March 18, 2009
Reputation Risk Management Is on the Rise in U.S. and European Corporations -- The Conference Board
But Many Companies Still Have a Long Way to Go in Protecting Their Reputations.
According to a new report from The Conference Board (global business research and membership organization), a growing number of major global companies are investing substantial resources to manage their reputation risk and have increased their efforts to do so over the last three years.
"Safeguarding reputation is even more critical today because companies have developed successful ways to make reputation risk management part of their overall risk management," says Ellen Hexter, Director, Enterprise Risk Management at The Conference Board and co-author of the report with Sandy Bayer, President of Bayer Consulting. "In addition, different stakeholder groups are becoming more sophisticated in how they drive corporate reputations. Critics on the Internet can now transmit their opinions and complaints around the world with ease. Most importantly, consumers have high expectations that companies will not only produce quality products and services, but also will act ethically in their creation and distribution."
The report defines reputation as how a company is perceived by each of its stakeholder groups and reputation risk as the risk that an event will negatively influence stakeholder perceptions. Many reputation risks are the secondary result of other, more traditionally recognized risks. For example, if a manufacturer produces an unsafe product, it may lose customers and is likely to suffer financial costs due to a product recall, both of which impact reputation. Reputations may be damaged for any number of reasons, including that stakeholders perceive a company to be unethical.
"Although reputation is the quintessential intangible asset, a strong corporate reputation yields concrete benefits - higher market value, stronger sales, and an increased ability to hire the best and the brightest," says Bayer.
The report is based on the findings of The Conference Board Reputation Risk Research Working Group and a survey of 148 risk management executives of major corporations. More than three quarters of the respondents to the survey said their companies are making a substantial effort to manage reputation risk (82 percent) and they have increased focus in this area over the last three years (81 percent).
Other key findings of the study:
• Reputation risk should be managed throughout the organization. Although communication is of critical importance in responding to a risk event, a company's reputation should be considered during the preparation and execution of strategy and new projects, which hasn't been the case in most companies.
• Reputation risk is often not incorporated into risk management. Only 49 percent of executives surveyed said that the management of reputation risk was highly integrated with their Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) function or another risk oversight program.
• Assessing reputation risks is a top challenge. Fifty-nine percent indicated that assessing the perceptions and concerns of stakeholders was an extremely or very significant issue, making it the highest-ranked challenge.
• Media monitoring has become more sophisticated. Today, there are tools to assess whether coverage is positive, neutral or negative; the credibility of publications; the prominence of coverage, etc.
• Efforts are being made to quantify the value of reputation. A select group of companies is making progress in this area by working with specialist consulting firms to quantify the impact of reputation on share price.
• Social media are gaining influence, but most companies are ignoring them. Although consumers and investors are increasingly gathering information from blogs, online forums, and social networking sites, only 34 percent of the survey respondents said they extensively monitor such sites, and only 10 percent actively participated in them.
The findings spurred the following recommendations from The Conference Board Research Working Group:
1) Actively involve boards of directors in reputation risk management.
2) Demonstrate to leaders and management teams in business units the impact of their actions on reputation.
3) Integrate reputation risk management with ERM or other risk management programs.
4) Quantify the value of reputation.
5) Use and nurture employees as corporate ambassadors.
"Boards of directors, senior management, and operating management should demonstrate an active commitment to strong reputation management," conclude the authors.
Source: The Conference Board
"Our reputation is more important than the last hundred million dollars."
-- Rupert Murdoch
"From the sublime to the ridiculous there is but one step."
-- Napoleon Bonaparte
March 5, 2009
WALL STREET REPORT: $5 BILLION IN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS BOUGHT WALL STREET FREEDOM FROM REGULATION, RESTRAINT
Steps to Financial Cataclysm Paved with Industry Dollars?
The financial sector invested more than $5 billion in political influence purchasing in Washington over the past decade, with as many as 3,000 lobbyists winning deregulation and other policy decisions that led directly to the current financial collapse, according to a 231-page report issued today by Essential Information and the Consumer Education Foundation.
The report, "Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America," shows that, from 1998-2008, Wall Street investment firms, commercial banks, hedge funds, real estate companies and insurance conglomerates made $1.725 billion in political contributions and spent another $3.4 billion on lobbyists, a financial juggernaut aimed at undercutting federal regulation. Nearly 3,000 officially registered federal lobbyists worked for the industry in 2007 alone. The report documents a dozen distinct deregulatory moves that, together, led to the financial meltdown. These include prohibitions on regulating financial derivatives; the repeal of regulatory barriers between commercial banks and investment banks; a voluntary regulation scheme for big investment banks; and federal refusal to act to stop predatory subprime lending.
"The report details, step-by-step, how Washington systematically sold out to Wall Street," says Harvey Rosenfield, president of the Consumer Education Foundation, a California-based non-profit organization. "Depression-era programs that would have prevented the financial meltdown that began last year were dismantled, and the warnings of those who foresaw disaster were drowned in an ocean of political money. Americans were betrayed, and we are paying a high price -- trillions of dollars -- for that betrayal."
"Congress and the Executive Branch," says Robert Weissman of Essential Information and the lead author of the report, "responded to the legal bribes from the financial sector, rolling back common-sense standards, barring honest regulators from issuing rules to address emerging problems and trashing enforcement efforts. The progressive erosion of regulatory restraining walls led to a flood of bad loans, and a tsunami of bad bets based on those bad loans. Now, there is wreckage across the financial landscape."
12 Key Policy Decisions Led to Cataclysm
The report concludes that financial deregulation led directly to the current economic meltdown. For the last three decades, government regulators, Congress and the executive branch, on a bipartisan basis, steadily eroded the regulatory system that restrained the financial sector from acting on its own worst tendencies. "Sold Out" details a dozen key steps to financial meltdown, revealing how industry pressure led to these deregulatory moves and their consequences:
1. 1. In 1999, Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, which had prohibited the merger of commercial banking and investment banking.
2. Regulatory rules permitted off-balance sheet accounting -- tricks that enabled banks to hide their liabilities.
3. The Clinton administration blocked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from regulating financial derivatives -- which became the basis for massive speculation.
4. Congress in 2000 prohibited regulation of financial derivatives when it passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act.
5. The Securities and Exchange Commission in 2004 adopted a voluntary regulation scheme for investment banks that enabled them to incur much higher levels of debt.
6. Rules adopted by global regulators at the behest of the financial industry would enable commercial banks to determine their own capital reserve requirements, based on their internal "risk-assessment models."
7. Federal regulators refused to block widespread predatory lending practices earlier in this decade, failing to either issue appropriate regulations or even enforce existing ones.
8. Federal bank regulators claimed the power to supersede state consumer protection laws that could have diminished predatory lending and other abusive practices.
9. Federal rules prevent victims of abusive loans from suing firms that bought their loans from the banks that issued the original loan.
10. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac expanded beyond their traditional scope of business and entered the subprime market, ultimately costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.
11. The abandonment of antitrust and related regulatory principles enabled the creation of too-big-to-fail megabanks, which engaged in much riskier practices than smaller banks.
12. Beset by conflicts of interest, private credit rating companies incorrectly assessed the quality of mortgage-backed securities; a 2006 law handcuffed the SEC from properly regulating the firms.
Financial Sector Political Money and 3000 Lobbyists Dictated Washington Policy
During the period 1998-2008:
• Commercial banks spent more than $154 million on campaign contributions, while investing $363 million in officially registered lobbying:
• Accounting firms spent $68 million on campaign contributions and $115 million on lobbying;
• Insurance companies donated more than $218 million and spent more than $1.1 billion on lobbying;
• Securities firms invested more than $504 million in campaign contributions, and an additional $576 million in lobbying. Included in this total: private equity firms contributed $56 million to federal candidates and spent $33 million on lobbying; and hedge funds spent $32 million on campaign contributions (about half in the 2008 election cycle).
