2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

detroit auto show

Chrysler Happy to Have Marchionne Stick Around—and to Launch 'Flagship' 200

Posted by Dale Buss on January 13, 2014 04:48 PM

Chrysler got at least two things today that augur well for 2014: a robust new version of its Chrysler 200 sedan, and an indication that its charismatic CEO, Sergio Marchionne, will stick around for a while.

Through Fiat Chairman Jon Elkann, Marchionne has indicated that he'll stay at least three years with the combined Fiat-Chrysler after serving as the master architect of the company as it has been cobbled together so far after the 2009 bailout. Marchionne's vision and charisma are widely credited as key factors in Chrysler's ability to come back even as Fiat continues to be hampered by the European market.

And while Chrysler has done well with a recently overhauled version of the Ram pickup truck, and with new and revised Jeep models that are faring fine in the SUV segment—with plans for more, according to the Wall Street Journal—it's sedans are where Chrysler so far has fallen short. The 200 and the 300 full-size sedan have been threadbare for a while, and last year's launch of the new Dodge Dart compact hasn't lit the automotive world on fire.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Whole Foods Hesitantly Deploys More Discount Tactics

Posted by Dale Buss on August 22, 2013 02:40 PM

The "new normal" in grocery shopping has presented Whole Foods Markets with a new dilemma: how to tap into the increasingly promotional appetites of its financially stressed target demographic without diluting the exclusivity and cachet of a brand whose nickname has become "Whole Paycheck."

Whole Foods leadership is tackling that challenge carefully, both emulating the discount tactics used by traditional supermarkets at the same time that it does so only selectively, at least for now.

"The recession was a wake-up call for us," Co-CEO Walter Robb told the Wall Street Journal. At the same time, he said, "People are stuck in the past about what Whole Foods is in the marketplace."Continue reading...

personal brands

Detroit Trust Looks to Raise Money to Preserve Rosie the Riveter Factory

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 31, 2013 11:47 AM

In a touching tip of the hat to nostalgia, a group in Detroit is trying to raise enough money to save some of the factory where Rosie the Riveter helped build nearly 9,000 B-24 Liberator bombers during World War II and became an icon of American female empowerment.

The Save the Bomber Plant campaign has raised $4.5 million of the $8 million required to separate and preserve 175,000 square feet of the Ypsilanti Township plant and convert it to a new home for the Yankee Air Museum.Continue reading...

place branding

City of Detroit, Residents Face Uncertain Future After Record Bankruptcy Filing

Posted by Dale Buss on July 19, 2013 01:09 PM

The City of Detroit, its leaders and workers and residents in tow, opened a door to their future as emergency manager Kevyn Orr filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the Motor City on Thursday.

Michigan's largest city became the biggest US municipality to file for bankruptcy after decades of population loss, endemic infrastructure decline, inept management, struggles with its suburbs, national image problems and other woes that left Detroit too poor to pay its billions of dollars in debts to bondholders, retired cops, current city workers and other creditors.

Despite more recent investments by national retailers and a hopeful "comeback" campaign—not to mention Chrysler's "Imported From Detroit" civic pride-filled campaign—the city's fate was written in stone. 

The filing "is an emotional and cultural nadir that is tear-inducing and gut-wrenching," wrote Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, in a typical sentiment. "Bankruptcy is the bottom of a tremendous, Roman-empire-like slide for one of the world's most significant locales."Continue reading...

retail watch

Meijer Makes a Major Bet on Motor City

Posted by Dale Buss on July 15, 2013 01:21 PM

Supermarket expansion in major cities is a major theme in the US food-distribution and grocery business lately, with Walmart setting up shop—or attempting to do so—in key urban markets, and even Detroit now getting a share of major new grocery stores.

And when it comes to the Motor City, Whole Foods Markets appears to have given Detroit neighborhoods near Wayne State University a shot in the arm with its recent opening. But the potentially far more significant opening will occur on July 25 when Meijer sets up shop at the intersection of the two most iconic thoroughfares in Detroit: Woodward Avenue and Eight Mile Road.

The Meijer brand is relatively unknown outside its base in Flyover Country, where it operates more than 200 supercenters in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, and served as the "local Walmart" before Walmart did. But metro Detroit denizens all have known Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer as the place to go over the decades for good prices and selection of not only CPG fare but all sorts of consumer goods.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Whole Foods Tests Detroit Market—And Its Willingness to Dilute Upscale Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on June 5, 2013 02:21 PM

The opening of the first Whole Foods Market in Detroit today may be great for the city. But will it end up diluting the hard-won Whole Foods brand, especially considering the chain's planned emphasis on making the Motown store budget-friendly?

Those are among the issues attending the ceremonial opening of the Whole Foods in Detroit's Midtown district, which featured Mayor Dave Bing and even US Sen. Debbie Stabenow as well as Whole Foods executives. It's viewed as an important step forward for the retail market in a city that has become a poster child for "produce deserts" and "food insecurity" as well as all sorts of other maladies.

It "is a game-changer for our city," Bing said in a statement. "Not only does it offer central-city residents more choices and more convenience for grocery shopping, it also proves that Detroit is an attractive destination for national retailers."Continue reading...

executive decision

Fiat May Move Headquarters to Detroit, but Motor City Still Needs More Help

Posted by Dale Buss on May 16, 2013 02:48 PM

Fiat is reportedly considering shifting its global headquarters to the Detroit area. That would be a huge material and attitudinal boost for the region in the wake of a new report about the City of Detroit's finances that is even bleaker than before.

When Chrysler was acquired by Mercedes-Benz 15 years ago, effectively moving the headquarters of one of the old American Big Three to Germany, it was yet another body blow to a troubled metro-Detroit area that had already been in decline for decades. When Fiat and the US taxpayer rescued Chrysler (under post-Mercedes owners) from bankruptcy in 2009, at least there was hope of keeping the company, even though its new parent was Italian.

Now, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has signaled strong consideration for moving the worldwide center of the entire Fiat-Chrysler enterprise to Michigan, perhaps to help fill out Chrysler's relatively new headquarters complex in Auburn Hills, Mich., in north-suburban Detroit. Bloomberg reported that Marchionne is evaluating a switch from Turin, Italy, where Fiat was founded in 1899.Continue reading...

place branding

Detroit Looks to Boost Its Brand with Comeback Campaign, New Tenants

Posted by Dale Buss on May 6, 2013 04:33 PM

It's just another day in the rehabilitation efforts of Detroit. The city has launched its first business-to-business image campaign in five years, and Al Jazeera America has revealed that it'll place one of its dozen US news bureaus in Detroit, which has one of America's largest populations of people of Arab descent.

The last several months have continued to be rough on the image of the Motor City despite the fact that the Detroit Three automakers have been coming back smartly, manufacturing in metro Detroit is re-expanding, the Red Wings qualified for this month's playoffs for an NHL-record 22 years, Motown: The Musical has debuted on Broadway, and there's a genuine and substantial influx of workers and denizens back in the battered downtown of Detroit.

Still, the city has struggled to find its footing as Michigan instated an emergency financial manager on a resistant Detroit city government, and residents and tourists alike have struggled to "Say Nice Things About Detroit."Continue reading...

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