BMW brand crisis + more things

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BMW brand and business crisis

I haven’t driven a BMW in well over 20 years, so Doug DeMuro’ update on the BMW brand was fascinating.

BMW brand twitter account OK boomer
BMW Twitter account

The BMW brand issue hadn’t been on my radar until Doug DeMuro talked about it. A number of things seem to be happening with BMW.

The company’s customer base is predominantly gen-x and baby boomers; because their cars are expensive. For decade these people have been told that the BMW brand represents the ultimate driving machine.

An important part of the visual BMW brand: the design language that it is implementing on is problematic. In particular the ugly ‘beaver teeth grill. This is ironic given that an electric car doesn’t need a grill for its engine.

It didn’t help things that from a certain angle the rear of the BMW iX has a resemblance to the Nissan Juke.

Nissan Juke 1.6 Advance 2017
Nissan Juke 1.6 Advance 2017 by RLGNZLZ

It has at least an internal perception that it has lost its BMW brand mojo as there is a slow steady move away from the internal combustion engine.

If you look at other YouTube automotive channels, BMW seems to be having reliability issues with its current cars and the repairs are expensive to do. Back in the early 1970s the BMW brand was tarnished with negative perceptions about the cars being rust buckets and the company managed to lick that. The current engineering problems sound more complex.

All of this makes the BMW brand sound more difficult to fix than being on the socials and being up to date with their yoofspeak.


Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience Series | China’s Global Media Footprint – interesting report by the National Endowment for Democracy, especially given how UK regulator Ofcom revoked the TV licence for CGTN – Ofcom revokes CGTN’s licence to broadcast in the UK – Ofcom 

Huawei official speaks out after “Uighur alarm” report – The Washington Post – Huawei’s Denmark country manager resigns and then briefs against the company on its AI system that identifies Uighurs

China’s Luckin Coffee files for bankruptcy in US | Financial Times 

Canada concerned as Hong Kong starts to force dual citizens to choose status – The Globe and Mailindividuals who declare themselves Canadian could now lose their residency rights to live in Hong Kong.“It’s the beginning of the end for people in Hong Kong with Canadian status,” said Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. The policy on dual citizenship stems from a 1980 law in mainland China that was then applied to Hong Kong when the United Kingdom handed over the city to Beijing in 1997. “The law was on the books for years but it wasn’t always enforced,” Mr. Kurland said. – interesting move

The Longer Telegram: Toward a new American China strategy – Atlantic Council – single most important challenge facing the United States and the democratic world in the twenty-first century is the rise of an increasingly authoritarian and aggressive China under Xi Jinping. China has long had an integrated, operational strategy for dealing with the United States. The United States has so far had no such strategy with regard to China. This is a dereliction of national responsibility – interesting read. Right on with its diagnostics, but off base with its proposed solution. The west thought that Xi was a moderate when he came into power. He has extended his loyalists in every aspect of the party. The Jiang Zemin faction of the party, which would be an alternative aren’t liberal; they used the army to put down student protests in 1989.

Hong Kong to impose ‘national security’ schools curriculum | Financial Times – interesting that it impacts expat kids as well. A powerful message that China is prepared to burn Hong Kong to the ground to get alignment


China and the Fate of Taiwan | Yale University Press Blog 

National security law prompts record number of Hongkongers to move to Taiwan: report | Apple Daily – numbers over double from 2019 to 2020

Media, brand and marketing

Commission chief tells charities not to be ‘captured’ for politics | Charities | The GuardianCharities that support politically or culturally contentious causes should expect their charitable status to come under regulatory scrutiny even if they are acting within the law, according to the outgoing chair of the Charity Commission. The Tory peer Tina Stowell, who is stepping down after three years in the post, warned charities against being “captured” by unnamed people who wish to push a partial view of the world and use charity platforms to wage war on “political enemies”. – this is going to be interesting

