2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

brand challenges

As Its Woes Pile Up, It's Worth Asking: Has McDonald's Jumped the Shark?

Posted by Dale Buss on October 17, 2013 01:58 PM

Is it possible that McDonald's finally has jumped the shark? Its faltering performance has put the iconic chain in the crosshairs of securities analysts and investors lately, and even some of its own franchisees, as well as the predictable coterie of nutrition critics and low-wage-worker advocates.

"I think McDonald's has reached its apex,"said a franchisee in a new Janney Capital Markets survey of 29 McDonald's franchisees. Is he right?

Clearly the world's leading fast-feeder has been struggling for a couple of years under the leadership of CEO Don Thompson, who succeeded a very good run by the initially underestimated former CEO Jim Skinner. Same-store sales in the US and some other markets are barely staying above year-ago comparisons. And while new menu items proliferate, most of them have been for only a "limited time—such as the new Southwest Chicken Premium McWrap—and they tend to slow service.Continue reading...

sip on this

Sprite Hopes to Spread Holiday Cheer with Limited-Time Cranberry Flavor

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on October 10, 2013 07:42 PM

Sprite is hoping to sweeten up the holidays with a new limited-time, cranberry-flavored version of the popular lemon-lime soft drink. 

In its first flavor innovation since it debuted Sprite Remix in 2005, the new flavor will contribute a kick of sweet and tart cranberry in regular and Sprite Zero forms. Available from mid-October through the New Year, the new beverage might lend itself well to holiday-themed drinks and even as a flavored mixer for alcoholic concoctions. 

The innovation comes as major soft-drink manufacturers Coca-Cola and Pepsi are feeling the squeeze of more health-conscious customers, with soda consumption volumes falling. Coke has tried to quell calorie concerns with widespread anti-obesity campaigns and the expansion of its "Zero" calorie-free line to more of its brands.Continue reading...

sports in the spotlight

Brand Damage: Will NFL, Riddell Brands be Sacked by 'League of Denial'?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 9, 2013 03:09 PM

Despite a $765 million settlement by the NFL that essentially silenced hundreds of lawsuits brought against the organization by past players that have suffered from various degrees of injuries and illnesses, the glaring spotlight continues to highlight the many pitfalls of the organization and the many brands that benefit richly from its existence.

But while revenues at equipment providers like Riddell are holding steady, other, more serious repercussions that could affect the future of the sport are starting to show. The Sports and Fitness Association reports that there are 16 percent fewer football players between the ages of 6-17 on the field this year as there were a year ago. While the drop in participation could be for several reasons, there's no doubt that one of those includes the heightened awareness of parents, school officials and health professionals about the dangers of playing full-contact football.

As for those sticking it out, they're fueling record growth among sporting apparel companies like helmet and gear maker Riddell, which has seen revenues increase more than 40 percent since 2009, according to Crain's Chicago Business.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Nutrisystem Seeks More Do-It-Yourself Dieters for Digital Expansion

Posted by Dale Buss on October 3, 2013 10:51 AM

Digital do-it-yourself diet plans have shaken up the weight-loss business, but Nutrisystem is trying to shake off the impact—and shape up itself.

Dawn Zier, the CEO who came last year from Reader's Digest Association, believes that new retail and digital initiatives, as well as more discipline in its core home-delivery business, are beginning to turn around Nutrisystem. The company posted about a 20 percent drop in revenues for the second quarter, but Zier told brandchannel that Nutrisystem's biggest-yet retail initiative, at Walmart, and fledgling efforts in the online realm are starting to deliver results.

"Our turnaround is on track in terms of the things I said we need to do: return to direct-marketing fundamentals, focus on costs, and product and program innovation," she said. "And choose a handful of growth initiatives, not too many—focus on areas where we can expand and grow."Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's Concession on Healthier Fare Also May Be Way To Jump-Start US Sales

Posted by Dale Buss on September 27, 2013 10:52 AM

McDonald's biggest nod toward better-for-you food is already placating some critics, and there's another benefit: Helping kids and their parents eat healthier fare at its restaurants may boost chain sales results that have become tepid lately in the US market.

In cooperation with a Bill Clinton-backed nonprofit, McDonald's has announced a sweeping new commitment to better-for-you eating that includes promoting only water, milk and juice rather than soft drinks for Happy Meals on its menu boards and in advertising, emphasizing nutrition in its packaging and advertising for kids, and offering side salads and fruit to accompany its value meals. 

"We think we can influence the purchase of fruits and veggies," McDonald's CEO Don Thompson told the Wall Street Journal. "We have a leadership role and we can be part of a solution. The average person eats at McDonald's three times a month."Continue reading...

sip on this

Coca-Cola Carefully Navigates Anti-Obesity Messaging as it Combats Falling Sales

Posted by Dale Buss on September 23, 2013 01:36 PM

While Coca-Cola has never acknolwedged being part of the problem of rising worldwide obesity, it sure is working hard at being part of the solution.

The beverage giant noted today—in a new TV commercial and with a press release—its vast efforts to get people moving during a summer of initiatives linked to a series of grassroots events it kicked off in May, called the Get the Ball Rolling initiative. It extended a broad effort that Coke kicked off in January with a commercial playing down its role in promoting obesity and encouraging physical activity as the most important antidoate to the problem.

Nutritionists are united in believing that caloric inputs are far more important in determining obesity than lack of physical activity per se. But moving around clearly helps offset too much intake, especially in children, so Coca-Cola has focused its Get the Ball Rolling initiatives on kids. Those efforts are highlighted in the new TV ad.Continue reading...

media and politics

Food Marketers Convene in Washington as First Lady Continues Health Crusade

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 19, 2013 07:46 PM

Michelle Obama is shamelessly using the power of her pulpit in the best tradition of Dolley Madison, Eleanor Roosevelt and Hilary Clinton, among others. 

The First Lady convened a White House summit that focused on food marketing to kids—a move in line with her ongoing Let's Move initiative and support of healthy food consumption. Members of the media and entertainment executives, food industry representatives and public interest group leaders gathered to discuss curbing junk food ads and restricting iconic kids' TV characters from appearing in spots for unhealthy products.  

“I’m here today with one simple request and that is to do even more and move even faster to market responsibly to our kids,” and to “empower parents instead of undermining them," Obama said in an address to attendeesContinue reading...

tech innovation

Google Searches for Immortality Through New Health Startup, Calico

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 19, 2013 12:36 PM

It’s fitting that the world’s leading search company is looking for answers to aging and immortality.

Google is throwing its support behind Calico, a startup it is creating to focus on problems in the health care system that pertain to extending human life. Arthur Levinson, former CEO and current chairman of biotech pioneer Genentech and chairman of Apple’s board, is the newly-appointed CEO.

"Illness and aging affect all our families," Google CEO Larry Page said in blog post. "With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives."

If the idea sounds far off, that's because that's exactly what Calico plans on investing in. “In some industries, it takes ten or 20 years to go from an idea to something being real. Healthcare is certainly one of those areas,” Page said. "Maybe we should shoot for the things that are really, really important so ten or 20 years from now we have those things done.”Continue reading...

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