Paul Chard – The most interesting person at #banff2012 to me

Friday, 15 June, 2012

My good friend Gingi Baki asked me: who is the most interesting person you met at Banff 2012? Tough question! You see, I have met television creatives & luminaries like Chuck LorreGlen Mazzara,  Jeanne BekerMike FleissTerence Winter and I can easily put any one of them on my “most interesting person” list. But if I do that, I will be doing a diservice to you. What would you gain if I name any one of them? Nothing! Because you know them already. Instead I will share with you a name that, unless you are in the “business“, you may not heard of.

To me, the most interesting person I met in #banff2012 is Paul Chard, Global Head of Content of MediaCom.

#Banff2012 Day 1 - pix 02

Paul is the brain behind bringing the international format Got Talent into the almost impossible land of China (rebranded to be China’s Got Talent 中国达人秀) which was a 15 months effort and lots of negotiation (as Paul wrote, “co-operation and partnership with IPCN, Shanghai Media Group and format owners Freemantle and SYCO“). China’s Got Talent is one of the first TV formats that got into China. I actually saw widespread popularity first hand at the time as many of the amazing China’s Got Talent videos were shared by my friends on their social networks. (for more details, see Paul’s 2010 blog and ICPN page with video clip)

Paul Chard talked about brokering “Got Talent” format into China #Banff2012

My one-on-one interview with Paul at #banff2012

Paul’s on stage talk & interview at #banff2012

The idea of learning from interesting & insightful people

Kevin Roberts

I half-jokingly asked Paul to not hold it against me that I’ve been a big fan of Kevin Roberts (blog) (CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi). You see, I’ve been reading Kevin‘s ideas/writings since the late 80s. You may not realize but the parent companies of Paul and Kevin are the globally competing WPP Group and Publicis Group respectively. (update: Paul showcased the #awesome T-Mobile Royal Wedding video in his presentation, and I just discovered via MBA (mediaCom beyond advertising) that the campaign is a team effort including mediaCom, Saatchi & Saatchi, and others).

Gary Carter

I stumbled upon a talk by Gary Carter at the 2007 nextMedia/Banff World TV Festival (yes, 5 years ago!) and his insights were amazingly deep. Since then, I’ve attended all of Gary’s talk I can and try to pay close attention to what Gary does and related news, including his recent resignation as FremantleMedia’s Chief Operating Officer. I am sure whatever Gary does next will be worth my attention to know and learn from. (note: Gary came back to Banff in 2009, here is a great list of Gary’s 2009 clips, see The Susan Boyle Phenomenon, and FremantleMedia Experimental)

Paul Chard

Which brings back to Paul. And I am going to share with you a secret trick I use. I use Google Alerts to track and try to learn from interesting & insightful people. I am adding Paul to my Google Alerts list along the likes of Kevin and Gary. In life, I believe an important way to better ourselves is to learn from the best.

Kevin wrote years ago, “Ideas are the currency of the future.” And the likes of Kevin, Gary, and Paul are “rich people” going by the quote. And William Gibson’s quote “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” enlightens me to realize that the best way to look into the future is to look and see what “rich people” like Kevin, Gary, and Paul think and do!

P.S. Who is your “most interesting #banff2012 person“? Please share with your reasons in the comment section.

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Here is the official Banff session description.

Paul Chard, Global Head of Content, MediaCom: How Content is Changing the Business
Paul Chard is a true industry veteran, getting his start over three decades ago, in 1980. Today, as the Global Head of Content at MediaCom, Chard is responsible for media sponsorship, sport, branded entertainment and advertiser funding, social media and emerging platforms. In 2010, Chard brokered the successful “Got Talent” format into China and saw it become the biggest foreign reality show ever screened in the country. Having seen this industry from every angle, Chard carries with him a wealth of knowledge and insight. Join Chard as he reflects on his career and looks forward to the future of the entertainment industry in this exclusive opening keynote.”


Millefiori Cucchi – From Italy with Love

Sunday, 29 January, 2012

Had a great time drinking a bottle Millefiori Cucchi (bought originally from Italy 30 years ago) at friends’ house warming party last night. Let me wish my friends lots of loving enjoyment in their new home for years and years to come!

