Showing posts from 2007

Impact of Rajendra Pachuri's Nobel Prize on Indian behavior

I have known all along that Al Gore had won the Nobel Peace Prize along with the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, but I didn't know that the IGPCC was being led by an Indian national, Dr. Rajendra Pachuri.  

An immediate impact of this is a greater awareness among the Indians about the perils of global warming. This became clear as I was talking to my dad this morning, who informed me that all over Mumbai people have been asked to turn out their lights for one hour to help against global warming. Thats right, charity does begin at home.
Now if we in the United States can only take this to heart and emulate the Indian grass root efforts by not driving for one day!

Esai buying spree continues

First it was Morphotek, then some drugs from Ligand Pharmaceuticals. Now, Easai has decided to buy MGI pharma, the Bloomington, Minnesotta based maker of Aloxi. With Aloxi, Easai will enter the space of oncology supportive care drugs.

Celgene shares get hammered

This is what happens when a competitor arrives at the door step!
Celgene's shares fell roughly 15 percent to $48.90 on Nasdaq, while Millennium's shares rose nearly 10 percent to $16.53.

Until recently, Millennium's injected drug Velcade has been seen as the underdog to Celgene's more convenient, oral drug Revlimid. But data presented over the weekend at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) is giving investors greater confidence that Velcade will be able to hold its own.
So, is the Celgene buyout of Pharmion in trouble? Celgene is below the collar lower range of $56.16, and Pharmion shares dropped on the news. As Celgene's stock value falls, the actual value of the Pharmion buyout could suffer, said Banc of America Securities analyst William T. Ho, if the stock price remains below the $56.15 lower boundary of the deal's collar.
Advantage of oral formulation (of Revlemid) can only take one so far.

Building a Bookshelf - A personal experience

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I am not much of a handy man, so building a bookshelf seemed like a big deal to me. However, a quick look on the web told me that its a project that I could easily complete on my own. Well, I have built one now, and I would like to share my experience and directions to build one for you the reader.

A Visit To The Sleep Center

I always thought that snoring was like a rite of passage into middle-age-hood - something thats to be endured - but while I thought of it as being inconsequential, my wife thought otherwise. So, on her own she decided to take me to the "sleep doctor". First I thought it was the "Sleepy" mattress salesperson, but when I saw that we were pulling into a medical clinic, it opened my eyes (no pun intended) to this branch of medicine that focuses on sleep disorders!

Quickly I found out that the doctor wasn't just going to give me some nasal strips and let me go home - no sir - first I had to go to the Sleep Center and figure out scientifically if I had any thing else going on. So, I get a prescription to spend a night in their prescribed Sleep Center. Yesterday, I did just that.

The experience in the sleep center was an interesting one. I showed up at the appointed hour, 9 pm to be precise, with a couple of DVDs and some reading material, prepared to stay busy if…

Jock develops helmet to absorb shock

Former Harvard quarterback Vin Ferrara, now a medical doctor and an entrepreneur, has developed a new helmet to help save the players from concussions they get in football. While this is a good development, what this game really needs is a change in the rules that helps protect the players from excessive force based hits. No amount of protective gear is going to help the players - in fact it may be having the exact opposite effect - because players have a false sense of security, they may be taking greater undue risk.

It may be macho to think of a rough hit as being part of the game, but the damage from these concussions acccumulates over time and has a long term detrimental effect on the players health.

A Good Primer on Pakistan

NY Times has published a great primer on the current situation in Pakistan. The article describes the various ethnic minorities that make up Pakistan, and how the Military-fudal lordism nexus has exploited it in their quest for power.

However the article is incomplete without a discussion around the military-mullah nexus. this nexus, which is the source of current and past troubles that have bedeviled Pakistan since its birth, is best described in a book published first in the eighties, and since then reprinted many many time. The book is "India, The Seige Within".

The book is rare and not easily available in the US, but M J Akbar has a blogger page, where he describes the book a bit.

First Indian American Governor!

Congratulations to Bobby Jindal, who trounced three opponents in the Louisiana primary to become the first Indian-American Governor of any state of the United States. Young Mr. Jindal (he is 36 years old) will have his hands full trying to reignite the economy of New Orleans, and keep the African American population with him. The African-Americans stuck to their constituency and voted mostly Democratic.

Wish you the very best of luck Mr. Jindal. The revolution has just began!

