Disney stole Ted Turner’s “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way” line. Here’s my POV broadcast on Nightly Business Report

Disney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Was it bird, was it a plane, was it a government body, no, last week’s super hero was Disney’s CEO, Bob Igor, stealing Ted Turner’s line, “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way” with the announcement that the Disney network will slim down access to brands deemed unhealthy and become the world’s brand champion for healthy kids – along with a “Mickey Mark” that endorses appropriate products.

What more could an investor and a mum share in common than Disney (NYSE:DIS), a game changing brand we all trust, with channels free of unhealthy product advertising, garnishing world applause, increased ratings and a Mickey Mark that provides mum the short-cut to decide if a product is a good choice for her children whether on 4-screens or down the aisle.

Disney’s ability to focus on efficiencies that can create and capture demand make any competition irrelevant from being able to usurp Disney’s lead due to its arsenal of assets for ‘healthy kids’ brand endorsement deals. Creating a new revenue stream for Disney and a new business model by taking an ethical stance whilst being a boon for business – and not just Disney’s – in the $2.5 Trillion combined media and CPG categories.

By cracking the world’s toughest brief: making it easy for mum, Disney has unleashed a game changer, taking a page right out of the book, Blue Ocean Strategy (by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne). Disney has set its sights on creating a giant footprint in a fiercely contested health category. Mum neither knows what to give her children or what to allow them to innocently watch; she is confused by the endless cacophony of messages and icons embedded in a frivolous sea of promotions on screen and down the aisles filled with their gleaming category cues.

Image representing The Walt Disney Company as ...
Image via CrunchBase

Disney’s Big Idea is made more brilliant by the limited impact on their return on capital employed (ROCE) as the bulk of the new investment effort will no doubt be shared with brand partners and from marketing and licensing deals. Alongside the ‘Mickey Mark’ strategy that will eventually offer up its advertisers, the inevitable foray down the grocery aisle with their own Disney portfolios and licensing with those brands Disney endorses as ‘healthy’.

In an industry that thrives on exciting customers with new products, innovation
is key and Disney’s treasure chest represents a gargantuan brand and licensing opportunity for targeted health & wellness programs. Many pundits currently eye greater value in splitting up CPG companies like P&G and PepsiCo. As for media, finding growth past the election and the Olympics is foreseen as tough and networks are in flux. Just last week during Dish Network’s announcement of its new ad-skipping device, CEO, Charlie Ergon, was vocal about the need for better advertising strategies from the networks whilst warning that Internet video threatens the pay-tv ecosystem.

Let’s face it if you don’t like change, you’ll enjoy irrelevance even less. The last time a business reinvented more than one industry simultaneously was Apple – and they had a big idea also. The ‘shock and awe’ of this audacious move by Disney has mammoth implications for all media players, especially Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, who will have to lead a path or follow suit – Disney has ‘the con’ as they say in the movies.

Growth begets growth and major brand and media owners are going to be forced to be good at what they do and take an holistic view of the customer and create new methods of engagement and seamless experience that can give customers what they want with the products and services they offer. So after a week or two of navel gazing, they need to look to Disney’s initiative and aim to create either new products for licensing, bundled portfolios of existing ‘good for you’ products for Disney endorsement strategies or review what they have in their portfolio that could be modified to satisfy the stringent criteria of Disney (NYSE:DIS): acting as an industry seal of approval.

In risk there is opportunity and Disney has masterfully leapfrogged an entire category to become the voice of health and wellness for kids around the world. By simply staying on brand, this win-win business strategy alone reinvents Disney’s franchise as it broadens its ‘Masterbrand’ role beyond the boundaries of entertainment, products and hospitality services. There will be a progression and it might be sluggish, but done well, it’s hugely likely that publicity and demand will create a successful pull through strategy. Ultimately this is a ‘show me’ industry that survives by exciting customers with new products. Now the magic’s started, it’s show time folks.

Knowing How Social Movements Happen To Kickstart Funding

Wikipedia rightly defines social movement as a “type of group action. They are the large informal groupings of individuals or organizations to focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they carry out, resist or undo a social change.” Totally perceptible, but how?

Any successful ‘movement’ needs a core idea, leadership, talent to support the leadership and the people to create the movement. Recent developments like the phenomenal success of OWS shows that it’s not as clear and as easy as that.

David Graeber, one of the founders of the OWS movement likes to say that he had three goals: learning to drive, promote his book and launch a revolution. The first didn’t happen yet, the second proved challenging, and the third is not looking up. Funding has become a crucial element in the sustainability of the organization i.e., growing pains.

Any new organizations dies a thousand deaths as it leaps and straddles forward, often going through several revisions of strategy and vision. I’ve got sympathy for OWS. They’re afraid for the first time. They brought tablets down from the mountian top, we were all enthralled and fascinated. Now this rising star is facing the grist of the mill, their significance is substantial, but their chances of survival thin as their relevance has slipped backed to core fans, little airplay is being provided (apart from their decline) and they could be forgotten.

