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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Abercrombie & Fitch Under Fire for Outdated Brand Image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reminded the public that the brand doesn't carry sizes XL or XXL in its women's products, a decision that is not only outdated but one that is being challenged by direct competitors like American Eagle and H&M, both which carry extended sizes for women and men.Continue reading...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...

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...

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