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political brands

Clever Advertising Can't Rescue Obamacare On Its Own—But It's Trying

Posted by Dale Buss on November 14, 2013 12:49 PM

As President Obama addressed the growing travails of Obamacare today, the marketing juggernaut for the troubled Affordable Care Act has continued. Not surprisingly, a lot of the ads—some from state-run health-insurance exchanges and allies that are carrying the load for local Obamacare rollout—are targeting the Millennial generation.

Younger, healthier Americans need to carrry the fiscal load for Obamacare if it's going to work out financially. But so far they're not biting much, just as most Americans have been slow to embrace coverage by signing on at HealthCare.gov. Less than 2 percent of the 7 million Americans federal officials expected to sign up for new health insurance under Obamacare actually did so in October. And so the President on Wednesday was at a press conference dealing with the political fallout.Continue reading...

brands that go bang

Guy Fawkes: The Anti-Establishment Brand Takes On a Whole New Face

Posted by Barry Silverstein on November 6, 2013 02:02 PM

Election Day may have been an off-year for American voters, but in cities around the world, a different kind of public display was taking place on November 5.

Spurred on by the hacking collective, Anonymous, a "Million Mask March" occurred in some 450 cities to protest government corruption and economic inequality. It's believed to be the first time Anonymous went beyond what had been primarily online activism to encourage a public protest in the streets. The event's website indicated the Million Mask March was a "Call for Anonymous, WikiLeaks, The Pirate Party, Occupy and Oath Keepers to Unite Marchers, Occupiers, Whistleblowers and Hacktivists."

Most of the protesters at events in such cities as Amsterdam, London, Mumbai, and Washington, D.C. were wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, which depicts a somewhat unsettling chalky white face, adorned with a slim mustache/goatee and a devilish smile. While November 5, Guy Fawkes Day, is a British remembrance of a guy who many might consider a terrorist (in 1605, he tried to blow up the English Parliament in his support of Catholicism), he has become, quite literally, the face of modern-day anti-establishment protests. In the past few years, for example, it has shown up on the faces of Occupy Wall Street protesters, and earlier this year, it was worn by Bahraini protestors. Recently, the mask has appeared at protests against NSA surveillance.Continue reading...

afternoon snack

Starbucks Looks to Influence Political Hang-Up, but It Should Probably Finish Fighting its Own Battles First

Posted by Dale Buss on October 9, 2013 06:27 PM

"Pay It Forward," meet "Open It Back Up." Starbucks—which rarely misses a zeitgeist-related marketing ploy—is offering a free tall cup of coffee to any patron who buys a drink for another customer, in what CEO Howard Schultz somehow intends to translate into a moral example for those responsible for the federal government curtailment in Washington, D.C.

Schultz previously has tilted at budget-deficit gridlock in Washington and spoke out in support of gay marriage in various ways associated with the iconic brand. This time, he said, Starbucks aims to push citizens to "support and connect with one another, even as we wait for our elected officials to do the same for our country." No word on why he believes that Americans haven't already been supporting and connecting with one another.

Anyway, such exhortations are just one way that Schultz has been moving Starbucks way beyond its original java base since he shored the chain up a few years ago.Continue reading...


Madonna Hopes 'Secret Project' Will Promote Expression, End Oppression

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 4, 2013 05:22 PM

Ever in the limelight, these days Madonna is increasingly using her celebrity stature for social activism, with her latest initiative introduced via a 17-minute film, Secret Project Revolution. The film unveils the star's Art for Freedom project—a initiative that serves to elevate any and all forms of expression.

"My goal is to show by the example of secretprojectrevolution my creative commitment to inspire change in the world through artistic expression," Madonna said, according to USA Today. "I hope my film and other submissions to Art For Freedom will be a call-to-action and give people a place to voice their own creative expression to help fight oppression, intolerance and complacency."

In partnership with VICE Magazine and BitTorrent, the public art initiative will live online and be open to submissions worldwide, which will aim to answer the questions, "What does freedom mean to you?" Submissions via social media can be tagged with #ArtForFreedom.Continue reading...

media and politics

Food Marketers Convene in Washington as First Lady Continues Health Crusade

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 19, 2013 07:46 PM

Michelle Obama is shamelessly using the power of her pulpit in the best tradition of Dolley Madison, Eleanor Roosevelt and Hilary Clinton, among others. 

The First Lady convened a White House summit that focused on food marketing to kids—a move in line with her ongoing Let's Move initiative and support of healthy food consumption. Members of the media and entertainment executives, food industry representatives and public interest group leaders gathered to discuss curbing junk food ads and restricting iconic kids' TV characters from appearing in spots for unhealthy products.  

“I’m here today with one simple request and that is to do even more and move even faster to market responsibly to our kids,” and to “empower parents instead of undermining them," Obama said in an address to attendeesContinue reading...

brand challenges

Walmart Ready to Re-Up Plans After D.C. Mayor Vetoes "Living Wage" Bill

Posted by Dale Buss on September 12, 2013 04:47 PM

Walmart has won a huge victory for its business model, brand and worldview with the vetoing of the "living wage" bill today by Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray.

The Large Retailer Accountability Act, nicknamed a living-wage measure, would have mandated that big-box stores like Walmart pay about 50 percent more to their workers inside the District than the city's minimum wage, or about $12.50 compared with $8.25.

Walmart, along with other big-box retailers and business allies argued that the measure would actually hurt economic development and income in the city by forcing Walmart's withdrawal from its existing store development plans there and eliminating thousands of existing and potential jobs in some economically depressed zones. 

The company argued that its absence would further harm low-income residents by depriving them of the low prices that the retailer and others specialize in. There's also the argument about fresh-produce "deserts" in central cities that, in part, are being filled in by new Walmarts.Continue reading...

political brands

Standard & Poor's Takes On Ultimate Heavyweight, Countering Uncle Sam Suit

Posted by Dale Buss on September 4, 2013 03:51 PM

If you're going to trade punches with Uncle Sam, you'd better be able to pack a wallop. It isn't clear yet if Standard & Poor's Ratings Services will prove to bring a haymaker in its new action against the federal government, but it clearly is engaged in a heavyweight fight.

To wit: S&P has sued the government because the feds filed a $5 billion lawsuit against S&P in what S&P is calling "retaliation" for the company's downgrade of America's debt in 2011. The United States had accused S&P of misrepresenting its rating process in the years before the financial crisis to federally insured banks and credit unions that were buying debt, a charge that S&P has called "meritless."

Now S&P, a unit of McGraw-Hill Cos., alleges that the governent's suit amounts to an attempt to breach free speech, which a Justice Department spokeswoman called a "preposterous" charge, according to the Wall Street Journal. So the sides can be considered even in their "well-I-never" rhetoric.Continue reading...

see you in court

New York State AG Sues Trump Over Phony School, but The Donald Won't Go Quietly

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 26, 2013 05:37 PM

Billy Crystal once joked that Donald Trump was the only person who could look at the New York City skyline and say, “Got it. Got it. Ain’t got it. Got it. Need it. Got it." Nowadays, though, the business magnate known for his strong personality (and other, whispier things) seems to pile up problems as quickly as real-estate deals.

His latest is a lawsuit from New York state’s attorney general, who is seeking $40 million in damages after over 5,000 people paid money to learn Trump's business acumen at his Trump Entrepreneur Institute, once known as Trump University (before it was discredited as such).Continue reading...

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