One day when the time is right and I become a better story teller, I want to tell an untold story of love. Until then, let me write about the exterior beauty and mysterious story of Millefiori Cucchi.

To find out more about the delicious 30 years old Millefiori Cucchi, I turned to internet search engines, first Google and then Bing. note: If you can help by adding more info or personal pictures, or see any errors big or small in this post, please kindly leave a comment.

Millefiori Cucchi – The Lovely Name

Millefiori is Italian. Millefiori means Thousand Flowers. What a lovely name, even more beautiful when you know whats inside!

Millefiori Cucchi – The Mysterious Look of Love

Millefiori Cucchi - From Italy with Love

You see, inside the bottle of Millefiori Cucchi, there is a twig of erica embellished with crystals of sugar. Wow, how cool is that! Beautiful and thoughtful! (ref in Italian, translated English) Photos credit: Benjamin (L) and Gheghevic (R).

Millefiori Cucchi – The Mysterious Brand/Lovemark

Interestingly, after finding some more pictures of Millefiori Cucchi, I wasn’t able much information about the wine, the wine maker, etc until I found the reason via it trademark registrations! You see the Millefiori Cucchi trademark was filed in Dec 1, 1953 in US/USPTO TARR but now declared dead and filed in Jan 15, 1958 in Canada and expunged on July 29, 2004!

Even now Millefiori Cucchi is not made any more and the trademark is officially no more, in my mind, it is a lovemark! In fact, Millefiori Cucchi may be the first ever lovemark named posthumously by any one! This is the power of love! Have I just created and defined the idea/concept of a posthumous lovemark!? Mystery, Sensuality, and Intimacy, well, the posthumous lovemark Millefiori Cucchi has it all! In my heart and mind, Millefiori Cucchi is alive and well!

Loving Transformative Repurposing

Finally, I plan for this article to help remind me of the loving transformative repurposing of two bottles of Millefiori Cucchi by a loving mother and two wonderful daughters. It was a fun night and we had a great time!


Lego at Chinook (and Canadian Mega Brands/Bloks)

Wednesday, 13 July, 2011

Lego at Chinook - pix 08

I wish I had more time to study Lego as a business, but since it is a private business, my incentive to read though Lego’s years of annual reports are somewhat reduced. :) If I were to judge Lego by people’s interest in playing with them in the middle of the Chinook shopping mall last Saturday, it looks like people’s love affair with Lego haven’t finished at all. It was really cool to see this father and his two sons spent a lovely afternoon building this Lego project!

November 2005

I enjoy Lego as a kid, but since Nov 2005, I have been thinking more like a legal minded business consultant. Well, what happened in Nov 2005? As some readers may remember, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Lego’s “monopoly on the bricks is over” in Nov 2005 and Canadian MEGA Brands (maker of the MEGA BLOKS construction toys) can freely make their bricks to work with Lego’s.

What surprised me is a quick look/research (spending 5 minutes) seem to indicate the privately held Lego is still making good profit based on its lastest 2009 annual report.

Whereas the stock prices of Mega Brands, a high of $552 on Dec 30, 2005 down to $9.42 at the close of July 13, 2011, plus a quick glance of Mega Brands’ 2010 annual report, indicates Read the rest of this entry »


Quote I Love: ideas are the currency of the future

Thursday, 7 July, 2011

ideas are the currency of the future” – Kevin Roberts

I’ve loved this quote for such a long time that I don’t remember exactly how many years (since the 90s?). I even printed it on an earlier version of my business cards (with credit to Kevin, of course)! So I can’t believe I am just adding it to my list of Quotes I Love now!

Also check out ‘s blog KRConnect for his latest ideas & thinking, including his “Lovemarks“.


