health matters

CVS Snuffs Out Tobacco Sales in Bold Step to Solidify its Health Care Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on February 5, 2014 01:51 PM

If the idea of a pharmacy is to help people get better, CVS no longer could go along with the fact that it sold decidedly unhealthy tobacco products. So America's second-largest pharmacy chain by size has announced that it will become the first nationwide drugstore to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products.

The action of going cold turkey will cost CVS an estimated $2 billion in annual revenue (out of a total of $123 billion) when it goes into effect in October, but it also is a significant move in the direction of authenticity and consistency for a brand that—like most drugstore chains—has been intensely repositioning itself as a broad-based health products and services provider, not just a pill dispensary.

“We have about 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners helping patients manage chronic problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease, all of which are linked to smoking,” said CVS CEO Larry J. Merlo to the New York Times. “We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don’t go together in the same setting."Continue reading...

cocktail hour

All the News You Can Drink: Cheers to Booze Brands at the Big Game

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 31, 2014 08:25 PM

AB InBev Yanks at the Heartstrings 

Having a whole Bud Light-themed ship moored on the West Side of Manhattan isn’t enough of an attention-getter for AB InBev, the official beer sponsor of the Super Bowl. The world’s largest brewer is set to air five commercials during Sunday's Super Bowl.

Like many other Big Game advertisers this year, it has released some of its ads ahead of time. Following a teaser, Budweiser's “Hero’s Welcome” shows the true tale of an American soldier returning home from Afghanistan, while it has also revealed half of the Bud Light “Epic Night” commercial, the second half of which will air during Sunday’s game. 

In true AB InBev tradition, the brand's famous Clydesdales make an appearance in the spot “Puppy Love,” which pulls at the heartstrings with a charming relationship between a puppy and the iconic horses. In two days, the ad has already garnered over 26 million views, and saw the Budweiser puppy get its own (official) Twitter handle (@BudweiserPuppy), hashtag (#BestBuds) and take over the Budweiser Twitter feed. Awww.Continue reading...

traveling brands

United Updates Premium Services to Reflect Wants of Cross-Country Travelers

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 4, 2013 07:02 PM

If you’re idea of luxury is to get on a plane that has seats that lie flat so you can sleep, United may be your new airline of choice. The airline has just redesigned 15 of its Boeing 757-200s to offer such service along with extra legroom for those flying out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport en route to Los Angeles or San Francisco.

United claims that it’s the first to offer such options on these “Premium Service routes,” Mediapost reports. The spruced-up planes also have “in-flight WiFi along with personal, on-demand entertainment at every seat as well as power outlets and USB ports at every seat.”

"Our investment in these aircraft and in the p.s. service will add greatly to our flyer-friendly customer experience on these coast-to-coast flights," said Jeff Foland, United's executive vice president of marketing, technology and strategy, in a press release. "This is just one more example of the many things we are doing to provide greater onboard comfort and convenience on every United flight."Continue reading...

e-commerce

Supreme Court Ignores Amazon's Appeals in State Sales Tax Fight

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 3, 2013 12:42 PM

Amazon may think its on its way to world domination with the announcement of its under-development drone-delivery service and its ability to get the United States Postal Service to actually work on Sundays, but one entity—the Supreme Court—has managed to put the kibosh on one of the company's most important efforts. 

On Cyber Monday, while online shoppers across the globe took advantage of mega deals all over the internet, the Supreme Court was giving Amazon and Overstock.com some bad news about a fight that other online retailers, such as eBay, were watching closely. The Court said it won’t stop New York State from forcing online retailers to charge sales tax to those who buy products in their state. The Court rejected the appeals of the retailers.

Amazon and Overstock had been arguing that since there were no facilities owned by either company in the state of New York, there should be no sales tax paid by those who purchase items from the online retailers while in the borders of the Empire State. According to Bloomberg, “states lose an estimated $23 billion a year in uncollected sales taxes from web retailers.”Continue reading...

retail

Here Comes COS: H&M Readies to Introduce Upscale, Artsy Sibling to US

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 15, 2013 03:42 PM

Swedish retail giant Hennes & Mauritz is gunning for its “coolly-minimal younger sibling,” COS, to make big a splash in the US market after building up quite a fanbase in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The brand will make its debut in the spring, joining fast-fashion phenom H&M. 

But the higher-priced, more artsy brand has no intention of settling for second place. According to H&M's head of business, Marie Honda, the high-fashion brand has the potential to be huge. After testing the waters earlier this month with a NYC pop-up shop at Opening Ceremony, the upscale, minimalist and cosmopolitan COS brand will target US ities "that have an international feel," Honda told Women's Wear Daily

Come spring 2014, the brand plans to launch US e-commerce and open its first store in April in NYC's Soho neighborhood. 

It’s a strategic shift for H&M, which launched in the US market as a trendy and cheaper alternative to Gap, Zara and Forever 21, and for whom American stores deliver the most revenue after Germany.Continue reading...

celebrity brandcasting

Lady Gaga Masters Art of Branding as ARTPOP Heads to #1

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 13, 2013 06:25 PM

Lady Gaga’s latest album, ARTPOP, was released in conjunction with two pop-up stores (ARTPOP-ups, you might call them) in New York City and Los Angeles, dubbed "ARTPOP Pop Up: A Lady Gaga Gallery."

The gallery/shop installations feature Gaga-related items like the computer chair where she posed naked, her infamous meat dress and everyday items like albums and t-shirts. The ARTPOP gallery experience is sponsored by Ubisoft, creator of video game Just Dance 2014, which features two Gaga songs, Beats By Dr. Dre and Interscope, Gaga’s record label.

While it's all a highly orchestrated ploy to generate buzz and sales for the star's new album with the Jeff Koons cover, it’s also a multimedia art installation, with blank walls and artsy tools available for visitors to create their own masterpiece while a video wall projects Gaga and her quotes. 

It paled in comparison to the brand-savvy singer's ARTPOP album release party in Brooklyn's Navy Yard on Sunday, an over-the-top spectacle that cost about $3 million to produce with the quiet aid of American Express, according to Billboard. (Two words: flying dress.)Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

GE Robot Band Wins the Internet (and New York City)

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 13, 2013 10:17 AM

In case you missed it, check out Compressorhead — aka GE's heavy metal robot band — in action in New York City's Union Square park yesterday.Continue reading...

branded entertainment

Heavy Metal: GE Brings Compressorhead Robot Band to NYC for Free Concert

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 11, 2013 03:53 PM

IBM may have made a TV star of Watson, but can he rock? GE's brilliant Brilliant Machines campaign touting the power of the Industrial Internet has spawned Compressorhead—a band of robots that will be performing live in New York's Union Square on Tuesday, Nov. 12. The indie band with its own Facebook and Twitter presence was conceived in partnership with BBDO New York. Now they're being brought to life in a free concert scheduled to run from 1:00 p.m. through 8:00 p.m.

Hailing from Germany (as GE's blog post quipped, "Move over, Kraftwerk"), Compressorhead is comprised of three 5 foot tall humanoids—drummer Stickboy, bassist Bones and lead/rhythm Fingers—rendered from scrap metal, with heavy metal music such as Pantera covers via Midi, and moves aided by electro-pneumatics.Continue reading...

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