Saturday, July 31, 2010

Spotted D*#%

Picture the scene in the board room. A group of a dozen executives. All dressed in impressive-looking business attire. Suits, ties, cuff links. Some with hair gel, some with expensive after-shave lotions or colognes. They sit around a sizeable conference table. At the center of the table a silver service is positioned with a fancy water pitcher surrounded by crystal drinking glasses. At the end of the room is a screen, projector, and state-of-the-art laptop. Off to one corner of the room are several easels with presentation materials and pie charts and graphs. It is clear that these are serious men charged with an important task. The room is abuzz with idea exchange and related business-type banter. This is where the decisions will be made that will shape the company's future.

It has been seen on countless occasions that these corporate meetings and the work these business types do is crucial to the happiness of the shareholders. Just think about the gravity of the decisions that are made. Perhaps one of the most famous was the meeting where the Pepsi-Cola folks decided to alter the "formula" for Coca-Cola. This must have been a testy and uneasy afternoon for all involved. Another famous meeting involved the marketing decisions that led to the introduction of the Chevy No-va into Latin America. The No-va was a muscle-type car that sold very well in America. However, they did not sell a single car in Latin America for over 15 years. Finally it became understood that "No-va" in spanish translates to "garbage for the uneducated". Once they removed the hyphen, the car became the Nova, which translates to "death by firey explosion" and the car sold like hotcakes. So I think you can start to appreciate the importance of the corporate meeting and how they take sound reasoning and a bit of luck for a company to prosper and succeed.

This leads me to the product that I stumbled upon the other day in my very own super-type market. A metal container from the Heinz Company for a product called "Spotted Dick". I kid you not my friends. I have even included a figure. I was so disturbed by this product concept and what it might actually represent, that I could not even force myself to look it up on the computer. Even now I cannot shake the thought of this product from my head. Can you imagine that board meeting where they were pitching names for this product? Maybe this was meant as a joke. Perhaps it had gotten too late one evening after discussing more mainstream products from Heinz like ketchup and mustard that this one slipped through. Spotted Dick? Really? Hey, but at least it's microwaveable, whatever it is.