458 Italia Recall

Mr Ferrari PR, Jason Harris, was speaker for yesterday’s Coventry conversation.  His presentation was centred on the Crisis Management and the recalls of Ferrari 458 Italia. Mr Jason Harris is the regional manager, communication and he also controls the north Europe, Scandinavian, Dutch as well as the UK market.

He began his presentation addressing the audience over exaggerated and distorted headlines in the newspapers.

They believed that the Ferrari 458 Italia was ‘jinxed’; the ‘thermal incidents’, as Ferrari referred to it, happened consecutively. 

Some news papers published headlines such as ‘Top ten Ferrari caught fire’. Mr Harris stated that out of these ten 458 Italia’s only three caught fire. The other seven incidents the cars were involved in were due to accidents and the incompetence of drivers.

The fault was detected as the bonding adhesive used to attach the heat shield to the wheel-arch liner. The glue melts when it is in proximity to very hot temperatures. The wheel-arch coming into contact with the hot exhaust pipe caused the glue to melt, heat up and ignite. The body of Ferrari is designed with aluminium; aluminium under very high temperature melts.

Ferrari said the fire risk was due to a ‘hot day’, a ‘hot road’ and a ‘very hot car.’ Ferrari in the end called back all its 1,248 cars and replaced them for the owners at no cost. Since the incident, all the glued sections of the car are fitted with metal rivets.

The Sun reportedly said four of the cars had gone up in flames when it was three of them as at the time of the report. Ferrari then had to admit it was four cars because denying the claims would mean they had something to hide.

This goes to show how journalists are supposed to check their facts before reporting them. Mr Harris stressed that reports needed to be accurate and fair. His stress throughout the presentation was in defense of his company as well as the inaccurate figures in the press.

Ferrari later issued an official statement saying they had stopped production and recalled more than 1,200 of the super cars.

He also stated that Ferrari has had a similar incident but that was about 20 years ago and definitely before the age of Internet and You-tube. With the incident of the 458 Italia burning in china, the footage was on You-tube in matter of minutes.

We are in an age where the internet is readily available he said. This means that footage posted are easily accessible, therefore companies are also under pressure to answer queries as quickly as possible.

He expressed that the delays in answering journalist questions about incident such as these were due to the fact that the companies must comply with legislation and also a have a formulated plan on how to fix the problem before they can issue a statement or comment of any form.

He acknowledged the positive comments of Auto car journalist Chris Harris, Roger Stansfield and luxury car dealer Clive Sutton.

Chris Harris commented the incident was down to ‘bad luck’ and the glue used was not experimental glue as it is what the company has always used. The incident was bad news Chris stated in an interview with CNN but Ferrari’s response to the incident was very spontaneous. Chris in his interview also added that “any car could go up in flames and nobody would be bothered but a Ferrari in flames definitely makes a news story”.

Mr Harris also commented that Ferrari has a good recall better than other manufactures. In a lean and flat organisation as theirs, information can be communicated quicker and urgent incidents are quickly dealt with.

When asked if the incident would ruin the company’s reputation or damage the brand, he confidently replied: “it would not because of the way we responded to the incident. None of the car dealers I spoke to reported a single cancellation of their order. I don’t know about across the world but certainly that didn’t happen in the UK”

He added: “this problem is a small part of the company and not the whole Ferrari Company as people made it seem”

When asked whether he liked journalists he smiled and exclaimed a loud yes. He later honestly answered saying “I like journalists who are professionals in what they do and understand a brand and therefore accord it the respect it deserve. But you don’t seem to get much of such journalists these days”

Mr Harris said the company does not advertise as the money is used to address PR issues.

Ferrari he said is not your average car and it takes a lot of skills and expertise to design as every design is unique in its own rights. His favourite model he mentioned would be the Ferrari California convertible because he loves convertibles.

“California convertible is the weekend away with my wife” he concluded.

This Cov con session was not podcast because the Ferrari incident has already been addressed by the company and subsequently dealt with.


When I slipped down the icy stairs on that snowy day by the Bugatti building and in your concerned voiced you asked: “Are you ok?”, little did I know you were saying good bye.

When I hugged you and wished you a happy Christmas and you wished me the same, little did I know you were saying good bye.

As I dragged my bag from the station and met you that Sunday evening with a smile on your face and in your voice as we exchanged pleasantries; little did I know you were saying good bye.

