tech in the spotlight

Time's Up: Apple Unveils Larger iPhones, Wows with Apple Watch and Payments

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 9, 2014 05:15 PM

Today, at what seemed like its largest press event ever, Apple unveiled the future of communication—and it's beautiful. 

CEO Tim Cook took the stage after countless brand fans and media kept their eye on a countdown clock on Apple's website, effortlessly building anticipation for a product launch that many have been counting on for the last year. And in true Apple fashion—minimalist introductory video and slideshow presentations, live demos and a parade of Apple executives not to mention U2—the brand introduced what everyone had been waiting for: two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus; a new payment platform, Apple Pay; and the highly-anticipated Apple Watch

After years—decades, really, in tech time—of shunning the "bigger is better" trend in mobile, Apple unveiled not one, but two new iPhones, both of which offer a larger screen experience. But the two new phones turned out to be perhaps the least ground-breaking announcement of the day.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

With the World Watching, Will Apple's iPhone Event Disappoint?

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on September 8, 2014 05:38 PM

The countdown is on as Apple watchers are at the ready for the next big thing: its product reveal taking place Tuesday morning at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. As the "What to Expect" headlines keep rolling in, Apple, as usual, will do its best to keep leaks at bay, so as to unveil its latest products in the typical, dramatic, Apple fashion we all have come to know so well

Perhaps the only certainty regarding the launch is that Apple will unveil a new iPhone, in line with its fall mobile announcements. But how many, and more importantly, how big? And will we finally see the so-called "iWatch" after months of rumors and sketches?

Major news outlets think so, and if Apple wants to stay on top of its game, it had better. This past week alone saw major wearable tech announcements from Samsung and Intel, and while none of them (arguably) hold the fascination that Apple does, there's no doubt that Apple acolytes are getting impatient waiting for CEO Tim Cook to unveil his first big product post-Jobs.Continue reading...

health matters

CVS Bets On Anti-Smoking Positioning with Corporate Commitment to Health

Posted by Dale Buss on September 3, 2014 01:42 PM

CVS Caremark is making a huge bet with its brand on opposing smoking, as the company today announced that it is going way beyond its February announcement that it would stop selling tobacco in its 7,700 retail locations beginning October 1.

America's second-largest drugstore chain revealed that it is changing its corporate name to CVS Health to reflect its new wellness positioning (while its consumer-facing CVS/pharmacy stores are dropping the hyphen); that it is launching a huge smoking-cessation effort to help customers kick the habit too; and that it has stopped selling tobacco products as of today, nearly a month ahead of its earlier-indicated date.

CVS Health is backing up this huge wager with a passel of new ads and social media activations about the benefits of a smoke-free life under the theme "One Good Reason"—as in, your loved ones comprise "one good reason" to quit smoking, and "What is your #onegoodreason to kick tobacco too"?Continue reading...

health matters

International Health Organizations at Odds Over E-Cigarette Risks

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 27, 2014 11:32 AM

Just as Big Tobacco has rolled out new e-cigarette products across the US, the World Health Organization has expressed “grave concern” over the industry's escalating involvement in the e-cigarette market in a recent report, “warning that the financially powerful companies could...use the current tolerance of the new products as a gateway to ensnaring a new generation of smokers at a time when the public health authorities seem to be winning the battle against tobacco.” 

A slew of major tobacco companies have been launching e-cig brands including Imperial Tobacco, Altria Group, British American Tobacco, China Tobacco, Indian Tobacco Company and Phillip Morris International, which recently acquired one of Britain’s biggest e-cigarette makers, Nicocigs. Altria and Reynolds have made much headway, dominating about 25 percent of e-cig sales in the US market with their MarkTen and Vuse products. However, Lorillard still dominates with its Blu brand.

