The Dannon Co. has reached a tentative nationwide class-action settlement of complaints filed by consumers questioning the health-benefit claims made on behalf of its Activia and DanActive yogurts, that they are “clinically proven” to regulate the digestive system. AdWeek 4/6/09
Since it was launched early in 2009, 30,000 consumers have taken advantage of the Hyundai Assurance Plus program, which promises to make payments for three months for customers who buy or lease a new Hyundai before the end of April, and subsequently lose their jobs. Sales increased 14% in January 2009 versus a year ago, and were down just 1.5% in February 2009 versus a year ago. Adweek 4/6/09
Nissan (NSANY) plans to rollout the Cube in May, “a cute, smallish car” targeted to younger driviers, that “can be customized and personalized as easily as a cellphone ring tone or Facebook page." New York Times 4/6/09. The Nissan Cube follows on the introduction of the cube-y Kia Soul, and the commercial featuring four cruising hamsters.
In August, Hearst Magazines’ Country Living will launch a new line of home goods in Kmart and Sears (SHLD) stores that emphasizes coziness and affordability. The 700-SKU line will include bedding, bath, tabletop and furniture items in four different styles: Modern Countryside, Blue & White, Red & White and Faded Antique and be priced from $3.99 to $349. Mediaweek 4/6/09
J.C. Penney (JCP) plans to launch a line of home goods by supermodel Cindy Crawford. Chain Store Age. 4/3/09.
Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc. hopes to entice people to serve more cocktails at home with the May launch of Sauza Margarita-in-a-Box, 15 servings of pre-made margaritas containing Sauza tequila. Brown-Forman (BF-B) is launching ready-to-drink cocktails in bottles this summer, including Southern Comfort Sweet Tea, and Diageo PLC is offering several prepared cocktails, including Captain Morgan Long Island Iced Tea. Wall Street Journal 4/1/09
“The clever and consistent AIG (AIG) corporate advertising campaign in recent years, before the collapse of the firm's credibility, could not and did not outweigh the management decisions that caused the damage. Corporate brand campaigns can be powerful tools to support visionary leaders, but the best campaigns cannot overcome bad business decisions or poor management.
CoreBrand defines a brand crisis when "Familiarity" grows and "Favorability" declines significantly and quickly. A crisis is over when the process reverses itself and "Familiarity" declines while "Favorability" increases.
Brand "Familiarity" grows when a company is in the news - a lot. "Favorability" declines because the news is usually bad. We gauge the severity of the crisis by the amount of "Familiarity" growth vs."Favorability's" decline. The data also reveals how much damage is done to the company financially, and how long and how much money will need to be spent to help the company recover - assuming the underlying fundamental problems have been solved.
Negative corporate events that don't meet the criteria of our definition are usually not a threat to the company's survival. Companies that do meet this definition need to take prompt action in order to survive. The longer a crisis is allowed to go on the more permanent damage is caused to the corporate brand."
Proctor & Gamble (PG) is hoping that cause marketing combined with value will help boost sales; the company is donating to charities when customers redeem Tampax, Always, Pampers and PUR water filters coupons from their BrandSaver monthly coupon promotion. Brandweek 3/7/09
Google (GOOG) is rolling out expandable ads, “which start out as banners or square ads and expand dramatically when clicked on.” BtoBOnline 3/6/09
Whole Foods Market (WFMI) has reached a “mutually satisfactory agreement” with the Federal Trade Commission, resolving the FTC's antitrust challenge to the Whole Foods’ August 2007 acquisition of Wild Oats Markets. Chain Store Age 3/6/09
General Mills (GIS) has launched a free mobile version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook as an iPhone application. The applicaton contains over 4,000 recipes and can be searched via recipe or ingredient. MobileMarketer 3/6/09ComedyTime, a mobile comedy network, is offering the first standup comedy video application available on the iPhone. MobileMarketer 3/6/09
Mattel (MAT) says Dora the Explorer is just keeping up with the times, exchanging her short hair, backpack and shorts for long hair, a short skirt and ballet pumps, but parents say the cartoon character’s new look is a sellout. Multicultclassics 3/6/09
