Strictly Business Belmont University College of Business Administration


A Brand Feeling Slighted Fights Back: Oddbins at Odds with LOCOG

The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, or LOCOG for short, is the governing body actually responsible for putting on the Olympics in London. The cost of staging the Olympic games registers at over £2 billion and most of this cost is offset by corporate sponsorships. The privilege of commercially associating a business with the Olympic Games, however, comes at a steep price. A tier one domestic sponsorship costs around  £50 million. In order to raise the necessary funds, LOCOG’s chief executive, Paul Deighton, wants to generate over £700 million from domestic sponsorships that that allow for businesses to promote commercial messages in association with the games.

Not all domestic businesses however are on board. In reaction to the marketing rules set out by LOCOG, Oddbins, headquartered in London, is executing a unique and controversial marketing campaign. Since Oddbins’ managing director Ayo Akintola does not have the capital necessary to meet the LOCOG’s fee for access to association rights, he has initiated a marketing stunt to draw attention to the matter, and hopefully generate some business in the process. For everyone who wears a brand not supporting the Olympics, Oddbins is offering a discount of 30%. Yes, that’s right, Oddbins will give you a discount for wearing Nike products, or using Mastercard instead of Visa, or showing a receipt for a Pepsi in their stores.

While this stunt is somewhat comical, in actuality it just might be brilliant. Perhaps, customers or other business owners who feel similar to Mr. Akintola will bless his stores with their patronage and help him on his way to generating the cash base needed to become a tiered sponsor of the Olympics the next time London hosts them. Hopefully, it won’t take the Olympic Committee another 64 years have London be their host; it might be too late for Mr. Akintola.

This post was submitted by Charlie Boyd, MBA Candidate

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Double-Edged Sword of Social Media Marketing

One of a marketer’s main objectives in defining a company or product’s marketing mix is determining the channel or medium through which the target audience will be reached. Recently, no channel has been quite as successful in reaching and engaging a large audience as social media. These days, you won’t find a coupon, website, or email that doesn’t point you to a company’s Facebook or Twitter page. Why has this been so successful? Well, companies have gotten smart and gone where their audience is - online. Few people read newspapers anymore and the number of people reading magazines, with the exception of the gossip columns, has declined as well.

According to the marketing firm quoted in this article, the most important aspect about social media is that it allows the customer to “meet the company” which will hopefully drive the customer to a physical store to purchase products or make an online purchase. Facebook and Twitter allow companies to offer customers all kinds of goodies. Sweepstakes, coupons, and promotions are communicated in a matter of minutes. The best part is that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg for companies to use social media. The hardest task for companies is getting as many people as possible to “like” or “follow” it.

While social media offers many benefits to companies, in the wake of scandal, it has also proven to be a curse for others. Many have found opponents using social media to negatively impact the company by driving negative press. Let’s take Chick-Fil-A for example. A social media firestorm erupted for them due to recent statements made by one of the company’s top executives. It’s no secret what this company stands for, but people are now in an uproar because he chose to stick to his beliefs. Click here for more on this story. If this were a different time and social media was not around, I doubt the company would be in the situation it now finds itself in. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the dust to settle. In the meantime, I feel like a chicken sandwich!

This post was submitted by Krystle Grogan, MBA Candidate

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Coke Freestyle: A Marketers Dream

Ever buy a fountain drink only to discover your favorite Coke product is not offered? Rest assured, Coca-Cola has revolutionized the way soft-drinks are dispensed so this will never happen again. Talk about creating happiness, Coca-Cola has transformed the way fountain drinks are distributed with Coca-Cola Freestyle.  Not only that, Coca-Cola may have just created the means of solidifying another century of solid growth. Market data has never before been so accurate and so instant.

Customers select their beverage of choice from over 100 options through touch screen technology and are presented with numerous flavor options.  From a marketing perspective the brilliance behind freestyle is two-fold. First, customers are greeted with a dynamic experience from Coca-Cola that not only provides them with more options than before but also invites them to be a part of Coke’s global marketing campaign of “creating happiness."  Secondly, Coke Freestyle offers Coca-Cola invaluable information of the needs and desires of customers in real time. Through the use of RFID technology, Coke freestyle provides real-time data about which beverage flavors are being consumed when, where, by how much, providing a goldmine of data for Coke’s marketing team.

Beverage companies have long tried to tailor the customer experience to one of enjoyment and satisfaction. Starbucks for example, has created value through delivering a consistent customized product through intense barista training. Those barista’s however, do not have a way of relaying real time data back to Startbucks’ headquarters. Coke freestyle provides the same sort of customization without the hassle or cost of training employees and with the advantage of real-time data on customer trends.

Coke Freestyle is unlike any soft-drink experience before. It elicits excitement in creating customer satisfaction and at the same time provides Coke with a marketer’s dream, real-time data.

This post was submitted by Charles C. Boyd, IV, Massey MBA Candidate.

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Acuff Details ’5 Lies’ Entrepreneurs Should Ignore for Success

Jon Acuff, best-selling author of Stuff Christians Like, spoke last week in the Massey Board Room about the five lies every entrepreneur must ignore in order to succeed. An experienced speaker and the creator of, a blog read by more than two million people in 97 percent of the countries in the world, Acuff has worked with companies like Home Depot, Chick-fil-A, Bose and Staples on their brand positioning and marketing.

