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health matters

Brown Out: FDA Lobbied to Ban Colas' Caramel Coloring Over Cancer Concerns

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 8, 2012 11:58 AM

When the news came out of the state of California a year ago that the stuff that makes your cola beverage brown has been linked to cancer, there were a number of consumers that likely didn’t put their change into the vending machine that day.

The amount of that compound (4-methylimidazole, or 4-MEI) in soda would cause the state to need to put warning labels on all of its cans, NPR reports. This, in turn, led to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to lobby the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “ban ammonia-sulfite caramel color,” according to NPR. Coke Clear, anyone?

While the cola companies and caramel manufacturers are obviously stating that there is no validity to these claims, the FDA is also chiming in that this could be much ado about not much. In any event, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, which account for almost 90% of the U.S. soda market, have tweaked their formulas in compliance with the Californian law — averting the need to add a cancer warning label.Continue reading...

uphill battles

Faux Twitter Photo Causes PR Headache for McDonald’s

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 13, 2011 06:45 PM

McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner recently had to defend his company’s use of Ronald McDonald as a marketing tool when his burgers and fries had been shown to be not the healthiest of treats for kids. Now Skinner’s company has got another PR problem to deal with, and this one wasn’t the company’s own making.

This past weekend, a now-removed photo uploaded on Twitter began circulating — showing a purported a sign on McDonald's letterhead posted in the window of a restaurant that said that African-Americans would be charged an extra $1.50 “as an insurance measure due in part to a recent string of robberies.” The sign also contained an 800 number that, when dialed, takes callers to McDonald’s competitor KFC.

The photograph quickly went viral on Twitter, becoming a trending topic with the hashtag #seriouslymcdonalds, picking up steam and plenty of heated words from surprised Tweeters.

Of course, the whole thing was a ruse — as if the KFC phone number wasn't a clue, what major American corporation with such a diverse consumer base would do such a ridiculous thing? — but people believe what they want to believe, and the faux picture continued to pick up steam despite tweeted denials from McDonald’s.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Damage Control: Dior's Galliano Response vs. CBS and Sheen [Updated]

Posted by Barry Silverstein on March 2, 2011 11:00 AM

With the ouster of designer John Galliano from haute fashion brand Christian Dior, once again we see a brand scrambling to pick up the pieces as one of its celebrated spokespeople gets embroiled in controversy. We have heard this story many times before. The Tiger Woods debacle, which affected a number of brands including Nike, is one glaring example.  

For brands linked to high-profile personalities who are not always predictable, swift and decisive damage control seems to be part of the package in this era of swift and loud real-time public outcry.

For Dior, though, the removal of Galliano has to be particularly painful — even though the designer has issued a public apology following charges of anti-Semitism sparked by a web report by UK tabloid The Sun, which posted damning video of a ranting Galliano in a Paris café.Continue reading...

brand trainwrecks

FTD and 1-800-Flowers Should Have Nipped Valentine's Woes in the Bud

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 18, 2011 02:00 PM

Valentine's Day is the one time of the year you want to say it with flowers — and not to apologize.

Yet FTD and 1-800-Flowers both spent Valentine's Day on virtual bended knee, apologizing to the thousands of customers each brand managed to irk on what should have been their biggest sales day of the year.

1-800-Flowers, which launched the first Facebook store in 2009, somehow managed to not deliver thousands of floral arrangements that were ordered online, and is now vowing to make it up the intended recipients and the purchases. A character named Tina Flowers on its Facebook page is reaching out to disgruntled customers to make up for the mishap.

And FTD found itself in the doghouse this Valentine's Day after partnering with a brand recovering from its own PR disaster — Groupon.Continue reading...

brand targets

Coca-Cola Challenged by New Health Claims (Updated)

Posted by Shirley Brady on February 17, 2011 12:00 PM

As Coca-Cola Canada releases a feel-good promo today about how it's delivering goodness (and its multitude of beverage brands) across the country, Interbrand's reigning best global brand is facing yet another challenge at home.

In addition to dismissing the latest claim that its secret formula has been found, it's battling health claims that hit at the heart of its business. Following a report from medical researchers at the University of Miami that links consumption of diet soda drinks to increased risk of stroke, The Center for Science in the Public Interest is adding to the health scare.

The CSPI homepage today appropriates Coke's branding to promote its new claims that the caramel coloring used in Coca-Cola and Pepsi cola-based beverages release a toxin that has been linked to cancer.Continue reading...

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