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branding together

U2unes Download: Apple and U2 Announce Next Big Gift to Music

Posted by Shirley Brady on September 18, 2014 03:24 PM

After exclusively launching U2’s new Songs of Innocence album to 500 million iTunes accounts this past week, Apple is delivering something else in response to customer demand. And true to Apple form, it’s an intuitive, easy-to-use and simple piece of technology—a delete button

A case study in how not to show customer appreciation, the unwanted gift of U2 music to all iTunes customers, whether they were fans of the Irish rockers or not, was hyped as the largest album release ever, and a "shrewd" marketing partnership (to the reported tune of $100 million) to celebrate the roots of the brand's longstanding tie-in with the band.

It turns out that the U2 album giveaway was a teaser for a bigger gift to come—and not only to music lovers but to musicians and the music industry as a whole. As TIME reveals in an exclusive cover story today, Apple is working with U2 on a bigger "secret project": a new digital music format designed to delight and excite customers to buy not only individual tracks but whole albums-as-experiences, and in so doing, "save the music industry."Continue reading...

retail watch

Target CEO Vows Return to "Tarjay" While Home Depot Battles Data Breach

Posted by Dale Buss on September 10, 2014 03:17 PM

Target's new CEO, Brian Cornell, has decided to go back to the future to retool the retailing brand while Home Depot CEO Frank Blake has to hope that he can see something other than Target in the crystal ball for his own brand, as Home Depot deals with a potentially mammoth data breach.

Target suffered a debilitating customer-data breach nearly a year ago, but the brand clearly was having problems before that. The biggest: Former CEO Gregg Steinhafel had allowed Target to drift away from a distinct identity as the au courant mass merchandiser whose chic apparel and homewear designs elevated it above price-first rivals such as Walmart and dollar stores. Steinhafel instead added a greater variety of goods and focused on grocery expansion.

Now, with Steinhafel gone, PepsiCo veteran Cornell is only a month into his job but told the Wall Street Journal that he has one major strategy planned: return to the narrower range of categories where the chain originally made its reputation as "Tarjay," including fashion and furniture, as well as expand fast-growing other segments including organic foods and children's wear.Continue reading...

tech style

Geek Chic: Wearable Tech on the Runway at New York Fashion Week

Posted by Isobel Oliphant on September 5, 2014 07:24 PM

Wearable tech is in the spotlight this week with a slew of devices unveiled at two once-opposed, now merging, worlds. 

At the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, brand innovators including Asus, Sony and Samsung are showcasing smartwatches and activity-tracking smartbands, while Motorola released its Moto 360 smartwatch today. And as New York Fashion Week got underway, Intel launched its MICA band in collaboration with Opening Ceremony and announced a smartwatch with Fossil; Rebecca Minkoff (partnering with Case-Mate) and CuteCircuit showcased their respective takes on wearable tech; and a panel today explored the intersection of fashion and technology.

Wearables are no longer the stuff of science fiction, and the future of fashion (and the fashion of technology) is here, as the high-end brands help the garment industry evolve from textiles to tech styles, and Fashion Week is morphing into Fashion Geek Chic.

IDC estimates that more than 19.2 million wearables are expected to ship this year, tripling last year’s sales figures, while wearables could become a $50 billion industry in five years according to Credit Suisse research. Yet many observers feel that widespread adoption hinges on a true marriage of form and function.

Apple devotees are certainly waiting to see if the brand's highly-anticipated smartwatch (and just-revealed collaboration with designer Marc Newson) will strike that delicate balance when revealed next week at its first ever product launch with fashionistas on the invite list.Continue reading...

that's entertainment

Central Perk Pops-Up for Friends' 20th Anniversary

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 28, 2014 02:34 PM

It's hard to believe it’s been a decade since the iconic sitcom Friends ended a ten-season run. In honor of the beloved sitcom’s 20th anniversary—it premiered September 22, 1994—a replica of the show's iconic "Central Perk" coffee shop will be opening in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood September 17 for one month.

The pop-up is a collaboration between Warner Bros. and Eight O' Clock Coffee, which will also serve up a limited-edition Central Perk Roast for the occasion for free. 

Visitors to the pop-up can expect special appearances by James Michael Tyler, aka "Gunther"; photo ops with the actual orange couch from the show; in-store performances similar to Phoebe’s improvised songs like Smelly Cat; and contests and giveaways with prizes including Friends on Blu-ray, a DVD of all 10 seasons and Central Perk Roast samples.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...

auto motive

Jaguar Dusts Off Iconic Lightweight E-Type for Historic Concours Event

Posted by Dale Buss on August 12, 2014 03:29 PM

The more Jaguar recovers from its near-death experience a few years ago, the more the brand can afford to look back at its original glory days. That seems to be behind Jaguar's move to revive an old racing vehicle known as the Lightweight E-type and display it at the Pebble Beach Concours in California this weekend.

Jaguar then plans to sell the new E-types, which Top Gear calls a "beauty of a time traveller," as "period competition" vehicles to some very demanding hobbyists who want to race them in classic car rallies, which is why they'll be offered first to existing Jaguar collectors.

The roots of the project date back a half century—to 1963, to be precise. That's when Jaguar—owned for the last few years, along with Land Rover, by India's Tata Group—built 12 of 18 planned "Special GT E-type" project cars for the race course. The remaining six were never built until now.Continue reading...

tech style

At Wearable Tech Expo, Brands Acknowledge Hurdles to Adoption

Posted by Brittany Messenger on July 25, 2014 05:05 PM

As if there were any doubt, the Wearable Tech Expo this week in New York made one thing is certain: the branded wearable space is ready for take-off—but not before sorting out a few potential hurdles.  

In her keynote address at the conference, Myriam Joire, Pebble’s Chief Evangelist, identified battery life technology and usability challenges as two key issues the industry needs to solve.

"If you want to go beyond us, the early adopters, the tech savvy users, you have to solve usability challenges," Joire commented. "The people who buy a smartwatch at Target don't want to do anything complicated. They want it to add value to their lives. Notifications alone have value right now. A busy mom carrying groceries who gets a notification that she has a text message and doesn't have to pull her phone out—that's gold."

But is product innovation enough to grow the industry? While improvements to battery life and usability will allow wearables to serve their users better and longer, how will they get consumers to even give them a shot?Continue reading...

branding together

Apple and IBM Partner to Transform How Companies Work

Posted by Shirley Brady on July 15, 2014 09:09 PM

Apple and IBM have struck a global partnership to work together to create business-software applications for iPhone and iPad users.

Highlights from the press release about the co-branded enterprise mobility deal:

The new IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions will be built in an exclusive collaboration that draws on the distinct strengths of each company: IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities, with the power of more than 100,000 IBM industry and domain consultants and software developers behind it, fused with Apple’s legendary consumer experience, hardware and software integration and developer platform.Continue reading...

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