Monthly Archives: February 2011

Super Bowl – tough loss for my Steelers and not the greatest ads -except for Vader

Okay okay, I will admit that I was ready to celebrate “7th heaven” a bit too early. Actually I thought the game would be close, really feared the Packers’ offense especially against the sub-par Steeler cornerbacks but in the 3rd quarter I once again thought the Steelers were turning things around and were destined for their 7th Super Bowl. Alas. Kudos to the Packers, the better team won and Mr Rodgers will make all cheeseheads forget that other Packer quarterback…no not Bart Starr…the quarterback that wore #4.

Anyways this is not a blog for my sports rantings, you can read that on my other blog – http://www.beantownfrog.blogspot.com. So the second most important event yesterday were the ads, and to be honest I was a bit underwhelmed. A couple of observations:

  • I guess the auto industry is not doing so poorly…or our tax dollars are paying for some good agencies: Audi, Mercedes, Chrysler, Kia, BMW, Hyundai and Chevy for a grand total of 18 total spots! Wow.
  • Pepsi commercials were a bit lacking…I guess if you hit people with flying cans that makes for a good ad.
  • Groupon ad – as many said on Twitter, I guess Groupon hired the same agency as Kenneth Cole. The fall out from the spot is probably not what Groupon expected, any time you need to apologize and explain your thinking is not necessarily a good thing.
  • Doritos ad – juvenile…
  • Cowboys  and Aliens…OMG. Has Hollywood run out of good ideas? And the fact that Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are part of the cast is beyond me…James Bond and Indiana Jones/Han Solo??? Really? How much are those two getting paid for this movie?

Speaking of Star Wars and auto ads, my favorite ad was the VW ad with Darth Vadar. It was a great ad that appealed to everyone – kids, moms, dads, men, women and dogs. No fake babies were thrown against the wall, cans beaning people off their heads or pugs rushing through doors. It appealed to me as fan of Star Wars, appealed to the kid in me as well as being a dad. Kudos to VW and their ad agency, wonder if Pepsi was on the phone with them this morning….

I wonder how many hits iTunes got for the Imperial March…or maybe that was just my dorkiness who now has the Imperial March as my ring tone.

 

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AOL – quietly reinventing itself – will it work?

With all the hoopla about the Super Bowl, car companies splashing advertising money, snow storms in Dallas and internet companies making light of political hardship an old dot com keeps plugging away in its quest to redefine itself and look to regain a sliver of its former glory – AOL. For many of us that remember the days of dial up we also remember the constant barrage in our mailboxes (the snail mail ones) of those AOL CDs, the ones that would grant us access, via the AOL portal, to the wonderful world of the internet, via the chirp of dial up. I recall for a while that my coffee table had a number of AOL CDs strewn across its table top acting as coasters. Ah the good old days of irrational exuberance.

AOL, the once might dot com company was overwhelmed by the likes of Google who realized that users did not need to access the web via a portal…especially when search engines made the entire web navigable and accessible. After a failed business venture with Time Warner, AOL has slowly started to redefine itself. Unlike Yahoo! who seems to be wanting to kick out social media from its portfolio, AOL has embraced social media and content and is instead looking to quietly aggregate many of the assets that have ridden the Web 2.0 to success.

The latest acquisition of the Huffington Post for $315m is another piece of the growing AOL content portfolio. The Huffington Post tops the Technorati list of top 100 blogs on a consistent basis, this blog is striving to break into this list…but still have a lot of work to do! the Huffington Post also has a healthy Twitter following – over 800,000 followers as of this writing.  Couple this with AOL’s early purchase of TechCrunch, another blog and the #2 blog on the same list, and clearly AOL is looking to bolster its reach in the cyber world of content. They have also acquired more niche blogging firms such as MMAfighting.com – a blog dedicated to fans of the MMA.  For a list of the companies AOL has been purchasing click here.

