Why Nike and Colin Kaepernick Just Changed the Game for Marketing in the Age of Trump

Many expected that the appearance of Colin Kaepernick in Nike ads could bring sales down and turn the brand’s slogan from “Just Do It” to “Really Did It This Time.” But a new report that came out today suggests the sportswear company had a big boost, with online sales up 31 percent between the Sunday of Labor Day weekend to Tuesday. That compares to last year’s 17 percent for the same period, according to Edison Trends.

Yup, really did it, and it was a hit.

The Kaepernick-led new Nike campaign has shown that the old rule-of-thumb — Just Don’t Do It — is, for at least the time being, dead as bygone advice to assume all women were housewives. You can’t ignore politics anymore, so it’s time to learn to live with it.

But you have to accept that while you could improve acceptance from one part of your customer base, the haters might also come out. Nike saw people create social media posts featuring pictures them cutting up and setting fire to swoosh-logoed products.

Avoiding sides is no longer a viable strategy with many consumers, whether acting in their personal or professional capacities. In the face of rampant tribalism, current and potential customers want to know if you’re with them or against them.

In Nike’s case, the company did face pushback, but the amount of positive attention it gained — even if there were grounds to be suspicious that the brand wanted to deflect current criticism of its culture and factory working conditions — clearly more than made up for it.

Compare that to the New Yorker’s recent initial plan, quickly ditched after a Twitter-mob outrage flood included event participates who begin dropping out, to invite Steve Bannon for an on-stage interview at a festival. The reversal, scheduled so quickly that the magazine probably set a new land speed record, mollified critics but showed the brand to be weak.

Sometimes there is a backlash that ultimately doesn’t matter. The Chick-fil-A boycott was largely a failure. However, a different boycott, this time of the Laura Ingraham show, drove many advertisers from the show, although the effects seemed short lasting, at least for Fox News. Companies shifted their spending to other time slots.

Striving for a Swiss-like neutrality might have worked before social media made mass protests easier to orchestrate and conduct. Now you’re faced with a difficult and merciless media cycle:

  1. People online disenchanted with your brand begin mounting social media protests.
  2. Media outlets notice and decide to write about the phenomenon.
  3. Journalists frequently ignore the positive things people say to focus on the negative, or simply the more outrageous and visually arresting.
  4. More people see the coverage and join in.
  5. Suddenly, you have managers or board members or investors asking what is going on and why you can’t make it stop.
  6. Anything you say at this point becomes perceived capitulation and you lose the PR game.

The only solution in the long run is to recognize that brand requires authenticity and integrity and ultimately you can’t be loved by everyone. Some topics for you, your brand, and your customers, are be ones that can’t be ignored. You may win some today and lose some tomorrow but be prepared to decide what it right for your company and values and be ready to stick with it.

The day may come when you can be comfortably apolitical again. But no telling when that might happen.

What Serena Williams Can Teach Us About Staying Focused

By now, I’m sure many of you have seen, heard or read about the epic U.S. Open Women’s Final between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. Many will remember the history-making win of Naomi Osaka, who became the first Japanese player to receive a Grand Slam title, but none of us will forget the heated battle between Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos. After receiving a code violation for coaching, a penalty point for racket abuse and a game penalty for calling the umpire a “liar” and a “thief,” Williams didn’t waiver in her determination to achieve justice for what she felt was unfair and sexist.

It was clear that Williams was rattled throughout the remainder of the competition, and many have discussed whether that aided in her loss to Osaka. We’ll never know, but Williams’ reaction got me thinking about how easy it is to get side-tracked when something doesn’t go the way we planned. When we’re faced with opposition on something we have worked tirelessly for whether it’s a presentation landing differently than expected or the report we put together didn’t resonate with our clients, it’s all too common to tap into our fight or flight modes and lose focus. And when we lose focus we forget our purpose and, ultimately, what we were working towards in the first place.

Below are four ways to remain engaged, energized and focused when we’re thrown a curve ball during a pivotal point in our days or careers:

Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings

Many times we try and distance ourselves from our feelings. We push those thoughts away or pretend we’re not really feeling anger or sadness. But doing that only intensifies those emotions and prevents us from moving forward. Rather than burying those feelings, try acknowledging their existence. Acknowledging those feelings doesn’t mean you agree with them, but it allows you to not resist their presence, which makes it easier to let go and stay focused on the current task. Serena did a good job of acknowledging her thoughts and feelings and then having the courage to express them.