Decluttering your desk

I am as much a fan of technology as the next person. However, all these wires emanating from all the various gadgets have always bothered me much. My solution to this has been, to tie together the wires emerging from a device and roll them into a small bundle keeping only the necessary length. However, with a modem, a splitter, a VOIP box, two power sources, a printer and other assorted gadgets, the floor under my table has always exhasperated me. Until now. Today, I came across this beautiful site by Van Mardian where Van explains how he managed to declutter his desk. Just take a look at this photo by Van, and then click on it to go to his site. It will save you a lot of grief in the long run.

Photo credit: Van Mardian

Of course, I haven't implemented the solution yet, but this will be one of my summer projects, along with cleaning the garage!

Medimmune buyout by Astra Zeneca

Astra Zeneca paied 11 times the sales of Medimmune for buying out a company with two major products, Flumist, a flu vaccine and Synagis, a respiratory infections treatment for kids. Paid too much? Sounds like it given that Serono just recently got bought out for 6 times its sales! They have about 30-35 products in the pipeline but buying a pipeline is more akin to buying a dream...its not real!
``That's a hell of a premium and it's going to take quite some time until they make some money on their investment,'' said Romain Pasche, who manages about $800 million in drug stocks at Vontobel Asset Management and holds AstraZeneca shares. ``Astra really needed to plug the gap they have in their late-date pipeline and this acquisition doesn't solve that problem.''
Others seem to agree! I am just surprised how quickly this concluded.

Power of Internet

Often we take the technological innovation for granted. However there are times when you are reminded of how these technological advances have become indispensible to our lives. And today was one of those days. Recently, my wife's car failed its inspection because the center brakelight was not working. I went to acura dealership to buy the bulb, but once home couldn't figure out how to take the old one out. To my rescue came google. A quick search on how to change the center light bulb in acura brought me to this thread....where some one had explained in simple language... open the trunk, and turn the bulb assembly counter clockwise. replace bulb, turn assembly clockwise, and thats it!

In years past this would have taken a trip to the dealership and a discussion with the parts department. They might have asked me to let their mechanic change the bulb for me, and would have charged me $30 for a $2 part. What technologies helped me?

1) Fast internet service
2) A comput…

Marka Hansen Named New President of Gap Inc

Bloomberg is reporting that Marka Hansen, the President of Banana Republic, has been chosen to take over the spot of President of Gap Inc., left open by Cynthia Harris's departure. Marka is a good choice for the ailing "Gap" brand which has been struggling to redefine and re-position itself as something in between Banana Republic and the Old Navy. This is the second of the major changes brought about by the latest string of losses at Gap which first started two weeks ago with the departure of Paul Pressler, the CEO of Gap, Inc.

Marka's claim to fame has been the turn around of Banana Republic brand. Today Banana Republic has redefined itself as a upscale brand competing with the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Kenneth Cole.

Marka's appointment comes as a surprise especially since both Pressler and Harris were outsiders brought in to realign the businesses. Once upon a time it was fashionable to bring in an outsider to shake things up, and take the brand in a ne…

Importance of Branding for Small Business

Nick Rice, over at Small Business Branding Blog has written a nice article on some of the things a small business could do to brand themselves. Most of the ideas are great, and most are easy to implement. The unfortunate fact is, many small business people are too busy to worry about branding. They are still chasing the next customer so that they can pay the bills.

What do you think? Is branding critical success factor? or is it a nice-to-have attribute?

Rockstar Marketers

Matthew Creamer has a nice piece in Ad Age about Rock Star Marketers. Truth be told, marketing is a difficult profession where successes are hard to come by. There are so many unknowns, not the least of which is your product and the competitive situation you are in. Many a careers are made by products that are so superior that they would sell by themselves. And eventhough product development needs hundreds of people in the organization, the credit often goes to one or two marketers at the top, who go on to gain rock start status to the chagrin of the rest of the organization that wonders, what about my contribution?

But more times than not its the other way around. Products that have good attributes languish because the results don't follow the marketing hype and the organization looses interest in it. I have known many a great communicators who tell a great story and persuade the organization into investing heavily in their hyped-up ideas. However the realities of life soon…

Analysis of Deadenbacher

Here's a surprise...Deadenbacher is driving traffic to Orville Redenbacher's website. Well, duh!

I wrote earlier about why Ad Age's Ken Wheaton was wrong in his article about "Selling Popcorn 101". That it would surprise to an Ad Age write is whats a mystery to me.

The ConAgra campaign follows the theme that has become so widely popular these days in marketing, "Create controversy to stay top of mind". In todays fragmented media world where to keep your message top of mind is a herculean task, trying to differentiate oneself is no longer enough. Marketers have to constantly strive for ways in which the brand can stay top of mind. And we have found a nice tool in "controversies" to meet that goal.

