Strategic Alliances & Joint Ventures
Bridges is open to cooperation with other firms, above all internationally oriented ones. We are especially interested in "bridging the gap" to grow businesses between different cultures. The Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey depicted below represents an appropriate metaphor in that it connects Europe, on the left, with Asia, on the right.*
Bridges has a strategic alliance with Aladin Video. The Internet has become a key business driver both for Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) marketing. As downloading speeds have increased, videos have become ubiquitous on the Internet. They are acknowledged as the single most powerful method to attract -- and acquire -- customers. Aladin On-line Marketing specializes in providing videos for website marketing, from A to Z, from Artistically, creatively shooting a sparkling video to reaching with it the Zenith of a page one Google ranking. Further information is given on the first subpage of Services.
Possibilities for other strategic alliances include ones with (1) a consultancy, (2) an executive recruitment firm, (3) an international law firm, (4) a CEO roundtable or mastermind organization and (5) an advertising agency. These are discussed with examples below.
1) A Consultancy
Bridges could cooperate at the local office level with a major consultancy that offers, but does not exclusively specialize in, strategy services. To mention just two giants:
- IBM (with 400,000 + employees) has a division Global Services that is the world´s largest IT consultancy with 190,000 employees and $58.9 billion revenues (2008). One of its six service lines is Strategy and Transformation, with 3,500 professionals.
- Deloitte Touche Tohamtsu focuses on financial and technology consulting, but also offers strategy services. It has 170,000 employees in 140 countries and an active Deloitte alliance network.
Their blue chip boutique counterparts would also be welcome.
2) An Executive Recruitement Firm
Cross-marketing could be negotiatied with premier executive recruitment firms such as Boyden and Egon Zehnder International, both headquartered in Zurich.
3) An International Law Firm
Another possibility is an association with a law firm such as Mayer Brown, JSM, with over 1000 attorneys located all over the world or Covington & Burling LLP1 with 600 attorneys at offices in Beijing, Brussels, London, New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, San Diego, Washington DC and interesting alliances with McLarty Associates2 in Washington D.C. and Institution Quraysh for Law & Policy (iQ) in Qatar (with shared offices in London).
4) A CEO Roundtable or Mastermind Organization
A prominent example is Vistage, formerly TEC. In Wisconsin in 1957 Robert Nourse founded TEC, The Executive Committee. He had had the idea of forming a group of four other CEOs from companies that did not compete with his. The members would give one another advice. He felt this peer-to-peer consultation over a long period of time had significant advantages over the "in and out" of a consulting project.
In 2006 most of the 370 TEC chapters changed their name to Vistage International, which is headquarterd in San Diego, California. Vistage is primarily aimed at CEOs and owners of businesses with earnings of at least $2.5 million a year. The average number of employees of participating firms is 165. Members, who pay about a $12,000 annual fees, meet once a month. The groups have up to 15 members and their meetings typically begin with a keynote speaker, for instance, about strategy. The remainder of the day is spent in exchanging advice and discussing vital business issues.
Coordination and heading up the meetings is the responsiblity of a chairman, who is a well-respected (and well-connected) member of the local business community. Outside of the U.S., Vistage is active in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (a new venture), Chile, Germany (in Frankfurt), Ireland, Mexico, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom. (The links are to to the U.S., German and United Kingdom websites.)
Upon the formation of Bridges Enterprise Centers, a strategic alliance with Vistage (or a counterpart) becomes especially attractive.
5) An Advertising Agency
Cooperation with a young, dynamic local media agency is certainly feasible. That would be especially true if the agency were oriented towards on-line campaigns and embraced the possibilities the Internet offers for good metrics, CPA - cost per action, i.e. cost per lead and cost per close.
Less likely would be a strategic alliance with the local office of a large conventional advertising agency. A common problem in the industry is high client turnover. The prominent exception is the U.S. powerhouse, Leo Burnett. It has a classy, imaginative website, as one might expect from an advertising agency. The agency enjoys remarkable customer loyalty, often over decades, the envy of the industry.
In Spain it is run by the attractive, competent Isabel Onteso, a Harvard/IESE graduate who knows Spanish, French and English. One then notes that her counterpart in Germany knows not three, but five languages. However the website, as of June, 2011, does not list German as one of them, although he arrived in 2007! The person responsible for Central and Eastern Europe is also multilingual -- but knows no Slavic languages. (Hmmm, how many European multinationals have a company run in the U.S. by a CEO who speaks no English, getting by with, say, Spanish?)
Then comes the final nail in the coffin. The agency represents Philipp Morris, cf. footnote 1 below and also footnote 2 at "Mission," which last indicates just how lethal smoking is. (The U.S. Surgeon General´s report of December, 2010 revised upwards the long-term mortality rate from one in three to almost one in two.)
1 We are aware that Covington & Burley LLP did represent Philipp Morris in 1993. By the standards of the firm, trivial fees were received for minor work -- probably performed by a partner who smoked. The firm has a long tradition of exemplary pro bono work. It was also one of the first major law firms in the U.S. to elect women (1974) and blacks (1975) as partners, so the later ethical "smoking" slip should not be held against it.
(At one point in my career I applied with mixed feelings to a tobacco giant for a senior marketing position. I would have been responsible for the entire continent of Africa, a high growth market for cigarettes. It entailed a salary and benefits package fairly described as "astronomical."
The power of indifference: to my considerable surprise, I was offered the position. I wrestled with my conscience. In a previous position for a Fortune 500 company my responsibilities had included selling weapons systems in Africa -- "merchant of death." I had had no qualms. But here secondary schools were the key target market -- selling "cancer sticks" to adolescents? I declined. Why had I even bothered to apply, I wondered afterwards.)
2 Covington & Burlington formed an alliance with Kissinger Associates in 2003, from which McLarty Associates spun off in January 2008, taking the law firm with it.
* © Kara Sabahat, Bosphorous Bridge, Istanbul, Turkey 18 Oct. 2007, Wikipedia, GFDLGNU License 3.0; Gyan Web Design 2010