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MAP (Minimum Advertised Pricing) Misguiding's

Posted on September 7, 2010 by Jeff

In my most recent blog, Internet Retail and MAP (Minimum Advertised Pricing), I concluded my post with a simple statement of experience, “If anything, the aggressiveness of MAP policies has heightened.”  I thought I might note a few of the most recently communicated MAP requirements. Not only are these mutually exclusive and/or misguided attempts to improve individual brand positioning, but more importantly they create a poor customer experience. The very thing MAP policies are traditionally communicated to improve.

  • Homepage Logo – While it makes for a positive speaking point, every brand image can’t be on the homepage. For one, a cluttered homepage is unprofessional, and in actuality the homepage has little real relevance to most customers.  The retailer’s goal is to land the inbound customer on a page much more relevant to their search.  This request generally comes from a traditional understanding of showroom brand positioning.  With limited retail shelf space there is an innate value to insuring a given brand is represented up front.  This is, of course, not the case online.  Most customers don’t enter through the “front door”, or homepage, as the entry point, search terms, refinements, and navigation are much more critical.  For examples, look to e-commerce leaders like Amazon and Zappos who do not present logos on their homepage.
  • Product List and Search Manipulation – Again, everyone can’t be on the first page of search or navigation based product results.  While merchandising is a key component of a successful retailer strategy, there is also significant importance given to the purity of search results.  For long term success it is critical that a retailer maintain focus on showing customers the most relevant results as they search and navigate, rather than artificially favoring any one brand or product.  Google has set the standard in terms of purity of search, and their organic search results cannot easily be manipulated by paying.  That concept needs to translate to search within the retailer’s property as well.
  • Customer Service Days and Hours – In the same way a manufacturer would not burden themselves with managing a showroom’s business details, it makes little sense to involve themselves in the management of the same for an internet retailer.  At the heart of the issue is customer service.  Thankfully, in the online arena, there are several 3rd party means of measurement.  Those include services like BizRate, LivePerson Rating, and the BBB.  A Quality Internet Retailer will subject themselves to these rating services.
  • Compliance With a MAPP That Is Not Effectively Policed – When a MAPP is not effectively implemented or consistently policed over time, the brand, as well as its Quality Internet Retailers, takes the hit.  For the brand, the market becomes cluttered with poor quality, fly-by-night sites and listings that degrade their reputation with the customer.  For the retailer, the inability to compete makes investing in the brand a tough proposition.  Ultimately, in this scenario, only the poor retailer benefits, and only in the short run.   Allowing the Quality Internet Retailers to compete is likely the best way to drown out the noise and bring the brand position back to the level of quality expected.

 

 

Internet Retail and MAP (Minimum Advertised Pricing)

Posted on July 15, 2010 by Jeff

It seems more and more of my day is spent responding to manufacturer “Minimum Advertised Pricing” policies. Spend any time in retail and you’ve likely had one impact your day whether you were aware of it or not. A clear definition is a bit difficult to come by but I did find buried in Wikipedia’s Suggested Retail Price article a good synopsis:

Minimum advertised price or MAP (also known as resale price maintenance, or RPM) is the practice of restricting pricing at the consumer level. Price fixing agreements are illegal in many countries when members and terms in the agreement match predefined legal criteria.

Fixed pricing established between a distributor and seller or between two or more sellers may violate antitrust laws in the United States.

In Leegin Creative Leather Prods., Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., 127 S. Ct. 2705 (2007), the Supreme Court considered whether federal antitrust law established per se ban on minimum resale price agreements and, instead, allow resale price maintenance agreements to be judged by the rule of reason, the usual standard applied to determine if there is a violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act. In holding that vertical price restraints should be judged by the rule of reason, the Court overruled Dr. Miles Medical Co. v. John D. Park & Sons Co., 220 U.S. 373 (1911).
Because the rule of reason applies, minimum RPM agreements may still be unlawful. In fact, in Leegin, the Court identified at least two ways in which a purely vertical minimum RPM agreement might be illegal. First, “[a] dominant retailer ... might request resale price maintenance to forestall innovation in distribution that decreases costs. A manufacturer might consider it has little choice but to accommodate the retailer's demands for vertical price restraints if the manufacturer believes it needs access to the retailer's distribution network." Second, “[a] manufacturer with market power ... might use resale price maintenance to give retailers an incentive not to sell the products of smaller rivals or new entrants.”

