in the spotlight

Obama Pitches CEOs on His Fiscal Cliff Message; Is He Listening to Them Too?

Posted by Dale Buss on December 6, 2012 09:55 AM

President Obama lobbied a group of big business leaders in Washington this week with his views about the looming fiscal cliff. But at least one of the most important heads of a major American business, Ford CEO Alan Mulally, was taking no guff either from Obama or from the leaders of the Senate and House with whom the president is deadlocked — and apparently willing to push to the edge, if not over it, in a political stand-off.

"It's a concern to all of us, because this is a very, very fragile recovery," Mulally said on MSNBC this week. "It's just so important that we come together on a plan to deal with both the revenue side, but also the expense side, because really what we're talking about is keeping the economic development going. That's the most important thing about this issue."

And while so far the U.S. auto industry has more than carried its weight in the nation's sluggish economic recovery, Mulally said that he couldn't guarantee that it would be able to post continued sales increases if Obama and Congress don't deal quickly and decisively with the fiscal cliff.Continue reading...

executive decision

Restaurant Brands May Want To Start Biting Their Tongues on Obamacare

Posted by Dale Buss on December 4, 2012 03:01 PM

The heads of more US restaurant brands are taking out their frustrations on Obamacare, with David Overton of the Cheesecake Factory becoming the latest. And even if you agree with their plaint, their actions prompt the question: Are they only hurting themselves by making a campaign out of their oppostion to the Affordable Care Act and to the new costs it places on their chains, however onerous they may be?

Instead of promoting, say, his chain's holiday campaign to give away 2013 cheesecakes on Facebook, Overton aired his grievances on CBS This Morning, saying that "for those businesses who don't cover their employees [with health insurance already], they'll be in for a very expensive situation." He noted that the Cheesecake Factory already provides some health insurance, but he warned that the costs of complying with Obamacare would be passed on to customers by the industry.Continue reading...

social marketing

#My2K Hashtag Campaign Spurs Twitter Townhall Fiscal Cliff Debate

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 28, 2012 12:06 PM

In July 2011, President Obama warned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor that he would pressure Republicans to compromise and make a deal by "going to the American people" in order to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, and he's doing just that.

The White House (with more than 3 million Twitter followers) and Obama (with 23.9 million followers) created a trending topic on Twitter today by promoting the #My2K hashtag to rally support for the president's call for legislation before the year-end fiscal cliff deadline for former president George W. Bush's tax cuts package.

Obama is stepping up his effort to get Americans to lobby their elected representatives to pass the middle class tax cuts, personalizing the message with "My 2K" as a reference to the $2,000 (well, $2,200) that may be coming out of their pockets: "If Congress fails to act before the end of the year, every American family’s taxes will automatically go up. A typical middle-class family of four would see its taxes rise by $2,200 starting in 2013."Continue reading...

chew on this

Five Guys is Expanding to the UK

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 26, 2012 12:21 PM

In-N-Out Burger caused a "frenzy" last month when it popped up with a stealth five-hour pop-up in London. Now Five Guys, the US burger chain so-named in honor of the male half of the founding couple and their four sons, is about to make its first foray out of North America and into the UK, and it's planning to stick around a little longer.

The word from UK's Marketing magazine is that Five Guys, which has a thousand locations in the U.S. and Canada, is expanding to the UK thanks to a deal that Five Guys has made with Sir Charles Dunstone, the founder of Carphone Warehouse.

The plan is for Dunstone to open a few Five Guys in the UK next year with the first of them being a flagship store in London. And no, Barack Obama's beloved Five Guys won't rebrand as "Five Chaps" for its UK arrival, and we doubt they'll start calling their menu's mainstay "burgers and chips."Continue reading...

holidaze

White House Puts Turkey Pardon to the Facebook Test, With Nate Silver Shout-Out

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 21, 2012 03:02 PM

The White House today was the scene of the annual pre-Thanksgiving turkey pardon, with Cobbler and Gobbler getting a reprieve — along with a shout-out to New York Times stats-cruncher Nate Silver ("once again, Nate Silver completely nailed it") and Facebook, the platform on which (in a first this year) the turkey pardon was opened to public voting. Portlandia-ready infographics (below) gave more details on each turkey's background to help voters decide. The First Family then went to Martha's Table, a food pantry in Washington, D.C., to help assemble Thanksgiving meals to be distributed to the less fortunate this holiday.Continue reading...

political season

Obamascare Tactics: Papa John's Leads Brands Blaming Obama for Woes

Posted by Dale Buss on November 16, 2012 11:52 AM

As restaurant brand executives cut jobs and announced their intentions to raise prices in the wake of President Obama's re-election, no one can say they weren't forewarned.

Chains such as Papa John's are explicitly tying their actions to the costs of Obamacare, while other brands — including GE Healthcare and Virgin Airlines — also are announcing job cuts as a result of their expectations for a continuation of U.S. economic sluggishness in the wake of the voting results.

Papa John's CEO John Schnatter has been the most outspoken. The Mitt Romney backer has said that he'll raise the price of a pizza pie by 10 to 14 cents as well as slash employee hours — but it's not, he says, because of the two million pizzas he's giving away, but due to the cotss of Obamacare. He's not alone. A Denny's franchisee in Florida, John Metz, said that he plans to add a five-percent surcharge to his customers' bills and also to reduce his employees' hours.Continue reading...

damage control

It's Cher vs. Hair as Donald Trump Protest Ropes in Macy's

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 14, 2012 12:03 PM

"Cher joins 400,000" is not an x-rated film for the AARP set — it's a headline trumpeting news that the singer/actress has signed a petition lobbying Macy's to "dump Trump."

Following Donald Trump's harsh comments against Barack Obama, including a $5 million offer to see the president's passport application and college transcripts, a "boycott Trump" effort has been growing. Macy's CEO was drawn into the fray after protesters zoomed in on Trump's "birther" comments its holiday campaign (top).

Trump's answer to anyone who opposes him is typically a metaphorical version of "you're fired." It's an impotent response to a boycott effort as impotent as Trump's hair piece.Continue reading...

political brands

Republican Party Hangover: Is It Time for the GOP to Rebrand?

Posted by Dale Buss on November 9, 2012 02:57 PM

It's hard to think of a brand that is more in crisis today than the Republican Party. Not even JCPenney or Groupon, Kodak or BlackBerry come close.

The dimensions of the licking that the Grand Old Party took at the polls on Tuesday are still unfolding, but Republican leaders and rank-and-file members alike are trying to figure out, exactly, just where they go from here.

They certainly wasted little time in getting started. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, already was communicating via social media in the wee hours of Wednesday that his party needs a new outreach to Hispanics and other minorities — but one based on the appeal of conservative principles such as the importance of the family and hard work.

Beyond that basic formula, there's little agreement within the party ranks about where and how Republicans need to proceed in order to bolster the flagging morale of partisans, try to make back some of the lost ground in elections in 2014 and, of course, ultimately do better in capturing the White House in 2016 when two-term President Obama can't run again.Continue reading...

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