While the jury is largely still out on whether e-cigarettes pose a health risk like traditional cigarettes, the WHO claims that the new nicotine-laced devices do indeed pose a health risk to the public.Continue reading...

sip on this

Coca-Cola Life Tiptoes Into UK, US, Amid Hopes for Mid-Calorie Sodas

Posted by Dale Buss on August 25, 2014 06:46 PM

Coca-Cola has reached a couple of significant milestones as it advances Coca-Cola Life, the new "mid-calorie" soft drink in the revolutionary green can: Life is now on sale in Great Britain, and Coke is rolling out a massive sampling campaign for its US introduction this fall.

Life just became available broadly in the UK last week in supermarkets across the country, touting one-third less sugar and one-third fewer calories than regular Coke. Sweetened with cane sugar and stevia, it represents the company's most serious effort yet to determine whether there's a big market for soft drinks that are neighter zero-calorie weight-management tools nor fully sweetened, unapologetic vessels of sugary, fizzy, high-calorie refreshment.

In the United States, Coke has begun stocking shelves of Fresh Market stores in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and parts of Florida with Life. It plans to make Life available nationwide in October, Advertising Age reported, after Life was first marketed in Argentina.Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's Searches for a New Positive with More Menu Options

Posted by Dale Buss on August 20, 2014 04:41 PM

Everything seems to be sticking to McDonald's these days. There was the food-safety scandal in China last month, and now the chain's very ubiquity has hurt it as the local, franchisee-owned McDonald's at the epicenter of the racial strife in Ferguson, Mo., has become unwitting headquarters for much of the back-and-forth in the building drama there.

Maybe that particular problem for McDonald's will pass quickly, but the beleaguered chain is continuing to battle its long-term challenges, ranging from the junk-food image of its menus to flagging sales growth to still-growing competition.

At least McDonald's is trying some new tactics as CEO Don Thompson tries to pull the world's iconic fast-food chain out of its deepening slump, with moves involving digital leadership, new forms of influencing thought leaders, new menu items and new attempts to leverage the strengths that it does have.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

CVS Trades Cigarette Sales for Positive Social Standing

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 8, 2014 04:21 PM

Back in February, CVS Caremark took a major step—and a big risk— towards bringing its brand full circle when it announced that it would no longer sell tobacco products in its 7,700 stores.

The US' largest provider of prescription drugs, valued at $126 billion, says the removal process is 70 percent complete, with a goal to be tobacco-free by October. While the company stands to lose $2 billion in revenue a year, the move has helped it gain a positive position in the minds of consumers and the media. 

“We were willing to take that risk, to ensure a positive impact on the long-term health of our customers, clients and colleagues and to advance the dialogue on public health,” said Eileen Howard Boone, SVP Corporate Social Responsibility & Philanthropy at CVS Caremark and President of CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, according to Forbes.

The decision caused a bit of a "CVS effect" among other CSR-centered brands that took action on other hot-button issues. Disney, Lockheed Martin, Merck, Intel, AT&T, and USPS pulled funding from the Boy Scouts of America due to their anti-gay policies; Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors who deny climate change that his company is going full steam ahead into sustainability; and Safeway and Kroger announced that they would stop selling GMO salmon.Continue reading...

sip on this

Critics Make a Dent in Coke's Can as Brand Steps Up Health Marketing

Posted by Dale Buss on July 31, 2014 04:04 PM

Things aren't going well for Coca-Cola these days. While the company still returned $47 billion in profits last year, that amount was down by more than $1 billion from 2012.

That may not seem like much of a problem, but as newly chronicled in places ranging from the cover of the new issue of Bloomberg Businessweek to a prominent story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, minting profits—and sales—for Coca-Cola no longer is as simple as filling another bottle or can. The company and, especially, the brand are being hit with unprecedented resistance these days that is so stiff, some worry it ultimately could be existential for Coca-Cola.

Consumption of soda globally fell in the first quarter for the first time since 1999, though they rebounded in the second quarter; and the consumption slide continues in the US as the brand remains under assault from anti-obesity activists and politicians for its sugar and calorie content, while Diet Coke increasingly is suffering attrition as well because of concerns about aspartame. Meanwhile, new beverage startups in the flavored water and tea categories in which Coke has invested aren’t growing quickly enough to offset the continued losses in soda consumption.Continue reading...

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