In both of these examples, an economically powerful firm uses minimum the RPM agreement to exclude or raise entry barriers for its competition.

In addition, federal law is not the only source of antitrust claims as almost all of the states have their own antitrust laws. Leegin dealt only with a claim arising under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

You might be saying to yourself, good synopsis? Trust me that’s exactly the same thing I’ve been saying to myself and no matter how much I read, I’ve gained little clarity. In short what I’ve got from “vertical price restraints should be judged by the rule of reason” is that every one of these policies mailed to me unexpectedly, from manufacturers I may or may not have any direct relationship with, must be deciphered and navigated uniquely. Some kind of string like this generally follows in exasperation. The very little guys the manufacturers are “intending” to protect from the big box by creating a level playing field are suffering under the weight.

At first glance I’d hoped I’d found an advocate in Monica Steinisch’s article, Savvy Shoppers Know “Minimum Advertised Price” Isn’t Always the Bottom Line. The key to my frustration can be found in her second opening paragraph, “A manufacturer-imposed policy called "minimum advertised pricing" (MAP) can tie retailers' hands when it comes to promoting lower prices on some products.” However, Steinisch goes on to champion the benefits of MAP for the manufacturers and retailers, “By imposing a minimum advertised price, manufacturers help the little guys compete.” Her primary example is that of the local shop’s ability to make the margin necessary to provide that one-on-one customer experience while maintaining their ability to cover the higher overhead of a store front. Wait, the little guys buy with higher multipliers than the big box and both have the overhead of a store front, so how did the little guy come out ahead? The comparison I believe she was attempting to make is that of the little guy (Brick-and-Mortar) vs. internet sellers (No Brick-and-Mortar) which she moves on to talk about (an incredible oversimplification of internet sellers).  I wonder if she’s ever paid a Google AdWords campaign.

I find the experience to be more that MAP enforces the status quo.  The manufacturer lazily retains an inflated price (more traditionally managed by manufacturer production levels), the big box continues to be the big box (following MAP if the manufacturer successfully implements the policy, not if they don’t). What manufacturer isn’t going to feed the big box? And the little guy continues to work on smaller margins, all at the customer’s expense.

Steinisch does go on to provide some excellent consumer recommendations for finding that bargain despite MAP. So why am I commenting on an article published in 2005, because nothing has changed! If anything the aggressiveness of MAP policies has heightened.

 

 

How to Decipher Your UPS Bill

Posted on May 11, 2010 by Jeff

It doesn’t matter what phone you’re carrying, smart or not, at the end of the month we all endure the madness of deciphering a three to ten page cell phone bill (+/-). I mean really what is a Federal Excise Tax? CNET and others have actually gone so far as to write guides, “How to read your cell phone bill”.

Take that same madness and multiply it by 400 to 500 pages and you have an average Gordian Project weekly UPS bill. That’s right, multiply that for a month and we’re comparing a couple thousand pages to our three to ten page cell phone bill example.  UPS provides the following sample invoice. The “summary of charges” is simply defined as being broken out by billing option, adjustments, and other charges. It’s those adjustments and “other” charges you want to look out for. In fairness a glossary of detailed terms is also provided. However, sifting through all those pages to identify the charges, calculating the individual dollars associated to them, and then watching for trends week to week is all but a full time job.

UPS Sample Invoice

If you’re experiencing similar frustration or just interested in better understanding what you’re cutting a check for I would recommend enrolling in UPS Billing Data. Along with your physical or PDF invoice, UPS provides the raw data in CSV, XML, or EDI format.  That raw data (CSV only) can then be used in conjunction with the UPS Billing Analysis Tool to, “create customized reports, organize your billing data from multiple accounts into a single data file, and integrate the information into your company's business systems.” The tool is helpful but limited.

To simplify the review of data I built an excel file to calculate the dollars, quantity, and average weight of each of the 97 billing options, adjustments, and other charges. Now, by simply dropping the weekly UPS Billing Data (CSV only) into the “Data” worksheet and selecting the weeks to be compared in the “Summary” worksheet the file sifts through all those thousands of pages of billing data, identifies the charges, calculates the dollars associated to them, and provides a high level view of the weekly trends. Long story short you know what you’re writing a check for.  

 

Engagement with the Local Community

Posted on February 23, 2010 by Jeff

My wife loves to watch the great American dream play itself out in arenas such as American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, and the like; anything that pulls at the heart strings of underdog to star. I’ve often wondered what that final night might feel like, "contestants" widdled down to the final two just before the card is read and ticker tape falls.

