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Herbal Essences Taps Shirtless American Hunks for Shampoo Sales in Japan

Posted by Abe Sauer on July 12, 2013 11:42 AM

Not English teachers. Sexy, shirtless English teachers.

That's Herbal Essences' new approach to sell shampoo in Japan in a market increasingly full of elderly people.

Japan's beauty products market is second only to America's. But Brazil is poised to soon change that as its market booms and Japan's struggles, facing a predicted compound annual growth rate to 2017 of just 4 percent. The nation's population is quickly aging and shrinking. A bad combination for a cosmetics brand.Continue reading...

brand mascots

When Hello Kitty Met Pedobear: The Kumamon Craze

Posted by Abe Sauer on July 8, 2013 02:57 PM

While the US struggles with multiple cartoon mascot controversies, Japan's Kumamon is taking the rest of the world by storm.

The mascot of the high speed train of Kumamoto City ("kumamon" means "bear thing" in Japanese) was launched in 2010 and is now a fixture of Japanese culture as well as an increasing number of branding and marketing campaigns. It's only the most popular anthropomorphized mascot in Japan's robust history of anthropomorphized mascots. But don't confuse Kumamon for Pedobear, another of Japan's popular kuma exports.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Monsanto Halts GMO Lobbying Efforts in Europe as Firestorm Builds from Wheat Discovery

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 4, 2013 04:41 PM

Following global anti-GMO marches and the discovery of unapproved GMO wheat in an Oregon field, the latest blow to Monsanto has been dealt by its own governance. The company, which manufactures genetically-modified organisms announced that it would cease its GMO lobbying efforts in Europe as it faces increasing opposition from the European Union and local farmers. 

"We are no longer working on lobbying for more cultivation in Europe," said Brandon Mitchner, representative for Monsanto’s European branch, Tageszeitung in an interview, according to "Currently we do not plan to apply for the approval of new genetically modified crops. The reason is, among other things, low demand of the farmers.” Monsanto Germany spokeswoman Ursula Luttmer-Ouazane added, "We've understood that such plants don't have any broad acceptance in European societies. It is counterproductive to fight against windmills."  

Most recently, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland and Italy have joined the EU in wanting to ban the cultivation of GM crops, invoking an environmental protection provision knows as the "Safeguard Clause." Monsanto competitors Bayer CropScience, BASF and Syngenta have already pulled out of the German market due to widespread opposition.Continue reading...


The Week in China: VW Nostalgia, Kung Fu Chili Pepper, McDonald's Mega Fries and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on May 17, 2013 01:46 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: VW gets nostalgic... Luxury brands suffer... Starbucks canbalizes itself... Apple "ruins" family life... Translating cat app... Tencent profits... BYD... Let Li... Dutch infant formula... What Taobao can tell you about breast size... McDonald's McCafe absurdity... Face toothpaste... What a poorly made $30 hamburger reveals about China's middle class... and more.Continue reading...

political brands

Abenomics: The Bras and Skirts of Japan's Branded Political Legacy

Posted by Abe Sauer on May 14, 2013 12:42 PM

The "Branomics Bra" lingerie package aims to piggyback on Japan's booming economic growth to "help bust sizes to get bigger." Wishful thinking.

"Branomics" is just the latest marketing stunt attempting to capitalize on Japan's craze for "Abenomics," itself an all-or-nothing marketing stunt created as part of an ambitious rebrand of Japan's top politician. The "Branomics" package comes with a bow and arrow for good reason. A core detail of Prime Minister Sinzo Abe's "Abenomics" is the "three arrows" for growth: stimulus spending, monetary policy shifts and regulation easing.Continue reading...

brands under fire

GM's "Racist" Ad Just the Latest in Long Line of Asian Mockery

Posted by Abe Sauer on May 2, 2013 12:32 PM

For its ad stereotyping Asians, GM has offered the standard 'we're sorry you're so easily offended' apology, with a brand spokesperson saying, "Our intent was not to offend anyone and we’re deeply sorry if anyone was offended."

In fact, it really is not a surprise that GM wouldn't immediately recognize the ad as offensive. While brands now go out their way to avoid racism targeting many groups, Asians are still typically not on the vigilance radar. Heck, even Iron Man 3, a film that has been criticized for pandering to Chinese interests, couldn't resist throwing a little barb in about how poor the Chinese are at English. (see above; "Man Iron").

GM added that it would make sure "this never happened again." Maybe not at GM, but this will happen again. It was just in 2002 that popular youth clothing line Abercrombie & Fitch was slammed for a line of Asian-themed shirts including one reading, "Wong Brothers Laundry Service—Two Wongs Can Make It White." The brand's response? "It's never been our intention to offend anyone." Sound familiar?Continue reading...

brand roadmaps

It's No Secret: JCPenney Says 'We're Sorry' and 'Come Back' with Social Media Blitz

Posted by Dale Buss on May 1, 2013 06:12 PM

JCPenney's brand-resuscitation efforts continued today with a digital-era form of a classic corporate move: the mea culpa.

The company launched a virtual apology tour on Facebook, YouTube (watch below) and Twitter to get the message out to customers—those same customers that now-ousted CEO Ron Johnson in large part ignored for more than a year—that the brand is sorry and wants them to come back.

According to Bloomberg, the campaign was developed on Johnson's watch and implemented by Sergio Zyman, the former Coca-Cola marketing executive who will go down in history as the architect of the New Coke fiasco.Continue reading...


The Week in China: Apple Woes, KFC Chicken Donations, Spring Air's French Maids and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on April 26, 2013 12:45 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: Apple's slow(er) sales... Quake relief PR... Japan's sales woes... Electric vehicle hopes... Rolls Royce driving... Retail trends... China's oldest scissors maker... Ai Weiwei "snap bracelets,"... liquor ad increase... Boo-hoo Yahoo... Caterpillar... Airbus... Airline outfits... Desperate hotels... A giant rubber duck... and more.Continue reading...

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