PepsiCo (PEP) is launching three new soft drinks in limited markets as part of their “Refresh Everything” strategy. Pepsi Natural, made with all-natural ingredients will be part of the line-up. Brandweek 3/5/09
The Rockport Company, a division of Adidas, is launching a new campaign exhorting people to “Choose to walk.” The campaign “celebrates people who have chosen to live professional and personal lives that may step off the beaten path but are nonetheless fulfilling and rewarding.” New York Times 3/2/09
Fashionology is a retail concept that enables tween girls to decorate clothing. The Fashionology LA store was launched in June 2008 and is currently promoting the launch of their Fashionology website. MediaPost 3/2/09
Japanese cosmetics e-tailer, @Cosme, has been so successful with their Amazon-like ranking of Japanese products according to popularity and user stars, that they’ve just opened a bricks and mortar site. AdAge 3/2/09
Ted’s Montana Grill is rewarding anyone who proclaims their love for the chain’s burgers with a free burger. First place winner gets a Prius. Atlanta Business Chronicle 3/2/09
MARS Snackfood's new Web site for Skittles takes visitors to a Wikipedia entry for Skittles, a Skittles-related Twitter Feed, Facebook Page, YouTube channels, Flickr, etc, in an effort to let consumers tell the story, instead of sending visitors to a typical product web page. Clickz 3/2/09
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) has signed an “extensive partnership” with BET to weave their Listerine, Zyrtec and Ambi brands into the storylines of new reality show “Harlem Heights.” New York Times 3/01/09
Safeway (SWY) says they will promote its private-label brands harder if branded-food makers don't start lowering prices on their products. Chairman, president and CEO Steve Burd says some food makers have been “disingenuous” with consumers by not decreasing prices to reflect declining costs. Chain Store Age 2/27/09. The LA Times reports Grocers, name-brand food producers at odds over prices.
Capital One (COF) is notifying at least some cardholders that their rates will go up because of the current economic crisis. ConsumerAffairs.com 2/24/09.
Quiznos, the nation’s number two sandwich chain has re-appointed founder Rick Schaden as CEO after CEO Dave Deno resigns after five months. The chain has suffered recently from franchisee lawsuits and the success of Subway’s $5 foot long promotion. Advertising Age 2/23/09
PepsiCo (PEP) energy drink, Amp Energy, has launched a new advertising campaign positioning the brand as owning “that moment, that nervous energy” when you're getting “amped up," say, before a big race, getting a tattoo or taking the stage. Brandweek 2/14/09
Blackwater Worldwide is rebranding itself as “Xe”, pronounced “zee.” The company’s brand reputation has suffered from the 2004 murder of four contractors in Fallujah, and the Baghdad Nissor Square shooting that killed several Iraqi civilians. HuffingtonPost 2/13/09
Google (GOOG) will shut down Google Audio Ads, its venture to automate the sale of radio ads were bought and sold, and to expand Google’s reach into the offline advertising business. New York Times 2/13/09. The company announced they were ending their two year effort to sell newspaper ads via automated auction, last month.
Starbucks (SBUX) plans to sell a soluble version of its brewed coffee, aka instant coffee, called Starbucks Via, in its cafés next month to capitalize in the large market for instant coffee, especially overseas. Wall Street Journal Online 2/13/09
Microsoft (MSFT) plans to open a small number of its own retail stores to “create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy.” The Wall Street Journal 2/13/09
Radio Shack Corp. is testing a retail concept called Point Mobl in three Dallas locations, to sell portable devices including laptops, MP3 players and GPS systems. Chain Store Age 2/13/09
Speedo Chief Marketing Officer Craig Brommers says the company will continue their relationship with Michael Phelps, calling Phelps a member of the Speedo family and commenting on the importance of supporting family members during good times as well as bad. Adage 2/13/09.
The NCAA denies some flavors of The Coca-Cola Co.’s(KO) VitaminWater could cause student athletes to test positive for impermissible or banned substances. They had previously listed six flavors as containing impermissible or banned substances including taurine, caffeine, guarana seed extract, L-theanine, green tea extract, ecgc, Rooibos tea extract or glucosamine. Atlanta Business Chronicle 2/11/09
Maybelline has launched “Lash Stiletto™ aka “The only mascara that does for lashes what stilettos do for legs.” Great name, great visual.