As a follow up to Networking Takes Many Forms Gordian Project enjoyed perhaps a taste of that sweet reward. Last Tuesday night amidst Riverside City Council’s weekly council meeting, Gordian Project was recognized as an economic success story for the universe. Ok maybe not the universe but definitely within our zip code.  Regardless, it's exciting to see community representatives championing our brands.

I grabbed some of the slides from the presentation that was accompanied by Councilmen Rusty Bailey’s comments on Gordian Project’s success story, it could be compared to something a bit like Cat Deeley’s, “Let’s take a look at your journey.”

ordian Project Success Story Slide 1

The Councilmen started the presentation by introducing our company and our internet retail websites, PlumberSurplus.com and OutdoorPros.com.

 

 

Gordian Project Success Story Slide 3

He spoke about some of our core competencies and how we have been able to keep technologically minded people local, something Techies felt they previously had to head to the Silicon Valley for.

 

PlumberSurplus.com Success Story Slide

The presentation allowed time to explain how PlumberSurplus.com doesn’t just sell plumbing products and doesn’t sell surplus inventory.

 

OutdoorPros.com Success Story Slide

He also told the group about our growth, the opening of OutdoorPros.com and discussed some of our future plans.

 

My wife and daughter would watch from home on the local public station, it’s just that this time I would be the star they would be rooting for.

 

 

How to Really Know When and Where to Hire Next

Posted on February 12, 2010 by Jeff

Identifying the “Knobs & Levers” that drive your company’s profitability is only the first step in a successful business. The second, and perhaps more difficult, is fine tuning those knobs & levers for a desired result. One such knob or maybe it’s a lever, is salaries and wages as a percentage of gross sales.

Focusing on balancing salaries and wages as a percentage of gross sales generally starts with the question, “When the heck are we going to hire someone to support our growth?” A few thoughts…

Explore all Available Avenues

While piles scattered about your desk, burning the candle at both ends for days, weeks, months, maybe even years and skipping one or more meals a day all potentially point to hiring reinforcements, these are not sole indicators hiring will be the silver bullet. Redistributing responsibilities (we like to call these buckets) can provide the efficiencies necessary to effectively manage the do-to list. You may just find a current employee stepping up to not only take on the additional responsibility but thrive on the opportunity to shine. Technologies within your current infrastructure may be able to offer more than you are aware of.  I’m not the expert on this one, I simply keep adding to the “request” list and IT finds a viable solution when available. With that said it’s amazing what the techies around here can accomplish when they put their heads together and look for alternatives that positively affect the bottom line.

Paint the Picture and Back it Up

Do properly identify a focused picture of what you’re experiencing, providing hard data that brings clarity to you or your departments needs. Let’s say you’re experiencing an elevation in outstanding returns (meaning your warehouse is backlogged on the returns it is receiving and needing to inspect and process).

Paint the picture…

New returns come in as one of two things, cancellation requests or RMA (return merchandise authorization) requests. Our Returns Team reviews the request, plans a course of action, and moves the issue to the appropriate bucket. For simplicity, cancellation requests generally move on to the reorder or refund tabs to be closed while all RMA requests require the attention of the Warehouse Team. The Warehouse Team is responsible for creating call tags (Call Tags tab) to get the product back and subsequently all product inspections (Inspections tab). The tabs are named and uniquely identified in our administration system where the processing takes place. Once an inspection has been performed the return is either approved as is or adjusted accordingly; moving the return on to the Pending tab awaiting a supplier RGA, Damage Claims tab initiating a carrier damage claim, or to the Reorder or Refund tabs to be closed.   As you can see quite a few different scenarios can take place, but it’s a system that’s been pretty well refined over the years.

Provide the data…

RMA Metrics for New Hire

The simple snap shot shown above, while not indicitive of any real data will work for the purposes of what we are trying to accomplish for this post.  The chart provides the number of “transactions” open at the end of each day over a two week period by bucket. The work flow moving from left to right for each bucket has an identified outstanding target in red and subsequently highlighted anything greater than that target on any given day that it was not met.

