brand strategy

Yes or No, Scotland's Vote for Independence Will Affect Brands

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 12, 2014 03:21 PM

Great Britain may get a little less great on Sept. 18 if the citizens of Scotland vote to secede in the Scottish Independence Referendum that day, setting the stage to bid farewell to England, Wales and Northern Ireland and exit the United Kingdom. A vote for separation will certainly bring massive changes for the Scots, and it will also mean big changes for the businesses and brands that operate within Scotland's borders.

While Scotland's “Yes” campaign, the independence movement sponsored by a handful of the country's political parties, has been gaining steam—especially among younger voters, thanks to savvy #indyref social marketing—there have been more than a few brands that have expressed concern over the potential secession should the referendum result in divorce.

Those behind the “no” vote have been criticized for “Better Together,” a campaign that, despite its name, is perceived by some as fear-mongering, Ad Age reports. The commercial below was mocked as the "patronising BT Lady" when it was released in late August in a bid to sway undecided women voters.Continue reading...

brand ambassadors

Inspiration Behind Aunt Jemima Brand at the Heart of $2 Billion Lawsuit

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 11, 2014 06:37 PM

Aunt Jemima stares down from grocery-store shelves with a beatific smile, but the woman who is supposedly the inspiration behind the brand has at least one great grandchild who isn’t too happy.

Last year, the progeny of Anna Short Harrington, whose descendants argue that she was the inspiration behind the Aunt Jemima brand and recipe and whose likeness served as the model for the brand, which was bought by Quaker Oats in 1935, discovered that the company “had trademarked Harrington's likeness and picture in 1937" and "determined that they were owed royalties,” Reuters reports.

Harrington's great-grandson, D.W. Hunter, filed a $2 billion lawsuit on August 5 against Quaker Oats Co., PepsiCo, which owns Quaker Oats, Pinnacle Foods and Hillshire Brands Co., for exploiting Harrington's image and recipe for years without paying an "equitable fair share of royalties" to her family.Continue reading...

app watch

Buycott Becomes Central Figure in Gaza Conflict Thanks to Conscious Consumers

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 11, 2014 02:02 PM

Social activism has reached new heights thanks to Buycott, an app that helps consumers avoid products that are produced with sensitive materials or in controversial areas. 

But the app, which is immensely popular in Europe, has found new life in the heat of the Israel-Gaza conflict. On the app, groups like "Avoid Israeli Settlement Products" and "Long Live Palestine, Boycott Israel" are cropping up, some with upwards of 200,000 shoppers scanning product barcodes to avoid making purchases with any link to the conflict. 

“I noticed three weeks ago that we were seeing an unusual spike in traffic, but there hadn’t been any articles written about the app or Israel campaigns,” Ivan Pardo, founder and CEO of Buycott, told Forbes. “Next thing I knew Buycott was a top 10 app in the UK and Netherlands, and #1 in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Word was spreading through social media.”

The group "Long Live Palestine Boycott Israel" lists 49 brands to avoid, including Sabra, the maker of the No. 1 selling hummus in the US, which is jointly owned by Israeli company Strauss and PepsiCo. It also points a finger at SodaStream, which has continued to operate in the West Bank despite attacks on the brand. The group says it functions as a "peaceful means of putting international pressure on the state of Israel."Continue reading...

nation brands

Brand USA Weathers Washington Turbulence, Advances in the House

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 18, 2014 10:01 AM

US Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), once the Republican vice-presidential candidate way back in 2012, did not win himself many fans in the travel industry in April when he showed off the House Republican Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Resolution and it didn’t contain one blessed penny for Brand USA, the public-private partnership that launched in 2012 and helps market America to foreign visitors and the travel industry around the world.

“This budget recommends ending these subsidies and eliminating the new agency because it is not a core responsibility of the federal government to pay for and conduct advertising campaigns for any industry. Moreover, the travel industry can and should pay for the advertising that it benefits from," the document stated, according to Travel Weekly.

