automotive

NAIAS Watch: Michelin's Bibendum Gets a Defender

Posted by Dale Buss on January 10, 2012 01:02 PM

Michelin, like the auto-vehicle brands it supplies with tires, has noticed a long-term change in how car owners in the United States and worldwide regard new-vehicle purchases: They don't want to make them as often. This has resulted in a record level of what the industry calls "pent-up demand," as the average age of cars on the road has grown to more than a decade now — and demands various kinds of responses from brand marketers.

The approach being taken by the French global tire-industry leader is to make it easier for Americans to keep their cars longer. Michelin's new Defender tire, given its worldwide debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, is aimed squarely at this new reality by promising, among other things, to last up to 90,000 miles.Continue reading...

logo-a-gogo

Ute and Aboot: University of Utah Sticking with Utes

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 6, 2012 02:06 PM

The University of North Dakota’s basketball team went out onto the court for the first time in eternity without its old nickname, the Fighting Sioux, attached to them. No Native American mascot roamed the sideline, either. This came after a massive, years-long battle against the NCAA, which gave the word back in 2005 that colleges and universities needed to ditch their Native American sports monikers because they had been deemed offensive.

The University of Utah Utes, named for an American Indian tribe, have been sensitive to the issue for some time. Back in 1996, the school got rid of its Hoyo mascot and introduced Skyhawk. The Utes name, though, has stuck with the program and will for some time. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the school isn’t going to change its name and will stick with its “drum and feather” logo, though it isn’t clear for how much longer those symbols will stick around.Continue reading...

brand mascots

Fans Hammer West Ham United's New Mascot

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 22, 2011 03:01 PM

English football isn’t always known for its family friendliness but the West Ham United Football Club (known as the Hammers) in East London took a step in that direction Saturday by adding another mascot to sports pantheon of cute and fuzzy mascots.

The Hammers' new mascot, Hammerhead (at right), isn’t a shark but, yes, it is a hammer. A dancing, showboating hammer. Hammerhead had something to strut about Saturday as his team topped Barnsley F.C. Tykes 1-0. (And it’s not really nice to pick on tykes, is it?)

The team’s fans, though, weren’t sure what to make of Hammerhead, according to Metro.co.uk. On one fan forum, the site notes, one commenter stated, “Rarely have I been so embarrassed at Upton Park” while another wrote, “I personally thought it was much more entertaining than the game.”Continue reading...

sports in the spotlight

NHL and Geico Stay on the Same Team

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 19, 2011 04:01 PM

The only motorized vehicle involved with National Hockey League games is the Zamboni ice resurfacer, but it is very likely insured by Geico.

The NHL and the 75-year-old insurance company announced Monday that Geico will continue to be the official insurance company of the NHL in the United States. With the deal, for the next few years Geico gets to sponsor the very cool annual outdoor game, the Winter Classic, as well as the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the All-Star weekend when it is held in the States.

For example, the Winter Classic is being held this year on Jan. 2 at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank, which is normally the home of the Philadelphia Phillies. There will be a three-day fan festival before the Philadelphia Flyer and New York Rangers face off that will feature attractions from several sponsoring brands, such as Verizon, Honda, and Geico.Continue reading...

place branding

Heard About a Christmas Truce? There's One in the Great Midwest Mitten War

Posted by Dale Buss on December 14, 2011 11:59 AM

At least one geopolitical struggle has eased this holiday season, and a temporary peace reigns — around the Great Lakes, that is. This is because Wisconsin and Michigan appear to have buried the hatchet in their epic struggle over which state has the most legitimate claim to the mitten metaphor to describe the shape of their homeland.

Sounds like big stakes, eh? Well, despite the thorniness of the issue, Michigan and Wisconsin tourism officials today managed to declare a truce in the mitten war and even their joint establishment of a philanthropic effort they're calling The Great Lakes Mitten Campaign.

"We encourage everyone in both states to 'shake hands' and donate mittens to help make this winter a bit warmer for those in need," Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said in a press statement announcing a handful of mitten-dropoff sites around the state.Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's Is Lovin' Its Global Heyday

Posted by Dale Buss on December 9, 2011 05:05 PM

McDonald's may be dealing with Happy Meal fallout from San Francisco to Sao Paulo, but the much bigger picture is this: The iconic brand of American-style fast food is rolling up big sales gains around the globe.

True, the chain's venerable Happy Meal remains under attack by nutrition advocates worldwide. McDonald's seems to be getting around an anti-Happy Meal ordinance in San Francisco simply by charging parents a dime for the toy (which the company then forwards to its Ronald McDonald House charity in San Francisco), though in Brazil, the government has slapped McDonald's with a $1.8-million fine for giving away toys as part of its McLanche Feliz.

But aside from that chink in its armor, McDonald's seems to be doing nearly everything else right. Overall, the chain has the value proposition and strong brand image to perform well despite weak consumer confidence in Europe and beyond, according to a new evaluation of the company by the Fitch ratings service.Continue reading...

place branding

Gloves Off: Michigan Takes Wisconsin to Task Over Mitten Tourism Pitch

Posted by Dale Buss on December 8, 2011 05:31 PM

It's a border battle fit for the season. And with this new Michigan-Wisconsin dispute comes all the underlying tensions from a long and tenuous adjacency that include zebra mussels, Asian carp, rights to the Upper Peninsula, Packers-Lions, Badgers-Spartans, the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, beach envy, Lake Michigan mineral rights, and which state really has the fattest people.

Yes, Wisconsin's tourism department has appropriated mitten imagery for new web-based winter promotion of its mitten-shaped state. And that has made mavens of mitten-shaped Michigan — well, mightily miffed. The result is a frosty contretemps between pillars of the Upper Midwest that is only likely to get more icy.

You see, Michiganders clearly own the historical and traditional use of their right hands — with fingers straight up and together, they form a perfect mitten shape —when pointing out, usually with their left index fingers, where something is located in the state's Lower Peninsula.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Penn State of Shock: Jerry Sandusky Arrest Drags Brand Through Mud (Again)

Posted by Shirley Brady on December 8, 2011 09:45 AM

Still reeling from the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case, Penn State officials and fans groaned last night as the university's disgraced former football coach was arrested on fresh charges (which his lawyer says he's denying) ... while clearly wearing a Penn State jacket with the Nittany Lions logo as police hauled him off to jail, where he remains this morning. Above, a few of the responses on Twitter as the news broke.

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