In our example, with the exception of a single day the Returns Team is processing new cancellation and RMA requests within the target; driving the numbers down as they work through the week preparing for the weekend increases. A single instance can likely be attributed to a known issue or decision. The first Warehouse Team bucket (Call Tags) although significant is being met. This is an important step in the returns process as it sparks the products physical return. The first hint of bottle neck is at inspection, this is a time consuming, detailed, physically and mentally challenging step that sets the tone for the customer’s return experience. Although once the inspection has been completed the Warehouse Team technically moves the return back to the Returns Team via the Pending, Damage Claims, Reorder, or Refunds tabs, they’re not out of the spot light.  Once a supplier provides the required RGA from the Pending tab the Warehouse Team is responsible for shipping the RGA back to the supplier. Likewise, the Warehouse Team is physically involved in the damage claim if for nothing else than disposing of the damage once completed by the carrier. Finally, even a reorder has the potential to impact our Warehouse Team. That reminds me, they’re also responsible for inventory and order shipment including: domestic, LTL (light truck load), and international shipments. If you’ve ever shipped LTL or internationally you know you don’t just slap a label on it there’s a lot more that goes into it than just boxing up a product.

Analyze the Data

In this example if we’d looked simply at the Returns Team’s elevated outstanding returns we might have identified the need as an additional Returns Team member. With a more focused look at what’s being experienced throughout the returns process it becomes clear the Warehouse Team is struggling to support the volume moving through the numerous buckets they impact in the process. Assess and insure that the Warehouse Team is working as efficiently as possible taking into account their inventory, shipping, and returns responsibilities before moving on. Review available technologies for assisting those responsibilities. Pay attention to your bottom line, does the cost benefit impact to your knobs & levers more significantly impact the cost benefit of considering additional Warehouse Team support?

Connect the Need to the Big Picture

For our example:

  • Overwhelming responsibilities may be heading your Warehouse Team to an elevated turnover rate. This only accelerates the issues currently being experienced in the returns process.
  • Hiring warehouse support may also free additional time up from your Returns Team. The Returns Team may be working outside their responsibilities to help the Warehouse Team in an effort to meet their own targets. This inadvertently leads to inefficiencies in their own respective fields. Unaddressed, the same elevated turnover rate could result.
  • Never forget the desired result of any returns process is a quality customer experience. Consider how you’re impacting the initiatives of the Customer Service department.
  • As part of the inspection process (our examples bottle neck), the warehouse team works closely with the Data Team to identify discrepancies in data quality.
  • Every effort is given to make inventory accessible to the Marketing Team’s initiatives to capture high quality images.
  • Product that’s made its way through the returns process identified as unsellable is managed as salvage for philanthropic opportunities.

If you’re already sleeping at the office it can be difficult to slow down enough to move beyond the emotional desire for more support. Keep your eye on the prize; paint an accurate picture supported by data, coupled with connecting the need to the larger picture. It’s like asking, “When the heck are we going to hire someone to support our growth” but with an interest in affecting the salaries and wages knob or lever for a desired result.  Oh yeah, and in the end… turning a profit.

 

Networking Takes Many Forms

Posted on January 5, 2010 by Jeff

You just never know how or when, or in what capacity you may strike up a relationship that positively impacts your business.

I purchased a home in the not so distant past and subsequently found myself tied up in Code Enforcement red tape.  Code Enforcement responds to concerns, complaints, and nuisances within a city to make sure that properties are in compliance with city codes.  These complaints are often associated to issues that can impact the quality of life in a city such as zoning, maintenance of structures, inoperative vehicles, overgrown yards, and illegal signs.  Receiving a violation from Code Enforcement can be costly and time consuming regardless of the reasoning behind the violation or where the fault lies.  One thing I do know is that finding your family’s financial well being placed in the hands of bureaucracy places an emotional strain on the soul that I can’t put into words.  I responded in a way I’d never before, kicking off a letter to every bit of political representation I could think of.

Despite not expecting a single response I somehow felt better and was reinvigorated to continue the good fight. Interestingly enough I did receive a response from Council Member Rusty Bailey and although I’m confident no strings were pulled, I appreciated the handful of phone conversations that were had by the Councilmen and myself throughout the process. Ultimately, our (my family) plight was brought to resolution with the closing of our “file” and fines returned. I believe Councilmen Bailey summarized the situation best when he explained, “cooler heads prevailed.”

Having mentioned along the way my involvement with Gordian Project I had the honor of introducing Councilmen Bailey to Gordian Project Managing Partners Timothy Jackson and Brian Chelette over lunch.  A casual meeting for sure, sharing the life of Gordian Project along with hearing Councilmen Bailey’s heart for Riverside.  My thanks to the Councilman for the time and opportunity to continue in that relationship as I, we, Gordian Project seeks to partner with that heart.

