brand strategy

Kellogg's Looks to Emphasize the Simple Nutrition Behind Cereal for Turnaround

Posted by Dale Buss on February 19, 2014 06:47 PM

Kellogg's cereal sales are down, but the company isn't about to give up on breakfast. In fact, CEO John Bryant and other Kellogg's executives told financial analysts today that they're planning to use operational savings to double down on marketing the Kellogg's brand, including cereal and the "breakfast occasion."

The company is seeing robust growth in its snacks business, which is about as large as its cereal business, and the power of the Pringles chips brand in emerging markets has been especially rewarding. "We are selling every can we can make" of Pringles, Bryant said during the Consumer Analyst Group of New York meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., today.

But Bryant and his colleagues left little doubt about the overriding importance of "winning in breakfast with cereal." Yes, sales at Kellogg's flagship US breakfast unit declined by 4 percent last quarter as more Americans experienced what Bryant called an "unconscious migration" toward options such as eggs, toast, peanut butter and yogurt.Continue reading...

health matters

FDA May Cut Down on Drug Side-Effects Listings, Since No One Reads Them Anyway

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 19, 2014 05:45 PM

Drug commercials that go on endlessly about potential side effects are pretty easy to lampoon. “Do not take this product if you are uneasy with lockjaw,” Steve Martin wrote in The New Yorker back in 1998 in his beautifully constructed satire, Side Effects. “Do not be near a ringing telephone that works at 900 MHz or you will be very dead, very fast.”

Left wondering if anyone is actually listening to the potentional life-saving fast-talk or fine print, the FDA is surveying consumers on whether they should loosen up the rules requiring drug companies to include the exhaustive lists. 

According to the New York Daily News, current research says that many patients, especially older ones, pay no attention to warning labels. In addition, research from Kansas State and Michigan State University shows that some warning labels don’t get the attention that they should be getting. That inattention is estimated to create millions of medication errors annually.Continue reading...

cocktail hour

All the News You Can Drink: Bacardi Goes Green, Crackdown on Gluten-Free Booze Claims and more

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 14, 2014 06:34 PM

Bacardi Gets Green

Bacardi Limited may be 152 years old, but it is thinking like a youngster. The world’s largest privately held spirits company has set its sights on obtaining “40 percent of the sugarcane-derived products used to make its rums from certified, sustainable sources by 2017 and 100 percent by 2022—an industry first—as part of a new global sustainability campaign,” according to Sustainable Brands.

“Protecting the natural resources we use to create our brands, at every step along the value chain, is central to our corporate responsibility,” said Ed Shirley, Bacardi's president and CEO, according to the site. “We’ve always set the bar high. Now, we’re taking our solid, sustainable foundation to the next level.”

The sustainability campaign doesn't just extend to its supply chain, but also to its corporate offices. As part of the new campaign being launched across 75 offices, Bacardi employees will be able to track just how environmentally-friendly they are being both at home and in the office.Continue reading...

brand strategy

PepsiCo Nixes Idea of Splitting Company As Frito-Lay Powers Sales Gains

Posted by Dale Buss on February 13, 2014 06:04 PM

Whatever Pepsi Beverages and Frito-Lay accomplish from here on out, they'll do it together. That was the unequivocal message of PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi in the company's fourth-quarter earnings report.

She acknowledged pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz for the company to spin off the dwindling soft-drink business from the robust snack business; Peltz also has said he'd like to see Frito-Lay combine with Mondelez but recently dropped that idea after getting a seat on Mondelez's board.

Nooyi said that she even had external consultants and bankers look at the possibility of dividing beverages from snacks. But she said that the company would remain integrated after all in part as a matter of scale. "Decoupling our beverage and snaCk businesses in North America would significantly reduce our relevance to our customers," Nooyi said, according to Reuters.Continue reading...

chew on this

After Conquering Mexican Fare, Chipotle Looks to Apply Model to Asian, Pizza

Posted by Dale Buss on February 13, 2014 04:54 PM

Chipotle has been defining and redefining Mexican fast-casual food for some time now. Is there any reason to think it can't have the same kind of determinative effect in two other segments the company is eyeing for future growth?

While Chipotle has been racking up impressive sales gains and prompting desperate rivals to mimic its sustainable-ingredient positioning and other brand elements, the company also has been experimenting in earnest in Asian fare and artisan pizza, two categories where so far national brands haven't become prominent.

ShopHouse is designed to follow the same model as Chipotle, with guests building their meals as they walk the service line.Continue reading...

chew on this

Chipotle Leads Parade of QSR Brands Joining In On Sustainable Food

Posted by Dale Buss on February 12, 2014 05:19 PM

Looking for ways to jump-start a sluggish fast food market in the US, more brands are tacking toward sustainability positioning and "clean" ingredients as the king of that approach, Chipotle, doubles down on its own efforts as profits continue to rise. 

Latest to move in this direction are Chick-fil-A and Long John Silver's. The seafood chain said that it's planning a major brand relaunch this year, with a new tagline, "Think fish," that includes TV spots with environmental messaging, according to Ad Age.

"Anyone ever heard of free range?" a voiceover narrates one ad. "Get your next meal from the real frontier—fish sustainably harvested from the wildest place on earth."Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's Global Challenge: Fight Sluggishness at Home, Build Relevance Abroad

Posted by Dale Buss on February 11, 2014 03:51 PM

It's not easy being a global brand, even if you're McDonald's, as you still have to succeed locally. It's possible that its continuing domestic US sales woes are mostly due to treacherous winter weather and a bad new product bet or two. But it's also possible that the chain and the brand are reaching the end of once-outsized relevance to the American consumer as it continues to face food health and labor critics.

Until it becomes evident which scenario is true, McDonald's CEO Don Thompson is relying on improved performance in key international markets to offset the brand's frustrations in the United States. He will rely on incoming US CMO Deborah Wahl to help him tackle the larger issue of McDonald's actual place in its home market. The auto industry marketing veteran is still transitioning into her new role, which she formally assumes on March 3.

The chain reported that US same-restaurant sales fell by more than 3 percent in the first quarter, or about double the percentage decline expected by analysts. Thompson blamed the snow and cold but analysts cited the continued sluggishness of the US economy. But of course, it could be the third factor: American consumers have gotten used to bypassing McDonald's more and more.Continue reading...

Subway Comes Clean on Chemical In Breads After Activist Outcry

Posted by Dale Buss on February 6, 2014 04:57 PM

Conscious of the concerns of food activists, Subway said that it plans to remove a chemical from its breads that raised the ire of a food blogger. It's the latest health-conscious step by a chain that recently engaged Michelle Obama in a promotion for its new initiative to get kids to put veggies on Subway sandwiches.

In a bid to be more transparent and better keep to its "Eat Fresh" mantra, the largest fast-food chain said it is taking out a chemical known as Azodiacarbonamide from its sandwich breads. Vani Hari, who runs the site FoodBabe.com, has criticized its presence because of the substance's other industrial uses and because it is banned in the UK, Europe and Australia.

Subway has used the ingredient as a "bread conditioner" which adds elasticity and whitens the dough. The chemical, though, is especially damning in the food industry because of its other broad uses in plastics, rubber and synthetic leather production.Continue reading...

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