brand challenges

Target Facing Investigations, Lawsuits After Data Breach

Posted by Dale Buss on December 23, 2013 04:38 PM

Target is understanding what it's like to have a bulls-eye painted on its brand. Regulators, banks and some American consumers have joined the hackers who breached the retailer's data troves in dumping coal into Target's corporate stocking this Christmas season.

In full crisis-mitigation mode, CEO Gregg Steinhafel offered a 10 percent, one-checkout discount to all customers over the weekend after a massive data breach left information of about 40 million shoppers vulnerable to thieves. But there was evidence that some shoppers already had begun to shy away from Target for their holiday shopping last weekend, with the Wall Street Journal reporting a 3- to 4-percent decline compared with the weekend before Christmas a year ago.

Meanwhile, Chase popped restrictions onto debit cards affected by Target's security breach, contacting about 2 million card holders over the weekend and telling them that they would be limited to a maximum of $100 cash withdrawals and $300 in purchases per day, affecting less than 10 percent of Chase customers.Continue reading...

tech talk

Tech Giants, Obama Converge Over Surveillance, Healthcare.gov Concerns

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 17, 2013 07:37 PM

It seems to be tech week in Washington, D.C., as some of the country's top technology leaders met with President Obama to discuss several topics, including security and goverment surveillance. 

Since the Edward Snowden/NSA scandal broke earlier this year, consumers and tech innovators alike have been concerned about the government's practices of monitoring emails, social media activity, and phone conversations—behavior that was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge this week. According to The Verge, the President plans to discuss the economic effects of such unauthorized leaks, as well as how the government can further work with the tech sector to create jobs, and most importantly, how it can help to fix Healthcare.gov. The White House is even hitting up kids for ways to better use technology to learn.

15 leaders, including Apple CEO Time Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, as well as other high-level representatives from Zynga, Google, Etsy, Netflix, Dropbox, AT&T, Comcast, and Yahoo! were among those in attendance.Continue reading...

tech innovation

IBM Predicts Five Technologies That Will Change the World in the Next Five Years

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 17, 2013 05:43 PM

As the year readies to close out, it's time for the annual onslaught of year-end lists of best ofs, worst ofs, and 2014 look-aheads. So in due course, IBM has released its annual 5 in 5 annual technology predictions, highlighting what the company thinks will come to the forefront in the next five years. 

“We try to get a sense of where the world is going because that focuses where we put our efforts,” Bernie Meyerson, VP Innovation at IBM, told VentureBeat. “The harder part is nailing down what you want to focus on. Unless you stick your neck out and say this is where the world is going, it’s hard to turn around and say you will get there first. These are seminal shifts. We want to be there, enabling them.”

Among the expected innovations in cloud computing and smarter cities, IBM expects there to be significant changes in the way the medical community treats illness, and how our digital lives are made more secure.

The new list of tech trends and innovations that IBM expects to impact our lives in the years ahead:Continue reading...

see you in court

Disorder in the Court: When Attorneys Harm the Brands They Represent

Posted by Eric Starkman on November 25, 2013 02:57 PM

The following is a guest post from Eric Starkman, the president of STARKMAN, a public relations and brand management firm with offices in New York and San Francisco. He previously was an editor and reporter at major newspapers in the US and Canada.

Effective brand management is no easy feat, and it certainly is not the sole responsibility of those who carry the terms "brand management" somewhere on their company's business card. As we all know, marketers, employees, customers, the media, and the general public all have an impact on how a brand is perceived. Individual experience, coupled with those of trusted influencers, can have far greater impact on brand perception than the most ambitious PR, marketing, and branding campaigns. So why is it that corporations fail again and again to protect what brand "control" they do have when it comes to their attorneys?

