app watch

With D.C. Setback, No Smooth Hailing for Uber

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 20, 2012 05:24 PM

Uber, the San Francisco-based startup at the intersection of mobile, car transport and logistics, is disrupting the industry and causing wide-spread regulatory reverberations.

The app for U.S. urbanites to book a cab on iPhone or Android OS smartphones has emerged as an alternative to overcrowded public transit and an escalating dearth of regular taxis, but now finds itself in the crosshairs of local taxi and limousine commissions. The key issue, is Uber a limousine service or a cab service? Answer — a bit of both.

It's pitched as "Everyone's Private Driver. Request a swanky ride in a black car with just the tap of an app! We're changing the way people are getting around by offering a convenient, cashless, and stylish on demand car request service from your mobile phone." A clever marketing tie-in just saw the Uber app used by New Yorkers to hail vintage gangster cars in a "free on demand" (a double entendre for NYC cable VOD subscribers) promotion for the third season launch of Boardwalk Empire on HBO.

This week the app launched in Boston and last week in Dallas, making it available (in theory, if not in practice) in 15 cities in total: San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, Denver, Atlanta, and beyond the U.S., London, Paris and Toronto. But it hasn't all been smooth hailing — D.C.'s taxi commission has just proposed new rules to shut down Uber.

Uber's execs thought they had recently passed muster in Washington, following a six-month battle in the District of Columbia to legalize sedans used by its car-service partners.Continue reading...

response mechanism

Tesco CEO Seeks Transparency Through Blogging, Not Twitter

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 19, 2012 03:20 PM

Tesco CEO Philip Clarke told the World Retail Congress in London today that the "tectonic plates are shifting" in retail and residual from financial woes in the euro zone is requiring companies to adopt new technologies or lose their competitive edge.

"We are in the first downturn of the digital age," Clarke stated, adding "consumption is weakening" in China, Thailand and South Korea, regions previously earmarked for growth but reeling from economic turmoil in Europe. "[These economies] are vulnerable to the crisis in the euro zone, as well as inflation caused by high commodity prices.

"Digital technology gives us the opportunity for a warmer, more meaningful conversation with our customers, local communities, our colleagues and the suppliers we work with.” That's why Clarke, who started as Tesco CEO in March 2011, has just launched a corporate blog, Talking Shop, in an effort to build trust and, as he puts it, "explain what we are thinking and how we see the world."

He's not much of a tweeter, though he likes writing bylined op-ed pieces (such as this week's FT column). So why blog?Continue reading...

brand and bottle

Top This Product Launch: Ardbeg Takes Whisky Into Space

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 6, 2012 05:11 PM

Space travel has long been a subject of fascination, so private-sector companies such as Virgin Galactic have sprung up to try and eventually put mere mortals up into the high frontier where Neil Armstrong made history. Now we've got something to toast the late Armstrong with.

Scottish whisky maker Ardbeg has turned out a limited-edition whisky, Ardbeg Galileo, to make some noise and hopefully a few sales from a curious experiment the company is involved in.

According to the BBC, Texas-based space research company NanoRacks asked Ardbeg to be involved in a two-year space experiment late last year. Soon after, vials filled with chemical compounds from Ardbeg’s distillery were shot up to the International Space Station on a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan. The chemicals will undergo the experiment in near zero gravity while Ardbeg oversees the same experiment here on Earth.

Ardbeg, naturally, couldn't miss this galactic marketing opportunity. Its limited-edition Ardbeg Galileo, marketed to "astro-nuts," is described as a “12-year-old single malt whisky (from) a vatting of different styles of Ardbeg laid down in 1999,” the BBC notes. Talk about whisky-a-go-go.Continue reading...


Experience Virgin America With VIPs in New Branding Campaign

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 6, 2012 09:46 AM

Richard Branson's Virgin America airline is doing it again, shaking up the status quo with its latest 'Originals' experience campaign featuring some of the airline's Elevate frequent flyers, and with more hailing from Silicon Valley than Hollywood.  

