AXA's Global Brand Czar
The effort has been entrusted to Claude Brunet who got his start at the more marketing friendly, Ford Motor Co. Mr. Brunet has his work cut out for him. The article refers to his responsibilities as including "human resources, procurement, product design and risk management."
HR is certainly a way to impact and express the brand as is product design. But Procurement? Risk Management? I think that Claude will have enough to do without that impossible charge. Bon chance, Claude!
Davos Cliff Notes
Get the world's richest, smartest and most powerful people together for 3 days and this is what they talk about.
"The market research firm Gartner estimates that one of every 10 jobs at American technology vendors or service providers will move overseas by the end of this year."
Positioning the Parties
We tend to try and avoid political issues here on our marketing blog, but with all that is happening out there these days, sometimes its a little tough to resist. First, a recommendation. The Atlantic Monthly's current "State of the Union" (done in conjunction with the New America Foundation) is a really worthwhile survey of the American scene today in terms of the economy, governance and society.
Within the State of the Union, Ted Halstead -- CEO of the New America Foundation -- has a fascinating piece called The Chieftains and the Church, in which he deftly shows the way that the Republican and Democratic parties have begun to shift once again in the ways that they are positioned. This is a truly superb overview of the emerging realities facing the two parties and the marketing challenges that they will need to overcome.
Marketing the President
The idea that the presidential campaign is a big marketing push (with a simple "yes I will buy the product" or "no I will not buy your product" outcome) is less interesting than the idea that who ever wins the Democratic primary, their campaign will look almost exactly the same. Not a very romantic idea, but a fascinating one.
ATT Wireless On the Block
Two things strike us about ATT Wireless' official announcement that they were seeking offers for a buy-out.
1. What will a potential acquirer do with the brand? The front runner today is Cingular (America's #2 wireless telecom company after Verizon), but while the brand has gotten good penetration in the last 3 years, its certainly a big kludgey. Isn't it? We would assume here on the outside that ATT Wireless -- despite its slipping reputation -- still has better traction and better potential than Cingular. Will be interesting to see. Then you have a player like NTT DoCoMo -- virtually unknown in the US today but much stronger inherent brand power and potential cool factor. Would take serious $$$ to build that brand here, but once done could be a powerhouse.
2. Custody battle over ATT brand. In many ways the more interesting issue. ATT and ATT Wireless are not the same company but they each have an incentive to play nice on the brand management and marketing front. Afterall they share the same brand and any move by one impacts the other directly. If SBC and BellSouth are the new owners of ATTWS, they will no such incentive. A reality which could push them to opt for the brand that (we feel) is weaker.
What a strange situation. Things are getting spicey again in telecom.
Ouch. Kodak announced today that it will be cutting 15,000 jobs or about 21% of its workforce in a massive restructuring aimed at helping the company make the transition to a business model driven by digital imaging. This on the heels of 22,000 in layoffs since 1998.
Obviously the company is serious about making a change. But the kind of change that Kodak will need to make if it is to succeed is drastic. The 64,000 employees left at the company will need to re-invent their culture if they are to stand any chance of taking on competitors like Nokia, HP and Samsung. To name a few. If they can pull it off, they will make IBM’s Gerstner led turn around look relatively trivial.
Marketing a commodity product is tought work. SCA Tissue, one of the country's largest producers of "Away-from Home" tissue products actually does a very fine job getting itself away from the commoditization of its products. They have innovative products, a clear message and a nice look. Why then would they choose to run this ad in an airport?
Oh the Luxury!
Have been meaning to post a link to the Atlantic Monthly's excellent review of two books about the new American luxury: Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske's Trading Up and James Twitchell's Living It Up.
Both books deal with the explosion of expensive luxury brands--what Twitchell calls the 'luxe populi'--on the consumer scene. The two books have very different takes on the phenomenon and this review is a great overview of both.
Grey Global's New Bag
Grey Global yesterday announced a new line of work: sales force management. The ad conglomerate bought a company which is basically a service bureau providing sales forces to marketers seeking to affect how their products are sold by retailers.
The move is interesting as it demonstrates ad agencies continued efforts to diversify their business in an environment of continued uncertainty about the future of the traditional advertising model.