brand challenges

Investors Squirm as Apple Faces Today's Realities, Tomorrow's Questions

Posted by Dale Buss on October 29, 2013 11:07 AM

Even Apple is becoming vulnerable to the things that afflict most other companies. Its profits and margins slid despite selling 33.8 million iPhones in its September quarter, and the tech icon signaled a more challenging than usual holiday selling season ahead as well as slower going in China.

Apple stock slid after CEO Tim Cook on Monday outlined what Reuters called "unremarkable quarterly numbers" that prompted some disappointed investors to cash in on the stock. Apple has slid overall by more than 10 percent in the last year as concerns have grown about everything from its current slate of new products—such as the two new iPhones and iPads—to what it might or might not have up its sleeve for the future.

The company's main products, the iPhone and iPad, have been under increasing competitive pressure from rivals including Samsung and Amazon that sell cheaper devices that run on versions of Google's widespread Android operating system, USA Today noted. Even Nokia is reporting record Lumia sales, while BlackBerry this week saw a renewed sense of hope after its free BBM messaging app netted over 20 million downloads in its first week. All of that "has Wall Street scouring Apple's quarterly results for any sign the company is dropping prices at the expense of profit margins."Continue reading...

automotive

Lexus Turns Driving Into an Artform in Lexus IS 300h Campaign

Posted by Dale Buss on October 28, 2013 03:04 PM

If you drive "ugly," you may be ugly. That seems to be a primary message inherent in a new art-inspired promotion in Europe and Japan for the Lexus IS 300h hybrid, called Art is Motion.

Lexus has equipped one of the cars with software that produces a "generative self-portrait" of the driver behind the wheel based on the work of artist Sergio Albiac that is converted into paint-brush strokes. A system onboard the car "paints" a digital picture of the car's owner that takes shape in real time on its computer screen as the car proceeds, and on the Art is Motion website, based on his or her driving style and efficient use of energy.

Not surprisingly, the more the driver relies on battery power instead of gasoline as the car goes, the more flattering is the "generative self-portrait" that emerges. Or, as LeftLaneNews.com put it, "Those who employ the hybrid system's 141-hp electric motor more will end up with a more accurate painting in cooler colors. On the other hand lead-foots who make greater use of its 178-hp petrol four-cylinder will draw a more abstract depiction in "virulent" hues."Continue reading...

brand mascots

Fukuppy: Japan's Latest Attempt at Mascot Greatness Has the World Snickering

Posted by Abe Sauer on October 15, 2013 11:52 AM

When the reaches of humanity's ability to create art looks for a metaphoric warning to address the disastrous arrogance of science, it creates Godzilla, a lasting icon of the world's nuclear past. When the reaches of humanity's ability to create public relations campaigns looks for a mascot to address the disastrous arrogance of science, it creates Fukuppy, a lasting icon of the world's nuclear present.

Welcome to Earth, Fukuppy; you will go down as one of the top three worst mascots of all time.

To get the giggles and eye rolls out of the way up front, "Fukuppy" is the new mascot for Fukushima Industries, a manufacturer of refrigerators. The damaged Fukushima nuclear reactor, which just saw radiation levels hit a two-year high, is located in Fukushima prefecture.

In the wake of the (ongoing) Kumamon craze, brandchannel recently explored "Japan's robust history of anthropomorphized mascots" and how it fits into the island nation's "kawaii culture" ("kawaii" means "cute" or "adorable"). This cultural, maybe compulsive need to give every single thing its own adorable anthropomorphized mascot probably goes a long way in explaining the thinking behind Fukushima Industries' cute new spokes-egg.Continue reading...

sip on this

Beverage Brands' Creative Offerings Will Leave You With More Than That Refreshing 'Ahh'

Posted by Dale Buss on September 10, 2013 06:29 PM

Maybe it's the result of the unrelenting slide in conventional soft-drink sales. Or maybe the serendipitous byproduct of PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi's strategy for integrating snacking and refreshment experiences that used to be separate. But the company is coming up with more interesting sensory mashups these days.

