Author Archives: Julian Stubbs

Do They Honestly Care?

I’m in the business of helping organisations build brands. Helping them define what they are all about, what they are best at and then converting that into a promise to take into the marketplace. And as we all know, branding is all about delivering on that promise to the consumer. Now this has led me in recent years to examine closely not only some of the brands I’ve personally worked with but some of the brands that I chose to buy myself. Over the years I suppose I’ve become a bit cynical when I hear marketing people talk about their customers and how much they really focus on them. Customer focus is obviously a good thing and the logic is that if you talk about it enough, people will believe you genuinely put customers at the top of the agenda. What I’ve discovered is that for too many companies it’s pure mouth music. They say it but don’t genuinely mean it. Truth is I’ve come to discover that most companies are far more interested in themselves than their customers. All this came home to me personally in an incident with Louise Vuitton. My dear wife bought me a beautiful, and extremely expensive, LV carry on flight bag. Well to cut a long story short a wheel on this elegant piece of luggage literally dropped off on a trip to London less than a year after having bought the bag. I couldn’t believe it. Literally it fell off. I spent the rest of the day dragging and carrying the bag around the city. I was sure it must be a freak occurrence and that LV would make amends. The store that my wife had bought the bag from however refused to offer any replacement or even to repair the bag for free. They didn’t seem to care at all. I was shocked. We then tried the Swedish consumer protection agency, but they proved to be worse than useless. After twelve months of frustration and complaining I decided to resort to the only course of action I could. I wrote a letter to the Chairman of Louise Vuitton, M. Bernard Arnault. It took me two hours searching on the internet and a phone call to get his personal office address but I did. A hand written envelope addressed to him, for his eyes only, was then dispatched to Paris. The letter is below. M. Bernard Arnault LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Dear M. Arnault, In December 2007 my dear wife bought me a Louis Vuitton carry-on travel bag as an expensive, but wonderful, Christmas gift. As someone who travels a lot, I was delighted. It looked beautiful, and coming from Louis Vuitton, I imagined spending a lifetime with this particular item of luggage. Growing old gracefully together, aging beautifully with it as my constant travel companion. Maybe I’d even end up looking just a little like Sean Connery in your advertisements. Ten months later things had gone very sadly wrong. On a trip to London in October 2008, the wheel fell off my bag. Literally fell off. I spent the rest of the day dragging and carrying the bag around the city. My immediate reaction was that the bag was, to borrow a car analogy, a Friday bag. The artisan French worker who had crafted my $1200 bag must have just had a bad day. Maybe he didn’t feel too well after a heavy night out with his friends and a little too much Pernod perhaps? Anyway, I was sure the Louis Vuitton store where my bag was purchased would immediately replace or repair the defective bag. Ten months old and only used on about eight trips as cabin luggage. Louis Vuitton must have a lifetime guarantee right? At $1200 a shot, I expected it. The answer when I returned the bag to Louis Vuitton was non! Forget it! LV does not have a lifetime guarantee, nor does it have even a 12-month guarantee. In fact it has NO GUARANTEE WHAT SO-EVER! None. Zippo. Zilch. After two years of complaining, I’m just totally appalled at the service LV offers its customers. But I haven’t given up hope. I write to you to find out if the LV store in question and its response reflects the standards of Louis Vuitton. Can you help me? With Regards, Julian Stubbs enclosed photos of my wheel-less LV bag ———————————————————- Now I wrote the letter as a last resort, not expecting much from it, but about a week after the letter had been sent the most amazingly helpful and concerned manager of the local LV store contacted me. She wanted to apologise personally for what had happened and have the bag fixed, at no cost of course, as soon as possible. She was genuinely concerned. Amazing what a letter to the chairman can do. Anyway it made me ponder the question again how many companies and brands really do care? Really understand that to be better than their competitors takes much, much more than just running advertising saying that you do. Anyway, I think I’ve also discovered that I’m not bad at complaining and it seems to be a lost art. Power to the people. 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iPhad or Two Thousand Lumps of Dusty Pulp?

