Posts Tagged ‘Detroit’

I LOVE FORD

November 18, 2009

Ok so although they’re not currently giving the attention my food and music fest deserves (Even though it was literally made for them), I’m really falling in love with Ford these days.  Through innovation, design, and in most cases, good marketing communications, the company has not only avoided the pitfalls of their two Detroit cousins GM and Chrysler, they just announced a third-quarter profit of nearly $1 billion ($997 million according to their press release).  So here are a few of the important lessons I’ve pulled out of Ford’s transformation.

1) Design and Innovation are key – Have you seen the new Ford Edge or Flex?  How about the Taurus?  The new Taurus is so well designed, so beautiful; you will be asking to drive one the next time you have a chance to rent it instead of asking for a Toyota.  And watch out for the new Fusion Hybrid, as it will be taking market share away from Toyota and Honda as consumers run out of reasons not to buy American. 

2) Separate yourself from the pack – With the exception of the “Cash for Clunkers” program, Ford steered away from advertising that speaks to the recessionary times as many of their competitors including Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year, Hyundai have.  They also didn’t take government bailout money which gave consumers confidence.

3) Have a good spokesperson – If you are going the way of celebrity endorser, pick one that fits your brand.  Mike Rowe fits Ford like a glove…even better than O.J.’s.  Mike is the perfect American “everyman”.  His shows such as “Dirty Jobs” have a need for vehicles like Ford Trucks.  Rowe started out just hawking for that division, but as may have seen from the new ads, he can sell anything with the Ford badge on it.

4) Expand your market – Look around your town and I bet you will notice more Ford’s than you have in the past.  It seems that those who might have purchased a more expensive “prestige” vehicle a few years ago are very happy with Ford’s new products, price points, and value.  Remember that value isn’t just about price.  Ford is delivering a better product at a competitive price point compared with others in the category. 

5) Legacy is important in down times – Consumers are looking to purchase from companies they believe they can trust.  If you have been around for 100-years (unless you are GM), one gets the feeling there is a reason for it.  Their years in business give you a comfort level.  Ford Motor Company has been known since its inception as an innovative, forward thinking company.  Henry Ford made cars affordable for every American, transformed modern-day production with the Model-T assembly line, and through the wood scraps from that factory, founded Kingsford Charcoal.  Where cam we find that kind of innovation in our business?  We have still yet to roll-out paperless ticketing!

6) Market the experience – You might be sick of hearing me say this, but our marketing sucks!  Check-out the new Axe body spray commercials.  You get what the product does for you…NOT how it smells, how much it costs, where it is available…nothing like that. Consumers purchase based on an emotional response.  How are they going to get emotional about hearing an artist’s new single they don’t know, followed by a bunch of quick information about sponsors, pre-sales, sales, locations, who is promoting the show…and of course the famous “call to action”.  It is a new world…for over 20-years now.  It is time we catch-up. 

Full disclosure, I haven’t owned a Ford vehicle for many years. It doesn’t stop me from sitting up to take notice at the great changes they have made…and how easy it would be for those of us in Live and Branded Live Entertainment to follow their lead.  

How about we each come up with 3-new innovations in 2010?

Speak with you soon…

Jim

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WHY OBAMA’S STIMULUS WILL WORK

April 14, 2009

I only know one person (that I’m aware of) that knows our President personally.  She called me in 2003 and asked if I would contribute to his run for Senate in Illinois.  What got me was what Ann Marie said…  “Barack speaks to our higher angels”.  I don’t know about you, but I had never heard anyone describe a politician in those words before and wrote a check on the spot. 

You have all read articles about those that have dropped everything in their lives to be a part of Team Obama…either during the campaign or now as part of the President’s Cabinet.  When these people are asked why, they always talk about President Obama’s character.  It is this character that will make the President’s stimulus plan work.

Was it a good idea to bailout the banks and Detroit?  Who knows.  The President really didn’t have much of a choice.  If the banks failed, there would be millions of Americans without homes.  That is not the kind of course correction we need right now.  No, his plan will work simply because he is a good man.  In my opinion, President Obama is the honorable person to sit in the Oval Office since Abraham Lincoln.  He wants the best for our Country…for all Americans.  It is this kind of leadership that will help all of us strive to become better people.  The President certainly proves that good guys don’t always finish last.  In fact, they can become leaders of the free world.  So start planning a bright future because there will be one.

