brand strategy

Global Slowdown Forces Unilever to Axe Thousands of Products, Employees

Posted by Dale Buss on December 6, 2013 02:47 PM

Maybe the glum economic view in Europe is souring the perspectives of CPG-company CEOs there. Or maybe they're the ones most looking at the global economy without rose-colored glasses these days. In any event, both Unilever and Nestle have announced significant new moves that will bring about big new skinbacks in their portfolios—and marketing.

Unilever stunned followers of the company by announcing that it aims to cut the number of individual products it sells by a whopping 30 percent by the end of next year so that it can become more efficient and navigate a global economic slowdown that it admits it was slow to confront, according to Reuters.

As a result, the Anglo-Dutch maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Lipton tea, Knorr soups and Dove personal-care products—among many other brands—is cutting about 2,000 jobs, including about 800 alone in marketing, and will continue to adjust its portfolio.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Dow Chemical Plans to Shed Commodities for a Future Based More on IP, Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on December 3, 2013 02:38 PM

Dow Chemical wants to unleash the low-margin commodity-chemicals businesses that have always anchored the company in favor of a higher-margin, higher-IP future involving more specialized products, a bigger brand presence—and maybe even a name change.

CEO Andrew Liveris told journalists on Monday that Dow plans to shed about $5 billion in assets such as chlorine-production facilities, epoxy businesses and brine operations. Liveris said there likely would be a mix of asset sales and shutdowns, all aimed at streamlining the company and making it more like rival DuPont in simplifying the portfolio, boosting shareholder returns, and optimizing its IP.

The move "represents a continuation of the shift of our company toward downstream high-margin products and technologies that customers value, and generate consistently higher returns than cyclical commodity products," Liveris said in a statement. And indeed, as Dow CEO, Liveris has been on a course toward increasing specialization for most of a decade.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Among Other Things, McDonald's Tries to Relocate the 'Quick' in Its Quick-Serve

Posted by Dale Buss on November 15, 2013 06:02 PM

McDonald's retains its long-term growth goals despite its troubles in 2013. But the chain certainly is tweaking how it plans to reach them, with new efforts ranging from selling McCafe coffees in supermarkets with Kraft to its first Happy Meal tie-in with the National Football League. And along the way, McDonald's is trying to figure out how it lost the "quick" in its quick-serve.

CEO Don Thompson said at the company's investor conference this week that McDonald's has suffered from an iffy consumer economy, and labor- and commodity-cost pressures. The company also has been hamstrung by its own poor execution in areas that have included the less-than-stellar sales performance of its steady menu of new Limited Time items, such as Mighty Wings chicken wings.

But the most problematic area for McDonald's may be that its US customer service has suffered recently, in part because it has introduced too many of those new menu items, too quickly, for its operations to adjust efficiently.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Century 21 Finds Value in Olympics, Social Media as it Breaks from Super Bowl

Posted by Dale Buss on November 13, 2013 11:27 AM

Century 21 still believes its real-estate agents are "smarter, bolder, faster" than the competition. But the leading realty brand has massively pivoted to new ways to get its message out, abandoning the Super Bowl after a two-year run—but embracing both the Winter Olympics and social media marketing with a current-events twist in a major way.

CMO Bev Thorne agreed that Super Bowl advertising for two years took advantage of "the last great American campfire." But, she noted to brandchannel, the event "occupies the American public for one day" only.

Besides, this winter presents what could be an even more ideal marketing opportunity for a brand that has a presence not just in the US but also in more than 70 other countries: the Winter Olympics. It begins in Russia just five days after the Super Bowl, and Century 21 will be airing ads on NBC and overseas networks while also sponsoring the US men's and women's bobsled teams.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Weather Channel Launches Data-Driven Brand Refresh

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 12, 2013 01:33 PM

The Weather Channel has been a leader in the cable space when it comes to integrating new technologies and viewer engagement into broadcasts, and it's not stopping anytime soon. The network is embarking on a brand update that aims to improve the channel's core coverage as it continues to proliferate its programming. 

Along with its new tagline, "It's Amazing Out There" (or #itsamazingoutthere on social), the channel now features a new set and look, and most important of all, weather information 24/7 on the screen—no matter what kind of programming is playing.

“Weather can be a joyful or terrifying experience at any given moment,” said Scot Safon, EVO and CMO for The Weather Channel. "'It’s Amazing Out There' celebrates and honors how weather shapes our world in both wonderful and dramatic ways. We hope this brand message inspires viewers to explore, investigate, and appreciate the experience of weather in all of its many forms."Continue reading...

brand strategy

Beef Checkoff Hopes to Leave Behind 'Pink Slime' with New Social-Driven Marketing

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 8, 2013 02:01 PM

Beef Checkoff, the promotional arm of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, is best known for its tagline, "Beef: It's What's for Dinner." While retaining the tagline, the US beef industry group that represents farmers and ranchers is parting ways with the agency that created the slogan.

It's been a rough couple years for the marketing initiative, which was established as part of the 1985 US Farm Bill. Between last year's 'pink slime' standoff and recalls for listeria contamination, selling a red meat patty these days isn't as easy as it looks.

But with America the second-largest beef consuming nation in the world, getting beef on the dinner table is still of paramount concern. So after 21 years at Leo Burnett, creator of the famous tagline, Beef Checkoff's agency duties are now falling on R/GA, which plans (for now) to keep the tagline.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Tyson Pecks Away at C-Store Space to Sell Higher-Margin Processed Chicken

Posted by Dale Buss on November 1, 2013 05:12 PM

Tyson and 7-Eleven are breaking a wishbone on the hope that they can create a new paradigm for prepared-chicken sales: putting Buffalo chicken bites and other treats near the cash registers in convenience stores.

The long slump in supermarket spending has been tough on Tyson's chicken as on many other brands, so the $33 billion, Arkansas-based poultry giant is looking for some greener pastures for selling its birds, especially in higher-margin ready-to-eat forms.

Meanwhile, c-store chains and oil companies that offer food at their gas stations are looking for ways to diversify their offerings. 7-Eleven, for example, looks like it's finally getting serious about offering better-for-you foods and beverages at many of its stores alongside energy drinks, sugary sodas, salt-and-fat-laced snacks, and calorie-laden candy bars.Continue reading...

brand strategy

SABMiller Tweaks Products, Marketing to Gain Younger, More Feminine Appeal

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 22, 2013 02:50 PM

US beer sales have dropped in the last 10 years from being 72 percent of the alcohol consumed to only 42 percent, so to stem the tide, SABMiller, the world’s No. 2 brewer, is looking to tap a couple of demographics that aren’t generally known for sampling the work of big brewers: women and Millennials.

The brewer hopes to attract new drinkers with “more inclusive advertising, a broader range of beer styles and improving conditions at bars,” according to Reuters. "If you look at all of our marketing it's been the laddish humor, the sports occasions, the male bonding and friendship," Sue Clark, the head of SABMiller’s European business, told the wire service.  "I think we could've been accused in the past to a certain extent—at best of not really appealing to women, and at worst of alienating them."

Don’t worry, though, beer fans and feminists, SABMiller commercials aren’t about to get all pink and frilly. "We've got to try to keep the humor and the sociability,” Clark told Reuters, “but you can do that in a way that is appealing to both sexes."Continue reading...

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