As you cheerfully filled the plastic cups with popcorn in preparation for CUEAFS film screening and we shared a light-hearted conversation; little did I know that was the last time I was speaking to you.

Nadia, you were a gift not only to your family but to all who knew you. I only got to know you towards the end of last term, however the minutes I spent talking to you, it was obvious to tell you are truly an amazing person.

One thing I know is people were always forthright in letting you know how much you were loved and how much you meant to them.

It saddens me that heavens deems it right to take you away from us suddenly. In as much as it’s painful to bear I believe you are safe in the Arms of the Angels.

Some things in life we might never understand why, but I believe you are safe wherever you are.

You memories will forever be with us.

May you find rest……

Rest in peace…..

Safe journey…..

(Nadia’s was laid to rest on Monday 14th of February at the Canley Crematorium in Coventry)

Last Men Standing: Steve Orchard and Phil Riley


At today’s Coventry conversation, Phil Riley and Steve Orchard talked about their successes and challenges as they aim to keep commercial radio alive.

Steve Orchard created an air of mystery placing his ear by his bag to check if the content ‘was still alive’ and this certainly kept the audience listening. He finally unravelled the mystery item which was a 1946 Bosch wireless radio given to him by his grandmother when he was a teenager.

This has been the catalyst that propelled him into radio as he believed the appliance would take him everywhere in the world in terms of news coverage.

To own a radio station and run it successfully, you have to indeed be the last man standing as there is a dramatic change in radio listeners and also the competition to get as many people listening to a particular station is fierce said Phil Riley”

This competition has driven quite a number of local radio stations to go national. ‘Smooth fm’ which was once a local radio station has gone national. ‘Heart’ has also experienced a reduction in its local programme from 10 hours a day to 7 hours and ‘Galaxy’ now ‘Capital fm’ is hoping to take on Radio 1.

Phil and Steve expressed that, their marketing strategy is to be more local and also offer local advertisers great opportunities and publicity. Even if the local market is not growing, to be the Last Men Standing is hopeful.

Steve stated: “as part of what I do, I find a radio station which is not thriving and improve it. An example is Mercia, I ‘stuck’ the word NEW on the front and that worked. Classic fm adapted music which gives listeners a state of relaxation whiles Plant Rock upped the amount of Led Zeppelin listeners heard.

When asked what the future of a radio station in Coventry is, Steve replied: “unless we are able to recreate a passion for the area in which we broadcast, there is no future. Every successful local radio station should know how to get under the skin of its listeners and for Coventry it should be what makes the tribe of Coventry. What makes them angry and also what makes them swell with pride.”

Phil expressed that, the radio industry is a tough place to be and commercial radio in particular has had a difficult time because it is up against the best. He added that the way forward is to grasp the attention of the audience by connection with them as locals.

Steve further added that commercial radio is shrinking because the programmes are just ‘bland’. For a commercial radio to thrive in Coventry, the programmes have to reflect the lives of the people who live primarily in Coventry and Warwickshire.

He also stressed that “you reap what you sow” therefore the amount of effort you put in anything is always reflected in the end result.

The state of business subsequently is grim for young journalists as the number of them being employed is decreasing. Mercia for instance employs 12 or 15 journalists and news has also slipped down the agenda for some commercial radio shows.

Advice for young Journalists out there?

Steve said: “it is a fantastic environment to work. So learn technology and have a hunger for content. You need to have the ability to tell the story. Don’t stutter or try to be somebody else as the microphone is good at spotting fakes. Be yourself!”

Phil said: “Get a life and I mean that in the best sense. Writing stuff on face book and pinching other people’s work would not get you far. I cannot say what you shouldn’t be but just be yourself. There is something special in everybody that people can connect to and you need to get your personality across in a matter of minutes.”

‘I became a Journalist by mistake’

BBC Radio 3 DJ Andy Kershaw told his story at Thursday’s Coventry Conversation. Andy is known as the champion of world music. He has always been a big fun of radio but his diversion to broadcasting is another story on its own.

His main interest is finding interesting information and the world; this passion is evident in his visits to Haiti. Speaking energetically of his fourth visit to North Korean; a country he describes as the most ‘secretive’ in the world.

Showing the devotion to his interest, Andy stated: “reporting on the Rwandan genocide in close quarters was a matter of life and death.”

