brand q&a

Luxe, American Style: 5 Questions with Cadillac CMO Uwe Ellinghaus

Posted by Dale Buss on September 30, 2014 04:04 PM

The new heads of Cadillac are in the midst of a grand plan to elevate the General Motors luxury marque to the same neighborhood as the German segment leaders and Lexus.

Cadillac global CMO Uwe Ellinghaus and his new boss, Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen, must carve out a more robust and distinctive identity for Cadillac as a serious competitor at the top of the global luxury automotive pyramid.

With his prior experience at BMW, Ellinghaus was in the midst of a desperately-needed brand overhaul at Cadillac—redefining it as a distinctly American luxury brand (not a German wannabe) and preparing a new product nomenclature for the brand—when de Nysschen arrived in August.

Now he has a key partner to execute on the brand's global goals: holding firm on pricing, boosting the customer experience at dealerships, and launching a new flagship Cadillac CT6 sedan and ad campaign—not to mention shaking up the status quo by moving Cadillac headquarters from Detroit to New York. 

In a further challenge, Cadillac has seen US sales dip (with dealers already warned that things will get worse before they get better) in a year that sibling Buick has been crushing, despite reaching new heights in China. On the precipice of a crucial year, Ellinghaus discussed the Cadillac brand strategy with Dale Buss of brandchannel.Continue reading...

bc q&a

Brand Hailo: 5 Questions with Hailo CMO Gary Bramall

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 26, 2014 03:42 PM

In an industry already disrupted by smart tech and mobile-first customers, the latest disruptor is Hailo. Calling itself “the world's favorite e-hail app” and a “constructive disruptor,” Hailo competes with Uber, Lyft and GetTaxi apps but with the distinction of letting customers flag and pay for regular taxi rides by using the Hailo app.

Using Apple’s iBeacon technology, the Hailo app recognizes when passengers in Hailo-driven vehicles and invites them to connect and pay for their ride via a simple one-click confirmation. (Out of iBeacon reach, passengers can select a driver from a list and connect and pay that way.) The company also just released a public API, enabling third-party developers access to Hailo’s network of drivers.

Founded by three London taxi drivers and three internet entrepreneurs, Hailo has $29 million in its coffers from a recent funding round and has raised about $100 million to date from investors including Union Square Ventures, Accel Partners, Wellington Partners, Atomico Ventures and Sir Richard Branson.

Since launching in the UK in November 2011, it's now available in more than 20 cities, including London, New York, TChicago, Boston, Washington, Atlanta, Montreal, Toronto, Madrid, Barcelona and Osaka.

As it expands in North America, Hailo recently halved its prices in Washington and launched a guerilla marketing campaign to thank customers in New York, Chicago and Toronto called Hailo High-Five, in which street teams were dispatched to high-five hailers and hand out phones preloaded with a month's worth of free all-you-can-Hailo.

brandchannel chatted with Hailo's new global chief marketing officer Gary Bramall, who previously worked as senior global brand experience director for Microsoft, about the challenges and opportunities facing the brand. Continue reading...

bc q&a

Omnichannel Glam: Q&A with Rent the Runway Co-Founder Jenny Fleiss

Posted by Brittany Waterson on September 12, 2014 12:14 PM

A week after opening its first permanent brick-and-mortar store in its hometown of New York, Rent the Runway’s newest venture is already a huge success and it's clear that the start-up, which allows customers to “rent” designer dresses and accessories online, is at the height of its fashion game. 

Incorporating lessons learned from its previous pop-up boutiques at Henri Bendel New York and the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, foot traffic at its new flagship has been steady since the day it opened (20 minutes ahead of schedule to accommodate fans waiting at the door).

Located just off Fifth Avenue in Manhattan's Flatiron District, the store is the first physical embodiment of its recently refreshed logo and new navy and blush color palette. There are now plans in the works to follow up with a store near Washington, D.C., with more locations under consideration.

brandchannel chatted with Jenny Fleiss, co-founder of Rent the Runway, at RTR's Fashion Week celebration at its new Flatiron District store to discuss bringing a digital brand to life, what customers really want in an omnichannel retail experience and what's next.Continue reading...

brand faces

Staying Truett: Chick-fil-A’s Path Forward in the Wake of its Legendary Founder

Posted by Darcy Newell on September 10, 2014 06:34 PM

Monday was a sad day for fans of chicken sandwiches and the Chick-fil-A brand—the company’s founder and chairman emeritus, S. Truett Cathy, died at age 93 in his home. 

For many, Cathy was the embodiment of the Chick-Fil-A brand. Having grown the company from a small Atlanta diner in 1964 to one of the largest (1,800 locations in 40 states) and most beloved chicken restaurants in the United States, Cathy exemplified the American Dream. And despite strong business acuity, he was known for not choosing profitability over piety. From the company’s founding, restaurants have always closed on Sundays for a day of rest—missing out on opportunities for substantial revenue gains.

