health fallout

Kanebo's Goodwill Pays Off as Skin Lightening Industry Shrugs Off Scare

Posted by Adeline Chong on August 5, 2013 05:45 PM

Kanebo's voluntary recall across Asia of its skin-whitening product range in early July was a wakeup call for consumers as well as the skin lightening industry. Kanebo, the second largest cosmetics company in Japan after giant Shiseido, sells products in over 50 countries across Asia, Europe, and the US, with its whitening products comprising nearly 30 percent of its skincare range. 

Nearly two months before its July 4 recall, a clinic reported to Kanebo that three patients had complained of skin damage following use of a Kanebo whitening product. The company withheld the information for over a month before notifying the government and issuing a recall, a move that garnered worldwide criticism. The products, which gradually lighten the skin, are a part of a $13 billion industry in Asia alone, where fair skin has long been associated with an elevated social class.Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's Readies to Make Bigger Imprint in Asia with 2014 Vietnam Debut

Posted by Adeline Chong on July 22, 2013 11:56 AM

McDonald’s announced recently that it will be opening its first outlet in Vietnam next year in Ho Chi Minh City, the country's commercial hub. 

While the fast-food giant has an immense presence in greater Asia, McDonald's is late to market in Vietnam, where Yum! Brands' KFC and Pizza Hut, along with Burger King, Subway, Jollibee (Philippines), and Lotteria (South Korea) already have a solid presence. Trailblazer KFC opened its first restaurant in 1997 and now has 100 outlets in Vietnam. Burger King, meanwhile, opened just last year and has 12 outlets, while Starbucks opened its first location in Ho Chi Minh City this past February. 

McDonald’s apparently considered the market over a decade ago, however the lack of a domestic cource of beef and a poor supply-chain infrastructure deterred the company. Prior to that, the company was briefly banned from the country in the 1990s—about the time that the local economy became accessible to the rest of the world, according to the Financial Times.Continue reading...


Seattle's the Latest US City to Benefit from China's Movie-Crazy Consumers

Posted by Abe Sauer on April 19, 2013 11:41 AM

"I cried three times through the entire movie and when Allison finally 'sees' Frank in the mirror, I completely lost it!… I want to go to Seattle, and then to New York!"

That reaction of a Weibo user to seeing the new blockbuster Chinese rom-com Finding Mr. Right is not uncommon. It's the kind of reaction that led Chinese tourism site to find in a recent survey that inquiries about Seattle by Chinese tourists jumped 120 percent in the last week of March, when the film debuted.

Seattle isn't letting the opportunity go to waste either, with its China-side marketing team leveraging the film's huge popularity to drive interest from a group that has become the world's most lucrative tourism demographic. A demographic that is increasingly taking its cues from popular movies, but only those that can emotionally connect.Continue reading...

brands under fire

IKEA Apologizes to Thai Transgender Community for TV Commercial

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 24, 2013 12:27 PM

IKEA is in hot water in Thailand for its holiday campaign that aimed for the funny bone and ended up hitting the Adam's apple — and offending some viewers in the process. The TV commercial, released on Dec. 25th and promoting an end-of-year sale, shows a couple strolling through the store, only the gentleman doesn't realize his companion is transgender.

As Reuters reported, "The 20-second commercial shown on YouTube and on Bangkok's trains in December and January entitled 'Luem Aeb' ('Forget to Keep Hidden'), was disrespectful to transsexuals, according to the Thai Transgender Alliance, which demanded an explanation from IKEA. Transgenders, or "Ladyboys" as they are often referred to, are widely accepted in Thailand and are commonplace in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries, but are not officially recognized as women."

According to Reuters, a letter of apology from the company to the transgender group is now in the works. See the commercial, along with other holiday spots from IKEA Thailand, below.Continue reading...

sip on this

The Straight Poop on Thailand's Five-Star Elephant Dung Coffee

Posted by Dale Buss on December 10, 2012 05:39 PM

The notion of civet coffee is strange enough — it's pricey java (approx. $500/pound) brewed from lightly digested coffee cherries that are plucked from the dung of a nocturnal, long-tailed, catlike animal that prowls the coffee-growing lands of Southeast Asia.

