Posted by Dale Buss on November 27, 2012 05:16 PM
Whatever McDonald's next US CEO, Jeff Stratton, does after he takes over from ousted McD's veteran Jan Fields on Dec. 1st, outsiders agree that it'll probably involve significant new menu launches and refreshing old favorites. As in most businesses, it's product innovation that provides the most effective promotional opportunities and does the most to drive sales and pique consumer interest.
Especially in an increasingly competitive environment where Americans seem to have grown inured to a simple value pitch, expect the icon of fast food to turn more, and more often, to variations of its signature products, and other new items, to reverse the October U.S. same-store sales slide that cost Fields her job.
Some analysts are suggesting that Stratton, a four-decade veteran of McDonald's who championed sustainability in his role as Chief Restaurant Officer, will rely on his expertise in operations to shore up the bottom line and that he'll turn to improved marketing to boost the top line. But in picking apart the reasons for this year's slide and putting together ways to reverse it, Stratton also must balance menu expansion with the traditional simplicity at the heart of McDonald's business model.
In 2012, the chain relied more on "limited-time" menu additions in the US such as Chicken McBites and a Cheddar Bacon Onion burger that was introduced in October. The pandemonium-causing McRib sandwich, meanwhile, is rumored to return in December — and not a moment too soon. As Peter McGuinness at DDB Chicago, McDonald's agency, commented about the pre-Christmas McRib timing in a reference to Coca-Cola's classic holiday theme, "We don't really do polar bears."Continue reading...
brand of crazy
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 19, 2012 12:31 PM
Four dogs owned by American visionary John McAfee, the founder of the namesake anti-virus company of the same name, were found poisoned to death near his home in Belize more than a week ago. McAfee’s neighbor, US citizen Gregory Faull, was found dead in his home soon after, a bullet wound in his head.
McAfee was suspected, though he claims he didn’t do it. So what does he do to help prove his innocence? The 67-year-old eccentric, who resigned from McAfee back in 1994, decided to put on some disguises and go hiding along with his 20-year-old girlfriend Samantha — who has “helped (him) evade detection by grabbing (him) and kissing (him), in public, in a fashion that causes passerby's to feel embarrassment at the thought of staring and by creating emotional scenes that cause the curious to momentarily forget what they were looking for.”
How do we know such intimate details from a man who is supposedly keeping himself out of sight? Well, McAfee is blogging the whole Hollywood-esque caper, whoismcafee.com, so he could shre his thoughts about the search for him, whatever facts he can dig up in his own investigation into the murder, and his anger toward the police, the media, the Belizean government, and pretty much everybody else except Samantha and his old pal Chad Essley, the director of Portland, Ore.-based Cartoon Monkey and the man who is created the blog that McAfee is posting to, according to CBS News. It's also a huge PR nightmare for his former company.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 16, 2012 01:14 PM
It doesn't take long before even a brand like McDonald's can slip from a high perch. And it can take even less time for the executive who may be responsible for the stumble to fall even further.
That's why Jan Fields suddenly is out of her job as president of the U.S. operations of the chain. Recently ensconced CEO Don Thompson met with her to decide that she should move on after 35 years with the company — including two disappointing quarters in the U.S. The company named Jeff Stratton, currently global chief restaurant officer, to succeed Fields.
In an interview with Fortune that was published today, Fields — who conducted the brand's first-ever "listening tour" last year — seems to be philosophical about her tour of duty drawing to a close, using a USDA-approved metaphor in response to her ouster. "Everyone has a date stamped on their ass," she said, "and they're the only one who can't see it."
Thompson acknowledged her wry sense of humor in the press release announcing the management change, saying "We appreciate and salute Jan for more than three decades of inspired leadership and impactful service under the Arches. All of us who know Jan will miss her genuine nature and quick-witted humor. We wish Jan the very best."
The die was cast when McDonald's U.S. same-store sales in October declined, the first month-to-month decrease in nine years. As recently as the first quarter, McDonald's had been humming seemingly on all cylinders, gliding along as a clear brand of choice for American households who were still struggling financially. The limited-time run of new Chicken McBites also had proven a big success.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 6, 2012 01:55 PM
The textbook case of entrepreneurial success that is Sara Blakely's Spanx shapewear brand has just written a new chapter: on Nov. 2nd, Spanx opened its first standalone retail store in the U.S., at the Tysons Corner Center in Maclean, Virginia, one of three stores opening this fall in addition to the brand's first airport boutique, at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. As the brand posted on its Facebook page, Blakely told USA Today that the opening made her feel "excited, nervous, emotional" as it made the leap into its own bricks-and-mortar retail channel.
