aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Coke’s Pepsi challenge
The opening of the new Coke museum in Atlanta last week is the backdrop for a 5,000 word piece in the Business section of the NYTimes today. Visitors pay $15 (for adults, $9 for children) to walk through a building full of slickly displayed interactive Coke ads; the company anticipates 1 million of us will come each year.
Still, Coke’s apparently having a rough time, loosing half its stock value since 1998 while watching young people turn away from soda, preferring instead bottled water, sports drinks, green teas and juice.
Pepsi’s done better. It controls half the non-soda beverages in the US, having bought Gatorade and SoBe after Coke missed the opportunity. Coke has 23% of the non-soda market. The story says Coke’s road out of its doldrums is that Coke Zero is “a hit,” that they’re “pumping up the brand” and that the new Coke commercials are fun.
What stuck with me was how parochial this global giant is. Their first non-Georgian CEO was hired in 1981. And while 70 percent of their sales are overseas, this is what we learn about their board:
Of the 11 current members of the board, eight have served 10 years or longer, and four of those have logged 25 years or more. The average tenure for board members is 16.6 years, nearly double the average of Fortune 500 companies, according to an analysis by the Corporate Library, which tracks corporate governance issues and compensation for executives and board members. Coke has the 10th-longest-serving board among Fortune 500 companies, the analysis found.
The average age of the 11 directors is 68. Except for Mr. Isdell, all of the board members are American. One is African-American and one is a woman.
(By comparison, the average tenure of PepsiCo’s board is six years, and the average age of its members is 59. Of the 10 members, there are 7 men and 3 women; five of the members were born outside the United States, including the chief executive Indra K. Nooyi, 51, who was born in India.) [...]
Mr. McHenry [on the board since 1981] says the board has given Mr. Isdell leeway to run the company as he sees fit; Mr. Isdell does not dispute that. As for the age and tenure of the board, Herbert Allen, a director since 1982, says it has the benefit of experience. Asked about the lack of diversity, he says: “When we are sitting in the room, the opinions are certainly diverse.”
They can’t see what they can’t see. My money’s on Pepsi.
The Happiness Factory
Coke’s chairman and chief executive E. Neville Isdell’s favorite commercial. More from the NYTimes story:
Since Mr. Isdell took over, Coke’s research and development budget has more than doubled. And Mr. Kent says the company is counting on a beefed-up innovation laboratory to deliver new products and packaging to lure customers. The lab is tucked away in a rather unsavory corner of the company’s sprawling headquarters, at the end of a cracked driveway at the back of a low concrete building that looks more like an elementary school than a tech center. A sign on a plain steel door reads “KO Lab.” [...]
The lab also displays all kinds of new products. “Mother” is a natural energy drink that has been introduced in Australia, while Nanairo Acha, a tea sold in Japan, changes color depending on its temperature. Coke Zero was created here. The lab is also exploring new ways to market Coca-Cola. A “super coolÃ¢â‚¬Â� vending machine keeps soda colder than its freezing point, so that when the cap is opened the bubbles form tiny ice crystals.
Terror threat in Alabama
A Web site operated by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security identified gay rights organizations, anti-abortion groups, environmentalists and people opposed to genetically-altered foods among those who could be classified as terrorists.
Certain Web pages were removed from the Internet after the agency received complaints about the site. [...]
The site indicated that these “radical elements” are found in many of the following movements:
- Anti-Genetics (those opposed to genetically-altered crops)
- Animal Rights
- Pro-Gay Rights
For the record, I don’t blame Alabama. I blame weak political leaders at every level - the Alabama department’s director, Jim Walker, among them - who pander and preen because they’re too incompetent and cowardly to do something effective. Demonization hurts us all.
Via Gay News Blog.
32” flat panel HDTV for $500
After $50 mail-in rebate and including shipping. Sale ends Thursday. Customer reviews are generally favorable, though the NewEgg no returns/no refunds policy spooks me. But in February the NYTimes profiled Syntax, maker of Olevia, and noted that Consumer Reports magazine rated one a best buy, right up there with Sony.
Six months ago I said that $500 was my price point. Today I bought one.
Violence, harassment and arrests at Moscow Pride
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia 14 years ago. You’d hardly know it by the way they treat gay rights campaigners:
A British gay rights campaigner was among those arrested after violence broke out at a banned gay rights protest in Russia.
Veteran protestor Peter Tatchell was detained in central Moscow along with MPs from Germany and Italy and Nikolai Alexeyev, a senior gay rights leader.
Hundreds of ultra-nationalists disrupted the protest by punching and kicking the gay rights group and throwing eggs at them.
Mr Tatchell had his clothes pulled and was smacked in the face before being arrested.
The Briton was among the gay pride demonstrators trying to give a petition to the mayor of Moscow demanding the right to stage public marches.
Italian MEP Marco Capatto was kicked by an anti-gay rights protester and then detained when he demanded police protection.
Here’s a “record” of the dispatches received by UK Gay News from many sources. A snippet:
It was short. The real violence started after we left. We got there and then we went up to the city hall. Police immediately arrested Nikolai (Alekseev), and also Nikolai Khramov, so there were a lot of cameras everywhere. Many journalists. We felt eggs and other things being thrown. Police did nothing to arrest hooligans. We walked 40 meters and there were interviews and journalists. I was walking not far from Mitrofanov and saw a guy with a knife.
The BBC has a video report that I haven’t found yet (if you find it, link to it in comments). Here’s the statement of Nicolas Alexeyev, the organizer of Moscow Pride, released from inside Tverskoya police station.
Significantly more press was expected at today’s event than at last year’s, and the headline-grabber was to be Archbishop Alexiy of the Russian Orthodox Church. Alexiy, the Church’s representative in Italy before later leaving the Church, was to talk on “The Church in the 21st Century and LGBT Community.”
Ironically, the NYTimes Travel Section today features 36 Hours in Moscow. Call me chicken but, while my admiration and gratitude toward the protesters is heartfelt and deeply held, I’m staying away.