Councilmen Bailey’s email signature concludes with, “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try." (Author unknown)  I believe I’ve accomplished navigating Code Enforcement’s red tape successfully but perhaps more importantly struck a relationship that can assist in Gordian Project’s desire to philanthropically impact "Riverside".

For those that are curious about my big code violation, here are a few pictures:

Jeff's Yard at the start of the project

 

Jeff's yard being worked on

 

Jeff's yard with new walkway

 

Jeff's yard with new grass and walkway

 

 

Smart or Not Attention is Needed Aside from Smartphone’s

Posted on December 1, 2009 by Jeff

My assumption is this, “If I’ve requested your presence in a meeting or you mine, attention is expected.”

This comes from a deep respect for individual’s time, yet I find myself more and more frequently competing with smart phone distractions. In an effort to not burn bridges internally or with those I’ve met with I’ll refrain from ranting and simply point out Alex Williams’ New York Times front page article, Mind Your BlackBerry or Mind Your Manners.

I found Williams’ article on the developing etiquette of smart phone use in a business environment frustratingly balanced. I was looking for more arguments that stated cases like that of Tom Golisano and Malcolm A. Smith. “Tom Golisano, a billionaire and power broker in New York State politics, said last week that he pushed to remove Malcolm A. Smith as the State Senate majority leader after the senator met with him on budget matters in April and spent the time reading e-mail on his BlackBerry.”

In reading, I continued to be baffled by the statements made by the pro-smartphone side, “Despite resistance, the etiquette debate seems to be tilting in the favor of smartphone use, many executives said. Managing directors do it. Summer associates do it. It spans gender and generation, private and public sectors.”  My first response was simply WHAT?  If everyone was jumping off a bridge would you jump?  With that said, I have to agree with David Brotherton that business can be won or lost depending on the responsiveness of the organization. Admittedly, I’ve placed my “Colt revolver” on the boardroom table for this very reason.

The crux seams to hinge on a word long ago lost, etiquette.  My grandmother would have turned to the 786 pages of Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette for answers. Although I’m almost certain Amy (July 22, 1908 - December 27, 1974) didn’t directly cover smartphone usage, her opening sentence may shed some light; “Certain formal occasions in our lives remain rooted in tradition.” Traditionally, looking someone in the eyes communicates our attention, insures our understanding and conveys our interest; difficult to do looking down at a phone, smart or otherwise.

When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Process vs. Results: Finding the Compromise

Posted on November 18, 2009 by Jeff

With an understanding of Gordian Project’s required results, as a manager, I’ve spent countless hours process mapping the “buckets” of responsibilities related to supply chain. Buckets such as new business, fulfillment, and returns. These buckets can then be further broken down;

  •  New Business into new suppliers, new brands, and new products
  •  Fulfillment into supplier performance and carriers
  •  Returns into RMA Team and Warehouse Team

Follow this to its natural conclusion and you’ve created not only job descriptions but detailed processes in which to successfully fulfill those descriptions.  But it’s not full proof, at least not when it comes to the results.

We recently received a past due notice from UPS Supply Chain Solutions as a result of A Series of Unfortunate Events (I love this movie). The details of which are not important for our purposes here, what is important is where this series of unfortunate events began. PlumberSurplus.com and OutdoorPros.com both ship internationally via UPS Supply Chain Solutions which performs the export, export in this case being shipments from the United States to Canada. A process was “perfected” for creating shipments using UPS.com and was followed successfully for more than a year.  My first response was then to immediately assume UPS had made an obvious clerical error and by clerical error I mean point the finger. With a bit of digging it became clear that an update to UPS.com resulted in our “perfected” process inadvertently charging import fees to ourselves as the shipper rather than to the receiver.

All eyes turned to the warehouse team. Given that the process was followed to the tee, and UPS.com had clearly been updated I still had to ask, “why hadn’t the error been caught?” To the warehouse team’s credit, and you know who you are, I didn’t get the expected, “That's not my job.” A spirit of complete responsibility was evident, but was it solely their responsibility?

In answering this question a statement in Rick Darci’s article, When 'It's not my job' isn't the answer, hit me square between the eyes; “Descriptions (Read processes) are task-focused. They do not describe how the role fits into or contributes to the success of the entire organization. The incumbent can operate in a vacuum without concern for what is happening around him - how she affects customers, co-workers or the organization.” The results originally desired of profitably and successfully shipping internationally aren’t accurately communicated, nor can they be insured, in processes. Let’s just say I’ll be communicating with a new sense of fervor the importance of big picture results, balanced with providing processes; sorry warehouse team.