Blakely's meteoric rise from inspired but inexperienced entrepreneur to one of the richest women in the world has been one of the most interesting stories in business over the last few years. She started out shilling her first invention — a modernized, footless hybrid of a girdle and panty hose — from a folding table in the foyer of a Neiman Marcus and would ship online orders in white Office Depot envelopes from her Atlanta apartment, as Forbes recounts.
The 41-year-old entrepreneur continued tirelessly promoting her brand to the point where, today, Spanx products are sold in more than 11,500 department stores, boutiques and online shops in 40 countries. As Forbes puts it, Spanx has become the "Kleenex" of the category Blakely invented, with revenues just shy of $250 million last year. And her success made Blakely the world's youngest self-made female billionaire.
Even so, Spanx never had operated its own stores, but it now has the cash and variety of products, including Spanx for men, swimwear and apparel, that the timing couldn't be better.Continue reading...
in the spotlight
Posted by Dale Buss on October 25, 2012 01:12 PM
Chalk this up as a "black"-letter day for Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald, as the company beat analysts' forecasts with its quarterly profit and P&G stock rose to its highest level in four years. After several months of unrelenting pressure on McDonald over the company's less-than-stellar performance, no one would blame him for enjoying the rest of the afternoon.
McDonald has been battling slipping sales, market share and margins in many of P&G's brands with newly hatched plans to cut costs, renew product innovation, and narrow the focus onto key markets, products and countries. He's also being prodded by critics such as hedge-fund investor Bill Ackman, who's got a $1.8-billion stake in the company and wants changes fast, and the P&G executive retiree who wrote a 13-page letter of complaint that he sent recently to McDonald. And it didn't help that Warren Buffett this week commented that "the jury is out right now" on the company.
Yet in announcing per-share earnings of $1.06 for the fiscal first quarter that beat last year's $1.01 a share and analysts' expectations of a 96-cent quarter, P&G appeared to benefit from progress in all of McDonald's key areas of concern, including boosting productivity and widening gross margins.Continue reading...
sip on this
Posted by Dale Buss on October 25, 2012 11:02 AM
Corporate irresponsibility is not supposed to be in the brand DNA of Starbucks, so the company went on the defensive today about allegations that it doesn't pay enough taxes in the UK. Stories recently have noted that over the last three years, Starbucks has reported no profit and paid no income tax there on sales of 1.2 billion pounds, while domestic companies have a bigger tax burden.
Such reports created the "wrong impression," Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a statement. He tackled three "misconceptions" that are dogging Starbucks in the wake of the story and, no doubt, winging just a bit a corporate culture that takes great pride in trying to do the right thing.
First, Schultz said, Starbucks has never avoided payint taxes in the UK "despite recent suggestions to the countrary," adhering to "both the letter and the spirit of the law." Second, Starbucks "consistently adheres to teh local accounting rules and tax laws" in the U.K. and everywhere. And third, Starbucks' European structure "has no impact on our taxable profit in the U.K." despite suggestions that the company is taking advantage.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 23, 2012 05:12 PM
P&G CEO Bob McDonald has plenty of challenges in the present and for the future. He doesn't need a blast from the past to cause problems too.
But the Wall Street Journal revealed today that a retired top executive of the Cincinnati-based CPG giant recently sent McDonald a 13-page letter outlining his concerns about the direction of the company left in 2001 by the former president of P&G family care.
Martin said he was concerned about the value of his holdings in P&G and, specifically, about slipping innovation, sales, market share and stock price. He maintained that many current and former executives supported his concerns. McDonald, according to WSJ, met with Martin some time ago after receiving the letter.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 16, 2012 05:16 PM
Gap Inc. chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy announced today that it has created a new global brand management structure so that its flagship Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands will each be led by a single executive with global purview beginning in fiscal year 2013. The move also creates a global innovation and digital strategy group, a first for the apparel company.
With more than 3,200 stores across its brands, the move consolidates North American, international, online, outlet and franchise divisions in an effort to improve market share. Gap has been expanding abroad and now has stores in more than 40 countries (compared with eight in 2006), but a word of caution from NASDAQ: “The company would be following the path of other apparel retailers, like Abercrombie & Fitch Co. But the road is a tricky one, especially right now due to economic conditions around the globe. Gap would do well to take a steady-as-she-goes approach.”Continue reading...