2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

chew on this

Darden Hopes Less Becomes More By Jettisoning Red Lobster Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on December 19, 2013 01:45 PM

The restaurant business remains tough, and so it didn't take long for Darden to say "uncle" to an activist investor who believed that the best path for the owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains was to spin them off into a separate company while clustering its faster-growing startup concepts in another.

Darden met Barington Capital Group halfway on Thursday by declaring that it will jettison Red Lobster and take other steps. It'll hold a tax-free spinoff of the seafood brand to shareholders or it might sell Red Lobster in a move aimed at boosting lagging shareholder value and profitability.

"As consumer demand dynamics have changed, Red Lobster's priorities and operating support requirements have come to differ meaningfully from those of Darden's other brands," the company said.Continue reading...

mobile commerce

McDonald's Tests Mobile Coupon App in Hopes of Attracting Younger Consumers

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 13, 2013 12:48 PM

Back in October, McDonald's named Amazon's Atif Rafiq its first chief digital officer as the space has become critical to the struggling burger chain's success. And now the latest effort—a mobile app—is being tested at select locations across the US.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the simplistic app—which already has a live version in the UK—offers up coupons to consumers that specify what they want to eat. New deals pop up every six weeks, and it also includes a restaurant locator and menu listing

McDonald's is playing catch-up with competitors like Five Guys and Chipotle, which already attract a younger crowd than McDonald's does and already have apps available that allow for mobile odering—something the McD app doesn't have. "It's premature to speculate on the future of the McD App," Lisa McComb, a company spokeswoman, said in an email to the Tribune.Continue reading...


The Week in China: Year of the Horse Brand Blitz, Bitter Bitcoin and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on December 6, 2013 12:38 PM

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's the week's reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: The Year of the Horse commemorative products... Bitcoin vs.  China... Ford brings Mustang to China... L'Oreal gets Fan Bingbing... Carrefour grows... Volvo up... Suzuki gets "Authentic"... Toyota signals an end of Japan automaker woes... Qoros sells "made in China"... Arnie sees the sights... and more.Continue reading...

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Applebee's Seconds Chili's by Bringing Tablets to Your Table

Posted by Dale Buss on December 4, 2013 06:27 PM

Applebee's is following Chili's example and introducing tablet computers to each table in its 1,860 US restaurants. Patrons will still order from and be served their main courses by waiters and waitresses, but the tablets are expected to improve things at the margins of the restaurant experience—where profits are most won and lost.

The 7-inch screens will allow customers to order appetizers and desserts, pay their bills, and even play video games. The tablet gambit is aimed largely at Millennials who are expecting restaurants to offer improved technologies, USA Today said.

The goal isn't to replace human staffers but to free them to focus more fully on serving the table, NRN.com said. Applebee's doesn't currently plan any staff reductions because of the tablet installation.Continue reading...

chew on this

Burger Mania Pulls in Olive Garden, Boosts Wendy's; Is Pizza Next?

Posted by Dale Buss on December 4, 2013 11:07 AM

The gourmet burger is king in fast-casual restaurants these days, but gourmet pizza may be threatening the throne.

Olive Garden is the latest chain to bow to the rise of gourmet burgers. In a move that doesn't at first glance seem to fit with its Italian menu, the Darden-owned brand has introduced its Italiano Burger nationwide as part of a broader menu overhaul. The burger is topped with crisp prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, arugula, tomatoes marinated in fresh basil, and garlic and Italian spices, according to NRN.com. And it's served with a garlic aioli spread and comes with parmesan-garlic fries.

But it's still a burger. And that's the point: To combat slower sales, Olive Garden is trying lots of new stuff. "The objective is to regain same-restaurant traffic momentum," CEO Clarence Otis said in September when discussing earnings, according to NRN.com.Continue reading...

brand battle

With Its New Big King, Brazen Burger King Mounts New Assault on McDonald's

Posted by Dale Buss on December 2, 2013 05:56 PM

Even with its recent travails, McDonald's could count on staying ahead of every conceivable fast-food rival. But is that still the case? Burger King seems to be nicking away at the idea.

Neither No. 2 Burger King nor No. 3 Wendy's can possibly at this point match McDonald's revenues or 69 million visitors a day. But in its own way, the traditional biggest challenger, Burger King, is taking it to the leader unlike ever before, in terms of products, innovations, marketing and branding.

Burger King has been the aggressor in the war for market share in a stagnant fast-food market in the US and across much of the rest of the world. For example, Burger King has just introduced a new Big King sandwich that—made of two beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions and served on a sesame-seed bun— sure seems like a knockoff of McDonald's reigning Big Mac. And that came just a few months after Burger King brazenly unveiled a limited-time summer menu that included a BBQ Rib sandwich, a boneless rib pattie just like McDonald's limited-time McRib sandwich.Continue reading...


The Week in China: Starbucks Spreads Holiday Cheer, KFC Splits, China's 'Doorbusters' and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 29, 2013 12:18 PM

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's the week's reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: Starbucks and Christmas time come (again) to China… Ford outpacing GM… KFC breaks up… Nissan turns to heartthrobs… Ferrari owner age… Twitter's Asia strategy… Hugo Boss woes… so long, cognac… how China does "door busters"... and more.Continue reading...

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...

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