Of course, this religious focus has not always bided well for the man or the brand. Recent lawsuits claim the company’ discriminated against non-Christians, the LGBT community and others, and sparked debate on the role of religion—and religious commentary—in business today. Despite this, Cathy remained revered by the brand's intensely loyal fans for the experiences (and delightfully simple sandwiches) he created.Continue reading...

bc q&a

Brand Renewal: 5 Questions with Tony DiSalle, VP of Marketing for Buick, GMC

Posted by Dale Buss on September 2, 2014 12:13 PM

The growing success of the Buick and GMC brands has been under-appreciated amid the overriding attention paid to General Motors' season of recalls. Buick sales increased by 12 percent for the year to date through July, leading GM brands' performance, while GMC sales surged by 8 percent.

Buick and GMC, which are managed and retailed together, also keep leading not only GM but all other domestic brands in earning quality awards from third-party evaluators such as the American Customer Satisfaction Index (with Buick helping GM rank ahead of Ford in the latest ACSI survey) and J.D. Power & Associates.

Now, with an expanded "Experience the New Buick" TV ad campaign that builds on the remarkable success of the first ad, "Hmmm," and of the new Buick product line, brand executives are determined to add to their recent sales gains, gain more attention for an advertising theme that has drawn rave reviews this year, and focus specifically on the members of the strongest vehicle lineup Buick has ever enjoyed.

Toni DiSalle, US Vice President of marketing for Buick and GMC, talked with brandchannel on the eve of the campaign that extends the clever notion that Buick's "expectation-shattering" vehicles are so much better than before that consumers don't even recognize them as Buicks.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Nestlé Adopts Industry-Altering Commitment to Animal Welfare

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 26, 2014 06:45 PM

Nestlé will adopt animal welfare standards affecting 7,300 of its global suppliers, millions of grateful animals and an equal number of conscience consumers.

As one of the world’s largest food companies, Nestlé’s commitment is sending ripples throughout the food eco-system. “In the digital world, everyone has a smartphone and they want to know where things come from and share that information," Kevin Petrie, chief procurement officer for Nestlé in North America, told the New York Times. “Is it good for me? Is the quality good? Has it been responsibly sourced?” 

The new standards will exclude product purchases from suppliers who raise pigs in gestation stalls, chickens in barren battery cages, cattle that are dehorned or tail-docked without anesthesia and animals force-fed drugs to promote growth. 

“We know that our consumers care about the welfare of farm animals and we, as a company, are committed to ensuring the highest possible levels of farm animal welfare across our global supply chain,” said Benjamin Ware, Nestlé’s Manager of Responsible Sourcing in a press release.Continue reading...

executive decision

McDonald's Pins Turnaround Hopes on New US Operations President

Posted by Dale Buss on August 22, 2014 06:41 PM

When you're one of the most iconic brands in the world but sales are in a prolonged slump, you don't have any new hit products, not much you're doing seems to be working and even the government of Russia is doing you no favors, it might be time to throw up the white flag. But you're McDonald's, and you've got to keep going.

In that spirit, McDonald's has apparently nudged out its US president, Jeff Stratton, in favor of bringing in an ex-McDonald's executive who most recently was CEO of the Logan's Roadhouse chain, Mike Andres. The new president of McDonald's USA had success earlier in his career as president of McDonald's central division from 2010 to 2012 and, before that, as CEO of Boston Market, which then was a McDonald's subsidiary.

It's not too much of a reach to think that Andres, who will report directly to McDonald's CEO Don Thompson, could be positioned as his successor. If Thompson, in charge since mid-2012, can't turn things around, and Andres succeeds in jump-starting results at the chain's important but troubled domestic division, the switch could be obvious.Continue reading...

bc q&a

Dishing Up Success: 5 Questions with Rachel Phillips-Luther of Zoës Kitchen

Posted by Taylor Goddu on August 12, 2014 04:54 PM

Rooted in Mediterranean tradition and southern hospitality, Zoës Kitchen, a fast-casual chain founded in Texas in 1995, has a four-year plan to double the brand's footprint, which currently encompasses 124 restaurants across 15 states. 

Haven't heard of them? Well you may soon. With a market value of $525 million, impressive unit volumes tracking close to Panera and Chipotle and a 2013 average customer spend of $9.57, Zoës is hard to ignore—even if “y’all” isn’t part of your vocabulary. 

Beyond their commitment to family-inspired Greek eats (Zoë being the founder’s grandmother), Zoës storefronts are purposefully infused with trends from the fashion arena and other high-energy spaces to create a positive and fun brand experience for its diners, 70 percent of which are women and their families. The brand also actively taps social media for its ongoing #ShareGoodness campaign, which encourages patrons to share inspirational messages (and delicious recipes). 

branchannel chatted with Rachel Phillips-Luther, VP of Marketing for Zoës, who told us more about the brand's voice, persona and how it creates an emotional connection with consumers.Continue reading...

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