For example, PepsiCo is seeking to patent a method of encapsulating scents within beverage packaging to entice US consumers with "favorable aromas" before they drink the beverage, according to BeverageDaily.com. The "aroma delivery system" would use one or more compounds encapsulated in gelatine capsules that are broken when a drink container is opened, the publication said.

"Consumers evaluate many products by the aroma emitted from the product or the container in which the product is made available," wrote the inventors in the patent, which was filed last year and published earlier this year. "Edible products, such as juices and coffee, are expected to have a fresh aroma that replicates or evokes memory of the epxected flavor of the product."Continue reading...

mobile brands

Apple Eyes Emerging Markets with Colorful 5C, but 'Forward Thinking' 5S May Fall to Competitors

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 10, 2013 05:11 PM

The mobile industry's most highly anticipated event of the year has come and gone, leaving some innovation in its wake—but very little surprise. 

Today's iPhone event at Apple's Cupertino, Calif. headquarters confirmed a handful of rumors that have been circulating for weeks: two iPhones, the upgraded 5S and the more affordable, plastic 5C. The colorful 5C, which is essentially the iPhone 5 in a plastic shell, is the company's first foray into a value-centric device—a metric that will lend itself well in important mobile markets like China and India.

Available globally on Sept. 20, the two new devices will grant the company access into markets where it has previously encountered obstacles, though Cook and his colleagues did not mention any specific deal with China Mobile, the country's largest mobile provider. They did, however, highlight several providers in Japan that will offer the new iPhones

While more was revealed—additional details of iOS 7, updated camera functions, a new, faster processor chip—there was no mention of wearables, including Apple's eventual release of its rumored iWatch, leaving it more difficult to declare a winner in the latest mobile wars, especially between Apple and rival Samsung, which debuted its Galaxy Gear smartwatch and new Galaxy Note phablet last week.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Subaru Appreciates the 'Love,' But Now Brand Must Figure Out How to Return It

Posted by Dale Buss on August 29, 2013 10:46 AM

Nearly every auto brand in the US market has been trying to find ways to keep up with the boom in sales, from adding manufacturing capacity in America to raising prices. But no other brand is in the fix that Subaru is in.

Well, actually it's not a fix: Subaru is selling a lot more cars these days than it used to, but the brand is so small, with just 2.6 percent of the US market, that leadership of the brand and parent Fuji Heavy Industries is in a quandary about how how to respond to the brand's mini-boom.

Subaru's US sales were up by 27 percent for the year through July, more than three times the rate of increase for the market overall, and it faces shortages of its newest models. So while Subaru keeps gaining American fans with its rugged, all-wheel-drive vehicles and quirky advertising about "love" for its cars, it may not actually be able to sell them anything.Continue reading...

china

The Week in China: Jet Li Crop Art, Apple's 3-Piece, Budget Mooncakes and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on August 23, 2013 12:43 PM

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's the week's reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: the "Apple three piece set"… budget mooncake… Robert Downey Jr's HTC ad translated… Wu Mo for Baidu… living in a KFC... GlaxoSmithKline... AmCham… Imax espionage… "China's Boston"… Shanghai Lacoste… Fruit Ninja advertising… Hong Kong air… marketing with "Singlish" and more.Continue reading...

brand challenges

With Another Failed Foreign Venture to its Name, Tesco Turns its Focus Back to Britain

Posted by Abe Sauer on August 13, 2013 12:58 PM

After nearly a decade of trying to crack the retail egg that is China, Tesco, the world's No. 3 retailer has thrown in the towel. 

The British retailer announced plans to create a joint venture with China's state-owned China Resources Enterprise Ltd., which would marry Tesco's 131 China stores with CRE's nearly 3,000 Vanguard units across China and Hong Kong, creating over $15 billion in sales—much more than Tesco's reported China sales of $2 billion. The deal, though, wipes out the Tesco name from the Asian market, as the retailer will only assume a 20 percent stake in the new venture, Reuters reports

"This may look win-win, but in reality, Tesco is saying 'I can't figure out China,'" one analyst told Reuters. Like many other foreign retailers before them, Tesco struggled to carve out a solid brand identity for itself among the fast-growing China market, where Walmart and France's Carrefour have been the only foreign supermarket brands that have managed to compete with local outlets.Continue reading...

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