in the spotlight

Tobacco Advertising Going Up in Smoke

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 28, 2012 10:55 AM

Americans purchased 636.5 billion cigarettes way back in 1981. A good chunk of them were likely sucked in by the slew of air-traffic controllers that President Reagan fired. Or maybe it was all the people coming out of the year’s fifth most-popular film, “Cheech and Chong’s Nice Dreams.” Or those taking a break after getting down to Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration.” 

It’s hard to know just where all those cigarettes were going, but that year found Americans purchasing more of the so-called cancer sticks than any other. Since then, of course, there has been a long battle to help people ditch tobacco products in the hopes of bringing down the numbers of death from cancer. 

It appears that the anti-tobacco movement is working, just as the FDA is ready to ramp up a massive new five-year, anti-smoking campaign in the U.S. According to a new report from the Federal Trade Commission, cigarette purchases in America fell to an all-time low of 281.6 billion in 2010.Continue reading...

in the spotlight

Can Senior Model Jacky O'Shaughnessy Save American Apparel's Soul?

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 6, 2012 02:22 PM

American Apparel is no stranger to controversy over the years, showcasing its "Made in America" (for now?) garments on young models, risqué poses, nudity and other provocative images that have given the brand and its Canadian founder, Dov Charney, a bad reputation — most of all as a businessman, with a lifeline investment by billionaire George Soros making headlines earlier this year.

Whether it's another way to be provocative or at least unexpected, the brand has been expanding its casting calls for models, staging a (disastrous) contest for plus-size models, hiring its first transgender model (in partnership with GLAAD, no less) and now upturning ageism with the new face for its "advanced basic" line: 60-year-old actress Jacky O’Shaughnessy, who was spotted by an AA staffer in New York.Continue reading...

in the spotlight

McDonald's, Automakers Read Tea-Leaves on Consumer Confidence

Posted by Dale Buss on June 4, 2012 04:13 PM

It's the third year in a row that brand executives have worried about the "c" word — as in "confidence." Consumer confidence, to be exact.

In the wake of last week's tough U.S. jobs numbers for May, there's more discussion among brands whether the economy this year will follow the pattern of the last couple of years: a first-quarter strengthening followed by relative anemia in the following months.

Only this year, while the American economic recovery has at least seemed on track, brands are more worried about negative influences from abroad.

"The headwinds we face on both the top and bottom lines, such as austerity measures in Europe, higher commodity costs in the U.S., and slowing growth in Asia, do remain," Don Thompson, new CEO of McDonald's, told securities analysts last week, according to Nation's Restaurant News. "I'm confident in our ability to navigate these near-term headwinds, because we've faced these situations before."

Thompson told the analysts that McDonald's long-running Plan to Win best practices platform, established by his predecessor as CEO, Jim Skinner, will be up to the challenge of any softening in consumer confidence, using local innovations scaled across the company's entire global system, for instance.Continue reading...

in the spotlight

NYSE Euronext Looks Ahead with New Logo and Color Palette

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 14, 2012 02:54 PM

NYSE Euronext today unveiled a new logo, an abstract vision of the globe that “visualizes the concept of unlocking the potential of our worldwide community," according to Euronext’s global head of marketing, Marisa Ricciardi, in a blog post.

"Our company has transformed dramatically over the course of the last five years, so we’re rolling out a new brand identity that better represents both our position today, and our direction for the future," she adds.

The vibrant blue and green colors represent “growth and optimism,” Ricciardi notes. The lighter hues, meanwhile, “convey our commitment to transparency, and the bolder colors recall our storied historical role in developing the world economy."Continue reading...

in the spotlight

With Genome and Exec Move, Yahoo Reassures Madison Avenue and Wall Street

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 14, 2012 12:14 PM

As Internet Week kicked off in New York today, Yahoo execs were busy pitching its new advertising platform, Genome, while downplaying the weekend's executive shuffle that saw the ouster of resume-fudging CEO Scott Thompson, the appointment of Fred Amoroso as chairman, and the elevation of Ross Levinsohn, EVP of the Americas and the brand's head of global media, to interim CEO — not to mention three new board members.

"It's very damaging, and speaks so negatively to the (vetting process)," commented "ambi-practioner" Adam Hanft to USA Today. "(Thompson) was hired for strategy, branding and marketing — not computer science."

It was a short run for Thompson, former president of eBay's PayPal unit. Yahoo only named him CEO, its fourth in less than five years, on January 4th. Levinsohn, meanwhile, is stepping up while trying to reassure advertisers — as he did at the brand's recent digital upfront for advertisers with Katie Couric — to put their faith and budgets in Yahoo's original web programming and vision.Continue reading...

in the spotlight

London 2012 Watch: Sponsor Visa Opens Digital Wallet

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 8, 2012 05:06 PM

Visa is launching a beta test of its digital wallet, branded as, with online retailer The PayPal-esque payments system is supported by the credit card brand's new Visa Developer Center that aims to help developers in various fields from gaming, financial, e-commerce and mobile integrate into their products for in-app purchases, currency or direct links to e-commerce check-out pages. is offering convenience and "next generation commerce" to’s 18 million customers who enter their credit card information once, where it’s stored with Visa, and then create an account with Visa, American Express, MasterCard or Discover. Users will receive alerts and near-real-time transaction notification of transactions on their Visa accounts and personalized offers will be coming soon.Continue reading...

in the spotlight

Skittles Becomes a Symbol of Trayvon Martin Shooting Protests

Posted by Abe Sauer on March 21, 2012 02:16 PM

As the tragic story of Trayvon Martin picks up steam, Skittles has (unintentionally) taken on the role of brand representative for a movement.

Taste the rainbow… of social justice.Continue reading...

in the spotlight

London 2012 Watch: British PM Backs Dow as Mega-McDonald's Defended

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 12, 2012 02:31 PM

Dow Chemical isn’t backing out as a sponsor of the Olympics this summer in London and its name will be plastered (after all) over the stadium that will host the Opening Ceremonies. This, of course, has not been sitting right with folks in India, where the disastrous gas leak of 1984 by Union Carbide, which has since become a subsidiary of Dow, killed more than 20,000 people, according to the Indian government.

The Indian Olympic Association has hinted that it may pull out of London 2012 because of Dow’s involvement, even though Dow continues to point out that it did not own Union Carbide at the time of the disaster.

Protests notwithstanding, British Prime Minister David Cameron told CNN-IBN on Sunday that "it would be a very sad day" if India decided to boycott the Games.Continue reading...

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