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Apple Squashes Rumor Mill Over Beats Music Plans

Posted by Abe Sauer on September 23, 2014 11:08 AM

"Apple Plans To Shut Down Beats Music." "Apple denies it is shutting down Beats Music."

Those headlines, from TechCrunch and USA Today respectively, came with hours of one another, proving that even if Apple is not "shutting down" Beats Music, it's sensitive about its role as proud new papa.

It also signals that Apple watchers and Beats fans alike are jumpy, maybe even distrustful, about what the big Apple might have in store for the popular music brand started by Pepsi-endorsed game-changer Dr Dre, whose headphones to streaming music brand arguably has more street cred and cool than Apple's white earbuds and iTunes combined.

Oddly, Dre (the richest hip-hop artist ever thanks to the Apple deal, Forbes announced today) and the Beats brand were mostly MIA during Apple's big iPhone/Apple Watch product reveal earlier this month. And given the subsequent news that Apple is developing a new music format with U2 (linked to Apple by Beats' Jimmy Iovine and a long relationship with Steve Jobs), it could appear that the honeymoon following the $3.2 billion Apple-Beats marriage is over.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Logo Banh: Taco Bell Parent Red-Faced as Red Star Offends Vietnamese

Posted by Dale Buss on September 19, 2014 05:10 PM

Maybe brand marketers need to hire more boomers, or at least younger people who've read a few history books.

That could be one of the lessons from one of the biggest branding idiocies of the year. Yum! Brands is changing the logo of its new Banh Shop Vietnamese fast-food restaurants after its red star logo offended members of the Vietnamese community in its Dallas test market, and beyond.

Many people of Vietnamese descent in America either escaped Vietnam to flee communism in the first place or are the offspring of that generation, which remembers the red star as being a symbol of communism back in the days of the Cold War, not as being a signifier of hipster kitsch, as some young people may take it today.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Pressure Builds on NFL, Goodell, Brands as Player Misconduct Crisis Plays Out

Posted by Dale Buss on September 18, 2014 06:22 PM

As Bloomberg Businessweek put it in a headline this week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is "at the 50-50 yard line." In other words, the crisis over domestic violence and other misconduct by professional football players, how he is handling it—and, also importantly, how NFL sponsors are handling it—still could break either way.

The pressure on Goodell and the team owners who employ him is ratcheting up every day as the saga takes one more unwelcome turn after another. No sooner had the Minnesota Vikings reversed course yesterday and suspended Adrian Peterson just after welcoming him back into the fold, another ugly instance involving an NFL player surfaced. Arizona Cardinals running back John Dwyer now faces domestic-violence allegations, bringing the list of players facing assualt accusations to six. 

Meanwhile, major NFL marketing and TV-advertising sponsors shifted rather uneasily in their seats. PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi spoke out in support of Goodell and his efforts, for instance, even though she said she's "deeply disturbed" by some player behavior, and the league's mishandling of the case is "casting a cloud" over the NFL's integrity, the Wall Street Journal reported.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...

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...

brands under fire

Nike and Other Brands Cut Ties with Ray Rice as NFL Goes on Defensive

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 10, 2014 11:46 AM

The start of the NFL season should be a celebratory time for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, but this year is a bit different thanks to TMZ’s timely release of a tape of former Baltimore Raven's running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée inside an elevator in a (now shuttered) Atlantic City casino.

The Ravens released Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely (after first only serving him a two-game suspension), but the outcry is loud over how poorly Goodell and the league handled the serious situation. In light of the most recent revelations, Rice's many endoresement deals are disappearing—including the biggest of them all, Nike. 

While Rice’s wife, Janay Palmer, expressed her support for her husband and outrage over the amount of publicity her private life has received, not too many others are offering up support for the 27-year-old.

Fans, in particular, were outraged by his actions and retailers including Modell’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and NFL.com immediately removed Rice’s jersey from shelves, while the Ravens announced that they will allow fans to exchange Rice jerseys later this month, as brands move to quickly distance themselves from the debacle.Continue reading...

sporting brands

NFL Takes Tougher Stance on Domestic Violence with Ray Rice Suspension

Posted by Shirley Brady on September 8, 2014 05:15 PM

The NFL today issued the message that domestic violence (a growing problem) by its players will not be tolerated. But for some, it came as too little, too late.

Following a video released by TMZ showing Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens knocking out his now-wife in an elevator at the just-shuttered Revel hotel in Atlantic City back in February, the team this afternoon terminated the running back's multimillion-dollar contract and scrambled to restore their image at a press conference.

The move follows the NFL's two-game penalty for Rice in July, with the league defending that move today by stating it didn't have access to the damning elevator video before the TMZ leak. Now that the running back has been permanently cut by the team, chances are slim he'll be picked up by another team because NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who released a tougher domestic violence policy two weeks ago, has suspended him "indefinitely." 

Even so, some observers feel that Goodell and the league have mishandled the Rice situation and the issue of player violence against women—a target audience for the sport, which estimates that women comprise 46 percent of US pro football fans—and others in general.Continue reading...

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