Posts tagged ‘interview’


Peter Hanenberger’s unintended post mortem of Holden

19.02.2020


The 2009 Chevrolet Caprice SS, sold in the Middle East but made in Australia.

I came across a 2017 interview with former Holden chairman Peter Hanenberger, who was in charge when the company had its last number-one sales’ position in Australia. His words are prescient and everything he said then still applies today.
   He spent over four and a half decades at GM so he knows the company better than most. Since he departed in 2003 he had seven successors at the time of the interview; and I believe there have been a couple more since.
   A few interesting quotes.

‘It’s [now] a very short-sighted company.’
It feels like it. The sort of retreating it’s done, the dismantling of global operations, and the failure to see how global platforms can achieve economies of scale is something only a company beholden to quarterly stock price results will do. And it doesn’t help its longevity.
   Even Holden, which looked like it was going to simply depart the passenger-car sector at the end of last year before a full withdrawal now, tells us that there doesn’t appear to be a long-term plan in place that the US management is committed to. Not long ago they were going on about the two dozen models they planned to launch to field a competitive line-up.

‘For me General Motors was a global player. Today General Motors is shrinking to an American company with no foresight, which is in very bad shape, which has missed the market.’
Remember Hanenberger said this in 2017, when it still had presences in many Asian countries. In 2020 it very much looks like GM will be in the Americas (where it still fields reasonably complete line-ups, although God knows if they have anything in the pipeline to replace the existing models) and China. Russia, India, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand are gone or going, and western Europe went in 2017 before the interview.

‘Maybe it fits into the vision of Trump; America first. But how the world is going to work also in the future is not because of America first and America only. It’s global. I think there will be no GM in the near-future.’
Everyone else is desperate to do tie-ups while GM retreats. I think GM will still be around but it’ll be a Chinese firm.

‘I couldn’t give a shit what they thought in America.’
I don’t mean this as an anti-American quote, but I see it as a dig against bean counters (whatever their nationality) fixated on the short term and not motorheads who know their sector well.

‘For me Holden didn’t have enough product, and the second one [priority] was I wanted to get these cars they had into export. For me it was very clear the products they had could be exported and they should go on to export.’
You saw the failure of this in the early 2010s when Holden failed to keep its Middle Eastern deals, and the US models returned. It could have been so different, though I realize GM was very cash-strapped when they needed the US taxpayer to bail them out.
   Bruce Newton, who wrote the piece, says that the Middle East was worth up to 40,000 units per annum, with A$10,000 profit per car. It cost Holden A$20 million to develop them for left-hand drive. I’d have held on to that sort of opportunity for dear life.

‘There was nothing going on that was creative towards the future of Holden as in Australia, New Zealand and toward the export market. They just neglected this whole thing.’
That was Hanenberger when he visited his old workplace in 2006. With product development cycles the way they are, it’s no wonder they were so ill placed when the Middle Eastern markets lost interest in the VE Commodore and WM Caprice (as the Chevrolet Lumina and Caprice), and China in the Buick Park Avenue.
   It’s an interesting interview and perhaps one of the best post mortems for Holden, even if it wasn’t intended to be so three years ago.

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Posted in business, cars, China, leadership, USA | 1 Comment »


Give me a break

23.01.2020

From an Automotive News interview with Yves Bonnefort, CEO of DS.

   Um, that’s called a station wagon or estate car, mate.

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Posted in business, cars, France, marketing | 1 Comment »


A quick read from Prof Stephen Hawking in Wired UK

14.03.2018

The late Prof Stephen Hawking’s interview with Condé Nast’s Wired UK is excellent, and a quick read. For those following me on the duopoly of Facebook and Google, here’s what the professor had to say:

I worry about the control that big corporations have over information. The danger is we get into the situation that existed in the Soviet Union with their papers, Pravda, which means “truth” and Izvestia, which means “news”. The joke was, there was no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia. Corporations will always promote stories that reflect well on them and suppress those that don’t.

   That last bit definitely applies to a lot of the media today, especially those owned outside our country.
   The rest makes for a great read as Prof Hawking talks about AI, the anti-science movement, Donald Trump, and what humanity needs to do urgently in science. Here’s that link again.

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Posted in business, politics, publishing, technology, USA | No Comments »


Getting inspiration from Douglas Rushkoff

03.01.2017


John Nowak/CNN

I’ve had a 52 Insights interview with Douglas Rushkoff open in a Firefox tab for nearly half a year. It’s a fascinating piece, and I consider Douglas to be spot on with a lot of his viewpoints. I’ve revisited it from time to time and enjoyed what Douglas has had to say.
   Here are a few ideas I took from it. The italicized parts were added by me to the Medinge Group version of this post.

  • There are a lot of idealistic ventures out there, but to grow, often founders have to compromise them. It comes back to our thoughts at Medinge over a decade ago about ‘Finance is broken.’ Because of these compromises, we don’t really advance as much as we should, and some brilliant ideas from young people aren’t given the chance they deserve. This needs to change. We already have branding as a tool to help us, and we know that more authentic, socially responsible brands can cut through the clutter. When these ventures start up, brands are an important part of the equation.
  • How are governments going to fund this universal basic income if they themselves aren’t getting a decent tax take? It’s the same question that’s plagued us for decades.
  • Douglas sees ventures like Über to be the same-old: its customer really is its investor, and that’s not a new concept at all. It’s why we can’t even consider Über to be a good brand—and the tense relationships it often has with governments and the public are indications of that. It’s not, as Douglas suggests, even a driver co-op. It’s still all about making money the old-fashioned way, albeit with newer tools.
  • Worrying but true: some of the biggest companies in the world are required to grow because of their shareholders. As a result, they’re not creating sustainable revenue. ‘If you’re one of the top fifty biggest companies in the world and you’re still required to grow, that’s a real problem.’
  • Kids these days aren’t as into all this technology and social networks as we are. Thank goodness. When Facebook reports another billion have joined, you’ll know they’re BSing you and counting all the bots.
  • Many people see things as though they were created by God and accept them. Douglas gives the examples of Facebook and religion. I can add the capitalist and socialist models we have. If people believe them to be God-given, or natural, then they feel helpless about changing them. We need to wake people up and remind them these are human-made constructs—and they can be unmade by humans, and replaced with better ideas that actually work for us all.

