brand strategy

Comcast Hones In on Universal Theme Parks as Point of Significant Expansion

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 10, 2014 04:43 PM

Comcast has set the TV world aflame in the last few years with its purchase of NBCUniversal and its yet-to-be-finalized deal to acquire Time Warner Cable. But there’s another industry that Comcast is looking to be a serious player in as well: theme parks.

Comcast, which already had $2.2 billion in revenue last year from its theme parks and resorts unit, isn’t shying away from horning in on the territory long dominated by Disney, either. The company's Universal Studios is “investing hundreds of millions of dollars into theme parks in California and Florida.” While it is investing in new attractions for its Universal Orlando Resorts, it also building “the largest hotel construction project in North America: [an] 1,800-room, 1960s-themed Cabana Bay Beach Resort,” of which Comcast is sharing the bill with Loews Corp., the Philadephia Inquirer reports

Six hundred of the rooms will open this month, with the rest scheduled to open by year's end. With that, Universal will have 4,200 rooms, a 75 percent increase from the 2,400 it previously boasted, but NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke says the complex could have between 10,000 and 15,000 hotel rooms in time.Continue reading...

web watch

Brand Watch: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ted Striker Reprise Airplane! for Travel Wisconsin

Posted by Abe Sauer on March 5, 2014 10:02 AM

The Zucker brothers that directed the cult classic Airplane! grew up in Wisconsin. So it's no surprise that Travel Wisconsin recruited the pair for a new state tourism ad spoofing the spoof film, complete with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Ted Striker.

Jerry Zucker teamed with Green Bay Packers star Jordy Nelson last year for a spot spoofing the The Wizard of Oz. Check it out after the jump:Continue reading...

social media watch

Amtrak Brings "Residency" Request to Fruition After Some Social Listening

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 25, 2014 02:53 PM

Working to keep its finger on the pulse of social media, Amtrak has fashioned a real-life initiative out of a virtual interaction. 

The travel brand is working to develop an application process for "Amtrak Residencies," a program that was spurred by a comment in an interview with author Alexander Chee, who in December said that trains were his favorite place to write. 

The idea was spun off on Twitter by writer Jessica Gross, who liked Chee's idea and on a whim asked Amtrak what would need to be done to make this actually happen. Amtrak replied, and the Amtrak Residency program took off.  

Gross was the program's first resident, as she rode from New York City to Chicago and back on Amtrak's dime on the promise that she'd write about the experience—an all-new kind of branded content.Continue reading...


Coming Off a Record Year, Hong Kong's Disneyland Looks to Expand Offerings

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 18, 2014 12:52 PM

Hong Kong Disneyland wasn’t an immediate hit when it opened back in 2005, but things appear to have taken a turn for the better for the theme park. It doubled its net profits last year while setting a new attendance record, Variety reports, and it now plans to open a third hotel.

The park, a joint venture 52 percent owned by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and 48 percent owned by a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Co., brought in $31.2 million in the financial year that ended in September 2013. Attendance was up to 7.4 million, a 10 percent jump over the previous year, and more importantly, spending per head increased by 6 percent. 

“Steady growth was registered across the three main sources of guests from the local community, mainland China and international markets, with the latter two accounting for about two-thirds of total guests,” said Andrew Kam, HKDL managing director.

The park's hotel occupancy rates have been consistently over 90 percent over the last three years, giving the park confidence to open up a new, 750-room hotel in 2017 that will have an exotic locations theme. The new accomodations will bring the park's room number up to 1,750.Continue reading...

place branding

Brand USA Explores New Opportunity with Australian Campaign

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 17, 2014 02:12 PM

Australians love to visit the United States, apparently. Travel from the Land Down Under to the States is at an all-time high and it is currently the ninth largest international market for America.

In hoping to keep that relationship going, Brand USA, the four-year-old public/private partnership charged with showcasing America to overseas tourists, has launched its first campaign in Australia, throwing $1.5 million into the effort.

The campaign features Rosanne Cash, the daughter of Johnny Cash, singing an original song with her band under the Brooklyn Bridge intercut with scenes from across America. 

“Brand USA’s goal is continue to sustain and grow this market by showcasing to Australians the limitless possibilities that are on offer in the United States,” said Joe Ponte, strategy director for Brand USA in Australia, according to Mumbrella. “It’s not just a once in a lifetime holiday destination; the US offers a lifetime of holidays and that’s what we’ve tried to portray in this first TV commercial.”Continue reading...

traveling brands

Headed to Amsterdam? Tweet KLM for Your Ticket

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 13, 2014 03:46 PM

It's a bit ironic that the world's oldest airline is also the most innovative.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is known for implementing tech-savvy initiatives to make traveling easier—and more fun—for its global passengers. And now, the airline has introduced a new way to pay and set up flights through social media. 

Passengers on KLM's five weekly nonstop flights between Chicago's O'Hare Airport and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam can now pay for airplane tickets, rebook a flight, make a seat reservation or arrange for extra baggage on Facebook and Twitter.

It's really no surprise, since the airline industry is one of the most socially-active, and KLM tops that list.Continue reading...

traveling brands

In Prep for IPO, Virgin America Innovates with In-Flight Social Network

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 12, 2014 01:47 PM

Virgin’s tech team and customer-relations crew must be working overtime this week. Over in the UK, Virgin Atlantic announced it is testing a wearable tech program with its airline concierge staff to better serve upper-class customers, and now the airline's US arm has partnered with Here On Biz on an in-flight social network based off of LinkedIn.

The venture, which focuses on business travelers, allows passengers on Virgin America flights to connect with other passengers on the plane and on the ground. 

"This partnership allows flyers to take advantage of those serendipitous travel moments where people with complementary business interests are in the same place at the same time—even if that place is on a plane somewhere 35,000 feet above the US," said Here On Biz CEO Nick Smoot, according to The Verge. "With our iOS app and this partnership with Virgin America, you can find your next big connection in seat 4C—or even just a row away from you."

The service, which passengers need to opt into, will launch next week on one plane based in San Francisco and expand to all Virgin America flights by month’s end, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.Continue reading...

traveling brands

Virgin Outfits Airline Concierges with Wearable Tech for Personalized Service

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 11, 2014 01:53 PM

As the cost of airline travel continues to go up, airline service often leaves much to be desired. But Virgin Atlantic is hoping to restore a bit of the glory days of travel for its upper-class passengers thanks to wearable tech. 

Virgin Atlantic employees at London’s Heathrow airport are now wearing tech devices including Google Glass and Sony's Smartwatch that feed the concierges helpful information about approaching passengers, including first names, so that staff can offer up a more personal level of service.

“At the same time, staff will be able to update passengers on their latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination and translate any foreign language information,” Virgin said in press release about the six-week pilot program. “In future, the technology could also tell Virgin Atlantic staff their passengers’ dietary and refreshment preferences – anything that provides a better and more personalized service.”

Gigaom notes that Virgin is “also testing Apple’s iBeacon technology at Heathrow,” which would allow the airline to “automatically push updates to the phones of nearby passengers with information such as nearby services, discounts, and updated flight boarding schedules.”Continue reading...

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