web watch

ICANN's gTLD Era Begins

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 12, 2012 05:26 PM

More than seven years in the making, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is now accepting applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

As ICANN puts it, "The world of .com, .gov, .org and 19 other gTLDs will soon be expanded to include all types of words in many different languages. For the first time generic TLDs can include words in non-Latin languages, such as Cyrillic, Chinese or Arabic." And, as brand marketers and lawyers are well aware, .brand URL extensions are now possible for company names, too.

Click here for more on what brands need to do in this new TLD era.

personal brands

Memphis Finally Giving Street King’s Name

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 12, 2012 02:07 PM

About 900 cities across America have named streets in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. since he was gunned down in 1968, but not Memphis, where he suffered his assassination (unless you count a stretch of nearby interstate highway). It appears that that all is about to change – just in time for Martin Luther King, Jr., Weekend.

The Associated Press reports that Memphis officials “will consider naming a key downtown street for the civil rights icon.” The subject is due to come up before the Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board Thursday and is expected to pass.

"It was something that had a place in my heart for some time," former city councilman Berlin Boyd, who proposed the change when he was still in office, told AP. "Here is a city where Martin Luther King's blood cries from the streets, and we don't have anything to pay tribute to him."Continue reading...

Latest Counterfeit Brand Scam Plagues Collegiate Sports

Posted by Barry Silverstein on January 12, 2012 01:02 PM

Some fans, surprised at the result of the BCS National Championship game Monday night, in which Alabama blanked LSU, would not be surprised to learn that the merchandise sold at the game is big business. But they may be shocked to find out that not all of the merchandise sold there was legitimate.

It turns out that counterfeiting has penetrated the collegiate sports market — fake merchandise was being sold along with the real thing at all of the championship bowl games.Continue reading...


NAIAS Action: Toyota Woos Younger Buyers with Hybrids

Posted by Dale Buss on January 10, 2012 03:13 PM

Toyota and Honda must be concerned about the here and now after their abysmal 2011s. They're still attempting to get back to par with their global venicle inventories and have been gearing up new products they're hoping will begin attracting Americans back to their brands this year.

But at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, their necessary preoccupation with sales numbers for this month and next month didn't prevent Toyota and Honda executives from turning toward the mid- and long-term future as well.

For Toyota, that meant, among other things, a heavy reckoning with its trailblazing investments in hybrid automobiles and a rather candid assessment of American consumers' continued ambivalence about electrified automobiles. The brand showed off its new Prius c — the "c" in the name is for city — a small entry in its growing "family" of Prius hybrids, and bowed its NS4 concept plug-in hybrid that should see the market around 2015.Continue reading...

web watch

ICANN Can – and Will – Open the Doors for New Domain Names Thursday

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 10, 2012 11:22 AM

Plenty of brands (not to mention lawmakers and regulators) are not happy that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (aka ICANN) is going right ahead — despite 11th hour hearings — and opening the doors Thursday for a possible barrage of applications for new generic top-level domain names (.brandchannel, anyone?)

There are currently about 20 such domains (.mil, .edu, .gov, etc.), while so-called gTLDs will add the likes of .canon as companies can snap up their brand names as domain suffixes. It’s taken more than six years of hemming and hawing, but even on the eve of dotbranding, the move is still creating controversy among brand holders.

The fear is that those doors will turn into floodgates, and brands will find cybersquatters registering for their trademarks or similar words to their trademarks. The $185,000 registration fee should scare some off, but it also is a hefty price for corporations to pay to make defensive registrations. Reuters reports that Lawrence Strickling, administrator of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, sent a letter to ICANN last Tuesday asking the organization to find ways to make it so such registrations aren’t needed.

"In meetings we have held with industry over the past weeks, we have learned that there is tremendous concern about the specifics of the program that may lead to a number of unintended and unforeseen consequences and could jeopardize its success," Strickling wrote, according to Reuters.

Rod Beckstrom, ICANN's president, told Adweek that the U.S. government has a seat on ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee and has been able to address its qualms directly. He also noted that applications won’t just be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Continue reading...

brands under fire

Twinkies and Wonder Bread Maker to File for Bankruptcy

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 9, 2012 07:14 PM

Move over, Kodak — the Wall Street Journal is reporting that another iconic American brand is in trouble. As early as this week, Hostess Brands Inc. is "preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection ... a move that would mark the second significant court restructuring for the Twinkie and Wonder Bread baker in the past several years."

The ubiquitious Twinkies snack, introduced in 1930, are still popular, with 36 million packages sold last year. But that wasn't enough to save its parent company, which is deeply in debt (owing its creditors more than $860 million), and "has been facing a cash squeeze amid high labor costs and rising prices for sugar, flour and other ingredients... Those costs together have proved higher than the company's roughly $2.5 billion in annual sales, creating losses and cash shortfalls."

Hostess Brands, the WSJ's Shira Ovide notes, also makes "schoolyard favorites Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Suzy Q’s, Fruit Pies, Sno Balls, Dolly Madison Zingers and Drake’s cakes." And while there's some debate about how long a Twinkie will last in the wild, the origin of their name isn't disputed, she adds:

James A. Dewar was a manager of a Chicago-area Continental Baking Co. plant in 1930, when he got the idea of injecting cakes with cream filing. He said he came up with the name for his invention when he saw a billboard in St. Louis for “Twinkle Toe Shoes.” Dewar started his career driving a horse-drawn pound cake wagon and retired in 1972 with the unofficial title of “Mr. Twinkie.” He died in 1985, at the age of 88.

brand revival

Dodge Goes Back to Future with New Dart

Posted by Dale Buss on January 9, 2012 03:03 PM

Naming a new car after a venerable nameplate from its heyday is hardly a new ploy for the Dodge brand. Dodge did it with new muscle cars such as the Challenger a few years ago.

But today marked the first time that a Chrysler Group brand has gone back to the future for a nameplate since it has been controlled by Fiat. Dodge unveiled the 2013 Dodge Dart at the North American International Auto Show this morning, a new vehicle that should prove to be the most credible entry by the company in the compact-car segment since — well, since the heyday of the original Dodge Dart.

Accompanied by puslating techno music and lights in the predictable meme of auto-show unveilings, Reid Bigland, president and CEO of Dodge, said that the brand "wanted to create a world-class compact car" because Dodge wasn't "competing" in this segment with its Caliber model, introduced in 2006. "And we approached this segment with a clean slate — no baggage."Continue reading...

let the games begin

Transforming Into a Lawsuit: Hasbro Ready to Battle for Its Toys

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 6, 2012 10:01 AM

Since 1984, Hasbro’s Transformers toys have transitioned from robots into cars or weapons or those sorts of things. Then they became comic books and movies and now they have become a lawsuit.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that Hasbro and a computer manufacturer that has created a “high-end tablet/laptop hybrid computer dubbed the ‘Transformer Prime,’” Asus Computer International, are ready to do legal battle.

Hasbro filed suit claiming that its trademark had been infringed upon, THR adds, pointing out that one of its characters is named Optimus Prime as well as the existence of its licensed Transformers Prime TV series.Continue reading...

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