Tag: bigger picture

Back to the roots.

It’s fair to say that football summer transfer windows are getting more ridiculous year on year. Between outrageous prices paid for unestablished talent, players buying their way out of their contracts or getting sidelined from both training and competition to pressure a move, and clubs spending monies that would sort world’s starvation for a fair amount of time, it’s no surprise sports marketing is known to steer away from that sensitive topic.

But how can you steer away from a topic generating tons of interest? Pundits and bookmakers are all over it, whilst deadline day hashtags are breaking the Twittosphere. And so, slowly, brands have started to make the most of the opportunity, because in any negative can be found a positive. Like with all things in marketing, it depends on the angle you take. Ask adidas, Pogba and Stormzy what they have to say about it.

Let’s take a recent example. For those who’ve been hiding in a bunker this summer, French Ligue 1 Qatar-funded Paris SG spent about £375m on 2 players: Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappe (including Mbappe’s obligatory purchase loan clause and discounting the £14m for Yuri Berchiche arriving from Spain). That’s right, that’s £180m for each player and, even though they’re miles away in terms of notoriety and skill, maybe Nike’s decision to focus on Mbappe’s story says it all.

Let’s look at Neymar, the biggest ever transfer fee for arguably the 3rd most skilled and brandworthy footballer on the planet. Yet the announcement was fairly club-led (a press conference, an unveiling in the team’s stadium, shirts selling out at the club’s flagship store, and a Neymar-branded Eiffel Tower.

Whereas Nike – who will have all the time to bank in on Neymar’s success at PSG, starting with sold out shirts – decided to focus on a “home sweet home” story for Bondy-born Mbappe. The story of a young and modest kid from a rough Paris neighbourhood, who decided against the temptations of the likes of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona to go back to where it all began for him. And that’s just where Nike decided to do his unveiling: an artistically refreshed pitch, a tournament involving young kids aspiring to Mbappe’s success story, and a mural on one of the council blocks. Meanwhile PSG replicated their Neymar-like routine.

For the basketball fan out there, it’s not the first time Nike went deep in emotions. “Together” anyone? Again it’s all about the angle, and more importantly the story you want to tell. Going back to that Pogba unveiling stunt from adidas, there was a reason why it felt more of a show than a story to tell…

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is apple getting tired?

Apple’s slick product development strategy consists of permanently avoiding the maturity phase of its products by spreading the deployment of their existing innovations over time. This ensures consumers will keep upgrading their devices and flourish the company’s cash flow with minimum R&D. Perhaps what they didn’t realise is that this strategy is, today, leading the company itself to its maturity phase, as they are seen as lacking innovation as a whole.

Is Apple getting tired? The fact that this happened when Steve Jobs left the Earth is a mere coincidence to me. This trend had already started before he left. Maybe the answer simply relies in the fact that competition managed to catch up. Apple’s current trial with Samsung – the company behind the development of the iPhone’s nemesis – unveiled an interesting letter that says it all about Samsung’s threat on Apple.


These two companies are differentiated by a key aspect of their marketing. Samsung never really had a strong brand equity, nor vision. If they have one, it is nowhere near the one of Apple (I wouldn’t wear a Samsung T-shirt – would you?). But they embraced Android like no other and managed to create a simple yet innovative and powerful product line in the name of the Galaxy range, which has quickly matched the appeal of the iPhone. Apple on the other hand, have established one of the strongest brands ever and have been challenging the status quo since releasing the first Mac with an ad to remember in 1984. That said, the recent releases of their products have been disappointing to say the least, with some little evolution that has been beaten by Samsung and other players in the market. A focus on a strong brand vs. a focus on a strong product.

What did go wrong for a company that was seen untouchable 5 years ago? Any new technologies they proudly launched have been matched by the competition, be it Siri or Face Time. They released a new iOS, which, to me, seems to take some hints from both Windows Mobile (design) and Android (functionality). Just like they seem to align on their competitors, with the rumoured launch of a bigger screen size after resisting it with the argument that you could reach the whole of your iPhone 5 screen with your thumb. And their anticipated attempt to release a cheaper version of the iPhone – the iPhone 5c, which is basically the iPhone 5 with a plastic colour cover reminiscent of the relaunch of the iPod Nano range – failed to deliver with a hefty price of around £450.


Maybe that last point is the beginning of the answer. When Apple released what everyone expected as an entry-level iPhone, they were actually never going to trade off their premiumness which is what their brand stands for and simply released a colour range rather than compromising on who they are. Can focusing on their brand keep them out of the water for long? The launch of the iPhone 6 at the end of this year is still fuelling conversations and will definitely be a turning point should they fail to deliver ground-breaking innovation. Their activeness on the patent front might be reassuring. There are also new battlefields this year, such as the wearable tech, with Google and Samsung being key players. So let’s not list them as dead just yet. After all, maybe that mind-blowing ad (and the way it was launched at the back of the Super Bowl storm) is reminding everyone of who they are. The question, though, is not about who they are but about what they will do.


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the dominos effect.

When was the last time you flew low cost on a short haul trip? My flatmate is addicted to it and it doesn’t take a PhD in sciences to understand why. Firstly, it is 2 to 4 times cheaper than flying on a major airline. Secondly, what would you get by paying more on a major anyway? I mean what did major airlines become today? The last short haul flights I took on BA were no better than flying on EasyJet if it wasn’t for being assigned a seat, having relatively better looking stewardesses and a complimentary – yet disgusting – snack with my free soda. Yet I can remember flying on major airlines 10 years ago and it wasn’t like that. So what happened in between? Low cost airlines happened.