The betrayal was bipartisan: about 55 percent of the political donations went to Republicans and 45 percent to Democrats, primarily reflecting the balance of power over the decade. Democrats took just more than half of the financial sector's 2008 election cycle contributions, the report clarifies.
According to the report, the financial sector buttressed its political strength by placing Wall Street expatriates in top regulatory positions, including the post of Treasury Secretary held by two former Goldman Sachs chairs, Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson.
Financial firms employed a legion of lobbyists, maintaining nearly 3,000 separate lobbyists in 2007 alone, says the report.
These companies drew heavily from government in choosing their lobbyists. Surveying 20 leading financial firms, "Sold Out" finds 142 of the lobbyists they employed from 1998-2008 were previously high-ranking officials or employees in the Executive Branch or Congress.
Essential Information is a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that seeks to curb excessive corporate power. The Consumer Education Foundation is a California-based nonprofit that supports measures to prevent losses to consumers.
Source: Essential Information
Click HERE for a full PDF copy of "Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America".
"Information is the currency of democracy."
-- Thomas Jefferson
"As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is, to use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts, which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen, which we ourselves ought to bear."
-- GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, Sep. 17, 1796
"The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy."
-- Woodrow Wilson
"In politics... never retreat, never retract... never admit a mistake."
-- Napoleon Bonaparte
February 27, 2009
Consumer Reports: Who Makes the Best Cars?
Automaker Report Cards: Honda Leads Again, Mercedes-Benz Improves, Chrysler Lags.
For the third consecutive year, Honda has earned class leader status for building the best all-around vehicles for American drivers, according to the Automaker Report Cards published in Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Issue. At the opposite end of the annual ranking is Chrysler, which fared even worse than last year. The company's poor performing products and sinking reliability results have kept all Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep badged vehicles off CR's Recommended list.
With an overall score of 78 out of 100 points, Honda was followed closely by Subaru (75), and Toyota (74) in the overall score. Subaru is also the only automaker with 100% of its tested vehicles Recommended, although it has a relatively small model lineup. Mazda (73), came in 4th, followed by Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Volkswagen, and BMW, all tied at 72.
While the top four overall scores belong to Japanese automakers, a Japanese nameplate is no guarantee that every car in a model range will be a reliable and good performer. For example, the Honda Element and Toyota Yaris scored too low in Consumer Reports' tests to be recommended. Conversely, despite overall scores of 63 and 57 respectively, that placed Ford and GM toward the bottom of the results, new models like the Ford Flex, F-150, Chevrolet Malibu, and Cadillac CTS have done well in CR's tests and rank near the top of their classes in its ratings.
The overall score for each automaker is based on the average of its vehicles' overall scores in Consumer Reports' road tests and their average predicted-reliability ratings from Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Survey. Manufacturers received a report card only if five or more of its vehicles were tested.
Of the Asian automakers, Subaru, Nissan, Mazda, and Hyundai improved their overall scores. Nissan and Hyundai also improved their reliability rating. Of the four, Hyundai showed the most improvement, increasing its overall score from 66 to 70.
European automakers, traditionally great performers overall, have lagged in reliability but there have been notable improvements with several models from Audi, BMW, Saab, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz showed the most significant improvement, moving up in the overall ranking (72) to tie with BMW and Volkswagen.
"All three Detroit automakers continued to be at the back of the class, although General Motors and Ford improved their overall scores. Chrysler disappointed the most -- it had the lowest overall test score and none of its vehicles are Recommended," says Consumer Reports.
There was some positive news for the struggling U.S. domestic automakers. The latest models from General Motors now rank among the best in testing, and models like the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook, Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Corvette, and Chevrolet Malibu all scored well. Some Ford models now rival their competition from Honda and Toyota in reliability, perhaps a promising sign for new models now coming out of the product pipeline. For Chrysler, the sole glimmer of hope in the model-year is the new Dodge Ram, which is now very competitive with the other full size trucks.
"While Japanese automakers continue to set the standard for the industry in terms of real-world performance and reliability, many domestic, European, and Korean manufacturers are narrowing the gap by building better and more reliable cars," said David Champion, senior director of automotive testing, Consumer Reports. "While some automakers are still dragged down by old product investments, we expect the race for the front of the class to become even more competitive which may lead to some excellent values for consumers in the near future."
In the end, the companies that make the best vehicles are those that excel in performance, interior craftsmanship, safety, comfort, and reliability. The best continue to set a higher and higher standard, a competition in which consumers are the ultimate winners.
Consumer Reports is one of the trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services, and according to it, its findings may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes.
Source: Consumer Reports
"Can advertising foist an inferior product on the consumer? Bitter experience has taught me that it cannot. On those rare occasions when I have advertised products which consumer tests have found inferior to other products in the same field, the results have been disastrous."
-- David Ogilvy
February 21, 2009
Media Seen as the Primary Cause of the Depth and Length of the Global Recession, According to New Research From Frost & Sullivan
Companies Must Ignore Fear, Make Smart Moves to Emerge Stronger.
In a recent survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, 91% of CEOs blame the breadth and depth of the current economic situation on the media.
"The media's manipulation of statistics, negativity, exaggeration, and doomsday forecasts have driven fear and panic among consumers and businesses alike," says David Frigstad, Chairman of Frost & Sullivan.
According to Frost & Sullivan, "Economic statistics are often twisted and exaggerated. The fear of total economic collapse is perpetuated in the media to grab attention and sell more copies or attract more viewers or listeners. Because of this, consumers and business have frozen spending, canceled projects, sold investments, and laid off workers. This has caused a downward spiral in demand and pricing that has now caused about 20 trillion dollars of damage globally."
"As the media continues to perpetuate fear, uncertainty and doubt, there is a growing chance that it will result in a self-fulfilling prophecy," adds Frost & Sullivan Economist Sandeep Maheshwari.
"What clearly started out with financial mismanagement and fraud on Wall Street has now escalated into a major global recession exacerbated by the media," says Frost & Sullivan's research. "CEOs cite how the media has continued to drive fear through efforts to gain more readers, viewers, and listeners. The ironic turn is that the media is also being victimized by the current recession, with declining audiences and falling ad revenues."
In the responses portion of the study, CEOs made several interesting comments:
• "Several newspapers have compared the overall job losses to the Great Depression without taking into account the huge increase in U.S. population since that time. These comparisons only generate more fear and are counter-productive."
• "Economists miss every turn in the economy. Why do we rely on their forecasts today when they are so unreliable? They move like a herd of antelope -- their current forecasts all fit nicely into a pack."
• "I recently read a headline that said Microsoft will lay off 5,000 workers. At the end of the piece it mentioned it would be over a three year period. Compared to the overall size of Microsoft, this is not newsworthy."
"We are now at a turning point. An unprecedented global stimulus plan and guaranteed programs are now in place. All of these trends could signal the turning point if we change our outlook. The media, economists, politicians, bankers, and business executives could collectively turn the economy around by working simultaneously to restore confidence back into the system -- in turn, calming the public. It's time for us to give up on the doom and gloom," concludes Frigstad.
February 10, 2009
Cole Haan Debuts Spring 2009 Ad Campaign Featuring Maria Sharapova
Cole Haan recently announced Maria Sharapova as a lead collaborator and the face of Cole Haan Sporting, a new collection for Spring 2009, rooted in sport and remixed with fashion. Today, February 10, 2009 in New York, Cole Haan unveils international tennis sensation Maria Sharapova as the face of its 2009 Spring advertising campaign.
Shot with simplicity in Malibu, California by lifestyle photographer Martyn Thompson, the campaign reflects the interplay of style and sport, passion and play, that Cole Haan says it shares with Sharapova.
Photo: Cole Haan ad featuring Maria Sharapova.
"The campaign marks the first time Cole Haan has collaborated with a Nike athlete to serve as the face of a new collection," notes Cole Haan Chief Marketing Officer Michael Capiraso. "We are able to leverage her interest in fashion and sport, while connecting with our consumer in a new and unique way."
Mixing Media Initiatives:
• Digital media to play an important role in the campaign - rich media presence on top sites.
