Friday 24 August 2012

Microsoft have a new Logo. Instead of a new CEO.

Microsoft have a new logo - the first change in 25 years. Drum roll, here it is.... please, remain in your seats.        
Here's the first and the most recent -

It's lighter, straighter (sans serif as we say in the trade....) although the red, blue, yellow and green colours remain. The font is 'Segoe'.

It's just not as brash or as "in your face" and is seemingly intended to bring Microsoft into a better place for their new product launches later this year. Including the revamp of 'Windows' and 'Surface'.

As readers of this blog will know, it's more than a new logo Microsoft needs. As most people are calling for, is not a new logo, but a new CEO. Don't think so? Well here's the current one.

Yep a new logo will surely fix it - right?
Apple's iphone business alone, is now worth more than Microsoft.

Read here and here and here and here okay I'll stop. But all of these pieces are over the last few months - none are good news for Microsoft.

But built around it, is the usual PR spin of signalling "an exciting year ahead!" and words that sound as trite as "Go Team, Go!!". 

Like "signal the heritage but also signal the future — a newness and freshness," said Jeff Hansen, Microsoft's general manager of brand strategy. God help us.

The colours are also meant to convey "the diversity of our products and the diversity of people that we serve," Hansen said. Of course they are. It's for all the Orange and Green people out there.

But of course it is one of the oldest tricks in the book - when things go against you, get a new logo, get a new look. And it's been news today all over the web and print, diverting eyes away from the problems at Microsoft.

I have no idea of the actual cost of this but from experience, designing and implementing a logo like this globally - is in the tens of millions. And trust me, I've been involved in enough new corporate identity launches to be able to forget them all.

Does a new logo pay dividends?

Only if what's in the box has changed.
Because if you change your product or your ethos (really change it from the inside) then new packaging (starting from a logo) can help convince people that you've changed.

It's what's in the box that matters not what it says on the outside.

If the new products such as touch screen 'Surface' and Windows 8 prove to be spectacular, then a new logo might help in signifying that. It will say to consumers "look, we've just got a whole lot better". If.

A logo on its own just signifies meaningless twaddle.
An attempt to give an old worn out company, a feeling that it's fresh which consumers will see through quickly.

And in my view, that's just what this is.

Thursday 23 August 2012

HP. Losing 27,000 staff and 9 billion Dollars a quarter. A giant, but a giant of the old world order.

HP, Hewlett Packard, the former giant of computing (and a former client of mine) is losing people and losing money.

4,000 people left in its third fiscal quarter and they expect to lose about 11,500 employees this year and a total of 27,000 by the end of 2014 by merging divisions like bringing together their PC and Printer businesses. That's a lot of hurt.

It also made a historic loss (in the company's history) to the end of the quarter to July of nearly 9 billion usd. That's right, billion.

Whilst the company tells this as a streamlining of its business as its on the cusp of a turnaround, but to the great unwashed (you + me) it just seems like a huge, deepening hole. 

Printer sales were down 23%, revenues across the board were down as consumer products fell 13%. Whilst there's talk of new "tablets" and a new range of PC's this Autumn, which will have a "design focus" (oh dear, like Apple 8 years ago?) it all seems a little stale.

“HP is still in the early stages of a multi-year turnaround, and we’re making decent progress despite the headwinds,” Meg Whitman, HP president and CEO, said in an earnings release. “During the quarter we took important steps to focus on strategic priorities, manage costs, drive needed organisational change, and improve the balance sheet. We continue to deliver on what we say we will do.” That's Meg at the top of the blog and put any PR gloss on these numbers you like, but you can't get away from poor numbers like this.

What is happening of course, is that consumers want mobile computing, rather than PC's, and HP, well, they're not really at the races. Don't misunderstand me, this is a giant but a giant of the old world order.

HP seems to me, to have failed in generating new products, new innovation, new thinking, as consumers have changed quickly. A big ship is always slow to turn and HP is a classic example.