Need a place to start, the next Dinner Club social is Thursday, May 7th.  Meeting places and times in each city TBA (btw, there has been a call-out for a Toronto meeting so get on it Canada). 

BTW, you can also find me on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/jimlewi

Speak with you soon…

Jim

“IF I WERE…TIM LEIWEKE”

December 6, 2008

Apologies are becoming way too common in the LiveWorks Newsletter, but I must again say I’m sorry to subscribers for sending an old newsletter to you.  To say I’m frustrated with the situation is the understatement of the century…and if any of you know anything about FeedBurner (the service that sends newsletter subscribers their emails), please let me know.  If there is an upside, as promised, at least you didn’t get the “Recession” email again.  Now on to “If I were…”

It is hard for me to wrap my brain around AEG’s business.  They separate it into AEG and AEG-Live.  AEG invests what amounts to hundreds- of- millions in new venues around the world, while AEG-Live is the concert promotion and live entertainment company built around the acquisition of Concerts West.  With all the money flying around it is hard to say how or if AEG makes any.  Since they are privately owned, AEG doesn’t report their financials, so it is even harder for me to poke my big nose into their shit.  So more than ever, please read the following disclaimer:  The “If I Were…” series is based on not knowing what the day-to-day business realities are for those written about.  Also in many situations, I’m looking at decisions from the past after they have already been played-out (or are in the middle of doing so) so it isn’t necessarily fair to play Monday morning quarterback. Oh well!  Fair or not, I like playing the position, so here are some of the things I would do “If I were…Tim Leiweke”.

· MARKETING – AEG should market itself as if it were a public company.  Meaning, they should start reaching out to consumers as a brand.  This is a real opportunity to differentiate AEG events and venues from everyone else’s.  Market in and to your communities.

· FAN RELATIONS DEPARTMENT – Goldenvoice guys should certainly be a part of this unit (just look at what they’ve done with Stagecoach’s layaway plan).  Although as per above, the whole company should be behind this mission, AEG should have a department whose only job is looking after fans (sports, music, family shows, etc).  With the intelligence they can share with the rest of the company, AEG’s whole culture will move into the role.  Think about what you could implement.

· STOP THE BIDDING WARS – In the live music business, bidding wars do a huge disservice to fans by driving ticket prices up, and thus everything else.  Create a committee to look at each opportunity and make a quick assessment of it.  Adding layers of bureaucracy can sometimes actually speed-up the decision making process since every deal wouldn’t have to pass by Randy Phillips and/or Tim.

· ENERGY/GOOD CITIZEN – The new solar panels at LA’s Staples Center and the PR that went along with it is a great example of what I’m talking about.  Getting ahead of the competition by switching over to clean energy, recycling, conservation programs, etc, will not only save you money both now (through tax breaks and energy savings) and in the future (it is said that “U.S. companies can spend billions now or trillions later”), it will make consumers feel better about doing business with you (this has been proven).  Hire a “Green Czar” that’s responsible for these initiatives.  Build it into AEG’s DNA.  The changes that Wal-Mart found their “associates” have made and continue to make since the company started its greening is amazing (looking for ways to cut down on post-consumer packaging, energy saving ideas, and even eating healthier).

· VENUES – I’m sure this isn’t the first time you have heard that several of your new concert venues and theaters are feeling a little sterile.  I think a better analogy might be a modern AMC multi-plex.  Don’t get me wrong (or anyone else saying this), I appreciate not only the investment you are making into our business, but the thought you put behind building them (production manager’s dream, great sound, etc).   Maybe your architects know something the rest of us don’t on how things will look in the future or how the venues will wear over time, but right now they could use a little more character.

· FREQUENT BUYER PROGRAM – Reward loyalty with a program that gives fans discounts on tickets, early access to the best seats, special merchandise, VIP parking without paying for it, etc.  Give them a membership card with special stamps or stickers for each show, game, or special event they attend.  Consumers can show their friends.  Think of it like the concert T-shirt you wear to school the day after the show to let everyone know you were there.  It will work with sports fans young and old the same way it works for music fans.

