brand challenges

Walmart Takes Another Beating from Critics as Holiday Sales are Poised to Disappoint

Posted by Dale Buss on November 20, 2013 07:54 PM

It's the holiday shopping season, so everything in the world of retail is on heightened alert these days. That especially includes Walmart, which is getting assailed on all sides again with criticism of its human-resources policies. And its customers aren't proving very cooperative, either.

Walmart executives are busily prepping for an earlier-than-ever opening next week for Black Friday weekend, on Thanksgiving. It's proving to be a necessary step as Walmart and most other US retailers are coming to grips with the extreme stubbornness of American consumers this holiday season in freely opening their pocketbooks. Promotions of all sorts—including "early" openings for the biggest shopping day of the year—have been sprung en masse even earlier than usual.

But in addition to gearing up properly for the holidays, in an attempt to goose US same-store sales that have been stagnant lately, Walmart is having to mount some social-reputation fences against issues ranging from an adverse ruling by the US National Labor Relations Board to publicity over a charitable gesture at one of its stores that seems to underscore the notion that full-time Walmart employees can't afford to live on what they earn in the store.Continue reading...

sporting brands

Team USA Kicks Off Road to Sochi With Brand Sponsors in NYC's Times Square

Posted by Dale Buss on October 28, 2013 05:32 PM

NBC already has indicated it will enjoy a record haul for US TV advertising during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But the job for brand sponsors of the Games and athletes has only begun on their path to the opening of the games on February 7.

Top-tier marketers including Coca-Cola, P&G, Target, and Kellogg's are signing up to sponsor Team USA athletes as well as trying to navigate the increasingly icy waters around Sochi regarding the tendency of the Russian government to violate human rights and LGBT rights.

On Tuesday, the US Olympic Committee will kick-off a 100-Day Countdown campaign featuring Team USA in Times Square in New York, hoping to recreate the excitement of 2012's Road to London event (at top) with the Liberty Mutual-sponsored Road to Sochi (#RoadtoSochi) tour.Continue reading...

social media watch

Twitter Thrust Back Into the Political Spotlight as Turkish Protesters Take to Social Media

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 3, 2013 03:38 PM

Over two years after the Arab Spring began, Turkey is in the midst of its own interpretation as a weekend of anti-government demonstrations spread across the country, ignited by opposition to construction of a shopping mall in a popular Istanbul park and exacerbated by traditional Turkish media’s lack of coverage. Protests spread to half of Turkey’s 81 provinces by Sunday with the Turkish Doctors' Association reporting at least 1,700 people injured in Istanbul and Ankara.

Much like the movement that swept across Egypt, Libya, Syria and dozens of other countries in the region, social media, especially Twitter, has played an integral role in the organization of demonstrations and the spread of ideals. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan called the protesters an "extremist fringe" even as 10,000 demonstrators called on his government to resign. The increasingly authoritarian PM singled out Twitter saying, "the best examples of lies can be found there,” and called social media "the worst menace to society."Continue reading...

brands under fire

Walmart's $81 Million Fine for Toxic Dumping Undermines Sustainability Promises

Posted by Barry Silverstein on May 29, 2013 11:31 AM

Walmart's brand has taken a steady battering over the past year, and part of it is related to sustainability. 

Last March, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance issued a report called "Walmart's Greenwash" that said the leading retailer's sustainability campaign "has done more to improve the company's image than to help the environment." According to the report, Walmart's greenhouse gas emissions are increasing rapidly and its energy efficiency and renewable projects are "too modest" for the size and scale of the company's operations.

Add to that Walmart's latest environmental slap in the face: On May 28, the company pleaded guilty to dumping hazardous waste in California and Missouri, agreeing to pay more than $81 million in fines. In the greater scheme of things, the money is the least significant portion of the problem for Walmart. With $27.87 billion of operating profit last year, The Atlantic estimates that $81 million is little more than a single day's worth of profit for the retailer.Continue reading...

brands under fire

March Against Monsanto Attracts Hundreds of Thousands Worldwide

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 27, 2013 01:16 PM

When Tami Canal created a “March Against Monsanto” Facebook page back in late February, she would have been happy to get a couple of thousand people to come out and make some noise against the seed-manufacturing giant that has been under fire for creating genetically modified plants. 

