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brands under fire

While Supreme Court Grants Monsanto a Win, a New App Can Help Consumers Boycott

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 15, 2013 06:35 PM

Three companies control most of the seed business in the world and one of them is Monsanto, the Missouri-based agricultural company infamous for producing genetically-modified crops and genetically-engineered seeds. The company's resistant seeds were of top concern in a recent patent lawsuit against an Indiana farmer. Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court came down on the independent farmer and declared Monsanto a win. 

The farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, purchased Monsanto soybean seeds that are resistant to weed killer and planted them one year. It was his actions after that year that got him into trouble. “Bowman v Monsanto revolved around what Bowman contended was a legal loophole in his license agreement with Monsanto: farmers are allowed to sell the second-generation seeds to grain elevators, which, in turn, are permitted to sell a mixture of undifferentiated seeds as ‘commodity grain,’” Forbes reports. “In other words, he maintained he was legally allowed to buy Monsanto’s seeds cheaper from a grain elevator rather than directly from the company.”Continue reading...

brands under fire

Bangladesh Hangs in the Balance as North American Retailers Weigh Options

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on May 14, 2013 07:01 PM

As it stands, 1,127 lives were lost in the factory collapse in Bangladesh and over a dozen international retailers have signed on to the binding Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement as the May 15 deadline looms. 

In a move that was hailed as "game-changing," H&M, Bangladesh's largest producer, signed on to the agreement on Monday, which promises to ensure independent inspections of all factories and financial aid to improve factory safety. “With this commitment we can now influence even more in this issue," said Helena Helmersson, Head of Sustainability for H&M, in a statement posted on the fast-fashion retailer's corporate website. 

While H&M's decision may have influenced other signatories like Italy's Benetton, Spain's Mango and Britain's Marks & Spencer, it has yet to affect the decisions of North American retailers including Gap Inc. and Walmart.Continue reading...

brands under fire

H&M, Primark Sign Bangladesh Safety Agreement; Gap Says It's Next [Update]

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 13, 2013 06:39 PM

The rescue efforts in Savar, Bangladesh have officially been turned over to recovery as the death toll surpasses 1,100 in what has become the worst accident in the history of the garment industry. But 20 days later, it seems that progress and change is beginning to emerge from the rubble of a decrepit industry. 

The Bangladeshi government has agreed to let garment workers form trade unions without the permission of factory owners—a breakthrough in workers' rights in a de-regulated country, where garment factories were shut down this week following worker unrest over wages and conditions.

The proposed  safety plan, backed by a coalition of labor groups, calls for independent inspections of factories and a legally binding fire and building safety plan requiring retailers to help pay for improvements to factory safety and is an amendment to the 2006 Labor Act lifting restrictions on forming trade unions in most industries.

The pact also calls for changes regarding severance payments, welfare fund payments, management practices and payment and banking standards. In what could be a game-changing announcement, Swedish retailer H&M announced Monday that it will sign the binding agreement.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Why A&F's 'Cool Kids' Stance Will Damage the Brand Now More Than Ever

Posted by Abe Sauer on May 13, 2013 11:48 AM

"No fatties." That's the underlying concept of the latest outrage about fashion brand Abercrombie & Fitch.

But what's the bigger threat for the brand? Some controversial comments the CEO made seven years ago, or cultural irrelevance? The fact that Abercrombie has to go back more than a half decade to gin up some outrage about its brand may demonstrate that the brand's most significant days are in the past.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Abercrombie & Fitch Under Fire for Outdated Brand Image

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 10, 2013 06:48 PM

The social media airwaves are alive with fury as a seven-year-old comment reignites a firestorm over positive body image and branding. 

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries made his position clear back in 2006 and has stuck to it ever since. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Jeffries' prejudice was reignited after a blog post reminded the public that the brand doesn't carry sizes XL or XXL in its women's products, a decision that is not only outdated but one that is being challenged by direct competitors like American Eagle and H&M, both which carry extended sizes for women and men.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Tobacco Companies Make Their Move in Indonesia

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 10, 2013 05:05 PM

Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world with more than 237 million residents and more than 60 million of those people smoke. But while it seems that the rest of the developed world is doing all it can to cut down on tobacco use, Indonesia is being inundated by tobacco marketers looking to gain a few more patrons before stricter regulations are put into place. 

British American Tobacco sends “coquettish models wearing short white dresses” into cafes and clothes shops to encourage consumers “to buy Dunhill’s new ‘Mild’ cigarettes and sign up to a marketing database,” the Financial Times reports. The same company runs ads on television, something it can't do in many other parts of the globe, including America.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Greenpeace Goes After Coca-Cola in Ongoing Recycling Battle in Australia

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 10, 2013 03:47 PM

Greenpeace is targeting Coca-Cola in its latest campaign, a crowd-funded TV ad that is a call-to-action for Australia’s "Cash for Containers" recycling program, which they say the giant bottler has sabotaged. “Behind Coke’s slogans and sunshine, the beverage giant is trashing Australia,” said Reece Turner, senior campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific. 

In March, Coca-Cola won its court case to stop a recycling refund scheme in the Northern Territory—a program that doubled recycling rates and has run successfully in South Australia for more than 30 years, according to Greenpeace. The program added 10 cents to retail prices for manufacturers like Coke, but consumers would get a refund for recycling the containers in appropriate bins. 

Clean Up Australia estimates that Australians use between 13 to 14 billion drinks containers a year and that 45 percent of the plastic waste that is collected on Clean Up Australia Day is beverage industry-related. “This loose rubbish is estimated to affect up to 65 percent of Australian seabirds. Some mistake the plastic for food. When they swallow too much, their tiny stomachs become so full they're unable to ingest any food—literally starving to death on a full stomach,” according to Greenpeace.Continue reading...

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...

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