Intangible assets: flower arranging, thermometers and TollHouse cookies

As Europe prepares for the introduction of new guidelines for the accounting of intangible assets - like brands - our marketing and PR colleagues across the Atlantic can smell the change in the air. Numbers are back in vogue. Performance metrics aren't only a late-minute add-on to PowerPoint campaign pitches. European CFOs are now as interested in brand valuations as their US counterparts - the AOL/Time Warner merger demonstrated the impact improperly valued intangible assets can have on a corporation.

Uh Oh. We shouldn't have dropped Financial Accounting I in second-year.

The Financial Times discussed the evolving environment with several marketing, consultantcy and financial executives.

"It's a huge opportunity," says David Haigh, chief executive of Brand Finance, a London consultancy that measures brand values for corporate clients. "Historically, marketing people have been off in the west wing of the castle, flower arranging. Now, they are in the great hall arguing with the lord of the great manor." (FT.com, sub. req.)

"They usually measure the wrong stuff with the wrong things at the wrong time," says Kevin Roberts, chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi ... "It's like using a thermometer to check how tall you are."

Are you a marketing specialist? Imagine you were the brand manager for TollHouse Cookies, and your development team has just perfected a new 2 calorie cookie free of cholesterol and saturated fat. A perfect opportunity for career advancement? Not if you don't understand the numbers. What are the basic financials behind a marketing homerun like this? Try your hand at this case study prepared by Franklin Allen at Wharton.

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