Instead, hundreds of thousands of Camal’s compatriots came out to march in over 52 different countries to show their displeasure with Monsanto, according to the Associated Press. They dressed up as bananas and devils and carried signs with slogans such as “Real Food 4 Real People” and the punning “Give Bees a Chance.”

It was also a sign that Canal's movement had arrived with global support for Occupy Monsanto as a brand-specific off-shoot of the Occupy Wall Street brand of activism.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Greenpeace Goes After Coca-Cola in Ongoing Recycling Battle in Australia

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 10, 2013 03:47 PM

Greenpeace is targeting Coca-Cola in its latest campaign, a crowd-funded TV ad that is a call-to-action for Australia’s "Cash for Containers" recycling program, which they say the giant bottler has sabotaged. “Behind Coke’s slogans and sunshine, the beverage giant is trashing Australia,” said Reece Turner, senior campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific. 

In March, Coca-Cola won its court case to stop a recycling refund scheme in the Northern Territory—a program that doubled recycling rates and has run successfully in South Australia for more than 30 years, according to Greenpeace. The program added 10 cents to retail prices for manufacturers like Coke, but consumers would get a refund for recycling the containers in appropriate bins. 

Clean Up Australia estimates that Australians use between 13 to 14 billion drinks containers a year and that 45 percent of the plastic waste that is collected on Clean Up Australia Day is beverage industry-related. “This loose rubbish is estimated to affect up to 65 percent of Australian seabirds. Some mistake the plastic for food. When they swallow too much, their tiny stomachs become so full they're unable to ingest any food—literally starving to death on a full stomach,” according to Greenpeace.Continue reading...

brands under fire

As Death Toll Rises in Bangladesh Factory Collapse, Brands Face Scrutiny Over Ethics (Updated)

Posted by Sheila Shayon on April 26, 2013 05:33 PM

The death toll in the latest Bangladesh garment industry disaster has risen to more than 300 as rescue crews continue to pull survivors from the rubble of Rana Plaza and search for an estimated 500 workers still missing, with more than 2,500 already rescued.

In the aftermath of the garment factory collapse in Dhaka, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for those responsible to turn themselves in. It is believed that the building owner and factory owners are in hiding after ignoring warnings from police and industry officials to forbid workers to enter the building after cracks were discovered on Tuesday. The building collapsed on Wednesday. 

"Whoever might be the culprits, and if even they belong to our party, they won't go scot-free," the impoverished nation's Prime Minister warned. (Update: The factory owners were arrested on Friday night, when the death toll had risen to 336.)

The disaster shines a light, yet again, on global apparel companies that outsource manufacturing to Bangladesh, a practice that has ballooned into an $18 billion industry as clothing companies continue to adandon manufacturing in China, where inflation and rising wages are pushing up costs. The upshot: Bangladesh and its questionable garment industry is now the world's second-biggest garment manufacturing center.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Kraft Defends Mac ‘N Cheese Food Coloring to Cheesed Off Bloggers

Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 2, 2013 01:31 PM

For many parents, tiredly pouring the little pouch of mysterious dry ingredients that comes in your Kraft Macaroni & Cheese box into the pasta and watching the whole thing turn a scary orangish color is a rite of passage. There are some, though, who are alarmed (and awake) enough to try and put an end to it

Vani Hari mostly writes her Food Babe blog from North Carolina, but she recently traveled to Northfield, Illinois, to pay a visit to Kraft Foods HQ in Northfield, Illinois, on Monday and demand that the company stop putting yellow #5 and yellow #6 dyes in its food, as Hari noted in a blog post.

Kraft, of course, wasn’t backing down. "The safety and quality of our products is our highest priority and we take consumer concerns very seriously," a Kraft spokeswoman said in a statement, the Chicago Tribune reports. "We carefully follow the laws and regulations in the countries where our products are sold."Continue reading...

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