Posted by Dale Buss on May 7, 2014 05:17 PM
Of all the grand plans that Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wove for investors and journalists as he revealed the company's new five-year plan at FCA headquarters in Michigan this week, the most ambitious—some might say fanciful—may be his objective of restoring Chrysler as a mainstream rival to the biggest brands in the U.S. auto industry.
For an industry that likes to play its car(d)s close to the vest, it takes guts to reveal your playbook—and even more determination from the top to the lot to execute those plans.
So analysts, investors and other stakeholders listened closely as Marchionne not only laid out his own plans to stay at the helm until 2018 but also spelled out specific goals for each of the brands within the newly merged entity. While skepticism ran high, his most achievable goal may be his plan to make a truly global competitor out of Jeep, a repositioning that already was underway and that will be amplified and accelerated by the product plans Marchionne detailed.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 10, 2014 04:43 PM
Comcast has set the TV world aflame in the last few years with its purchase of NBCUniversal and its yet-to-be-finalized deal to acquire Time Warner Cable. But there’s another industry that Comcast is looking to be a serious player in as well: theme parks.
Comcast, which already had $2.2 billion in revenue last year from its theme parks and resorts unit, isn’t shying away from horning in on the territory long dominated by Disney, either. The company's Universal Studios is “investing hundreds of millions of dollars into theme parks in California and Florida.” While it is investing in new attractions for its Universal Orlando Resorts, it also building “the largest hotel construction project in North America: [an] 1,800-room, 1960s-themed Cabana Bay Beach Resort,” of which Comcast is sharing the bill with Loews Corp., the Philadephia Inquirer reports.
Six hundred of the rooms will open this month, with the rest scheduled to open by year's end. With that, Universal will have 4,200 rooms, a 75 percent increase from the 2,400 it previously boasted, but NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke says the complex could have between 10,000 and 15,000 hotel rooms in time.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on March 10, 2014 02:16 PM
Chipotle has heavy footsteps. They've been haunting McDonald's and other fast-food outlets. Now it's Chili's that is heeding the effect of the fast-growing "other" Mexican-food brand.
Chili's now is trying to outflank competition from fast-casual chains such as Chipotle and Panera, Guy Constant, CFO of parent Brinker International, indicated to an industry conference this week—and it has been launching five major initiatives to do so.
First, the chain is refreshing its look with a system-wide rebranding of company-owned US locations, to be completed in fiscal 2015, according to Food Business News. Second, Chili's is increasing media spend where the brand had lost its share of voice, particularly national TV.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on March 4, 2014 05:41 PM
Darden Restaurants executives have launched a new logo and menu changes at Olive Garden that, they proclaimed, will lead to a "brand renaissance" for the chain as they're rolled out.
But activist investors Barington Capital Group says: Don't bother. They believe Darden should be selling Olive Garden as well as the Red Lobster chain that both they and the company agree should be separated. It feels that Darden should fully focus on its specialty unit that includes rising chains Capital Grille, LongHorn Steakhouse and Yard House to help overcome financial doldrums for the company that have continued for several years.
Darden CEO Clarence Otis made the case to investors this week that he and his executive team can revive a slumping Olive Garden chain at the same time that they bid adieu to Red Lobster, whose customer base has become increasingly promotion-oriented. Olive Garden will get fresh attention instead of the boot.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 4, 2014 02:07 PM
Satya Nadella has been the CEO of Microsoft for exactly one month and he's already shaking up the ranks at the venerable tech brand.
The company announced Monday that executive Tony Bates, who had been passed over for the CEO role, and Tami Reller, Microsoft's chief marketing officer, would be leaving the company. While Reller's departure means the loss of one of Microsoft's top female executives, it signals a change in the company's marketing and brand strategy.
That new outlook will be ushered in by Chris Capossela, an executive on the company's marketing team who Nadella has promoted to EVP and CMO to oversee all marketing, and Mark Penn, the creator of Microsoft's "Honestly" campaign (including the Google-tweaking "Scroogled" campaign), who was named Chief Strategy Officer.
“He’s aggressive,” Mark Moerdler, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said of Penn, according to Bloomberg. “Maybe this will add a little testosterone to the organization to counter the fact that Satya is more of a deep thinker.”Continue reading...
Posted by Barry Silverstein on February 27, 2014 05:44 PM
In what is surely a nod to the old adage that "bigger is better," a blockbuster deal in the UK may be in the works. Carphone Warehouse, the largest mobile phone retailer in Europe, and the now defunct Dixons, the second largest electronics retailer, confirmed they are in "preliminary discussions regarding a possible merger." If the merger happens, it will create a dominant retail giant with a potential footprint of some 3,000 stores_more than 1,200 in Britain alone—and as much as 12 billion pounds in annual sales.
While the deal is generally considered a merger of equals, Carphone Warehouse currently has more than twice the number of stores as Dixons, but Dixons sales are more than double that of Carphone Warehouse. It is likely that the new consolidated company would be rebranded. "Carphone Warehouse's name has long been anachronistic because it doesn't sell carphones and it doesn't operate warehouses," Nick Bubb, a retail analyst, told The Guardian. "In the same way, it is increasingly odd that Dixons mainly trades as Currys and PC World."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on February 21, 2014 06:22 PM
The fortunes of Procter & Gamble haven't exactly taken off like a rocket since A.G. Lafley returned to the controls in May. But at least the once-and-current CEO seems to have identified one of the big reasons: the need for a turnaround in the company's crucial beauty division.
And while providing few details of exactly what he plans to do about it, in remarks to the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference in Florida this week, Lafley did say that he wants to move P&G Beauty back to the classic brand-management system that worked so well for it decades ago.
P&G's beauty business tripled sales and earnings from 2000 to 2007, as Ad Age noted, but then "got stuck" at around $20 billion in sales. And instability of leadership was one of the big reasons, Lafley said.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on February 19, 2014 06:47 PM
Kellogg's cereal sales are down, but the company isn't about to give up on breakfast. In fact, CEO John Bryant and other Kellogg's executives told financial analysts today that they're planning to use operational savings to double down on marketing the Kellogg's brand, including cereal and the "breakfast occasion."
The company is seeing robust growth in its snacks business, which is about as large as its cereal business, and the power of the Pringles chips brand in emerging markets has been especially rewarding. "We are selling every can we can make" of Pringles, Bryant said during the Consumer Analyst Group of New York meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., today.
But Bryant and his colleagues left little doubt about the overriding importance of "winning in breakfast with cereal." Yes, sales at Kellogg's flagship US breakfast unit declined by 4 percent last quarter as more Americans experienced what Bryant called an "unconscious migration" toward options such as eggs, toast, peanut butter and yogurt.Continue reading...