Fiat Tries To Raise Profile in the U.S. as European Sales Flounder

Posted by Dale Buss on April 4, 2013 05:33 PM

Fiat is still just eking out sales gains in the U.S. market. In March, it sold only 3 percent more variants of its 500 mini-car than a year earlier, when it was barely sellling any at all, and it isn't making much of a cultural or media footprint, either. Its main ad continues to be a year-old TV spot showing Fiats in Italy diving into the sea to make their way to the United States.

That just won't do in the American market for the brand, whose merger with Chrysler will finalize next year, especially while Fiat sales in Europe remain in the dumper.

In turn, Fiat is doing a few new things, which reportedly will include a new North American advertising campaign via traditional and online media. It's likely to include more exposure for the sporty Abarth version of the Fiat 500 as the brand likely couldn't hurt itself by giving wider berth to the buzz-worthy TV spot showing a scorpion pinching off the bikini top of Romanian supermodel Catrinel Menghia.Continue reading...


PPR Rebrands as Kering, Paying Homage to its Roots and Mission

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 22, 2013 04:19 PM

PPR, the multinational holding company that is home to brands including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Brioni and Sergio Rossi, is rebranding as Kering, indicative of a transformation from French conglomerate to internationally focused sportswear (encompassing its brands including Puma, Tretorn and Volcom) and luxury-goods group. 

The new name, accompanied by an owl logo and tagline, "Empowering Imagination," is pronounced "caring." CEO Francois-Henri Pinault explains, "We are there to care for the brand and take care of the brand," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Pinault carries on his father’s legacy as founder with the new name, which a press release explains was inspired by family roots in France's Brittany region as "Ker" meaning home in Breton, with the action-associated "ing" implying "doing" and "going."

Manfredi Ricca, the managing director at Interbrand in Milan, commented to the International Herald Tribune that the new identity reflects an awareness that companies need “a strong angle on what they stand for,” both for consumers and for employees, to demonstrate their “overarching vision” and values.Continue reading...

Audi Getting "Hotter and Stronger" by the Day

Posted by Dale Buss on March 13, 2013 11:12 AM

For Audi, it's the best of times and the worst of times. It depends on whether you're talking about selling vehicles to Americans, Chinese—or Europeans.

Overall, Audi executives stated in a conference call detailing the company's 2012 performance and results on Tuesday, they're bullish as can be about beating the company's global vehicle sales record of 1.46 million last year and increasing deliveries to more than 2 million vehicles by 2020, with the aim of snatching the luxury-sales crown from rival BMW by that year. They also expect to reach 1.5 million annual sales worldwide earlier than their previous plan by 2015.

However, Europe stinks for selling cars right now as the continent sinks into recession and even luxury buyers are pressed. "Overall development in western Europe was recessive [last year] and economic output contracted," Audi CFO Axel Strotbek commented, according to Automotive News Europe.Continue reading...


H&M Launches & Other Stories Brand in Europe

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 12, 2013 04:22 PM

H&M has added another ampersand to its business portfolio. This one, though, is at a higher end than the attire found in the chain’s more than 2,000 locations worldwide.

& Other Stories launched on March 8th with a bash in London, where the new brand will have its first brick-and-mortar store that will offer the brand’s first clothing line as well as a number of products from other labels and designers. Called C-labs, these temporary partnerships include such companies as The Lake & Stars lingerie, Clare Vivier’s bags and accessories, Alyson Fox’s jewelry and fashion designs by Abigail Lorick Im, WWD reports. “We like working with people who we like,” Anna Teurnell, & Other Stories’ head of design, told WWD. “And these labels complement what we have already.”Continue reading...

checking in

IKEA and Marriott Team Up to Launch Millennial-Friendly Budget Hotel Chain

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 5, 2013 03:12 PM

Inter IKEA, the parent of IKEA, announced last summer that it was partnering with a hotelier to create a new hotel brand that oddly wouldn’t feature any of the Swedish furniture maker’s products. It’s now been confirmed at the Berlin International Hotel Investment Forum that Marriott is the partner and Moxy will be the name of the new affordable hotel chain, which plans to open 150 locations across Europe in the next decade.

“Moxy Hotels is the essence of the next generation traveler, not only Gen X and Y but people with a younger sensibility, for whom contemporary style is paramount,” said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International in a press release. “Every aspect of the hotel was thoughtfully researched and crafted to reflect and deliver on the changing lifestyles and expectations of this fast-growing customer segment.” 