• Debuting in March issue of Vanity Fair.
• Print Campaign to appear in top Women's Core titles.
The Spring 2009 global launch of Cole Haan Sporting includes men's and women's footwear and accessories.
Cole Haan, headquartered in Yarmouth, Maine, USA, designs and distributes dress and casual footwear, apparel and accessories for men and women under the brand names Cole Haan and Bragano. Cole Haan is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NIKE, Inc. and operates more than 100 retail locations throughout the United States, Canada and Japan.
Source: Cole Haan
January 23, 2009
Honda Ranks Highest among Manufacturer Web Sites in Satisfying New-Vehicle Shoppers -- J.D. Power
Honda ranks highest among automotive manufacturer Web sites for usefulness in new-vehicle shopping, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study(SM) (MWES)--Wave 1 released today.
The semi-annual study measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer Web sites during the new-vehicle shopping process. New-vehicle shoppers evaluate Web sites in four key areas: appearance, speed, navigation and information/content.
Honda ranks highest with an index score of 882 on a 1,000-point scale--marking a 14-point increase from the last wave of the study, which was released in June 2008. Following Honda in the rankings and rounding out the top five automotive Web sites are Porsche (867), Mitsubishi (866), Kia (865) and Acura (862).
"Honda resolved some minor navigation issues on their Web site, which helped them improve upon their fourth-place ranking in the previous wave," said Scott Kane, senior manager of marketing/media research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Currently, the Honda Web site performs well in all measures and demonstrates particular strength in speed, navigation and demonstrating options, features and specifications."
The study finds that overall site usefulness for the industry as a whole has declined by nine points since June 2008, with 16 manufacturer Web sites demonstrating double-digit decreases. This marks the largest wave-over-wave decrease since the study's inception ten years ago. Overall, the largest declines occur within the "determine monthly payment" and "compare vehicles" attributes of the information/content measure.
"Because of changes in the economic environment, many of today's new-vehicle shoppers are in a much different --and more challenging--financial position than were shoppers in years past, and many auto manufacturers have not prepared their Web sites accordingly," said Kane. "For new-vehicle shoppers, having the ability to go online to easily compare vehicles from various manufacturers, figure out monthly payments and find the best deal possible has always been important. However, in these tough financial times, these kinds of considerations have an even greater impact on the shopping process."
In addition, as marketing budgets for automakers tighten, manufacturer Web sites are becoming less capable of meeting the increasing expectations of shoppers. For example, as some manufacturers have refreshed or redesigned their models, they have limited the variety of vehicle images on their Web sites, or have simplified their photo and video offerings.
Photo: 2010 Honda Insight EX
"Likely due to budget cuts, some sites that once had beautiful images in city and off-road settings from multiple angles showing off their vehicles' capabilities--things that resonated with consumers--have scaled back on the images offered," said Kane. "A hurdle that manufacturers are facing involves obtaining the high-quality content they need for their Web sites--such as images, video and animations--in a cost-effective way. Finding synergies within their organizations as they create content for various marketing needs--both online and offline--will be critical in continuing to meet new-vehicle shoppers' needs."
The study also finds that the more useful a manufacturer Web site is, the more traffic it is likely to drive to dealerships.
"While it may be tempting for manufacturers to scale back development and maintenance of their Web sites, improved Web site design can translate into a higher volume of sales and a positive return on investment," said Kane. "Now, more than ever, it is essential for manufacturers to be strategic about their marketing efforts to capture their share of the diminishing number of new-vehicle shoppers."
The 2009 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study--Wave 1 is based on evaluations gathered in November 2008 from more than 11,400 new-vehicle shoppers who indicated they would be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months.
Manufacturer Web Site Ranking
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)
• Honda ---------- 882
• Porsche ---------- 867
• Mitsubishi ---------- 866
• Kia ---------- 865
• Acura ---------- 862
• Lincoln ---------- 861
• BMW ---------- 859
• Lexus ---------- 859
• MINI ---------- 859
• Mazda ---------- 856
• Infiniti ---------- 853
• Mercury ---------- 852
• Jeep ---------- 851
• Ford ---------- 850
• Suzuki ---------- 848
• Cadillac ---------- 846
• Saturn ---------- 845
• Subaru ---------- 845
• Toyota ---------- 845
• Chrysler ---------- 841
• Dodge ---------- 840
• Industry Average ---------- 840
• HUMMER ---------- 837
• Mercedes-Benz ---------- 837
• Nissan ---------- 836
• Land Rover ---------- 835
• Saab ---------- 834
• Hyundai ---------- 833
• Volvo ---------- 833
• Volkswagen ---------- 829
• Buick ---------- 827
• Chevrolet ---------- 827
• GMC ---------- 821
• Jaguar ---------- 813
• Pontiac ---------- 801
• Audi ---------- 793
• smart ---------- 789
• Scion ---------- 773
Source: J.D. Power and Associates
"Do not frustrate the earnest visitors to the localized Web site of your car brand by not noticeably providing there the addresses of your relevant dealers."
January 14, 2009
Detroit Auto Show 2009
Photo: Detroit - American Honda Motor Co., Inc., introduces the production version of the all-new 2010 Honda Insight, a dedicated gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, during its world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (American Honda Motor Co., Joe Wilssens)
Photo: Unveiled at the North American International Auto Show is the Jeep(R) Patriot EV.
Photo: Unveiled at the North American International Auto Show is the Chrysler 200C EV concept.
Photo: A caravan of 2009 Saturn Vue 2-Mode Hybrids departs from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan Monday, January 12, 2009 - bound for the upcoming presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. The caravan will make stops at Ohio State University, Penn State University and Howard University encouraging people to make positive changes to reduce the nation's energy consumption. Once in Washington, the hybrid vehicles will be used to provide courtesy transportation for inaugural events. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)
Photo: General Motors North America President Troy Clarke introduces the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox - making its world debut - at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan Sunday, January 11, 2009. The Equinox compact crossover will deliver an estimated highway fuel economy of 30 mpg with its new 2.4L direct injection engine. It will go on sale in mid-2009. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)
Photo: The 2010 Buick LaCrosse luxury sedan makes its world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan Sunday, January 11, 2009. The Buick LaCrosse will feature all wheel drive, a suite of advanced intelligent personal technologies and safety features, and a choice of two fuel-saving V-6 engines. LaCrosse production will begin this summer at the Fairfax Assembly facility in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)
Photo: The next generation 2010 Cadillac SRX makes its world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan Sunday, January 11, 2009. The SRX mid-size luxury crossover is expected to deliver a 25-percent reduction in hydrocarbon emissions while providing fuel economy in the mid-20's. Production begins in the second quarter of 2009, with dealer availability shortly thereafter. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)
Photo: General Motors employees, retirees, dealers and suppliers cheer the Chevrolet Beat concept during a media event at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan Sunday, January 11, 2009. Chevrolet announced production plans for a new vehicle - the Chevrolet Spark - a fuel-efficient mini-car based on the Beat concept that will arrive in dealer showrooms in 2011. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)
Photo: As part of the Mercedes-Benz New Year's Reception in Detroit, Daimler CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche presented the latest version of the successful E-Class in front of over 650 trade journalists from around the world.
Photo: The Ford Fiesta at the North American International Auto Show. Before the Ford Fiesta's U.S. launch in 2010, consumers across the country will have an opportunity to drive, experience and learn all about Ford's newest global vehicle. Under a program coined 'Fiesta Movement', Ford will select up to 100 tech-savvy vehicle enthusiasts to drive a Fiesta and then relate their experiences through social media sites such as Facebook, FlickR and YouTube.
Photo: The Lincoln C Concept was introduced at the North American International Auto Show 2009. It is powered by a sophisticated human machine interface (HMI) and forward-thinking in-car connectivity technologies.
Photo: Ford's Battery Electric Vehicle hits the streets of Detroit at the North American International Auto Show, giving media from around the world a chance to put it to the test.
