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brand commentary

On 9/11, Some Brands Exercised Right to Remain Silent in Ongoing Debate

Posted by Caitlin Barrett on September 12, 2014 02:06 PM

We’re well past the decade mark, but still generations away from 9/11 being anything but a solemn day—a day to remember, honor and reflect.

For brands, anniversaries of a tragedy like 9/11 are a time to tread carefully—and respectfully. Over the last 12 years, we’ve seen plenty of missteps, from thoughtless product placement to just plain insensitive marketing.

Now, we find ourselves in a place where (most) brands know what’s acceptable on 9/11. And that means demonstrating an understanding of the day’s seriousness in one of two ways: Acknowledge the day in a simple, heartfelt way (if your brand’s voice can even do that), or say nothing about it, and avoid any garish marketing that asks followers and fans to forget the day entirely. The advanced version? Just not saying anything at all.

The second strategy is hard. Brands find quiet unsettling. They want to be part of every conversation and there’s palpable worry that keeping mum might open them up to criticism that they’re not patriotic, not sensitive or not caring.Continue reading...

brand commentary | retail

Branding Stays On the Shelf in Dollar-Store Jockeying, But Will Walmart?

Posted by Dale Buss on August 27, 2014 03:39 PM

It's clear that the proposed combination of Family Dollar and Dollar Tree is all about financial considerations, mainly the cost streamlining the merged company could enjoy after the proposed $8.5 billion deal is completed, through closing up to 500 stores and blending back-office operations.

But what about the two retailers' brands? And what about brand considerations if a third player, Dollar General, which would like to buy Family Dollar, is part of the chase as well? How would any of the possible business combinations here affect the stores' brands afterward?

There seems to be not as much concern about brands in this situation as there is in other consolidations of other consumer-facing companies, such as Burger King and Tim Hortons.Continue reading...

brand commentary

But Wait, There's More: 5 Questions with AJ Khubani, CEO of TeleBrands

Posted by Dale Buss on July 9, 2014 03:06 PM

The claim “As Seen On TV!” continues to reverberate with consumers as they clamor for new products advertised on TV infomercials such as the popular Pocket Hose and now, books. That’s why direct-response TV leader TeleBrands has grown to a $1 billion-a-year company.

TeleBrands, which is celebrating 30 years of business, has had to evolve quickly, pivoting toward much greater dependence on sales in special “As Seen On TV!” sections of brick-and-mortar retailers and essentially relying on TV as more of an advertising than sales vehicle. Surprisingly, digital sales aren’t that big a factor yet.

brandchannel chatted with "Infomercial King" AJ Khubani, founder and CEO of New Jersey-based TeleBrands, the industry’s leading pioneer, about how the industry has changed:Continue reading...

brand commentary

Obama's In. Now, Can We Close the Gay Ad Gap Already?

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...

brand commentary

The Impact of FCC Suing AT&T in Deaf Relay Services Scam

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...

brand commentary

Walmart's New Healthy Labels: Great for You, or Great for Them?

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...

brand commentary

The Week Komen for the Cure Destroyed Its Brand

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...

brand commentary

Schultz and Immelt Take Different Approaches to America's Economic Woes

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...

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