With a clever business model based on “no frills”, they became massively price-competitive against major airlines. One of their strengths was to target remote airports and cities that were ready to cut their costs down and to subvention the carriers on the basis that they were bringing a new flow of tourists in these areas. They’ve impacted their Industry and beyond. Firstly, they managed to open some new routes to tourists who could not have afforded it otherwise, which brought a lot of business to those targeted cities. You would therefore be right to see a positive side effect in low cost airlines but Majorca city doesn’t really see it this way, claiming that low cost travel actually brought a new type of tourists – and one from the lower economic tier of the population. Put it this way, budget airlines offered the poor the chance to fly like the rich and enjoy the same vacations, which resulted in the rich leaving to pastures new, and therefore not really benefiting these cities from that economic growth I was mentioning earlier. Another side effect is what budget travel did to major airlines, threatening their business, resulting in the latter finding ways to compete and also trending towards the no frills business model. Finally a – so-called – negative side effect of budget airlines is their impact on the environment. More flights mean more gas emissions that aren’t good for Mother Nature. “So-called” because aviation is only responsible for around 2% of all gaz emissions and that beef eaters (cows being responsible for 20% of these same emissions) should think twice before pointing to the sky.

brit holidays

These side effects, whether they are desired/ controlled or not, have a name: externalities. 

A side effect or consequence of an industrial or commercial activity that affects other parties without this being reflected in the cost of the goods or services involved.

A good example is the LoJack as well spotted by Levitt and Dubner in Super Freakonomics. LoJack is a security device that can be hidden into a car and that will track that car – when stolen – via GPS whilst alerting the police. Very efficient but its prohibitive cost of $700 means there are only a few being used. Now, since a car thief can’t tell the difference between a car with and without a LoJack, he might think twice before stealing ANY car. This shows the very positive externality your rich neighbour had on the whole neighbourhood.

Now even though most externalities aren’t controlled, one can benefit from looking at the bigger picture when action on the market. Economist Keynes established a theory in which the government should be highly present in the economy of a country to ensure its growth. In a nutshell, he said that if the government, say, would decrease interest rates, and build good infrastructures to a city, then foreign investment would come, creating new businesses, diminishing unemployment, decreasing poverty and crime and so on. The virtuous circle. Most governments today are tackling unemployment by spending money on companies that are reluctant to hire, and job centres. Is this really the best solution? You can’t force a company to hire more people if there is no business growth to justify it. So why not spending money on that growth? Why not following Keynes’ theory? Externalities proved us that you can be more effective by looking beyond what the problem is. The dominos effect.


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big freeze, big loss, big profits.

Mother nature was far from a Christmassy mood last December in Europe, impacting on our travels and our shopping sprees. Bearing in mind I’m living in London (the most dynamic hub of Europe, located in the North hence likely to be affected by bad weather), allow me to ask why this is happening for the second year in a row? Was our very own BoJo too busy launching his cycle scheme and starting a war with tube drivers? I mean is Helsinki airport closed half of the year? I hear you saying that the required equipments are costly, but aren’t they worth limiting the huge loss witnessed by our economy?


We have learnt for the second time in a row that our economy – now more than ever weakened by the recession – does not like catching a cold. The impact of heavy snows around the UK almost feared some of a double dip recession, with numbers far from reassuring. Quite a logical assumption isn’t it? For starters, transport – that wasn’t at its best this year with terrorism fears, business travel restrictions, increasing oil charges and the Icelandic volcano eruptions – was a heavy loser of the Big Freeze. Construction was also badly hit, as well as high streets retailers (this happening on a key consumption period), agriculture, the entertainment sector, as well as energy (no doubt many of you worked from home all day with the heat on and a relaxing bubble bath break).

But was it really that bad for everyone? As BBC’s Anthony Reuben rightly discussed, it’s all about the point of view we stand by. For instance, UK airports surely had to hire more staff to handle the huge rush of people flooding their terminals – that’s giving temp’ jobs to those who didn’t have any at such a key period. Sales of cold weather gear also surely rose above expectations. Doctor’s appointments, garages for car repair, energy companies, salt mines, snowploughs drivers and you name it! One huge winner was the online sales sector. 25% rise year on year is just crazy, bearing in mind this sector will be winning even beyond that since it will have attracted first-time buyers who had mainly emotional barriers to purchase online (fear of data security, lack of familiarity with high technology etc…), and who now will form part of their productive databases. However it is not that simple. The fact that people were unable to move might have boosted online sales but the hard weather meant that deliveries could not be handled in time for Christmas, adding in yet another barrier to online shopping. There are also some interesting facts about the relation of consumers’ stress on price sensitivity in that “consumers experiencing higher stress levels will demonstrate a higher level of price sensitivity”, meaning marketers will have a tougher job in conveying value for their products.

Marketing is about understanding its environment to spot underlying opportunities. A problem means a solution just like a virus means an antidote – the trick is only to find it first and adapt quickly. A new situation means winners and losers. It also means losers can diversify to winners’ activities. The recession meant that people were less likely to have dinners in town, so Sainsbury and M&S started to launch appealing campaigns to show how you could make a great dinner at home with their grocery products. Again, it’s all about the point of view you stand by. After all, ask G.W. Bush what he thought of the 9.11 attacks.

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