For your holiday reading pleasure, here are updates on four companies whose marketing we’ve picked apart in the past. All of them had a sh&tty summer, on their way to the destiny we’ve predicted.
As a bonus, we include one of our Stuart Elliott “gotta reference the 1950s” spottings.
HP = Hurd’s “Present” to Hewlett-Packard
Back in May 2008, we declared that Hewlett-Packard’s then-CEO Mark Hurd had made a big mistake engineering a take-over of IT services firm EDS. We called it a bolt-on acquisition that had absolutely no marketing angle for HP to leverage.
Three weeks ago, the chickens finally staggered home to roost. HP announced it would take a write-off of $8 billion re: EDS.
HP’s next big acquisition won’t be one of choice, but of necessity. The only question will be which brand name survives the merger – HP’s or Dell’s?
Best Buy Adopts Kmart’s Strategy
Last December, we declared Best Buy’s “best” days were behind it unless it addressed the product line-up and the retail-floor strategy. Since then, other than some layoffs and store closings, management has done nothing to stem the decline in revenues and profits.
That is until last week, when Best Buy ripped a page from Kmart’s playbook (reviewed by us here), and hired a guy from the hotel industry to turn things around. The Kmart hotel guy, er sorry, CMO, stayed at Kmart for three years. Coincidentally (*sarcasm*), Kmart’s revenues fell every one of those three years.
Best Buy’s “hotel guy” won’t get the luxury of three years. As a matter of fact, we’ll know in three months how he’s doing. Another Black Friday is right around the corner. And that corner could have some very sharp edges for Best Buy.
Groupon Soon To Be Groupoff
As we predicted, Groupon’s stock price has fallen pretty much nonstop since its November 2011 IPO. After Groupon’s mid-August earnings release, the stock took an immediate 25% haircut. Then resumed its deliberate slide. It is now teasing the under-$4 mark.
Blame low barriers to entry, a bad CEO, blah blah. This one is, at bottom, about the impossibility of any company being able to scale a $20-at-a-time business that requires every sale to be made by a human.
The only thing that keeps Groupon from hitting $0 is an acquisition. See our fourth item below for a likely candidate.
But first, here is your promised bonus item, brought to you by The New York Time’s advertising “guru” Stuart Elliott. Remember the template – either the opening or closing paragraph of Elliott’s column must reference something circa 1950.
So, here is Elliott’s July 17 column about another mind-bending topic – the new Fruit of the Loom advertising characters. Closing paragraph:
“As for the Fruit of the Loom Guys, there is no intention for them to go the way of brand characters like Gillette’s Sharpie the parrot or Joe Camel.”
Do not be surprised when we tell you that Sharpie the parrot first showed up in TV spots for Gillette in…drumroll…1952.
The New York Times Finally Stops Messing About
Speaking of The New York Times, we beat on it mercilessly for its good-money-after-bad strategy for the glorified content farm About.com. Last week, IAC (usually prefaced as “Barry Diller’s IAC”) agreed to take it off The Times hands, giving the latter 25% less than what it paid for About.com in the first place.
IAC should sound familiar to long-time readers. We told you about its annual makeover of its search engine, Ask.com, that never accomplished anything.
Now Ask.com’s problems have been solved. That is, if IAC turns this acquisition into www.askabout.com in the next couple of weeks. That URL, by the way, is indeed available.