2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

brands under fire

Benetton Finally Admits Involvement as Activists Demand Action in Bangladesh

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 9, 2013 05:47 PM

The death toll at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh has surpassed 900 as another factory fire has claimed an additional eight lives in the industrial district of Mirpur. 

Fortunately, the fire in the 11-story building that manufactured mainly sweaters was closed for the night and workers had left the premises, according to Reuters. According to reports, the factory's managing director, a member of the board of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association was meeting with friends in the building when the blaze broke out. The fire was fueled by massive piles of acrylic products used to make cardigans, jumpers and pajamas for customers including Britain's Primark and Spain’s Inditex Group. The eight victims died of suffocation in stairwells trying to escape from the smoldering acrylic that produced immense amounts of smoke and poison gas. Among the victims were also two local government officials.

For what it's worth, the horrific state of factories in Bangladesh, magnified by global news coverage and relentless social media attention is finally starting to have an effect on those involved.Continue reading...

brands under fire

UN's ILO Calls for Brands to Sign Bangladesh Safety Agreement

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 7, 2013 02:42 PM

The death toll has passed 700 in Bangladesh, where recovery efforts continue to locate the rest of the victims of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse. Amid the devastation and grief has emerged strong accusations of blame that have fallen on the shoulders of the Bangladeshi government and worldwide retailers who rely on Bangladesh factories to supply their "fast fashion." 

Nearly two weeks after the disaster—which is the deadliest in the history of the garment industry—the United Nations International Labor Organization is calling for new global labor safety policies to be adopted by brands and governments. “The tripartite partners (Government, employers and workers) and the ILO stand united in their resolve to do everything possible to prevent further tragedy... and acknowledge that the challenges are daunting but believe that, if international buyers and brands take increased responsibility for improving working conditions and safety and health and with the active support of development partners and donors, safety can and must be improved in all workplaces throughout Bangladesh.” 

The ILO is one of many organizations lobbying major retailers like Walmart, H&M and Gap to sign the legally-binding Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, but those holding out have maintained that they have made improvements and implemented processes on their own to improve safety in Bangladesh's factories.Continue reading...

brands under fire

JCPenney Returns St. John's Bay, Leading a Growing Brand-Forgiveness Parade

Posted by Dale Buss on May 6, 2013 07:14 PM

JCPenney's Magical Makeup Tour continues. Right after it posted a video mea culpa and launched a new Facebook and Twitter campaign to reach out to disaffected consumers, #jcpListens, the brand has made another major flip-flop in the interests of appeasing its traditional customer base. It's one of the handful of interesting attempts at brand forgiveness going on these days, which also include Mtn Dew, General Motors and Hyundai.

The retailer has reversed field and now plans to restore the house brand St. John's Bay, a $1 billion marque that was eliminated by since-ousted CEO Ron Johnson amid the many other mistakes he made in attempting to transform the venerable retailer. JCPenney announced that St. John's Bay emerged as tops in its poll on Facebook asking what JCPenney brand was the voter's favorite.

"We heard you," JCPenney said after the poll results were in. "St. John's Bay is back! What will you snag first, pants or shirts?" the brand posted on Facebook.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Trader Joe's Under Fire for Selling GMOs, Lead-Laced Candy

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 6, 2013 12:42 PM

It hasn't been a good year for meat eaters. Dozens of reports of horse meat being marketed as beef streaked across Europe, affecting retailers like Bird's Eye, Taco Bell, Ikea and Tesco. Most recently, six people have died in China from an avian flu outbreak, which led to the execution of thousands of chickens and has ultimately caused Chinese consumers to swear off poultry, dragging down grocers and QSR chains like KFC, which have seen double digit declines in sales

However, the meat wars aren't over. Trader Joe's is now the focus of an effort by the Consumers Union, which took the grocer to task with a full-page ad in The Los Angeles Times saying that the company is “selling meat from animals fed a steady stream of antibiotics,” the L.A. Times reports.