Marketers of consumer goods are not the early adopters to utilize this approach...the pioneers in this business are our entertainers. Whether it is Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" or Brittney Spears "show it…

Controversy Aids Orville and Crispin

Nothing warms the coccles of a marketer than a controversy that will shine the spotlight on your product. As a marketer I have often struggled with this need to heighten the level of public awareness without going too much outside the boundary. So when some one comes along and criticizes yur work in a public forum, the marketer should thank his lucky stars that it was they who were picked for this public drumming, for the one big benefit of the public drumming is "raised awareness".

A recent case in point is the controversy stoked by Copyranter on Gawker. Copyranter decided that (s)he did not like the Cirspin Porter + Bogusky execution of the new Orville Redenbacher ad which ressurected the dead Mr. Redenbacher. That was enough to make Ken Wheaton of the venerable Ad Age to pickup on the story and put it its website. Sure enough, the ad is drawing attention from others such as Patrick, USA Today and James Lilek(including me).

Ken's article is sub titled, "How n…

Kerri Martin Fired At VW

Speaking of Marketing Gurus, Kerri Martin, the marketing guru whose claim to fame was launch of Bently's "Mini" and repositioning the BMW Motorcycles, was given the axe. Martin efforts to raise the sales of Volksvagen failed amid controversy around the ads developed by Crispin Bogus.

This was bound to happen; its tough to repeat the success of the past especially if the product sucks. Mini was just such a radical departure from the contemporary automobile designs that even a moron could have led the brand to success. Not so with Volkswagen; VW has some challenges infront of it. The brand designs sorely needs to be refreshed, and no matter of marketing pizzaz could have helped.

Nevermind this slide into failure territory - Kerri will surely land a even more plum assignment.

More Companies Change Names!

In case you have been living under the rock, Apple Computers has changed its name to just "Apple". Makes sense since Apple is no more a computer company than IBM is a computer company. Oops, wrong example!! IBM still keeps its name "International Business Machines" despite the fact that much of the business comes not from selling business machines, but from providing consulting services.

And in their esteemed wisdom, the marketing gurus at CitiGroup have decided to drop the umbrella logo. Not only that, they have changed their name from CitiGroup to, you guessed it, Citi!

Stop this silliness, already!

Power of Branding

For those who doubt the power of branding, here is a story that shows how a brand name built over years can be a powerful tool in marketing.

All of us know about how Bell Labs was disbanded into ATT the long distance company, and smaller regional Bells doing local business. ATT did very well in the age when hard hard-wired long distance service was the king. However, newer internet technologies which make IP telephony possible resulted in ATT losing market share and eventually deciding that it couldn't survive on its own.

In 2004 ATT sells its wireless business to Cingular, a wireless entity formed by a partnership between SBC Commnications and BellSouth. Cingular decides to keep its name and converts customers over to Cingular brand name.

Fast forward, ATT continues to go down and decides that short of a merger survival would be difficult. So, ATT decides to merge with Bell South, one of the original Baby Bells (in a reverse merger), and new entity decides to take on the A…

Starbucks Response To Oxfam's Challenge

Illig writes about Starbucks response to the U-tube posting of Oxfam Charities video about how Starbucks is mistreating the Ethiopian farmers. The response from Starbucks has been equally "grass-rootsy", and bold. Starbucks is now a large corporation, and large corporations tend to be hidebound to change. Internal policies and procedures tend to so skew the response to conservatism and procedure driven that its almost impossible to quickly mount a response to a challenge, lets it be seen as being too aggressive.

However in this instance, Starbucks seems to have done exactly opposite demonstrating that Starbucks hasn't forgotten where it got its start - as a scrappy young brand that did not hesitate to put its position in the market place.

Newer technologies like blogs and U-tube are marketing opportunities, and the companies that rapidly adopt these technologies are going to create a significant marketing opportunity for themselves.

Problem of Font Rendering in Web Browsers

This comes courtsey Clagnut, and Jeffrey Zeldman. Zeldman describes the problem, and clagnut has analyzed it further to show the differences, with some screen shots.

While this situation with font rendering in web-browsers is truly annoying, even more annoying is the fact that fonts you want to use in your website may not be available on the computer. Both the rendering problem, and lack of fonts makes it impossible to create a website that looks the same in all browsers. There will always be different font formats, different browsers, and different operating systems. Whats more, there is no way to control which fonts the reader/viewer will have installed on their computer.

What is needed is a simple way to code information so that the browser renders the font in the exact same way whether the viewer has that particular font or not. Until a simple answer can be found, we will always be scrounging for ways to make the common fonts, verdana, helvetica, arial, times new roman etc. …