Best Global Green Brands 2014

executive decision

Target Brand Hangs In Balance As Board Ousts CEO

Posted by Dale Buss on May 5, 2014 12:39 PM

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel fell—or was pushed onto—his sword today with a statement by the company's board of directors that he is leaving his post as president and CEO. But the recent diminution of the Target brand won't be as easily fixed as just showing the door to the 35-year veteran of the retailer.

Not long ago the brand carried a strongly innovative vibe that differentiated the discounter from Walmart and other dowdier retail marques, relying on a strong stable of private-label designers, clean store layouts and clever marketing to achieve the cut above its rivals. And results showed this success. Steinhafel, CEO of Target since 2008, presided over much of it.

But the massive data breach during the Christmas holidays last year rocked the company, badly denting its sales at the time, taking a bite out of its reputation, adding to shoppers' insecurity with the brand, and still plaguing Target as it faces a cost of $100 million for overhauling payment security.

The Target board, which stepped up its quarterly meetings to monthly in the wake of the data breach, felt that Steinhafel hadn't done enough to prevent such a debacle and hadn't done enough since it occurred to rectify things.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Visa, MasterCard Team Up to Push for Better Credit Data Protections

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 10, 2014 06:42 PM

As more information and new reports of data hacks continue to pour in, striking major retailers like Target, Neiman Marcus and others, the US is becoming increasingly aware of the many dangers associated with using debit and credit cards

MasterCard and Visa, whose businesses are eroded every time a consumer’s information is stolen, have decided to take action and are leading an effort to form a “cross-industry group to improve security for card transactions and press US retailers and banks to meet a 2015 deadline to adopt technology that would make it safer to pay with plastic,” Reuters reports.

Other members of the group include credit unions, banks, retailers, and industry trade associations, which are initially pushing for the implementation of technology already used in Europe and Asia—EMV cards—which “store information on computer chips rather than on traditional magnetic strips, making them harder to counterfeit,” according to the wire service.Continue reading...

get creative

Oreo Feeds the Beat During Day One of SXSW 2014

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 7, 2014 06:49 PM

SXSW 2014 kicked off today in Austin, Texas, with the festival's film portion expected to attract 30,000 people alone. 

The interactive festival, better known as the launching pad for Twitter and Foursquare, has become "a living, breathing manifestation of the Internet where you can get all kinds of different inputs and all kinds of different ways of information and put them all together and somehow come out slightly better at the end of the whole experience," Hugh Forrest, the festival's interactive director, told NPR. 

This year's festival is a cultural mélange with a line-up that includes Edward Snowden, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Julian Assange and feline Internet sensation Grumpy Cat, as well as musical acts including Lady Gaga. Speakers include Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and SVP Sundar Pichai, as well as Dell CEO Michael Dell.Continue reading...

get creative

SXSW '14 Preview: Snowden, Gaga and Nye, Oh My!

Posted by Barry Silverstein on March 6, 2014 06:20 PM

Each year, it seems SXSW (South By South West) gets more and more curious—and this year is no exception. Once dedicated to music, the 2014 SXSW festival, running from March 7 through 16 in Austin, Texas, now defines itself as "Music, Film, Interactive." Indeed, the festival has served as the launch pad for some of the market's most high-profile startups, including Foursquare. 

Beyond that, SXSW is a potpourri of personalities, popular trends and brands vying for attention. Indeed, last year's extravaganza was a "feeding ground for viral campaigns and unique marketing stunts." This year? Well, you can expect more of the same—just amped up a few notches.

In fact, SXSW 2014 may end up being known for notoriety. None other than the world's most infamous whistleblower, Edward Snowden, will speak on March 10 via teleconference. He'll be conversing with Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "on the impact of the NSA's spying efforts on the technology community, and the ways in which technology can help to protect us from mass surveillance," according to the festival's site.Continue reading...

media brands

Celebrity Parents Net a Win as Media Brands Commit to "No Kids" Photo Policy

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 28, 2014 03:39 PM

Following a grassroots campaign by actors and couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, People, Entertainment Tonight, NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Insider, E! News and Just Jared have sworn off publishing paparazzi photos of famous kids—an action that simultaneously invades their parents' privacy and exploits the children. 

Fed up with paparazzi snapping photos of their 11-month-old daughter, the celebrity couple took to social media in January to ask consumers to boycott magazines and media outlets that use "pedorazzi" photos.  

Shepard penned a blog post late last month, saying "We pray that one of the classier weeklies, like People, will enact a no-kids policy, and that they will be rewarded by the consumer for doing so,” Shepard wrote. “And we hope that leads to others following suit." 

Soon enough, Entertainment Tonight stepped forward, followed by People and Just Jared, a celebrity gossip site, and vowed to stop using the photos.Continue reading...

retail watch

With Lawsuits Piling Up, Target Takes Another Blow as Canada Fails to Catch On

Posted by Dale Buss on February 25, 2014 01:57 PM

There may finally be a silver lining to Target's continuing woes with its huge data breach late last year: The problems have managed to divert attention from another huge challenge to the chain as its massive invasion of the Canadian market is faltering.

Instead of reaching profitability by the end of last year, as Target had predicted, its multibillion-dollar expansion into Canada via 124 stores and growing produced a loss of $800 million to $900 million for 2013, noted the New York Times.

"The data breach seems to have come at a good time for them as they would have been answering questions" about the failure to get traction in Canada, Rob Wilson, a retail analyst at Tiburon Research Group, told the newspaper. "I've never seen a set of expectations that are so shockingly missed on a rollout."Continue reading...

privacy alert

Brands Win Initial Transparency Battle as US Government Agrees to More Disclosure

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 28, 2014 10:52 AM

Following months of back and forth after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed widespread data collection by the US National Security Agency, the US government and leading internet and communication companies have reached an agreement on what companies can disclose to consumers. 

Bowing to pressure from Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo over the controversial NSA Prism surveillance program, the government will now allow companies to reveal more details about the "administrative subpoenas" issued by the Justice Department that require tech companies to hand over reams of data on users. 

US Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a joint statement:

"The administration is acting to allow more detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers, and the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests including the underlying legal authorities. Permitting disclosure of this aggregate data resolves an important area of concern to communications providers and the public.”Continue reading...

brand revival

All Arrows Are Pointing Up for Microsoft as Ballmer Readies to Exit

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 27, 2014 04:52 PM

Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer is headed for an early retirement at 57, but he's getting out while he's on top. 

In the quarter that ended Dec. 31, Microsoft’s revenue went up 14 percent to a record $24.5 billion, Bloomberg reports. All this while personal computer sales continue to diminish and amid a vast company reorganization including its merger with Nokia's mobile unit. The quarter's boost was tied to the successful launch of its Xbox One gaming system as well as web-based software such as Azure and Office 365, which sold more than double the amount than that sold in the same quarter a year earlier.   

The cloud appears to be a major new battleground for Microsoft. According to Arstechnica, Amazon recently announced that it would cut the prices of its S3 and EBS cloud-based storage, to which Microsoft responded by announcing it would cut its cloud storage prices as well. Microsoft also benefitted from a sales boost of its Surface tablets, which saw sales double from the first quarter of the fiscal year.Continue reading...

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