2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

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...

what girls want

Hasbro Agrees to Easy-Bake Oven for Boys; Score One for Kid Activism

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 18, 2012 10:30 AM

What do girls want? For one big sister this holiday season, the right for her brother to have the same toys in a non-stereotypical design. Almost 45,000 signatures and a slew of international headlines later, McKenna Pope, the 13-year-old who started the online petition at Change.org to convince Hasbro to consider boys in their marketing and design scope for the Easy-Bake Oven, has scored a big win for gender equality.

McKenna and her family met with execs at Hasbro on Monday and came out all smiles. Execs at the Pawtucket, R.I., HQ of the toy manufacturer, as AP reports, were deighted to show her design prototypes for Easy-Bake ovens colored black, silver, or blue — ready for her brother and other boys eager to get Easy-Baking.

Pope’s quest had started when she wanted to get her four-year-old brother, Gavyn Boscio, an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. After all, he had shown a love for food prep by attempting to “cook on top of a lamp's light bulb” at their New Jersey home. Pope only found ovens in pink or purple and the boxes only featured girls in its marketing images.

So Pope went out and scored more than 40,000 signatures on a Change.org petition, the support of a slew of male celebrity chefs such as Bobby Flay, and a meeting with Hasbro, which now says it is going to unveil the new oven at the annual Toy Fair in New York this coming February. Consumers who are looking to purchase Easy-Bake ovens that aren’t pink and purple will be able to snag them next summer. Plus, the new ovens will come with a boy or two pictured on the box as well.Continue reading...

response mechanism

Starbucks UK Tries to Spread the Cheer; Tax Protest Ambush Spreads the Sneer

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 17, 2012 12:03 PM

All PR is good PR, right? Getting your brand name in front of as many eyeballs as possible can’t hurt, especially if the eyeballs are attached to bodies that are participating in a fun, engaging activity and so moved to purchase? Well, no.

The eyeballs of Britain have been staring down hard at Starbucks after it surfaced that that the coffee giant has paid only £8.5m ($13.8 million) in tax in the UK since entering the country 14 years ago despite having £3bn ($4.8 billion) in sales in that same time. In the last three years, the company paid exactly nothing in corporate tax in the UK. Some financial wizards at the company (or that the company consulted) figured out a way to make this a legal possibility. It involves the UK division of the company buying its coffee from the Swiss division in order to circumvent the tax charges.

Starbucks has agreed to voluntarily cough up £20m ($32.4 million) over the next two years to help make amends, but the dust-up hasn't settled yet. It's sponsoring an ice skating rink at London’s Natural History Museum, where Jessica Alba took her daughter for a spin. A big screen is pulling in Twitter messages with the hashtag of #spreadthecheer — and some wags took the opportunity to #spreadthesneer.Continue reading...


Greenpeace on Getting Levi's to Detox: "We're Not Your Grandfather's Greenpeace"

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 13, 2012 02:01 PM

Following in the wake of Zara's capitulation, Levi’s is now the 11th brand to bow to pressure from Greenpeace's global Detox campaign. The denim giant has committed to eliminate releases of all hazardous chemicals throughout its supply chains and products. Still being pressured: Calvin Klein, Gap, and Victoria’s Secret as part of the green campaigner's goal “to expose brands until the use - and abuse - of hazardous substances is totally eliminated.” 

The world’s largest denim brand, has agreed to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals throughout its entire supply chain and products by 2020. The commitment comes eight days after Greenpeace launched its “Toxic Threads: Under Wraps” report targeting global fashion brands releasing toxins in Mexico's rivers, resulting in a digital groundswell with more than 210,000 people calling on Levi’s to Detox, tens of thousands taking action on Facebook and Twitter, and over 700 people protesting outside Levi’s shop fronts in over 80 cities worldwide.

As part of its Zero Discharge Commitment, Levi’s (as outlined in a blog post) will start requiring 15 of its largest suppliers in China, Mexico and elsewhere in the Global South to disclose pollution data as early as June 2013, followed by compliance from 25 additional major suppliers by the end of 2013.Continue reading...


