My wife is a huge 40s and 50s movie buff. While I spend my nights and weekends watching my various contests across the gamut of sports, Liliane is situated in front of our glorious HDTV viewing black and white Hitchcocks, Twilight Zones, sci-fi and other entertainments of that time. The other night, between periods of my beloved Rangers, I caught a glimpse of her watching a favorite of hers, and, I’ll even admit, mine, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Hence, the inspiration for this column.
I use poetic license to make the connection. Over the years I’ve observed so many brands in search of leadership to help guide them towards success. Every day you see news on our BevNET site of a company bringing in a veteran of the beverage wars. Other newsletters are also full of those announcements.
The common denominator is where these hires have come from: usually it’s Atlanta or Purchase. Yes, whenever someone taps an executive to lead their efforts, the resource is from Coke or Pepsi, with an occasional A-B, Coors, or Heineken exec thrown into the mix. I’ve lost count of these people who have infiltrated the entrepreneurial arena. Those parent companies are the perfect training and breeding ground to launch them into the world. I’ve observed this dance for over 20 years now. As in the movie, their role is to take over the industry, and they really have.
So, is this good for the beverage marketplace? Early on, I would not have said so. Over the years these hires tried to bring their old corporate methods to the chaotic scene that is the world of entrepreneurial and innovative beverages. They didn’t have a feel for the environment that birthed these exciting new brands. They didn’t get their consumer and how to reach them. They tried to shape them into mini-Cokes and Pepsis. It didn’t work. They only knew one way, and it wasn’t the right one. The internal battles between the founders and the new leaders hired weren’t a pretty sight. These carefully crafted and intensely trained pod people got the power, but didn’t use it for the good of mankind.
Now though, it’s a different story. As the industry evolves into a more healthful, natural, spiritual environment, these executives coming out of the ranks are attuned and sensitive to the wants, needs and methods to make these terrific brands successful. I call it a kinder, gentler generation of Coke and Pepsi people. I look at dozens of companies that have tapped into the minds and expertise of these Blue and Red execs and the fit is now right.
There is now a synergy, a yin-yang for the great brands that are taking us into a golden age of beverages. With the spirit of the founders and the excellence of the executives entering the ranks, we now have the ideal situation. Beverage Nirvana! At least, that’s what that thing that took over my brain the other night told me to say…