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Case Rip Cord Fortifies its Electronics Career

BRL Hardy: Globalizing the Australian Wine Company: This case begins with some nice quotes about the Australian wine industry. “Vines were first introduced into Australia…by [the] leader of the convicts and settlers who…inhabit[ed] the new British colony. …Annual per capita wine consumption in this beer-drinking country was…mostly ports and fortified wines…sold in the two-liter ‘bag in a box’ developed in Australia.” Additionally, because of its voluminous production, BRL was known as “the oil refinery of the wine industry.” The bottom line question in the case is to determine which of three $5 brands the Aussies should push on the unsuspecting UK market. In class, Professor David Arnold seemed to think the Hardy brands should be aimed at English football hooligans, known to take their drinks lying down.

Grupo Elektra: This Mexican electronics store makes most of its money from its credit operations, and is diversifying into apparel stores. Elektra’s management visited class, and they were quite entertaining. CFO Alvaro Rodriguez Arregui: “We know our business cycle. Our analyst presentation is entitled, ‘Been There, Done That.’ We were going to call it ‘Been There, Done That, Bought the T-Shirt,’ but that would’ve been too much.” CEO Javier Sarro: “When you go from hard goods to apparel, suddenly you’re dealing with artists, and suddenly they have feelings. We’re in product meetings, and there are feelings all over the room.” The case opens with Rodriguez trying to decide Elektra’s course of action while scuba diving in Canc£n. Professor David Arnold therefore made the opening cold call, “There is a colorful fish. There is a spectacular coral reef. But what should we do? Kimmra [Obrecht (OB)]?”

Humphrey Chen: This video case is about a soon-to-be-graduate, and the decision he faces on whether he should start a high tech entrepreneurial venture or become a consultant. The written orientation guide describes Chen’s venture, which will help people buy CDs with their cell phones when they hear a song on the radio. He proposes to save us from “hum[ming] a tune in a retail store with the hope that someone will recognize the song.” Certainly HMV and Tower workers in Harvard Square would pay a lot for this service. Then again, the introduction to Fat Boy Slim’s “The Rockefeller Skank” would certainly be less entertaining. The Chen video takes us to Blodgett Pool, where the protagonist is kind enough to share exactly where he dreamed up the idea for his venture. Guess it was a wet dream. [Aargh #1.] Chen’s resume from his summer internship at the FCC reads, “chosen to meet with Vice President Gore to advise him on national and global information infrastructure issues.” Alas, Gore’s invention of the Internet was really driven by an HBS Summer Intern. Finally in the video, Chen makes the statement, “You have to be schizophrenic to manage all this, or you go crazy.” Think someone thought to give him a copy of Catch-22 as a graduation present?

Midway: Licensing, Distributing, and Building Brands in China: The question here is whether Midway should produce license other companies’ brands or build their own. One of the options is “Baby-Q, an established baby brand in China…focusing on…baby underwear. …they don’t have proper information about their end users, and they have also suffered from poor customer support services.” Baby brands. Don’t know too much about them, but supporting the end users sounds like a shitty business. [Aargh #2.]

Please send comments on your cases to Uncle.Jordy@mba2002.hbs.edu.

December 3, 2001
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