Andy is surprisingly modest for the life he has led describing “himself as the luckiest person he has ever met.”

He was a student of Leeds University, and despite never actually graduating he has been very successful in his ‘kind of journalism’.

His picturesque, ‘absurd’ life and butterfly mind meant he cannot deal with boredom. Although only in jail for a mere forty days, Andy read thirty two substantial books.

Showing that imprisonment has not changed him, Andy explained that whilst in prison “the only people whose judgement mattered to him were his children and they have always stood by him”

Andy’s book NO-OFF SWITCH is set to be published in July this year, grab your copy!


Games Arcade

Science fiction promised a lot but computing has delivered.

Games are everywhere and they engage people socially, collaboratively or in a competitive way.

“The world has shrunk and everybody can be a consumer as well as a distributor,” says Dr Phillip Oliver DBA FRSA, speaker at Coventry Conversation this afternoon.

Dr Oliver is the CEO and co-founder of Blitz games studios located in Leamington Spa. The company was founded with his twin brother. They started learning to build games from the manual of the games their parents bought for them.

Their maths, computer and physics teachers have been an inspiration and a great source of help to them. Over the years they have worked what they term as ‘ridiculous’ hours to make their dream materialise and whilst their friends went to university they were focusing on making it in the games industry.

They started in their bedroom at the age of twelve and took turns to sleep because they kept experimenting with different games forms. Dr Oliver designs about a third of all games in the UK and Leamington Spa is now noted as the British centre of games.

The introduction of his presentation discussed family oriented games they have invented and also gave detailed insight into the Blitz Company. The first movie karaoke game is said to be coming out in a few months. The series of games produced comprises of mature, serious, casual, career advice and family games. Serious games are games considered to have a large potential market whilst mature games are also seen as high profile, very much respected and involve a huge amount of technology showcasing.

In as much as there are tones of games on the market, some games technologies have a short term future. Examples of these are 3D and virtual reality, online and socially connected games, digital delivery as well as speech and speech recognition games.

Designing games is not as easy as it sounds. It takes intelligence and a vast amount of hard work. Intelligent designs ranges from opened minded intuitive designs and also focusing on entertaining the player. One of the successes of Blitz is a game called ‘The biggest loser’ which is an ultimate work out game. ‘Fantastic pets’ was also very successful on the market and it was one game in particular that was targeted to children as young as three years old.

Designing games for children, Dr Oliver said can be very demanding, so they often seek advice from psychological experts.  As new games evolve they will get more complex and difficult. Speaking as a games expert, his advice to the audience and game lovers is to embrace change and adapt quickly. Always be prepared to try, learn and try again.

Dr Oliver said: “With change, comes opportunity but only to those who can adapt quickly.”

More so understanding the psychology of people helps the games company to estimate the demand for every game they produce. As a games developer one should be able to predict the future and work very hard.  The audience express that they are yet to see a game that is termed as a classic and readily recognised by all. Dr Oliver replied that Pacman and Super Mario are classic video games. These games were available as he grew and they are still played generations on.

People are vital to any industry and especially the games industry no less. People are their biggest cost, their biggest assets and their biggest liability. Just like any renowned company Blitz hire for attitude, they hire for HIGH levels of skills and they invest a lot in the people they employ.

Dr Oliver expresses the fact that people have gone from knowing how the computer system works to just having knowledge of how programmes operate. This is also a general concern of many parents including Dr Oliver who said that his six year old resorts to Wikipedia most of the time to answer question she does not understand rather that getting a detailed explanation on how things work.

Finally when asked if Leamington Spa is going to be like Coventry in auto cars he replied: “We would do our best.”


When we hear of games we stereotypically expect to see an audience that is largely male. My curiosity as well as interest caused me to attend the last Coventry Conversation for the term when I knew the speaker would be Dr Philip Oliver the CEO and co founder of Blitz games in Leamington Spa.

The demography of people who attended this session proved that being a fan of games is not necessarily aimed at a particular gender.

This article is aimed at the game lovers and also people who aspire to make it in the games industry. It will be published at the games arcade website so people who patronise the website can read more about Blitz and the games industry in general.

Writing about this article was made easy because I attended the Coventry Conversation in person and made note as the session took place. The Blitz website was also very helpful in finding detailed information about the company. (9/Dec/2010)

By nanaamaakpoblu Posted in Cov Con