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...

executive decision

Never Mind Not Working From Home, IBM CEO Tells Employees to Work Faster

Posted by Dale Buss on April 25, 2013 05:02 PM

It’s been a long time since IBM was the safe default option for any company purchasing computer hardware or software. When Virginia "Ginni" Rometty was promoted to CEO 16 months ago, her charge was to put the once-indominable business services giant back onto a smoother path in a world that has been invaded by the likes of Apple, smartphones, apps and the cloud.

There’s just one big problem, Rometty recently told IBM’s 434,000 employees in a five-minute internal video message: Them.

All employees at IBM were told by their leader to "step up" by working faster and better, so that they more proactively and productively engage customers and stop letting potential deals slip away.

“Where we haven’t transformed rapidly enough, we struggled,” Rometty said in the video published on the internal IBM website and reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. “We have to step up with that and deal with that, and that is on all levels.”Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Starbucks Former President: Why Same-Sex Marriage Support Matters

Posted by Kristen Van Nest on April 17, 2013 12:20 PM

Last year, Starbucks declared its support of same-sex marriage, which resulted in a boycott by the National Organization for Marriage. The coffee chain hasn't backed down one bit, however, as CEO Howard Schultz continues to blur the line between business and the personal lives of his millions of customers.

At a recent annual shareholders meeting, Tom Strobhar, a shareholder and founder of the Corporate Morality Action Center, an anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage organization, suggested the boycott had a negative impact on first quarter sales and earnings. The ever-outspoken CEO swiftly responded, “Not every decision is an economic decision... The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity."

Schultz then told Strobhar he was more than welcome to sell his shares and take his money elsewhere. While the remarks seem brazen, Starbuck’s stance on hot-button political issues and support of equal rights for its employees have been a part of the brand’s long-term strategy to increase internal brand engagement and decrease turnover. What's more, taking a position on causes that affect its workforce has had a positive impact on its bottom line.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

AT&T Takes Top Billing on Best Corporate Citizens List

Posted by Sheila Shayon on April 12, 2013 04:34 PM

AT&T has landed at top spot on CR Magazine's 14th annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens List, beating out other top Russell 1000 large-capitalization companies on merits including human rights and corporate governance.

Rounding out the top 10 on the new list: Mattel, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eaton Corp, Intel, Gap, Hasbro, Merck & Co., Campbell Soup Co. and Coca-Cola. 

The ranking crunches 298 data points of disclosure and performance measures across seven categories: environment, climate change, employee relations, human rights, governance, finance and philanthropy. 

Notably, 26 companies on the 2013 list were not on the 2012 list, while 11 companies have appeared on the list every year since 2007. For those that were bestowed the honor, many were quick to highlight the significance of employee participation to the success of the company's initiatives.Continue reading...

brand evolution

American Express at 163: Having Its Cake and Tweeting It, Too

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 18, 2013 04:38 PM

It’s hard to believe that American Express is celebrating its 163rd birthday today, as the iconic brand continues a spry and active presence, pushing boundaries in social media while as fresh and enduring as those half its age. Case in point: its #163candles hashtag on Twitter today.

Just last month, the blue chip brand teamed with that whippersnapper on a social commerce experience that turns Twitter hashtags into purchases. The sync and tweet with #hashtags lets users buy $25 American Express Gift Cards and products from Amazon, Sony, Urban Zen and Xbox 360.

"Based on the initial success of Amex Sync for offers, we know there is significant power in combining our assets with Twitter's platform to bring value to Cardmembers and merchants," said Leslie Berland, SVP Digital Partnerships and Development. "Now, we're leveraging our unique technology and closed-loop network to introduce a seamless solution that redefines what's possible in the world of social commerce."Continue reading...

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