retail watch

Let Target Be Target: CMO Vows to Learn From Customers, Stay True to Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on October 20, 2014 02:44 PM

Target suffered its massive data breach almost a year ago, and you can bet the company is doing everything possible not to let a simliar incident spoil the just-dawning Christmas-shopping season, which is going to be challenging enough for retailers.

But there was something else that Target executives learned when the company was rocked by the cyberhack: Time had passed by their brand, not just their digital-security procedures. And in the "surrender or fight" season they experienced with that epiphany, the retailer's top marketer said, they believe they set in place the pieces for a brand renaissance.

Speaking at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference last week in Orlando, Target CMO Jeff Jones impressed the audience with his frank discussion about what the company learned about its brand in the midst (and wake) of the data breach.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Nestle Scorched for Tapping California Water, but It Won't Be the Last Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on September 17, 2014 11:47 AM

Nestle Waters is involved in one of the first major brand disputes relating to the devastating drought in California. But it's likely not to be the last tangle over how brands and products use water in the parched Golden State as California increasingly goes drip-dry and state residents have been urged to cut their water usage by 20 percent.

In the case of Nestle's bottled-water brand, a conservation group is petitioning to stop Nestle from tapping its site in Cabazon, which bottles water from a nearby spring in Millard Canyon under the Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water brand. The League of Conservation Voters wants Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke to stop "taking water from the state, bottling it, exporting it out of the state and profiting." Another group, Global Call for Climate Action, has criticized Nestle Water because its plant sits on a Native American reservation where it's immune from state regulation.

To this, Nestle Waters has replied basically: We're one of the most responsible industrial users of water in the state. Go pick on other businesses, ranging from soft-drink plants to agricultural growers, that are much more intensive users. Nestle Waters previously came under fire in Canada for its water collection practices. Continue reading...

trademark wars

Trademark Watch: Ice Bucket Challenge, Hershey, High Times and more

Posted by Courtney Cantor on August 29, 2014 08:04 PM

Since the end of July, the ALS Association, which fights Lou Gehrig’s disease through research, care and education, has raised over $100 million thanks to the viral Ice Bucket Challenge. Now it seeks to use that money, in part, to trademark the phrase “Ice Bucket Challenge” in connection with charitable fundraising.

In deciding whether ALS’s application for trademark registration will be successful, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will take into consideration the Ice Bucket Challenge in light of how consumers view it. Although the association between ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge is as clear as the water in the bucket, others have also begun to use the phrase to create awareness for different causes. For example, Matt Damon used the Ice Bucket Challenge to promote his clean water organization, Water.org, and several other "challenges" for charitable causes have popped up over the last month. 

Some argue that the USPTO should not allow the ALS Association to register the mark because it will prevent other charities from raising money by using the Ice Bucket Challenge. However, even if the association is granted trademark rights, charities should not get cold feet. After all, there are plenty of creative ways to get around this by still taking inspiration from the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Warm Water Challenge, anyone?Continue reading...

branding together

Burger King Puts Canadians at Ease While Buffett Helps Buy Tim Hortons

Posted by Dale Buss on August 26, 2014 04:36 PM

The $11.4 billion acquisition of Tim Hortons by Burger King has added twists and turns as its shape has become more apparent over the last day or so.

Among the most interesting: Burger King has promised not to mess with Tim Hortons' beloved place as a national treasure in Canada; it really wants to press the potential advantages of a multi-brand fast-food holding company a la Yum! Brands; and Mr. Everywhere, Warren Buffett, directly injected himself and his money into Burger King's purchase of Tim Hortons. There's also the live wire of the tax-inversion issue in the US.

It's interesting that billionaire extraordinaire Buffett kicked in $3 billion through his company, Berkshire Hathaway, to help finance the deal, amounting to about 25 percent of the required funds. Shareholders of both companies have welcomed that news because of Buffett's renowned Midas touch.

That certainly could be helpful as the combined company faces headwinds including a sluggish global fast-food environment, Burger King's struggles in making significant headway against McDonald's, and Tim Hortons' own challenges in establishing a significant presence in thde US market and abroad—even though it makes more money than Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts combined.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Burger King, Tim Hortons Deal Has Big Brand Implications Beyond Taxes

Posted by Dale Buss on August 25, 2014 02:26 PM

Burger King finally may have found a way to put meaningful pressure on McDonald's at exactly a time when the fast-food leader is faltering: Burger King is looking north of the border.

McDonald's perceived weakness may be one reason the No. 2 US fast-food chain is talking with Canada's biggest home-grown chain, Tim Hortons, about a whopper of a deal: an acquisition by BK of the Canadian chain, a transaction that would (if approved) create the third-largest quick-serve restaurant company in the world, with about $22 billion in total sales and more than 18,000 restaurants in 100 countries worldwide.

A tie-up with Burger King also might help Canada's iconic coffee-and-doughnuts purveyor achieve its own goals to expand more internationally, which have seen slow going even in the United States.Continue reading...

retail watch

Target, Finally Getting Canada, is Really Sorry

Posted by Dale Buss on August 15, 2014 10:01 AM

Target says it's got some of its biggest problems in Canada figured out and has begun to reverse them with a three-pronged turnaround plan that will focus on the chain's supply chain, pricing and merchandise selection in an attempt to turn around an important geographic expansion that has gone badly awry.

The chain has been facing a number of problems lately, including the monumental data breach last December and a loss of much of its overall brand mojo in the US, and those problems helped lead to the departure of CEO Gregg Steinhafel earlier this year.

But the problems in Canada—where Target massively launched last year by opening 124 stores and three distribution centers—led to a loss of nearly $1 billion as sales fell short of expectations and rivals pummeled the retailer.

Now, new Target Canada boss Mark Schindele is insisting that the new initiatives will improve its business performance, pricing and inventory issues and deliver the Target brand experience to Canadian customers.Continue reading...

trademark wars

Trademark Watch: Trump Wants Out, Google Gets Glass and Pink Goes Black

Posted by Jerome McDonnell on August 6, 2014 11:42 AM

Brands should know better than to stand in the way of The Donald. The real estate magnate turned political pundit recently filed a lawsuit that demands that his name, "Trump," be removed from the facade of two of his former Atlantic City casinos, of which Trump himself no longer has any ownership. 

The lawsuit against Trump Entertainment Resorts, a descendant of the corporation he once owned, is being charged to remove the Trump name from its properties and business name "because it has allowed its two Atlantic City casinos, the Trump Plaza and the Trump Taj Mahal, to fall into disrepair, tarnishing his personal brand and confusing customers," according to CBS News

Trump Plaza, which is set to close in September, is just one piece of the crisis unfolding in debt-stricken Atlantic City, and Trump, who went through three bankruptcies while in AC, clearly wants to wash his hands of the seaside resort town.Continue reading...

game change

Tim Hortons at 50: Celebrating Its Canadian Roots, and its Future

Posted by Amanda Caswell on July 29, 2014 08:01 PM

The days of the "double double" are numbered. Well, not quite. But Tim Hortons can see a future where their brand experience pushes far beyond that iconic order.

At the company's recent franchise owners conference, an innovative invite-only concept store highlighted the evolving landscape of Canadian tastes and explored what might be new in store. As "Tims" gets ready to turn its first store into a celebration of its 50 years in business, it's also brewing up a fresh pot of brand experience, and envisioning how future stores can transform.

Cue its "Restaurant of the Future" concept store, which goes beyond brewing just java—this location also served coffee beers inspired by the famed Tim’s flavor, and an expanded menu that included omelets and crepes.Continue reading...

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