Author Archives: Braden Kelley

Adam Werbach used to rail against Wal-Mart when he was the president of the Sierra Club, but now they are his biggest client. Has Adam Werbach sold out by putting his heart and soul into helping the retail giant find ways to be more green? Fast Company has a nice article examining this change in strategic direction for Adam Werbach, who some might call the “great green hope.” Personally, I believe that Werbach has an opportunity to achieve a far greater impact on the environment in working directly with Wal-Mart than as the president of the Sierra Club. Why? Working as president of the Sierra Club, he would primarily be engaged in working to maintain, or possibly increase charitable donations to the organization, setting strategic direction for the organization, influencing operations, and working to sway public, government, and corporate opinion. Working with Wal-Mart he has the opportunity to create innovative … Continue reading

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I came across an article in BusinessWeek exploring the pending launch of a new bottled water from the Amazon rainforest called Equa. It’s hard to read the story and not roll your eyes. Trucking water halfway across the planet is not exactly good for the environment. When did water become a luxury or aspirational beverage?It is true that people are always looking for some way to distinguish themselves. Throughout time, beverages have always been one way for people to do so. Drinking Red Bull used to be cool and hip, but now there are a million different energy drinks on the market and the variety is still growing. It is very interesting to me that water has become the next aspirational beverage.What a coup for the manufacturers given that most other beverages start with water and then add other costly ingredients. Water is the new “look at me” drink. Given … Continue reading

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There was another article in the Seattle Times today about retailers and their desire to move into banking. The article profiled Home Depot and its quest to enter the banking industry, while mentioning the backlash Wal-mart received when they initiated similar moves.What is it that is so provocative about retailers entering the retail banking business? From a consumer perspective, some extra competition would be a good thing given ever increasing bank fees and core profitability. Bank executives want Wal-mart and other retailers to stay out of the banking the business and if they have to plant public relations stories to stir up a “The communists are coming” type furor, then they will.Why?Profits, pure and simple. The banks assume that if retailers get into the banking business that profits will shrink as a result of the competition, and they worry that because of the retailers more frequent relationships with the customer … Continue reading

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I came across an article on Engadget about a phone that is so flat you could mail it. Sure it is only a concept at present, but with my direct marketing hat on I thought at first that it seemed like a cool idea. I started to imagine it as a fun way to announce new support hours or some other scenario where you are reaching out to people, encouraging them to call you. In such a scenario, this phone could create a high impact piece. So to me the phone seemed maybe not innovative, but definitely fun.Then I started to think about it as a product, and I started thinking, what problem is this really solving? Suddenly, it started to seem like a solution in search of a problem. I started to read through the comments on the article, and I landed on a comment that brought to light … Continue reading

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In the United States I think sometimes we place a little too much faith in the laws of supply and demand and too little in the ability of the government to help make our lives better. We as consumers are not very good at imagining the externalities that are not present in the monetary cost of something, but are always present in the true cost of a product or service.For example, electric cars may be good for the air quality in the city in which they are driven, but people often forget that electric cars still pollute the air (they just pollute the air around the power plant making the electricity to drive them instead) and they have the nasty surprise of battery disposal when the batteries eventually stop holding a decent charge.Building upon this example of externalities, let’s look at an example of where the laws of supply and … Continue reading

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Nokia announced a $12 Billion acquisition of map provider Navteq yesterday. Only time will tell if this acquisition will prove to be the next Skype (where eBay overpaid and had to write down the value of Skype) or the next MySpace (which looks to be a bargain at $580 million).My question is this: Does Nokia need to own Navteq?It is rumored that Google was bidding against Nokia in the acquisition race, so there is no doubt that the price may have been pushed beyond the boundaries of logic. It also didn’t help Nokia that the price of Navteq stock has tripled over the last 52 weeks (thanks in part to TomTom’s acquisition of TeleAtlas – the provider of Google’s maps). Nokia has paid almost five times as much for Navteq than TomTom paid for TeleAtlas.I’ll give Nokia strategy points for location-based services having finally reached the point in time where … Continue reading

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Recently I heard a guy telling a story about how he goes out a few times a year on a buddy’s boat and that one day his buddy let it slip that he spends $30,000 a year mooring and maintaining his boat. My reaction? Wow! $30,000? In fact his buddy’s wife joke’s that the only reason she’s working is to support the boat. That made me think that if I ever find myself thinking about buying a boat, I’ll just rent one instead. I checked quickly online and found the going day rate for a nice ski boat to rent to be about $500 (depending on location). If the guy in the story is like most people who own a boat, he gets out maybe ten days a year, meaning it’s costing him $3,000 a day plus the cost of buying the boat. So maybe renting a boat is better … Continue reading

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