Planet Business


Image of the week: Marmite
Even in business, life can be cruel. Just ask Marmite whose recent TV ad campaign in the UK split viewers on the question of good taste; much like the product itself.

The ad – which featured a fictional team rescuing jars of Marmite from people’s homes on suspicion of poor treatment before being being re-homed – attracted more than 500 complaints.

Parent company Unilever offered £18,000 (€21,000) to the RSPCA following the controversy but this week the Advertising Standards Authority cleared the company saying the ad was clearly meant to be light hearted.

Marmite noted its “ tongue-in-cheek campaign has certainly provoked the extreme love/hate reaction for which the brand is so well known”.

In Numbers: LinkedIn
The new lower age limit that business networking site LinkedIn has announced this week for people in a number of countries to access its site. The move is being taken to appeal to a younger market and also includes a new university section. Policy director Eric Heath wrote: “We want to encourage these students to leverage the insights and connections of the millions of successful professionals on LinkedIn, so they can make the most informed decisions and start their careers off right.”

The number of users who subscribe to the site since it was founded by Reid Hoffman in 2002.

The number of countries within the site’s reach, representing 20 available languages.

The lexicon: Thorium
Think “nuclear power” and a string of highly contaminated synonyms quickly leak out: “Fukushima”, “waste”, “clean-up”. Now there is “Thorium”, a word that has been around for quite some time but that may belong more to the future than the past.

For the power generation industry, this brave new word could be the answer to every perceived energy problem. The use of thorium instead of uranium in the nuclear fission process produces less waste, reduces security issues associated with nuclear plants and is a far more common material. And with tests ongoing in Norway, the word may become a lot more common too.

Getting to know: Wolfgang Schaeuble
Don’t mention the bailout. Germany’s finance minister surprisingly conceded that Greece would need a third one and as if that wasn’t bad enough, his remarks were made on the eve of national elections.

His sentiment, and the wider, unpopular subject of financial aid to the Mediterranean country, has been skilfully avoided by colleagues ahead of the polls next month.

“There will have to be another programme in Greece,” said Schaeuble, addressing a campaign audience in northern Germany, although he qualified that by saying there would be no further debt haircut.

Nevertheless, the comment did not sit well beside an opinion expressed by German chancellor Angela Merkel that the subject was not worth addressing until the end of the current deal.

Schaeuble’s curiously-timed comments sparked demands from German opposition parties that the government come clean about the state of play in Greek coffers.

Western beer sales lose fizz
They’re probably the worst industry performance indicators in the world. Or at least in western markets. This week, Carlsberg announced the fizz had gone out of its product performance with sales falling slightly short of expectations in mature markets.
1 Guinness: Sales of the black stuff in western markets was down by as much as 3 per cent despite 1 per cent growth globally.
2 Heineken: The Dutch company, which sells the most beer in the Europe market, reported a profit drop of 17 per cent in the first half of 2013, again citing poor western sales.
3 Anheuser-Busch: US giants are also feeling the pinch. In the first quarter of 2013, Anheuser-Busch, the producer of Budweiser, Bud Light and Miller Lite, reported a serious decline in sales in the first quarter of 2013, dropping by as much as 9 per cent on the previous year.
4 Irish pubs: The annual Drinks Market Performance Report pointed to an overall fall in pub sales of almost 33 per cent in the last five years.
5 UK pubs: A similar picture exists in the UK where figures for the second quarter of 2013 saw beer sales in particular drop by 4.8 per cent.