· THE DENVER OFFICE – AEG needs more strong local promoter acquisitions like Chuck Morris and the Denver office.  In two-years, Chuck, Brent, Don, and company have not only built two new successful music festivals, they have also managed to give Live Nation a run for their money in a market where LN owns and/or controls several major venues in the market (thus the ability to offer more money in theory).  Coincidentally it was Chuck and team (and Barry Fey as it relates to Coors Amphitheater) that built-up most of those venues.

· THE BENCH – Almost repeating myself from the item above but not really.  For some reason there is a perception that AEG doesn’t have a deep bench.  Not sure that reality matches perception (Tim, Randy, Larry, Paul, John, Chuck, Debra, etc) but it is out there.  Might be time to speak with John Scher in New York, Arny and Jerry in Chicago, and more.

· BUY LIVE NATION – They should be willing to sell it right now at a real discount.  Go directly to those that hold the IOU’s and make an offer to buy the company @ $7 per share.  The stock could fall below $4 this week.  Make your move.  Stockholders like me will be really happy to get out alive and you would end at least one war.

· RESTART DIALOGUE WITH MSG & TICKETMASTER – If buying Live Nation doesn’t work out, how about trying to re-engage conversations with MSG and/or Ticketmaster?  Again, now might be the right time to talk as both Ticketmaster and MSG are on the move and cash is king.

· BRANDS – We in live entertainment are just not getting it right when it comes to working with brands.  AEG has a great sales team (I’m sure, never met them as I have the Live Nation team, who are also very good) for their building’s naming rights etc, but need to do even more to work across their multiple platforms (venues, local concerts, tours, sports).  It is time to breath new life into our business.  I bet there are some very smart marketing and branding types who are feeling rather concerned about their Detroit jobs these days.  Sunny California probably looks pretty good right about…now.  Bet they would work for less with a big upside too.

That should be enough to keep Tim and company going for a while.  Again, please know that just as with Michael Rapino, I don’t know the realities of Tim Leiweke’s job.  These are just ideas I would work towards knowing what I know, “If I were… Tim Leiweke”.

Talk with you soon,

Jim

Book To Read

November 20, 2008

It must of been at least a week or more since Bob Lefsetz wrote about Malcolm Gladwell’s (prior Aspen Live Speaker… 2008 dates Dec. 11-13 @ St. Regis, Aspen) new book, “Outliers, The Story of Success”.  Bob talked in his letter about “how he couldn’t put it down.”  He was and is right.  Go pick “Outliers” up today.  It is a great book!  I also believe (haven’t confirmed, but how many Floms who are famous lawyers in NY are there?) there is a whole chapter on our friend Jason Flom’s father, Joe.

I’m in New York this week for the Billboard Touring Conference.  So far in speaking to people attending, the news is not good.  Concert promoters from across North America are saying that sales are down on everything “except slam dunks like AC/DC” (I can’t tell you how many times I heard that exact line on Wednesday).  The news reported the U.S. automaker B.S. as the stock market dipped below 8000.  Michael Moore (prior Aspen Live speaker…2008 dates Dec. 11-13 @ St. Regis, Aspen) is on Larry King right now on my TV giving his solution to Detroit.  He says, give the automakers the money, but make them build what the government tells (hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, mass transit, etc) them to build, like Roosevelt during WWII (aircraft, tanks, etc).   This is some out of the box economic thinking from a film maker, don’t you think.

We in the live business need to innovate and think more like Michael Moore (will leave the shameless plug out this time).  Since the shit storm seems to be hitting New York and Detroit the hardest at the moment, let’s work on ideas for helping the Detroit Live Entertainment and Branded Live Entertainment businesses.  New York is a lot to take on with a plethora of entertainment options.  Detroit is a better target.

With the doom and gloom hitting Detroit right now, what ideas do you have to help our friends there sell more tickets to more people more often?

BTW, if you are in New York for the Billboard Conference, please come to the Festival Panel at 10:45 am that I’m moderating.  It is a great group of people to ask questions to about big event and festival producing.

Please send me your ideas and talk to you soon…

Jim