2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

retail watch

Struggling A&F Tries to Rescue Sister Brand Hollister as Sales, Consumers Slip Away

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 7, 2014 04:43 PM

Abercrombie & Fitch, besieged by a slump in sales and increased competition, is revamping its teenage sister brand Hollister to make it more suitable for the fast-fashion trend set by the likes of Zara, H&M and Forever 21. 

Arthur Martinez, Abercrombie's new chairman, is looking for a new president with fast-fashion experience while working on streamlining its supply chain and shuttering between 60 and 70 US stores this year. 

Once dominant in the teen market, A&F has lost its cool among younger shoppers who’ve lost interest in “clothes emblazoned with chains' logos and now see fashion as more disposable," according to the Wall Street Journal. A&F's PR scandal, stemming from unsightley comments from former chairman and CEO Mike Jeffries didn't help the struggling brand's image either. Abercrombie shares fell nearly a third last year and are still falling.Continue reading...


Old Navy Debuts in China with Very American Outlook

Posted by Abe Sauer on March 4, 2014 11:53 AM

It may be prominently billing itself as "from San Francisco," but it was Los Angeles' USC Trojan marching band that performed at the March 1 opening of China's first Old Navy store.

The rainy Shanghai opening featured other bits of Americana like cheerleaders, the stars and stripes, a giant gum ball machine, Caucasian bellhops in tails, and vintage cigarette girls. A man dressed as a giant camera snapped photos of visitors under a giant scoreboard—Old Navy vs. Guest—that lit up the floor. Others handed out hundreds of shiny blue and white balloons. A fire engine red, double decker tourist bus emblazoned with the Old Navy logo sat outside the store.

Localization may be all the rage for businesses in China, but there was nothing about the Old Navy opening that was Chinese. The store's signs are all in English. In fact, Old Navy doesn't even have a Chinese name. That appears to be the brand's strategy for China, though it is likely a doomed one.Continue reading...

retail watch

Could Drexler and Yanai Make J.Crew the Middle Man in Fast Retailing's Empire?

Posted by Dale Buss on March 4, 2014 10:42 AM

Hoping to capitalize on the chain's success even as competing retailers falter, Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing is reportedly in talks to buy preppy clothier J.Crew. Could J.Crew become the missing jewel in Fast Retailing's bid to become the globe's biggest retailer?

Just last week there were rumors that J.Crew was planning its second IPO as a way to gain access to funds for expansion. CEO Mickey Drexler and creative head Jenna Lyons have turned the brand around over the last decade, making the mid-priced brand extremely attractive to Fast Retailing, which hopes to take advantage of J.Crew's accomplishments and build on them even as some iconic competitors, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, struggle with the finicky retailing scene.

But just because the retailer has managed some success doesn't mean it came easy. The inveterate micro-manager has admitted that J.Crew recently has "strayed too far" from the brand's core styling motif and that the company's recent opening in the UK was "tricky."Continue reading...

corporate responsibility

Burberry Bows to Greenpeace Pressure to Go Toxin-Free

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 31, 2014 01:40 PM

When a research study from Greenpeace turned up hazardous chemicals, or "Little Monsters" as they put it, in children's clothing and shoes from major brands including Disney, Burberry, Adidas, Gap and others, the environmental activists turned up the pressure by urging consumers lobby the brands to clean up their act as part of its bigger #Detox campaign.

This week, Greenpeace scored a victory when Burberry agreed to detox its clothing by Jan. 1, 2020. Initially, its corporate back up against the wall, Burberry balked at the group's allegation that a purple metallic shirt contained hazardous chemicals. The shirt in question, made in Tunisia and worn by Romeo Beckham (aka David & Victoria's son) in a June 2013 campaign, contained a high level of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), manmade chemicals used in detergents, which degrade to nonylphenols (NP), both toxic and hormonally disruptive.