Well it’s here. The iPad has finally landed, descended from on high, well from Cupertino at least, and all the hoopla and hype surrounding it’s launch is beginning to settle like the dust in my library. But more on that later. As an unrepentant early adopter I’ve had my nose pressed up against the Apple store window in NY for a month, figuratively speaking. I have been waiting for them to open the store so I could get in and buy one. Well that’s not strictly true, as I couldn’t be in NY for the great day I had my brother in laws nose pressed against the window last Saturday, and having bought it he dispatched it to me courtesy of FedEx. I’d decided to buy the full fat 64GB version. Friends told me to wait for the 3G launch, but no I wanted to play with one of these at once. So, I’ve now spent the last few days playing on the thing, tucking it away in small, very small, bags when I go anywhere. Leaving it lying on the sofa when I’m sat there, or by the side of the bed, in the kitchen in fact anywhere and everywhere. You see the thing is truly the ubiquitous tablet we’ve all waited for. Once you’ve got one, you want it with you all the time. E-mail, calendars, address books and music all sync effortlessly and with little need for technical understanding beyond having the ability to tap it’s touch sensitive screen. It also plays, and sells you of course, movies, TV shows, music and hundreds of thousands of apps. Then, for me there is the killer app, the reason I actually bought the thing in the first place. iBooks. I’ve played with Sony Readers, flirted with a Kindle and tried even earlier attempts to make e-books actually work. All of them, so to speak, were not worth the paper they weren’t printed on. Remarkably last year sales for e-readers were still up around 5 million for gadgets that were still functionally pretty useless. The problem with e-readers up to this point has always been a choice between long battery life or vibrant living colour. So, back to my dusty books. Well they’ve been like family members to me each and every one loved, written in, read and re-read. I remember the first book I actually paid my own hard earned cash for (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – but I was only eight and it was actually pocket money). The first business book I bought (Kotlers Marketing Management). I have first editions of James Bond, a complete set of Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples and over two thousand or so other books in my dusty library. Which brings me to my dilemma. The iPad is by a long way the best reading experience I’ve ever come across. The screen is bright, and you can adjust it, and the response time to page turning is, to deploy a much over-used word, phenomenal. I bought my first iBook yesterday, Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain, and can now lie in bed at midnight and read it without having to strap a small flash lamp to my head. So now for the first time I look at my library and see the equivalent of 2,000 VHS video tapes or 2,000 vinyl LPs. Is my beloved library now only filled with 2,000 lumps of dusty pulp? Will I still buy printed books? That’s the question. It seems that finally technology has caught up with the printed book after around five hundred years of dominance. I can carry my ‘book’ and indeed entire library around with me where-ever I go and read where and when I want. That’s remarkable. And when technology shifts in such a dramatic fashion, you can be sure there will be huge impacts and opportunities in a brand and marketing perspective. The ability to target and develop true relationships with consumers has never been more attainable or immediate. That’s the exciting bit. The iPad is quite simply a game changer. Nothing, at the moment, comes close. (P.S. the keyboard is also good enough for me to be able to write this blog while traveling on the Stockholm underground!) Buy Windows 7 Ultimate Sale Windows 7 Ultimate Buy Windows 7 Ultimate Order Windows 7 Ultimate Sale Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection Discount Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection Discount Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection Sale Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus Buy Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus Buy Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus

'I Left My Heart in Krasnodar?'