As Wells Fargo, Google, and Goldman Sachs have demonstrated, attorneys can often define—and by doing so sully—the brands they are there to protect. In Wells Fargo’s case, Judge William G. Young of Federal District Court was so outraged by the conduct of the bank's attorneys in a predatory lending lawsuit that he demanded a corporate resolution signed by the president—and a majority of its board—affirming they supported the seemingly audacious behavior of the bank’s legal eagles. While Judge Young grudgingly accepted the legal argument of Wells’ attorneys, he was clearly bothered that the bank’s victory was won on a “technicality”: 

“The disconnect between Wells Fargo’s publicly advertised face and its actual litigation conduct here could not be more extreme,” Judge Young ruled. “A quick visit to Wells Fargo’s website confirms that it vigorously promotes itself as consumer-friendly… a far cry from the hard-nosed win-at-any-cost stance it has adopted here.”Continue reading...

privacy alert

French Prosecutors: You May Not be Building That Ikea Furniture by Yourself

Posted by Dale Buss on November 22, 2013 03:36 PM

You can still make do-it-yourself furniture with IKEA. It's just that other people may be watching in secret.

Specifically, IKEA itself. Prosecutors have placed three senior IKEA executvies in France under investigation amid allegations that they authorized illegal spying on customers and employees, including collecting unflattering background information on shoppers who brought complaints or lawsuits, according to the New York Times.

In an alleged case of big data run amok, French prosecutors even said that IKEA France CEO Stefan Vanoverbeke was among those people being investigated for possible involvement in such a conspiracy. The executives were thought to be gathering a range of personal informatin including criminal records, automobile registrations and property records.Continue reading...

Microsoft Puts Its Own Spin On Holiday Gifting with 'Scroogled' Gear

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 21, 2013 01:45 PM

Microsoft is convinced that it's not the only one with an anti-Google streak. The tech giant's infamous 'Scroogled' campaign first began targeting the search behemoth in February, with hopes of converting Gmail users into Outlook users on the grounds of privacy concerns. 

There have been several other iterations since then, but the company's latest Google-smearing gambit intends to get consumers in on the act. Microsoft is offering a line of 'Scroogled' gear and apparel for sale in its Microsoft online store, including T-shirts, hats, hoodies, and coffee mugs.

A Microsoft rep told Ad Age that money isn't the motivator in this case, and that the company just wants to give consumers with an equal distaste for Google the chance to express themselves. "The Scroogled gear is a fun way for them to do that," he said.Continue reading...

social media watch

Snapchat Spurns Facebook Buyout—And Steals its Users Too

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 14, 2013 04:58 PM

Following the acquisitions of social media stars Instagram, Tumblr, and Vine, one hot commodity is holding out: Snapchat. 

The photo-social app that essentially destroys user photo snaps after a few seconds reportedly turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook. Are they crazy? Or just crazy smart? 

Opinions are mixed, but 23-year-old founder Evan Spiegel and his team may actually be sitting on a social media egg that could shape the future of social sharing. For one thing, Snapchat leaves no messy, incriminating trail in the digital ethers unlike Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. And with teens looking to hide from their parents and adults hoping to hide less-than-ideal antics from employers and colleagues, Snapchat may be the prime destination for a generation of web-heads that are seeking more privacy and control.Continue reading...

big data

IBM Dives Deep Into Tweets to Identify Core Consumer Needs and Wants

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 12, 2013 07:28 PM

Using technology to better understand consumers' wants and needs has hit a new stride as brands compete to target promotions and deliver personalized customer service.

While most major retailers have used predictive analytics for years, new technologies have augmented the statistical game to nuances heretofore unknown. For instance, IBM has begun testing technology that essentially assigns core psychological traits by analyzing a consumer's tweets.

“We need to go below behavioral analysis like Amazon does,” said Michelle Zhou, lead of the User Systems and Experience Research Group at IBM’s Almaden Research Center where the software was created, according to Mashable. “We want to use social media to derive information about an individual—what is the overall affect of this person? How resilient is this person emotionally? People with different personalities want something different.”

The software builds a personality profile based on the most recent hundred or thousand Twitter updates, scoring them against the "big five" traits used in psychology: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. It also scores on “values” (hedonism and conservatism) and “needs” (curiosity and social harmony).Continue reading...

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