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brand challenges

Facing Challenges in China and at Home, McDonald’s Tackles Brand Crisis

Posted by Dale Buss on July 25, 2014 03:42 PM

The food at McDonald’s is pretty straightforward, and so is the situation: The brand is in its biggest trouble in years, and CEO Don Thompson doesn’t like what he’s seeing on his plate.

The company has gotten caught in the scandal surrounding the sale of expired meat in China by one of its long-time suppliers in the region and has just stopped selling chicken McNuggets in Hong Kong because of it. It's problems extend beyond China, though, as the chain has come under fire in Russia by a consumer watchdog for sanitary and dietary reasons. 

Back in the United States, just two years into his tenure Thompson is having to concede that the brand is lost. Assailed by problems ranging from a tepid American restaurant consumer to McDonald’s own shortfalls in new products, criticism over its low wages and even bad service, the company has launched a brand reboot that is supposed to take up to 18 months.

The goal is to become a “more trusted and respected brand,” Thompson told investors this week, and to create a dining experience “customers will feel good about.”Continue reading...

bc q&a

Flipping for Ginger Brew: 5 Questions with Reed’s Inc. CEO Chris Reed

Posted by Dale Buss on July 24, 2014 06:21 PM

His crunchy but business-like persona has characterized Reed’s Inc. from the start. But now pony-tailed Founder and CEO Chris Reed is taking it to the next level by starring in the company’s first national TV campaign along with his leading product, Reed’s Ginger Brew, America’s best-selling natural soda.

Carbonated soft drinks with natural heritages have come in from the fringes during the last few years, providing one of the few sources of growth in the sugary fizz-water industry while mainstream brands such as Coke and Pepsi continue to slide.

And Reed’s, which counts Snoop Dog as a major fan, has been there to propel much of that growth. Reed started the Los Angeles-based company in 1987 after going to the UCLA library and researching wholesome, even therapeutic recipes for soft drinks and found recipes from the 1780s for drinks made from ginger and other roots. Reed’s has since diversified into other natural drinks ranging from Virgil’s Root Beer to the Reed's Culture Club Kombucha beverage, a category that is something of an acquired taste.

As the Reed's Ginger Brew campaign kicked off on national US cable networks, Reed talked with brandchannel.Continue reading...

retail watch

Small Box: Target, Walmart Invest in Smaller Stores in Attempt to Goose Sales

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 24, 2014 01:46 PM

Two of America’s largest retailers are facing some big problems. Both Target and Walmart are seeing increasing competition from not only each other, but smaller, more nimble retailers and online giants like Amazon that are challenging the big-box retailers on every level.

Target, for one, is still working on recovering from its holiday-season data breach. Of course, the problem existed way before the data breach. Foot traffic in the stores has fallen for six straight quarters, which is likely part of the reason it is putting a lot of effort into making its digital presence stronger.

With a hard focus on younger consumers, Target has launched several initiatives including the debut of its first TargetExpress store on the campus of the University of Minnesota. According to MediaPost, the store is “just 15 percent of the size of its typical store” and is “heavy on beauty, electronics and convenience food.” 

“This is an exciting opportunity to test and learn as we continue exploring new ways to meet our guests’ needs and exceed their expectations,” said John Griffith, EVP of property development, in a press release. “Our focus is on ensuring the Target shopping experience is available when, where and how guests want it.”Continue reading...

auto motive

With Product Guy at the Helm, Lincoln's Luxury Lineup Could See Boost

Posted by Dale Buss on July 23, 2014 05:38 PM

Ford has been making noise about reviving the Lincoln brand for a few years now, but it took a change at the top, from Alan Mulally to new CEO Mark Fields, for the company to get really serious about it.

Fields, who took the helm on July 1, just named a new executive to oversee Lincoln and has been touting his plans for the underutilized luxury brand as he took over for the retired Mulally earlier this month. Reports have come out suggesting that Mulally never warmed up to the Lincoln brand even late in his tenure and was willing to let it die as so many other venerable auto brands have done in the last several years, including Pontiac, Plymouth and Ford's own Mercury.

