Monthly Archives: September 2006

when things go bad – really, really bad

Six months from now, all might be forgotten. But in the meantime, the fallout and lost production from the e. coli contamination of Natural Selection Foods’ share of the $300-million fresh spinach industry has been disasterous. Not only have stores cleared their shelves of the product, but restaurants have followed suit by banishing dishes containing spinach from their menus.

As a result, a first-ever industry image campaign is ready in the wings, waiting for an expected FDA advisory following their investigation before launching.

Unlike the oil and tobacco industries, posessing both deep pockets and addicted customers, the link between consumer and spinach is rather tenuous. Might spinach eaters switch to kiwis? Maybe. Perhaps dried cranberries.

Growers can’t afford to ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Thus the campaign. Yet the basis for the erosion in consumer confidence lies at the very core of the fresh produce industry.

Some years ago, burger chain Jack In The Box® was hit with an identical problem. They recovered because they were able to prove to the public’s satisfaction that the problem was solved, in part by hammering the hell out of their burger patties on the grill. See? Nothing wrong with these sandwiches, taste aside. No such remedy in this case.

As a culture we’ve grown used to the advantages of corporate concentration. This is a perfect example of the kind of disaster that can cripple a market. Time will tell if the cure is as illustrative.

who’s in charge? the guy with the remote

Here’s something to consider when you’re trying to make sense out of your media projections. Consumer controlled content is a concept that’s now accepted and it means advertisers no longer control what is seen or when.

30-gig iPod plays tunes and video how-to's equally wellToday, I’m as likely to view original content downloaded as a podcast to my video iPod (left) in addition to cable, print, internet web site, direct mail, e-mail or point-of-purchase messages. So far, I don’t do messaging or use my phone browser — that time will depend on a keyboard that’s convenient and portable.

A rude awakening to subscription radio heavyweights Sirius (my provider) and XM, neither of which saw the ubiquitous iPod — easily adapted to play through car stereo — as a contender for their commercial free entertainment channels. Ouch! Why pay $13 bucks a month from here to forever when you’re likely to listen to a small fraction of the content? (My prediction is they’ll add more intimacy by way of on-air personalities, kind of like FM was in the beginning.)

The fractionalization of media has reached critical mass. Technology chases market which chases content. Immediate conclusions have it that connecting is less a case of market selection, more a case of content. Why? Because in the era of total connectivity, like thinkers who discover a message that resonates will distribute to their own — and that’s a good thing, assuming you’ve got the right message in place at the right time.

if it were that easy we’d all be rich, famous and respected

Turned off by Chrysler’s “Dr. Z Speaks” campaign to reverse their 17% slide in sales? You’re not alone. Despite a $225-mil effort to prod buyers to the showrooms, DaimlerChrysler head Dieter Zetsche won precious few converts. Lots of speculation; from my perspective, the darn things were just too goofy.

Speaking of branding, which company remains atop the global recognition survey? Time’s up – if you just ordered a Coke with those fries, you’re correct. In a perpetual slugfest with Pepsi for share, the brand remains an icon throughout the planet per the latest Interbrand and Business Week surveys.

what’s it worth? if you have to ask…

While you’re watching replays as the NFL takes to the airwaves for another season tonight, consider this: Motorola, in case you were thinking of slapping on your very own intercom headset to wear around the house, just reupped for five more years of sponsorship.

Price to play? $250 million. That’s so millions of viewers can subconsciously savor the electronics manufacturer’s logo as determined coaches pace the sidelines.

The lesson? How much do you spend promoting your logo?

MPN upgrades site

August ATV focus issueMotorcycle Product News re-launched their web site today to the sound of cheers and loud applause all around. No, it’s not Coke On A Hilltop, but it loads quickly, has a clean look and is easy to navigate. Columns are right up front and one click away, as are product focus highlights.

My favorite feature? No cheap, cheesy heavy metal generic loops in the background.

This month industry sage Robin Hartfiel takes a couple of big hitters to task — Polaris and Kawasaki — over what it means to be a dealer these days. Change is a’comin’.

2 new books set to hit the bricks

new book in wingsYoung glam shooter Sam Dixon’s (ex-Orlando now mid-Atlantic) running hot with plenty of tasty exposure over on K.R. Ball’s His brand new pub Biker Beauties ( launches this month as a limited edition premier issue and already there’s serious talk of a national rollout within the year.

Over in Birmingham, Alabama, David Gomez is making a quieter entry into the b2b ranks with his smartly positioned Powersports Management ( startup. Drawing on the abundant editorial talent ranks of the Iron City, Dave’s got some fresh ideas on how to present industry buzz to his dealer audience. His premier issue (October) closes September 15th.

Both these titles offer the promise of a new slant on the powersports biz. It’s a tough road, but we think they can lay down some fresh rubber.