Monthly Archives: November 2014

Protecting Elephants using Google AdWords


Cruelty to animals is a problem worldwide, yet it is something that is not clearly understood by the thousands of tourists who are looking for a unique experience, such as riding an elephant. To increase awareness about cruelty to the elephants that are used as tourist rides, a London charity, World Animal Protection, set up a fake travel Web site to highlight the issue.

The site is found when tourists Google “elephant rides.” Using Google AdWords, the first site (listed as an “Ad”) seems legitimate, but viewing the video provides a shock. The viewer learns how baby elephants are ripped from their families, then tortured, broken, and trained to provide tourist rides. Once the video has been viewed, a link is provided to the World Animal Protection organization where visitors are encouraged to donate to the cause. After viewing the video, no one will never again take animal experiences at face-value.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss social and corporate responsibility, particularly with regards to animal protection.
  2. Have students Google “elephant rides.” The first response on the list is an ad for “Authentic elephant rides.” Click on it – and then view the video. (This site is fictional.)
  3. View the video and Web site:
  4. Also view the site for World Animal Protection:
  5. Discuss the effectiveness of this approach. Have students develop similar ideas for social causes.

Source: Source: Ad Age Daily

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The question: “Why?”


What makes a company great? It isn’t just profitability or growth. There are many companies that achieve both of those, yet still remain mired in negativity or conflict. And, what makes a great leader? It isn’t just managerial skills, it’s something that goes beyond, something that inspires and resonates with people – especially customers.

In this TED Talk, Simon Sinek attempts to answer the question of ‘why’ and explain how great leaders inspire action. His concept: the golden circle. At the center of the golden circle is the answer to the ‘why’ question.

Every organization knows ‘what’ it does, but very few know ‘why’. Making a profit isn’t enough to answer ‘why’ – profit is a result, not a purpose. The ‘why’ needs to focus on the purpose, the cause, and the beliefs. It should be why we get out of bed in the morning and attempt to make a difference in the world. People don’t necessarily buy ‘what’ you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Start by asking students to define what makes a company great. Ask students if there are companies that they will not shop at – and ask why. On the other side, ask if there are companies that they will shop at – and ask why. What makes these companies different?
  2. Discuss the importance of leadership in organizations and how having a clear mission, vision, and values impacts organizations.
  3. Show the video:
  4. Following the video, divide students into teams. Have each team review the mission/vision/values of an organization of their choosing. (Good companies for this are Tom’s Shoes, Warby Parker, and Quirky.)
  5. Next, have the teams write mission/vision/values for a new company.
  6. Write the statements on the board and discuss the implications to the organization and to its customers.


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China’s Singles Day Sales Tops $9.3B


It was a record shattering shopping day in China on 11.11 when sales on Singles Day topped $9.3 billion!  The shopping holiday growth is credited to ecommerce giant Alibaba who had more than 27,000 merchants registered to participate this year. This is a huge increase in only five years; in 2009, there were only 27 merchants participating. In a day that broke records, perhaps the most important statistic is that roughly 43% of all purchases were made on mobile devices.

While there were global brands participating (such as Uniqlo, Adidad, Costco, Walmart, and even Amazon) the biggest winners were undoubtedly the Chinese brands. Chinese smartphone company Xiami alone generated $163 million in sales before noon. (Compare this with Xiami’s sales last year at $89.9 million for the entire day.)

Singles Day began decades ago as Bachelors Day, a Chinese holiday where single men shopped and partied to hold their blues at bay. But in 2009, Alibaba put its might behind the day and turned it into a manufactured shopping holiday in China. Sales have increased more than 5,000% from 2009 to 2014. Can it go higher?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the growing importance of Singles Day in China. Discuss the implications for U.S. companies.
  2. Show videos about Singles Day and Alibaba:

  1. Also, show Alibaba, Taobao, and Tmall Web sites. (There are translators for the sites.)
  2. Discuss the growth of mobile devices for shopping. What are the implications for companies?
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team select an ecommerce site and develop and outline for how the site can be effective on mobile devices.

Source: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, CNBC., Ad Age Daily, other news sources

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