There has been a lot of ongoing press about Landwindâs copy of the Range Rover Evoque (a road test of the Evoque comes next week in Lucire, incidentally), one of my favourite Sloane Ranger SUVs. Thereâs no way Landwind would have come up with the design independently, and, if put before most occidental courts, there would be a finding in favour of the Indian firm.
People are right to be upset, even in China, which has plenty of firms these days that spend millions on developing a new car and hiring the right talent. The days of SEAT Ibiza and Daihatsu Charade rip-offs are not completely gone, but if you read the Chinese motoring press, the journalists there are as condemning of copies as their colleagues everywhere else.
The impression one gets in the west is that this is par for the course in China in 2015, even though it isn’t. While there have been firms that have gone from legitimate licensing to copying (Iâm looking at you, Zotye and Yema), the reverse has tended to be the case in the Middle Kingdom. The latest article on the Landwind X7 appears in Haymarketâs Autocar, a magazine Iâve taken since 1980. I even think Autocar is being overly cautious by putting copy in quotation marks in its headline. Itâs a copy, and thatâs that.
Landwind has maintained that itâs had no complaints from Jaguar Land Rover, while JLR CEO Ralf Speth says he will complain. Considering itâs been five years since the Evoque was launched, and news of the copy, and Landwindâs patent grant from 2014, has been around for a while, then saying you will complain in 2015 seems a little late.
In fact, itâs very late. What surprises me is that this is something already known in China. Iâm not the most literate when it comes to reading my first language, but as I understand it, a firm that shows a product in China at a government-sponsored show, if it wishes to maintain its ânoveltyâ and prevent this sort of piracy from taking place, must register it within six months, under article 24 of Chinaâs patent law:
Within six months before the date of application, an invention for which an application is filed for a patent does not lose its novelty under any of the following circumstances:
(1) It is exhibited for the first time at an international exhibition sponsored or recognized by the Chinese Government;
(2) It is published for the first time at a specified academic or technological conference; and
(3) Its contents are divulged by others without the consent of the applicant.
The Evoque was shown at Guangzhou at a state-sanctioned motor show in December 2010, which meant that Jaguar Land Rover had until June 2011, at the outside, to file this registration. JLR reportedly missed the deadline [edit: with the patent office receiving the application on November 24, 2011].
The consequence of missing the period is that an original design becomes an âexisting designâ. While itâs not entirely the end of the road for Jaguar Land Rover in terms of legal remedies, it is one of the quirks of Chinese intellectual property law, which, sadly, is not as geared to protecting authors as it is in the west.
The approach one would have in, say, a common law jurisdiction, to prove objective similarity in the cases of copyright (and, as I understand it, a similar approach under patent), does not apply there. (Incidentally, this approach is one reason BMW could not have won against Shuanghuan for its CEO, which is usually mentioned by Top Gear watchers as an X5 copy. Look more closely and the front is far closer to a Toyota Land Cruiser Pradoâs, and thereâs neither a kidney grille nor a Hofmeister-Knick. Itâs a mess, but Shuanghuan could easily argue that it picks up on period SUV trends, like the triangular sixth light found on an Opel Astra is part of a 2000s ĂŠsthetic for hatchbacks.)
If you go back to November 2014, the South China Morning Post reported on this matter, again quoting Dr Speth in Autocar.
Heâs found it ‘disappointing’ for a while, it seems, but back in 2014 there was no mention of going after Landwind. An A. T. Kearney expert backs him up, saying, ââŠ copying by Chinese original equipment manufacturers is still possible and accepted in China.â Itâs increasingly unacceptable, but, there are loopholes.
Iâm not arguing that this is right, nor do I condone the X7, but you do wonder why JLR hasn’t taken action. The above may be why JLR has stayed silent on the whole affair.
This is why I read nothing on any action being taken by JLR when the Landwind was first shown, when a patent was granted (a year ago this month), or when the X7 was last displayed at a Chinese motor show.
The SCMP piece is a much fairer article, noting that Chinese car makers have become more sophisticated and invested in original designs. It also notes that consumers are divided: while some would love to have the copy, another felt âashamed about Landwind,â points usually ignored in the occidental media.
Land Rover has traditionally been swift in taking on copycats, and it had fought Landwindâs EU trade mark registration in 2006. This firm is known to them.