"The financial woes of G.M. and Chrysler have made the Detroit show far more downbeat than in years past. Persistent questions about their financial situations have tested the patience of executives at both companies."
-- From the article "Wagoner Says G.M. Is Working on an Overhaul Tied to the Bailout" in The New York Times, January 12, 2009 (NYTimes.com)
"As to buying from Detroit, that is another question.
While I have occasionally looked at Detroit product when buying a new car, I have always found that they were not the equal of foreign products in many areas, from design to ergonomics to comfort to dependability to value. Which is why I have only owned Japanese cars since I purchased my 1st new car in 1979.
With the current financial circumstances that the Detroit carmakers are in, there is NO WAY that I would risk buying a Detroit product. Who knows if they will be in business next year?"
-- A Reader's Comment in response to the article "How to Get Detroit Selling Again" in The New York Times, January 12, 2009 (NYTimes.com)
"A new automobile MUST BE sold with the Essential Guarantee of Continuing Service Facility and Continuing Spare Parts Availability.
Can a Detroit Auto Company provide that Essential Guarantee today?
NO, IT CANNOT."
December 30, 2008
Ninety Things to Watch in 2009 -- JWT's Annual List
JWT, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, has released its list of 90 things to watch in 2009.
"Our list points to the broader trends we're seeing, showing the ways in which these shifts will manifest in our everyday lives," says Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT. Among these shifts, the recession will make the biggest impact, says Mack. "A lot of what to watch in 2009 relates to consumers' adaptation to the economic situation, from 'affordable nutrition' to 'more under one roof,'" notes Mack.
JWT's list of 90 Things to Watch in 2009 (unranked and in alphabetical order):
1. 21st-Century Networking
2. Affordable Nutrition
3. Amy Poehler
4. Apatow-esque Humor
6. Building a Beauty Arsenal
7. Buraka Som Sistema
8. Career Reinvention and Extension
9. Chat-Avoidance Services
10. The Cleveland Show
11. Cloud Computing
12. The Collective Consciousness
13. Creativity in the Informal Economy
14. Credit Card Dieting
16. The Decline of E-Mail
17. Distraction as Entertainment
18. DIY Repairs and Renovations
22. Electric Bikes
23. Elizabeth Banks
24. Emma Stone
25. The Energy Race
26. Environmental Exercise
27. Family-Friendly TV
29. Gerard Butler
30. Girl Talk
31. Giving Circles
33. Good Old-Fashioned Cooking
34. Graphic Novels Hit Hyperdrive
35. The Green-Collar Class
37. Holographic Projection
38. Home as Castle
40. Homemade Beauty Treatments
41. How to Talk to Girls
42. Incognito luxury
43. Inconspicuous Travel
44. Innocent Cosmetics
45. Lady GaGa
47. Lance Armstrong
48. Lykke Li
49. Maria Pinto
50. Marketing with Aromas
51. Michelle Obama
52. Microfinancing's Second Wave
53. Mobile Phones Get Personal
54. More Under One Roof
55. NASA's Kepler Telescope
58. No "Paper" in Newspapers
59. Nutrition Replaces Dieting
62. Online TV Network Crackle
63. Online Video Ads
64. Outliers (as a term)
65. Palin's Grandson
66. Personalized Travel Guides
67. Pisco Sours
68. Presidential Sightseeing
69. Prince William Wedding Watch
70. Product Source Tags
71. Radical Transparency Meets Genomics
72. Readers + Social Media = Revenue?
73. Residential Market for Solar Power
74. Ricky Rubio
75. Russell Brand
77. The Small Movement
78. Smart Garages
79. South Africa
80. Stuart Karten
81. Sustainable Fishery
82. T. Boone Pickens
84. Touch Screens
85. Twitter Copycats
86. Virtual Reality Therapy
87. Virtual Socializing
90. Xbox Streaming
Headquartered in New York, JWT is a global network with more than 200 offices in over 85 countries employing nearly 10,000 marketing professionals. JWT's parent company is WPP and its clients include Bayer, Cadbury, Diageo, DTC, Ford, HSBC, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg's, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft, Nestle, Nokia, Rolex, Schick, Shell, Unilever, and Vodafone.
U.S. Federal Government has done all it can currently do to sustain the ailing domestic (as well as global) economy.
It is a crime to put all the blame on the managements of the bankrupt or struggling American corporations and make them scapegoats.
The blame must be shared by all those who have been blind to (or unaware of) the Highest Law of Economics and have been advertently or inadvertently contributing towards the propagation of the easy-money excessive greed culture originating in the USA.
Such contributors include the Top American Business & Financial Newspapers & Magazines, Relevant Leading Advertising Agencies, and some Industry Specific Labor Unions.
December 18, 2008
2009 NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW
The North American International Auto Show will open its doors in less than 30 days and plans continue to build anticipation for this flagship event in the automotive industry. On Jan 11th global eyes will turn to Detroit as the press days open the show with 44 product unveilings.
"Detroit will soon be welcoming more than 6,000 national and international media to the 2009 NAIAS," said Joe Serra, co-chair for the 2009 NAIAS. "While the automotive industry is in the midst of an obvious time of adjustment, the interest in the future of cars has only increased. What better place to see the future of automotive than in Detroit."
The public and media will be treated to a number of world debuts of highly anticipated vehicles from exhibitors such as General Motors, Chrysler, Kia, Volkswagen, Audi, Honda and Toyota. As the environmental impact of vehicles increasingly moves to the forefront of buyers' minds, many of the debuts will include vehicles designed with a 'green' mindset including the 2010 Toyota Prius, and 2010 Honda Insight.
One of the largest media events in North America, the NAIAS is the only auto show in the United States to earn an annual distinguished sanction of the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles, the Paris-based alliance of automotive trade associations and manufacturers from around the world.
Photo: Detroit, Mich.: At the 2008 North American International Auto Show, attendees enjoy all the sights and sounds of Public Days.
NAIAS 2009 EXHIBITOR PRESS CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
(THIS SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE)
Sunday, January 11, 2009
7:00 am Media Credential Office Opens / Oakland Concourse
8:30-8:55 am Johnson Controls / D2-15
9:00 am Show Floor Opens
9:10-9:30 am NAIAS 2009 Opening Ceremony / Michigan Hall Stage
9:30-10:00 am North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards
10:10-10:35 am General Motors
10:50-11:15 am Lexus / Riverview Ballroom
11:25-11:50 am Ford / Cobo Arena
12:00-12:25 pm Chrysler
12:35-1:00 pm BMW
1:10-1:35 pm Volkswagen
1:45-2:10 pm Bentley
2:20-2:45 pm Kia
2:55-3:20 pm Audi
3:30-3:55 pm MINI
4:05-4:30 pm Lamborghini
4:40-5:05 pm Subaru
5:15-5:40 pm Jaguar / Main Show Floor
5:50-6:15 pm Volvo / Main Show Floor
Monday, January 12, 2009
7:00 am Show Floor Opens
8:30-8:55 am Michelin Corporate
9:05-9:30 am Lincoln-Mercury / Cobo Arena
9:40-10:05 am Maserati
10:15-10:40 am General Motors
10:50-11:15 am BYD
11:30-11:55 am Toyota / Riverview Ballroom
12:10-12:35 pm Brilliance
12:45-1:00 pm Lamborghini Fashion Show / Lamborghini stand
1:10-1:35 pm General Motors
1:45-2:10 pm Fisker
2:20-2:45 pm Revenge Designs
2:55-3:20 pm Michelin Challenge Design / Michigan Hall
3:30-3:55 pm Alpine / O2-44
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
7:00 am Show Floor Opens
10:00-10:25 am DENSO / Michigan Hall Stage
10:35-11:00 am Johnson Controls / D2-15
11:10-11:35 am EyesOn Design Awards at the NAIAS / Michigan Hall Stage
"At the Detroit 2009 North American International Auto Show, the first thing the press and the public would wish to know about an Automobile Manufacturer is its CURRENT REPUTATION."
