ready for takeoff

Spirit Airlines: No Longer Content to be the Honey Badger of Brands

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 7, 2014 03:17 PM

Spirit Airlines may be a discount airline but it has received plenty of press in recent years for all of the fees (or as Spirit likes to call it, "optional services") it has charged customers, such as a fee for printing a boarding pass at the airport, or cost-cutting that shoehorns a dozen extra seats than competitors within the same size plane.

That kind of move has "won" the brand such accolades as being the only U.S. carrier on the World's Worst Airlines and the worst-performing U.S. airline. It has been recognized for hiring the "rudest flight attendants" and being the "most complained about" airline. It has inspired such venom that customers have formed Boycott Spirit Airlines and Spirit Airlines Sucks groups, not to mention the requisite nod by The Onion.

Yet none of that seemed to bother its leadership team. Being the honey badger of brands for just not giving a damn was a badge of dishonor that Spirit wore proudly—or at least wore—until now.Continue reading...

executive decision

Could Microsoft's Enterprise Chief Lead Company to Mobile Greatness?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 31, 2014 02:53 PM

It's been nearly six months since Microsoft launched its CEO search and announced that Steve Ballmer would be stepping down. And while months of rumors have led industry analyts to mull who might fill the seat, from Ford CEO Alan Mulally to Ericsson's CEO Hans Vestberg, it seems a candidate has finally been confirmed. 

According to reports, Satya Nadella, who leads Microsoft's cloud and enterprise group, is now the internal frontrunner, with a possible announcement coming in early February, according to Re/code. That doesn't mean that Nadella is the only remaining candidate, however. According to reporting (that's been disputed) by SiliconANGLE, Google SVP of Chrome and Apps, Sundar Pichai, is still being wooed by Microsoft's board.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Walmart Falls in Feds' Crosshairs Over Reactions to Worker Protests

Posted by Dale Buss on January 16, 2014 02:53 PM

Over its decades of strident growth, Walmart has taken on everything from Kmart to the corner drug store, environmental activists to Hollywood gliterati. Now the chain runs up against its biggest foe yet: an inimical US federal government.

The National Labor Relations Board formally complained that Walmart had illegally retaliated against American workers who protested their employer on Black Friday last year and other incidents beginning in 2012. The complaints involve 60 employees and 19 firings.

After failing to reach an agreement that would avoid litigation, the NLRB accused Walmart of illegally threatening or punishing workers who considered taking part in the high-profile walkouts, The Huffington Post reported. Workers in several states filed complaints after the strikes, and the board's counsel eventually "found merit" in some of them.Continue reading...

tech talk

Zen and the Art of Branding: The New ROI for Silicon Valley

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 13, 2013 06:40 PM

With all the innovation being cranked out of Silicon Valley's top companies like Google and Facebook, employees and executives may be in dire need of a dose of zen. In response, a handful of forward-thinking tech brands are going beyond lunchtime yoga classes.

An 87-year-old Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, will spend a day next month at Google’s main campus in California, sharing his teachings on compassion as part of a current tour to meet with more than 20 CEOs of major US-based technology companies in Silicon Valley.

"Our society needs a collective awakening in order to save ourselves from the crisis we are in,” said Thay, as the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated spiritual guru is known by his hundreds of thousands of followers worldwide. 

"We have to reverse this trend," he continued. "We have to go back to ourselves, to our beloved ones, to nature, because electronic devices help us to run away from ourselves. We lose ourselves in the internet, business, projects and we have no time to be with ourselves. We do not have the time to take care of our beloved ones and do not allow Mother Earth to heal us. We are running away from self, family and nature."Continue reading...

brands under fire

McDonald's, Walmart Draw Criticism Over US Wages, Goodwill

Posted by Dale Buss on July 24, 2013 02:42 PM

Walmart and McDonald's face no easy path these days in the business world, nor in the media echo chamber. McDonald's just posted disappointing earnings that reflect the harsh reality at the chain's restaurants in this economy, while both companies are being scored afresh for not providing a "living wage" for their rank-and-file workers.

This week, McDonald's has been lashed by a New York Times commentator and UMass economics professor, Nancy Folbre, for "remarkably widespread disregard" of low-income Americans, including many of its own workers, in the wake of the McDonald's "Sample Budget" that came under scrutiny last week. The "company's own calculations" in the budget, she scolded, "suggest that it fails to offer a living wage."

But in an interview with Bloomberg TV, McDonald's CEO Don Thompson defended McDonald's approach on both matters.

"We have always been an above-minimum-wage employer," he insisted. "We are about providing opportunity. A lot of people can debate the entry-level pont. We will continue to provide entry-level jobs ... And when we can help to have a viable income, we will provide that opportunity so the person can rise to the system and gain greater and greater wealth."Continue reading...

digital moves

Campbell's Tests Digital Fitness Kit to Keep Employees Tuned In to Trends

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 9, 2013 06:12 PM

“Digital fitness is about both a lifestyle choice and an everyday commitment,” commented Adam Kmiec, global head of digital and social for the Campbell Soup Company, to Digiday. That's why he’s leading the venerable 144-year-old Campbell's brand to be as digitally 'fit' as possible with the launch of a “Digital Fitness Accelerator Kit.” 

Think of it as digital internal brand engagement, and a bootcamp for employees to get with the social web, mobile and other platforms that will help them better understand where their customers—and business—are going.

The kit, which is being tested among a group of Cambell's employees, includes devices like Roku, Jawbone Up, FitBit Flex, Nike Fuel Band or Lark, recommended apps (paid and free) with a $10 iTunes card for downloads, and a suggested reading list including digital marketing tomes Mitch Joel's Six Pixels of Separation and Stephen Baker's The Numerati.

“These items are shaping the ways people connect with each other and manage their lives,” Kmiec told Digiday. “Each item in the kit was carefully selected—it had to be relevant, actionable and tied directly to consumer and business trends we believe are important.”Continue reading...


Greening Apple: Tim Cook Hires Ex-EPA Head Lisa Jackson

Posted by Abe Sauer on May 28, 2013 11:57 PM

Apple is the mine's canary. That's the takeaway from a recent press conference in China where the head of corporate sustainability for China tech giant Huawei told reporters that, unlike Apple, it will "learn from the issues that Apple has faced in China" and "never let supplier issues tarnish our brand.”

Whether Huawei means to "learn" from Apple or just copy it, the brand that has been singled out for a beating in the last few years over everything from China labor issues to tax avoidance has come under fire for a failure to innovate. But those critics all have tunnel-vision for Apple's electronics products.

What about innovating its "cultural product"? What if buying a iPhone 6 meant buying a better future? That just might be what Apple's aiming for with its latest high-profile hire. (Plus, the one better future we already have with Jackson's addition.) Continue reading...

brand strategy

SAP Starts In On A Life-Changing Plan to Hire Individuals on the Autistic Spectrum

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 22, 2013 12:41 PM

German software company SAP is looking to break out of the mold and hire hundreds of people with Autism, recognizing their unique talent for information technology. By 2020, the company plans to have 1 percent of its global workforce of 65,000 employees be individuals with autism.

SAP executive Luisa Delgado told the BBC that the company believes that "innovation comes from the edges." While it is a developmental disorder, Autism has a very broad spectrum, and many people afflicted with the disorder demonstrate an impressive attention to detail and are highly focused and intelligent. "Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st Century."Continue reading...

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