"All Burberry products are safe and fully adhere to international environmental and safety standards," the luxury apparel brand responded in a statement. "We have an active programme dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of our supply chain, working in collaboration with our suppliers and NGOs. Greenpeace is aware of our work, which includes the commitment to eliminate from our supply chain the release of chemicals that have an environmental impact."Continue reading...

brand challenges

Abercrombie & Fitch Finally May Find a Friend if Board Dumps Its CEO

Posted by Dale Buss on December 4, 2013 04:43 PM

Sometimes it seems like almost no one likes Abercrombie & Fitch anymore, and the chain's sliding sales and brand equity reflect that. Now there's an important someone who doesn't like Abercrombie CEO Michael Jeffries either.

Activist investor Engaged Capital has just asked the Abercrombie board to start looking for a replacement for the embattled Jeffries, whose employment contract expires Feb. 1, according to the Wall Street Journal. The fund also suggested that maybe the Abercrombie board might want to go ahead and sell the company to a private-equity buyer as "the best option for shareholders."

The new pressure comes at a difficult time for Abercrombie & Fitch, which may finally be jumping the shark. It posted nearly $12 million in losses for the nine months of 2013, with sales down more than 7 percent. And it's facing a hostile environment this holiday shopping season with such a heavily promotional edge to most apparel retailing.Continue reading...

fashion therapy

Esprit Takes a Page from Zara's Fast-Fashion Notebook in Brand Revamp

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 2, 2013 03:47 PM

Jose Manuel Martinez Gutierrez jumped from the steady deck of Zara a year ago onto the struggling (some say sinking) deck of a competitor, Esprit, to try and lead the company back to a more stable place as it does battle against his former employer as well as H&M, Gap, and Uniqlo.

Part of his plan, apparently, was to bring former employees of Inditex, which owns Zara, to the company to help inspire change at Esprit. Accrording to Reuters, the 44-year-old Martinez has a 12- to 18-month plan to get the business back to where it needs to be to compete with fast fashion brands like Zara, with “upgrades to technology and distribution to help … new hires get clothes designed, manufactured and on the racks in three to four months from the current seven to eight month time frame.”

"Competition is very intense," said Aaron Fischer, head of consumer research at brokerage CLSA, according to Reuters. "Esprit has high brand awareness but it needs to convert foot traffic into sales—and that requires good products. Right now, their products are quite poor compared with their peer group."Continue reading...

retail watch

Here Comes COS: H&M Readies to Introduce Upscale, Artsy Sibling to US

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 15, 2013 03:42 PM

Swedish retail giant Hennes & Mauritz is gunning for its “coolly-minimal younger sibling,” COS, to make big a splash in the US market after building up quite a fanbase in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The brand will make its debut in the spring, joining fast-fashion phenom H&M. 

But the higher-priced, more artsy brand has no intention of settling for second place. According to H&M's head of business, Marie Honda, the high-fashion brand has the potential to be huge. After testing the waters earlier this month with a NYC pop-up shop at Opening Ceremony, the upscale, minimalist and cosmopolitan COS brand will target US ities "that have an international feel," Honda told Women's Wear Daily

Come spring 2014, the brand plans to launch US e-commerce and open its first store in April in NYC's Soho neighborhood. 

It’s a strategic shift for H&M, which launched in the US market as a trendy and cheaper alternative to Gap, Zara and Forever 21, and for whom American stores deliver the most revenue after Germany.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Retailers Still Divided as Meetings Convene Over Compensation for Bangladesh Victims

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 12, 2013 06:43 PM

Nearly nine months have past since the Tazreen factory fire killed 112 people in Bangladesh, and just five months since the collapse of Rana Plaza in Dhaka took the lives of over 1,100 people, but the parties involved are still at odds as new battles over victim compensation and factory improvements arise.  

Twelve companies, partners in the global IndustriALL union are meeting in Geneva to discuss long-term compensation to the victims of the two disasters in Bangladesh, overseen by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which is acting as a neutral chair. The participants include Zara-owner Inditex, the Primark discount chain owned by Associated British Foods, Canada's Loblaw Cos Ltd, European retailer C&A and Spanish department store chain El Corte Ingles.

"The families and the injured have already waited far too long," said Monika Kemperle, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL in a statement, according to Reuters. "Companies who are serious about conditions in their Bangladeshi production chain can send a clear sign of their sincerity at these meetings."Continue reading...

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