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...

rebranding

Why Liz Claiborne Inc. is Rebranding to Fifth & Pacific

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 4, 2012 05:07 PM

The Liz Claiborne brand name was sold in November to J.C. Penney so it was inevitable that its parent company, Liz Claiborne Inc., would shed the brand from its name. The inevitable is now official. The 34-year-old fashion company is changing its name to Fifth & Pacific Companies, and will start trading under the ticker symbol FNP in mid-May, in addition to replacing its zippy liz.com corporate domain with fifthandpacific.com.

Claiborne unloaded its Mexx brand in September and then sold its namesake brand to J.C. Penney, along with its Monet brand, two months later for $267.5 million. It also got rid of its Kensie and Dana Buchman brands this fall as it attempted to right its own financial ship. Now FNP is left with three core brands in Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand, Kate Spade, and a sibling in the mens fashion/accessory brand of Jack Spade line, to focus on.

The new corporate identity may recall Gap's Forth & Towne, Gilt's Park & Bond, and Nordstrom's Treasure & Bond, but CEO William McComb argues that the name is a perfect synthesis of the east coast/west coast stable of brands, as it's "where California cool meets New York chic."Continue reading...

rebranding

Landmark Vegas Hotel No Longer Bears Hilton Name

Posted by Barry Silverstein on January 4, 2012 11:01 AM

In the branding world, Las Vegas stands out as a city so well known that it is in a class by itself. The hotel brands that occupy the Vegas strip are just as famously iconic, so it's a rare event when one of them changes its name.

But on Tuesday, some Sin City visitors may have thought an extended New Year's hangover had them seeing things. That's when the long-standing Hilton name was removed from the Las Vegas Hilton and a new marquee appeared: The Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

Opened as the International Hotel in 1969, the property soon became the Las Vegas Hilton when the hotel chain bought it in 1971. But last year, financial troubles led to the hotel-casino seeking to end its agreement with Hilton, and new ownership took effect this year.

The new owners, an investor group that includes Colony Capital LLC, were determined the hotel will remain open for business without any big changes beyond a new name and website (indeed, Flavor Flav used the hotel to launch his vodka before the holiday, LeFlav Straight Up). However, guests staying at the hotel can no longer take advantage of Hilton's hotel loyalty program.Continue reading...

tech talk

HP Teases Spectre Notebook

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 3, 2012 09:32 AM

While HP won't be bringing a new logo to CES next week in Las Vegas, it appears to be getting ready to unveil a new ultrabook. As the glimpses in the teaser video for the mysteriously named Spectre shows, it's certainly a thin and sleek laptop — and a chance for HP to redeem itself from the TouchPad fiasco, which was pulled after seven weeks and called the biggest tech flop of 2011 by the New York Times.

trend report

"Occupy" and "Man_____" Top Buzzwords to Banish in 2012

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 2, 2012 01:31 PM

Tired of "planking" and "occupying"? TIME's top buzzwords of 2011 also include "leading from behind," "haboob," "99 percent," "manscape," "mantyhose," "mankini," "cone of uncertainty," and "Arab Spring."

The latest vocabulary blacklist by Michigan's Lake Superior State University, meanwhile, singles out coined words and phrases to banish from our collective vocabulary including "occupy," "ginormous," "shared sacrifice," "win the future," "blowback," "man cave" and "the new normal."

Lexicographer Grant Barrett commented in Sunday's New York Times that at least one of the words that defined 2011 ("occupy") won't disappear any time soon:

"In 10 years, some of last year’s words will be relics. We’ll think of them the way we now think of the decades-old phrase “gag me with a spoon.” Others have already proved their staying power. Who could argue that the new sense of “occupy” isn’t already a keeper, even starting as it did late in the third quarter of 2011? A movement so well labeled, if not cohesive in thought and action, that its name instantly lent itself to variation and satire."

what's in a name

California Town Considers Renaming as Irish Town Can’t Get Its Effin Name on Facebook

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 20, 2011 10:02 AM

Things are rough all over. Some towns have got it so bad, they want to start from scratch while others are just fighting to be recognized for what they are.

Stockton, California, has more than 290,000 residents, making it the 13th largest city in the state. Recent times there have been, like many other places, pretty rough. The Redding Record Searchlight reports that a group of residents are so fed up with the whole thing that they are on a mission to simply rename the town.

While it isn’t clear how serious they are about it, the group has at least created a "Rename Stockton” Facebook page that writes the following as its description: “The city has a bad image. Instead of tackling the problems, lets just come up with a new name! Crime is up! Foreclosures continue! The city is broke! Stockton, California can't get a break these days. But fixing the problems...that would take lots of hard work. Instead let's just "rebrand" and come up with a new name for Stockton!

Some names that have been offered by one visitor include Green Valley, North Modesto, Prosperity, and Hugtown, “in recognition of the troubles.”Continue reading...

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