Well, it turns out they have wireless on the plane. Woo Hoo.
This allows me to return to thoughts on the new BusinessWeek from Bloomberg.
Ian Schrager: Prophet now in search of profit
This issue end with a strange essay from Ian Schrager, founder of Morgans Hotel, the Royalton, and the Delano.
Schrager now regrets not having used a single brand for his several hotels. At the time, he felt that a single brand name would have been seen as vain or uncool. Also, he says,
I worried about losing what was special about each one, so I gave each its own name.
This feels like self repudiation from a Stalinist show trail. It’s hard to believe one’s ears. Schrager is one of the people who led the charge against mass marketing and big fat brands. He is one of the people who created the era of marketing now upon us. Apparently, it was all an accident. Nevery mind. Carry on.
At the end of his career, I guess Schrager now likes the idea of a having something to sell, over and above the properties. And who wouldn’t. But he doesn’t for a minute stop to contemplate the possibility that his success came precisely from the fact that he was working brandless, that he took leave of conventional practice, that he was prepared to make each of his hotels "special."
This is odd and sad. Can Schrager really be a pioneer who does not grasp his revolutionary accomplishment? Say it ain’t so.
Suzy Hansen and Greece in turmoil
I am sure her editors gave her lots of navigational advice, but the piece by Suzy Hansen feels like she was simply dropped into contemporary Athens and asked to think her way home. And sweet Jesus, does she think her way home. This is one of the best pieces of journalism I have read in a long time. It takes on a fantastically complex and shifting world, and renders it clear without ever making it tame. Hansen gives us everything from strategic pictures from 31 k feet and ethnographic notes from her own eyes-on experience. The commotion never does away, but ever so gently a pattern begins to form, like a black and white photo coming up out of the developing tray. Wow, can this woman write. Wow, can she think. Hat’s off to Hansen, and, yes, ok, her editors.
PepsiCo and the SoBe success
In a treatment of PepsiCo’s SoBe line, we are treated to a glimpse one of the secrets of PepsiCo’s success.
Tucked into a corner of PepsiCo’s sprawling campus in Purchase, N.Y., is a space known to insiders as Adam’s room. Decked out with couches upholstered is silver leatherette, a flat-screen TV, and an Xbox 360 video games console, the one time conference room is designed to resemble the natural habitat of a prototypical 22-year-old male, right down to the pair of sneakers carefully tossed on the floor.
I know some people will dismiss this as cosmetic, too little contact with contemporary culture actually to make a difference. But hang on a minute. Imagine trying to make a corporation-centric decision in such a room. Living in the very lair of the beast (and 22 year olds are beasts, let’s be clear) it must be vastly more difficult to fall into the gravitation field of the corporation and forget for whom we work. I think this might even be better than the typical "war room" which is usually festooned with data torn out of context (and magazines). Adam’s room may be all context but it is might as well be content, so nicely does it focus the marketing mind.
Hansen, Suzy. 2010. Life Amid the Ruins. Bloomberg BusinessWeek, June 28th – July 4.
McCracken, Grant. 2009. Chief Culture Officer. New York: Basic Books.
Schrager, Ian. 2010. Hard Choices. Bloomberg BusinessWeek. June 28th – July 4.
Stanford, Duane. 2010. How PepsiCo Refreshed Its SoBe Water Brand. Bloomberg BusinessWeek. June 28th – July 4.
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