Posted by Dale Buss on May 17, 2013 07:30 PM
Ford is facing a lawsuit that threatens to tarnish the carefully nurtured image of its EcoBoost engines as a way to get big improvements in fuel efficiency without giving up driving performance.
Some Ford owners in Ohio alleged in a suit filed in federal court in Columbus that Ford vehicles containing the 3.5-liter, V6 EcoBoost engine are "subject to sudden shuddering, shaking, rapid loss of power, and inappropriate transition to limp mode." The allegations echo complaints that Ford addressed last year in a non-public bulletin to dealers and by making changes on its engine assembly line.
At the same time, there are more reports from reviewers who maintain that EcoBoost engines don't deliver their promised fuel efficiency in real-world driving performance.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 17, 2013 07:10 PM
While Apple has had some good news lately (it reached 50 billion downloads from its App Store, signed a deal with CW to have the network’s content appear on Apple TV, and its UK retail locations received the top customer-service rating in Britain), it also is going through some tough times as a brand.
A recent poll from Bloomberg notes that, “71 percent of poll respondents say the Cupertino, California, company has lost its cachet as an industry innovator, which includes 28 percent who say it is permanent and 43 percent who say it may be a temporary hiccup.” While some Apple loyalists remain dedicated to the company that has brought the world such innovations as the iPod, iPhone, and iTunes, plenty of folks in the general population aren’t as high on Apple as they used to be, with some turning to competitors like Google and Samsung. “Google plays offense while Apple has recently settled for playing defense,” Forbes reports. “Apple is struggling to maintain its position in the market, while Google is expanding its position.”
Google’s shares have gone over a record $900 while Apple’s are now just above $400 after being over $705 in late September. While it can be difficult to keep up with its own track record of innovation, Apple apparently has got to keep pushing in order to keep the masses satisfied. “Where Apple went wrong is they began to confuse version releases and feature improvements with innovation,” Forbes reports. “What Apple is learning the hard way is even the most loyal base of consumers will jump ship when provided a valid reason to do so.”Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 17, 2013 06:40 PM
There can be a lot of stress associated with working at Walmart these days: Financial results aren't improving, and there are a lot of haters, such as critics of the chain's strategy for improving working conditions at factories in Bangladesh that supply Walmart garments.
Good thing that Walmart employees have a new way to engage themselves more productively in their work: "gamification." In a move that echoes what other major employers are doing, the nation's largest retailer is working with a Boston-based marketing and consulting organization to improve more of its internal processes by lending them a digital-gaming aspect. In turn, greater "employee engagement" is supposed to lead to improving the experiences of Walmart customers.
Walmart executive Kurt Templeton, director of workforce planning, and executives of Inward Strategic Consulting were presenting their findings on the effectiveness of gamification at a Conference Board gathering this week in Chicago.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 17, 2013 06:16 PM
Cheap Beer Disappearing Thanks to PBR
The main reason plenty of people have ever even tasted a Pabst Blue Ribbon is because they come cheap. However, its price has been rising in New York City thanks to the hipster population that has been consuming it, according to food and beverage sales analyst Restaurant Sciences.
The word is that PBR’s price increase has affected all the other “sub-premium” brands in the city and they’ve collectively gone up 9.4 percent in the last seven months, the New York Daily News reports. "I believe the single biggest driver in sub-premium beer price increases is indeed specifically PBR," said Chuck Ellis, the research company’s chief. "It has become quite fashionable."Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Alicia Ciccone on May 17, 2013 05:47 PM
It turns out that angry consumers aren't the only ones that American retailers need to worry about. In a joint statement published Thursday, a group of investors sought out to express their dissatisfaction with US retailers that have refused to sign the Bangladesh fire and safety agreement.
The release, undersigned by Amalgamated Bank Longview Funds and 14 others said, "We expect companies in our portfolios to ensure the integrity of their supply chains." The group, which reportedly holds a combined $1.35 trillion in assets, called out both Walmart and Gap, two major US retailers who spoke out against the accord, advising them to act swiftly and effectively in agreeance with the legally-binding proposal, which was signed by over 30 international companies by its May 15 deadline.
The response is a reaction to the late-April factory collapse in Savar, Bangladesh that has now claimed over 1,120 lives. The accord, which is a version of a previously proposed agreement that was in effect turned down by several US retailers in 2011, hopes to protect the millions of Bangladeshi people that work in the country's 5,000 garment factories, for as little as $38 per month. The industry, now the second largest garment producer next to China, has seen a surge in recent years, resulting in the creation of faulty building sites and poor labor conditions. The circumstances surrounding the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory highlight the shortcomings of an industry built on loose ethics and fast, inexpensive turnaround. While the agreement looks to enforce independent building inspections and fire and safety training, it also hopes to create a more open administrative atmosphere for workers to present their concerns.Continue reading...
week in review
Posted by Michael Waltzer on May 17, 2013 04:30 PM
Our most-read blog posts of the week:
#1 Why A&F's 'Cool Kids' Stance Will Damage the Brand Now More Than Ever
#2 Coca-Cola Gets Personal in Europe with "Share a Coke" Campaign
#3 Target's Stance on Gay Rights Takes Ironic Turn as Home State Passes Equality Bill
#4 Sears Says 'No Credit? No Problem!' with New Lease-To-Own Program
#5 Andre Agassi Goes "Home" to Nike
#6 Dannon Turns Yogurt Marketing On Its Head with Men's Health Oikos Ad
#7 Jaguar Says It's 'Your Turn' for F-Type with New Campaign
#8 Calvin Klein Sheds the 'CK' for Platinum Line Rebranding
#9 Earnings Show JCPenney Still Has Problems Even Another Logo Can't Fix
#10 YouTube Jumps into Retail with Shoppable Videos for Brand Channels
let's make a deal
Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 17, 2013 03:39 PM
As it explores new revenue streams and strategies to build out its web platform, Yahoo may be looking to invest in a platform that is sure to bring it plenty of the millennials it craves.
According to a report by All Things D, sources close to Yahoo! have said that the company may be considering a "strategic investment in or outright buy" of social blogging mecca Tumblr. After all, the startup, which is valued around $800 million, is one of the most popular social platforms and has become increasingly a part of branding arsenals as companies take advantage of its photo-heavy community.
Update: The acquisition was approved by Yahoo's board on Sunday, and announced via a press release, David Karp's Tumblr post and Marissa Mayer's first Tumblr post on Monday morning. The tl;dr version: Yahoo promises to leave the Tumblr brand independent and "not screw it up," leaving Karp as CEO and its staff intact. Yahoo will get access to Tumblr's 300 million monthly unique visitors; Tumblr gets the backing to continue its product roadmap and Karp's vision.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 17, 2013 02:49 PM
It’s tough to keep a secret in today’s digital world. Coca-Cola, of course, has been holding tight a secret recipe since the company got its start in 1886—and it has billions of dollars in revenue riding on it.
Over the years, plenty have claimed they had the secret recipe, and now two more claim they've got the Real Things's recipe.
Cliff Kluge, an antiques dealer from Georgia, publicized that he found a 1943 variation of the recipe (so the cocaine had been removed already) in a box of letters he purchased from an estate sale. Kluge put it up on eBay and asked for a starting auction bid of $5 million, with a "Buy it now" price of $15 million, but Kluge didn't get a single bid.Continue reading...