But now an entrepreneur in Thailand, Blake Dinkin, has gone the nascent civet-coffee industry one better. His Black Ivory Coffee brand is produced after elephants at the Golden Elephant Triangle Foundation are given Thai Arabica beans, removing some proteins in the digestion process, and expel the half-digested coffee. The company plucks out green coffee beans and processes them into a smooth brew that it claims tastes less bitter than regular coffee because Dumbo's process of semi-digestion strips out much of the protein.

Dinkin says he can take the inevitable humor. "There's always going to be an element of [poop] jokes in doing Black Ivory Coffee," Dinkin told the Associated Press. "But the reason why it's taken me nine years to develop this is I'm really trying to make a serious product."Continue reading...

luxury watch

Rolls-Royce Joins Audi and BMW in Race to Upgrade Retail Experience

Posted by Barry Silverstein on September 18, 2012 11:56 AM

London may have been the Olympic city this past summer, but it was also "Audi City." The German luxury car brand launched its first digital showroom in London, just in time for the Olympics, pitching it in a movie-style trailer. The innovative concept was designed to digitally present Audi's entire line of cars in a compact space, using such "groundbreaking media technology," says Audi, as the ability for visitors to "digitally select their vehicle from several hundred million possible configurations and experience it in realistic 1:1 scale on screens that almost fill the entire space." More Audi Cities are coming soon.

Audi didn't start the trend of marketing cars in big city downtown areas, however. In May, BMW opened its first "BMW Brand Store" in metropolitan Paris, positioning it as "Future Retail." Unlike the Audi concept, real cars appear in the Paris space, along with an employee BMW unashamedly refers to as a "product genius" in a nod to Apple's retail concept, the "Genius Bar."

Not to be outdone, the iconic Rolls-Royce brand, a motorcar brand many might consider ultra-stodgy, is making a few breakthrough moves of its own. The venerable Rolls-Royce brand, has been around since 1904, but the British icon clearly don't want to be left behind in the 21st Century. In the fourth quarter, Rolls-Royce plans to open a boutique — don't call it a showroom — at Rama 3 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Rolls-Royce already has a Bangkok showroom, but the boutique, the first of its kind to be located in an upscale shopping mall, will feature additional products. Still, why open a "boutique" in Bangkok?Continue reading...

sonic truth

No Bull: Thai Brands May Soon Trademark Sounds and Smells

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 21, 2012 04:04 PM

Like that smell oozing out of the curry joint you just walked by? Well, if you’re in Thailand, don’t try to replicate it — you may find you're stepping all over somebody’s trademark. The nation's trademark law may soon change, and one of the funkier twists before the Senate for approval would allow businesses to trademark smells and sounds, according to the Bangkok Post.

In order to brademarked, the sounds would need to be “distinctive,” the Post notes. The bill being considered describes it as "a sound that is not directly descriptive of the character or quality of the goods, a natural sound of the products/services or sound arising from the functionality of the products/services." So a BBQ meat joint can’t trademark sizzling meat, for example, although Thai-originated Krating Daeng (you may know it better as Red Bull) could consider trademarking a bull's snort if it wanted a sound associated with its brand.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Toyota, Honda Among Global Brands Worried About Thai Flooding

Posted by Dale Buss on November 4, 2011 05:31 PM

It's nightmarish to consider from a corporate and brand perspective, but the record flooding in Thailand that has endangered lives is also wrenching apart supply chains for both Toyota and Honda, and could become a major disruption to their business. The fear is that the leading Japanese brands do not pass "Go Back to Market" and instead proceed right back to "Supply Chain Jail."

Not even eight months after the March 11 tsunami and earthquake devastated the big Japanese brands' supply lines stretching from Japan and around the world, company executives are confessing that they still don't know quite how badly they'll be nicked by the flooding. The waters didn't reach Toyota's own plants, for example, but they did badly affect suppliers in Thailand that ship electronic components for Toyota vehicles to the automaker's plants around the world.

Already, Toyota has cut back on overtime and Saturday work at its U.S. facilities through at least next week (and is sticking to a plan to open a factory in Indonesia), and Honda has conceded that up to half its North American production ultimately could be affected.Continue reading...

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