Apple Latest PR Disaster – Final Cut Pro X is Not a Professional Application

Tuesday, 28 June, 2011

July 2nd update: New article, “Business Strategy: Apple, with its Final Cut Pro X, lets Adobe & Avid refight their Battles of Waterloo #fail

***

It is puzzling and amazing to see Apple seems to have created a massive PR disaster for itself and there is even a group of professional Final Cut Pro users created a petition – “Final Cut Pro X is Not a Professional Application”. And according to AppleInsider report, “Dissatisfied Final Cut Pro X customers receive refunds from Apple“.

More news,

* CNNMoney, “600 filmmakers sign complaint about Final Cut Pro X

* ZDNet, “What does Final Cut Pro X teach enterprise vendors?

* WaPo, “Apple Final Cut Pro X: 600 filmmakers say nothing ‘pro’ about it

* SlashFilm, “Final Cut Pro X: Did Apple Just Walk Away From the Professional Video Editing Market?

*  CNet, Petition seeks to bring back old Final Cut Pro

If shows again even Apple (a Lovemark to many people, not to me anymore since July 2010) isn’t immune to complains from seriously unhappy customers if it doesn’t deliver the goods as expected.


What happen to a Lovemark when the love was lost?

Thursday, 9 June, 2011

lovemarks-logo.gif

First of all, I’ve been a long time admirer and reader of Kevin Roberts‘ ideas in advertising, branding, and marketing, all in all, safe to say I’m a big fan of Kevin. Recently, I found it very cool that Kevin’s idea of Lovemark has gained acceptance in business schools that even my neighbour’s university marketing class is teaching the concept of Lovemark! It puts a big smile on my face to think that I was responsible in creating the first Wikipedia entry for Lovemark when Kevin’s book first came out in 2006 (yes, time flies and that was 5 years ago)!

Love Lost

Back to the reason for writing this article. I want to bring up the important question of “What happen to a Lovemark when the love was lost?

Part of me understand why Kevin hasn’t talked much about love lost in the two Lovemark books or in his writing. After all, it is more engaging & positive to focus on the good and inspiring. Also, it is probably bad business to talk about “love lost” when trying to sell to clients.

So I guess it is up to independent “practitioners” of Lovemarks, like myself, to try to point out that it can’t be all love all the time! As with any “meaningful love“, there has to be risk of love lost, or cases where love was actually lost. I think it is important for each of us, if not collectively, to keep a list of Lovemarks that are no longer loved.

In my list of admired companies, you will see Apple Computer and Lexus had been removed and are no longer on my list of Lovemarks. I know I will have more Lovemarks in the future, and I also realized that it is unrealistic to ignore love lost.

In memory of the love lost

Here is “Love Lost” by The Temper Trap.

Here is the lyrics of Love Lost. If you read it or listen to the song beyond the title, I think it actually contains a message of hope.

Our love was lost
But now we’ve found it
Our love was lost
And hope was gone Read the rest of this entry »


Richard Branson’s Virgin America

Wednesday, 13 April, 2011

I’ve deep admiration for Richard Branson and his Virgin Group is one of my admired companies and Lovemarks. After reading Bloomberg BusinessWeek “Will Richard Branson’s Virgin America Fly?“, I am interested to see how things will turn out at the end. Here is an excerpt,

“Virgin America does have at least part of one big asset: Branson. He is a legendary salesman with a special love of aviation—not only for the business, but for adventures like his attempted around-the-world balloon flights. To hear him talk, profits are almost secondary to his mission with Virgin America. “American carriers are all very much the same, and the people who run them do not think of the customers at all,” says Branson, sitting in the first row of one of the airline’s parked, white-and-red painted A320s. “It’s become a bus service.” As guests mingle on the tarmac under the bright Texas sky, the interior lights bathe the cabin in a deep magenta, meant to evoke dawn. “If everything is a joy, if you come onto a plane and the lighting is right, the seating is right, and the cabin crew is happy, you feel welcome,” Branson says. “It’s like you have come into somebody’s home.” Read the rest of this entry »


unLovemark: Bernard Callebaut the businessman and the two brands

Wednesday, 30 March, 2011

Love is more enjoyable and easier to write than heartbreak. And it is no expectation in writing about Lovemark and what I will coin as “unLovemark”. I will try to keep this one short.

