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American Express Kicks Off 2013 With Biggest Layoffs in Four Years

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 10, 2013 05:02 PM

Along with adjusted net income of $1.2 billion, American Express delivered a surprise in its fourth quarter earnings report today: the elimination of 5,400 jobs as part of a global reorganization of its business units, with over $400 million in severance and its business travel unit taking a big hit.

The company has endured more than a decade of downsizing under CEO Ken Chenault: 7,700 jobs in 2001; 6,500 jobs in 2002; 7,000 jobs (10% of its workforce) in 2008; 4,000 jobs in 2009. This round of cuts, as Wall Street Journal reports, represents "its biggest retrenchment in a decade," and will shed 8.5% of its workforce.

“Against the backdrop of an uneven economic recovery, these restructuring initiatives are designed to make American Express more nimble, more efficient and more effective in using our resources to drive growth,” said Chenault. “For the next two years, our aim is to hold annual operating expense increases to less than 3 percent. The overall restructuring program will put us in a better position as we seek to deliver strong results for shareholders and to maintain marketing and promotion investments at about 9 percent of revenues.”

More details on the restructuring and impact on the company — which just launched a #foraliving recruitment campaign on Twitter and YouTube — from its press release:Continue reading...

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Simple Banking: A Modest Digital Proposal to Revolutionize Banking

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 9, 2013 10:07 AM

Banks are always crowing about how they aren’t going to have fees for this or that, but somehow, over time, the monthly bank statement comes and there are a load of fees on there. And most of them are worded in such a way that the consumer has absolutely no idea what they are for.

Australian Josh Reich has certainly felt the bewilderment. “Banks make money by keeping customers confused,” Reich told the New York Times. “There’s no incentives to make the experience better.”

So what did Reich do? He partnered with a pal, Shamir Karkal, and started an online bank, Simple, a “worry-free alternative to traditional banking” that doesn't charge any fees.

Formerly known as BankSimple, the Portland, Ore.-based startup which has now processed more than $200 million in transactions, offers its 20,000 customers data-rich analysis of expenditures as well.Continue reading...

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"Do What You Do": Capital One Touts Mid-Mobile Banking Multitasking

Posted by Barry Silverstein on January 8, 2013 10:01 AM

The flurry of mobile banking ads lately is no accident. Just like every other business, banks have figured out that consumers are on the go — and connected — all the time. Banks are already scrambling to get their piece of the mobile payments market, and now mobile banking apps are the latest new thing.

A slew of campaigns are featuring the ease of mobile banking, with banks such as Barclays expanding mobile. Bank of America says, "Life is mobile. So is your bank." Chase calls mobile banking, "The power of Chase in the palm of your hand."

But Capital One, instead of pitching the mobile app itself, is focusing on the convenience factor for the consumer.Continue reading...

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OMG! Citibank India Promotes E-Commerce Brands With Online Mega Sale

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 4, 2012 11:07 AM

Market research shows that e-tailing in India is growing faster than any other Asia Pacific market, which sets the stage for Citi's new campaign in the market: promoting web-based transactions and online shopping to consumers.

Citibank India will host its first ever 24-hour deep discount online promotion — billed as the OMG! Sale, short for Online Mega Sale — on Wednesday (Dec. 5), offering cardholders deals across categories from 17 e-tailers including indiatimes.com, ebay.in, snapdeal.com, indiaplaza.com, zoomin.com, yebhi.com, zovi.com, excluzen.com, highstreetlabels.com, goibibo.com, babyoye.com, firstcry.com, hoopos.com, indiangiftsportal.com, goodlife.com, pepperfry.com and myntra.com. 

The single-day online sale event offers discounts averaging around 30% and extending up to 60% on certain products and services.Continue reading...

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Starbucks European Tax Woes Increase Ahead of UK Hearing

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 1, 2012 10:29 AM

Profit is generally defined as the amount of money made after expenditures are accounted for, but the good folks of Starbucks have apparently been using a different definition.

Reuters discovered in an investigation that the coffee giant was telling investors that its U.K. business was going like gangbusters but the company also filed taxes that claim massive losses — a claim the company denies. Now it appears that the movie studio-like practice was taking place in other parts of Europe as well.

Reuters now reports in a new installment of its investigation that it's all in how you define 'profit.' 

“Starbucks Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead said the company simply used a different measure of profit when reporting its performance to investors and when filing its tax returns,” the wire service reports. Reuters also notes, however, that there is no indication that Starbucks has broken any actual rules in any country. 

"If you're not finding ways to mitigate your tax responsibilities to the best of your ability, that's something that will impact shareholders," said RJ Hottovy, an analyst who covers Starbucks for Morningstar, told Reuters.Continue reading...

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How BofA Did ‘The Hustle’

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 25, 2012 12:11 PM

Five years after the housing market crumbled, the U.S. government is still sorting out who to blame. The latest indictment is of Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank, now facing a $1 billion lawsuit for allegedly (along with predecessor Countrywide Financial) selling fraudulently approved loans to government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The civil mortgage fraud suit was filed Wednesday by Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, accusing Countrywide, acquired by BofA in 2008, of promoting “HSSL,” (High Speed Swim Lane), a.k.a. “the Hustle” (no, not that "Hustle") in order to eliminate quality checkpoints and push higher volumes of mortgages between 2007 and 2009.Continue reading...

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FundersClub Aims To Democratize Angel Rounds

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 21, 2012 03:40 PM

All of three weeks old, FundersClub has already raised more than $1 million for startups, attracting more than 1,000 investors from 25 countries with combined net worth of more than one billion dollars.

The Club offers accredited investors early access to investment in vetted start-ups, pooling checks from multiple sources for aggregated monies. Differing from Kickstarter, which solicits project-specific donations, and Kiva, where transactions are microloans, FundersClub exchanges shares of the company for every investment.

Early stage companies publish profiles and fundraising goals with FundersClub, which sets-up individual venture capital funds for each, and when a goal is reached, bundles the monies and lists each contributor as a shareholder. Continue reading...

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Will Barclays Crisis Increase Consumer Distrust of Banks?

Posted by Shirley Brady on July 3, 2012 07:07 PM

In an "ugly" day for the Barclays brand and the banking sector, WSJ's Dennis Berman and David Reilly discuss (above) the departures of Barclays CEO Bob Diamond (who faces a British parliamentary grilling on Wednesday) and COO Jerry del Missier and other scandals that have plagued the world's biggest banks.

Finger-pointing aside, Bloomberg looks at whether this opens the door to Barclays splitting its consumer lending and investment banking divisions. U.S. regulators today released "living wills" — contingency plans for breaking up nine of the world's biggest banks in the event of an emergency.Continue reading...

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