When Disaster Strikes, Baby, Looks Matter
Can the Gerber baby get you out of hot water? If you need to project innocence and honesty, apparently the Gerber baby was made-to-order. Because when disaster strikes, looks do matter.
Consumers are pre-disposed to believe baby-faced CEOs and other responsible company representatives really didn’t know about, or were too naive to recognize, risks. In other words, as a baby-faced CEO, you’re more believable.
But if it’s a question of whether you know what to do when faced with crisis? If that’s the case, you’ll need some of that been-there-done-that mature grey hair. Your baby-faced CEO may be honest, but he probably doesn’t have the experience to handle the really rough stuff. But when you’ve earned those grey hairs? Well duh…to paraphrase IBM’s founder Thomas Watson’s words after one of his executives made a multi-million dollar mistake, you think I spent all that money on your training only to let you walk away?
The Journal of Consumer Research published the original study, but if you prefer English, check out the Reuters article. Is plastic surgery the next corporate perk?
‘Just Do It’ is twenty years old, and Nike’s Courage spot is an appropriately inspirational celebration. Is everything you need already inside of you?
Can Premier Brands Go Public – And Stay Premier?
When premier brands go public, does the market require such fast and continuous growth that ultimately, it undermines the brand? This is an interesting lesson explored by John Quelch in his latest Marketing Know: How blog, How Starbucks’ Growth Destroyed Brand Value.
Quelch suggests that to be a premier brand, one must offer something very special – exclusive. And when premier starts to become mass market, it loses the very edge on which its brand is based. Tiffany is facing a similar problem, while family-owned Prada does not.
While I don’t believe that Starbucks’ appeal was built primarily on exclusivity, I do concur that the pressures of going public seemed to have undermined their ability to stay true to executing their vision. To make earnings targets, Starbucks’ strayed into a number of ancillary businesses and focuses for its shops, and neglected to give what mattered the most the lion’s share of its attention.
Now that they’re closing 600 US stores, in what Quelch believes is the first step in a series of downsizing moves, will Starbucks be able to return to the icon it once was? You can comment on Quelch’s blog.
Do We Think Deeply Anymore?
Are we overloading with so much information and multi-tasking that we’re losing our ability to focus, to consider, to think deeply? Gordon Crovitz ponders the launch of the Information Overload Research Group by companies such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Intel. He notes the giants themselves are struggling with the monster they’ve created.
Intel has ”zero-email Fridays,” IBM limits email and interruptions on “Think Fridays,” and Wired magazine’s founder has banned week-end email for his Federated Media team with “Take 48.” Board chairmen collect Blackberries and phones before meetings. Even the University of Chicago Law School blocks classroom internet access because of the contagious nature of distracting internet surfing.
Crovitz also talks about Maggie Jackson’s new book, “Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age,” where she warns that the cumulative effect of new technologies may be a waning ability to maintain the focus and awareness need for executive attention. Jackson argues that we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to think about the big picture and about achieving our goals.
Read this short and thoughtful piece, nicely dovetailing with our June 7 post below on HBR’s question about why now, in business, there is so little deep thinking.
Photo by Adage Media