2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

social media watch

Bitter on Twitter: HMV Social Media Manager Live-Tweets Layoffs [Updated]

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 31, 2013 10:14 AM

Forget about His Master's Voice — what about His Master's Tweets? A day after we pondered what new owner Hilco might do with HMV as it sets about salvaging the British retail chain, one piece of Hilco's strategy is clear: lay off 60 staffers at corporate HQ.

The holder of the brand's official @hmvtweets Twitter account brought his or her phone to HR and live-tweeted the firing, prompting the hashtag #hmvXFactorfiring to take off among the brand's almost 65,000 Twitter followers.

Earlier tweets such as "Just overheard our marketing director (he's staying, folks) ask how he can shut down Twitter" have been taken down, but can be viewed at Gigwise. Thoughts on how to handle restructuring from a corporate, HR and employee perspective on social media? Share them below.

Update: All the tweets have been removed and a fresh series of post-meltdown tweets (including the #savehmv and #hmvxfactorfiring hashtags) asking followers to "please stick with us":Continue reading...

retail watch

Walmart Steps Up on U.S. Jobs, Veterans to Spark 'American Renewal'

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

The world’s largest retailer and employer is going on the offensive with a new corporate citizenship push to bolster its beleaguered brand. Walmart on Tuesday announced its bid to jolt the U.S. economy out of its continued sluggishness by pledging huge new investments by the company in boosting jobs, sourcing domestically and even hiring military veterans.

Walmart announced plans to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made goods over the next decade in areas such as sporting goods and high-end appliances and invited other retailers to combine in similar efforts that would total $500 billion in purchases over 10 years and spark an “American renewal,” as promised in October.

The commitment was the centerpiece of a speech by Bill Simon, Walmart’s U.S. president and CEO, at the National Retail Federation annual convention on Tuesday.Continue reading...

retail watch

At Retail Summit, Successful CEOs Call for Broader Corporate Citizenship

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 14, 2013 05:04 PM

The leaders of Whole Foods Market, Starbucks and The Container Store on Monday exhorted fellow retailers to increase transparency, stand on principle and to see themselves as part of a "wider circle of responsibility" to ensure their success.

Speaking sequentially to an audience of 27,000 at the National Retail Federation's BIG Show in New York, the CEOs offered a combined keynote address that advocated lifting up employees and valuing vendors as the major brands assume heightened global leadership in a time of government retrenching.

Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store, said retailers should strive to create an environment of "conscious capitalism."

"Charity alone won’t do it," he said. "We need business and capitalism, purpose and profit.”

Tindell said focusing on the well-being of employees "pays off and reflects on customers. It’s not what you sell, it’s what you stand for. Customers and employees become your evangelical supporters. We want our vendors to think of us as their favorite customers, and this causes the universe to conspire to assist you.”

Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb agreed, saying that “business is making a wider wake in the world, not just doing the minimum, but part of a wider circle of responsibility.” The company's approximately 75,000 employees comprise a 40 percent ownership stake in the company, and 86 percent have health insurance.Continue reading...

follow the money

American Express Kicks Off 2013 With Biggest Layoffs in Four Years

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 10, 2013 05:02 PM

Along with adjusted net income of $1.2 billion, American Express delivered a surprise in its fourth quarter earnings report today: the elimination of 5,400 jobs as part of a global reorganization of its business units, with over $400 million in severance and its business travel unit taking a big hit.

The company has endured more than a decade of downsizing under CEO Ken Chenault: 7,700 jobs in 2001; 6,500 jobs in 2002; 7,000 jobs (10% of its workforce) in 2008; 4,000 jobs in 2009. This round of cuts, as Wall Street Journal reports, represents "its biggest retrenchment in a decade," and will shed 8.5% of its workforce.

“Against the backdrop of an uneven economic recovery, these restructuring initiatives are designed to make American Express more nimble, more efficient and more effective in using our resources to drive growth,” said Chenault. “For the next two years, our aim is to hold annual operating expense increases to less than 3 percent. The overall restructuring program will put us in a better position as we seek to deliver strong results for shareholders and to maintain marketing and promotion investments at about 9 percent of revenues.”

More details on the restructuring and impact on the company — which just launched a #foraliving recruitment campaign on Twitter and YouTube — from its press release:Continue reading...

executive decision

The Dish on America's Meanest Brand

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 4, 2013 04:49 PM

As America’s economy climbs back from some brutal years, plenty of folks are still looking for work. No matter how desperate they are, though, there are a few companies that they might want to avoid. 

One of them is satellite TV provider Dish Network. It already has 26,000 employees, but the word is that not too many of them are happy. Last August, 24/7 Wall Street named it the Worst Company to Work for in America. Now that’s an accolade to put on your LinkedIn profile.

What makes it so bad? “Long hours, lack of paid holidays, and way too much mandatory overtime,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. And it’s all because of one man: the 59-year-old legendary founder and chairman of Dish, Charlie Ergen, who maintains 53.2 percent of the company’s shares and 90.4 percent of the voting rights.

Ergen has never met a penny he didn't pinch. And while that sometimes means making shrewd business decisions, it also means making such choices as installing fingerprint scanners at the doors to company headquarters that are rigged to send emails directly to HR if an employee is late. The company only put in the scanners after Ergen noticed that the key/badge system was being circumvented by employees badging in for coworkers.

And the renowned cable-hater certainly has an eye for such detail.Continue reading...

ready for takeoff

Virgin Atlantic Touts Superhuman Employees in Wake of Delta Deal

Posted by Barry Silverstein on January 2, 2013 02:52 PM

It's a safe bet that the unabashedly iconoclastic head of the Virgin empire, Richard Branson, will continue to raise eyebrows in 2013, just as he has done in years past. The latest Virgin Atlantic branding campaign, the airline's first in two years, is just the latest example of Branson brashness that's quite out of the ordinary.

In a two-minute commercial that could pass for an X-Men trailer (and which Adweek calls "stylish, fantastical, tongue-in-cheek"), Virgin Atlantic has fun showing how a group of extraordinary children grow up to be extraordinary employees with superhuman abilities at an airline that is "flying in the face of ordinary." The global spot (watch below) will run in 30-, 60-, and 90-minute television commercials, with elements adapted for digital and cinema use, and slyly references the brand's wannabe-superhuman founder.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Threaten to Stop Smiling in Labor Dispute

Posted by Shirley Brady on December 13, 2012 11:40 AM

Cathay Pacific's Flight Attendants Union is lobbying the management of the Hong Kong-based carrier for improved wages, after the airline rejected the union's request for a 5% pay increase with a 2% offer on November 30.

The FAU this week approved a motion to go on strike in the new year — not by refusing to board the planes, but by performing the bare minimum required service. That means yes to water and flight safety instructions, and no to nuts, alcohol and smiles, with friendly service being the heart of the Cathay customer experience.

Not helping matters: the CX flight attendant who recently threatened to throw coffee in the face of daughter of the former Prime Minister of Thailand, and was duly fired. (Coffee, tea or third-degree burns?)

brands under fire

Merck Pulls Funding from Boy Scouts of America Over Anti-Gay Policies

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 10, 2012 06:04 PM

Merck chairman and CEO Kenneth C. Frazier was honored in June with the “Good Scout” Award by Philadelphia’s Cradle of Liberty Boy Scout Council. Frazier grew up in North Philadelphia and credits scouting as instrumental in his life. Now Frazier, the first African American to head a major pharmaceutical company, is turning his back on the organization until it reverses its discriminatory policies.

Now Frazier and Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, have joined the growing wave of corporate leaders taking a stand against discrimination towards gay scouts and leaders in the Boy Scouts of America. 

As GLAAD notes of the corporate backlash to the Boy Scouts' anti-LGBT stance, Merck joins Intel and UPS with the following statement: “The BSA's policy of exclusion based on sexual orientation directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation’s giving guidelines.  The Foundation re-evaluated funding for the BSA when the organization restated its policy that excludes members on the basis of sexual orientation.  Merck Foundation has notified the BSA of this decision.” 

Boy Scouts of America director of public relations, Deron Smith, provided the following statement to brandchannel: “Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good. While not national sponsors, these companies have positively impacted America’s youth through support of Scouting in local communities. We respect their right to express their own opinions.”Continue reading...

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