Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 10, 2012 11:06 AM
Making history this week, President Obama finally declared his support of same-sex marriage, the first such declaration by a U.S. president. Now it's time for brands to step up and get over any aversion to showing same-sex couples in their campaigns.
Case in point: Gap’s new billboard featuring a real-life same-sex couple — Tony nominee Rory O'Malley and his boyfriend Gerold Schroeder — helps bridges the gap a little bit more between mainstream advertising and homophobic prejudice.
Featured prominently on a Los Angeles corner, the ad is part of Gap’s "Be Bright" campaign and the handsome couple are certainly a significant step in the brand’s efforts to reinvigorate lackluster sales and enlarge its customer embrace.
JCPenney, under its new "Fair and Square" tagline, continues to fight the good fight, too, facing down conservative pressure groups like One Million Moms by choosing openly gay Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson and recently featuring a lesbian couple and their daughter on their Mother's Day catalog.Continue reading...
Posted by Brandchannel Staff on March 23, 2012 05:55 PM
With news that the FCC is suing AT&T over "deaf calling service fraud," we asked Michael Janger, who wrote "Baby Boomers: The New Disability Market" for us in December, for comment and context. Michael writes:
In the wake of the 2009 arrests of 26 people for Video Relay Services (VRS) fraud and their resulting convictions, the Federal Communications Commission implemented procedures for stronger oversight of its Telecommunication Relay Services program for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. VRS and IP Relay operators have, in turn, tightened their policies and instituted systems to ensure compliance with FCC directives.
These directives seem to have failed to reach AT&T. This week, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against AT&T for improperly billing the FCC for calls made by Nigerian scam artists on AT&T’s IP-Relay service. The lawsuit charges that AT&T failed to follow a 2008 FCC requirement that relay providers register their users and verify their identities, and that up to 95% of AT&T’s call volume since 2009 was originated by fraudulent foreign callers taking advantage of the free calls. The cost of these improper reimbursements: $16 million.
For two decades, deaf and hard-of-hearing people have benefited from the Federal program for relay services, which enable them to communicate with anyone using a special telephone or videophone, or on their computer. Without these programs, many deaf people would be unable to call their family and friends, or do business over the phone. Even something as mundane as calling the credit card company about a lost credit card would be, at best, an hour-long call. Continue reading...
Posted by Barry Silverstein on February 9, 2012 06:15 PM
Built on the back of its ubiquitous retail operation, Walmart has become the largest grocer in the U.S. That position carries with it a certain responsibility, and Walmart is rising to the occasion. The company, for example, has been publicly acknowledged by the first lady, Michelle Obama, for its work in helping to encourage healthy eating and fight childhood obesity.
As we noted here earlier, Walmart's latest entry into the nutritional battlefield is a product labeling strategy it calls "Great for You." As the company explains, this "nutrition icon" will begin appearing this spring on foods that "meet rigorous nutrition criteria informed by the latest nutrition science and authoritative guidance from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Institute of Medicine (IOM)."
At first, the green "Great for You" labels, depicting a non-descript person with arms raised, will appear only on products within Walmart's own brands, Great Value and Marketside. Walmart claims, however, that it will allow other brands to make use of the label on products adhering to the same criteria with no licensing fee. In theory, this would help level the playing field between Walmart branded products and other brands sitting on Walmart shelves. But does it?Continue reading...
Posted by Abe Sauer on February 5, 2012 01:45 PM
The Super Bowl of women's health happened last week. The winner? The Democratic Party-aligned Planned Parenthood, provider of numerous women's (and men's!) health services, including, yes, abortions. The loser? The heretofore unassailable Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's largest anti-breast cancer organization.
On Tuesday, January 31, the Komen organization rather quietly announced that due to new grant policies, it would cease funding to Planned Parenthood. By Wednesday, Feb. 1, the backlash was on. Even author Judy Blume was slamming Komen as it stood its ground and attempted to weather the storm. That night its website was hacked. By the morning of Thur. Feb 2, Planned Parenthood was reporting donations in excess of what Komen had cut off, Komen executives were quitting in protest and local chapters of the national organization were in outright rebellion. Then a tweet, at top, that showed just how desperate the billion-dollar brand was to stop the hemorrhaging.
It did not stop. It still has not really. And maybe it never will.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 19, 2011 10:02 AM
Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does a rudderless economy. So it's quite natural that corporate chieftains increasingly are promoting their own prescriptions for righting the U.S. economy when the politicians can't figure out how to address the country's 9-percent-plus unemployment, shaky consumer confidence, wildly gyrating equity markets, moribund housing values and government deficits as far as the eye (and the eyes of everyone's grandchildren) can see. If government can't create the conditions necessary for business success, then business itself must try to do more.
Fortunately, as the Occupy Wall Street protests spread erratically around the nation and the world, some CEOs still have the courage to offer these prescriptions. Howard Schultz and Jeffrey Immelt come to mind, as the chiefs of Starbucks and General Electric, respectively, weigh in on the economic crisis in America.Continue reading...
Posted by Peter Cenedella on October 6, 2011 12:32 PM
Sometimes the juxtaposition of two headlines can trigger an a-ha moment. Today news from the east coast shows growing protests against financial institutions as Occupy Wall Steet rolls on, while out west Apple’s visionary genius Steve Jobs has succumbed to cancer and died at 56.
Steve Jobs built a company that surpassed Exxon this year as the leader in market capitalization. His personal net wealth in 2010 was estimated over $8 billion, making him the 42nd-richest American, according to Forbes. And yet it is hard to picture frustrated activists, union leaders, or downwardly mobile members of the squeezed middle class mustering at 1 Infinity Way in Cupertino to rail against Apple’s profits, or Jobs’s greed. Why?Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 20, 2011 05:00 PM
As presaged by its questioning in oral arguments on the case in March, the US Supreme Court today ruled that a sweeping gender-discrimination lawsuit against Walmart — on behalf of as many as 1.6 million current and former female employees — couldn’t proceed as one large class action because the potential plaintiffs didn’t actually meet the legal definition of a class.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the plaintiffs required significant proof that the retail giant operated under a general policy of discrimination. “That is entirely absent here,” he said. The Court also held that the plaintiffs’ claims for potentially billions of dollars in back pay couldn’t proceed as a class action because Walmart was entitled to treat each individual’s claims separately.
The ruling, while anticipated, is a huge victory for the company as it continues to fight the perception that it is a bastion of chauvinism.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 8, 2011 02:00 PM
For Pringles now, it’s not about the brand’s checkered past as the last food-product orphan of Procter & Gamble. It’s about what Diamond Foods might be able to do with the venerable chip line now that the company known for nuts is using its purchase of Pringles to vault into the top tier of U.S. salty-snacks empires.
Frito-Lay is still No. 1 by far, but adding Pringles to its stable in a $2.35-billion pickup from P&G will allow Diamond to become a strong No. 2 player in the category. In 2008, San Francisco-based Diamond acquired Pop Secret from General Mills and leapt into the popcorn category. Now, the company founded by California walnut growers will attempt to fire up growth of one of the most mature brands in the segment.
It was just a matter of time before P&G let Pringles go.Continue reading...