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auto motive

Marchionne, in Battle with UAW, Resolves to Show What a 'Fiat-Less' US Market Would Be Like

Posted by Dale Buss on September 25, 2013 04:52 PM

Everyone involved in the 2009 bailout of Chrysler by the US government and Fiat knew that at some point there would be a vestigial mess to clean up even after the two parties, with the United Auto Workers, rescued the company financially and set the stage for the four-year sales boom and brand revival that the Detroit automaker has enjoyed.

Welcome to that mess. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is trying to wrap up the four-year transformation of Chrysler by taking control of the last part of the company that is controlled by the UAW because of the concessions that it and its members made to help keep Chrysler alive four years ago. But he's got to get the union to give up that stake at an optimum price for Fiat, and he's having trouble doing that right now.

Marchionne is saying that he's planning an IPO for Chrysler soon, which would place a market value on Chrysler stock that he says is being overvalued by the union. Presumably that would help wrap things up, but perhaps at a price that Marchionne deems too high. So he has threatened for Fiat to back away from its increasing entanglement with Chrysler.Continue reading...

campaigns

Milka's Latest European Campaign is a Social Experiment in Giving

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 4, 2013 07:15 PM

Can't spare a square? Swiss Chocolate brand Milka is using 13 million chocolate bars to promote a “Dare To Be Tender” campaign in France and Germany—the brand’s largest markets. But the campaign hopes to give back by taking away—a square of chocolate, that is. 

Created by Paris-based ad agency Buzzman, the campaign, which removes one square of chocolate from the traditional Milka bar, required an alteration to the entire manufacturing process. Each bar's packaging contains a special code that can be entered on a microsite where consumers can choose from two options: request the missing square for themselves, or enter a note and address for a recipient who will recieve the "last square" in the mail.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

US Retailers Detail Implementation of Controversial Bangladesh Safety Plan

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 21, 2013 12:54 PM

Walmart, Gap and other US retailers met yesterday in Chicago to implement their controversial, independent Bangladesh factory safety plan that was created after multiple factory accidents, including the Rana Plaza collapse in April that claimed more than 1,100 workers, spurred global outrage. 

20 US retailers including Macy's and Target, as well as new signatories Costco, Intradeco Apparel and Jordache Enterprises make up the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. The group, which formed a separate safety plan from the European retailer-dominated Accord on Bangladesh Building and Fire Safety, has pledged to have safety standards in place by Sept. 10, and has reportedly already dispursed $45 million in funds in part to hire safety inspection staff in Bangladesh.

The five-year, voluntary plan agrees to train workers and inspect factories while requiring Bangladesh factory owners to pay for safety renovations, though the Alliance will provide $100 million in low-cost loans.

The plan has come under fire due to its non-binding nature—an attribute that was top-of-mind in the European-based agreement, which was signed by over 70 global retailers including H&M, Inditex and Primark.Continue reading...

health fallout

Kanebo's Goodwill Pays Off as Skin Lightening Industry Shrugs Off Scare

Posted by Adeline Chong on August 5, 2013 05:45 PM

Kanebo's voluntary recall across Asia of its skin-whitening product range in early July was a wakeup call for consumers as well as the skin lightening industry. Kanebo, the second largest cosmetics company in Japan after giant Shiseido, sells products in over 50 countries across Asia, Europe, and the US, with its whitening products comprising nearly 30 percent of its skincare range. 

Nearly two months before its July 4 recall, a clinic reported to Kanebo that three patients had complained of skin damage following use of a Kanebo whitening product. The company withheld the information for over a month before notifying the government and issuing a recall, a move that garnered worldwide criticism. The products, which gradually lighten the skin, are a part of a $13 billion industry in Asia alone, where fair skin has long been associated with an elevated social class.Continue reading...

retail watch

Global Consumers Vary on the Importance of Brand-Focused Shopping

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 15, 2013 11:24 AM

The whole branding industry may be for naught in North America. According to the new Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Shopping Behavior, those residing in North America and Europe are much more concerned about the pricing of a product than its brand. Meanwhile, consumers in the Asia and Asia Pacific regions are impulsive, brand-centric shoppers, while those in the Middle East and Africa tend to consult industry experts for advice on the most famous brands.Continue reading...

US Suspends Trade Privileges with Bangladesh, Pressuring Factories, Brands to Comply with Safety Standards

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 27, 2013 05:38 PM

On Thursday, the Obama Administration announced that it would be suspending trade privileges extended to Bangladesh as a result of the country's neglect of worker's rights. 

"I have determined that it is appropriate to suspend Bangladesh's designation… because it is not taking steps to afford internationally recognized worker rights to workers in the country," President Obama wrote in a message to Congress. The decision, regarded widely as a stern warning to the nation, will effectively end special tax breaks on exports to the US that are meant to help developing economies. 

The decision was partially motivated by April's Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed over 1,100 garment factory workers as well as the Tazreen factory fire in late 2012 that killed over 100 workers.Continue reading...

brands with a cause

Nestlé Takes on EU Unemployment Crisis with Bid to Hire 20,000 Young Workers

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 27, 2013 12:42 PM

As the world looks to every corner for solutions to growing dissatisfaction with the economy and governance in general, Nestlé, the world's largest food company, has plans to recruit 20,000 young Europeans to help deal with youth unemployment and waning consumer confidence.

"Governments cannot solve the problem alone," said Laurent Freixe, Nestlé’s Europe boss, according to Reuters. "In the context where Europe is ageing and indebted, Europe needs its youth at work. We need to replace the generation of the baby boomers when they retire."

With nearly 5.6 million young people officially unemployed in the EU and the youth jobless rate at 23 percent, the plan is to offer jobs to 10,000 people under the age of 30 by 2016 and create an additional 10,000 "traineeships and apprentice positions" while urging its 63,000 suppliers to follow suit.Continue reading...

brand battle

Netflix, Amazon Even the Playing Field with New Streaming Content Deals

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 17, 2013 04:08 PM

The streaming race between Netflix and Amazon is neck and neck again as both service providers have inked new streaming deals for in-demand programming.

The news comes just a week after Netflix suffered a blow as it relinquished its deal with Viacom and saw Amazon quickly scoop up its rights to popular kids programming like Dora the Explorer, Blue's Clues and others. But now, Netflix is back on the horse thanks to a new deal with DreamWorks.

The long-in-the-making deal with DreamWorks Animation will supply Netflix with 300 hours of original programming inspired by much-loved DreamWorks characters like Shrek and The Croods, as well as series featuring Casper the Friendly Ghost and Lassie, which DreamWorks has rights to through its purchase of Classic Media.Continue reading...

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