Landwind, meanwhile, has a connection to previous Land Rover owner Ford, through Jiangling, which has a substantial Ford shareholding. Could some pressure be brought through Ford?
For now, Jaguar Land Roverâs trouble with its patent registration has yet to make it into the western media. It’s doubtful that state media have ganged up on Jaguar Land Rover, considering it has a partnership with Chery, and invested in a new plant in Changshu. It really needs to be asking its lawyers some serious questions.
Friday morning’s interview with Sonia Sly on Kiwi Summer was the most fun I have ever had on radio.
Radio New Zealand National was the most fair and balanced medium I dealt with when running for Mayor of Wellington in 2010, and I was glad that Sonia thought of me for its summer programming this year.
I joked to friends prior to the interview that 2011 was much like 2010: go on to National Radio to dis the Wellywood sign in the ﬁrst half of the year, and have a fun interview in the second half.
This was a casual, fun interview thanks to Sonia putting me at such ease. It goes on for a healthy 17 minutes, covering my involvement in Lucire, judging the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant, my branding work, including the Medinge Group, and my typeface design career. The feedback I have had is that people enjoyed it, and I’d like to share it with you all here. Here’s the link, and you can always ﬁnd it at the Kiwi Summer page for the day, where other formats are listed.
And if you’re wondering where the opening reading comes from, it’s taken from this review of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage I penned many years ago.
January: The Hustle crew is back in Brum, but without the ‘created by Tony Jordan’ credit on some episodes.
Why is Tony Jordanâs name missing from these episodes of Hustle?
We put JY&A Consulting on to the jya.co domain. Zen is awesome, even if the male cast largely speaks with English accents and the female cast speaks with Italian and French ones. John Barry dies. My favourite composer. RIP.
The Christchurch earthquake and stories of tragedy and heroism.
The fall and fall of Charlie Sheen, and if recasting Two and a Half Men, put Martin Sheen in it and set it in 2040. Mad Dogs begins.
February:Mad Dogs: great British telly. Philip Glenister adopts a Gene Hunt pose, but with Marc Warren instead of John Simm.
Firefox 3 crashes a lot.
Kelly Adams is off the market, boys. Mad Dogs ﬁnishes.
The Americans make William & Kate with Los Angeles and Hollywood standing in for Buckingham Palace, London, Klosters, St Andrewâs and other locations.
I go on telly to dis the copyright amendments in a new bill, which has been spurred on by Hollywood lobbyists. Farewell the presumption of innocence and due process.
Elisabeth Sladen dies.
Everyone talking about Pippa Middletonâs rear end.
April: This seems to be the enduring image of the UK Royal Wedding.
June: Australians unite against homophobes who pressure a billboard company to take down a safe-sex ad.
Australians unite against a billboard company that takes down an ad featuring a gay couple. The CEO responds within the day, which is a contrast to how Wellington Airport conducted itself over public outcry over âWelly-woodâ Part II.
MSG is evil. A redhead wins Miss USA.
People go on to Google Plus to talk about Google Plus.
The Murdoch Press phone-hacking scandal.
UN: internet is a human right.
I think the movie The Avengers is about John Steed and Emma Peel.
The Unscripted exhibition and I get photographed with Jekyll himself, James Nesbitt. Oh, and the Mayor.
Nigerian con-men send me a 419 scamâin hard copy.
Facebook Timeline. Old School, New School exhibition has Joe Churchward and Mark Geardâs typeface designs.
October: The Russian Sam Tyler.
Russians remake Life on Mars.
More ânek minnitâ.
Gaddaﬁ owned a Toyota (just like bin Laden).
Above: My Facebook Timeline, as it appeared in October.
As more of the planet gets on to Facebook Timeline, it’s been interesting to watch reactions.
When Facebook went to a new layout three years ago, plenty of peopleâmyself includedâwent to an anti-new Facebook group. Most were there because they didn’t like change, threatened to leave, and failed to carry out their threat. It was like those who said they would stop reading tabloids after the Princess of Wales diedâas circulation rose the following year.
I joined not because I disliked the changeâI thought the redesign was quite goodâbut because Facebook never did any testing and we were the guinea pigs. The new design was about as reliable as a Wall Street banker, and given it kept failing, I joined to voice my opposition.
No such issue with Timeline, at least not till regularly. Having been on it for two months, I haven’t come across the concerns the majority haveâat all.
Here are a few I’ve heard, including in the mainstream media.