The funky grocer, whose majority of products are private label brands (its own) responded, noting that it “also sells a selection of antibiotic-free chicken, beef, turkey, ham and lamb,” and that it “also offers private label goods that shun genetically engineered ingredients.” However, Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine, says that the privately owned grocer has refused to meet to discuss the issue.Continue reading...

brands under fire

As Death Toll Passes 500, Brands Consider Pulling Out of Bangladesh Factories

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 3, 2013 05:06 PM

Nine days after the fatal collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Sahar, Bangladesh, the death toll has surpassed 500, and the outcry against the conditions, companies and governance responsible is augmenting.

Bangladesh is now the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China, with 80 percent of those exports servicing the US and the European Union. In return, those big brands provide jobs and support for millions, but is that enough? After multiple fatal accidents, western brands face harsh scrutiny over sourcing policies and the obvious lack of labor and safety regulations put into place by its suppliers. 

“We need to be careful now not to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” said Sara Hossain, a high-court lawyer in Bangladesh to TIME. “The question should not be shutting down the factories. It should be, 'How do you make employment safe and secure?'” Garment factories in Bangladesh pay the most and carry a certain cachet for that reason, despite safety issues. “Young men and women with a few years of schooling consider that the RMG [sector] gives them more independence and [makes them] more socially acceptable,” added Rushidan Islam Rahman, research director at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.Continue reading...

brands under fire

GM's "Racist" Ad Just the Latest in Long Line of Asian Mockery

Posted by Abe Sauer on May 2, 2013 12:32 PM

For its ad stereotyping Asians, GM has offered the standard 'we're sorry you're so easily offended' apology, with a brand spokesperson saying, "Our intent was not to offend anyone and we’re deeply sorry if anyone was offended."

In fact, it really is not a surprise that GM wouldn't immediately recognize the ad as offensive. While brands now go out their way to avoid racism targeting many groups, Asians are still typically not on the vigilance radar. Heck, even Iron Man 3, a film that has been criticized for pandering to Chinese interests, couldn't resist throwing a little barb in about how poor the Chinese are at English. (see above; "Man Iron").

GM added that it would make sure "this never happened again." Maybe not at GM, but this will happen again. It was just in 2002 that popular youth clothing line Abercrombie & Fitch was slammed for a line of Asian-themed shirts including one reading, "Wong Brothers Laundry Service—Two Wongs Can Make It White." The brand's response? "It's never been our intention to offend anyone." Sound familiar?Continue reading...

brands under fire

When Bill Ackman Comes Calling, Brand CEOs Would Rather Not Be There

Posted by Dale Buss on April 30, 2013 07:47 PM

To paraphrase the late US Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois: "A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there—pretty soon you're talking about real money."

That's why investors, analysts, journalists and CEOs all tend to listen to activist investor Bill Ackman: He can throw around $1 billion at a time, and it is very real money. Right now, for example, he's got a $1 billion short position on Herbalife, betting that the multi-level-marketing company's shares eventually will be worthless.

But for today, at least, there's reason to doubt the acumen of Ackman on Herbalife, a marketer of weight-loss shakes and skin lotions that he has condemned as a pyramid scheme. The company beat analysts' expectations about its quarterly earnings again this week and raised its full-year outlook, as well as celebrated the growing influence of Carl Icahn, an old-school corporate raider who's increased his stake in the company and publicly defended it against nouveau gadfly Ackman.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Bangladeshi Garment Execs Vow to Improve Safety Standards

Posted by Sheila Shayon on April 30, 2013 07:12 PM

The death toll from the factory building collapse in Bangladesh could reach as high as 1,400, with at least 900 workers still missing six days after Rana Plaza in Savar crumbled and the owners facing possible prison terms for not protecting the tenants or workers.

The Dhaka collapse is the deadliest to hit Bangladesh's garment industry—worth upwards of $20 billion—but little has changed since last November's Tazreen factory blaze that killed 112 workers despite public outcry and pledges to improve safety standards. 

However, the cumulative effect of such tragedies, which have been magnified through the power of social media and the internet, is forcing major Western retailers such as Britain's Primark, Canada's Loblaw and Spain's Mango to admit involvement and ultimately offer up aid or a solution.

But for every brand that steps up and admits fault, another places blame elsewhere or remains mum. Italy's Benetton acknowledged that their products were made in Rana, but claimed it was a "one-time order," while Walmart has maintained that its third-party supplier was not authorized to outsource manufacturing to the Bangladeshi factory.Continue reading...

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