Ryan, apparently, did not have enough support this time around, either, because the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week unanimously approved legislation that will fund Brand USA again, Travel Weekly notes. Some changes were made dealing with oversight but the organization still receives essentially the same $100 million chunk of change.Continue reading...

health matters

Four Years Later, FLOTUS' Let's Move Turns Focus to Food Marketing in Schools

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 26, 2014 03:11 PM

In celebration of the fourth anniversary of her Let's Move movement, First Lady Michelle Obama is pressing forward on her ambitions to curb junk food marketing to kids. In an announcement with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Obama introduced a proposal to ban advertising of sodas and unhealthy snacks in public schools. 

"Our classrooms should be healthy places where kids are not bombarded with ads for junk food," Obama said at a White House event, according to NBC. 

Vilsack said the new rules eliminate marketing for products that can’t be sold in schools. "If you can't sell it, you ought not to be able to market it," noting that companies spend $149 million a year marketing food and drinks to kids in public schools.

According to the FCC, the heaviest marketers are candy and snack food manufacturers and beverage companies and fast-food chains, offering enticements like coupons for pizza for reading books. Still, only two states, California and Connecticut, have banned sodas and junk food from public schools, the former in 2005 and the latter in 2006.Continue reading...

brand targets

Brands Come Out in Force Against Discriminatory Arizona Legislation

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 25, 2014 07:20 PM

A growing firestorm fueled by social media is brewing around Arizona's proposed bill SB 1062, which would permit businesses to refuse service on religious grounds, a measure activists and a growing list of corporations see as "state-sanctioned discrimination" against gays.

Companies from AT&T and Apple to Marriott, Delta and American Airlines, along with Arizona’s two Republican US Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, are now taking a stand and asking Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the bill. The request from Apple comes as it prepares to open a new sapphire glass manufacturing plant in Mesa which would create about 700 full-time jobs and join its five stores already in Arizona.

Bill SB1062 is similar to measures proposed in Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi and Kansas in response to the growing gay marriage movement that 17 states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized.

Reaction against the proposed bill is growing so strong that the measure passed last week is prompting tourists to cancel travel plans and has companies threatening to relocate.

“There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far,” Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, wrote to Brewer, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “Our economy thrives best when the doors of commerce are open to all,” he wrote.Continue reading...


UAW Looks for Silver Lining After Crushing Defeat at Volkswagen's Tennessee Plant

Posted by Dale Buss on February 17, 2014 12:33 PM

Kill the crescendo that was building toward the unfurling of the United Auto Workers banner over Chattanooga, Tenn. Workers at the Volkswagen plant have crushed the union's latest attempt to organize a Southern auto plant and have left the UAW brand tattered and forlorn in the process.

Union hopes were high heading into last Friday's vote at the plant because Volkswagen had decided not to oppose UAW efforts to organize the plant as long as the union agreed, if ensconced there, to establish a German-style "works council" in Tennessee like those at plants in Germany. But the UAW couldn't even win with the skids greased as Chattanooga workers rejected UAW membership by a vote of 712-626.

Union officials and liberal pundits heaped ample blame on the opposition of conservative politicians within Tennessee and elsewhere, who didn't want to see a deterioration of the region's anti-union advantages.

But there were no politicians campaigning in the plant, and VW cleared a path for union organizers to maximize favorable turnout. So now in the wake of the loss, it's fair to ask as Bloomberg Businessweek did, "If the UAW couldn't win this one, what can they win?" As the publication put it, "The defeat creates an enormous obstacle to labor's ambition to organize at other foreign-owned plants in the South."Continue reading...

event marketing

Treading Carefully, Brands Head to Vegas for a Different Kind of Show

Posted by Abe Sauer on January 17, 2014 07:32 PM

CES wasn't the only big trade show to take over Las Vegas this month.

The hordes of tech-loving geeks that took over the city earlier this month have been replaced by a flock of Duck Dynasty-loving show-goers at an event wrapping up today: the 16th largest annual trade show in the United States, with 12.5 miles of exhibitors accounting for a multi-billion dollar industry with a lucrative lifestyle attendance that has gone from just 5,600 in 1979 to a record 630,000 last year.

Brand sponsors, however, have tread lightly this year to court attendees. That's because the US National Shooting Sports Foundation's Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, better known as the NSSF SHOT Show, has had a rough go of it in the past year. Indeed, its 2013 trade show took place just a month after the tragic 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn.

Several longtime, non-firearm industry partners begged off partnerships this year, citing the show's heavy presence and promotion of the kind of "assault" rifle used at the Newtown incident.Continue reading...

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