November 23, 2008
Saint-Gobain Specialty Glass Adds Sparkle to NYC's TKTS Booth on Father Duffy Square
Photo: The TKTS ticket booth, a mainstay for bargain-conscious theater fans since 1973, recently opened its upgraded structure made entirely of glass supplied by Saint-Gobain, the world's largest producer of building materials.
Headquartered in Paris, Saint-Gobain has more than 210,000 employees throughout the world, including 25,000 in the U.S. and Canada. In addition to its leadership in glass for architectural products, the company is the world's largest supplier of building materials and is a major manufacturer of high-performance materials and glass containers.
The new TKTS ticket booth on Father Duffy Square in New York City has finally opened its portholes after several years of design and construction. The new booth -- a striking glass structure in the heart of New York's theatre district -- was officially declared open by New York City Mayor Bloomberg at a gathering of celebrities and city officials on October 16th.
Huge pieces of ultra-clear Saint-Gobain Diamant Glass envelope and protect the futuristic white ticket pod. The glass steps above it are claret red in the shadow of the surrounding buildings but turn brighter as the midday sun reflects off the colored interlayer.
As Saint-Gobain itself describes, "At night, when the booth's light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are switched on, the whole structure glows like a 'magical ruby'. Transformed from its temporary scaffold and sheeting appearance into a gleaming all-glass sculpture by Perkins Eastman architects, the booth is rapidly becoming a landmark for locals and visitors alike. The booth is already attracting throngs of weary walkers -- happy to make the short climb up the 27 glass steps to absorb a unique view of New York."
The amphitheater will be able to accommodate more than one thousand visitors as they wait for tickets, eat their lunch or just sit and watch the hustle and bustle of the Times Square district. It will also likely serve as a space for many photo shoots, weddings and film sets.
The steps comprise three-layers of Saint-Gobain Diamant ultra-clear glass, laminated with a red interlayer and surface treated for slip-resistance. The one-and-a-half inch steps are designed for maximum durability.
The ultra-clear walls structurally support the steps, serving as a balustrade and protecting the administration pod inside.
All of the glass panels were developed and manufactured at Saint-Gobain's Eckelt Glas factory in Austria.
October 27, 2008
Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09
Photo: Telefonica Blue officially suspended racing having reached landfall near Gibraltar to undertake repairs to the steering gear they damaged soon after the race start in Alicante. (© Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race)
Photo: Telefonica Blue and Black training off Alicante. (© Maria Muina/Equipo Telefonica)
The Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 is the 10th running of this ocean marathon. Starting from Alicante in Spain, on 4 October 2008, it is, for the first time, taking in Cochin, India, Singapore and Qingdao, China before finishing in St Petersburg, Russia for the first time in the history of the race. Spanning some 37,000 nautical miles, visiting 11 ports over nine months, the Volvo Ocean Race is the world's premier ocean yacht race for professional racing crews.
Photo: PUMA Ocean Racing heads into the Gibraltar strait during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race. (© Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race)
(Photo © Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race)
Photo: Telefonica Blue sail testing off Alicante, prior to the in-port race. (© Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race)
Photo: Telefonica Blue breaks away from the start line in Alicante, Spain for leg 1 of The Volvo Ocean Race. Next is a 6,500nm battle to Cape Town, South Africa. (© Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race)
The Volvo Ocean Race is an extreme sport, where boats, equipment and crew push the limits at very high speeds, over very long distances and out of reach for any coast guard. Since Volvo bought the race in 1997, safety has been improved for each race.
A new design of boat, the Volvo Open 70, was introduced for the 2005-06 event. It is faster and more dynamic than any boat previously sailed in the race. This state-of-the-art class of boat, with canting keel and a sail area as large as three tennis courts is being used again in this race, with some slight modifications.
Each Volvo Open 70 has two Volvo Penta engines onboard that are provided by Volvo. One is an engine that can propel the boat, the other creates electricity for all the equipment onboard: the navigation gear, the desalination device etc. The waste is stored onboard and is recycled in the ports.
All major sport events face similar environmental challenges. Therefore, a major United Nations conference on sport and the environment was held in Alicante in conjunction with the start of Volvo Ocean Race. The conference focused on how to make global sport events more sustainable.
Photo: Volvo S40, Gekko Green
According to Volvo Car Corporation, in Volvo Cars' brand value pyramid, (1) Safety is followed by (2) Care for the Environment and (3) Modern Scandinavian Design, and all these three brand values are tied into Volvo Ocean Race as well.
October 18, 2008
New-Vehicle Buyers Turn to the Internet for Information as Buying Habits Shift to Smaller Vehicles: J.D. Power
Consumer-Generated Content Proves Beneficial for Consumers during the New-Vehicle Shopping Process.
New-vehicle buyers are using the Internet more than ever when researching vehicle information, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 New Autoshopper.com Study(SM) released yesterday. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.
The study finds that 75 percent of new-vehicle buyers in 2008 are using the Internet during their shopping process, compared with 70 percent in 2007. This year marks the largest year-over-year increase in online shopping since 2001. The total amount of time shoppers spend online researching automotive information has also increased since 2007 -- up 12 percent to more than six and a half hours. Meanwhile, the number of Web sites being visited by new-vehicle shoppers has remained relatively flat since 2007, which suggests that consumers have become more engaged with the sites they currently visit.
• "The current economic environment, coupled with high fuel prices, has given rise to a shift in the vehicle buying habits of U.S. consumers," said Arianne Walker, director of marketing/media research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Shoppers who were once loyal to larger vehicle models are now finding themselves in the market for a compact or midsize car. For many, this is unknown territory, and these shoppers are turning to the Internet for information and education about the vehicles in their new consideration set. The resulting demand for information provides automotive marketers with valuable opportunities to reach out to shoppers via the Internet."
Automotive manufacturers can further engage shoppers through consumer-generated content on the Web. According to the study, nearly 70 percent of automotive Internet users (AIUs) utilize consumer-generated content while shopping for a new vehicle. In particular, vehicle ratings and reviews are the most popular form of consumer-generated content, with 63 percent of AIUs utilizing this resource. Additionally, 95 percent of AIUs who use consumer ratings and reviews say that the information is "helpful." Dealer ratings and reviews are also popular among new-vehicle shoppers, with 38 percent of AIUs utilizing the resource, and 87 percent of those find the information "helpful."
"The collaborative environment facilitated by Web 2.0 is changing the way shoppers research vehicles, driving many to seek the experiences and opinions of other shoppers and owners," said Walker. "The opinions of other consumers are so impactful that we are already seeing distinct purchasing patterns develop between those shoppers who use consumer ratings and reviews, and those who rely solely on expert ratings and reviews."
The study also finds that different types of automotive Web sites have specific benefits that satisfy the information and shopping needs of consumers. For example, shoppers view independent, third-party sites -- such as Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) -- as being most useful for researching vehicle pricing and for providing ratings, reviews and forums. Conversely, shoppers view manufacturer Web sites as most useful for their information on vehicle model options, features and specifications, while dealer sites are perceived as being most useful for inventory information.
• "The challenge for automotive manufacturers and dealers alike is discovering how best to get involved in online conversations taking place among consumers in order to shift sales to their advantage," said Walker. "Knowing the strengths of various types of sites and where shoppers are going for their information can enable manufacturers and dealers to manage their site content more strategically and focus on efficiently targeting consumers at each stage of the shopping process."
The study also finds that Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) is the most visited independent Web site, with 44 percent of automotive Internet users visiting the site. Additionally, Edmunds.com is the most useful independent Web site among automotive Internet users. Edmunds.com shoppers are 42 percent more likely than consumers using other independent, third-party sites to say that the reviews, forums and ratings are the most useful information on the site.
This J.D. Power Study is based on the self-reported shopping habits of 27,901 new-vehicle buyers.
October 7, 2008
Reader's Digest Conducts Global Presidential Poll
According to the results of a first-ever global presidential poll conducted by Reader's Digest magazine and published in the November issue (on newsstands October 21), Barack Obama is the world's preferred choice for president of the United States by far.
