contrabrand

With the Holiday Shopping Season Comes Crackdowns on Counterfeit Goods

Posted by Barry Silverstein on December 5, 2013 10:52 AM

Cyber Monday is an opportunity for legitimate online merchants to capitalize on the holiday shopping season—but it's also a time when a slew of websites look to sell consumers counterfeit goods. Online and offline scammers sell about $250 billion of fake brand name items annually in the US alone, with the design and fashion industries particularly hard hit. 

This past Cyber Monday, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) worked together with European and Hong Kong authorities to seize some 700 websites, 297 of them based in the US, that were selling counterfeit goods. It is the fourth year that such sites have been targeted on Cyber Monday.

ICE Acting Director John Sandweg said, "Working with our international partners on operations like this shows the true global impact of IP [Intellectual Property] crime," in a press release. "Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere. Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites."Continue reading...

fashion therapy

Esprit Takes a Page from Zara's Fast-Fashion Notebook in Brand Revamp

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 2, 2013 03:47 PM

Jose Manuel Martinez Gutierrez jumped from the steady deck of Zara a year ago onto the struggling (some say sinking) deck of a competitor, Esprit, to try and lead the company back to a more stable place as it does battle against his former employer as well as H&M, Gap, and Uniqlo.

Part of his plan, apparently, was to bring former employees of Inditex, which owns Zara, to the company to help inspire change at Esprit. Accrording to Reuters, the 44-year-old Martinez has a 12- to 18-month plan to get the business back to where it needs to be to compete with fast fashion brands like Zara, with “upgrades to technology and distribution to help … new hires get clothes designed, manufactured and on the racks in three to four months from the current seven to eight month time frame.”

"Competition is very intense," said Aaron Fischer, head of consumer research at brokerage CLSA, according to Reuters. "Esprit has high brand awareness but it needs to convert foot traffic into sales—and that requires good products. Right now, their products are quite poor compared with their peer group."Continue reading...

traveling brands

United Plans to Boost Performance, Profitability with—You Guessed It—More Fees

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 20, 2013 05:46 PM

United Airlines has had a rough go of it lately, especially since it merged with Continental Airlines back in 2010. "These past few years, in many ways, have felt like we've been managing a merger and not an airline...and now we get to manage an airline," United Chief Executive Jeff Smisek admitted, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The airline has become a bit of a punch line for its policies and slip-ups, including boarding passengers with window seats first to its ranking as the least satisfying major airline on the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index. And the fees, oh the fees. 

So the airline has announced plans to both improve its profitability and performance, USA Today reports. Of course, part of the plan is to add on more fees and “optimizing” the ones it already has. The airline figurs it can make an extra $700 million annually that way resulting in “$3.5 billion in ancillary revenue by 2017.” Those extra charges could be for such things as “priority boarding, roomier seats, and/or less-stringent rebooking rules,” according to the Chicago Tribune. That doesn’t exactly sound like it will help those satisfaction ratings, though.Continue reading...

GM Shuffles Its Cards Overseas In Hopes of Finding Balance in Europe, Asia

Posted by Dale Buss on November 18, 2013 04:57 PM

For decades, the "old" General Motors lived uncomfortably with the evident overlap between its Buick and Oldsmobile brands in the US market, a counterproductive overlap that encompassed product segments, dealers and, of course, many customers. But it took the company until just before the 2009 bailout to finally end the brand confusion by vanquishing Oldsmobile.

GM faces a similar conflict in Europe between the Chevrolet and Opel brands, and CEO Dan Akerson has said, "Something has to change" about the arrangement. What isn't clear at this point is exactly what will change. But the whole problem is pretty consequential for the company.

Opel is to GM in Europe what Chevrolet is to GM in the United States: the big, bellwether, crucial brand for the company in that market. That remains the case despite the woes of the European auto industry that have affected every company, brand and segment, and would seem to favor a further incursion by budget-priced Chevrolet. But Opel outsells Chevy five-to-one there despite GM's efforts to grab a significant foothold for Chevrolet over the last several years, including shared Opel and Chevy showrooms and some similar product lines.Continue reading...

retail

Here Comes COS: H&M Readies to Introduce Upscale, Artsy Sibling to US

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 15, 2013 03:42 PM

Swedish retail giant Hennes & Mauritz is gunning for its “coolly-minimal younger sibling,” COS, to make big a splash in the US market after building up quite a fanbase in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The brand will make its debut in the spring, joining fast-fashion phenom H&M. 

But the higher-priced, more artsy brand has no intention of settling for second place. According to H&M's head of business, Marie Honda, the high-fashion brand has the potential to be huge. After testing the waters earlier this month with a NYC pop-up shop at Opening Ceremony, the upscale, minimalist and cosmopolitan COS brand will target US ities "that have an international feel," Honda told Women's Wear Daily

Come spring 2014, the brand plans to launch US e-commerce and open its first store in April in NYC's Soho neighborhood. 

It’s a strategic shift for H&M, which launched in the US market as a trendy and cheaper alternative to Gap, Zara and Forever 21, and for whom American stores deliver the most revenue after Germany.Continue reading...

automotive

Lexus Turns Driving Into an Artform in Lexus IS 300h Campaign

Posted by Dale Buss on October 28, 2013 03:04 PM

If you drive "ugly," you may be ugly. That seems to be a primary message inherent in a new art-inspired promotion in Europe and Japan for the Lexus IS 300h hybrid, called Art is Motion.

Lexus has equipped one of the cars with software that produces a "generative self-portrait" of the driver behind the wheel based on the work of artist Sergio Albiac that is converted into paint-brush strokes. A system onboard the car "paints" a digital picture of the car's owner that takes shape in real time on its computer screen as the car proceeds, and on the Art is Motion website, based on his or her driving style and efficient use of energy.

Not surprisingly, the more the driver relies on battery power instead of gasoline as the car goes, the more flattering is the "generative self-portrait" that emerges. Or, as LeftLaneNews.com put it, "Those who employ the hybrid system's 141-hp electric motor more will end up with a more accurate painting in cooler colors. On the other hand lead-foots who make greater use of its 178-hp petrol four-cylinder will draw a more abstract depiction in "virulent" hues."Continue reading...

campaigns

Nestle Fitness Breast Cancer Campaign Tweets to Save the Tatas

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 25, 2013 12:35 PM

If this is what Apple meant by "wearable tech," then they might be on to something.

Nestlé Fitness is promoting breast cancer awareness with the latest in social undergarments: the Tweeting Bra. Yes, a bra that tweets reminders to your mobile phone to administer a breast self-examination. As digital and corporate citizenship campaigns go, you might call this one off the hook. It's also putting the Geek in Greek, with some chic.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...

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