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media brands

Vice Grows Up by Hiring a Sheryl Sandberg of its Own

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 17, 2014 11:36 AM

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has admitted that hiring Sheryl Sandberg as COO helped the company grow up. Now Vice Media CEO Shane Smith is hoping to do the same.

Vice Media has hired former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco as COO, starting in the job in January.

“We operate on a kind of free-flowing-quasi-hierarchical-non-traditional-management structure that just sort of happened over the year," stated Vice co-founder and CEO Shane Smith. "It's essentially a cult, and thus a nightmare for most status-quo managers.” 

Vice, which started life as a free street magazine with a punkish attitude in Canada, is a clear leader in global youth media and online video content and their digital channels cover all the bases of pop culture including Noisey, a music discovery channel; The Creators Project, dedicated to arts and creativity with backing from Intel; a new digital content platform with Live Nation; and an Emmy award-winning series with HBO that made headlines by bringing Dennis Rodman to North Korea. Continue reading...

media brands

The New Cosmo Makes Women's Brains an Erogenous Zone

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 16, 2014 03:13 PM

Cosmopolitan has come a long way since Helen Gurley Brown urged young women to stop being mouseburgers, put on high heels and roar. The magazine and its digital properties are no longer just fun tips on style and sex, shorthand for how to please your man and look fabulous doing it.

Today’s Cosmo also has stories on reproductive healthcare and equal pay, and in May, won a national magazine award for an in-depth (12-page) story on contraception. 

The changes came with Joanna Coles assuming editor-in-chief duties in 2012 and turning the wheel towards politics and the modern business woman. 

"I have no problem understanding that women are interested in mascara and the Middle East," the outspoken British magazine veteran (and occasional Project Runway judge) said in an NPR interview this week.Continue reading...

political brands

Political Branding 101: Millennials Crave Inspiration, Not Emoji Messaging

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 16, 2014 11:01 AM

It's not just brand marketers who are trying to better understand and reach Millennials. Politicans, naturally, are trying to figure them out, too. While First Lady Michelle Obama is killing it on Vine and Twitter, President Obama is finding it harder to connect with kids his daughters' ages and slightly older. 

Case in point: last week the White House released a report, "15 Economic Facts About Millennials," while the President traveled to Los Angeles to speak at a shared workspace for start-ups and VC. He called millennials “the best-educated, the most diverse, the most digitally fluent generation of adults in American history.” Yet his report was scattered with emojis as a winking way to connect kids into the subject of the infographic-style report, which struck some as pandering to millennials. The report was re-released, without emojis, following complaints.

Long gone are the days when political parties could count on kids to, MTV-style, Rock the Vote. Even though today's Millennials are the largest generation in US history and the more likely to vote Democratic, their enthusiasm and support for the President and his party have waned. A recent poll conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that less than one-quarter of 18-29 year-olds committed to vote in November. 

If politicians want to engage Millennials, don't give them emojis—give them substance, authenticity and a voice.Continue reading...

diversity watch

US Supreme Court Finally Catches Up to Brands on Marriage Equality

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 6, 2014 03:51 PM

In a surprise ruling on Monday, the US Supreme Court announced it will not over-rule lower court rulings, effective legalizing same-sex marriage in 30 states.

SCOTUS, it seems, is finally catching up with brand marketers, who have been ahead of the curve on the issue by embracing greater family diversity in their advertising and marketing.

Case in point: Cheerios, the General Mills-owned brand that has boldly taken a pro-gay stance for some time now, and not just in the US.Continue reading...

sip on this

Big Soda Shrinks Calories, Pushes Personal Responsibility

Posted by Dale Buss on September 24, 2014 05:13 PM

Soda marketers have been fighting gradual declines in US soft drink consumption for several years now. But with the imprimatur of the Clinton Global Initiative, which is meeting this week in New York in tandem with the UN General Assembly, the big three soda-makers behind the American Beverage Association (ABA) have decided to wrap a calorie-reduction PR campaign and associated pledges around this seemingly inexorable trend.

Under the auspices of the organization founded by former President Bill Clinton, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group this week pledged to reduce beverage calories consumed per person by 20 percent nationally by 2025. Such calorie consumption already has dropped by about 12.4 percent between 2000 and last year, and 23 percent for carbonated drinks alone, estimated Beverage Digest.

In a collective statement issued by the ABA, top industry leaders gathered at the CGI meeting and pledged "engage in consumer education and outreach efforts to increase consumer awareness of and interest in the wide array of no- and lower-calorie beverages and smaller portion sizes available."

Under the banner of the Balanced Calories Initiative, the beverage industry leaders will put special emphasis on promoting reduced-calorie beverages in highly-trafficked sections of stores, such as checkout areas, and in communities (such as the president's birthplace of Little Rock, Ark., and the greater Los Angeles area) where purchases of low- and no-calorie soda drinks track behind the national average.Continue reading...


Business, World Leaders Urged to Walk Their Talk at UN Climate Summit

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 23, 2014 06:15 PM

During the kick-off to the United Nations Climate Summit on Tuesday, business leaders and political leaders vowed to action plans on behalf of their companies or countries. Commitments made to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the General Assembly included, on the corporate side:

IKEA announced it's expanding the availability of residential solar panels from the UK to the Netherlands and Switzerland and six additional countries and also unveiled "a new commitment for all plastic material used in its home furnishing products to be 100% renewable and/or recycled by 2020."

Mondelez International Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld "joined world leaders at the UN Climate Summit to announce the first global timeline to slow and then end forest loss. The New York Declaration on Forests strives to cut forest loss in half by 2020, and end it by 2030—and also calls for restoring at least 350 million hectares of degraded forest lands by 2030, an area greater than the size of India." She also pledged "new support for the UNDP Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil Platform."

• In all, 39 major companies (incuding Walmart, Unilever and McDonald's) and 32 countries (but not, alarmingly, Brazil) signed the Declaration on Forests, including Asia Pulp and Paper, whose longtime foe Greenpeace welcomed the Declaration but also urged that voluntary action not replace government action.Continue reading...

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...

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