No doubt, if Microsoft reverses course over Windows 8 – for instance, by restoring the familiar “Start” button to the opening screen – it will provide abundant fodder for the writers of business school case studies.
But is the comparison with Coca-Cola’s famous 1985 marketing U-turn, when it brought back “Coke Classic” following a consumer backlash against its “New Coke” recipe, correct? Read more
It has been a frustrating week for well-intentioned and interventionist political leaders. Michael Bloomberg and David Cameron have been roundly defeated in their efforts to prod citizens into health. Read more
Not since Sweeney Todd has there been such uncertainty about what exactly goes into processed meat. This time, it isn’t the customers of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street but Romanian horses. Read more
Coffee chain to open in Vietnam. Getty Images
Much is being made of Starbucks’ plan to open an outlet in Ho Chi Minh City in February – “taking on Vietnam’s coffee culture”, as the FT headline has it.
In fact, Starbucks is a little behind schedule – it intended to open in Vietnam in 2012 – and, in any case, I wonder if the significance of the move is not in the headline but in the small print, where the Seattle-based group makes its now familiar commitment to “work closely with local farming communities”. Read more
As Felix Baumgartner struggled to correct his spin at the start of his 128,100 ft descent to earth on Sunday, I couldn’t help thinking of the consequences of failure for Red Bull, his sponsor.
Mr Baumgartner’s feat was obviously extraordinary and compelling. It was a new frontier for him, and for YouTube (where 8m people watched the dive live), but despite strenuous efforts to identify some great scientific benefit of the stunt, it is a far greater leap for brand-marketers – and I worry where they will go next.
The Austrian’s sponsor is an introverted company with an extrovert energy drink brand and it has blasted out a niche in extreme sports, from Formula One to air races. Plenty of people pointed out on Twitter on Sunday that if Mr Baumgartner died, so would Red Bull’s slogan “Red Bull gives you wings”. Read more
I hope activist Bill Ackman knows what he’s getting into by backing the purchase of a 29 per cent stake in Burger King.
Mr Ackman is one of the founders of Justice Holdings, a UK investment vehicle that until Tuesday was, to me at least, as little-known as Burger King is famous. But Justice’s decision to buy a minority stake and take the company on to the New York Stock Exchange reminded me how, a few years ago, a rumour that Warren Buffett had his eye on the chain turned out to be a whopper. Read more
It is a shock to hear Muhtar Kent, chief executive of that quintessentially American company Coca-Cola, suggest that the US is now less friendly to business than China.
But Mr Kent’s comments – “In the west, we’re forgetting what really worked 20 years ago” – echo what I heard two weeks ago at Harvard when I talked to Michael Porter, perhaps the world’s best-known expert on competitiveness. Read more
I can only hope a demerger of Kraft Foods into its snack and US grocery businesses will save consumers from the unholy alliance of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate and Philadelphia cream cheese in a single spread, recently heralded by UK tabloid The Sun.
More worrying, however, is the impact of near-constant corporate reorganisation on the underlying businesses – and particularly on Cadbury. Read more