The Fresh Smell of Weakness

Last year, I wrote about turning weakness into strength. A friend of mine shared with me another great example of this idea.

Mike Birbiglia is a horrible sleeper. In fact, he calls himself the "worst sleeper in America". Rather than let this unique condition hold him down, he's decided to face it head on. In a partnership with Downy, Mike has agreed to spend a week living in a Macy's store window to test the freshness of their sheets.

This concept is a win for everyone. Mike, who is a comedian, will surely get a boost in his career. Macy's will get increased foot traffic in the store, as well as national publicity. And Downy, spreading its message of lasting freshness, will achieve increased awareness, which will likely convert to new consumer trial.

This is a great campaign in which parent company P&G shows that despite having a large budget to advertise in more traditional ways, it can also utilize creative, inexpensive campaigns that have a viral effect on the Internet.

Be sure to watch Mike to see if he sheets stay fresh!

The Rise of China (part 2)

China has long been known as a copycat country. Watches, clothing, movies, software... you name it, you can probably find a fake version of it in China. The U.S. and other affected countries have tried in vain to curtail Chinese knockoffs. Just yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner pushed President Hu Jintao for stronger intellectual property protections.

While China's method of R&D (rip-off & duplicate) remains strong, several companies I visited expressed that this trend is changing. These companies explained that, more and more, China is learning how to be on the forefront of design and innovation.

John Kao, author of Innovation Nation, agrees. He argues that China's mixture of a state-driven innovation agenda along with a surge of independent entrepreneurs has propelled the country to where it is today.

The Rise of China (part 1)

I just got back from winter break, during which I went to China for two weeks on a study abroad with the Center for Brand and Product Management.

Everyone knows that China is in a state of massive transition. As one example, take a look at this picture of Shanghai in 1990:

This is the same shot in 2010:

No longer a sleeping giant, China has sprung into action with full force. It has dethroned Japan as the world's second largest economy. Counting Taiwan and Hong Kong, China currently claims 11 of the 20 tallest buildings in the world.

Why the surge? Why now? What does the future of China hold and what implications are there for America and the rest of the world? These were a few of the questions I sought answers to as I visited companies in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. Over the next few posts, I will share some of the reasons I learned how China is changing the way the world does business.