My privacy is compromised. How? Timeline has exactly the same settings as Facebook had, prior to Timeline’s introduction. I didn’t like these new settings when they were introduced in mid-September, because I was used to shutting my wall off to certain people (e.g. those having a company name on a personal accountâyes, I did want to hear from the company, but no, I don’t know who runs the account), but I could see the merit of having public posts which rendered such a setting irrelevant.
If there was a time to complain, it was three months ago. If you’re complaining now, you’re well late. I doubt Facebook will make any changes since relatively few of us made any complaints when the privacy settings were changed last quarter. Those of us who knew were probably spending more time ﬁguring them out and protecting ourselves.
People can now see what I posted x years ago at an instant. Among the changes was a setting that allowed you to restrict all past posts. That was a new privacy entry that wasn’t there before September. Use it and restrict them to yourself, or yourself and your closest friends. I never had this problem, since Facebook always had different classes of friendsâat least since I joined in April 2007âand my statuses were always customized to different audiences.
People can now go back to a particular year and ﬁnd out more about me. True, but see above.
Itâs ugly. This is one I have some sympathy with. Design is subjective, and there is some merit to the argument that Timeline introduces extra elements on to the page (see below). The rule of good design, in my book, is the reduction of elements. So in some ways, I can understand this complaint, but, I rather like the idea of a “timeline” going down the middle, and I can see why Facebook used the two columns: to minimize the need to scroll.
I can’t go back to the old Facebook. I always thought it was clear that when you changed, that was it.
As usual, my problems with Timeline seem to be different to those of the general public.
Why two friends’ boxes? When Timeline was introduced in September, it was actually cleaner than it is now. There was one friends’ box: in the header. Last week, when it was rolled out to New Zealand, a second box was introduced that was completely superﬂuous.
I joked that this was typical of American design. They start out with a clean design, like the original Buick Riviera or Oldsmobile Toronado, or even the Ford Taurus, and then they add unnecessary stuff to it and clutter it up. That’s what’s happened with Facebook.
This second box is probably not helping people understand what Timeline is about, and it does contribute to its clumsy look. Amazing how one thing can ruin it, but that’s how design sometimes works.
The location settings. When Facebook allowed friends to tag you at a location, it also gave us the option to approve each tag. Problem: this has never worked properly if using Mobile Facebook. Even when you change the settings to allow automatic tagging, they don’t tend to stick and the tags plain disappear regardless.
You can no longer use the lists properly. This was a huge surprise, when Facebook stopped me from selecting ‘Limited Proﬁle’ in any privacy setting, be it a status update or a photo album. This has still not been ﬁxed. I traced the bug to Facebook’s new inability to add fan pages to your lists. It still allows you, but beware: adding a fan page to any list will render it inaccessible for your privacy settings.
Not many people seem to care about this one, though there are complaints about Facebook’s ‘Smart Lists’ on its fan page. The majority doesn’t use them, or was unaware they even existed till this year, calling Facebook copycats for taking a Google Plus feature. As mentioned above, it’s certainly been there since the mid-2000s, so I’m unsure how Facebook in 2007 managed to copy Google in 2011.
I’ve got to scroll down a long way. At the time of writing, I have to scroll down six days before I can see my December summary. Before the roll-out, Facebook had this ﬁxed at a number of posts. I preferred it beforeâagain, this lengthy scrolling is contributing to the public’s concerns about Timeline’s concept and their privacy.
The Friendfeed and Tumblr plug-ins no longer work the same way. Facebook will gather up a series of posts before it puts a summary into a Timeline “box”. The Tumblr ones have totally disappeared. (Tumblr has been notiﬁed.)
Despite my many misgivings about Facebook, especially about its privacy changes over the years and the imposed defaults that it got a lot of ﬂak about, I have increased my usage at the expense of Tumblr and other services. I now make public posts for the subscribersâthose I choose to have outside my friends’ list. When Facebook killed my Limited Proﬁle last week, I spent some time doing a cullâI’ve cut my list down by about 80 people, including those I was on a business club with but who never shared a single Facebook post with me in two or three years. (âI must have killed more men than Cecil B. de Mille.â) In my mind, these have all been healthy moves.
Popping by others’ pages is a bit more enjoyable, seeing what graphics they have chosen for their headers, although I have spent very little time visiting. I have spent some time âﬁlling in the gapsâ over November with pre-2007 statuses and photographs for me, and adding locations to other statuses.
