brand inspiration

On Eve of World Cup and AGM, McDonald's Taps Consumers for Input

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 21, 2014 02:20 PM

Coming off another disappointing quarter of sales, the "McScary" mascot launch and on the eve of its always feisty annual general meeting, McDonald's is turning up the volume on consumer engagement in order to tune in to what fans want from the world's biggest quick serve restaurant brand. 

Building on the user-generated content trend that's been tapped by Coca-Cola for its "Ahh Effect" campaign, as well as Airbnb, Canon and other brands, McDonald's UK is asking the public to weigh in on its newest burger. Mixing and matching 80 different possible ingredients, consumers can design the burger of their dreams on the MyBurger website and then vote on others' submissions. The top 12 will be judged and the winning combos will be sold for a limited time in 1,200 restaurants across the UK.

"Customization and digital engagement are becoming an integral part of how consumers interact with companies and we want to continue to innovate as a brand," Alistair Macrow, SVP and chief marketing officer of McDonald’s UK, told Marketing Magazine.Continue reading...

brand and bottle

New Booze in Old Bottles: Alcohol Goes Retro for Eternal Cool Factor

Posted by Taylor Goddu on May 20, 2014 01:23 PM

A psychological phenomenon regarded as “the mere-exposure effect” suggests that people tend to gravitate towards the familiar. Taking something old and making it new is trendy—even fashionable—in this eco-friendly world of ours. Established brands are returning to their roots, mining their archives by reintroducing iconic products with a modern twist. 

Even new booze brands are harkening back to the good old days, whether in name, design, or messaging. This strategy makes the new feel more familiar—and desirable. With a consistent focus on artisanal qualities, newer brands are standing out by deploying vintage typography, line-base logos, bright colors, and more simplistic packaging techniques.

With a business model that would be at home in Portlandia, The Mason Shaker is tipping one back. Founded in 2012 by best friends with southern roots, this Brooklyn-based brand developed a 4-piece cocktail shaker set featuring the iconic Americana jam jar. This update on a product that was patented in 1858 feels refreshingly simple for sudsy occasions.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Is Your Brand To Dye For? From Food to Clothing, Consumers are Concerned

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 15, 2014 12:39 PM

Thanks to food coloring, sometimes a pasta may look a bit too orange or an icing's blue may be scarily perfect, but consumers have never known just how much of the food dye they've been ingesting along with their culinary delights.

While headlines such as the FCC targeting caramel food coloring in cola beverages may raise alarms, the average consumer remains, for the most part, unaware of how much food coloring they're consuming every day.

Purdue University researcher Laura Stevens aims to change that with a new study published in Clinical Pediatrics that gives the lowdown on just how much food dye is in a number of big beverage and food brands.Continue reading...


Dell Wraps It Up—Sustainably

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 9, 2014 06:02 PM

Dell is best known for manufacturing computers, but its growing commitment to sustainability across its entire supply chain makes the brand a leader in the greening of corporate responsibility.

Back in 2010, the company set the tone by shipping its servers in mushroom packaging, a complement to the brand’s innovations in bamboo packaging, which is used to cushion lightweight products and all laptops produced in China. The brand's latest packaging concept—natural wheat straw—could even help solve some of the world's greater environmental concerns like air pollution in China. 

The advances in sustainable packaging are all part of Dell's 2020 Legacy of Good Plan that focuses on the environment, communities and people. 

"Successful, innovative companies tend to aspire to a greater purpose that goes beyond the bottom line," wrote Chairman and CEO, Michael S. Dell. "At Dell, we have always believed that technology should be about enabling human potential ... By 2020, we expect to reduce the energy intensity of our product portfolio by 80 percent, use only packaging that is 100 percent compostable or recyclable, and rally our global workforce to give 5 million volunteer hours to the communities we call home."Continue reading...

chew on this

Yes We Can: U.S. Canning Industry Gets Cooking to Woo Millennials

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 8, 2014 05:36 PM

Baby Boomers are skipping a generation and handing their power position over to Millennials—at least in the food department. According to, Millennials and Hispanics will be the driving force behind America's eating behaviors in the next five years while the Boomers' numbers continue to dwindle. 

NPD Group's "The Future of Eating: Who's Eating What in 2018?" report indicates that both Millennials and the members of "Generation Z" (0 to 23-year-olds) would like to have "more involvement—not necessarily more complexity—in preparing their meals, especially at breakfast." Growing interests in food preparation follow the all-natural eating trends that still dominate the market.

But the NPD research is only adding to the uphill battle that canned goods makers—and more specifically, those who make the cans—are fighting.

The Canned Food Alliance, a consortium with the American Iron and Steel Institute that includes steel makers and can manufacturers, is hoping to give canned foods a reputation boost after food-can shipments have declined 14 percent in the last decade, according to Reuters.Continue reading...

kiddie brands

Transformers Toys Go Back to Their Roots Ahead of Fourth Film

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 22, 2014 08:14 PM

In the three decades that Transformer toys have been on the market, they've inspired three big-budget Hollywood blockbusters and inspired hundreds of merchandising endeavors.

But the toys as they were orginally imagined—the ones that actually transformed from a vehicle to a robot with a few simple moves—aren’t around anymore. The transformation process, it seems, is now extremely complicated. Some may disagree, but the instruction booklets for today’s Transformers are much more involved than when it was first released. 

So Hasbro CEO Brian D. Goldner has decided to restore the toy back to its simpler days in honor of its 30th anniversary.Continue reading...

chew on this

General Mills Drops GMOs from Original Cheerios After Consumer Outcry

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 3, 2014 01:57 PM

So long, Cheeri-GMOs. In a victory for anti-GMO proponents and outspoken consumers, General Mills has stopped using genetically modified ingredients in Original Cheerios. The raging debate pits critics who cite the dangers of genetically modified crops against those who say there is no scientific consensus on the issue. 

Exactly a month before the brand makes its Super Bowl debut on Feb. 2, General Mills VP Tom Forsythe stated in a blog post dated Jan. 2 that the decision wasn’t driven by critics or safety concerns, but by consumer demand.

"It's not about safety," he wrote. "Biotech seeds, also known as genetically modified seeds, have been approved by global food safety agencies and widely used by farmers in global food crops for almost 20 years." 

His post also clarified the cereal's GMO content:Continue reading...

cocktail hour

All the News You Can Drink: Jack Daniel’s Bottle Battle, Johnnie Walker Wears Gold, Molson's Weather Intuition and more

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 25, 2013 07:17 PM

Jack Daniel’s Launches Bottle Battle with Little Whiskey Brand

When liquor buyers go looking for a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, they know what they’re looking for: a squared-off chunk of glass with the black label and the trusty No. 7. The famed distiller, though, is a bit concerned that shoppers are going to be confused by a new whiskey on the shelf: Popcorn Sutton's Tennessee White Whiskey.

Sutton’s originally marketed its whiskey in Mason jars in honor of the moonshiner who created it, but the brand switched its packaging recently to a bottle that is “square shaped with angled shoulders and beveled corners, with white-on-black labeling color schemes,” the Associated Press reports. The lawyers at Jack Daniel’s have taken notice and filed suit, claiming they've cornered the market on square whiskey.Continue reading...

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