(Reader's Digest magazine is published in 21 languages and reaches 70 million readers worldwide. It is part of The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., a global multi-brand media and marketing company headquartered in Pleasantville, New York, USA.)
The poll, part of the cover story "How the World Sees Us" by Reader's Digest Washington Bureau Chief Carl Cannon, asked 17,000 people in 17 countries, including the United States, whom they would like to see in the White House, and to weigh in on the global issues they most care about. They were also asked to characterize how America is perceived abroad.
"For the first time, Reader's Digest used its unique international footprint to provide a tapestry of global perspectives on several of the most important issues of our time, leading with the election of the next American president," said Peggy Northrop, U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Reader's Digest.
• Regarding the question of which candidate they would vote for if they could, respondents voted overwhelmingly for Obama in every country polled, with the exception of the United States, where Republican John McCain was preferred over Democrat Obama by a narrow margin.
• "It's Obama by a landslide -- except in the country in which he's actually running for president," said John Fredricks, Director of Polling for Reader's Digest. "What is most striking is the margin of his support."
In the Netherlands, Obama-mania surpassed 90 percent. In Germany, it was at 85 percent--numbers not usually seen in political polling. Similar results held true on all six continents that the magazine polled.
One of the questions was "When you think of the U.S. government, do you consider yourself pro-American, neutral or anti-American?" The poll also asked respondents to rank eight issues in importance: terrorism, the war in Iraq, the global economy, global poverty, human rights, the environment, international trade, and nuclear proliferation.
• Americans ranked the global economy as most important; terrorism, second; and the war in Iraq, third. Only the Russians were more concerned with terrorism than Americans.
• In seven nations (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Germany, Great Britain and Taiwan), the environment came out on top as a major concern.
• Respondents in Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, Australia, and South Africa reported paying the most attention to the U.S. election. Respondents in Brazil, Poland, Russia, India, and Taiwan reported paying the least attention.
• While preference for the candidates is nearly equal in the U.S., support for Obama is significantly stronger in all other nations.
• In the U.S., McCain is seen as more qualified to address issues related to war and security, while Obama is the stronger candidate for humanitarian issues, such as poverty, the environment and human rights.
• Globally, the most important issues are the economy, poverty, and the environment.
• The election of Obama would be more likely to improve the image of the U.S.
• Most countries polled have a neutral opinion of the U.S. government. India is the most pro-American government (31%) while Spain, Netherlands, Indonesia and Canada have the highest percent (21%, 21%, 20%, 19%) of respondents who are anti-American government.
• The majority in India (73%), South Africa (65%), the Netherlands (55%) and France (52%) would be interested in moving to the U.S. while about 70% of respondents in Poland, Russia, Indonesia, and Australia expressed a lack of interest in moving to the U.S.
• South Africa is the only country where the election of McCain would have a slightly more positive impact on the image of the U.S.
Source: Reader's Digest
"Well, also, was it written by Theologians: a King rules by divine right. He carries in him an authority from God, or man will never give it him. Can I choose my own King? I can choose my own King Popinjay, and play what farce or tragedy I may with him: but he who is to be my Ruler, whose will is to be higher than my will, was chosen for me in Heaven."
- Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus
October 6, 2008
Louis Vuitton Spring Summer 2009 Fashion Show at Closing of Paris Fashion Week
Photo: Paris, October 5, 2008 - Marc Jacobs and the models. (© Louis Vuitton / Bertrand Rindoff Petrov et Mazen Saggar)
Photo: Paris, October 5, 2008 - Zoe Cassavetes, Sofia Coppola, Marc Jacobs, Lenny Kravitz. (© Louis Vuitton / Bertrand Rindoff Petrov et Mazen Saggar)
Photo: Paris, October 5, 2008 - Sebastien Tellier, Amandine de la Richardiere, Zoe Cassavetes, Sofia Coppola, Kerry Washington, Yves Carcelle, Cecile Cassel, Helene de Fougerolles, Dita Von Teese. (© Louis Vuitton / Bertrand Rindoff Petrov et Mazen Saggar)
Photo: Paris, October 5, 2008 - Amandine de la Richardiere, Zoe Cassavetes, Sofia Coppola, Bernard Arnault, Helene Arnault, Kerry Washington, Yves Carcelle, Cecile Cassel, Helene de Fougerolles, Dita Von Teese, Mario Testino, Peter Marino, model from the Spring Summer 2009 show. (© Louis Vuitton / Bertrand Rindoff Petrov et Mazen Saggar)
The house of Louis Vuitton, with Marc Jacobs as Artistic Director, closed fashion week in Paris October 5, 2008 with its Spring Summer 2009 collection in the historic "Cour Carree" of the Louvre.
Yves Carcelle, President of Louis Vuitton received the international press and many celebrities including Sofia Coppola, Lenny Kravitz, Kerry Washington, Zoe Cassavetes, Cecile Cassel, Sebastien Tellier, Eva Amurri, Helene de Fougerolles, and Dita von Teese.
Source: Louis Vuitton
October 3, 2008
Paris Motor Show 2008: AutoWeek Editors Announce Editors' Choice Award Winners
The Editors' Choice Awards recognize Best in Show, Best Concept, Most Significant and Most Fun.
The AutoWeek editorial staff today announced its Editors' Choice Award winners for the 2008 Paris Motor Show.
"The Paris Motor Show has renewed our faith in the auto industry and its future," said AutoWeek Editor and Associate Publisher Dutch Mandel. "Despite the dismal global economy and the state of the industry, we saw a surprising number of exciting vehicles, both foreign and domestic."
Following are the 2008 AutoWeek Editors' Choice Award winners for the Best of Paris:
• BEST IN SHOW: Lamborghini Estoque -- "While the design is somewhat contrived, the Estoque really has presence when you see it in person. This is the car people will clearly remember," said Mandel.
• Contenders for Best of Show -- Ferrari California, Saab 9-X Air and BMW 7-series
• MOST SIGNIFICANT: Honda Insight -- "This hybrid car will be cheaper than the Prius, have high fuel economy and seating for five. Honda has officially returned to the game they used to own."
• Contenders for Most Significant -- Audi A1 Sportback, Pininfarina Bollore, Mercedes Fascination and Volkswagen Golf
• BEST CONCEPT: Peugeot RC HyMotion4 -- "If the French automakers were to come to the U.S., this is the car Americans would want. Here is an electric sports car we can love."
• Contenders for Best Concept -- Honda Insight, Mercedes Fascination, Audi A1 Sportback and Saab 9-X Air
• MOST FUN: Audi S4 -- "The S4 is a rocket ship that is fun and fuel efficient. It satisfies on all fronts."
• Contenders for Most Fun -- Fiat 500 Abarth Essesse, Ferrari California, Volkswagen Golf GTI and Lexus IS250C
AutoWeek is America's only weekly automotive enthusiast magazine. For more than a decade, the editors of this weekly have been selecting winners in four categories (1) Best in Show, (2) Best Concept, (3) Most Significant and (4) Most Fun at auto shows in Detroit, Geneva, Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo.
"At the world's top auto shows, AutoWeek has been selecting winners in four categories - Best in Show, Best Concept, Most Significant, and Most Fun. These categories cover all types of cars displayed there. Yet, taking note of the new circumstances in which the automobile industry finds itself today, AutoWeek editors could consider adding another category, such as - Most Handy or Best Handy."
"With U.S. automakers reporting their worst monthly sales results of the year and no signs of relief expected in 2009, we now believe that as many as 100,000 industry-related jobs may be at risk.
With a more than 2 million unit sales decline likely this year compared with 2007, followed by a prolonged slump expected next year, the downturn is placing unforeseen levels of stress on the industry, we expect many players do not have the cash, credit or means to see the cycle through.
The last three quarters have seen a sharp curtailment in leases, high commodity and energy costs, a tightening of credit and rising unemployment. Consumers are fatigued, and we see more of the same in 2009 based on our read of the underlying industry fundamentals.