In most of these cases, only my real friends know them: that’s the beauty of having availed myself of the privacy settings since day oneâand keeping an eye on them on a very regular basis.
Facebook never took a step back, so I’m afraid no matter what our complaints are, they’ll fall on deaf ears. Even after posting the solution to their newly introduced lists’ bug on to Facebook’s Lists’ Team page, they haven’t lifted a ﬁnger to ﬁx the faultâbut, then, since it doesn’t affect the boss, it might never get ﬁxed.
As long as their member numbers keep growing, Facebook might think itself impregnable, even if I like Timeline. Altavista once thought it would remain the number-one website in the world, too.
After being interviewed about the outcome of the ‘Wellywood’ sign vote yesterday (a summary of what I told Newstalk ZB can be found on my Facebook fan page) I was reminded about how a few Wellingtonians, who supported my quest to stop the sign in 2010 and 2011, were not that thrilled that I used intellectual property law as my technique.
Those following this in 2010 and 2011 might remember that I was the person who called up the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Sign Trust, and was, last year, the mayoral candidate most active in trying to stop Wellington Airport from erecting the sign at the Miramar cutting. This year, with no local election to be concerned about, I remained active, more so upon seeing just how arrogant the Airport’s “leadership” was, before it ﬂip-ﬂopped again by saying that it should consult with the public (the same public it called insigniﬁcant weeks before).
And yet, months later, I was also miffed about the Copyright Act amendments and the introduction of the “three strikes” law, one which the Government seems to be uncertain about as it supports it at home, and opposes it at the United Nations.
This is not a populist about-turn on my part. I have a view of intellectual property which was reﬁned in part by my time at law school, where I sat the ﬁrst IP paper offered formally by Victoria University, and my work for TypeRight, the advocacy organization, which wound up winning an award from Publish magazine in the US. This experience leaned toward copyright, more than trade mark and patent, though I secured reasonable experience in TMs working in brand consulting and acting as an expert witness. Through that exposure, I began with the classical argument that the protection of authors, and rewarding them, are good things. No protection, no incentive.
But, this must be balanced by the rule of law. What we had before the latest amendments to the Copyright Act already worked. Copyright owners could, indeed, pursue infringers, and a plaintiff and a defendant could fairly be represented in a tribunal. It would be up to the copyright owner to front up with a statement of claim, and they had better be ready with sufﬁcient proof to make the case air-tightâjust as any other plaintiff in a New Zealand court would require. That seems fair. I have relied on American law often when it came to pursuing piracy of our articles, and, again, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act there worked well in giving both sides a fair hearing without the presumption of guilt.
As argued in some depth in 2009, and again in 2011, the three-strikes lawâwhich, I might note, the PM was against before he was for, as was the Hon Peter Dunne MPâputs the power ﬁrmly in the hands of the copyright owner, so that a defendant has to discharge the presumption of guilt. A copyright owner, as we have learned, can get an ISP to do its dirty work in New Zealand, sending out infringement notices to its customers. Whatever I learned in that IP class at uni, I had always believed the law would take place in a fair forum, and that the common-law presumption of innocence would always stand. What is happening here runs counter to that idea.
To be fair and balanced here, I should note that the law was proposed under Labour, and received the support of Labour when argued in Parliament, which makes me wonder whether the duty of being Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition was fulﬁlled properly during the debates.
Such laws, unfortunately, do the idea of copyright no credit. They have sullied the good work that copyright has done in most of our recent history by protecting those who sought it, and deserved it. I think of those who were in the typeface design business with me, who opted to protect their works. Some designers only make a few dozen dollars per annum from a font that might have taken them six weeks to produce. Typically, $300 is a ﬁgure I hear for a design that doesn’t make the big timeâand the majority do not, just like in music. European Commission VP for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, told the Forum dâAvignon on November 19 a similar story: ’97Â·5 pe rcent of one of the biggest collecting societyâs members in Europe receive less than âŠ âŹ1,000 a month for their copyright works.’
