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Six Companies That Should Take The Plunge In 2012

Six game changers that could supercharge struggling companies such as Honda and Quiznos, recommended by fellow industry players.

Six Companies That Should Take The Plunge In 2012

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BARNES & NOBLE

THE PROBLEM Sales have slumped at
brick-and-mortar stores, and the brand as a whole is losing cachet.
TAKE THIS RISK Found an MFA degree program and
offer grants to established writers. “If Barnes & Noble is going to invest in how people read, they
should also invest in what people read,” says Stephanie Anderson, manager of Brooklyn’s Word
bookstore. “I could see them as a modern-day House of Medici.”


HONDA

THE PROBLEM Sales are languishing and new
models received tepid critical response–and that was before the Japan earthquake affected
production.
TAKE THIS RISK Develop a
truly audacious vehicle–say, a “space wagon” that’s “better-looking than the original Chrysler
minivans with the fuel-economy of a subcompact,” says Paul Seredynski, senior editor at Edmunds
Auto Observer. That way, he adds, “Honda can get back to being cool and stop trying to be Toyota.”

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BURGER
KING

THE PROBLEM It’s a distant No. 2 to
McDonald’s.
TAKE THIS RISK Ditch the
cheap-and-fast model and add some luxe, says David Chang, owner of Momofuku restaurants. “Take all
the millions out of the marketing budget to improve the infrastructure. If they pay the employees
better, contract the menu, focus on quality meats and ingredients, source local farms, and cook it
right, word of mouth will bring customers in.”

NBA

THE PROBLEM If the lockout leads to a
disjointed season, many NBA fans are likely to lose interest.
TAKE THIS RISK Shorten the season–permanently.
“Players start to show strain around the All-Star Break, with injuries and apathy setting in,” says
Bethlehem Shoals, NBA writer for Bleacher Report. With fewer games, the focus could shift to “power
matchups designed to give fans a real preview of the playoffs.”

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QUIZNOS

THE PROBLEM Falling revenue, shuttered
stores, and a debt that reportedly tops $850 million.
TAKE THIS RISK Ditch the costly brick-and-mortar
shops and “go Mr. Softee-style–turn all the restaurants into food trucks,” says Daniel Delaney,
host of the web series What’s This Food?! “Take orders from the web and have one guy
toasting while the other’s truckin’. Hot delivery. Curbside.”

HARMONIX
MUSIC SYSTEMS

THE PROBLEM The firm behind Guitar
Hero
hasn’t done much since, and consumers are losing interest in disc-based video games.
TAKE THIS RISK Spend whatever it takes to
create the world’s first immersive shoot-’em-up, where gamers move their bodies to take cover.
“It’s bound to happen,” says Marc Nesbitt, a former video-game producer, “and Harmonix has a head
start with Kinect technology.”