Don’t let your emotions drive your behavior

Similar to acknowledging your thoughts and emotions, it’s important to try and not react directly from your emotions. Emotions can take you on a roller coaster, and it’s important to allow yourself to calm down, get into your rational mind and then ask yourself, “how is this going to affect me?” “What are the consequences?” “Will this affect me a year or two from now?” If you realize that yes, this will affect me, then try and remove yourself from the situation. Try seeing yourself as a representative of your company instead of a participant, for example. By adjusting your mindset, you’ll resist being a victim to your emotions so you can make better decisions going forward. This was probably Serena’s biggest mistake, although as a new mother myself I can empathize with her. Your emotions are as powerful as a big mac truck. If she reeled in her emotions and got into her rational mind, it would have allowed her to move on, get back in the game and address the violations afterwards in a more rational manner.

See the situation as an opportunity to learn

When push comes to shove though, no matter what situation you find yourself in, there is always something to learn. Failures and disappointments are often our greatest teachers. In fact, learning to manage yourself through failures is a key component of Grit, something Angela Duckworth has found to be essential for long-term success. We don’t know what’s going on with Serena now, but given her dedication to excellence, there is no doubt she is already starting to see this situation as something she can learn and grow from. Every failure is a gift in some way. 

Remember your purpose 

Remember the impact you want to have on your colleagues and clients. Staying focused on your why will keep you motivated to move forward, and you’ll be less likely to react in a negative way. This is another thing that Serena seemed to lose sight of that could have helped her. She allowed the decision of one umpire to pull her away from the big picture of her mission and dreams. This requires some mental maneuvering in the moment, but once you remember your purpose, you can prevent almost any complete derailment.

The Retail Industry Is Dead. Long Live the Retail Industry!

It’s long been conventional wisdom that the retail industry is dying. We’ve seen unprecedented store closings and bankruptcies at major chains such as Toys R US, Sears and Rite Aid and even successful chains are trimming locations. It seems that in a digital world, physical stores have become a thing of the past.

The truth is that the retail industry isn’t dying, but is going through some major shifts and needs to adapt to a world where the primary function of a physical store is not to drive transactions, but to service and support customers. To compete in this new marketplace, what’s needed is not so much to embrace new technology, but to reimagine the retail businesses.

Humans Serving Humans

It’s no secret that Amazon severely impacted superstore book retailers like Barnes & Noble and Borders. Borders filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and was liquidated later that same year. Barnes & Noble managed to survive, in part by reducing locations, focusing on college book stores and expanding into publishing, but is a shadow of its former self.

Small independent bookstores, however, are thriving. In fact, a study at Harvard Business School found that while the number of independent bookstores plummeted 43% between 1995 and 2000, during the heyday of Barnes & Noble and Borders, it soared by 35% between 2009 and 2015.

Part of the reason for this trend is that book sales data tends to be shallow. Even a successful book may only sell one or two copies per location per month. That makes it difficult for algorithms to predict demand effectively. An independent bookstore with an attentive staff, however, is much closer to its customers and can often make better judgments.

The Harvard study found that independent bookstores thrive through a formula of community, curation and convening. Because independent bookstores are embedded in their community’s fabric, they are well placed to curate titles that will appeal to their customers and convene events that strengthen those bonds, drive sales and increase their ability to curate.

Even in our over-automated age — or maybe because of it — there is great value to be unlocked from humans serving humans.

Falling Rents Mean New Opportunities

While the retail apocalypse is real, there is a silver lining — falling rents. When the retail industry was booming, landlords could not only charge top dollar, they were able to add strict conditions to leases, such as long lease terms. That made it hard for retailers to experiment with new locations and concepts.

For example, LEGO has been operating LEGOLand amusement parks for years, which serve the dual purpose of connecting with customers and leveraging its brand to earn incremental revenues. Yet now, with so many “anchor stores” at malls empty and landlords struggling to find tenants, it has been building smaller Discovery Centers to do much the same.

Melissa Gonzalez, CEO of The Lionesque Group and author of The Pop Up Paradigm, sees similar opportunities opening up for more traditional retailers. The shifting economics of commercial real estate have opened up possibilities for them to be more innovative and better hone their business models.

“What we’re seeing is that landlords are much more flexible and open to experimentation,” she told me. Many will take short-term leases, give better terms, invest in architecture to facilitate pop-up opportunities and even, in some cases, forego up-front rent for a brand that they think can add luster to the space.”

Offline Powering Online

Another salient aspect of the retail environment today is that traditionally digital retailers have begun to invest in physical locations. Over the last ten years, e-commerce has more than doubled its share of the retail market from just over 5% to 13% of total sales. That growth has meant that digitally native firms need to cater to more demanding mainstream customers.

Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods has gotten the most fanfare and sent shock waves through the retail industry. One aspect that is often overlooked, however, is the advantage that a large network of physical stores gives Amazon online. Each location can serve as a distribution point for its Amazon Fresh and Prime Now services.

Bonobos is an online retailer that got its start when Brian Spaly created a pair of pants designed to eliminate “khaki diaper butt” while at Stanford Business School. He eventually moved to New York City and shipped merchandise from his apartment. Before long, he increased his product line and business was booming.

Yet as the business grew, the company was increasingly getting requests from customers to try before they buy,” so it has opened a dozens of Guide Shops where customers can get fitted, receive advice from a stylist, and have their purchase shipped to them. The internet basically serves as its backroom.

Value Never Disappears, It Just Shifts Somewhere Else

We often hear that technology destroys jobs, but that’s not really true. It can automate tasks, disintermediate middle men and eliminate the need for certain industries and tasks. After all, no one drives stagecoaches or stokes coal on a railroad anymore. Yet value never really disappears, it just shifts somewhere else.

This is generally true, but especially important for the retail industry today. Traditionally, the function of a retail location was to drive transactions and the business was optimized to that task. Executives closely monitored metrics like “sales per square foot” and “average transaction size.” However, when a customer can make a purchase just about anytime and anywhere, those measures have become relatively meaningless.

Apple doesn’t care whether you make a purchase at one of its stores any more than Bonobos does. Their locations exist to provide the kind of human connection that you can’t easily get online. In our increasingly automated world, it is that connection that we crave. That’s why MIT professor Zeynep Ton has found that retailers who pay and treat their employees well often outperform their competitors financially.

Yet all too often, businesses get caught in an efficiency trap. When a new technology arises, whether it is artificial intelligence, the cloud or automated retail checkouts, they only see an opportunity to cut costs and widen margins. Yet soon competitors adopt the same technology and there is little, if any added benefit. Value has shifted away from those automated tasks.

The businesses that thrive over the long-term, however, not only see where value is shifting from but where value is shifting to and race to get there.

SEC halts trading in two cryptocurrency products, citing market 'confusion'

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Sunday it was immediately suspending trading in two investment products that track cryptocurrencies, citing confusion in the markets over whether the products are exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

FILE PHOTO – High-end graphic cards are installed in a cryptocurrency mining computer at a computer mall in Hong Kong, China January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

The SEC said in a statement that trading in Bitcoin Tracker One CXBTF.PQ CXBTF.PK and Ether Tracker One CETHF.PQ CETHF.PK would be halted in the United States until at least Sept. 20.

The products promise to track the price of the cryptocurrencies, less fees. They are both listed on a Nasdaq Inc (NDAQ.O) exchange in Stockholm, but trade “over the counter” in transactions that occur off exchanges within the United States.

“It appears … that there is a lack of current, consistent and accurate information,” the SEC said in a notice posted on its website. “Application materials submitted to enable the offer and sale of these financial products in the United States, as well as certain trading websites, characterize them as ‘Exchange Traded Funds.’”

The issuer of Bitcoin Tracker One and Ether Tracker One, XBT Provider AB SE0010296574.ST and its parent company, did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment. Nasdaq declined to comment.

The SEC has taken a strict stance against letting ETFs tracking bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies come to market.

But investment firms have been pushing other types of investments that attempt to make it as easy to trade cryptocurrencies as a regular stock.

Those products are sometimes called ETFs, but that term generally refers to a different and often more stringently regulated product. Some industry experts, including the largest ETF provider BlackRock Inc (BLK.N), have called for regulators to standardize the terms used to describe ETFs and other kinds of investment products.

Virtual currency, including bitcoin and ether, can be used to move money around the world quickly and with relative anonymity, without the need for a central authority, such as a bank or government. A fund holding the currency could attract more investors and push its price higher.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Peter Cooney and Will Dunham

‘You Can See Almost Everything.’ Antarctica Just Became the Best-Mapped Continent on Earth

Antarctica might not be the hottest tourist destination, but for anyone who does visit, scientists now have an incredibly high-resolution map of the white tundra. According to the scientists at Ohio State University and the University of Minnesota who created the imagery, Antarctica is now the best-mapped continent on Earth.

The Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA) was constructed using hundreds of thousands of satellite images taken between 2009 and 2017, Earther reports. A supercomputer assembled the massive amounts of data, including the elevation of the land over time, and created REMA, an immensely detailed topographical map, with a file size over 150 terabytes.

The new map has a resolution of 2 to 8 meters, compared to the usual 1,000 meters, says an Ohio State press release. According to The New York Times, the detail of this new map is the equivalent of being able to see down to a car, or smaller, when before you could only see the whole of Central Park. Scientists now know the elevation of every point of Antarctica, with an error margin of just a few feet.

“Up until now, we’ve had a better map of Mars than we’ve had of Antarctica,” said Ohio State University glaciologist Ian Howat, head of the REMA project, in a press release. “At this resolution, you can see almost everything. We can actually see variations in the snow in some places. We will be able to measure changes in the surface of the continent over time.”

The map will be a vital instrument for research projects, providing data on snow cover, the motion of ice, thinning glaciers, and river and volcano activity. Scientists will better be able to monitor the effects of climate change, and it’ll be easier for researchers to plan field expeditions.

Trump tells Apple to make products in U.S. to avoid China tariffs

(Reuters) – U.S. President Trump tweeted on Saturday that Apple Inc (AAPL.O) should make products inside the United States if it wants to avoid tariffs on Chinese imports.

FILE PHOTO: An attendee uses a new iPhone X during a presentation for the media in Beijing, China October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

The company told trade officials in a letter on Friday that the proposed tariffs would affect prices for a “wide range” of Apple products, including its Watch, but it did not mention the iPhone.

Trump, speaking on Friday aboard Air Force One, said the administration had tariffs planned for an additional $267 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Trump tweeted that “Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China – but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive. Make your products in the United States instead of China. Start building new plants now.”

Apple declined to comment.

The technology sector is among the biggest potential losers as tariffs would make imported computer parts more expensive. Apple’s AirPods headphones, some of its Beats headphones and its new HomePod smart speaker would also face levies.

“The burden of the proposed tariffs will fall much more heavily on the United States than on China,” Apple said in its letter.

Reporting by Christopher Bing; Editing by Richard Chang

The simple fix so your cloud costs don’t spin out of control

Gartner predicts that by 2020 organizations that lack cloud cost management processes will on average overspend by 40 percent on the public cloud. It’s like letting your home utility costs get way out of control because there is no monitoring of usage nor efforts to conserve: You’ve kept your AC at 65 degrees during the summer and at 75 degrees during the winter. Eventually the bills come due—and they are big ones.

Most people in IT consider cloud computing services to be almost free, so they do very little to deal with ongoing cloud cost management or usage monitoring. That is, until they get that $300,000 bill.

What’s changed since those first cloud deployments is that enterprises have gone from 5 percent of the workloads and databases running in the public cloud to about 30 percent by 2019. With the increased load on the public clouds comes increased usage billing, so it’s not unusual that enterprises get bills that are 30 to 40 percent higher than they expected or budgeted for.

There is an easy fix, and it’s called cloud cost management or cloud usage management. It comprises the processes, approaches, and tools that let you keep cost in check—and, most important, keep those costs predictable.

These are cloud cost governance tools to monitor usage and the associated costs. They do so by workload, by user, by department, or byany other way you want to slice it. These tools not only let you see who’s using what and when, and how much it costs, but do chargebacks and showbacks to make sure that the right budgets are funding the cloud usage.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this technology is that you can set predetermined limits. This includes setting usage parameters such as not provisioning the most expensive instances of storage all the time and making sure that budget restrictions are adhered to.