Only a resurgence in consumer confidence, stable financial markets, a resumption in the free flow of capital and a revitalized construction/real estate market can mitigate the downside risk."
- Grant Thornton LLP Corporate Advisory and Restructuring Services
September 22, 2008
Columbia Records to Release Two New Career-Spanning Albums from Celine Dion
On Tuesday, October 28th, Columbia Records will release two special edition CDs featuring career-spanning repertoire from Celine Dion, one of the biggest selling female artist of all time.
"My Love...Essential Collection" is a single disc featuring 17 songs, consisting of Celine's biggest hits...songs such as the international chart-topper "All By Myself", "Where Does My Heart Beat Now", her landmark 1996 Olympic Ceremonies performance of "Power of the Dream, the brand-new never-released "There Comes A Time," and a live recoding of the lead track "My Love."
"My Love" is a semi-autobiographic song recently written for Celine by Linda Perry (Christina Aguilera, Dixie Chicks, Gwen Stefani) and has become a show-stopper every night during Celine's sold-out World Tour, which is currently in flight across North America. "My Love" impacts at radio on September 22nd.
The two-disc edition, entitled "My Love...Ultimate Essential Collection," is a 26 song set that has been further expanded to include rarities like "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman," "The Prayer" (a duet with Andrea Bocelli), "Tell Him" (a duet with Barbra Streisand), "I Knew I Loved You," "Dance With My Father", and "Pour que tu m'aimes encore" (the biggest song of Celine's French career).
Celine's "My Love..." anthologies cover virtually every single aspect of her extraordinary career, including fan favorites, a definitive assemblage of chart-topping international successes, as well as new and unreleased recordings culled from once-in-a-lifetime experiences that Celine has participated in over the years.
• Celine Dion - "My Love...Essential Collection" - single disc edition:
1. Where Does My Heart Beat Now
2. Beauty & The Beast (duet with Peabo Bryson)
3. If You Asked Me To
4. The Power Of Love
5. My Love (Live From The Taking Chances Tour)
6. Because You Loved Me (Theme From Up Close & Personal)
7. The Power Of The Dream (taken from opening ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics)
8. It's All Coming Back To Me Now
9. All By Myself
10. My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme From Titanic)
11. I'm Your Angel (duet with R Kelly)
12. That's The Way It Is
13. A New Day Has Come
14. I'm Alive
15. I Drove All Night
16. Taking Chances
17. There Comes A Time (previously unreleased)
• Celine Dion - "My Love...Ultimate Essential Collection" - two disc edition:
1. Where Does My Heart Beat Now
2. Beauty & The Beast (duet with Peabo Bryson)
3. If You Asked Me To
4. Love Can Move Mountains
5. My Love (Live From The Taking Chances Tour)
6. The Power Of Love
7. Pour que tu m'aimes encore
8. (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman
9. Because You Loved Me (Theme From Up Close & Personal)
10. The Power Of The Dream (taken from opening ceremony 1996 Summer Olympics)
11. It's All Coming Back To Me Now
12. All By Myself
13. River Deep Mountain High
14. Tell Him (duet with Barbra Streisand)
15. My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme From Titanic)
16. To Love You More
17. I'm Your Angel (duet with R Kelly)
18. The Prayer (duet with Andrea Bocelli)
19. That's The Way It Is
20. A New Day Has Come
21. I'm Alive
22. I Drove All Night
23. Taking Chances
24. There Comes A Time (previously unreleased)
25. Dance With My Father
26. I Knew I Loved You
According to Columbia Records, "Celine Dion is the biggest-selling Female Artist of All Time, with worldwide album sales of over 200 million. Her RIAA Diamond Award albums "Falling Into You" and "Let's Talk About Love" have each sold over 30 million worldwide. She has five Grammys -- Best Pop Vocal Performance ("Beauty and the Beast"); Album of the Year & Best Pop Album ("Falling Into You"); Record of the Year & Best Female Pop Vocal Performance ("My Heart Will Go On") and two Best Song Oscars ("Beauty and the Beast" & "My Heart Will Go On")."
Source: Columbia Records
September 15, 2008
Barack Obama, John McCain Outline China Views
Photo: John McCain, Barack Obama Outline China Views Through AmCham-China.
The American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham-China) today announced in Beijing that US presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama have outlined their views on what US-China relations would be like under their respective administrations in articles written exclusively for AmCham. The articles, to be published in the October issue of AmCham-China's monthly magazine, China Brief, are believed to represent the first time the two candidates have publicly offered substantive details about their proposed China policies.
AmCham-China is a Beijing-based, non-profit organization representing the interests of some 2,700 companies and individuals doing business throughout China.
The articles outline the candidates' positions on a range of critical China-related business and policy issues facing the next US administration including trade balances, currency, security and the environment, as well as their thoughts on US competitiveness in the world economy.
"The fact that senators McCain and Obama chose to share their insights first with AmCham members is a testament to the chamber's reach and standing as an advocate for positive US-China business relations," said AmCham-China Chairman James Zimmerman. "We are encouraged to see both candidates call for further business development and more US engagement -- rather than isolationism -- in the years ahead. As a non-profit, non-partisan organization, AmCham-China looks forward to continuing good relations with the next administration."
Among many topics addressed, both candidates lay out clear indications of their views on trade.
For example, in his article Senator Obama writes that he will "undertake more sustained and serious efforts to combat intellectual property piracy in China, and to address regulations that discriminate against foreign investments in major sectors and other unfair trading practices." In addition, the senator pledges to work with China's leaders "to establish a better system for both countries to monitor products produced for export and act when dangerous products are identified."
Meanwhile, Senator McCain stresses China's obligations in improving bilateral trade relations. China's "commitment to open markets must include enforcement of international trade rules, protecting intellectual property, lowering manufacturing tariffs," he writes. "The next administration should be clear about where China needs to make progress, hold it to its commitments through enforcement at the World Trade Organization, and enforce US trade and product safety laws."
Source: The American Chamber of Commerce in China
September 10, 2008
New 'iPod touch' from Apple
Photo: Apple's iPod touch for movies, music and games.
iPod touch with new features is being introduced by Apple.
New features include a thin contoured metal design, a 3.5-inch widescreen glass display, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi wireless networking, integrated volume control buttons, a built-in speaker for casual listening, a built-in accelerometer and other advanced sensors, and Apple's Multi-Touch(TM) user interface.
"iPod touch is the funnest iPod we've ever created," says Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Users can listen to millions of songs, watch thousands of Hollywood movies and now, thanks to the App Store, download and play hundreds of great games on their iPod touch."
Photo: Apple's App Store downloads thousands of games, movies and music.
"iPod touch works seamlessly with iTunes so you can import, manage, and then easily auto-sync your favorite content. With up to 36 hours of music playback or six hours of video playback on a single charge, the new iPod touch is the ultra-portable way to enjoy your favorite music, TV shows, movies and games on the go. The 32GB model holds up to 7,000 songs, 25,000 photos or 40 hours of video; the 16GB model holds up to 3,500 songs, 20,000 photos or 20 hours of video, and the 8GB model holds up to 1,750 songs, 10,000 photos and 10 hours of video," Apple explains.
Photo: Apple's new iPod lineup: the iPod touch for music, movies and games; the iPod classic; the iPod nano in nine colors; and iPod shuffle.
The new iPod touch is smaller and lighter than the original. With its rounded edges, flush display and curved, more compact design, the new iPod touch is more comfortable to hold and more portable.
August 29, 2008
Kodak Enhances Digital Experiences at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Shares it with Fans, and Bows Out
Kodak was the Official Imaging Sponsor of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
In Beijing, Kodak's most advanced imaging technologies were employed to help create accreditation badges, provide onsite image-rich printing and publishing services, and support thousands of photojournalists capturing the action of the Olympic Games for news media worldwide.
The Kodak Image Center, a 22,000-square foot facility located in the Main Press Center, served the needs of more than 1,500 professional photographers and news agencies with traditional and digital photographic products and services. An estimated six million images were acquired and digitized. By digitizing all the images, the Kodak Image Center enabled photographers and photo editors to share these memorable moments with editors, producers and audiences worldwide.