Attended MIPIM this week in Cannes, the world’s largest real estate event, that attracts over eighteen thousand attendees from around the world. I was invited by my client Stockholm, The Capital of Scandinavia. It was a interesting experience wandering the many stands representing cities, regions and countries from around the world. Vast quantities of free food from each local country was on offer and I found I could have lunch in Munich (great weiss bier and sausages) an afternoon snack in Toulouse (amazing paté) but always ended up for the happy hour on the elegant and very busy Stockholm stand. What was striking was how many places really lacked cohesion and an ability to find a sweet spot for their brand. img_3342.JPG I had a fun day going around the exhibitor halls collecting tag lines. They mostly tended to make pretty bland and generic statements. Torino The Intelligent Location, Madrid About You, Only Lyon, and one which I can’t remember who it was but promised me it was the Land of Opportunities. I thought how empty and inappropriate a lot of these were and lacking the passion and central truth that any really great brand needs. One of the biggest stands was for Krasnodar part of the Russian Federation. Will I one day be whistling ‘I left my heart in Krasnodar?’ It’s not exactly Tony Bennet so probably not. But look it up on the map if you want to know where it is. In four years time we’ll all be watching Sochi, which is in Krasnodar, as they stage the 2014 winter Olympics. One city that does have its act together is Liverpool, European city of Culture in 2008. As I’ve said before Liverpool is a great place brand, and they held two of the most interesting talks I heard whilst at MIPIM. On the subject of great talks I had a front row seat at the sold out keynote address by the inimitable Boris Johnson, Mayor of London. He’s actually a remarkably witty and relevant speaker and I think sums up the spirit of London extremely well. He told us that London was so well ahead on construction work for the 2012 Olympics that he was considering staging a snap Olympics, a UK political reference, by bringing the games forward to 2011 to catch the rest of the world napping. He reckoned Britain could haul off more medals in doing so. London itself had a large separate hall at the show but was actually a little disappointing. Their hall held a number of individual companies and organisations each touting what they had to offer and the focus on the Olympics was pushed into one corner. It probably would have annoyed the Brits, but Paris on the other hand was well co-ordinated, on brand and had some dramatic projects in the pipeline around La Défense. When I compare any of the places I saw at MIPIM this week though with Stockholm, the branding and positioning work we’ve done over the past six years really stands out. It’s simple, immediate, relevant and witty. That’s some of the criteria I would use in measuring any great brand. Buy Windows 7 Ultimate Sale Windows 7 Ultimate Cheap Windows 7 Ultimate Cheap Windows 7 Ultimate Sale Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection Order Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection Sale Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection Sale Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus Discount Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus

Pure New Zealand

There’s an interesting debate raging in New Zealand just now concerning their place marketing campaign ‘100% Pure New Zealand’. The national newspaper, The New Zealand Herald, feels the campaign is 100% ‘Pure Hype’ and go to great lengths to punch holes in the ‘Pure’ positioning by examining some of the facts behind the countries ecological efforts. I think they’re missing the point. The campaign doesn’t just rest on one narrow dimension but on several levels. The nature in New Zealand is stunning and varied, the activities available (and the number of ways of scaring yourself to death!) are incredible, the hospitality outstanding and many more things that add up to a totally unique experience – for me 100% Pure New Zealand. img_1700.jpgimg_1700.jpg Buy Windows 7 Ultimate Discount Sale Windows 7 Ultimate Order Windows 7 Ultimate Buy Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection Buy Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection Order Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus Cheap Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus Discount Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus

How Do You Do IT?

How do you create a great brand? Well, great brands become great by doing great things. Making brave decisions and sticking to their principles. In September 1962 the then un-known Beatles were desparately looking for their first number one hit. Their first single, Love me do, had failed to reach the top of the charts. The pressure was very much on them to produce a hit – and quick. Their producer George (now Sir George) Martin offered them a song he had called ‘How do you do it?’. Martin promised them a sure fire number one record, and the fame and fortune that would follow. But The Beatles turned him down, on the grounds that the record wasn’t right for them – and actually didn’t live up to the standards they were setting themselves. How many brands given the same ‘pressure’ to perform in the short term would really stick to their own principles and do the right thing for the longer term perspective? It’s a key question and one that sets great brands apart. As for the song, ‘How do you do it? eventually became a number one hit in the UK, as predicted, but for another Liverpool band called Gerry & The Pacemakers. The Beatles however, went on to rather greater things. img_1124.JPG This Liverpool inspired story is also relevant for another reason. I’ve just had the pleasure of an action packed three day weekend in the great city, visiting museums, Beatles exhibits and going to Anfield to see Liverpool play. Liverpool is a great city – and a great place brand. In 2008 it was awarded the title European City of Culture and absolutely deserved the title. The Liverpool regeneration project is without doubt huge and the impact on the city and it’s population profound. Great place brands are defined by doing great things and Liverpool is intent on doing just that. The city buzzes with life and energy and whilst investing heavily to make dramatic change to their urban landscape the heritage of the city has been carefully preserved – and that’s what gives the city its ‘edge’. That’s how great brands, and Liverpool, do it. Cheap Windows 7 Ultimate Discount Order Windows 7 Ultimate Discount Order Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection Discount Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection Cheap Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus Cheap Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus