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The Cup Song Ends: Coca-Cola Calls Off 13-Year 'American Idol' Tie-In

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 17, 2014 02:07 PM

Coca-Cola’s branding has been all over Fox’s American Idol for 13 seasons, from the massive cups visible on the judges’ table to the dizzying background videos when host Ryan Seacrest sits down to have a tête-à-tête with contestants. 

But Coke has finally decided to disengage from the once all-powerful FOX TV show, Variety reports. The show has been losing ratings in recent years and announced this week that the results segments would be completely eliminated; performances and results will now all be in one episode, AmericanIdolnet.com reports.

Apparently, the audition portions are popular enough for the network to keep them around for two nights a week, so the next season will start off with two audition episodes followed by once-weekly showings after that.

All of it will now be without Coke, though the question remains how producers will handle the Coke-emblazoned cups that may have been in front of the judges last summer when they taped the auditions. (Digital product placement insertion, perhaps?)Continue reading...

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Starbucks Goes Back to the Bean in "Big Bet" on Upscale Coffee Lovers

Posted by Dale Buss on December 5, 2014 03:28 PM

Is the next generation of Starbucks coffee, or not coffee? Well—it's both.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is both doubling down on the brand's identification with coffee expertise and experience, by opening the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle today, as well as accelerating a dramatic expansion of Starbucks' food and beverage menu, its reach into non-traditional departments and its leveraging of digital and mobile technologies.

"We have to maintain the entrepreneurial DNA of the company," Schultz told analysts in outlining his five-year vision at the chain's annual Investor Day in Seattle. "We have to have the constant curiosity to see around corners and see what others don't see, and we have to have the courage and conviction to make big bets."

For one thing, Starbucks now aims to double sales from its food business in the U.S. over the next five years and to become more of a food-and-wine destination in the evenings. The brand's U.S. market target is to double its annual revenue from food to more than $4 billion by fiscal 2019.Continue reading...

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Coca-Cola Celebrates Santa Claus (and Milk, of Course) This Holiday Season

Posted by Dale Buss on November 25, 2014 05:05 PM

In addition to bringing back its beloved holiday icon, Santa Claus, this holiday season, Coca-Cola is trying to "open happiness" with an entirely new kind of beverage: designer milk to go with those cookies for Saint Nick.

Based on the selling points behind the startup brand Core Power that Coke has been distributing for a while, Fairlife milk has 60 percent more protein and 50 percent less sugar than regular milk as well as 30 percent more calcium, Business Insider reports.

In that regard, Fairlife seems like a perfect bit of diversification for the beverage giant, whose sales of regular and even Diet Coke have been sliding for years under greater health scrutiny by consumers and vilification as a major contributor to the world's problem with obesity.

"It's basically the premiumization of milk," Sandy Douglas, a senior vice president at Coca-Cola's North American operation, said last week at an investor conference, according to CBS News.Continue reading...

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Starbucks Plans to Change a Morning Tradition by Testing Delivery

Posted by Dale Buss on October 31, 2014 02:55 PM

The world still thirsts for coffee, according to the 10 percent rise in Starbucks' third-quarter sales. So why not make it even easier to buy that morning java?

To that end, Starbucks plans to test delivery in the second half of 2015 in certain markets. In those as-yet-unnamed markets, Starbucks will be replacing the iconic morning tableau of long lines and endless vehicles in its drive-throughs with a much more convenient—albeit presumably more expensive—alternative.

"Imagine the ability to create a standing order of Starbucks delivered hot to your desk daily," is how Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz painted the picture on an earnings call with investors. "That's our version of e-commerce on steroids." Continue reading...

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That Sinking Feeling: Coca-Cola Aims to Get More Entrepreneurial to Spark Sales

Posted by Dale Buss on October 21, 2014 04:59 PM

If only Coca-Cola could find a way to extend its "Share a Coke" program for a long time to come. Besides that short-term spark to soda sales, the company didn't have much good news to share—or optimism for the future—along with its quarterly earnings report today.

The beverage giant's revenue actually declined during the third quarter, to less than $12 billion. Its profit fell 14 percent as global soda volume remained flat, reflecting the long-term struggle faced by Coca-Cola and its soft-drink rivals in a pronounced lack of interest in their primary products by more and more health-conscious consumers.

CEO Muhtar Kent also noted that the company is struggling, along with other beverage and consumer packaged goods companies, with currency headwinds and deterioriating economic conditions not only in emerging markets but also in Europe. "This is placing strong pressure on the short-term performance of our business," he said on the company's earnings conference call. He also lowered short- and long-term financial expectations.

But Coca-Cola must keep paddling, so Kent announced a series of initiatives both of the belt-tightening and innovation variety designed to spur growth—somehow. Continue reading...

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POM Wonderful Returns to TV with Free Radical Fighting Characters

Posted by Dale Buss on October 14, 2014 01:01 PM

This time around POM Wonderful isn't likely to provoke the US Federal Trade Commission with its new advertising. The beverage brand's new "Crazy Healthy" campaign marks its first time in three years to run TV spots, and they won't be seen as controversial.

Just about two years ago, an agency judge ruled that the brand had gone too far in claims in its advertising that the fruit juice helps cure or mitigate specific diseases such as cancer. POM Wonderful objected by poking a thumb in the eye of the FTC with a provocative campaign, "FTC v. POM. You be the judge."

But now, in its return to national US TV advertising starting this month, POM Wonderful has taken a much more oblique—and non-confrontational—approach with its messaging for 100% pomegranate juice. No images this time, as before the FTC action, of a POM Wonderful bottle with a noose around its neck and the tagline, "Cheat death."Continue reading...

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Soup's On: Plum Organics Developing Soup Line with Campbell's Help

Posted by Dale Buss on October 10, 2014 03:48 PM

Plum Organics had been developing a line of fruit and vegetable pouches for adults long before the startup was acquired by Campbell Soup a year ago. Now Emeryville, Calif.-based Plum has introduced Plum Vida, which is being exclusively sold as part of the Made to Matter collection at Target stores.

Co-founder Neil Grimmer has something else in the new product pipeline, slated for next year, that will be a direct result of the relationship between Plum and its parent company, Campbell Soup. Yes, a Plum soup line is in the works.

"It will bring what Plum does best to the soup aisle," Grimmer exclusively told brandchannel. "And it will be clearly leveraging some of [Campbell Soup's] capabilities to do that as well."Continue reading...

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From True to Life, the Cola Wars Continue

Posted by Dale Buss on October 3, 2014 10:37 AM

In the latest stage of the ongoing cola wars, the kings of carbonated beverages are going green—on the outside—and lean, on the inside. PepsiCo just introduced a new mid-calorie variety called Pepsi True that uses a combination of stevia and sugar to provide a reduced calorie count, just like Coca-Cola Life. It comes in a green can, just like Coca-Cola Life.

And just like Coca-Cola Life that initially was only offered in Argentina, PepsiCo has put a twist on how it will first make Pepsi True available: exclusively on Amazon (where Coca-Cola is also exclusively reviving its Surge brand) before it hits US stores. Of course, the two brands also could end up sharing the same basic plight: mid-cal soft drinks haven't attained much of a following anywhere yet.

For PepsiCo, the big bet is that Pepsi True will do a better job in the so-called mid-calorie space—not "low calorie" like diet sodas, but not full-calorie either, like the traditional flagships Pepsi and Coke—than the company's previous offering, Pepsi Next.Continue reading...

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