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Posted in business, culture, internet, leadership, politics, social responsibility, technology | No Comments »


Finishing off 2011 with the most fun radio interview I have ever done

31.12.2011

Photo by Xavier Collin/Snapstar Live

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.

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Posted in branding, business, cars, design, India, internet, leadership, marketing, media, New Zealand, publishing, typography, Wellington | No Comments »


Ricky Gervais offends … actually, I don’t know whom

23.01.2011

Normally I think Piers Morgan is a plonker, and the time Jeremy Clarkson punched him at the BAFTAs remains one of entertainment’s best stories.
   However, I have enjoyed Life Stories, and he has been a worthy successor, in my mind, to Larry King. Of course it’s not the same show, but the important thing about interview shows is getting the guest to talk (Jonathan Ross take note). The Ricky Gervais interview was the first Piers Morgan Tonight I have seen.
   As to Gervais hosting the Golden Globes, I didn’t have a problem with his jokes. There were no jokes based on race or sexuality, as Gervais says in his interview (embedded below). I don’t believe he’s even offended anyone who’s religious. There were plenty about the Hollywood machine and current affairs. It just so happens that a lot of the people in that room are the subject of what society deems ‘current affairs’ today. And don’t people love topical humour?

   I have a lot of contacts Stateside and none have mentioned to me that they were offended. So all these media reports, mainly from the US, making Gervais out to have offended so many don’t ring true to me. Have most of these journalists gone up to some of Gervais’s roasted victims and enquired?
   A few journalists have tried to get some quotations, but they’re in the minority. One Hollywood Foreign Press Association rep was apparently offended, and that ‘several celebrities’ called up with complaints. Yeah, so offended that (s)he wouldn’t put his or her name to the remark, and revealed that the Association was not above reprimanding someone because they didn’t share the same sense of humour. And here I was, thinking the Golden Globes were supposed to be about the work. Maybe not:

Ricky will not be invited back to host the show next year, for sure … For sure any movie he makes he can forget about getting nominated. He humiliated the organization last night and went too far with several celebrities whose representatives have already called to complain.’

If that’s how the Association works unofficially, maybe Gervais was 100 per cent right to have aimed some of the jokes at it. (As to which member this was, find the one who keeps saying ‘For sure’, has a narrow mind, can’t see much worth in their name, and is the sort of person who thinks it’s right to target Gervais in their work but that it’s wrong for Gervais to target others in his.) The member might not have realized that even prior to hosting, Gervais said he wouldn’t be back for 2012.
   I agree with Gervais’s hint, though he does not say this expressly in Piers Morgan Tonight, that if some of these celebs were actually so narrow-minded as to be offended, they would not have got to where they are. In some of the post-Globes coverage I’ve seen at Lucire, there is no mention of celebrities fuming at one of the parties out of offence. You’d have to be quite petty to have a Ricky Gervais joke spoil your evening—because you’d then have to go after every single journo who wrote a cross word about you, and a not unsubstantial number of bloggers, too.
   So some reps apparently called the Association. Reps making mountains out of molehills to show their indispensability, perhaps?
   This isn’t about a US–UK humour divide, either, though I saw one remark that a British host could get away with this style in Britain. Didn’t the Americans come up with The Simpsons, whose early episodes had this very sort of humour, or The Critic and Family Guy? Or, if we are to look at live-action, Murphy Brown? Doesn’t Jon Stewart do something like this every weekday? Aren’t Sarah Palin jokes the sort of fodder Hollywood types engage in on an hourly basis?
   It’s too bad, because the 2012 Golden Globes’ ceremony will likely be a tepid affair hosted by someone entirely inappropriate and lacking. Just because a few prima donnas got their knickers in a twist because of their own behaviour (how dare Gervais talk about something that everyone knows about!), and a few other people got offended on behalf of some celebrities who themselves have already shrugged off the jokes.

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Posted in culture, humour, interests, media, TV, UK, USA | 2 Comments »


I need to listen to some Fred Dagg before I go on

11.03.2010

To be confirmed is an interview with the BBC, in my politician guise. I have not been on radio in the other hemisphere for something like seven years, and that time it went to some of the most way-out places (it was UN Radio). I have one reservation only: my accent goes all over the place. Remember how the Rt Hon Jim Bolger went funny with his when foreign dignitaries came and he sounded like he was mocking the foreigners? Or, a few years before, Michael Fay during the America’s Cup lawsuits and his Americanized pronunciation of water?
   Yeah, I do that. And even more disturbingly, I know I do it while I’m doing it, and cannot stop it.
   It’s going to be hell if a northerner interviews me and I start sounding like Jimmy Nail. I am told that I do a very good Lily Savage when I have the ’flu. And if I get a southerner, you will think I was trying to impress Keeley Hawes (which I try to do, anyway, never mind Matthew). Not one is sufficiently “Kiwi” for Wellington voters. Though I might find that British expatriates based in Wellington might suddenly vote for me. Because in any case I will sound better than Harold Wilson.

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Posted in humour, media, New Zealand, politics, UK, Wellington | No Comments »