Fields' appointment of Kumar Galhotra, who formerly headed up engineering for Ford, as the new president of Lincoln signifies a promising change in the thinking around the luxury brand, which was previously led by Jim Farley, who was and will remain Ford's CMO.Continue reading...

brand revival

Cupcakes May Fall Off the Rack in Plan to Make Crumbs a Sweet and Snack Brand

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 15, 2014 11:17 AM

Crumbs will live to bake another day, but the road back to business bliss won't be paved with sprinkles. The cupcake chain will get a second chance thanks to a confirmed investment from businessman and TV host Marcus Lemonis, among others, but not before current investors get dragged through bankruptcy court.

After closing all of its stores and filing for Chapter 11 protection last week, Crumbs investors came off their sugar high as Lemonis and Fischer Enterprises (which backs Dippin' Dots) clarified their strategy to save the sweets retailer. Lemonis, CEO of RV retailer Camping World, Good Sam Enterprises and star of CNBC's The Profit series, will provide financing to Crumbs with the support of Fischer, who extended $5 million in credit to the cupcake bakery in January, through a new joint venture that will buy the chain out of bankruptcy.

The plan is to create a privately-held Crumbs chain—which will eventually carry ice cream, popcorn and other snacks from brands sourced from Lemonis' show—whose stores will become franchises.Continue reading...

brand trainwrecks

With New Support, Charney May Live to Die Another Day at American Apparel

Posted by Abe Sauer on July 10, 2014 12:44 PM

What does a brand do with a problem like Dov Charney? 

Not even a month after the American Apparel board canned its CEO and founder over supposed misconduct, eagle-eyed shoppers (via Buzzfeed) posted pictures of Charney shopping (or something) inside downtown Manhattan American Apparel retail locations, actions that appear to be in clear violation of the board's termination letter which stated he must get “advance written permission” to visit any American Apparel facility.

But maybe not. According to new SEC filings, American Apparel is getting a $25 million bailout from New York City hedge fund Standard General. It's a bailout that seemingly could keep Charney as a key figure in American Apparel's future.

Dov's weeks-long struggle to raise money to up his share of the company from 27 percent to 43 percent is chronicled in detail in a new Bloomberg Businessweek cover story on the drama. Granular to the extreme—Charney wore "white American Apparel socks" and used Uber during his travels from Los Angeles to NYC—the piece breaks down a decade-long soap opera that appears far from over. Indeed, Charney is still salaried and considered a "consultant."Continue reading...

diversity watch

Brand Pride: Apple's Tim Cook Stands Side by Side With LGBT Employees

Posted by Shirley Brady on July 8, 2014 04:43 PM

As noted here, TD Bank was a proud sponsor of the first WorldPride event held in North America. Also showing its colors in Toronto late last month: the smart auto brand, which sponsored the event's opening ceremonies in Toronto. And south of the border, on June 29, thousands of Apple employees and their families marched in the San Francisco Pride Parade, where employees were welcome by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was lauded in today's Wall Street Journal as a "more collaborative" and compassionate leader than Steve Jobs. Check out both brands' 2014 Pride videos below.Continue reading...

brand roadmaps

Looking Ahead, Google, Facebook See Power in Connected Relationships

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 8, 2014 04:00 PM

The founders of two of the world’s most influential digital brands, Google and Facebook, have different views as to what the world will look like in the future—that's if their brands have anything to say about it.

Yet despite their different tracks, both Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg agree that the future is more about connections, whether it's reviving existing ones or creating new ones. In a chat with fellow billionaire Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, Page emphasized the importance of reserving more time to spend with family and friends, and that work doesn't need to dominate our lives. 

"If you really think about the things that you need to make yourself happy—housing, security, opportunities for your kids—anthropologists have been identifying these things," he said. "It's not that hard for us to provide those things. The amount of resources we need to do that, the amount of work that actually needs to go into that is pretty small. I'm guessing less than one percent at the moment.”Continue reading...

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