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better for you

General Mills Adds Annie's in Biggest Tilt Yet Toward Organics

Posted by Dale Buss on September 9, 2014 03:48 PM

Organic foods can command a price premium from US shoppers of 30 to 40 percent or more. No wonder General Mills didn't mind paying a 37-percent share-price premium to buy Annie's Inc. for $820 million, in the biggest acknowledgement yet by the CPG giant that better-for-you foods are the future of the business—and that its own brands won't be able to carry enough weight in that crucial arena.

General Mills has bought a spate of other natural- and organic-foods brands over the last decade or so, including Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, Larabar and Food Should Taste Good. But the Annie's purchase is the company's biggest pickup yet, adding the Berkeley, Calif.-based company's iconic organic macaroni-and-cheese line and bunny-shaped crackers to General Mills' venerable lineup of traditional brands including Cheerios, Chex, Green Giant, Yoplait and Haagen-Dazs.

"Annie's competes in a number of attractive food categories, with particular strength in convenient meals and snacks—two of General Mills' priority platforms," Jeff Harmening, General Mills chief operating officer of US retail, said in a press release. "Consumers know and trust Annie's purpose-driven culture and authentic brand."Continue reading...

sporting brands

Brooklyn Nets Put their Borough at the Heart of their Brand in New Campaign

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 9, 2014 01:46 PM

The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, heading into its third year in New York City's most populated borough, want to keep the local fans coming despite a minor slip in the standings last year from fourth in the Eastern Conference to fifth.

Brooklyn basketball fans were excited to have the team move from New Jersey two seasons ago, but the Nets need to keep the locals interested now that the sheen on the Barclays Center has worn off. To do so, the brand is launching a new campaign, "We Are Brooklyn" that follows its "Hello Brooklyn" and "Are You Ready" campaigns. Ads will be seen across TV, web and social media as well as on subways, taxis, buses and MetroCards.

The brand's message has evolved, and so while the first two campaigns helped establish the Nets' brand locally and as a lifestyle brand, the new campaign "is a combination of both," Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said, according to Adweek. "Our fan base has evolved from being a little more casual to a little bit hardcore."Continue reading...

social commerce

Following Facebook, Twitter Expands E-Commerce Efforts with Buy Button

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 9, 2014 11:28 AM

Twitter has dipped a big toe into e-commerce, launching a “Buy” button in the hopes of creating a new and robust revenue stream beyond advertising. The move follows a similar test by Facebook, and precedes what many expect to be an announcement from Apple today about a new mobile commerce platform.

The Buy button launched with an exclusive crop of brand partners, from musicians to retailers, including Eminem, Pharrell Williams, Rihanna, GLAAD, RED, the Home Depot and Burberry.

Embedded in posts for a small number of Twitter users, the button gives access to limited-edition or time-sensitive products. According to Twitter's announcement, “This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun."Continue reading...

brand news

Brand News: Apple, Home Depot, Jimmy Choo and more

Posted by Dale Buss on September 9, 2014 09:09 AM


Apple launch today of new iPhone (starring U2) is biggest test yet for CEO Tim Cook.

General Mills buys Annie's organic foods brand.

Home Depot confirms major data breach that could rival Target's breach.

Jimmy Choo plans $1 billion IPO.

McDonald's August sales slump as US decline reaches fourth month.


AbbVie and other drug makers are sued by FTC for delaying generic competition of testosterone-replacement drugs.

Amazon slashes price of Fire smartphone.

Baltimore Ravens fires player Ray Rice after domestic-violence video surfaces, and NFL suspends him indefinitely.

Coach names new president and COO.

Dave & Buster's Entertainment files for second IPO attempt in three years.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

With the World Watching, Will Apple's iPhone Event Disappoint?

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on September 8, 2014 05:38 PM

The countdown is on as Apple watchers are at the ready for the next big thing: its product reveal taking place Tuesday morning at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. As the "What to Expect" headlines keep rolling in, Apple, as usual, will do its best to keep leaks at bay, so as to unveil its latest products in the typical, dramatic, Apple fashion we all have come to know so well

Perhaps the only certainty regarding the launch is that Apple will unveil a new iPhone, in line with its fall mobile announcements. But how many, and more importantly, how big? And will we finally see the so-called "iWatch" after months of rumors and sketches?

Major news outlets think so, and if Apple wants to stay on top of its game, it had better. This past week alone saw major wearable tech announcements from Samsung and Intel, and while none of them (arguably) hold the fascination that Apple does, there's no doubt that Apple acolytes are getting impatient waiting for CEO Tim Cook to unveil his first big product post-Jobs.Continue reading...

sporting brands

NFL Takes Tougher Stance on Domestic Violence with Ray Rice Suspension

Posted by Shirley Brady on September 8, 2014 05:15 PM

The NFL today issued the message that domestic violence (a growing problem) by its players will not be tolerated. But for some, it came as too little, too late.

Following a video released by TMZ showing Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens knocking out his now-wife in an elevator at the just-shuttered Revel hotel in Atlantic City back in February, the team this afternoon terminated the running back's multimillion-dollar contract and scrambled to restore their image at a press conference.

The move follows the NFL's two-game penalty for Rice in July, with the league defending that move today by stating it didn't have access to the damning elevator video before the TMZ leak. Now that the running back has been permanently cut by the team, chances are slim he'll be picked up by another team because NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who released a tougher domestic violence policy two weeks ago, has suspended him "indefinitely." 

Even so, some observers feel that Goodell and the league have mishandled the Rice situation and the issue of player violence against women—a target audience for the sport, which estimates that women comprise 46 percent of US pro football fans—and others in general.Continue reading...

branded entertainment

Johnnie Walker Aims for Luxury Status with Five-Star Exclusive Theater

Posted by Shirley Brady on September 8, 2014 04:04 PM

Johnnie Walker is upping the stakes in experiential, content marketing to promote its latest exclusive whisky blend and transform into a luxury brand.

Following on its growing stable of Johnnie Walker House local retail experiences in Shanghai and beyond and its global campaign that included a short film starring Jude Law, JOHNNIE WALKER® BLUE LABEL™ next week will stage a one-of-a-kind brand experience in London: Symphony in Blue, billed as "the world’s first theatrical, experiential, musical and artistic journey."

Three performances (two evening and one matinee) will take place on Sept. 16/17 in a multi-sensory cultural event designed to turn elite influencers into brand advocates. The event is being "exquisitely crafted by a star-studded team" that produced the memorable London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

Beyond participating in a bespoke branded experience, Symphony in Blue guests will be among the first to enjoy the latest launch from the John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2015: a limited-edition Blue Label Reserve premium whisky blend.Continue reading...

auto motive

GM Hopes Automated Driving Helps Leave Safety Woes Behind

Posted by Dale Buss on September 8, 2014 02:48 PM

GM CEO Mary Barra has been busy this week trying to put an end to the company's old safety problems while clearing the way for new safety technologies that could put it back at the forefront of the industry.

Barra on Sunday announced at an auto transportation-technology conference in Detroit that GM plans to launch by 2016 cars with a hands-free automated-driving system and WiFi-enabled vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems designed to help avoid collisions. In doing so, the company will attempt to jostle to the front of the pack in the highly-competitive automated-driving derby while also making progress in the "V2V" communications arena that is deemed very important by US regulatory authorities for reducing traffic accidents and related deaths.

GM was not announcing a "self-driving" car but only another of the industry's many incremental steps toward truly autonomous driving, a pursuit in which it's joined by Google and other Silicon Valley companies. Essentially, with its "Super Cruise" system in a new 2017 Cadillac model, motorists will be able to take their hands off the wheel at highway speeds for long stretches of time on freeways with proper lane markings, such as Interstates, and avoid crashes.Continue reading...

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