Defensive Strategy

Sara Lee’s Disaster in Bread

10 Nov 2010  

This week Sara Lee announced that it was selling its bread business to Mexico-based baking giant Grupo Bimbo, for $959 million. The sale is an embarrassment for Sara Lee.  According to the Financial Times, Sara Lee acquired the baking unit in 2001 when it bought Earthgrains Corporation for $2.8 billion, making this a fine example […]

Defensive Strategy

Chevy Runs Deep

5 Nov 2010  

Chevrolet is out with its long-awaited new advertising effort; the campaign began running at the end of October.  The effort is apparently the work of Chevy’s new advertising agency, Gooby, Silverstein & Partners, and head of marketing, Chris Perry. You can see the TV spots here: So how is the new campaign? I’ll begin with […]

Defensive Strategy

Advice to Candidates: Stick with the Negative Ads

29 Oct 2010  

Things are getting rather nasty in the political world.  As we approach Election Day in the United States, candidates are spending incredible amounts of money, much of it on negative advertising. One of my favorite examples is from Illinois senatorial candidate Alexi Giannoulias.  He is airing a spot this week that calls his opponent Mark Kirk  a dishonest liar.  The […]

Defensive Strategy

Microsoft Windows Phone 7, Insights and Benefits

20 Oct 2010  

Microsoft is currently running a teaser spot for its new mobile software, Windows Phone 7.  The ad is charming; the folks at Microsoft have clearly found an insight that will resonate with people.  The big question, of course, is whether Microsoft can turn the insight into a meaningful product benefit. In the new spot, Microsoft highlights a […]

Defensive Strategy

Observations on the Gap Logo Debacle

14 Oct 2010  

This week Gap introduced and then promptly pulled a new visual identity.  The new logo was a rather dramatic change and consumers quickly expressed their unhappiness with the new look.  Gap reversed course in just three days.  The company announced the decision on its Facebook page:  “Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t […]

Defensive Strategy

Marketing Review: Kleenex

5 Oct 2010  

In my marketing strategy course at Kellogg I periodically ask students to review different marketing initiatives.  The goal is to evaluate each initiative from a strategic point of view.  Will it build the brand and build the business? After showing an initiative to the class, I ask students to grade it: A, B, C, D or F. […]

Defensive Strategy

The Southwest AirTran Acquisition: What Are They Thinking?

28 Sep 2010  

You might presume from the title of this post that I’m opposed to Southwest’s acquisition of AirTran. But that isn’t actually the case. I’m just confused. Why would Southwest do this? I don’t follow the logic. I can easily identify reasons why this deal isn’t a good one for Southwest. Southwest has a very distinctive and […]

Defensive Strategy

Savvy Pricing at Starbucks

23 Sep 2010  

Yesterday Starbucks announced that it was increasing prices.  You can read an article about it here: The announcement isn’t a surprise.  The price of green Arabica coffee has risen dramatically this year; it is now close to a 13 year peak.  With that sort of increase in cost, Starbucks had to do something to maintain profits. […]

Defensive Strategy

Chicago Loses its Brand Champion

8 Sep 2010  

Yesterday Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced that he would not seek reelection in 2011.  This was surprising news; Daley has been mayor since 1989 and would easily have won reelection to another term. Daley’s decision is a big loss for Chicago’s brand. Mayor Daley is a brand builder; he understands the power of branding and has worked […]

Defensive Strategy

The Cash for Clunkers Hangover

2 Sep 2010  

This week automakers released sales numbers for August.  The results were dismal.  According to The Wall Street Journal, sales in the U.S. fell 21% versus 2009.  Sales at Nissan, GM, Toyota and Honda all fell more than 25%. These results aren’t a surprise, since U.S. government’s Cash for Clunkers program boosted sales last year.  The Cash […]

Defensive Strategy

Gap’s Odd Groupon Offer

24 Aug 2010  

The big marketing story last week was that the Gap offered a hot deal on Groupon and a remarkable 441,000 people took it.  At one point Groupon was apparently selling more than 500 of the deals per minute. Groupon is an on-line promotion site.  It is free to sign up and everyday Groupon sends out […]

Defensive Strategy

The Uneven Recovery and P&G’s Branding Challenge

5 Aug 2010  

Procter & Gamble announced somewhat disappointing earning this week.  While fourth quarter revenue grew by +4.7% to $18.9 billion, profit fell from $2.5 billion to $2.2 billion, a decline of -11.3%.  The company’s stock fell by over $2 per share due to the news. P&G executives explained that the weak results were due to an […]