In a talk sponsored by Belmont’s Center for Entrepreneurship, Acuff spoke on “5 Lies Every Entrepreneur Must Ignore to Succeed,” captivating a completely packed room of hopeful Belmont students and faculty by delivering his powerful message with a lighthearted and slightly comical spin.

He began by emphasizing the fact that technology and social media have completely redefined our generation’s standards and opportunities among the business realm. Acuff claimed that “consumer behavior has changed” because “our generation is the most over-marketed” generation in comparison to ever before.

The exorbitant amount of information that technology offers allows consumers to research and become aware of nearly anything, and they desire truth in marketing. Acuff brought up an example of change in comparing Nike’s marketing slogan years ago versus now to illustrate this point of truth in marketing. At one point, Nike’s marketing campaign was “Be Like Mike” which inferred to the consumer that by wearing Air Jordan shoes one could be like Michael Jordan. Now Nike’s marketing campaign is “Our shoes work if you do.”  This pointed example prefaced Acuff’s message of entrepreneurs being mindful of the lies that can often detour one’s success.

Read the full story here.


Utilizing Connections

If you are interested in marketing/brand management, one platform you’ll be sure to utilize is Facebook.  Never before has it been as easy and economical to connect with consumers, but the key is determining how to do so in a dynamic and meaningful way.

Earlier this month, Facebook’s Global VP for Marketing Solutions discussed upcoming changes for FB, walked through marketing opportunities, and shared a few helpful case studies. You can view Ms. Everson's talk below.

Watch live streaming video from fbmarketingtalks at
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Welcome to Your New Brain

Last night in our Advanced Marketing Management class we found ourselves engrossed in a deep discussion regarding the impact of social media technologies on consumer behavior. If we admit it, most of us in recent weeks have found ourselves in a situation where we were observing something happen (e.g., watching a movie at the theater, listening to a radio program while driving or a speaker's live presentation) and missed what we felt like was an important piece of information. Even though at the time you weren't actually watching TV or sitting at your computer, haven't you, even for a split second, ever found yourself thinking about how to push the button on your remote to rewind your DVR or clicking on your media player so you could replay what you just missed? If so, you may still be normal, as least what is becoming the "new normal."
The following article explains how technology is changing the way we think as consumers, as well as how we process and react to information. Check out Dan Tynan's article that was published earlier this week in PC World.


Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

Visiting stores and seeing commercials this time of year, it is hard not to notice how companies are choosing to, or not to, recognize Christmas as the “reason for the season.” As a Christian, I am extremely put off by such terms as “holiday tree” and other phrases that seek to be universally acceptable yet deny the majesty of the day that forever changed the world with the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ. To see which retailers are recognizing “Christmas,” check out the American Family Associations’ “Naughty or Nice” list.
While I do appreciate stores that are sticking with “Christmas,” I think this brings up a greater issue. What have we, as Christians, let this season become? Why are we so concerned with where we should go… shopping? While I think it is wonderful to spend time with friends and family and shop for special gifts that will delight those around us, we must remember Christmas is about so much more than getting all your shopping and wrapping done, making the perfect dinner and rushing around to various parties and events.
The debate over Christmas has been around for a long time. According to Wikipedia:


Free Samples can Work

JJ logo.jpgI want to applaud (and thank) Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches for today’s effort to expand their customer base and increase loyalty. A couple of the employees from the local shop came by our offices to offer a free sample of one of three of their “gourmet sandwiches.” Arriving just before noon, their sandwiches were ready to enjoy when hunger was at its height. Delicious. The friendly employees emphasized their delivery service, which is especially appreciated since leaving campus for lunch means losing this morning’s parking space. The mini-menus they left will be good reminders of their tasty sandwiches and the convenience of delivery just experienced.

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100 Best Global Brands

100 Best Global Brands.jpg
BusinessWeek’s list of the 100 Best Global Brands has been released. Coca-Cola takes the number one spot again, with an estimated $68,734 million brand value. Fast Company magazine recently published a story about David Butler, Coke’s Vice President of Global Design, which you can read here. According to Butler, Coke is “leveraging design to drive innovation and to win at the point of sale.”
Check out who else made the Top 100 list and why.

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The Value of a Friend

With social networking/new media being the hot topic in marketing today, the cover story on the latest BusinessWeek (June 1, 2009) captured my attention — “What’s a Friend Worth?” The article references the “Attention Economy” — the concept that “The value of most information has collapsed to zero. The only scarce resource is attention,” according to Bernardo Huberman, director of the Information Dynamics Lab at Hewlett-Packard. As consumers are bombarded with information (which is also easier to access than ever before), many seem to believe the influence of our friends is even more important to help us navigate through it all.
But who are our real friends? Facebook is working to “track the path of influence among its communities…to offer more effective and lucrative advertising and promotions.” According to their study, “they determined that an average Facebook user with 500 friends actively follows the news on only 40 of them, communicates with 20, and keeps in close touch with about 10.” While the reach from a network may be large, the influencing power might be minimal.
The article mentions “personal opportunity” as a motive behind having a large collection of contacts/casual friends online. According to studies, “the contacts outside of our close friendships are more likely to lead us to new opportunities. Their networks have less overlap and extend into different areas.” LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Hoffman, refers to these contacts as “light alliances.”
Regardless of how we use social networks as consumers and/or marketers, it is certain that these online arenas have created opportunities to stay better connected and quickly share information that can influence others.

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