Category Archives: Business

Unhappy Meal: Big Mac Cheeses Off France! #Macron


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All Aboard the Gravy Train: #HS2 ‘Channels Inner Fat Controller’!

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Classic American Sitcom Legacy Latest: Eastern Europe ‘Looks Like Central Perk’!

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One World is Enough for All of Us: European Free Trade Zone ‘Now Stretches to #CDMX’!

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Losing My Corporate Religion: Why Coca-Cola and Alcohol Don’t Mix

In our present era of digital commercial interfaces and impersonal, transnational corporations it is often all too easy to forget that behind every company – even the biggest and the most bureaucratic – lie human beings, and that said human beings, notwithstanding the exceptional market intelligence at their fingertips, are capable of making perplexing and illogical decisions. Such was the line of thinking that our Creative Director & CSO (‘CD&CSO’) found himself being seduced by upon reading that no less an entity than Coca-Cola itself is planning to enter the alcoholic beverages business.

To be precise, Coca-Cola (Japan) Company Limited is working on an iteration of Chu-Hi, a drink containing distilled shōchū. Chu-Hi alcopops – which typically contain between 3% and 8% alcohol – is a relatively new market which has experienced between 5% and 25% year-on-year growth since 2013 within Japan. Prima facie, there would appear to be a strong case for what Jorge Garduño – president of Coca-Cola’s Japanese business unit – has termed ‘experimentation in the low-alcohol category‘.

However – and after some reflection – we at Mediolana cannot help thinking that this project is one of the most specious we have ever come across, especially given the bigger picture of the Coca-Cola Company’s recent diversification drive: the Atlanta-based soft-drinks giant is confronting a seismic shift in consumer tastes as citizens in increasingly obese populations point the stubby finger of blame at purveyors of sugar-defined sodas. Coca-Cola has therefore invested massively – with varying degrees of success – in tea and water products which enjoy an apparently more benign popular image.

But by moving into alcohol – particularly at this juncture in history – Coca-Cola risks flying from the frying pan straight into the flammable, carcinogenic liquid. The alcohol industry is confronting the kinds of challenges which make the prospect of sugar taxes and concerned parents seem like negligible irritations: alarming sales declines, complete advertising bans in certain jurisdictions and generational cultural changes which are difficult if not impossible to counter. Indeed, alcohol companies are diversifying out of their core business, which makes one wonder how and why Coca-Cola is failing to reading the broader market signals.

In any event, scoring a cheap short term hit from an alcopops line – and even the broader diversification process – are total distractions from what Coca-Cola should be doing: reconfiguring what is indubitably one of the world’s most iconic and best-loved drinks brands for the twenty-first century. Upgrading distribution and recycling channels, transitioning to organic and fairly-traded ingredients and expanding the range of Coke-themed beverages to cater to an increasingly globalised palate cannot be put on the back burner any longer; moreover, they will need every ounce of corporate muscle to be realised in what is becoming an insanely competitive space.

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Beautiful Stranger: Anomic Technological Superpower ‘Suddenly Obsessed With Make-Up’!

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Don’t Steal My Sunshine: Why Entrepreneurs Must Defend Entrepreneurship

The 2000s and 2010s have seen two distinct macroeconomic changes which have had profound consequences for the place of entrepreneurship in global society. The first such development – the mass adoption of Internet-enabled information technology – drastically reduced the barriers to entry to large sectors of the economy by enabling the creation and expansion of partially or totally virtual markets. The second development – the worldwide financial crash of 2007, an event which is arguably still ongoing – reduced the capacity of both the public and private sectors to provide secure and reasonably remunerated employment, prompting a new generation to leap into the sea of business.

The cultural shift in favour of entrepreneurship these occurrences have produced is – viewed from a long-term perspective – nothing short of remarkable. Entrepreneurs – formerly looked upon as a questionable breed – are seen as cool and worthy of emulation. Startups, co-working spaces and business incubators – which until recently were specialist terms – have made their way into the everyday language of commerce and beyond. Young adults who would have naturally gravitated towards long and decorated careers in government or traditional large companies are shunning these safe options in record numbers.

However, there is a serious threat to this otherwise encouraging picture: certain corporations are adopting the language, garb and grammar of entrepreneurship for their own nefarious ends. Such companies are particularly noticeable in poorly-regulated economies, where the the jargon of corporate social responsibility (‘CSR’) is liberally sprayed around to mask the grim reality of market failure perpetuation.

This is deeply concerning, because sections of the general public are all too inclined to dismiss anyone with so much as a balance sheet on their laptop as a socio-economic parasite. All too often, they are not differentiating between the honest entrepreneur – a figure who has the potential to upgrade their community and their country by both financial and non-financial means – and companies which increasingly do not even serve the narrow demographic of their shareholders, let alone wider society, with anything approaching a conscience.

Therefore, entrepreneurs must do what no one else is willing to do for them: distinguish themselves from corporations which produce significant negative externalities; gouge the taxpayer by engaging in rent-seeking behaviour; or treat legitimate, fair and proportionate tax requests like artefacts of magical realism. The price of not doing so – at a time of rationally indefensible economic inequity – may be nothing less than the perceived legitimacy, if not the practical mechanics, of the market economy itself.

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