2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

brands under fire

Uber Is In a Heap of Trouble as Car Services Get Competitive

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 28, 2014 04:47 PM

Private transportation service Uber is happy to self promote, but there is likely a whole side of its business that it wishes no one knew about: its legal problems.

The international app-driven car and delivery service has attracted a lot of attention for its one-off marketing stunts that have so far included kitten, Christmas tree and ice cream truck deliveries. But lately, the brand has been in headlines for less admirable practices.

Across the US, from New York and Boston to Chicago, Uber is facing claims (and some actual lawsuits) for "illegal practices including misleading marketing and unfair competition," according to the Reuters. Most recently the company apologized to rival car company Gett after some of Uber's New York employees ordered, and then cancelled, more than 100 cars in a scam that debilitated the service. Uber turned the PR disaster into a recruitment fair, trying to convince some of the Gett drivers to swap companies.Continue reading...

green shoots

Hyundai Keeps Pressing Change, Now with Plans for Fuel-Cell SUV in 2014

Posted by Dale Buss on November 25, 2013 01:47 PM

Hyundai continues to be practically unsurpassed at doing interesting things in the US car market. The latest is its vow to debut for retail customers a fuel-cell version of its Tucson SUV by next spring.

Interestingly, such a showing would leapfrog the plans of both Toyota and Honda to introduce a retail fuel-cell vehicle in the United States. And while the fuel-cell Tucson will be extremely limited as a Hyundai sales opportunity for at least the first few years, the move does indicate that Hyundai wants to go hard and establish an unassailable foothold in fuel-cell technology as Toyota did over a decade ago with Prius to gain early dominance of the hybrid segment.

"Today, right here, the hydrogen fuel cell is making a shift from a research project to a real consumer choice," John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said at the unveiling of the fuel-cell Tucscon at the Los Angeles Auto Show, according to Automotive News.Continue reading...

car talk

Fiat Plays Up Sex Appeal as it Brings Brand's First EV to California

Posted by Dale Buss on July 22, 2013 10:40 AM

As every brand marketer knows, sex sells. And, if you're Fiat, you're suddenly aware that orange does, too.

The Italian brand has been mounting an uphill battle for mainstream awareness, brand recognition and sales in the United States since its little cars returned to American shores a couple of years ago under the aegis of Fiat's ownership of Chrysler and the keen sense of CEO Sergio Marchionne that the timing might be right for Fiat's reappearance in the US market.

Sex appeal has been a staple of Fiat's marketing, and it's no surprise that the brand is turning to it again in new campaigns for its Fiat 500 Abarth version and the new Fiat 500e all-electric vehicle that will be sold first only in California. From its "Seduction" ad a couple of years ago to the one it debuted early last year featuring a supermodel, her bikini top, a scorpion, and—oh, yes—the black-and-red Abarth, Fiat has been playing this card consistently.Continue reading...

brand challenges

PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Diverge on Eliminating 4-MEI from Colas in US

Posted by Dale Buss on July 10, 2013 10:41 AM

Often a bellwether, California is playing a key role again in a brewing food-safety controversy involving PepsiCo and the alleged carcinogen that helps give colas their caramel color.

PepsiCo recently reformulated its colas sold in California to comply with provisions of the 27-year-old Proposition 65, which requires food and beverage companies to warn consumers about potential toxins in their products. It did so after an Oakland-based group called Center for Environmental Health (CEH) last year helped prod both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola to pledge to remove the chemical in question, known as 4-MEI for short.

Testing this year by CEH revealed that Coca-Cola, as promised, had reformulated its drinks across the United States in order to eliminate or minimize MEI. But Pepsi had only taken care of California, where it was in apparent violation of Proposition 65.Continue reading...

license to thrill

Headed to Malibu? Don't Forget Your Branded Volleyball

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 8, 2013 11:01 AM

With its most famous resident putting a "For Sale" sign in her front yard, the city of Malibu, California, is looking for new ways to attract tourists and boost income. 

CNBC reports that Malibu has signed a deal with Excel Corp. in order to start “licensing apparel, active wear, and even things like sunglasses, watches, and volleyballs” with the extra money going to “fund special projects.”

The city is forking over $90,000 for Excel to design a logo and find licensees.Continue reading...

chew on this

Despite Healthy Eating Trends, Dunkin' Donuts Believes It's Time to Grow

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 18, 2013 04:02 PM

New York City is downsizing its soda sizes, Australia is placing nasty images on its cigarette packs, and sales of organic food are growing in the U.S. Many places in the world certainly seem a lot more aware of health and wellness than they did only a few years back.

Yet amid it all, the doughnut industry continues to thrive, especially in the United States.

Dunkin’ Donuts it plans to open anywhere from 330 to 360 new locations in the U.S. this year, making it one of the fastest-growing quick-service restaurants.

Dunkin’, which has about 7,000 stores in 36 states, opened 291 stores last year in an effort to eventually have 15,000 locations. The brand “sells 1.7 billion cups of coffee every year,” the L.A. Times reports — more than anyone else.

The brand has just announced it will target California for some of its openings in 2015 — a state where Dunkin' has been runnin' on empty, with no stores there since 2002. Executives are confident that it's time to stage a return.Continue reading...

chew on this

Fresh Food for Thought as Major GMO Foe Changes Thinking

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 4, 2013 03:06 PM

Public apologies by high-profile experts are rare, making this week's anti-GMO reversal — call it a GMea Culpa — by British environmentalist, author and Oxford University visiting research associate Mark Lynas particularly stunning.

Lynas spurred the anti-GMO movement in the mid-‘90s, continuing to argue as recently as 2008 that corporate greed was threatening Mother Earth and her inhabitants; but at this week's Oxford Farming Conference, he recanted his position in a very public way.

“I want to start with some apologies," he stated. "For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.”

“As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely. So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it?"Continue reading...

brand extensions

Lego Expands Bricks and Mortar Footprint With US Hotel, Fan Odes

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 19, 2012 01:07 PM

There’s one in Denmark, and there’s one in England. And now there will be one in Carlsbad, California: a Legoland Hotel. Don’t worry, the place won’t be built out of Legos – at least not the whole thing.

The hotel – complete with a dragon-guarded entrance -- is slated to open in early April of next year right outside the Legoland theme park and will feature “interactive Lego features, themed play areas, family pool and kid's entertainment,” according to Lego's website. The 250 rooms at California's Legoland Hotel will all have a theme: Pirate, Kingdom, or Adventure.  

Since the hotel is aimed at housing families who are in town to visit the Legoland theme park (and not to those harboring pirate fantasies of one sort or another), each room has two sleeping areas, one with a queen-sized bed and the other with sleeping spaces for up to three kids. After all, it's hard to beat a brand extension you can sleep in.

No wonder Lego is rolling in dough right now.Continue reading...

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