Looking downstream – Tortoise – as a long time netizen I am less certain that regulating platforms for content will work and worry about the precedent it would set for authoritarian regimes. Should OTT platforms such as Netflix, Disney+ or Amazon Prime carry news? Here my first question is how do you define news? Should they do real time news reporting, probably not even if they could. Should they do current affairs analysis – they already do if you look at the kind of documentaries that they have. I think that there should be real questions about those documentaries in terms of quality and bias? While we’re on about documentary making, surely the BBC could be doing more work with Adam Curtis or Bellingcat and have those people training the documentary film makers of tomorrow

Higher Brothers’ Masiwei to Perform Live on McDonald’s App | Radii China – this is a really smart move by McDonald’s China to drive downloads and reward customers

Liu Yifei Announced as Face of Louis Vuitton China | Radii China – LVMH betting on woke western liberals not being their customer base and choosing polarising star. It also shows how far Fan Bingbing’s star has fallen since her tax troubles. Crystal Liu was the protagonist in the car crash live action version of Mulan. She’s also not as beautiful as Fan Bingbing

Bagging bargains: the unexpected rise of the discount megastore | Financial Times – not terribly surprising when one thinks about how recessions increased the market share of discount food retailers like Lidl, Aldi & Netto

How did rich millennials become the voice of generation rent? | Young people | The Guardian – what’s missing from this is the sense of being precarious with freelancing and contract work in middle class professions now. This also seemed related: Why do so many professional, middle-class Brits insist they’re working class? | Class issues | The Guardian 

GroupM, Unilever launch tool to measure ethics of data decision-making | Ad Age – is GroupM (or any media agency) the right partner from a credibility point-of-view?


How Europe Became a Model for the 21st Century – DER SPIEGELDespite its long list of crises in recent years – including the most recent vaccine snafu – the European Union has become a global pacesetter. Its laws and regulations have established global norms. This has made the bloc a 21st century model. – I agree with the direction of this article, even if some of the examples could be debated

Meet the Chinese-Made Social Voice Chat App That Came Before Clubhouse- PingWestDizhua 递爪 (literally translated as sticking out one’s paws, a meme-phrase for raising hands) went live, offering the same kind of voice-based experience that connects people, nearly a year ahead of Clubhouse.

Silicon Valley’s iron grip on venture capital is slipping — Quartzthe shift to smaller tech hubs that’s been going on for years is set to move even faster, according to Stanford. “The pandemic has thrust the VC ecosystem into new territory where Zoom meetings and alternative deal sourcing methods reign supreme,” he wrote in an analyst note. “This shift has, at least somewhat, leveled the playing field for investor attention…Over Zoom, it doesn’t matter if the company is in the same building, city, state, or country.” – no credit given for the dissipation technology start-ups to places like Singapore and Shenzhen. For instance, social darling Clubhouse is based on Chinese voice technology. But there’s also a bigger issue about the decline in hard innovation which is easier to do in a tight cluster. Since its no longer happening, the cluster makes less sense. More on innovation here.

Information security

Clearview AI’s Facial Recognition App Called Illegal in Canada – The New York Times 

McKinsey fires investment bank researchers after policy breaches 

Bases for Trust in a Supply Chain – LawfareWith a supply chain attack, there is a potentially long delay between the introduction of a vulnerability and its exploitation. In addition, infiltrating a supplier generally requires a well-resourced adversary and interaction with that supplier. So compared to the alternatives, preparations for a supply chain attack take longer and have a higher risk of discovery. The risks of discovery can be reduced, however, if inserted vulnerabilities resemble ordinary flaws and, thus, the malicious intent is disguised. The digital systems on which individuals and nations increasingly depend are large and complex, so today they are likely to be rife with vulnerabilities. Many of those vulnerabilities will be known, some unpatched, and others easily discovered by analysis. In short, such systems are easy to compromise.

Russian hack brings changes, uncertainty to US court systemnew rules for filing sensitive documents are one of the clearest ways the hack has affected the court system. But the full impact remains unknown. Hackers probably gained access to the vast trove of confidential information hidden in sealed documents, including trade secrets, espionage targets, whistleblower reports and arrest warrants. It could take years to learn what information was obtained and what hackers are doing with it – you can’t hack paper

Suspected Russian Hack Extends Far Beyond SolarWinds Software, Investigators Say – WSJ