Kodak printed Opening Ceremony photos and other image related items, and delivered imaging services throughout the games to the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic Committee and several other National Olympic Committees, and many of the Olympic Games Sponsors.
Kodak systems also produced more than 1.2 million security badges and credentials required for the Olympic athletes, officials, volunteers and sponsors.
Kodak Picture of the Day: August 17, 2008. Men's Swimming. Photographer: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Michael Phelps of the United States celebrates victory in the Men's 100m Butterfly Final held at the National Aquatics Centre during Day 8 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 16, 2008 in Beijing, China. By winning gold in the Men's 100m Butterfly, Phelps tied Mark Spitz's record of winning seven gold medals in a single Olympic Games.
Kodak Picture of the Day: August 15, 2008. Men's Water Polo. Photographer: Adam Pretty/Getty Images. Milan Ticic of Montenegro fights for the ball against Greece during the men's preliminary round water polo match at the Olympic Sports Centre Yingdong Natatorium during Day 6 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 14, 2008 in Beijing, China.
Kodak Picture of the Day: August 11, 2008. Women's Gymnastics. Photographer: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images. Deng Linlin of China competes on the balance beam during qualification for the women's artistic gymnastics event held at the National Indoor Stadium during Day 2 of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games on August 10, 2008 in Beijing, China.
Kodak Picture of the Day: August 18, 2008. Fencing. Photographer: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images. Wang Jingzhi (right) of China and Aron Szilagyi of Hungary compete in the men's team sabre fencing semifinals at the Fencing Hall of National Convention Center on Day 9 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 17, 2008 in Beijing, China.
Photo: Kodak Photo Shop in Olympic Athletes' Village, Beijing.
Eastman Kodak has been offering fans an inside look at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games through a variety of interactive online features at kodak.com/go/olympics including Olympic Picture of the Day, a photo tour of Beijing and daily posts on Kodak's blogs.
"While many websites cover medal tallies and country standings, we turn our cameras 180 degrees to show national pride, fan support and local color along with great sports photography," said Thomas Hoehn, Director, Brand Communications and New Media. "We want to provide a sense of what it's like to be at the Games through pictures and personal stories direct from Beijing."
"The Olympic Games captivate people everywhere and enable the world's best athletes to showcase their talents," said Antonio M. Perez, Kodak Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Dating back to the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, Kodak has been there to help capture and preserve the history, while also supporting the athletes. We're proud to play that role again in Beijing."
"The Olympic Games have played a major role for Kodak historically, helping us to showcase our products, innovations and services," said Perez. "We are culminating a long, fruitful relationship with the Olympic Movement and look forward to a successful program at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games." Mr. Perez was speaking a few days before the games began on August 8, 2008.
Eastman Kodak Company is reevaluating its sponsorship policy. A few months ago, it had announced that it would end its Olympic sponsorship after the 2008 Beijing Games. "As we complete the transformation of Kodak, it makes sense for us to take a new direction," said Elizabeth Noonan, Kodak's director of brand management. "Digital technology changes everything, including the way we market our products and services," she said. "Our new business strategy requires us to reassess our marketing tactics as well, and adapt them to changing market conditions and evolving customer behavior."
Source: Eastman Kodak Company
(Kodak is a trademark of Eastman Kodak Company)
• The end of the Kodak sponsorship opens the category of film, photography and imaging to new companies. Fuji, Kodak's main competitor, was a sponsor for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.
• For advertisers, the Olympics is one of the splashiest events for reaching the widest possible audiences on a world stage. But when the Beijing Olympics closed on August 24, 2008, more than a century of "Kodak Moments" at the global sporting event also came to an end.
"Then in 1984 the Olympics came to Los Angeles. Olympic czar Peter Ueberroth believed that Kodak was the natural choice to be the exclusive film sponsor, but Kodak wouldn't bite. Even after Ueberroth visited Rochester to make his pitch, Kodak refused to pay just $1 million, far below the $4 million floor for sponsorships that Ueberroth had established. So he approached Fuji, which in those days was still barely known in the U.S. market. Ohnishi said yes on the spot and eventually committed around $7 million. No marketing investment ever brought better returns. Within months of becoming a sponsor, Fuji landed 50,000 new distribution outlets. "Salespeople said that accounts that didn't used to return their calls were suddenly calling them," says Tom Shay, head of corporate communications for Fuji USA and a 26-year Fuji veteran. "The Olympics completely changed the way people looked at us." ...
Finally, Kodak and Fuji have jumped into the digital camera business themselves. But they are in a mob of nearly two dozen camera, computer, and consumer electronics companies trying to get into the same space. One thing is sure: The companies that win in digital photography will need marketing and product smarts, technology and, not least, money. Fuji, it seems, has them all."
- FORTUNE Magazine, October 27, 1997
"Kodak photographic materials and equipment are sold worldwide and are are bought and used by consumers, photographers, photo studios, photo labs, cinema, television, and various businesses involving photography & imaging.
• Yet none of the America's top business commentators would feel comfortable answering the following simple question:
In your view, approximately how many photographic goods users in the world (or in the USA) appreciate or even know that Kodak was the exclusive Official Photography & Imaging Sponsor of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and that the Kodak technology, products and services helped in staging the world's largest event ?" ©GlobalGiants.Com
[Also check the August 20, 2008 Relevant Post: Branding at the Olympics]
August 26, 2008
HarperCollins Publishers, Supermodel Carol Alt and Lord & Taylor join for NEXT YEAR'S MODEL Search
• Supermodel Carol Alt Pairs with Publisher HarperCollins and Lord & Taylor to Seek Fresh New Face to Launch Cover of her 2009 Novel.
Photo: Carol Alt Seeks America's Next 'Cover Girl'.
Along with supermodel Carol Alt (author of "This Year's Model") and Lord & Taylor, "Avon A" an imprint of HarperCollins is launching an interactive online contest to help discover the fresh new face who will grace the cover of Alt's 2009 novel. Headquartered in New York, HarperCollins is one of the largest English-language publishers in the world and is a subsidiary of News Corporation. The "NEXT YEAR'S MODEL" Search Online Sweepstakes contest is being launched on August 26, 2008 (i.e., today), the date "This Year's Model" goes on-sale. From August 26 to November 20, potential cover girls from 16 to 25 years of age can submit photos to the contest feature page at http://www.harpercollins.com/nextyearsmodel. Meanwhile, a distinguished panel of judges will select finalists, with new finalist pictures posting weekly at http://www.flickr.com/groups/nextyearsmodel/. On November 21, the judges, led by Alt, will announce the 4 top Next Year's Model entrants, launching all participants into an exciting fan-based voting contest at http://www.harpercollins.com/nextyearsmodel. On December 11, 2008, "NEXT YEAR'S MODEL" will be announced, and arrangements will be made for the winner and a guest to be flown to New York City. The grand prize winner will be awarded a professional photo shoot, a meet-and-greet with a top modeling agency, and a wardrobe prize from Lord & Taylor. "Avon A" intends to feature the winner on the cover of Alt's upcoming book, "Next Year's Model", in stores in 2009.
Alt, a savvy and innovative marketer whose creative skills were recently featured when she became a top-2 runner up on Celebrity Apprentice, created this contest as a way to help a young woman break into the competitive world of professional modeling. In her debut novel, "This Year's Model" (in-stores August 26), Alt introduces readers to the high-stakes world of modeling and gives valuable life lessons to all young women looking to break into the field. "(Modeling) is one of the only businesses where a woman makes more money than a man," says Alt, "and in which a young girl can achieve financial stability, meet great people, and travel the world -- all while becoming famous and securing her future." Widely regarded as one of the world's most recognizable faces after launching the supermodel industry, Alt believes that modeling can be a healthy and empowering career for a young woman -- and wanted to offer a hand in helping a new talent into the industry with the "NEXT YEAR'S MODEL" online search.
Source: Avon Books