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auto motive

Cadillac's de Nysschen Takes Calm Approach Despite Sales, Brand Erosion

Posted by Dale Buss on September 16, 2014 05:13 PM

Cadillac's new boss is making no bones about his plans for elevating the General Motors luxury brand in its competition with BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz: Don't cheapen the brand by discounting prices in the face of weaker sales, and make the right changes on a steady basis so that Cadillac eventually can attract the higher-end clientele it is still seeking.

That's the basic strategy Johan de Nysschen has been laying out since he left the worldwide helm of Infiniti to take the worldwide helm of Cadillac last month, promising the most power over the brand and its products that's ever been held by a Cadillac chief.

"We cannot deny the fact that we are leaving behind our traditional customer base" with such a strategy, de Nysschen vowed to Automotive News. "It will take several years before a sufficiently large part of the audience who until now have been concentrating on the German brands will find us in their consideration set."Continue reading...

sporting brands

NFL Backpedals as More Brands Get Dragged In to Domestic Violence Fray

Posted by Dale Buss on September 16, 2014 03:40 PM

The National Football League continues to try to power through its season of peril like a running back knocking down linebackers. But sponsors, social critics and pro football players themselves continue to make the brand's problems hard to forget. 

The latest developments following the Ray Rice scandal include a move by Radisson Hotels to suspend its sponsorship deal with the Minnesota Vikings over its decision to reinstate star running back Adrian Peterson after the team's own investigation of his indictment on child-abuse charges. A Houston TV station reported that Peterson was accused in 2013 of hitting another son, Bloomberg reported.

Other endorsement partners for the time being were standing by Peterson, who was a league MVP and had high marketability scores, according to the St. Paul Business Journal. Nike, Castrol and Wheaties were among the brands still monitoring the situation.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Urban Outfitters Ignites Social Rage (Again) with Blood-Stained Sweatshirt

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 16, 2014 01:43 PM

Urban Outfitters may have found its moral outrage tipping point (again). 

The controversial Millennial retailer of vintagey hipster everything caught some serious flack this week for selling a one-of-a-kind "Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt" that looked to be treated with spattered blood.

The fashionably faded, "slouchy fit" sweatshirt was posted online with a sinister call-out, "Get it or regret it!" that added to the rage of consumers that pointed out the $129 sweatshirt's unfortunate relation to the 1970 Kent State massacre in which National Guard members gunned down four college students at a Richard Nixon protest.  

After the sweatshirt quickly sold out and the design spread around the internet (and even was put up for sale on eBay), the retailer tweeted the following apology:

Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.Continue reading...

brand revival

Long Live the '90s: Coke Brings Back Surge in Amazon E-Commerce Tie-In

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 16, 2014 10:33 AM

Facebook might not have been around in the '90s, but enthusiasts of one of the decade's most-coveted caffeinated beverages made good use of the social network to get the attention of Coca-Cola. As a result, Coke announced yesterday that it would bring back Surge soda after a 12-year hiatus—a first for Coke—and sell it exclusively on Amazon, in what is the brand's first e-commerce-only product push.

The citrus-flavored soda, which competed with PepsiCo's Mountain Dew back in its heyday, will be available in 12-packs of 16-oz. cans featuring the original Surge design for $14. The limited time offering sold out multiple times on the first day of sales.  

“If expectations are met, this may be only the first of a variety of efforts we explore to launch niche products through e-commerce relationships,” said Wendy Clark, president of sparkling and strategic marketing, Coca-Cola North America, in a press release. “This will be a great learning experience for us and a refreshing opportunity for fans.”Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: NFL, McDonald's, Sears and more

Posted by Dale Buss on September 16, 2014 09:07 AM

TOP STORIES

AB InBev explores financing to buy SABMiller.

Apple sets sights on TV as regulators set sights on Apple Pay and fans spot the iPhone 6's hidden bulge—while U2 iTunes freebie is defended despite backlash.

McDonald's gives away coffee for the next two weeks and brings McCafe to Canadian grocers as it considers expanding its build-your-own-burger test.

NFL faces crisis as domestic violence issue ambushes Cover Girl campaign and Radisson Hotels pulls Vikings sponsorship after Adrian Peterson allegations, but teams keep fans.

Sears secures $400-million lifeline via CEO Lampert's hedge fund.