UC Logogate: The University of California Logo, Revisited

Posted by Shirley Brady on December 12, 2012 05:49 PM

"It really baffles me that, all of a sudden, one day, all these people decided to pay attention to the logo of the university system that manages their own specific university, which have logos of their own — which, by the way, are nothing to be graphically proud of — and that there is a sudden admiration of this system’s seal. I have never seen so many people so passionate about a seal. A seal that looks exactly like a hundred other university seals."

— Armin Vit of UnderConsideration's Brand New blog posts a rare follow-up to address the mob outcry this week over the new (actually, year-old) University of California corporate logo and visual identity. As Russ Hopkinson, interactive strategist at Team Detroit also tweeted today,"Has redesign of a known logo ever NOT sparked controversy?"

what girls want

Not So Pretty in Pink (or Purple): The Backlash Over Gender-Specific Products

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 12, 2012 12:24 PM

Most of America’s top-rated restaurants are run by male chefs, yet cooking is still conventionally considered to be something that women are more interested in than men. So where do these guys come from, anyway? Where did they keep themselves out of sight all their lives before getting their Michelin stars?

Well, one young fella who likely hopes to be on that list someday isn’t hiding himself away anymore. Four-year-old Gavyn Boscio of New Jersey has been thrown into the limelight this holiday season thanks to a hue and cry raised by his sister, 13-year-old McKenna Pope.

Gavyn would like to have an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas but he told his family that knows that “only girls” cook. So Pope is lobbying Easy-Bake’s manufacturer, Hasbro, to not market the product exclusively to girls.

The least they could do, she says on her Change.org petition that has been signed by more than 40,000 people, is to put a boy or two on the packaging and offer it in a color other than pink or purple.Continue reading...


Let There Be Fight: University of California Logo Outrage Continues

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 11, 2012 01:01 PM

There are lots of smart folks at the University of California who have brought up tons of innovations that have affected pretty much the rest of the world. In the past week, though, the corporate body that oversees the University of California's campuses has been getting plenty of ill feeling from its nearly 235,000-member student body (and plenty of others) because of one of its latest innovations: a change to its logo.

The logo, created internally by the university's internal marketing team in collaboration with students, consists of a large U with a C at the bottom with “University of California” written at its right. The old logo had much more of a traditional feel with an open book inside a circle and the school’s motto (“Let There Be Light”) and founding year (1868) prominently displayed. But even an extensive branding toolkit and Vimeo video hasn't convinced critics to adopt the new look.

The school claims that the old logo isn’t being ditched completely, the Los Angeles Times reports. It will still appear on diplomas and official letterhead. However, the seal, which was introduced way back in 1910, “does not reproduce well for many Internet uses and that it is often confused with variations created by the 10 individual UC campuses.”Continue reading...

brands under fire

Merck Pulls Funding from Boy Scouts of America Over Anti-Gay Policies

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 10, 2012 06:04 PM

Merck chairman and CEO Kenneth C. Frazier was honored in June with the “Good Scout” Award by Philadelphia’s Cradle of Liberty Boy Scout Council. Frazier grew up in North Philadelphia and credits scouting as instrumental in his life. Now Frazier, the first African American to head a major pharmaceutical company, is turning his back on the organization until it reverses its discriminatory policies.

Now Frazier and Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, have joined the growing wave of corporate leaders taking a stand against discrimination towards gay scouts and leaders in the Boy Scouts of America. 

As GLAAD notes of the corporate backlash to the Boy Scouts' anti-LGBT stance, Merck joins Intel and UPS with the following statement: “The BSA's policy of exclusion based on sexual orientation directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation’s giving guidelines.  The Foundation re-evaluated funding for the BSA when the organization restated its policy that excludes members on the basis of sexual orientation.  Merck Foundation has notified the BSA of this decision.” 

Boy Scouts of America director of public relations, Deron Smith, provided the following statement to brandchannel: “Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good. While not national sponsors, these companies have positively impacted America’s youth through support of Scouting in local communities. We respect their right to express their own opinions.”Continue reading...

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