I publicly wrote about my love of Bernard Callebaut chocolate in 2007 (and twice in passing in 2006). Since Bernard Callebaut the business entering receivership in 2010 and now Bernard Callebaut the chocolatier/businessman being found in contempt and ordered by court to pay $150,000 fine (see below for excerpt), I finally realized the heartbreak moment has arrived. If we are living in the real world where good and bad things sometime happen, then we have to also have “unLovemark” for fallen Lovemark. This is sad but sometimes life has sad moments.

Some background info

* Just before Christmas 2010, the court has concluded that Bernard Callebaut the businessman tried to launch his new brand Papa Chocolat using misappropriated bulk chocolate and moulds from his old company that was in receivership. Taking and using things that are not his personal property anymore. Unfortunately, I don’t know if  Papa Chocolat will have much chance of survival.

Bernard Callebaut the business is still in operation (by receiver Deloitte & Touche) but it is hard to imagine all these negative news about the founder and namesake of the company/brand are helping businesses or regaining the lost charm and love of the chocolate.

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Here is an excerpt, “Bernard Callebaut ordered to pay $150,000 after being found in contempt – By Kim Guttormson, Calgary Herald March 24, 2011

CALGARY – The increasingly bitter fallout from Bernard Callebaut losing his chocolate company ended Thursday with a judicial rebuke and $150,000 in fines levied against the Calgary chocolate maker. Read the rest of this entry »


Ad.ly CEO Arnie Gullov-Singh on Bloomberg

Thursday, 3 March, 2011

Ad.ly got on my radar after I learned it played an important role in helping Charlie Sheen regain his Twitter handle and got it “verified” quickly. Here is a video of Arnie Gullov-Singh, CEO of Ad.ly, speaking on Bloomberg.

Ad.ly has a network of over a 1,000 celebrities on Facebook and Twitter. (more info in Arnie’s blog entry “Celebrity Endorsements In 5 Simple Steps“) And this Jan 2011 entry “Disclosure is Simple, Clear and Conspicuous” answered one of my main concerns, (emphasis added)

“You may have seen a number of headlines last week — primarily coming out of the UK — about advertisers going straight to celebrities to do paid endorsements in Twitter *without* clear disclosure.

Just a quick reminder that – as always – 100% of Ad.ly endorsements are fully disclosed in accordance with guidelines from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). [Kempton: I don’t know how up-to-date is this, but here are links to the FTC 5th Oct, 2009 press release and the FTC 2009 endorsement guide (PDF).]

When we launched in 2009, we established 100% disclosure as a best practice using #Ad, (Ad), or #Spon at the end of each endorsement, or a clear contextual statement such as “I am working with brand XYZ to promote product ABC.””

Looks like Arnie and his team are doing some cool stuff here, I am definitely going to keep an eye on them as I think they have an interesting business going here.

Some stats/quotes by Arnie in the Bloomberg interview:

* Last 12 months, did about 24,000 endorsements for about 150 brands.

* “Very effective way to advertise scalably in social media.”

* “Celebrities are really the new brands in social media.” [Kempton: Hmmm, interesting. Interesting way to see celebrities and brands.]

P.S. May be I am too quick to call Ad.ly, a company I read this morning for the first time, a Lovemark? But I think it is fun to take a little bit of risk once in a while because I do see lots of potential for Ad.ly. Only time will tell if I am right.

P.P.S. As I wrote before, in case you are interested, here is a link to US Patent application 20090177532 “SELF SERVE ADVERTISING SYSTEM AND METHOD” filed Jan 7, 2009. I should really take a look if I can find some time.


Getting help from KitchenAid via Twitter

Thursday, 2 September, 2010

KitchenAid Porcelain Nonstick Cookwares 1/4

KitchenAid Porcelain Nonstick Cookwares 2/4

Note: Photos were taken when we bought these beautiful pans earlier this year. And yes, I know I am a geek that loves to cook. :)

Seriously, we love our KitchenAid appliances, I think I’ve become a better cook ! :) We started with a KitchenAid range and then bought a powerful blender. So when it came time to replace our worn out nonstick pans, we  went shopping around and finally decided to give KitchenAid pans a try.

