Who Wants to Live Forever?

Marlboro does! The history of Marlboro cigarettes can be traced back to the year 1847 in the country, England. Marlboro cigarettes got its name from a street called Marlborough in London (where the first Marlboro factory was established). The brand was owned by a company called Philip Morris which was largely an England based cigarette company. In the year 1902, Philip Morris the company, created its subsidiary, Phillip Morris USA, in the city of New York. It may come as a surprise to some that when Marlboro was launched in 1924 in the US, the brand was actually targeted at women as its main consumers. The slogan that introduced the Marlboro cigarettes to the fairer sex of the United States was “Mild as May”.

However; later on due to socio-political events on the globe, the market for Marlboro cigarettes during WW II started falling, but reappeared in the 1950′s with a focus on promoting filtered cigarettes. During those times, the majority of cigarettes were non-filtered, thus, Marlboro’s creation of filtered cigarettes appealed to the public awareness of a healthy life. Afterward, a substantial change of advertising was made; all the subtle allusions to women disappeared and the company started to promote Marlboro as a man’s cigarette.

The Marlboro advertising campaign is said to be one of the most brilliant ad campaigns ever made. It transformed a feminine campaign, with the slogan “Mild as May”, into one that was macho and masculine, and which led to significant and immediate effects on sales. By 1957, sales represented a 300% increase within two years.

Now, almost 100 years later since its launch as a woman’s cigarette in 1924, the Marlboro brand is still one of the top-selling brands of Philip Morris and is known globally as the premium brand of cigarettes. Moreover, after so many years of being in the market, Marlboro is STILL in its maturity phase. Irrespective of rising cigarette taxes, increasing cigarette prices and recessionary times, Marlboro cigarettes enjoys its popularity throughout the world and is not affected by any of the above factors. In fact, besides the fact that it is still in its maturity phase; trends show that Marlboro will continue to ride the top for some more years to come. So how can a company that has been operating for so many years remain so successful?

Simply, the leading cause to Marlboro’s success is innovation; even with the success of its main product, red Marlboro, the company over the years kept introducing new tobacco blends and flavors to its customers.  For instance, it is available in different kinds such as, menthol, and clove flavored cigarettes. It is also available in different blends such as, Marlboro Light, Black and Gold.

So the question remains, with so much competition, and after so many years, how can Marlboro remain in its maturity phase rather than start declining? Also, is Marlboro’s success attributed to tobacco being an inelastic product or because people just can’t get enough of that sweet blend? 🙂

Project Management Deadly Sin: Poor Planning

After discussing project management in class the other day, I got interested in the topic and decided to do some reading on it. I came across a sentence in an article, which prompted me to write this post. The sentence was, “in a perfect world every project would be on time and within budget, but reality (especially the proven statistics) tells a very different story.”

In other words, projects more than often end up in the failure range, that is; failure to meet expectations, failure to meet the deadline, failure to remain within the budget…etc. So the question remains, why do so many projects fail? Among the articles that I read, one caught my attention because it portrayed what I had already established in my mind.  The article stated; to keep your projects from ending up in the failure range, you must avoid making the single biggest project management mistake: inadequate project definition and planning. While project management encompasses three main activities (Planning, Scheduling and Controlling), after reading the article, I firmly believe planning is the key success factor in any project.

This is because, planning defines what the project will deliver, when it will be complete, what it will cost, who will do the work, how the work will be done, and what the benefits will be. Without clearly establishing these aspects of the project, the subsequent phases in project management are next to useless. Moreover, poor up-front planning leads to inevitable poor estimates. In many cases, if the definition and planning is not done ahead of time, the project team starts off with inadequate resources and time. Thus, many projects that could be successful are viewed as failures because they overshot their budgets and deadlines. This critical error is usually not realized until the project is already in progress.

In conclusion, how do we avoid making that error? The article offers the simple solution of spending the time up-front on good definition and planning, which will eventually end up taking much less time and effort than having to correct the problems while the project is underway.

So my question to you: if you don’t think poor planning is the deadly sin, then what is?

And how do we avoid making the common errors of failing to meet budgets and timelines among other things?