Do your employees know what they’re ultimately trying to accomplish?

 

Inventory Obsolescence Process Management

Posted on October 20, 2009 by Jeff

As a follow up to Arianna’s blog highlighting the costs associated to inventory obsolescence, I’d like to provide a couple considerations for tackling this costly issue.   Arianna addresses the importance of first recognizing this as a problem, especially if all you’re doing is cleaning house, when you can no longer move around in your warehouse; then you’re not managing obsolescence.

Define what you consider obsolete inventory.  Here are some examples of what to look for when developing your definition of inventory obsolescence:

  • A Product not directly supporting your company’s current and future branding, resulting in consumer demand turning less than “X” times in “Y” period of time. This can be a result of shifted marketing focus and resources, when the company shifts efforts other departments do as well.
  • Customer demand turning less than “X” times in “Y” period of time despite focused marketing efforts.
  • Seasonal product.
  • Product directly or indirectly tied to changing technologies. Today’s must have camera is tomorrow’s hand-me-down.
  • Inventory recording errors.
  • Abandoned inventory resulting from policy changes.

Now that you have your definition of obsolete inventory, identify inventory that meets your definition of obsolete inventory:

  • Perform a complete inventory.
  • Identify each line item meeting your definition.
  • Identify each line item by criteria met.
  • Summarize each criterion’s total number of occurrences and associated product cost.
  • Summarize the total number of occurrences and associated product cost to provide a clear scope of cost.

With inventory defined and identified, action steps can now be taken:

  • Prioritize based on “occurrences” from a procedural perspective or “product cost” from a liquidation/cash perspective. If resources permit, both can be tackled simultaneously.
  • Establish well defined performance metrics to identify and address “ageing” inventory proactively based on procedural perspectives and/or a liquidation/cash perspective rather than when you can no longer move in the warehouse.
  • Liquidate obsolete inventory even with a product cost loss.
  • Identify processes that end in inventory recording errors like receipts of goods, bin moves, and manual entry errors. Recommendations can then be made for process improvements.
  • Review policies like: vendor performance and terms, customer cancellations and returns, and pricing.

Finally, to insure long term success, clearly identify the person/team responsible for your company’s inventory obsolescence management along with establishing an ongoing review process. With time you can expect ongoing process improvements such as improved inventory accuracy, reduced operating expenses, improved cash flow, and improved return on your investment.

 

Microsoft Blows Ad Campaign by Swapping Heads

Posted on August 26, 2009 by Jeff

“They're (Microsoft) not racists at heart - they're just being racist as it makes good business sense. They're business racists.” – Joe McCann 2009

We’ve all submitted projects that weren’t exactly our best effort.  Yes, even you.  Once your initial response of  “not me, that's not something I would ever do", wears off, go ahead and raise your hand.  Join the rest of us that have, at times, continued the time honored tradition of cramming the night before a deadline.  This tradition I’m referencing inevitably leads to mistakes, errors or at least the quality one could have delivered.   Seems someone(s) at Microsoft may have been practicing this tradition prior to releasing a recent ad campaign.  I’m not saying this is what happened here, but at least it would be some sort of excuse. The specifics are detailed by Bobbie Johnson in his article, Microsoft apologises over race-swap gaffe.

 
 
Original Advertisement

 

The original version of a photo Microsoft later doctored for Polish users

 

 

Photoshop Version of Advertisement

 

Microsoft's doctored advert was shown to users in Poland

 

 

I've noted what I believe to be the painfully obvious, but somewhere along the lines Microsoft didn't seem to pick up on the following:

    • The evident; don’t swap one head for another regardless of race. That’s akin to the adult entertainment industry.

 

    • If you’re going to “touch up” skin color, make sure you address the face to hand skin tones.

 

    • When you work for a company as recognizable as Microsoft, try not to use an image that includes your top competitors’ more recognizable laptop.

 

In an effort to tie this to some kind of applicable business observation, I find myself circling back to much of Gordian Project’s current internal dialogue. Long story short, no matter where you find yourself in the company, what you do every day impacts not only the opportunity you have with the company, but the company’s ability to provide you opportunity. 

I’m interested in what you find most baffling about this Photoshop disaster…