As reported in The Register, ‘Kroes said, copyright as it now stands is failing to deliver the economic rewards that are supposed to be its aim. At the same time, âcitizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it. Many see the current system as a tool to punish and withhold, not a tool to recognize and reward.â’ The Register concludes:
In the context of the publicâs increasing resistance to punitive measures such as Americaâs SOPA, New Zealandâs three-strikes disconnection notice regime, the acrimonious âiiTrialâ in Australia (backed by the MPAA via its local sockpuppet AFACT), itâs also interesting to note that Kroes mentions the intermediary business just once in her speech â since, at least to The Register, it seems that most of the publicâs hatred of copyright appears to stem from how the intermediaries approach it.
The distinction needs to be drawn. We shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. What we should be weary of are not just the intermediaries as The Register notes, but some of the parties who inspire, lobby and even offer to draft these laws. It seems those parties are often those who care little for the thoughts of the community, whether it be an Airport CEO, or politicians who are so inept at understanding their subject they confuse fact with ﬁction.
While I will not be drawn on who will get my electorate and party votes for this General Election, the behaviour of some of the powers-that-be seem to support those who claim that we no longer live in democracies in the occident, but plutocracies.
We weren’t responsible for the layout or photography, but our contribution here is in the tagline, ‘Dare to be human’.
In my 12-year friendship with Panos Papadopoulos, the designer behind Swedish swimwear (and now clothing) label Panos Emporio, we’ve often worked on marketing tasks. The most recent one: come up with a tagline that encompasses the Panos Emporio brand.
The term ‘Dare to be human’ has emerged elsewhere (as I discovered after coming up with it), though to my knowledge not in this industry or as a tagline, and since the campaign is largely focused on Scandinavia, it doesn’t appear to have any conﬂict.
The story is fairly simple: mixing the vision of the head of the company with the accurate external perceptions, and coming up with something that all audiences can agree on.
We had done some exploratory work on the philosophy of Panos Emporio earlier in the year and this was an extension of that. Our brand research has usually shown that an accurate tagline is more effective, in communicating a brand internally and externally, than any mission statement, and one that can serve a company in the long term is better still.
Panos’s thoughts were that he liked to push the envelope when it came to his swimwear designsâthat much is a given, and accepted by his customersâand his use of PR in Sweden over the years suggested as much. Where we align even more is our shared belief in humanitarianism, and the idea that good people can become anything they wish, and should have the opportunity to do so. Over the years we’ve discussed some great programmes that can help young people, and trying to cement these ideas, and many other ideas of things we’d like to do to advance our planet. If you look back across the 25 years of the label, Panos Emporio was often pioneering in its designs and publicity programmes, often shocking the sector, and earning Panos a celebrity status (including an episode of the Swedish version of Secret Millionaire).
External audiences will always come back to us to tell us the comfort in Panos’s designs ﬁrst, followed by their appreciation of the designs themselves, so there was an intersection with the “human” aspect here. It was taking that with humanitarianism and social responsibility, and blending it with the envelope-pushing.
âDare to be different’ is trite, so it really was down to changing the last word. (I am simplifying the process because there were many others that were rejected.) It tested well, and the ﬁrst ad with the new tagline will break this quarter.
I hope it’ll stay with the ﬁrm for many years to come. I think it encompasses everything Panos tries to say with his work.
Above is Rupert Murdoch’s apology for the actions of the News of the World, to run in the UK in the wake of the resignations of Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton.
They’re great words, and they’re straight out of the PR 101 playbook.
Some might say they’re a triﬂe too late, as was Mr Murdoch’s meeting with the parents and sister of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Some might question whether this apology would even have been issued if the Murdoch Press could have kept a lid on the scandal, if the Metropolitan Police had not rediscovered its bottle, and if The Guardian had not been persistent.
More telling about this apology’s sincerity is whether real steps will be taken to change the culture within the Murdoch Press.
We still have an organization with nearly half a century’s worth of bullying tactics, skirting the boundaries of the law and allegedly breaking them, and a culture of the ends justify the means.
Shifting that culture is going to be a tough call, not while so much of the behaviour has been institutionalized.
It is going to take some effort on Rupert Murdoch’s own behalf, because, like all organizations where the boss’s personality is so strong, it’s going to rest on him to lead a cultural change. Allowing an insider who has always tolerated such behaviour to take the helm is not going to do an awful lot: you don’t get change by reinventing the past.
I remain sceptical when I think back to all the scandals that the Murdoch Press not only uncovered, but had a hand in generating.
I remain sceptical when I think back to the victories Murdoch has had over earlier controversies, and whether he believes he can weather this one simply with the passage of time.
