an election and avoid the Conservatives taking credit for any such deal. There are also plans of splitting Northern Rock in different Units and then selling each individual unit indipendently so as to make its sale more attractive.

This would leave "toxic" loans in the hands of the public, with one half of the business responsible for paying back money lent it by taxpayers. The plan must be approved by the European Union

Friday, July 3, 2009

Brands missapropriate famous people image

Brands have always tried to piggyback on famous names to try to make the most out of their image. This should however be done through brand endoresment however this is not always the case...a case in point is a brand of condoms from's the story:-

There apparently is a brand of condoms named after soccer star David Beckham and they've taken the Chinese contraceptive market by storm. It has become an instant hit and with a population of over one billion person and with the child quota in place you can't image otherwise...the sky is the limit when it comes to success...

The condoms aren't being personally endorsed by Beckham, however the makers of said condoms assure users that they "will score in the bedroom like David does on the pitch." This particular brand now sells more than it's competitors.

David's agent Simon Oliveria said, "It's not an official brand."

This is not he first instance of images image of famous people bein used without their consent however most of the time his finishes on a sour note (as compensations kick in place). This was the case of American Apparel who last May where forced to pay $5 million for the blatant misappropriation and commercial use of his image which said damaged his reputation. Brand owners should be very weary of this as it cost money to gone down this avenue especially when doing this in the western world...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Brand Names Lost in Translation

International branding and marketing is very important and crucial to the expansion of a company. Given such importance, companies must take it very seriously and an aspect which has to be thoroughly studied is culture and language. Today I met another classic case of a company creating a brand without actually paying too much attention to this concept. If a brand decides to go international it must also make sure that the brand carries the same message all around and that there are no negative connotations to a brand name.

The latter example related to gas giant Gazprom's new joint venture with Nigerian firm NNPC. The two firms decided to call the joint venture Nigaz. While tit's quite easy to deduce from where the name originates; a conjunction of the words "Nigeria" and "gaz", English speakers seeing the word written down find that the brand name has a strange resemblance to a slang racist word..

Incredulous Twitter users quickly spread the story around, dubbing it a branding fail and prompting a number to suggest Nigaz should adopt a strap line along the lines of "gas with attitude".
As I said previously this is not the first failure at creating an international brand. The most classic example is the Vauxhall Nova, however other examples exist... Mitsubishi was forced to change the name of its SUV model the Pajero in Spain, where the term means 'wanker'. Starbucks opted to stick with the term 'latte' when it launched it's coffee shop brand in Germany, to the amusement of locals. While the word "latte", which translated in English means means 'milk', is translated to German Slang it actually means 'erection'.

A simple translation error meant that a Parker Pen ad run in Mexico ended up promising consumers that it would not "leak in your pocket and make you pregnant", which is at least a more honest promise than Pepsi's "come alive with the Pepsi generation" slogan, which famously ended up meaning "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead" when it was translated to Taiwanese and marketed in Taiwan.

Chinese translations are difficult too and in fact are fraught with difficulties - Kentucky Fried Chicken's "finger lickin' good" managed to come out as "eat your fingers off".

No matter how much we stress the importance of having a brand name or strap line which carries no bad connotations in any language you intend to market in, companies still continue to make this newbie mistake. It's vital to take care of these things although some companies might be tempted to make the mistake on purpose to get some free PR.