Honda Still Trying to Complete U.S. Comeback

Posted by Dale Buss on June 1, 2012 04:01 PM

Honda has fared worse than its two major Japanese competitors in trying to recover from last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as its U.S. market share dropped more last year — and its production bounceback has been slower to reach full stride this year. 

But Honda is looking to its U.S. operations to finally lead a full-fledged recovery for the company. And after April sales in America fell by 2 percent from their year-ago level, today American Honda reported an encouraging 48-percent rise in sales last month compared with May 2011. The overall U.S. market continued its recovery in May, and many automakers reported double-digit gains — but not the size of Honda's.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

Canon Moving Toward Totally Automated, Robot Assembly Line

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 15, 2012 11:52 AM

The assembly-line process made famous by the Ford Motor Company that ushered in an era of mass production that enabled consumers across the globe to have the same products at the same time is about to change.

Assembly-line jobs used to be the backbone of the working class. But now robots are entering the picture more and more and Canon claims that it will have its digital-camera assembly line in Japan completely automated as soon as 2015, according to The Toronto Star. As it is now, jobs have been moving out of the country to China, India, and elsewhere in Asia due to the high price of labor expenditures.

Employees of Canon needn't be alarmed. “When machines become more sophisticated, human beings can be transferred to do new kinds of work,” said Jun Misumi, a spokesman for the company, commented to the Star.Continue reading...

digital moves

Nike Japan Fans Give Shoe Face

Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 27, 2012 10:20 AM

Brands can ask their fans to do some crazy things to show their love, but Nike Japan has found a new way to get its devotees to make themselves look a little crazy while helping to spread the Nike name.

Their marketing team's latest stunt: Free Face, which asks consumers to, well, load an image of their face that the magic of technology will use to create an oddly similar image of a Nike shoe. This, of course, has led to some hilarious results.Continue reading...

chew on this

Burger King Gets Trucking, Brings Home the Bacon

Posted by Dale Buss on April 20, 2012 01:58 PM

Food startups are familiar with the effectiveness of handing out free samples of their goods. Trial can be victory with consumers and sales traction for the business. That's why entrepreneurs favor vans, pickups, delivery trucks, mobile kiosks and any other way to get around to where people are gathered in order to get their products into eager mouths.

But Burger King? As it kicks off its celebrity-studded, $750-million brand refresh, BK is deploying a fleet of 30 food trucks to travel among 40 U.S. cities, handing out free samples of new menu items including fresh-fruit smoothies and chicken strips with new dips.

It's an unusual move for such a huge brand, but that may be the kind of tactic required for Burger King to reverse recent trends that have found it falling to No. 3 in QSR sales behind Wendy's and, of course, McDonald's at No. 1.Continue reading...


Rising U.S. Sales Mask Big Three Automaker Losses

Posted by Dale Buss on April 18, 2012 04:59 PM

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are facing their biggest test since beginning their recoveries three years ago. Even in a bullish market, the challenges are huge.

Before the end of last year, many automotive pundits brought up two distinct possibilities about how the big car-makers could be faring differently in 2012 from the way 2011 was ending up. And already, the industry seems to be tacking in the direction of both of them.

One clear trend after first-quarter sales is that Detroit's Big Three automakers are already giving back much of the hard-won share of the market that they gained over the last two years. The other big news: Toyota has recaptured much of the mojo it lost in the U.S. market over those two years.Continue reading...

celebrity brandmatch

Ad Watch: Richard Gere is Big in Japan Thanks to Orangina Campaign

Posted by Shirley Brady on April 4, 2012 01:46 PM

Richard Gere's new French-made commercials for Suntory's Orangina drink in Japan have skyrocketed sales to the tune of a million cases in the first four days of the commercials' debut. In the spots, the American actor plays Tora-san, an updated version of a sentimental figure from Japanese cinema: a "hapless traveling salesman from an iconic series of Japanese films," according to the Wall Street Journal's Real Time Japan blog. Watch more below.Continue reading...

brand bites

Brand Bites: Ben & Jerry's Gay Marriage Ice Cream, Naked PETA and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on March 16, 2012 12:19 PM

Ben & Jerry's supports gay marriage in the UK with "Apple-y Ever After" ice-cream and Facebook app.

How do you promote a parking app at South by Southwest? Fake parking boots!

Of course there's a "woody" Toyota Prius.

Lingerie retailer Figleaves escapes outdoor ad ban.Continue reading...

brand accolades

How Japan's Top Brands Inspire Through Passion

Posted by Shirley Brady on February 24, 2012 05:03 PM

Interbrand Global CEO Jez Frampton this week announced Japan’s Best Global Brands 2012 in a keynote speech in Tokyo.

“It’s a testament to the excellence of this country’s leading companies and the wealth of talent their brands represent,” Frampton commented. "It's not just 'business as usual' we are witnessing. It's business driven by passion and a will to overcome adversity."

The remarkable success stories highlighted in the new ranking includes such top Japanese brands as Toyota, Honda, Canon, Sony, Nintendo, Panasonic, Nissan, Lexus, Toshiba and Komatsu.Continue reading...

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