Because of the lovely design and fire red, we felt in love with the KitchenAid Porcelain Nonstick Cookwares earlier this year and bought them. Unfortunately we ran into problems immediately when we started using them to cook and the problems, again unfortunately, haven’t gone away and in fact have gotten worst over time.

You see, the problems we have are with the pans bulging (seriously bulging) under heat. As I mentioned, we have a nice KitchenAid range. The range has a perfectly flat and easy to clean cooktop. But now, because the pans have bulged and have created a single point of contact instead of a flat bottom, the pans will literally spin on the cooktop. As a result, the bottom of our KitchenAid pans (see photos below) and the cooktop have been scratched. And I do feel a little bit worry/unsafe when I cook with the pans as I have to watch them carefully and don’t let them spin out of control.

Yesterday, I tried to get some help from the nice people from KitchenAid via thier twitter account. This morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see them replied promptly. Wow, KitchenAid is listening, very cool.

To help explain the problems, I figured some photos for “show & tell” will help. And as a reporter/blogger, since I got the photos already and twitter is too short to explain things, I thought I might as well write this up as an article.

Dear KitchenAid, you’ve been a lovemark to me in my mind. I hope the nice people at KitchenAid can help me.

P.S. The cooktop has scratched and become quite rough and spilled food get to stick to them more.

The lovely big pan with glass cover (7 months later).

KitchenAid Porcelain Nonstick Cookwares - Pix 3/4

The smaller pan without cover.

KitchenAid Porcelain Nonstick Cookwares 4/4


Bernard Callebaut’s financial details

Tuesday, 10 August, 2010

3 lessons as chocolatier Bernard Callebaut enters receivership

From Calgary Herald “Bernard Callebaut determined to claw his way back from receivership” (emphasis added),

“Last Tuesday, Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut was placed in receivership by ATB Financial, which alleges in court documents it is owed roughly $3.9 million by the company. […]

Callebaut is candid about the issues. One crux is a $5-million land purchase west of Calgary made during the boom — a 78-hectare expanse Callebaut dreamed one day would house a factory and warehouse facility and would feature an organic dairy farm to round out his chocolate production.

He recently tried to sell that land, but was only offered $2 million.

The head office building on 1st Street by 13th Avenue S.E. was sold during the boom to raise capital, he says. It did that, but also saddled the company with an expensive lease signed with the new owner during the height of the market.

Then the economic downturn brought sliding sales. In June 2009, the company temporarily reduced its workforce to a skeleton crew. But Callebaut says when people saw the headlines, they believed the chocolaterie was closed, leading to an immediate 15 per cent drop in business.”

See also my previous article, “3 lessons as chocolatier Bernard Callebaut enters receivership“.

Oct 4th, 2010 Update: “Chocolatier Bernard Callebaut making final bid to regain company

Apr 11th, 2011 Update: “unLovemark: Bernard Callebaut the businessman and the two brands


3 lessons as chocolatier Bernard Callebaut enters receivership

Wednesday, 4 August, 2010

3 lessons as chocolatier Bernard Callebaut enters receivership

Dec 9th, 2010 Update: Bernard Callebaut returns to market as Papa Chocolat, Calgary Herald. I am not sure what to make of Papa Chocolat as I can’t quite see pass the failed business mess in “Bernard Callebaut”, the business.

***

Many people were shocked and saddened by the news that Calgary-based chocolatier Bernard Callebaut went into receivership yesterday. (CTV & CBC news with videos) The following are three possible lessons from this sad story.

Lesson 1 – Cash Flow:

Cash flow is one of the most important thing in keeping a business alive. Without a healthy cash flow, one cannot keep a business viable. Leo Donlevy at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business made a valid point (emphasis added),

“… it appears that growing the business got Callebaut into trouble.

“Many businesses … bought very expensive real estate assets and other assets when times were good,” Donlevy said. “And times went bad, and being the maker of a luxury product, sales probably went down and cash flow dried up, and [Callebaut] got in trouble with his lenders.