The world is a different place, and he may just be compelled to see this out.
He may be 80, but he still has young kids by his third wife. Let’s hope he understands that he needs to do right by the 21st century, when people in the occident are more alert to corporate moves and their unsavoury hand in our daily lives. Given that his youngest children won’t have him around for as long as his oldest ones, what he has is his legacyâand unlike Prudence, Elisabeth, Lachlan and James, Grace and Chloe will spend more of their lives hearing about their Dad second-hand than ﬁrst-hand.
I think back to when we wrote Beyond Branding, and how we forecast that consumers would drive integrity and transparency through their demand. It looks like this is being played out now.
The question I have is this: is this merely the ﬁrst salvo in everyday people taking back their power, and will we sink back into disinterest in a month or two?
Rupert Murdoch would not be in this position if we didn’t have a love of the gossip in The Sun and News of the World. We, the people, made this man rich.
If the Murdoch that critics write about is the real man, he’s betting the farm on disinterest being the order of the day come the autumn.
In my own world, I recall that last September, when the Fairfax Press reported on the possibility of the resurrection of the Wellywood sign, the silence on even the anti-sign Facebook group was deafening. One person even said he would vote for my rival and eventual winner, Celia Wade-Brown, because I did not do enough to ﬁght the sign.
All it took was ﬁve months for one man to forget that I was the only mayoral candidate who actively fought it. I am not picking on him alone, because I don’t believe he was the only one to suffer from a short memory. We all do it.
Instead, this one issue alone, trivial by the standards of the Murdoch story, took 14 months before anger subsided enough for it to resurface in force with a new news report.
This is the defence of the bully boss and the pompous politician: the hope people forget, thanks to our lives being harder during a recession. The tougher the economy gets, the more they think they can get away with, since they hope our attention will be swayed. Without a comfortable life, will we have the luxury of monitoring those in power?
It’s up to us to get wiser and realize there’s more important news than what the tabloid press tells us is interesting.
It’s up to us to realize that celebrity news really does not affect us, unless it’s truly inspirational. And 99 per cent of it isn’t.
It’s up to us to understand that ‘sources close to’ do not constitute the truth, nor are those sources capable of the mind-reading of their subjects.
And it’s up to us to remember the past, rather than look fondly on it with rose-coloured glasses.
Corporate misbehaviour alone can ﬁll a newspaper, as can the incompetence of our leaders. Yet we see little of either since advertising is affected by blowing the lid on the ﬁrst, and a power base is affected by blowing the lid on the second.
The ﬁrst is what killed the News of the World, not a sudden crisis of conﬁdence by James Murdoch, who put his name to the announcement of its closure.
The second contributed to the delay in a Murdoch apology, in the hope that the Murdoch Press’s close ties to the Conservative government would be sufﬁcient to weather it through the scandal.
Look around, especially in this election year in New Zealand, and you see very similar forces at work.
Regardless of what Murdoch does, real change starts with us.
JY Pinnacle Italic will be re-released as a Pro version shortly, and above are some of the extra characters we’ve added.
I know the swash k still needs work, and it will be ﬁxed up by the time of release.
Pinnacle always had a decent bunch of ligatures, but if you have the chance to add more thanks to OpenType, then why not?
Hard to believe I originally drew this over 15 years agoâit really doesn’t seem that long ago.
So James Murdoch has announced the end of the News of the World. It’s no biggie: as others have discovered, a domain name for The Sun on Sunday has been registered, and if this is by an agent of News International, it simply makes sense for the Murdoch Press to consolidate its tabloid brands and raise the circulation of The Sun.
Chatting about it here at work today, my view was that the problems plaguing the Murdoch Press were cultural, and shuttering one paper really wouldn’t make much difference. I described Rupert’s former hands-on style and, like him or not, the man was the master of his craft for years. He knew the sort of headlines that would shock and get sales. Whether one admires the craft is another matter, though, it should be noted, it made the guy a multimillionaire.
It’s easy to forecast that News will allow the shock of the death of the 168-year-old newspaper brand to set in, push through with the BSkyB deal, and relaunch the paper under its new name, hiring some of the 200 staff back.
It’s not the ﬁrst time Murdochs have rejigged or renamed a newspaper. Already I can envisage a ‘Reach for your new Sunâ headline being proclaimed in a Saturday edition, apeing what happened in the 1960s.