"For years, flying domestically had largely become a dismal, uninspired experience. When Virgin America launched, the idea that a domestic airline could reinvent that experience – through technology, design and entertainment – was still a pretty radical notion," stated Luanne Calvert, VP Marketing at Virgin America.Continue reading...

diversity watch

Ad Club of New York “I’mpart"s Diversity Training

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 5, 2012 03:06 PM

The Advertising Club of New York is committing $700,000 to “I’mpart,” an initiative to support training programs in high school, college and post-college to promote greater diversity in advertising and marketing, industries notorious for poor inclusion of blacks, Latinos and Asians. “Diversity in advertising has crept into the news again. The gorilla in the room continues to make noise as everyone tries to ignore it.” 

The 2010 census revealed that the U.S. now has more than 50 million Latinos, nearly 40 million African-Americans and almost 15 million Asians, and the paucity of representation and retention of these ethnicities in the C-level suites is alarming.Continue reading...

mobile brands

Will NFC, Wireless Charging and Exclusive Apps Boost Nokia Lumia Sales?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 5, 2012 02:14 PM

Nokia once ruled the handset market but, in handset years, it’s been eons since those days and Nokia has fallen well behind Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android software. Last week, the Finnish company took another step backward, sliding behind Samsung.

That wasn’t good news for CEO Stephen Elop, who is coming up on his two-year anniversary in the post, a time frame that has found Nokia’s shares dropping down to sell at 70% less than the price it was at when Elop took over, the Wall Street Journal reports. Elop’s future with the company may hang on today’s announcement of the Nokia's Windows 8 Lumia Smartphone, which the company has been teasing for days in an attempt to steal even just a little of Apple's iPhone 5 thunder.

The new Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 range boasts "the best pictures and video ever seen on a smartphone," a touchscreen said to work with gloves and fingernails, wireless charging (also coming to Virgin Atlantic business lounges and the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf), NFC and Nokia Maps integration and “access to more than 150 playlists that span all major genres as part of an all-you-can-eat pro bono offering,” Engadget reports.

And, of course, consumers can create their own playlists, while US customers are getting a free streaming music service as an added sweetener. Along with all that, Bloomberg notes, consumers will also be able to browse an expanded app library incuding content from, yes, Bloomberg, plus Michelin, Angry Birds and other digital brands.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Virgin Trains Gets Derailed in Loss of Government Franchise

Posted by Barry Silverstein on August 22, 2012 01:45 PM

The famously flamboyant Richard Branson was less than his jovial self in a letter to colleagues last week announcing that Virgin Trains had lost the UK's West Coast rail franchise it had operated since 1997. 

"I can hardly express my disappointment and frustration over the Government decision that means we will not be able to run the West Coast rail service after December," wrote Branson. "We did everything possible to put together a strong, deliverable bid and I know it would have brought fantastic benefits for customers, staff and taxpayers. But in the end the decision rests with Government and we have to respect that, however much we disagree with the process behind it." Continue reading...

that's entertainment

Sir Richard Branson Ready to Return to His Roots as a Music Maven

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 18, 2012 11:20 AM

The record company that made Sir Richard Branson the man that he is today may be back on the block soon and the billionaire who parlayed Virgin Records into a global house of brands is saying that he wouldn’t mind putting the business he sold back into his own back pocket.

Universal Music Group is attempting to purchase EMI but it may be forced to ditch Virgin the process by regulators, according to the Guardian (UMG is reportedly ready to offer concessions to get the deal done). Branson, meanwhile, has spoken with French entrepreneur Patrick Zelnik, a former Virgin exec, about buying Virgin together. Branson let it be known that he is ready to join the bid for Virgin Records if it is sold by Universal Music Group as a condition of the major label's £1.2 billion acquisition of EMI Music.

”Richard Branson and Virgin have been assessing how to get back into recorded music business for many years," said a spokesman for Virgin Group, according to the Guardian. "The potential disposal of Virgin Records by Universal Music offers a wonderful opportunity to recreate a dynamic independent label in the market."Continue reading...

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