The important thing is to strike a balance on how much to borrow without hurting the viability of a business in the long run. Incidentally, for companies with solid businesses and steady cash flow, the current economic downturn can actually be a good time to renegotiate some long term loans to more favourable rates and terms. And this may also be a good time to establish credit facilities at reasonable rate for future needs when the economy inevitably gets back on its feet. The best time to get a credit line for your business is, paradoxically, when you don’t need the money.

The lessons here are: pay close attention to your cash flow, don’t over extend your borrowing, setup credit facilities/line of credit when you don’t need the money.

Lesson 2 – Investing:

I originally wanted to write a more in-depth article about two chocolate bonds including the Callebaut three series of Participating Notes. I went as far as requesting the term sheet for the Callebaut Notes so that I can review the notes for their investment quality. Unfortunately, because the Callebaut’s audited financial statements are not part of the investor package, I was unable to determine how good/bad Callebaut as a business so I wasn’t able to evaluate its notes.

The fact that the minimum offering for the Callebaut Notes was $3,500,000 with $3,150,000 going to debt repayment, $150,000 to working capital, and $350,000 to debt commissions, also raised some concern in my mind. In hindsight, it is clear why $3.15 million of the $3.5 million was planned for debt repayment.

The lesson here is you shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t understand some investment opportunities and don’t feel comfortable enough in investing in them. Because sometime these “opportunities” may not be good investments at all.

Lesson 3 – Brand

Bernard Callebaut is a loved brand/Lovemark of mine. I wrote this in 2006, and here is an excerpt from a 2007 article,

My personal Lovemarks in chocolate are See’s Candies (my childhood favourite) and Bernard Callebaut by the award winning Belgium chocolatier (“a mischievous boy“) living and headquartered in Calgary. I once bought a small bag of Bernard Callebaut chocolate to share with my better half. Ah, when I got home, I think I only left one or two to her. I don’t think I mentioned there was a bag of them.

I don’t know how close I can or should compare Bernard Callebaut with See’s Candies, but I know See’s Candies has been an exceptionally good investment over the years for Warren Buffett. With Bernard Callebaut now in receivership and possibly available at a fire sale price, a really great investment deal may be available.

So if Bernard, the creditors, Deloitte, and potential investors can work out a reasonable deal for all, the Bernard Callebaut brand should survive. And it is very possible that a new owner and management team can turn the company around and keep the Bernard Callebaut brand going for years to come.

More news from: Calgary Sun, Calgary Herald

Crossed posted as an examiner.com article.


Apple: removed from “Admired Companies”/Lovemarks list

Monday, 19 July, 2010

Sadly, I am removing Apple from my “Admired Companies”/Lovemarks list. I may still consider buying Apple products in the future but Apple is no longer on my “Admired Companies”/Lovemarks list list and it is definitely not a Lovemark to me anymore.

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Removing Apple from list of Admired companies/Lovemarks

Watching Apple’s actions in the recent months (including its app store approval “policies” (note: reversing that one wrong decision didn’t make the fundamental problem go away) and licensing terms “iPhone developer EULA turns programmers into serfs” and “All Your Apps Are Belong to Apple: The iPhone Developer Program License Agreement“), and the final straw of Steve Jobs’ iPhone 4 press conference last Friday (16, July, 2010), I have removed Apple from my list of admired companies (or Lovemarks).

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July 25 update: An insightful piece from Guardian “If Apple wants to be a major player it needs to start behaving like one – The iPhone 4 debacle reveals how much Apple has to learn about life at the top”.


Apple iPhone 4 PR messages – How Steve Jobs turned a finger spot into a death grip

Monday, 19 July, 2010

Anyone interested in damage control or PR spinning should watch Steve Jobs’ press conference last Friday. Steve managed to turn an iPhone design flaw into something worthy of global attention and chances to plug Apple and iPhone 4. Too bad it didn’t work for me (Apple: removed from “Admired Companies”/Lovemarks list).