Bringing products late to market and massively reducing overheads through seeing off staff, is not a vision for the future. Nor will it achieve much except to keep the financials right short term and keep markets happy.

It strikes me too, that I can't see a real burning consumer loyalty or love affair with HP the brand, which once there was. Attempts at Advertising recently (like Plan B and Russell Brand campaigns) didn't do it for me anyway and for most, will be hard to remember. The brand just looks, boring.

CEO Meg Whitman may not exactly be the visionary of a Steve Jobs.
But she now, really really needs to be.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Netflix to take on BSkyB in a bidding war for movie rights. Another massive leap forward for online content streaming.

The growth of Netflix since 1997, the online movie/tv streaming site, has been quite extraordinary with a forecast of 30 million members by year end (Sky has 10 million). But as predicted, they've now ventured into the area of programme buying, competing directly with traditional broadcasters. 

Something we've talked about before here

This is the first move for an online broadcaster into the offline world. In particular, they're going to hurt BSkyB.

BSkyB's stranglehold on premium rights to Hollywood movies is going to be broken as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (that's his picture on top) has vowed that Netflix is going to heavily bid for those rights - and they have the cash.

He is determined to win. Already earlier in the year, BSkyB had to suffer a 40% increase in UK football rights following a bid war with BT. The Sunday Telegraph has seen BSkyB documents which clearly identify Netflix as a major potential threat

NetFlix has just announced today that already it has 1 million users in Ireland and the UK and with movie rights, it will switch customers away from BSkyB.

The Telegraph quotes Hastings as saying, "The main rival is BSkyB with Sky Movies and Sky Atlantic - they're the ones with the big content". 

The key here too is that Netflix can offer a movie streaming service at a much lower cost than Sky as well as being available on a myriad of devices.

"Sky is terrified of Netflix" a source close to the company has said. And so they should the company turnover increases to 1.8 billion usd in the first half of 2012. Whilst its share price is declining, this is on the back of lower profits driven by the insatiable desire to launch worldwide and therefore, the costs of doing so. Hastings has always said that he's in the long term game.

Netflix is ploughing back its profits into a drive for world domination. Although Hasting's own encashment of 43m usd in shares was viewed poorly by the markets and is being legally challenged. He's also a small investor in Facebook and a Director at Microsoft.

There is no doubt, having dispensed with the retailers of old video rental, Hastings is now going after traditional TV. Online streaming is coming of age and will become the dominant way of the future to watch movies. Especially as devices such as Apple TV, arrive on the market.

And good luck to them.
Online goes from strength to strength.
Do you still doubt it?

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Oracle admits paying Blogger. Is this the start of a can of worms?

Bloggers beware.

Google and Oracle have been instructed by court, to reveal the names of those it paid to blog. they are both currently in dispute over copyright and patent infringements.

Google has denied it paid any "blogger" and has asked the court for clarification, given that it makes "contributions" to many "influencers". It said it needed "further guidance".

According to BBC "Google said that it had not been involved in any "quid pro quo" arrangements for coverage. However, it did acknowledge that it had a financial connection with several types of people and organisations who it did not name, including: Universities and non-profit entities Organisations to which it belonged or to which it had made contributions; Bloggers and others who had adverts placed by its advertising program on their site and had commented about the case; Its own employees and contractors who might have commented about the trial; Expert consultants; Witnesses identified for the trial; Its lawyers asked for clarification as to how far they should go in naming those who fell into each category". 

Quite a long list, so we'll see.

One blogger, as disclosed being paid "consultancy" by Oracle, had been blogging highly critical posts about Google and claiming that Google would fail at the same trial. The same blogger also claims he had been paid by Microsoft.

Another is a Professor at a leading University. 

Don't be too surprised - this type of activity has been going on for a long time. PR Companies are regularly paid to post positive messages for Clients on Tripadvisor for example. I know that firsthand.