So what does this mean for AOL? For the amount of cash they are paying out for these assets I think they are getting some good deals. They realize that the search market is dominated by Google, with Bing and to some degree Yahoo! still commanding a large chunk of that market, so not worth getting into that. The portal strategy has sailed a decade ago. Free email is table stakes – with the likes of Facebook getting into the space shortly as well. Social is hot, but I am sure that AOL realizes with their brand name would make a pure social media strategy a difficult path to take. So instead they are moving into the social arena by seeking to control many of the destinations people are heading to for their content. With an increased amount of viewers seeking out blogs for their news and content rather than traditional sources like CNN.com or NYTimes.com, AOL has an opportunity to capture an audience that any advertiser and marketer would pay good money to reach. AOL is banking on the trend that blogging and other social media outlets will become the de facto outlet for content – and by owning a number of these assets they will also “own” access to their audience.

Just as Time Warner did when they merged with AOL, AOL is looking to get where the eyeballs are going and ensuring they can monetize that relationship. For AOL’s sake I hope they do a better job developing and nurturing those eyeballs and actually doing something with them, than did Time Warner with AOL. Otherwise the company synonymous with having mail, might continue to have relevance problems.

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Happy New Year!!! Chinese style

Happy Chinese New Year to all…the year of the Golden Rabbit. Attributes of the Rabbit:

  • Compassion
  • Sensitivity
  • Flexibility

Happy New Year to all!

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The Egyptian crisis – supply chain reality

Unless you have been living in a cave the past few days you are aware of the political unrest that is currently hanging over Egypt and other north African nations. Of course to the casual observer this might just seem like another upheaval in a nation that many might not be able to identify on a map…I jest…but I fear I might be closer to the truth in that statement! For this reason I am sure the typical American consumer may not see what is happening as much of an issue to their every day activities. I would argue that they need to be concerned about the unrest in Egypt just as much as we worry about unrest in nations such as Afghanistan. Why?

The global supply chain, that’s why. Least we forget that the Egypt controls the Suez canal (I will not get into the other geopolitical aspects such as Egypt’s role as a bridge between Africa and the Middle East, the fact Egypt is one of the only Arab nations with normal relations with Israel or the fact it is a very large domino in the region). Some figures on the Suez:

Year No
( Vessel )
Net Ton
( 1000 )
Cargo Ton
( 1000 )
Tolls
( Million $ )
2000 14,142 439,041 367,981 1,926.9
2001 13,986 456,113 372,428 1,897.3
2002 13,447 444,786 368,846 1,947.7
2003 15,667 549,381 457,882 2,576.2
2004 16,850 621,230 521,219 3,077.5
2005 18,224 671,951 571,105 3,453.7
2006 18,664 742,708 628,635 3,815.8
2007 20,384 848,162 710,098 4,601.7
2008 21,415 910,059 722,984 5,381.9
2009 17,228 734,450 559,245 4,289.5

It represents 8% of global shipping relies on the Suez. Much of the oil that come out of the Middle East has to pass through the Suez. We all know how crude impacts all aspects of our lives from driving our SUVs to the cost of toys because of raw material costs associated to oil production. If there is any problem with the Suez, look to add another 12 days to the transit for ships coming from the Middle East to the West. Not an insignificant increase in transit…think about how that will impact supply chains across all industries.

So next time you are at Target, Shaws, Barneys or Shell to name a few, remember that unrest in a far away nation will impact your wallet impact store selves and impact supply chains. We still live in a world that has political unrest, and in places that are crucial to our B2B and B2C lives. What if Pakistan falls into revolution and impacts India? Or if China decides to steam roll Taiwan? Or North Korea looks to unify the Korean peninsula through force? Or Russia falls to political corruption and impacts all Eastern Europe? What about the problems with Mexican drug cartels? All geo-political issues that can have drastic repercussions on our supply chains.

Our supply chains have become global and because of this we have enjoyed tremendous growth in terms of depth in offerings, efficiencies in production and price competitiveness to name few. However with this new “flat” world, these supply chains also become vulnerable to political unrest in places that we would otherwise not worry too much about…at least as non political scientists!

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Filed under Current Events, Supply Chain