According to TravelBite, this will be Marriott’s first budget brand in Europe. Fifty of those locations should be up and running in the next five years and Inter IKEA will be ponying up $500 million to help out, the Wall Street Journal reports. While the hotels won’t use IKEA furniture, the company has found a way to keep construction costs down in a different way: “Many of the hotels will use rooms prefabricated offsite and then assembled like IKEA furniture, a modular type of construction that is new for Marriott.”Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Taco Bell, Bird's Eye Latest to Get Sucked Into Horse Meat Scandal

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 1, 2013 04:38 PM

The horse meat scandal is spreading across Europe, Hong Kong, Thailand and the Dominican Republic, seizing media attention and making retailers and consumers squeamish at the thought of what could be in their meat.

Four beef products sold by Bird's Eye, Taco Bell and catering supplier Brakes have been found to contain horse DNA as the Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) conducts a third wave of tests.

An aptly titled article, "Having a cow over chow," asks, “What is it about horses? Over in Europe, everyone is happily munching on frozen lasagnas and shop-bought meals from various supermarkets, knowing it has all kinds of dodgy cuts of beef in it. But when it emerges they contain horse meat, everybody gags…Consumers need to ask themselves: When you buy something cheap, why is it so cheap? The answer is often uncomfortable to swallow.”

The FSA is asking retailers to test beef products for the presence of more than 1 percent of horse meat. Specific products in the headlines include Birds Eye's Traditional Spaghetti Bolognese and Beef Lasagna (removed by the company from store shelves last week), Brakes' Spicy Beef Skewer and Taco Bell's ground beef.

"Once we learned of this issue, we immediately voluntarily tested our product for our three Taco Bell restaurants in the UK,” said a spokesperson for the company, which has posted a response to the horse meat crisis on its UK website. "Based on that testing, we learned ingredients supplied to us from one supplier in Europe tested positive for horse meat."Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Nestlé CEO Speaks Out About Sustainability, Horse Meat Scandal

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 28, 2013 11:27 AM

In what seems like impeccable timing, Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke delivered a sustainability-focused keynote at the annual City Food Lecture in the U.K., ultimately challenging the accusations made about the company in a damning Oxfam report earlier this week. 

The speech, which focused on the escalating perils of water scarcity, outlined that fresh water overuse poses a serious environmental, political and social hazard. Water is an issue near and dear to his heart, as the Swiss company is the world's No. 3 producer of bottled water, and looking to expand in water-constrained markets such as China.

“It is anticipated that there will be up to 30% shortfalls in global cereal production by 2030 due to water scarcity,” he said. “This is a loss equivalent to the entire grain crops of India and the United States combined.”  What's more, he added, “We could produce what we produce today with half the water we use.” 

In his address, Bulcke cited his company’s reduction of water usage by a third with 1,200 agronomists working with Nestlé to better manage its water use. Bulcke also commented that consumer acceptance of misshapen fruit and vegetables is necessary to cut waste of food products, as well as spoke out against the fuel industry for using food crops to create biofuels. 

Bulcke also took the opportunity to further address the horse meat crisis affecting retailers such as IKEA and manufacturers in Europe, a crisis that compelled Nestle to pull some food products off store shelves last week. “Widespread fraud is being committed by a few across Europe. I understand that many consumers and many of you in the industry feel misled, I feel the same. This should not happen, it is unforgivable. We have let our consumers down.”Continue reading...

brands with a cause

H&M Launches Garment Recycling Program Across All Markets

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on February 21, 2013 05:26 PM

Swedish fashion house H&M is continuing its green streak with the official launch of its Garment Recycling Program.

The second-largest clothing retailer in the world will accommodate the program in all of its 269 U.S. locations as well as all 48 of its global markets. Beginning today, customers can bring any garment from any brand in any condition into an H&M store. For every bag of clothes donated, customers will receive a 15 percent off voucher for their next item purchased. 

"We believe this program will really make an impact in reducing the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills all over the world," said H&M spokesperson Marybeth Schmitt in a press release

Additionally, H&M is teaming up with Global Green USA, who will be the sole beneficiary of the recycling program. The donated clothing will be handled by H&M's partner, I:Collect, which repeatedly reprocesses the garments for new use.Continue reading...

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