Indeed, being paid to make positive Facebook comments, are par for the course and we all know the paid tweets issue. (

However, what it does mean is to be careful who you trust online.
Quite often we go into a search, see some data and take it as gospel, when it mightn't be. Check the source always.

With bloggers it's harder (which is why corporates pay them) because they seem like genuine opinions rather than paid "Ads" or comments. In some ways, that makes them more powerful because if you like a blogger, you tend to listen to their viewpoint. 

I think this Oracle V Google case is going to be shocking and will spread to other Social companies because it clearly begs the question - "And did you pay for blogs?".

What's the chances it was only Oracle? Nil.

As for yours truly - have I ever been paid? Not even offered. 
So come on, show me the money!

Monday 20 August 2012

Tony Scott.

Sorry, I hope you don't mind but I just have to note this. He was a friend of my Dad's and a visitor to our home.

Tony Scott.
Jumps to his death off The Vincent Thomas Bridge in LA.
Director of Top Gun, Unstoppable and so many others.
Brother of Ridley.
Loved his cars.
Directed thousands of commercials and a great friend of Advertising.
Gone to Frank.

God be good to him.

(Today's normal blog follows below)

US Presidential Election with 11 weeks to go and Obama is well ahead on Social Media.

The first real "new media" TV debate was on Television in 1960 between JFK and Nixon. It wasn't about the content, it was about the way Nixon appeared visually that decided it, (sweaty and uneasy because he wasn't used to TV - earning the nickname "Tricky Dicky"). It is long, but well worth the watch when you've time.

The current Presidential race will also be about "new media" but this time it's Social and Obama has outpaced Romney in Social Media.

He has 10m Twitter followers compared to Romney's 895,000 on @barackobama and @obama2012. Obamas campaign tweets 29 times a day compared to Romney's one. On Facebook Obama has 7 times more fans at 28m Versus 4m - 7 times. On YouTube it's the same story at 839,000 versus 399,000. Obama is winning the Social Media debate by a mile.

Yet, he's only ahead in the polls by 3%.

However, both candidates tend not to use Social in an "engaging" way, using it simply to push messages out - rather than engage with voters and comments. In a way, using Social Media as almost an old fashioned media buy. It's not a two-way street.

"Campaigns are using technology to push out their own message rather than engaging in the social aspect," says Amy Mitchell, deputy director of the Pew Research Centre's Project for Excellence in Journalism as quoted by BBC.

"Social can be hugely effective at relationship building. But when you're Romney and Obama, if they did treat social as a two-way channel I think they'd be so inundated," says Paul Ten Haken, president at Click Rain, a multimedia firm.

So there's a balance between pushing out stuff and engaging....whilst we all know that engagement wins every time, it takes up a lot of time and especially for candidates "on the road".

"Both candidates' digital campaigns have focused on the economy more than any other issue; 24% of all Romney posts and 19% of Obama posts were about the economy. However, the campaigns differed in the angle they stressed. The Romney campaign devoted nearly twice the attention to jobs in its posts- 14% of posts compared to 8% of posts from the Obama campaign. Obama's economic messages were almost equally divided between jobs and broader economic issues, such as the importance of the middle class" according to their new survey at The Pew Research Centre.

So whilst Obama's campaign has used Social better in numbers, and whilst neither are using it in an engaging way, messages about the economy seem to be the most used.

The 57th Presidential Election will be held on November 6th.

The Republican National Convention takes place August 27-30 and The Democratic Party are on September 3-6. October then becomes the real hectic month with the first Presidential debate on October 3rd.

December 17th the President is declared formally elected and inauguration day is Jan 20th.

This will be an election driven by Social Media and with relatively little time to go (two months in reality) and Obama so far ahead, it will be interesting to see if he wins. Does the man with more Social Media become President?

I would think so.

Sunday 19 August 2012

You think your brand is safe on Social Media? You have to watch this. Just too funny.

Great piece of Youtube getting back at a company with a reputation for poor customer service and it's gone viral. Absolutely magnificent.