Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kellogg's Reformulation

The sweet heart of the corn, 1900

When a publicly traded company undertakes a strategy in the public interest at the risk of slowing its growth in the short term, we ought to take notice. Kellogg's decision to curtail advertising to children for products that do not meet specific nutritional guidelines is a bold redirection of some of its largest and most profitable portfolios.

In June, 2007 Kellogg announced that by the end of 2008 it would stop advertising to children under twelve those cereals and snacks that do not meet specific n
utrient guidelines. Those guidelines require that a single serving not:

1. Exceed 200 calories
2. Contain any trans fats
3. Exceed 2 grams of saturated fat
4. Exceed 230 grams of sodium (except frozen Eggo waffles)
5. Exceed 12 grams of sugar, not counting sugar from fruit, dairy or vegetables
The announcement is specific in its definition of advertising media, encompassing television, radio, internet and print. Kellogg further stipulated that it would not:
  • Use licensed characters, (such as Shrek or other Disney characters) on the front panels of products marketed to preteens
  • Sponsor product placements in media directed at preteen or use branded toys connected to products that do not meet the guidelines. However, Tony the Tiger, Snap, Crackle, Pop, Toucan Sam and other characters that are owned by Kellogg Company may continue to be used in identifying Kellogg products.

Kellogg fully understands the importance of preteen advertising; this announcement is about its intent to be a leader in providing nutritious products. Implicitly Kellogg is committing its resources to invest in reformulating some of its best-selling and most profitable products. For, while most cereals fall within the calorie and fat guidelines, many exceed the sodium and sugar limits.

Many may not realize that Kellogg's commitment to nutrition is as old as the Kellogg Company itself. W.K. Kellogg founded the modern company in 1906 to market a product that had its roots in a formulation developed by his brother, John Harvey Kellogg, the director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. In 1930 W.K. Kellogg's trust established the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, an $8 billion charitable organization that has made major contributions in support of nutrition and healthy living worldwide. The Foundation is the single largest stockholder of Kellogg Company, holding 24% of the company's stock.

In announcing its intention to curtail advertising of certain products to children, Kellogg Company is resolving a longstanding internal conflict between its goals to promote health and shareholder value.

See the announcement of the expansion of the W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research made 12-December-2007 (click here)

For a humorous, fictionalized account of the early days of "Cereal City", when Battle Creek, Michigan was the center of a grain-based health food craze, see The Road to Wellville, by T.C. Boyle (Viking, 1993) and the movie by the same title, directed by Alan Parker, 1994.

See: "A case study of sodium reduction in breakfast cereals and the impact of the Pick the Tick food information program in Australia," by Peter Williams, Anne McMahon and Rebecca Boustead in Health Promotion International (2003) click here

To learn more about our work in consulting, read about our Practice or check out our Case Studies

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Using Parametric Modeling to Design Retail Space

This video from YouTube illustrates the power of parametric design modeling for both consumer products and stores. The architect set out to design desktop accessories, then modeled their entire display environment for the flagship Alessi store in New York City.

To learn more about our work in consulting, read about our Practice or check out our Case Studies

See The design behind the NYC flagship Alessi store

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Associated Consultants

JP Farrell & Associates works in collaboration with a select company of experienced consultants as our clients needs require. We are pleased to be associated with some of the finest and most accomplished consultants in the business, with expertise in supply chain strategy and operations, marketing and business development, and information systems.

Among our valued colleagues are:

To learn more about our work in consulting, please see our Profile, download a brochure about our Practice, or check out our Case Studies.

Contact JP Farrell & Associates, Inc.

A Management Consultant @ Large

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Service-Oriented Enterprise: A Parable

Mona Shaw found just the tool to register her complaint about service, or lack thereof, at Comcast's Manassas office. (By Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)

When customer service is critical to an organization's mission and sustainability, it ought to be managed as a commercial function, reporting to sales, marketing or the CEO. If organized as a cost center reporting to operations it is likely to starve and fail.

The case of Mona Shaw, as detailed in the Washington Post (Taking a Whack against Comcast) illustrates how a seemingly law-abiding citizen turned to vigilante justice at her local Comcast office to get the attention of a company whose practices echo Lily Tomlin's Ernestine:
"We're the phone company. We don't care. We don't have to."

