Sex, Sales, Tax and Talent

What happens when sex underpins your marketing campaign or product and it falls apart? Unilever SA management and some staff had to recently deal with a PR nightmare. Months of sexy television adverts showed mostesses flirting with passengers on the AxeJet and promoted the Axe deodorant competition. Competition winners, celebrities and journalists expected a luxury jet to the party land of Ibiza, Spain. When the flight of fantasy day arrived, it was delayed and Axe guests spent the night at a local hotel. The press release on the Axejet website apologised for the frustrations. It stated that a third party supplier, responsible for the charting the flight, was unable to secure take-off and the company was considering the appropriate action. Axe guests had to settle for normal commercial flights without the mostesses. It must have been a sign of relief for management when the rest of the trip went off successfully.

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is closer to many bedrooms after one of their managers apparently participated in a condom scam. It is alleged that the employee received money from a particular supplier for slipping their defective condoms through quality control testing. Based upon the evidence from an audit,  SABS instituted legal action against the manager and the supplier. It commendable that the white collar crime was reported and the public warned about the defective condoms (probably too late for those that used them). SABS has taken corrective actions to prevent condom tampering in future. It includes management changes at the condom laboratory, revision and tightening of procedural controls, locking data entry points and installing double signatory approval procedures from the point of test to the final test report. But here is the rub: these corrective actions hardly go beyond standard internal controls around restricted access and authorisation. What about HR leading the way in terms of stringent talent selection, comprehensive job profiles, performance management and ethics?
Sale, Sale, Sale

After years of aggressive promotions, clearance sales, mark downs and deep discounts, retailers are stuck with the customer that is resistant to purchasing normal price items. The customer that patiently waits for sale periods. Why pay the normal price when another sale is in the pipeline?  Trying to sell normal priced items as bargains will fail, if your staff is against you. Pop into any of the dozens of CTM stores countrywide for “supersavers” and cut price sales running throughout the year. Or illusion at work? On more than one occasion, I have chatted separately with staff on the floor about their “sale” items. Some looked me straight in the eye with the official reply that every item was on sale. Others tipped me off that the real sale (when normal prices are slashed) was a few weeks away. Go figure.

To Do List

Please take time out this month for the environment. Since the 1980’s, scientists have been jumping up and down about climate change to a deaf audience of big business and the masses. The Arctic sea ice has been declining at the rate of countries, as a result of high temperatures and changes in ice. A frightening reality is that we are going to experience the adverse impact of climate change in our lifetime. On 15 October, show your support for blog action day with a few moves of the mouse. Bloggers around the world will post about any topic and link it to the environment. A freebie for employer branding to a talent market, slowly going green. Lastly, it is time to render your dues to the fiscus. The 2007 filing season draws to a close at the end of this month (There are no extensions to the deadline of 31 October). Don’t be fooled by the thin, easier to complete tax return that is two pages for the average salary-earner. The onus is on the taxpayer to provide accurate information that is supported by documentation in their possession. Play honestly.

December Update: Axe Vice is the latest promotion. Prepare for Blog Action Day 2008. The Real CTM Sale is now on. Efiling tax deadline is 31 January 2008.

(HR Future, October 2007)

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