MORE BRAND NEWS

Alibaba ups IPO share price to $66-to-$68 range.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos partners with Boeing and Lockheed on rocket engine.

America Movil said to seek AT&T bid for $17.5 billion of assets in Mexico.

AstraZeneca finds partner in Eli Lilly for experimental Alzheimer's drug.

Burger King notches North American same-store sales increase.Continue reading...

chew on this

Kashi Moves Back to Cali as Cereal Brands Struggle to Regain Footing

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 15, 2014 05:51 PM

For the last decade, increasingly on-the-go consumers are choosing quick-fix breakfasts like energy bars, yogurt or drive-through options to satisfy their morning hunger. Add to this a shift in consumer awareness of GMO-processed foods and a move towards healthier eating habits, and the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms of yore are falling out of favor.  

While about 90 percent of American households still reportedly buy ready-to-eat cereal, sales are down to $10 billion from $13.9 billion in 2000, are are projected to fall to $9.7 billion in 2014. Post Holdings' Alpha-Bits and Grape-Nuts brands saw sales down 3.4 percent in the third quarter, while Kellogg's, the maker of once-popular Pop-Tarts, breakfast bars, beverages and cereal brands, saw a 4.9 percent sales decrease in Q2. 

"The common observation by a lot of companies facing declining cereal sales is that this is a kind of death by a thousand cuts,” Nicholas Fereday, author and analyst at Rabobank, told the Boston Globe. Contributing factors include a declining birthrate (fewer kids at the breakfast table) and a shift in demographics that has contributed to a change in flavor preferences, such as Latinos and Asians prefer other breakfast foods besides cereals. And then there's Millennials.Continue reading...

sip on this

AB InBev May Gulp Down SABMiller as Heineken Holds On to Independence

Posted by Dale Buss on September 15, 2014 03:52 PM

AB InBev is shaking the beer industry up like a tumbling can of Bud, as the No. 1 company reportedly is considering acquiring No. 2 rival SABMiller and taking the consolidation route toward improving profitability in the face of almost-impossible odds of growing its empire by selling more beer.

What was for certain on Monday was that No. 3 Heineken said that it spurned a takeover approach from SABMiller, etablishing that the Heineken familiy that controls the Dutch brewer intends "to preserve the heritage and identity of Heineken as an independent company." A merger of the industry's Nos. 2 and 3 players, of course, would have made such an entity much more formidable against AB InBev at a time when the volume-beer industry continues to contract.

Bloomberg reported that SABMiller attempted to corral Heineken in part out of fear that AB InBev indeed is stalking it. "That SABMiller's inorganic [growth] optoins have been so publicly lessened puts ABI in an even stronger position, should it choose to make a move on SABMiller," Eddy Hargreaves, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said in a note today. "SABMiller shareholders may be even more likely now to welcome a bid."Continue reading...

tech innovation

Apple, Watch Your Back: Is Google Going More Boldly Into the Future?

Posted by Ilan Beesen on September 15, 2014 03:14 PM

After months of anticipation, and a few days of perspective, the big Apple keynote last week proved less thrill, and more drill. Not to sound like an ingrate—I’m a longtime Apple admirer and loyal customer—but as far as surprises go, Apple is about as full of them, lately, as a bale of hay.

For its latest worldwide product reveal, Apple’s "one more thing" was the highly anticipated, and long overdue, Apple Watch. The sales pitch by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake was unexpected, although U2's appearance wasn't. And the missing 'i' in Apple’s Pay and Watch caught everyone off guard, but that’s about it. While stirring interest by Apple fans, iPhone devotees (who snapped up the pre-order phones) and the global tech press, the big event by Tim Cook & Co. was a feature-rich, impeccably-designed bale of hay.

Compared to its history full of silicon-fueled subversion, today’s Apple plays it conservative. While typically the winner at whatever it does, Apple is not even close to being first out to the field with wearable tech, for example. It’s the obsessive batter who takes 10,000 practice swings before stepping to the plate and hitting a homerun. Impressive, but where’s the eccentricity, the wonder, the audacity? Whatever happened to going toe to toe with spectacular failure? Expected awesomeness is still expected.

In the euphoric afterglow of Apple’s keynote, it’s sobering to compare Apple's just-announced innovations with some of the recent work of another tech titan.Continue reading...

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