business news in context, analysis with attitude

I got a great email earlier this week from MNB user Scott Paulsen, who forwarded us an article written about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the “brand loyalty” that the team inspires in good years and bad. He wrote:

Why do Steeler fans live and die with their team? I think that it is an interesting study that carries many parallels to operating a successful business. It begins with ownership. Look at how the Rooney family has run the franchise since it began back in the thirties. Consider that they have had TWO head coaches since 1969. It is about treating employees fairly and consistently. After Hines Ward ended a lengthy holdout and signed a long term contract this past summer, Hines actually said that he got more than he expected from the Steelers. Management replied that they were thrilled that Hines would remain a Steeler for the rest of his career. It is about serving your customers with distinction: Four Super Bowl trophies. And integrity: How many times do you recall a Steeler being in the headlines for breaking the law?

It is an excellent point. I go to a lot of conferences and listen to presentations and discussions about so-called “hot topics” such as category management or loyalty marketing or efficient consumer response. But so often, these seem to be topics that are driven not so much by what the customer wants and needs, but what some consultant deemed to be saleable. That’s not to condemn all consultants, nor all industry initiatives.

But the problem is that basic common sense sometimes ends up taking a back seat.

I was heartened by this week’s presentation at the FMI Midwinter meetings about defining and identifying great store managers, and getting them to take ownership of their stores, their employees and their customers. But one MNB user made an excellent point – that this was precisely what a lot of store managers did until they began to suffer the bureaucratic demands of companies that understood spread sheets better than they did shoppers. And it will be a major undertaking to try and reverse this cultural shift.

Anything’s possible, though. After all, how many people thought that the Steelers would go to the Super Bowl this year?

By the way, at the risk of alienating a percentage of the MNB community, I must admit that I will be rooting for the Seattle Seahawks next weekend – the Pacific Northwest being my favorite part of the country.

But I have to admit that it will take a major miracle for the Seahawks to beat the Steelers…who simply seem like they are on a mission and will not be denied.

When I hear the initials “CW,” I generally think of the words “conventional wisdom.”

Which is why it was surprising to see this week that when two mediocre television networks – the WB and UPN – decided to merge, they chose to call the new entity “CW.”

If they really want to be competitive, can they afford to be conventional, or have anyone else think that they are conventional? I think not.

Then again, maybe it is just truth in advertising.

I like to watch old movies, especially to catch up on classics that I may not have seen. This week, I watched “Laura” (1944), the old Otto Preminger movie about the murder of a woman and the detective who becomes obsessed with her even while investigating her death. “Laura” is usually held in high esteem…but I found it utterly boring, mostly because of the lethargic performance of Dana Andrews as the detective. Gene Tierney was fine as the title character, as was Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker, a snobbish radio commentator with an unrequited love all his own. But the movie was a major disappointment, and left me wondering why it has garnered such acclaim over the years.

It hasn’t improved with age, by the way, but I’m still going to miss “The West Wing” when it goes off the air.

Next time you’re in Scottsdale, Arizona, make your way to a restaurant called Cowboy Ciao! for the Stetson Chopped Salad (one of the best I’ve ever tasted) – the menu lists it as being “smoked salmon, arugula, bruschetta tomatoes, sweet dried corn, pearl cous cous, Ciao trail mix (asiago cheese, black currants, pepitas) tossed at the table with pesto buttermilk dressing. Yumm…. I also had the beet-and-scallop risotto, served with dill cream sauce and goat cheese, despite the fact that I hate beets and haven’t had them in four decades – and go figure, I liked it. And I shared a couple of smaller plates that were unbelievably good – a Chicken Pot Pie Quesadilla (which is exactly what it sounds like) and a Blue Corn Elk Tostada, which consists of molasses-marinated cornmeal-dusted elk loin, white bean hummus and roasted corn salsa.

Washed it down with a wonderful beer I’d never had before - a smoky and satisfying Kilt Lifter Scottish-Style Ale from the local Four Peaks Brewing Company. (I wasn’t wearing a kilt, so I can’t report on whether or not it works.)

As always, don’t tell Mrs. Content Guy. She thinks I’m working.

As I write this I am about a third of the way through this portion of what I’m beginning to think of as the “Don’t Fight Fire With Fire” 2006 Tour – three weeks, two continents, six cities, four speeches, no groupies. (Maybe I need to get t-shirts made up…)

This weekend I’ll be visiting the vineyards of Temecula, California…and plan to report back next week. Then, it is on to San Diego for FMI’s Marketechnics, and then Paris, France, for the CIES Food Safety Conference.

All reasons that I never, ever complain about my life.

Have a good weekend…I’ll see you Monday.


KC's View: