The Business of LeBron James

Here’s an article from Fortune Magazine about the development of the business side of LeBron James. He has changed the rules of superstar athlete endorsement deals. He owns the company with childhood friends and conducts market research to test the pulse of his brand. According to the article, following last season’s playoff performance, especially Game 5 against the Pistons, Nike restructured their basketball division to increase the number of Nike staffers working on LeBron’s brand from 4 to 150.

Read the article here.

Fun with Food Part 2

I bought a pack of “Take and Bake” French baguettes and they have the following Baking Instructions with cheeky parenthetical comments:

1. Pre-heat your over (conventional) to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (not Celsius please).
2. Take the bread out of the freezer and place on a rack in the middle of the oven (no need to thaw, but for Pete’s sake, take it out of the bag first).
3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown (you can’t go wrong here, so relax).
4. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool for about 15 minutes (or eat it hot, it’s now your bread after all).

How Great is the Taste?

One of the things I buy on occasion is Dannon drinkable yogurt. A couple months ago, the package proclaimed, “Great New Taste!” in bright yellow starburst. Most consumer products must modify their packaging on a regular basis so shoppers will notice it. Cereal boxes are probably the ones modifying most often, but many others do also.

I just bought this yogurt again and the yellow starburst said, “Great Original Taste is Back!”

A Disturbing Food Trend

I have noticed several products recently in the grocery store that look kind of like off-brand items, like cereal, snacks, ice cream, but upon closer inspection, what appears to be a dog mascot actually indicates that these are items for dogs. I wasn’t fooled by the cereal or snacks, as it was pretty clear that they were for dogs, but I almost bought the ice cream sandwiches. Who would have thought they make ice cream for dogs?

Blade Escalation

I recently received a free razor in the mail. It has 5 blades and really looks ridiculous. Can all these blades really make a difference? Actually, they do. Am I going to use this new razor? Not a chance.

Sure the razor was free, but blades are expensive. An 8-pack of blades is $25. Even with the $2 off coupon included with the razor, these are $3 per blade. This is a standard marketing tactic to give away the base part for little or no money and charge a high price for the additional or replacement parts. Remember those cheap halogen floor lamps that everyone bought for $30-$40 and found out the replacement bulbs were $15?

A closer shave may be important to some people, but not to me at this cost.

Duke Football Prepares Strategic Plan

The Duke Football Program (one of the worst in the nation) is utilizing resources from the Fuqua Business School (one of the best in the nation) to create a strategic plan for winning. It is actually an economic model, because Duke is in the red due to the high cost of running a football program. One way to increase revenue is to win and bring the fans back.

Read about it in the News & Observer

CD Baby Gets It

I just placed my first order with CD Baby, an independent web site that sells CDs that come direct from musicians. I have followed them for quite a while, as they offer artists an outlet to sell CDs without a lot of trouble. They even offer digital distribution services to artists to sell their music on iTunes and other digital outlets. In fact, they function as an online record label for smaller artists who want to do things on their own terms.

Well, after my first purchase I received the following email:
Thanks for your order with CD Baby!

This is just a happy automated email to let you know a real person
will email you as soon as your package is sent, and you will also
receive a paper receipt with your order in the mail.

Please save this email in case you have any questions about your

** NOTE: if any of the info below looks wrong, please hit REPLY now
to let us know!


CD Baby, the cutest little record store on the web.

Nothing about this email prepared me for the next email to come:

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with
sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure
it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over
the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money
can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party
marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of
Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in
our private CD Baby jet on this day, Wednesday, June 27th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did.
Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all
exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Derek Sivers, president, CD Baby
the little store with the best new independent music (503)595-3000

This email made me smile. They understand the importance of the customer experience enough to poke fun at its importance. Very cool. Not to mention that my CD shipped in one business day after my order.