Unfortunately, as this fortune reporter wrote in “How Steve Jobs turned a finger spot into a death grip” (emphasis added),

At the Apple (AAPL) press event on Friday, somehow, right in front of a crowd of journalists (depicted at the end of the Taiwanese video below), the ‘finger spot’ that cut signal somehow turned into a more universal ‘death grip’ which also cuts signal but in just about every mobile device ever made.

More stories:

* “Here’s Your Free Case, Jerk – Apple’s condescending iPhone 4 press conference“, Slate.com

* RIM to Apple: we don’t have your antenna problem – BlackBerry doesn’t need an insulating case, RIM notes, TorStar

* Handset world: Don’t speak for us, Steve Jobs, cNet

* RIM to Apple: Bull, cNet

* Official statement from RIM [via blogs.blackberry.com] (emphasis added),

“Apple’s attempt to draw RIM into Apple’s self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple’s claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public’s understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple’s difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage.

One thing is for certain, RIM’s customers don’t need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple.”

– Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie

* “iPhone rivals call out Steve Jobs“, LA Times

It is so unfortunate that Apple, instead of doing the right thing and admit to its design flaw and fix the problem, it tried to claim other cell phone manufactures have the same problem which is not true because they don’t have an easily accessible single point of failure (where users can easily touch and drop calls at some areas).

P.S. Here is a Fast Company article talking about Steve Jobs’ presentation techniques “Learn Steve Jobs’ Presentation Techniques From iPhone 4 Conference“.


Bad iPhone Top Ten – David Letterman

Thursday, 15 July, 2010

iPhone 4 duct taped - pix 1

iPhone 4 duct taped - pix 2

iPhone 4 is not even available in Calgary/Canada yet and it has reached comedian David Letterman’s Top Ten list as a joke (see video). Apple announced on Wednesday they will have a press conference on Friday to talk about the iPhone 4 and today even a US Senator has decided to tell Apple to offer a free antenna fix.

What hurt the most is probably the jokes and damage on Apple’s brand. No brands/lovemarks are invincible.


Apple iPhone 4 “Love” Letter?

Friday, 2 July, 2010

July 15 Updates: “It’s Time Apple Fixed the iPhone 4 Antenna Problem” Wired News
Apple Engineer Said to Tell Jobs IPhone Antenna Might Cut Calls” Bloomberg
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Can this be from Apple, a brand people supposed to “Love”? [HT FP “Apple solution to iPhone signal problem fails to satisfy”] “”Apple likes to promote its products as “magical,” which might be a more accurate description than the company ever intended. The iPhone 4 is doing a very good job of making Apple’s once-sterling reputation disappear.””

Following is Apple’s letter Regarding iPhone 4. Looks like Apple didn’t learn much from the Intel Pentium FDIV bug lesson and still think they can PR the problem away. Apple’s recent behaviours are slowly damaging its status as a Lovemark in my mind.

July 2, 2010

Letter from Apple Regarding iPhone 4

Dear iPhone 4 Users,

Read the rest of this entry »


Lexus/Toyota: removed from “Admired Company” list

Wednesday, 14 April, 2010

After previously putting Lexus/Toyota on the watch list for possible downgrade, today, with some reluctance, I’ve eliminated Lexus/Toyota from my personal list of “Admired Companies” and Lovemark: Sample news – “CBC News – Toyota halts sales of Lexus SUV – Rollover hazard attributed to deficient stability control” and “BBC – Toyota suspends sales of Lexus GX 460 worldwide.

July 5, 2010 update: Toyota starts Lexus recall in Japan

July 3, 2010 update: Toyota Announces Recall of 270,000 Vehicles

From CNNMoney “Toyota: New Lexus recall“, “In a recent J.D. Power survey of initial quality, Toyota slipped to 21st place from 6th place last year.”

April 16, 2010 update: Toyota to recall 600,000 Sienna minivans


Lexus/Toyota: Being Loved again?

Thursday, 1 April, 2010

If sales is a good indication “Toyota’s Canadian March sales up 24%“, then there don’t seem to be much love lost from Toyota’s recent troubles.


Lexus/Toyota: Admired Company?

Tuesday, 23 February, 2010

I have created an “Admired Company” list for years. Today, I’ve decided to put Lexus on the “watch list” pending further research and review.

