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Mrs. Carmichael Case Study

Essay by   •  January 18, 2017  •  Case Study  •  1,367 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,491 Views

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Mrs. Carmichaels’ (global account director for The Leo Burnett Company Ltd. later referred as LB) problem is that the launch of “Forever Young” skin care product is at risk of failure in primary test market Canada with delays, budget issues and team conflicts piling up. This situation jeopardizes LB’s whole historic cooperation with most important client, OBC (manufacturer of “Forever Young”), as well as additional launch plans in US and in Europe. If LB ought to lose cooperation with OBC due to tensions cost by this project (together with failed launch), it would be big financial hit for LB. It would also decrease the likelihood of acquiring additional global launches for OBC brands.

Mrs. Carmichael has to make a decision of how to solve increasing issues in the project – whether to decentralize product communication to Canadian team LB team or move all decision power to London. On top of this she needs to decide how to restructure the Canadian team that faced a lot of fluctuation in turmoil of this project.

Mrs.Carmichael’s problems are rooted from failure in organizations project structure set up at the beginning of the project, causing more and more issues later down the line. LB’s formal reporting lines were not in line with “Forever Young” teams reporting lines, creating very confusing reporting structure with duplicated responsibilities and serious communication caps. Also LB and OBC team communication and reporting lines where not lean enough for efficient progress of the project. This caused situation where Mrs. Carmichael could not have possibly been able to have proper overview of the project and recognize bottle necks faced (such as issues with web site), early enough to tackle them on time. She mostly heard about project difficulties through the direct supervisors of “Forever Young” team, rather than from team members or her direct reports.

Budgeting structure was also set up to cause more conflict, not setting up clear task responsibilities and goals (effective goal set up SMART for Canadian team was lacking). As an example, Canadian interactive team being theoretically responsible of web site build up, but budgeted from London office. Finally, Davids, previously Account supervisor was assigned to let this important project and given autonomy to set up his team. Compared to self-motivated Lee in Taipei, he perhaps lacked experience of this level project and team set up.

All of these structural challenges would have needed really strong management and communication to, in which Mrs. Carmichael failed to succeed. She did not provide effective feedback (specific, frequent, timely, credible and relevant) to teams, did not coordinate communication paths (example too rare meetings between satellite teams) and finally she did not make needed decision enough early on to decentralize the project to Canadian team with standard LB structure and to make leaner communication paths (she kept on insisting to follow team communication protocol).  

This decision to differ from LB’s normal project and responsibility structure (history as an input to organizations open system) with Canadian team caused not only double cost in terms of two creatives team working on same (re-pitch), but also lack of communication consistency to end client in Canada, possibly effecting initial launch results.

This highly creative team was also motivated by external rewards (possible awards leading to recognition and more interesting projects), which was now taken away from them. Also their extensive efforts did not result in goal achievement as expected (performance to outcome not satisfactory). No wonder that the motivation levels decreased in Canadian team (lack of autonomy decreases motivation), internal competition started creating conflict and fluctuation of team started to happen complicating situation further more.

Last but not, small town in British Columbia chosen as pre-launch test audience, was not presentative sample of Canadian population (possible age structure, advertisement channels) and thus could not be considered as relevant data to rely on.

In order to correct these issues from beginning formal project structure with a precise definition of competencies and responsibilities (also for budget) should have been established for all project teams and members, especially for Janet Carmichael and head of Toronto and Taipei teams (formal power). For the project lifetime employees involved should create a separately managed team to enforce and streamline communication as well as make proper use of expert power of the team members. In such created team set up roles would be clearly defined and decision making would be more effective.

Precise, leaner, communication paths, especially between global brand team in London and satellite teams should have been defined.

  • Additionally clear definition of project manager’s (Janet Carmichael) role and her responsibility in the project was missing.
  • Headquarters of the global brand team kept in UK although OBC decided eventually Canada to become new primary test market and UK was supposed to be the lead market for other skin care product that Forever Young. (insufficient knowledge of Canadian market in UK team)
  • not replicable on a national scale pre-launch test conditions in Canada; small town in the interior of British Columbia chosen for the test due to isolated media could not be representative enough trial for country scale


  • satellite teams’ responsibilities (Toronto and Taipei) for “Forever Young” project should have been equal. Global team should have produced a creative template for a brand (they had more knowledge of the brand), which should have been adapted for the local market by satellite teams (because of their expert power when it comes to market specifics).
  • defining team’s responsibilities should have been parallel with the budget allocation
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  • before project lunch detailed analysis of project sensitivity due to the duration and costs should have been prepared by the project manager. When it became obvious that budget would be exceeded, Janet should apply for extra support from LB’s management. With but budget the project goal might not be achieved and stakes were too high to lose it (potential loss of OBC brands)  
  • after the national campaign of “Forever Young” results showed that the brand did not perform well, immediate decision to decentralize should be taken, even though that Davids had left the agency. The most important knowledge and skills are all the time and there were in Canada. Shirley Watson, Creative Director should have been established as a team leader in Canada. Additionally UK creative team as the one holding expertise in producing TV ads should be temporarily moved to Toronto to support the team in realizing the Canadian concept (new mass advertising creative team in Toronto had very little knowledge about the brand)
  • To avoid problems arising from competition between UK and Canada teams Janet should initiate citizenship behavior leading to improvement of team members relations.

Decentralization is the only way to solve main Janet Carmichael problem: not satisfactory results of sales new skin care line called “Forever Young”. This is the solutions, that could have been taken on every stage of the project and should be taken in the future (expectancy theory of motivation: increasing E-to-P expectancies by providing role clarity and sufficient resources). Successful launching of new product line would increase revenues and the likelihood of acquiring additional global brands, which would also have enormous influence on future LB revenues. That is why some small budget overrun should not be taken into account. Preparation for a U.S. launch should be structure in the same way as mentioned above (job characteristics model, autonomy could increase general satisfaction what could reduce rotations in the teams), with giving responsibility for adaptation for the local market creative template produced by global team. Headquartered of the project should maintain in UK, but with responsibilities and budget for satellite team in Canada (one of team success factors: responsible for entire work process, autonomy to organize and coordinate work). Canadian team should be composed from people, who have detailed knowledge about the market.



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