Category Archives: Business Strategy

et tu HSBC

Picture 20Till now HSBC was brand royalty for me when it came to banks & financial services branding and communication. Seems like even Gods have feet of clay. This banner ad on the HSBC HK site tries to attract new HSBC premier customers ( minimum deposit HKD 1mn or USD 100K) with a “scratch and win”. Wow !!! I used this mechanic to sell a few more soaps and detergent bars to a reluctant retailer in India about 15 years ago. How the world has changed since the recession. Blame it on Lehman.


“Green” pickings for P&G, Unilever, Reckitt ?








Coke has just bought a minority stake in Innocent Smoothies. Before that it was Glaceau Mineral water in 2007. Further, the $2bn proposed acquisition of China’s biggest juice maker Huiyuan will also most likely come through. While Pepsi was off the blocks earlier with Tropicana and Gatorade, Coke’s non carbonated beverage portfolio is clearly looking more sparkling now.

The  beverage giants are nicely rounding off their portfolios with the “healthier” offers.  I wonder why we haven’t seen similar activity in the cleaning products category. We have 2 “green” brands in the category which have been growing their business, profile and footprint over the last 3-4 years : ECOVER and METHOD. ECOVER is almost 30 years old, is Belgium based,  available in 26 countries, growing at 20%+ and will do $100mn+ revenue in 2008. METHOD is only available in US, UK, Canada and Australia. It has private equity backing.

Both brands offer a full range of cleaning products- laundry, household, dish, personal wash- plus  air care products. Both are premium priced and my guess is margins are also higher vs the leading brands. Either of these will be a great buy for P&G, Unilever or Reckitt. The capital infusion and distribution muscle will help immensely. Volume and margins will almost definitely be net incremental plus retailers will love the premium price ( they have already seen the magic with Organic food ranges) and extra margins.  

This is a Win-Win for everyone : company, retailers, consumers and the environment. I am sure the investment bankers have been exploring. Don’t be surprised if you hear of it sometime in the near future.

Marriott misses the mark, again.

Marriott International’s new  brand campaign running for over a year now succeeds in at least one thing. It answers the famous question : “Which half of advertising is wasted?”. In this case it is both the halves. Continue reading

FORTIS fakes it

Most financial services advertising is undifferentiated and irrelevant, with generic visuals and headlines/taglines like “A passion to Perform”, “Make it happen”, “You and Us” etc (HSBC’s campaign  is a notable exception). It is rare to see communication highlighting specific products or bringing alive insightfully the overall proposition. Continue reading – New biz idea

With the recession already here and lay offs starting in earnest, how about a website which offers resources, information  and services to managers who are impacted. Basically a 1 stop (and first stop) shop for managers who lose their jobs. Range of services can cover – legal, tax planning, counselling, resume writing, small business start-up advise, re-skilling/ education assistance.

Services can vary depending on the level. For example, for  heavy hitters/ senior managers  who get laid off with million dollar packages one can design networking holidays  which help them take a break, chill and meet start ups/new ventures looking for angel investors/ mentors.

While both and domains are taken, there is not much on either of the sites. They are just parking there till someone buys these domains. Can potentially be a good extension for a brand like “”.

Design Thinking : A Simple Primer

“Design as differentiator. Design enables premium pricing. Design is more than aesthetics. Great Design Makes People Love Your Company. Design is not an after thought, not a veneer you add to the core product to make it look cool”.

We have all heard this before. Graphic and Industrial design firms have been around for sometime and it is now well accepted within the business community that good design enables product /brand /experience standout leading to superior business results. What is new is the concept of “Design Thinking”. Continue reading

WESTIN does it again : Puts us to sleep

 Westin has taken the high ground again in helping travellers get a good night’s sleep. They were the first to focus on this key need of frequent travellers via their hugely successful Heavenly bed campaign. They extended the “Heavenly” brand successfully via “Heavenly shower” and “Heavenly crib”. Now they have tied up with Philips to create a concept room in their Chicago property which uses special lighting technology ( blue-light ActiViva lamps)  to help travellers manage/reduce jet lag. Continue reading