Ironically, even enterprises that are the most controlling when it comes to costs tend to think of cloud costs as something that’s unknown and so just accept whatever rolls in. No one knows what the bill will be, nor expects to.

Those days are over, and if you’re not engaged in cloud cost governance now, you need to be. Those big cloud bills won’t pay themselves.

Reports that Musk security clearance under review are inaccurate: U.S. Air Force

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Media reports that the U.S. Air Force is reviewing the security clearance of Elon Musk, the chief executive of automaker Tesla Inc are inaccurate, U.S. Air Force spokesperson Captain Hope Cronin said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla, arrives at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition II in Hawthorne, California, U.S., August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Musk has security clearance because another of his companies, SpaceX, provides satellite launch services to the U.S. government.

Earlier on Friday, Fox Business Network and CNBC reported that the Air Force was looking into Musk’s marijuana smoking and his security clearance after Musk was filmed smoking pot, drinking whiskey and wielding a sword on a live web show with comedian Joe Rogan.

Hours later the automaker said its accounting chief would leave after a one-month stint, the latest in a string of unusual behavior and executive departures that have stunned investors.

Shares of the electric carmaker closed trading at $263.24, down 6.3 percent for the day, with investors on edge after a tumultuous August during which Musk proposed and then abruptly pulled the plug on a go-private deal.

Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

British Airways website suffers data breach; 380,000 payments affected

(Reuters) – Financial data has been stolen from potentially hundreds of thousands of British Airways customers who made online bookings in recent weeks, extending a run of embarrassing technological mishaps suffered by the UK flag carrier.

British Airways aircraft are seen at Heathrow Airport in west London, Britain, February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

The thefts occurred during a data breach that affected bookings made on the airline’s website between Aug. 21 and Sept. 5, parent International Airlines Group (ICAG.L) said on Thursday.

Around 380,000 card payments were “compromised”, it said.

In May 2017, the carrier suffered a massive computer system failure caused by a power supply issue near London’s Heathrow, which stranded 75,000 customers at Europe’s busiest airport over a holiday weekend.

Its chief executive said at the time it would take steps to ensure such an incident never happened again, but in July it was forced to cancel and delay flights out of the same airport due to problems with a supplier’s IT systems.

IAG said the data breach had been resolved and the website was working normally, and that no travel or passport details were stolen.

It was communicating with affected customers but advised any others who believed they might have been affected to contact their banks or credit card providers.

The airline had launched an investigation and notified police and other relevant authorities.

Reporting by Sangameswaran S and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by John Stonestreet

Broadcom quarterly profit beats on data center demand

(Reuters) – Broadcom Inc (AVGO.O) reported third-quarter profit above analysts’ estimates and the chipmaker forecast current-quarter revenue largely above expectations, driven by strong performance of its enterprise storage business.

A sign to the campus offices of chip maker Broadcom Ltd is shown in Irvine, California, U.S., November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Shares of the company rose 3.7 percent to $224.05 in extended trading.

Revenue from the unit rose 70 percent to $1.25 billion in the quarter ended Aug. 5.

“Datacenter demand is driving strong growth in more than 50 percent of our consolidated revenue,” Chief Executive Officer Hock Tan said in a statement.

Tan, who has transformed Broadcom into a $100 billion behemoth through a series of acquisitions, surprised Wall Street in July with his move to acquire software maker CA Technologies for $19 billion.

The CA deal comes after U.S. President Donald Trump blocked Broadcom’s $117 billion offer to buy Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), in what would have been the biggest ever technology deal, on national security grounds.

The San Jose, California-based company forecast current-quarter revenue of about $5.40 billion, plus or minus $75 million. Analysts on average were expecting revenue of $5.35 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income attributable to common stock rose to $1.2 billion, or $2.71 per share, in the reported quarter from $481 million, or $1.14 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $4.98 per share.

Net revenue rose to $5.06 billion from $4.46 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of $4.83 per share on revenue of $5.07 billion.

Reporting by Sonam Rai and Sayanti Chakraborty in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva