media meltdown

In Return to Print, Newsweek Captures Global Attention with Bitcoin Claims

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 7, 2014 12:01 PM

Back on the newsstand after a near two-year hiatus during which it went digital-only, Newsweek made quite the splash this week with its Bitcoin cover story, which claimed a massive scoop: that the now IBT-owned media title had uncovered the true identity of the founder of the controversial digital currency.

Unfortunately, Newsweek’s big scoop may be a complete bust. The man who was fingered, Satoshi Nakamoto, a 64-year-old Japanese-American father of six who owns a single-family home in Southern California, claims he never even heard of Bitcoin unitl Newsweek contacted his son three weeks ago, the Associated Press reports. Newsweek stands by its story, which also says Nakamoto is worth about $400 million.

Since Bitcoin was first launched in 2009, fans, critics and curious consumers have been trying to uncover the true identity of supposed found Satoshi Nakamoto is, but to no avail. The man Newsweek has named, who was born Satoshi Nakamoto but later changed his name to Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto, now has reporters—and police—at his doorstep.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Primark Commits to Toxin-Free Products Following Greenpeace Campaign

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 10, 2014 04:46 PM

Following in the steps of luxury brand Burberry, British retail giant Primark is the latest major brand to bow to Greenpeace's demands to go toxin-free, agreeing to eliminate hazardous chemicals in its products and across its production eco-system by 2020.

The High Street discount retailer is the 20th company to commit to detoxing its garments as a result of Greenpeace's global Detox campaign, and most recently, its "Little Monsters" report that found levels of toxins in childrens' product from global retail brands including Adidas, Gap, and American Apparel. Other brands, including Levi's, Zara, Mango and H&M have already commited to Greenpeace's five-step detox program. 

“Primark’s commitment shows that it refuses to be left behind as toxic-free clothing becomes a fashion trend in the industry,” said Ilze Smit, Detox Campaigner at Greenpeace International in a press release. “From budget retailers like Primark, to luxury houses like Burberry, brands are helping put an end to this toxic nightmare. Laggards like adidas and Disney need to act now to stop these hazardous little monsters once and for all.”Continue reading...

health matters

CVS Snuffs Out Tobacco Sales in Bold Step to Solidify its Health Care Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on February 5, 2014 01:51 PM

If the idea of a pharmacy is to help people get better, CVS no longer could go along with the fact that it sold decidedly unhealthy tobacco products. So America's second-largest pharmacy chain by size has announced that it will become the first nationwide drugstore to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products.

The action of going cold turkey will cost CVS an estimated $2 billion in annual revenue (out of a total of $123 billion) when it goes into effect in October, but it also is a significant move in the direction of authenticity and consistency for a brand that—like most drugstore chains—has been intensely repositioning itself as a broad-based health products and services provider, not just a pill dispensary.

“We have about 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners helping patients manage chronic problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease, all of which are linked to smoking,” said CVS CEO Larry J. Merlo to the New York Times. “We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don’t go together in the same setting."Continue reading...

brands under fire

Uber Is In a Heap of Trouble as Car Services Get Competitive

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 28, 2014 04:47 PM

Private transportation service Uber is happy to self promote, but there is likely a whole side of its business that it wishes no one knew about: its legal problems.

The international app-driven car and delivery service has attracted a lot of attention for its one-off marketing stunts that have so far included kitten, Christmas tree and ice cream truck deliveries. But lately, the brand has been in headlines for less admirable practices.

Across the US, from New York and Boston to Chicago, Uber is facing claims (and some actual lawsuits) for "illegal practices including misleading marketing and unfair competition," according to the Reuters. Most recently the company apologized to rival car company Gett after some of Uber's New York employees ordered, and then cancelled, more than 100 cars in a scam that debilitated the service. Uber turned the PR disaster into a recruitment fair, trying to convince some of the Gett drivers to swap companies.Continue reading...

end of an era

The Devil Waves Bye-Bye: Condé Nast Kills Internships as 'Unpaid' Debate Goes Global

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 24, 2013 11:07 AM

Interns take heart—the era of your unpaid servitude may be over, but so may be your job prospects. 

Following multiple lawsuits and a global debate on the ethics of unpaid labor in the name of "experience," Condé Nast, the publisher of such leading glossies including Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ, announced that it is abolishing its internship program starting next year. Over the summer, two former interns, one with W magazine and the other with The New Yorker, filed lawsuits claiming they were paid below minimum wage. 

It's yet to be seen whether other companies will follow suit, but there's no doubt that others will be looking to dodge the bad headlines and nightmarish PR spin that Conde and others, like Hearst, have had to endure in the last few years.Continue reading...

let's make a deal

Smithfield Foods Acquisition by Chinese Meat Giant Hits A Lot of Hot Buttons

Posted by Dale Buss on May 29, 2013 05:12 PM

In one huge transaction, the acquisition of Smithfield Foods by Shuanghui International brings together several vibrant themes of the geoeconomic and geopolitical picture these days. The $4.7 billion deal will sell America's (and the world's) largest pork processor and producer to China's largest meat processor.

It will be the biggest takeover to date of an American company by a Chinese one, at a time when more concerns are being raised in the United States about national economic security and the rise of the Chinese economy in general—and when the Chinese government is urging the nation's private enterprises to become more aggressive about buying up assets abroad, especially in food production and natural resources.

The deal will provide a major export market for American meat at the same time that it helps China address significant shortcomings in its own meat-production process. "This transaction will allow us to access Asia in a big way," C. Larry Pope, Smithfield's chief executive, told the New York Times. "This is an export deal, and they are very interested in exporting products out of the US"Continue reading...

brands under fire

Walmart's $81 Million Fine for Toxic Dumping Undermines Sustainability Promises

Posted by Barry Silverstein on May 29, 2013 11:31 AM

Walmart's brand has taken a steady battering over the past year, and part of it is related to sustainability. 

Last March, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance issued a report called "Walmart's Greenwash" that said the leading retailer's sustainability campaign "has done more to improve the company's image than to help the environment." According to the report, Walmart's greenhouse gas emissions are increasing rapidly and its energy efficiency and renewable projects are "too modest" for the size and scale of the company's operations.

Add to that Walmart's latest environmental slap in the face: On May 28, the company pleaded guilty to dumping hazardous waste in California and Missouri, agreeing to pay more than $81 million in fines. In the greater scheme of things, the money is the least significant portion of the problem for Walmart. With $27.87 billion of operating profit last year, The Atlantic estimates that $81 million is little more than a single day's worth of profit for the retailer.Continue reading...

brands under fire

H&M, Primark Sign Bangladesh Safety Agreement; Gap Says It's Next [Update]

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 13, 2013 06:39 PM

The rescue efforts in Savar, Bangladesh have officially been turned over to recovery as the death toll surpasses 1,100 in what has become the worst accident in the history of the garment industry. But 20 days later, it seems that progress and change is beginning to emerge from the rubble of a decrepit industry. 

The Bangladeshi government has agreed to let garment workers form trade unions without the permission of factory owners—a breakthrough in workers' rights in a de-regulated country, where garment factories were shut down this week following worker unrest over wages and conditions.

The proposed  safety plan, backed by a coalition of labor groups, calls for independent inspections of factories and a legally binding fire and building safety plan requiring retailers to help pay for improvements to factory safety and is an amendment to the 2006 Labor Act lifting restrictions on forming trade unions in most industries.

The pact also calls for changes regarding severance payments, welfare fund payments, management practices and payment and banking standards. In what could be a game-changing announcement, Swedish retailer H&M announced Monday that it will sign the binding agreement.Continue reading...

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