Blog

July 2014 - PS Insights

LIFO

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Acquisitions often feel shiny and new until they are completed. Microsoft has just announced its biggest layoff in history – 18,000 jobs (14% of its workforce). A disproportionate number of the cuts will be Nokia employees. Not surprising given that Microsoft already had a large team working on mobile phones and apps; but still, the old LIFO (Last In, First Out) rule applies. What do you do to protect your business, your brand and your people?

(CR)ISIS

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The Institute for Science and International Security sure has a problem on its hands these days. These days, ISIS means “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” an association pretty much the opposite of the mission of the original ISIS. A few years ago the World Wildlife Fund sued the World Wrestling Federation to seize exclusive rights to WWF. An option the Institute doesn’t have. What do you do if and when your brand gets hijacked in a troubling or tragic way?

FOXY MOVE

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20th Century Fox has put Time Warner in play with a bold $80 billion acquisition bid. Mr. Murdoch has been resoundingly rebuffed. But to us this is likely a sign that Fox has indeed entered the 21st Century. They’ve carried forward their 20th Century name for more than the past ten years. It struck us as oh, so odd that Fox didn’t change its name on day one of the millennium. What do you do to make sure your brand is in touch and current?

RESTORATION?

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Restoration Hardware recently sent a 12lb package of company catalogs to a wide mailing list. The reception has not been wonderful as no one requested this mammoth mailing. For a company that has restoration in their name, perhaps they should initiate a corporate commitment to reforestation. What dumb or environmentally insensitive things do you do?

NO SURPRISE

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Crumbs Bakery filed for bankruptcy. Did that really surprise anyone? Somehow we knew when we saw their prices that the cupcake craze was going to be short-lived. Personally, we’re also not fans of the sweet/greasy mashup called Cronuts and are hoping that craze will go away soon as well. In this era where there’s way too much venture capital floating around we’re going to see more of these boom/bust retailing ideas happening. How do you evaluate a “good idea” and make sure it stays sticky beyond a sugary sweet confection?

SUBSERVIENT CHICKEN

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Burger King has just brought back subservient chicken. The Internet sensation from 10 years ago enjoyed over 100 million hits of people manipulating a man in a chicken costume to do what they wanted. It was the darling of the advertising industry. But it did nothing for  Burger King’s bottom line. Do you recycle ideas just because they were cool or because they have a real strategic mission for your brand?

RE2PECT

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How do you pay tribute to a legend? In the case of Derek Jeter, it starts with a brilliant 90-second spot Nike broke in last week’s All Star Game. It’s got everything you want from a commercial: warmth, celebrity, respect, humor…and the fun of trying to identify the dozens of famous athletes and New Yorkers sprinkled throughout the spot. (Hint: we’ll give you Spike Lee, JayZ, Michael Jordan and Rudy Guiliani – you’re on your own for the rest.) Equally important, the spot linked to a Twitter hashtag #re2pect so you can write your own tribute. How do you celebrate greatness?

HAPPIEST NATION

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Paul just returned from a field study course in Denmark, which has been called The Happiest Nation on Earth. People there appreciate a good work/life balance. They have universal health care. Collaboration trumps competition. And they seem content – but from Paul’s perspective, not particularly passionate. Which is a more important driver in your business? Satisfaction or Passion?

HEINZ

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Have you noticed that Heinz sells plastic squeeze bottles in supermarkets, but restaurants use Heinz in glass bottles? At home, Heinz wants you to use as much ketchup as you can. Restaurateurs want to you to use as little as possible. Do you extend different packaging and usage for difference venues or occasions?

ACNE

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There’s a way cool store chain in Scandinavia called Acne. It’s hip in every way right down to the name—which tells you the target age of the customers and has a hipster cynicism to it. But there’s a lot of emotional baggage to that word in English. Will “Acne” suffer the same fate the Chevy Nova did when it rolled out in Mexico? (“No va” is Spanish for “doesn’t run.”) What do you do to make sure your product name or slogan works in every language?