Ms. Shaw, 75, had put her trust in the local cable utility to provide her household with television, telephone and internet services. Her experience--missed appointments, unresponsive bureaucracy, incomplete installation, inaccurate and incomplete documentation and general inattentiveness--appears not to be unusual if one can believe the posts to website After a series of attempts to get her service installed, Mrs. Shaw made a special trip to her local Comcast office to talk to a supervisor. Following a two-hour wait she was told that the supervisor had gone for the day. When she returned with a hammer a few days later and started smashing office equipment, she got the attention of Comcast, the local police and the national media.

Our own experience with Comcast revealed a number of structural issues, systems inadequacies, unfortunate policies and inappropriate behaviors that ought to trouble the company's stockholders. In brief, somehow the cable line to our home had been cut. Over a two-week period Comcast sent three technicians out to the house to examine our television sets before they sent anyone out who could reconnect the outside line. Oddly, none of the technicians seemed to have any of the details of the previous visits. In fact, neither of the first two techs turned in paperwork, and by Comcasts rules, which apparently are more hard-wired than the network, a lineman can not be dispatched until a home service tech notes that one is required. Customer service reps and their supervisors were empowered to do nothing more than offer apologies and a few free channels for a few months. Not surprisingly, getting a credit to the bill for the two weeks without service required another call to the accounting department.

However one feels about Mrs. Shaw's approach, my own experience with the company's record-keeping leads me to question Comcast's comment on the Shaw incident:

"Truly a unique and inappropriate situation," says Beth Bacha, a vice president for Comcast. She says company policy forbids disclosure of clients' records, but did say their files note that the service record wasn't exactly what Shaw has indicated. Besides, "nothing justifies this sort of dangerous behavior."
Comcast stockholders (stock ticker CMCSA) must be concerned that the company's local monopolies over wired television service are being threatened by AT&T's new IPTV offerings, which will provide digital television service to subscribers over the DSL network. It will be interesting to see how well AT&T can integrate its expanded offerings and service performance at the household level.

National Public Radio's Madeleine Brand interviewed Ms. Shaw. (Click hear to listen.) "Woman Hammers Comcast -- Over and Over"

See also Comcast's more detailed comments on their service in a letter by Comcast Senior Vice President of Customer Service, Rick Germano to Ad Age on December 17, 2007 (requires reqistration). That letter is reprinted by Bob Garfield in his December 12, 2007 post, Mea Culpa.

See The Essential Guide to Telecommunications by Annabelle Z. Dodd (Prentice Hall, 2005) for an overview of emerging and competing technologies in telecommunications

To learn more about our work in consulting, read about our Practice or check out our Case Studies

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Jim Denney: Associated Consultant

Jim Denney, CPIM

Jim Denney is a management consultant specializing in Class A operational excellence and global operations/supply chain management. He frequently works with companies to provide turnaround leadership to rescue failing/failed SAP and Oracle projects, and to deliver the results promised to senior management during project approval.

Jim has led Class A operations engagements for Dell Computer, Adaptec, Reilly Industries, Lockheed-Martin and Cooper Industries (Gardner-Denver). His primary strengths are operations and supply chain business process design, information engineering, and building high-performance teams for superior results.

A certified national instructor for the Association for Operations Management (APICS), Jim taught the CPIM certification classes for eight years and served as a board member responsible for education and seminars.

Jim is a graduate of the SAP Partner Academy and Oracle’s Project Manager Course. As a senior vice president with Abeam Consulting, Jim was responsible for North American manufacturing and SCM consulting engagements using SAP, Oracle, IFS, and JD Edwards software packages.

Jim’s large engagement references include Dell Computer, where he worked with Dell’s VP Global Strategy. With Dell, Jim led 16 strike teams to redesign and implement business practices for performance improvements in operations, production, production control, materials management, manufacturing engineering, customer service and information technology.

He has led similar mission-critical initiatives for Mitsubishi, Lockheed Martin, Merck PR, Albertsons and Adaptec.

To learn more about our work in consulting, please see our Profile, download a brochure about our Practice, or check out our Case Studies.

Contact JP Farrell & Associates, Inc.