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Victorinox Consolidates Its Swiss Army Knife Lines, Cutting Wenger Brand

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 30, 2013 02:06 PM

Need some tweezers? How about a toothpick? Maybe a bottle opener? Magnifying glass? Fish scaler? Pliers? 

Depending on what version of the Swiss Army Knife you buy, you can get them all — along with plenty of other handy little tools in one place.

Those days, though, appear to be coming to an end for one Swiss Army Knife brand. Wenger SA, which has been making the knives since 1893, announced Wednesday that it is cutting the cord on the business, Bloomberg reports.Continue reading...

doing good

Fendi to Pour Millions Into Rome's Treasured Fountain, Restoring Its Luster

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 29, 2013 12:22 PM

About $4,000 worth of coins are thrown into Rome’s massive, gorgeous Trevi Fountain each day. Making the gesture is said to guarantee your return to Rome.

Now Fendi is throwing a lot more than a few coins into the Trevi’s waters. The Italian fashion house has announced it will hand over $2.9 million to help keep the centuries-old fountain, featured memorably in Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” in good shape.

Fendi, founded in Romein 1925, announced the 20-month project Monday along with two of its big-name designers, Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi.Continue reading...

auto motive

In Ford Earnings, a Tale of Two Continents: Stronger U.S., but Weaker Europe

Posted by Dale Buss on January 29, 2013 11:58 AM

Ford reported a tale of two continents in its quarterly earnings today, with robust North American profits but deepening losses in troubled Europe.

In the United States, Ford has become a sales and earnings juggernaut, posting pretax profits of more than $8 billion last year, including $2 billion in the fourth quarter on the strength of a 4.7 percent increase in U.S. auto sales last year and an increasingly healthy pickup-truck business. Ford's U.S. employees will share in the bounty to the tune of a profit-sharing check averaging about $8,300 per hourly worker for 2012, up from about $6,200 each in 2011.

Yet Ford could only report an increasingly woeful picture in Europe, which is slipping into a continent-wide recession. Ford Europe lost $732 million in the fourth quarter and $1.75 billion for the full year — more than Ford's previous forecast of $1.5 billion in European losses for 2012.Continue reading...

media brands

Different Reasons for Apple and Disney to Wince as Fictional Works Premiere

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 28, 2013 04:06 PM

The Sundance Film Festival has a solid history of showcasing interesting films that have gone on to be big hits, like Little Miss Sunshine, Reservoir Dogs, The Usual Suspects, Clerks, and Hoop Dreams.

But it's looking like Jobs — which stars Ashton Kutcher portraying Apple founder Steve Jobs' quest for glory — may not be one of them.

The film, which closed out the 2013 festival last week, received mixed reviews. The Guardian's Ed Gibbs gave it two out of five stars, calling it “an overly reverential and saccharine view” of Jobs, who died more than a year ago.Continue reading...

retail watch

In Sweden, 7-Eleven Draws On Its Past For a Bold, Retro Redesign

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 25, 2013 03:07 PM

In the United States, 7-Elevens aren’t exactly known for their funky appearance. But in Sweden, convenience-store consumers will be experiencing a completely different aesthetic in 2013 as the brand undergoes a groovy redesign there.

Stockholm was the location of the chain’s first European shop in 1978. Now its Swedish locations are getting an overhaul that started rolling out in December, using the company’s green and orange color scheme as its foundation in a highly minimalist way.

Green-and-orange striping abound on the chain’s cups, napkins, and bags, while green also adorns store walls, making the environments appear warmer than their antiseptic American counterparts.Continue reading...

in the spotlight

Tide Pods, Plans for China Buoy Optimism at Procter & Gamble

Posted by Dale Buss on January 25, 2013 10:59 AM

After spending the first couple years of his tenure falling short of expectations, Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald now sees a big ray of sunshine — in the form of P&G's second fiscal quarter earnings report. Earnings and sales were well ahead of forecast thanks to the chief's recent aggressive actions to boost brand performance and cut costs.

Consumer and retailer response to new products such as Tide Pods and a high-price version of Pantene shampoo has been promising. P&G said it held or grew market share in businesses representing nearly 50 percent of sales in the October-December quarter. In the U.S. market, it met that pattern in businesses representing nearly 60 percent of sales.

The case of Tide Pods, an important new product, is an example of what P&G is aiming for. Marketing has been able to persuade some customers, even cost-conscious ones, that the premium-priced innovation, which is coming up on its first anniversary, is worth the higher outlay.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Unilever Cleans Up in Emerging Economies While West Weighs It Down

Posted by Dale Buss on January 23, 2013 05:45 PM

Unilever's recent sale of its Skippy peanut butter brand in North America was just one indication of how slow-growing food businesses have begun to weigh down the global CPG giant.

Today's earnings report underscored that difficulty for Unilever: Fourth-quarter sales of Ben & Jerry's, Knorr soups and other Unilever food brands rose only 1.3 percent as consumers in debt-laden U.S. and Western Europe markets continue to pare back their supermarket purchases.

On the other hand, Unilever's business in Asia, Africa and Latin America demonstrated enough strength that the company was able to report an overall 5.4 percent rise in net profit for the period. In those markets, its revenues accelerated in home and personal-care items such as surface cleaners, soap and deodorant.Continue reading...

chew on this

Food App, All-Day Breakfast: Flat Sales Prompt McDonald's to Experiment Abroad

Posted by Dale Buss on January 23, 2013 03:15 PM

McDonald's is sort of limping along in the U.S. on the strength of its value menu, and there do not seem to be prospects for a return to sizzling growth anytime soon. So the fast-food chain is relying on the historic strengths of its brand — including locations, familiarity and convenience — to carry it through what is expected to be a ho-hum near-term future.

On Wednesday, the world's biggest QSR reported a higher fourth-quarter profit, but same-store sales growth of just 0.1 percent worldwide. That measure grew slightly in the U.S. thanks to the Dollar Menu and from pushing franchisees to stay open on Christmas. But same-store sales fell by 0.6 percent in Europe —McDonald's biggest market — and fell by 1.7 percent in the region encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Japan's sales decline of more than 6 percent in the fourth quarter was especially severe.

The immediate problem for McDonald's, at least in the U.S., is that first-quarter comparisons are becoming difficult due to last year's mild winter, and the chain doesn't have much new up its sleeve right now.Continue reading...

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