tech in the spotlight

Disney's New Startup Accelerator Includes Jewels of Wisdom From Yoda

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 13, 2014 02:54 PM

Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Iron Man and Yoda are about to learn the ways of smart tech startups in exchange for their pop-culture muscle as beloved intellectual property.

The Walt Disney Company is launching the Disney Accelerator in a partnership with Techstars, choosing 10 early-stage startups and investing $120,000 in each. 

The new accelerator will draw on talent from Disney and its subsidiaries including Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ESPN and Walt Disney Imagineering in a three-month program where first-time entrepreneurs will have access to entertainment industry leaders and venture capitalists, not to mention Disney CEO Bob Iger.

The Disney Accelerator “offers a unique collaboration between some of the best creative minds in the entertainment industry and the modern-day visionaries who are starting businesses on the strength of exciting new ideas,” said Kevin Mayer, Disney’s EVP corporate strategy and business development.

Disney looked to Techstars for help in implementing the program as they’ve run similar programs with Microsoft, Nike, Barclays and Kaplan.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...

brand news

In the News: Yelp, Chick-fil-A, Toyota and more

Posted by csauser on February 12, 2014 09:33 AM

In the News

Yelp unveils website revamp and upgrades local content.

Chick-fil-A launches switch to antibiotic-free chicken.

Toyota recalls 1.9 million Priuses to update software.

Annie's Homegrown sets to roll out new snacks strategy.

Audi boosts output of A3, Q5 in Germany.

Belk launches contest offering Edwin McCain as wedding singer.

Burger King beefs up Big King.

Dean Foods hurt by food-stamp losses.

Paula Deen readies comeback.

Dow Chemical rejects activist investor's call for major breakup.

DuPont moves toward approval of GMO crop in Europe.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Nokia, TacoBell, P&G and more

Posted by Dale Buss on February 11, 2014 09:22 AM

In the News

Nokia releases first Android phone as Microsoft deal finalizes. 

Taco Bell gears up for mobile ordering nationwide.

P&G raises prices on higher-end Tide versions.

Alibaba opens US e-commerce site.

Ameriprise jumps on Olympics bandwagon with Tommy Lee Jones.

Barclays plans to axe up to 12,000 jobs.

Bloomberg plans splashier storytelling on TV.

Boeing faces challenges in raising Dreamliner output.

Coke launches special edition Sochi cans across Eastern Europe.Continue reading...

chew on this

Yoplait Tries to Make Greek a 3-Horse Race as Chobani Preps for Super Bowl

Posted by Dale Buss on January 21, 2014 11:01 AM

With Chobani announcing its Super Bowl advertising plans today and Yoplait launching a new taste-test ad campaign aimed directly at the segment leader, things are really getting interesting in the Greek-yogurt war in the US market.

Yoplait's new broadside is a campaign called "The Yoplait Greek Taste-Off" in which the General Mills brand calls out Chobani by name and claims that 65 percent of consumers prefer Yoplait's Greek to Chobani. Of course, this is a true hail-Mary gambit for Yoplait because its latecoming to the Greek-yogurt derby has left it with only an 8 percent share of the single robust part of the American yogurt market, versus Chobani's 39 percent share.

"We thought it would be great for consumers to know that we are a great-tasting Greek yogurt even when compared with something they are very familiar with,"
 Carla Vernon, Yoplait's marketing director, told Advertising Age.Continue reading...

chew on this

CPG Brands Whack Calories, But Some Critics Won't Give Them Their Due

Posted by Dale Buss on January 9, 2014 02:58 PM

Apparently you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't—at least if you're a consumer packaged goods company. That's one of the big lessons of the reaction to this week's announcement that CPG companies have more than quadrupled the goal in their pledge to reduce the total calories contained in their products over the last five years.

Critics quickly wondered whether the companies should be getting credit, or just American consumers who've been making "better" eating choices. But more on that later.

The total calories in products sold by 16 of the nation's largest food and beverage companies—ranging from Coca-Cola to PepsiCo, General Miils to Kellogg, Kraft to Nestle —dropped by 6.4 trillion from 2007 through 2012, according to an independent evaluation funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Intel, BMW, Apple and more

Posted by Dale Buss on January 7, 2014 09:22 AM

In the News

Intel jumps into wearables with earbuds, watch.

BMW rolls out driverless car at CES racetrack.

Apple says App Store sales topped $10 billion in 2013. 

AT&T lets content firms subsidize users' data costs.

American Airlines lands a flight after camera is found in bathroom.

Audi and BMW both plan laser headlamps this year.

BYD says Chinese cars are headed to US by late 2015.

Fitbit partners with Tory Burch for high-fashion wearable tech.

GE to spend $1 billion on Thermo Fisher buyout.

GM sees Opel/Vauxhall increase European share thanks to new Adam minicar.

Goodyear sees tire workers in France hold managers hostage.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Success of Its 'Old Country Store' Part Keeps Cracker Barrel Flying High

Posted by Dale Buss on December 18, 2013 10:47 AM

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store aficionados long have realized the importance of the "Old Country Store" part to the appeal of the establishment along Interstates across most of the United States. And now some Wall Streeters are expressing new appreciation for a business model that has kept the Lebanon, Tenn.-based chain on a strong growth curve.

The restaurant is a staple mostly for wayfarers in Flyover Country, with more than 600 stores in 42 states, providing welcome signage to many travelers in and through America's heartland who love to come in, sit down within the glow of its wood-burning hearth, and consume comfort food such as biscuits and gravy and 24x7 breakfast.

Not only that, but apparently enough investors also have understood the appeal of Cracker Barrel, this year bidding up its shares by about 65 percent, or triple the gain of the S&P 500, Motley Fool said.Continue reading...

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