Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Integrators, aircraft & positioning

I'm intrigued by the (perhaps) apparent relationship between aircraft and integrators / outsourcers.  EDS build aircraft in-flight and Accenture have this week been giving balsa aircraft to Oxford students as part of their recruitment drive.  

Accenture were dishing out chocolate too (a bit too sweet, I thought), and not just to students - the barbers across the road were dissing their laxative chocolate (plain wrapper) and the 'Assenture' [sic] whose name they saw on it.

Back to aircraft, back to positioning.  What do you associate with planes, and building them?  Yes, you get the romance of travel (huh!), the appeal of engineering (no, me neither), and the sense of humanity pushing against its earthbound limitations (why not space travel, then).  On the other hand you also get industries in trouble; more than your fair share of carbon emissions; chronic lateness; and spectacularly lost luggage.

Turning to the individual associations.  Accenture distribute balsa wood stamped 'High performance.  Delivered', packaged in a bag on which is printed 'See how far you can go with Accenture'.  Can't speak for you, but I've never thought of balsa as 'high performance', nor as far-flying.  Rather, I think of it as flimsy, cheap, and short-lasting - and aircraft built from it as uncontrollable and short-lived.  I've never been an Accenture client, but this seems at odds with their other marketing.

The (now far from new) EDS video pokes fun at itself, and the aircraft builders look to be having real fun.  But, as commented at the YouTube post, it portrays customers having coffee blowing in their face, as they travel in something that's far from finished, and that looks pretty unpleasant and chaotic.  Again, I've never been an EDS client, but I don't suspect this is the desired impression.

Of course, both companies are having fun, and it may be unfair to be quite so po-faced about fun initiatives.  But, if every interaction with customers, potential recruits, and even the general public is a moment of truth for a business, then they (and we) have to be sure that the value of being associated with fun outweighs other the other associations.  Do these ones?  Maybe.

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