Over the years, I have only added to the list of “Admired Companies” and have never put a brand/Lovemark under review.

Sadly Lexus is the first.

(news references: CNN: “Toyota: Saved $100 million dodging recall”BBC: “Toyota admits it took ‘too long’ on safety recalls”)


Southwest Airlines – From a loved brand to a damaged brand – Kevin Smith & Linda Rutherford

Tuesday, 16 February, 2010

For some mysterious reason, I LOVED Southwest Airlines even I had never been on a Southwest flight. You see, I live in Calgary and Calgary-based WestJet Airlines models itself after Southwest. Anyway, Southwest used to mean nice people and services at an affordable fare to me until this morning.

After reading how Southwest had treated indie director Kevin Smith based on Kevin’s account of the facts and Southwest’s account of the facts (by Linda Rutherford – VP Communications & Strategic Outreach), I believe Southwest made some serious mistakes, continue to make mistakes and refuse to right itself.

I am blogging about this because I think there are some important lessons to be learned here. Feel free to share what you think in the comment section.

Here is an excerpt from CNet (emphasis added),

This may be the best example we’ve seen yet of how Twitter and other forms of new-media mass communication are shaping that old industry known as public relations. Nobody walks around with a Twitter follower count or blog URL painted on his or her forehead, and many extremely popular bloggers still live in relative physical anonymity, which means that the customer relations business is like a game of Minesweeper–you can never be sure what might blow up in your face. [kempton note: This is and should be good for customers because the companies better start treating EVERYONE with respect and good services.]

PR and customer service are two different divisions of a company. But this incident shows how, in the Digital Age, the two are increasingly overlapping. With Twitter, many companies are conducting customer relations in the public eye, and a company’s response to a high-profile disgruntled customer may require dispatching the PR team. Good communication between the two is obviously key.

From Kevin’s Twitter account, here are the first few tweets about this mess here, here, here, here (note: language), here (language re $100 voucher), here, here (on another flight), here, here (with twitpic), here, here (armrest up or down), here (the Southwest public shaming), here (the sad story of the big girl 1/2), here (big girl 2/2), here, here, SmodCast (***audio***, Southwest go f* yourself, a great listen), here (Kevin retweet Southwest apologize because Smith has a platform, part 1/2), here (part 2/2), here (the Southwest non-voicemail), here (the joke), here (Kevin reactions to Southwest’s non-apology 1/2), here (sorry, but you are fat 2/2), here (funny pix), here (Kevin’s reaction), other airlines, the offered $100 voucher (but not accepted).

Here are Kevin’s last two video clips

and this one.

A few of the many videos from Kevin about this mess,

More news from

SF Gate “Is Kevin Smith two people?” (funny)Mercury News, LA Times “Kevin Smith and the unbearable fatness of being”, LA Times “Kevin Smith’s Southwest Airlines incident sets Web all a-Twitter”, Huffington Post “Kevin Smith Challenges Southwest: Bring Airline Seat To Daily Show And I’ll Sit In It”, Businessweek: “Fat Nation: Kevin Smith is Not Alone in Airplane Space Wars”

For the record, because of this incident, I changed from someone who has never flown on Southwest but love it and would love to fly on it some day

to

someone who never want to fly on Southwest unless I have absolutely no comparable other alternatives.

P.S. This Southwest incident reminded me of Warren Buffett’s message to Salomon Brothers employees (I think it is Salomon),

“I want employees to ask themselves whether they are willing to have any contemplated act appear on the front page of their local paper the next day, be read by their spouses, children, and friends … If they follow this test, they will not fear my other message to them: Lose money for my firm and I will be understanding; lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.

Now the concerned Southwest employees have dragged the whole Southwest corporation’s reputations through the mud. And this news has now been reported not only in their “local paper” but repeated around the world. And this news has not only read by “their spouses, children, and friends” but internationally.

The best policy is to treat each and every single customer with full respect and do the right thing. Don’t lie because your lies to customers will be discovered and your apologies may only come after all the damages have been done.


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