OWS is a challenger of the rules, heroic in charting a course that’s different to what’s been done before, with principles (often too many) that’s made their stand unique and created such a massive following of millions, but now it needs to stay ‘fresh’ and sustainable. How to halt the rot is to recognize the three core elements that fuel the fire of a movement: frustration about the status quo, injustice from the 1 percent’s cadre and a hope of change. Communication and messaging need to target these to accelerate the funding program:

Build back rapport: Trust
Create relevance: Message
Instant gratification: Knowledge
Ignite passion: Action

Barry Manilow probably has the best advice, “They might not remember what I sing, but they’ll remember how I make them feel.”

How to save Occupy Wall Street

The ‘return of our capital’ for the 99% might be the greater principle over ‘return on my capital’, but we face a quandary if taken too far: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” Winston Churchill

The success and rapid ascension to the world stage of the Occupy Wall Street movement has forced the enterprise to realize it is a brand that needs investment and funding is paramount; so much so they could no longer be functioning within a month! But is their something more fundamentally wrong with “Occupy Wall Street” that if strategically corrected could boost their sustainable appeal and help provide the movement momentum and much needed funding?

Plato wisely said, “Necessity, is the Mother of invention” therefore, words before “but” are redundant. Skeptics and ehadists belie capitalism has deliberately created a disproportionate deluge and in its wake it punishes, intoxicates and behaves like a despot in the world’s markets, radically debilitating infrastructure and diminishing local economies both to work and provide for themselves and forcing upon all an ever-increasing sense of imperceptible vulnerability.

Capitalism is like a sow with nine teats and 15 babies: crisis is the price of capitalism, that’s the core of the problem. And what created it needs to be fundamentally improved. That we agree. OWS has a role, but it will be a vague memory without cash. Many current interpretations of OWS, (like some of their perceptions of capitalism) are malicious, mischievous, and ill informed. Demonstrably OWS brought people together and out of our frustration, sense of injustice and hope they helped start a world wide movement. That’s OWS: a platform for change. That’s truly great, but getting $50 out of someone is a lot harder.

Without a brand reinvention and clarity of purpose I cannot see OWS playing the role it deserves to play. To build trust, OWS need to reinvent themselves including changing their name. Entrepreneurial lore states that a new ‘brand’ may have 3-4 strategic revisions before it finds it’s rightful place. Occupy Wall Street carries with it an excessive amount of uneasiness if looked at literally by the public. Every inch of media has exposed OWS in a revolutionary light and edged it out on the fray: a brand declines when it’s no longer sublime. To come to the center, OWS need to shift OWS and therefore, OWS need to review their brands architecture that has spawned across cities and countries and seek to find a ‘public facing’ solution that suits the needs of a sustainable fund raising  ‘brand’ i.e., wake up running.

The Email Spring

As the festive Yule tide tasted, we all enjoy abundant salt, sugar, fat and phosphates, fried chicken, ribs, hamburgers, ice cream, pop, pie…and email: they’ve all become embedded into our wastes and our way of life.

Trillions of emails (80% of which are junk or spam) engulf our precious time on and off the job, including after work email alerting us innocent recipients much more thought time ‘off the job’. Business is a daily war and takes one-third weaponry and two-thirds moral: shareholder value is a result of satisfying customers by a business that’s working well due to its people being on top form. In the case of VW in Germany, there was a growing litany of complaints that staff’s work and home lives were becoming blurred, so, Volkswagen agreed to stop routing emails 30 minutes after the end of employees’ shifts, and then start again 30 minutes before they return to work. Henkel implemented a similar strategy for the festivitie period. German innovation aside, are we about to witness an “Email Spring” in 2012?

Smart phones and PCs are endemic in our society and the wiz, bang, wallop world of ecommerce zips through us literally. What’s in a few company emails? Recent studies reveal that over 65% of us open work emails at home and on vacation. Understandably, workers are suffering from the ever-increasing problem of ’email stress’ as they struggle to cope with an unending onslaught of messages they feel ‘invaded’ by. This is causing employees becoming agitated and frustrated after monitoring company messages that keep interrupting them as they try to relax from work: a senior manager can spend over 4 hours per day handling email.

According to researcher, Karen Renaud of Glasgow University, “Email is an amazing tool, but it’s got out of hand. Email harries you. You want to know what’s in there, especially if it’s from a family member or friends, or your boss, so you break off what you are doing to read the email. The problem is that when you go back to what you were doing, you’ve lost your chain of thought and, of course, you are less productive. People’s brains get tired from breaking off from something every few minutes to check emails (e.g., people working on a computer can check 40–60 times an hour). The more distracted you are by distractions, including email, then you are going to be more tired and less productive.”

The NIOSH report cites that 75% believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago. No one said life was going to be easy, but people are the long-term asset value to a business. To achieve an intellectual profitable capital management program there’s a little known fact that if you can impact 10% efficiency in any aspect of your business development process you can experience up to 20% margin increase. Seizing the moment, Thierry Breton, chief executive of the French information technology services giant, Atos has recently stated that workers at his firm were “wasting hours of their lives on internal messages both at home and at work.” He is embarking on a ‘more’ radical strategy of banning internal email altogether from 2014. Less is more, but more is not less.

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