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City of Detroit, Residents Face Uncertain Future After Record Bankruptcy Filing

Posted by Dale Buss on July 19, 2013 01:09 PM

The City of Detroit, its leaders and workers and residents in tow, opened a door to their future as emergency manager Kevyn Orr filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the Motor City on Thursday.

Michigan's largest city became the biggest US municipality to file for bankruptcy after decades of population loss, endemic infrastructure decline, inept management, struggles with its suburbs, national image problems and other woes that left Detroit too poor to pay its billions of dollars in debts to bondholders, retired cops, current city workers and other creditors.

Despite more recent investments by national retailers and a hopeful "comeback" campaign—not to mention Chrysler's "Imported From Detroit" civic pride-filled campaign—the city's fate was written in stone. 

The filing "is an emotional and cultural nadir that is tear-inducing and gut-wrenching," wrote Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, in a typical sentiment. "Bankruptcy is the bottom of a tremendous, Roman-empire-like slide for one of the world's most significant locales."Continue reading...


The Week in China: VW Nostalgia, Kung Fu Chili Pepper, McDonald's Mega Fries and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on May 17, 2013 01:46 PM

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's the week's reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: VW gets nostalgic... Luxury brands suffer... Starbucks canbalizes itself... Apple "ruins" family life... Translating cat app... Tencent profits... BYD... Let Li... Dutch infant formula... What Taobao can tell you about breast size... McDonald's McCafe absurdity... Face toothpaste... What a poorly made $30 hamburger reveals about China's middle class... and more.Continue reading...

place branding

Scranton Says Goodbye to "The Office," but Hopes Tourism Benefits Stay

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 6, 2013 03:36 PM

Before NBC’s The Office hit the airwaves nine seasons ago, the folks of Scranton, Penn., were a little weary about a sitcom calling the coal-mining town home. After all, as the Scranton Times Tribune points out, the city had been the butt of jokes on All in the Family, Friends, and The Sopranos. The Championship Season, the 1973 Pulitzer winner for Drama about a high school championship team in Scranton that gets together 20 years later, doesn’t exactly leave theatergoers feeling like they want to rush off to visit the place.

Now, the series that focuses on the employees of the Dunder Mifflin paper company is coming to a close and Scrantonites seem to be pleased with how the series gave “a steady supply of residual pop culture cachet.” That cachet won’t come to an end when the series airs its final episode on May 16. It’ll fade with time, but Office love is probably at its peak in Scranton right about now, especially after the show’s cast members, writers and creative team paid a visit this past weekend as part of a big “Wrap Party,” Entertainment Weekly reports.

Along with them came about 10,000 fans who wanted to celebrate the legacy of the sitcom. The stars of the show were paraded through town, signed autographs with fans, sang old tunes to the adoring masses and sat through an extended Q&A.Continue reading...

place branding

Philadelphia Goes Local for New Tourism Campaign

Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 10, 2013 01:47 PM

Benjamin Franklin, Dr. J and the fictional Rocky Balboa have all resided in completely different versions of Philadelphia, but each showcases a different part of the City of Brotherly Love. Now, Philly’s tourism gurus are looking to showcase a slew of different views of the city to potential visitors by showcasing different neighborhoods.

It used to be that colonial-America relics, the Art Museum steps and images of soft pretzels and cheesesteaks were what sold Philly to outsiders, but consumers are a bit more discerning now, so Philly’s tourism board is using its varied neighborhoods to help draw people there. The city has launched its Philadelphia Neighborhoods site, which highlights 14 different areas of the city. According to a press release, the site features “600 new pages of content, photography, mapping, videos and a consumer-generated Instagram feed.”Continue reading...

place branding

Detroit, This Just Might Be Your Day

Posted by Dale Buss on April 5, 2013 01:37 PM

Spring is springing in Detroit, and the poster child for urban decay is beginning to sing a new song about hope, renewal and pride.

Consider what's going on in the Motor City just today: The Detroit Tigers are playing their home opener of the 2013 season as the favorite to win the American League and the pick of many to win the World Series after last year's flop against the San Francisco Giants. Demand is surging for Tigers licensed merchandise as fans at home and abroad sense this might just be the team's year, with superstar pitcher Justin Verlander signed to a mammoth new contract.

The nearby University of Michigan takes on Syracuse this weekend in its first Final Four appearance in March Madness since the Fab Five team 20 years ago.Continue reading...

uphill battles

Detroit Hires Emergency Manager With Chrysler Turnaround Chops

Posted by Dale Buss on March 15, 2013 11:08 AM

Just a couple of days after seeing its former mayor trundled off to jail in a conspiracy conviction, Detroit is considering whether to rally behind a new emergency manager appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

Kevyn Orr became Detroit's emergency financial manager this week, sharing a dais on Thursday not only with Snyder but, significantly, with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who has graciously partnered with Snyder and other state officials in the top-down takeover of a Motor City that Bing had hoped to turn around.

Orr is a 54-year-old, "high-powered Washington, D.C., lawyer," according to the Detroit Free Press, and University of Michigan graduate who worked on Chrysler's 2009 bankruptcy restructuring in his role at the Jones Day legal firm—a background that helped him land the job, and will give him what he'll need to tackle the unparalleled woes of Detroit. His new role will also him a $275,000 fee for spending the next 18 months trying to solve the financial puzzle that is Detroit.

"This is the Olympics of restructuring," said Orr to the Detroit Free Press. "Bankruptcy's been my stock in trade for the past several decades."Continue reading...

license to thrill

Headed to Malibu? Don't Forget Your Branded Volleyball

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 8, 2013 11:01 AM

With its most famous resident putting a "For Sale" sign in her front yard, the city of Malibu, California, is looking for new ways to attract tourists and boost income. 

CNBC reports that Malibu has signed a deal with Excel Corp. in order to start “licensing apparel, active wear, and even things like sunglasses, watches, and volleyballs” with the extra money going to “fund special projects.”

The city is forking over $90,000 for Excel to design a logo and find licensees.Continue reading...

super bowl

Making Out Well: Ferrell's Old Milwaukee Ad Airs Regionally, But Spreads Virally

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 5, 2013 11:59 AM

While many brands paid as much as $4 million to air a Super Bowl ad, one figured out a way to get a lot of attention for much less.

Old Milwaukee aired an ad during the game featuring mustachioed comedian Will Ferrell in an extended kiss with a fellow bus passenger — but only in three tiny markets: Sherman, Tex.; Ardmore, Okla., and Glendive, Mont.

It wasn't immediately clear what the residents of those locales thought of "their" Super Bowl spot. But given its high-profile smoocher, it has resulted in the brewer getting a decent amount of attention compared to the brands that shelled out big bucks to have their ad seen by the huge Super Bowl viewing audience. USA Today, Yahoo!, and other highly watched media outlets had written about the Ferrell spot. 

Ferrell’s ad had received more than 1.5 million YouTube views by midday Tuesday, and seemed to be posted online only by fans of the ad itself. (Budweiser's popular Super Bowl ad featuring the adventures of a young Clydesdale had received more than 9 million by that point, but spent a comparative fortune.)Continue reading...

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