Interestingly, another writer also believes in the cultural explanation. Simon Dumenco points to how News behaves in the US, seemingly operating in a fantasy-land.
In Britain, on Wednesday morning, every newspaper carried the hacking scandal on the front pageâwith the notable exception of The Sun, which led with a pregnant Victoria Beckham. (The Guardian had all 10 papers, but The Sunâs page one has since disappeared, presumably due to a copyright complaint. I have put that front page below.) The hacking scandal appeared on p. 6. Dumenco points out that when gay marriage became legal in New York, everyone there carried that news prominently, except for the Murdoch Press, which relegated it to a bottom-of-page headline in its New York Post, and a second ‘What’s News’ in-brief item in The Wall Street Journal.
Dumenco predicts that the public will tire of it, though, as I blogged earlier this week, in 1997 a lot of people swore off tabloids. Not a lot changed in the immediate years after that. But we can only hope: one of our predictions in Beyond Branding was that consumers would demand greater transparency and integrity. That certainly has held true for a lot of sectors. They are true, even of media, but the cycle is longer thanks in no small part to the habits some people have with news providers. Nevertheless, it is happening.
As news consumers move onlineâand there is plenty of evidence of this shiftâit’s possible that the audience will shift to media that are perceived to be fairer. Those wanting conﬁrmation of various biases can ﬁnd them in niche media or blogs. There are more people analysing the media, so it may be easier for people to discover critical thinking behind the stories.
There’ll always be a mob mentality (people have banded together since they began socializing) and tabloid journalism will not disappear (there’s a sense of Schadenfreude, especially of celebrity stories, while there’s inequality in society). But this week’s example of the fairly rapid withdrawals of advertising accounts from the News of the WorldâFord, Reckitt Benckiser and Renault come to mindâshows that the public has a line that shouldn’t be crossed. The internet has allowed people to group together to make their viewpoints known, and it’s refreshing to note that, more often than not, we do so for good causes and a sense of justice, rather than for divisiveness or harm.
Swedish Automobile N.V. (SWAN) and Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile) today announced the signing of ﬁnal agreements with Pang Da Automobile Trade Co., Ltd. (Pang Da) and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co., Ltd. (Youngman), thereby converting the non-binding memorandum of understanding relating to the equity investment of Pang Da and Youngman âŠ
The amount of the investment is âŹ245 million, which amounts to this, according to Saab (some proofreading changes by me):
The agreements allow for the return of Mr Vladimir Antonov as a shareholderâﬁnancier of SWAN and Saab Automobile which the parties expect as soon as the parties at interest have cleared him. The NPJV will be 50 per cent owned by Saab Automobile and 50 per cent by Youngman Passenger Car, and forms the foundation for an expansion of the Saab product portfolio with three models which, until now, did not form part of Saab Automobile’s current and future product portfolio. As such the NPJV will focus on developing three completely new Saab vehicles: the Saab 9-1, Saab 9-6X and Saab 9-7.
No doubt there will be existing technology in the three cars, and they should go down terriﬁcally in China. And if it all goes well, this means that Saab won’t follow MG Rover down the gurgler, despite having been unable to pay wages a few weeks ago.
But âŹ245 million isn’t that much in today’s world, especially since Saab can’t be breaking even at its present capacity.
I don’t want to see Saab disappear. It may have been the choice of TV villains (Leslie Grantham in both The Paradise Club and 99â1 comes to mind) as well as one or two real-life ones I can think of, but it’s a storied brand and it’s made good cars over the years. And a mate of mine has a 900, too.
Sweden hasn’t spent all these years bagging the brand, eitherâit was effectively stripped of its Saab-ness while under General Motors.
Let’s hope the company can get things right with the Chinese equity stake, which hopefully will provide more conﬁdence. It’ll open up distribution in China, providing the government agencies agree, where a foreign brand like Saab would go down immensely well, and just at the right time. Good timing was not something that MG Rover was blessed with, regardless of the actions of the Phoenix Four.
The discerning Chinese buyer is emerging on the mainland, and they don’t necessarily want the ﬂash of the Mercedes-Benz. A more subtle brand might work there, and Saab actually ﬁts the bill.
The 9-7, I assume, is a large car, and Youngman’s Pang Qingnian hints that not only will China get this model, but the US as well.
Good luck to the parties on this oneâhere’s hoping the worst is over.