Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Taxi's go 2.0

The new Taxi Service is called 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,, 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 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 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.