brand strategy

Investors Unimpressed with Darden's Olive Garden Strategy (or New Logo)

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...

brand strategy

Microsoft's Nadella Gets Down to Business with Marketing Shake-Up

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...

brand strategy

Carphone Warehouse-Dixons Merger in UK Could Mean Survival for Aging Brands

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...

brand strategy

Lafley Looks to Make Over P&G Beauty on the Back of a Bluetoothbrush

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...

brand strategy

Kellogg's Looks to Emphasize the Simple Nutrition Behind Cereal for Turnaround

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...

brand strategy

Chevrolet Reaping Brand Rewards from Big Gambits During Sochi Olympics

Posted by Dale Buss on February 19, 2014 10:47 AM

Chevrolet is in a brand-building groove right now, its CMO argues, and Chevy's huge marketing presence in the Sochi Olympics is a perfect fit with the goals that General Motors has laid out for 2014 for its biggest brand.

"There is a nice cadence of media properties this year, and we're still in the midst of a stream of major product launches," Chevy CMO Tim Mahoney told brandchannel. "The Olympics work was developed as a cohesive unit of communication to seed 'Find New Roads' and tell our story through our new vehicles.'

Thus, in its high-buzz TV ads that have laced NBC's Olympics telecasts for the last couple of weeks, Chevrolet has gotten entire new forms of mileage out of the "Find New Roads" tagline that it initiated a year ago. There was the first anthem ad for the games, including a depiction of a gay wedding, that underscored the "new" aspect of Chevy's positoning, for instance.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Sample Story: CPG Brands Ride Subscription Trend with Customized Samples

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 18, 2014 11:33 AM

With subscription services on the rise, it's no wonder that more traditional CPG brands are looking for ways to cash in on the sample trend. 

With the help of Exact Media, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Beyond the Rack and are all trying out a smart sampling network that targets their products to in-need consumers. 

Exact Media’s strategy differs from other sampling methods as it tracks a broad range of data including products being purchased, shopping basket size, gender and clothing size, and since consumers like retailer’s gifts, participating brands realize a 100 percent open rate on their samples.

"We're seeing marketers in every discipline move away from generic campaigns more toward targeted, measurable activities such as adwords," said founder Ray Cao, "and no one was doing that for sampling." 

Unilever is trialing the smart sampling service for its Tresemmé, Nexus, Dove Hair, Clear Dove's Men and Dove's Men hair care brands, placing samples in shipments going to customers of Beyond the Rack and, among others.Continue reading...

brand strategy

PepsiCo Nixes Idea of Splitting Company As Frito-Lay Powers Sales Gains

Posted by Dale Buss on February 13, 2014 06:04 PM

Whatever Pepsi Beverages and Frito-Lay accomplish from here on out, they'll do it together. That was the unequivocal message of PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi in the company's fourth-quarter earnings report.

She acknowledged pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz for the company to spin off the dwindling soft-drink business from the robust snack business; Peltz also has said he'd like to see Frito-Lay combine with Mondelez but recently dropped that idea after getting a seat on Mondelez's board.

Nooyi said that she even had external consultants and bankers look at the possibility of dividing beverages from snacks. But she said that the company would remain integrated after all in part as a matter of scale. "Decoupling our beverage and snaCk businesses in North America would significantly reduce our relevance to our customers," Nooyi said, according to Reuters.Continue reading...

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