Lance Inc. (LNCE), owner of the Archway Cookies brand, has filed a lawsuit against Canadian company Voortman Cookies, alleging that their packaging adopts colors and other design elements closely simulate Archway’s and is calculated to take advantage of the Archway bankruptcy “to persuade consumers and retailers to accept the infringing Voortman package as the successor in the marketplace to the well-known and highly regarded Archway products.” Charlotte Business Journal 2/10/09
Look ma, no hyphen: Name Wire says Hilton has officially removed the hyphen from their Waldorf-Astoria brand. It’s now Waldorf Astoria. Hilton is also reportedly finalizing plans to introduce a new “lifestyle hotel brand to the world next month. Name Wire: The Product Naming Blog 2/10/09.
Proctor & Gamble Co. (PG) is launching a new Pantene hair-care collection called Nature Fusion that taps into the “natural trend” in an attempt reinvigorate sales of the Pantene brand. Adweek 2/10/09. On another front, P&G is planning to roll out its Mr. Clean Car Wash concept nationally, having acquired an Atlanta-based car wash chain to drive the expansion. Atlanta Business Chronicle 2/5/09.
A Cheetosad roadblock will run on several blogs, including Boing Boing, Indy Mogul and Mashable, over the next six weeks promoting Cheetos “Boredom Busters”, with posts that include fun distractions like IndyMogul’s Xtra Normal free animated movie generator “to put together something quick and ridiculous.” Boredom Busters will also include web-based game links and “original Cheetos-centric content.” Clickz 2/10/09.
Denny's (DENN) is rolling out a digital out-of-home network across its restaurant locations. LCD screens will carry IndoorDirect's theBite Network, a 60-minute lifestyle program with news, entertainment, music and advertising. Adweek 2/10/09
Singer Chris Brown’s ads for Doublemint gum have been suspended by the William Wrigley Jr. Company until an investigation of his alleged assault, on a female companion in Hollywood this past Sunday, is resolved. The woman he allegedly assaulted is his girlfriend, singer Rihanna. CNN 2/09/09. UPDATE: AdFreak posts that Brown has been removed from the Got Milk! campaign. AdFreak 2/10/09.
“In a bid for a slice of the lucrative celebrity news business, Microsoft's MSN (MSFT) and production firm BermanBraun have launched celebrity news website Wonderwall, seeking to build traffic for MSN by attracting “viewers from established media outlets such as People and Us magazines and TV programs including ‘Extra’ and ‘Entertainment Tonight,’ as well as the more rough-and-tumble gossip websites TMZ and Perez Hilton.” Los Angeles Times 2/05/09
The latest WealthSurvey from the Luxury Institute finds that luxury brands are failing to deliver on the fundamentals of luxury at a critical time for the industry:
- For wealthy consumers, superior quality (82%), superior craftsmanship (78%) and superior customer service (60%) are the top three requirements of a luxury brand. Yet, more than one-third of consumers say luxury brands are worse today than in the recent past on delivering superior customer service and on failing to have salespeople who are experts in their products.
- Half of consumers earning more than $200k annually and 46% of those with a net worth more than $1 million think luxury brands are becoming commodities.
- 64% of wealthy consumers believe luxury goods prices are too high relative to the value they deliver. One reason may be that while major luxury brands are trying to spread themselves into as many categories as possible, 68% of the wealthy consumers believe a luxury brand can only be an expert in a few truly related product categories.
- The failures come at a time when 43% of wealthy consumers say they are becoming more practical in their luxury purchases, are becoming more budget conscious (43%) and are purchasing more of what they need rather than what they want (30%).
- 62% of wealthy consumers say that the current state of the economy has changed their view of the luxury industry. When asked why in an open-ended format, consumers cite the following as key reasons for the change of view: becoming more budget-conscious and prudent, the need to re-think and re-prioritize, a strong feeling that luxury goods are too "mass" vs. price, a sense that flaunting luxury at this time is insensitive and a desire to help others rather than spend on themselves.
- A majority of wealthy consumers state that they like to buy luxury items for the quality because they last longer and keep their value (77%)and that they buy expensive items for their own pleasure, not to show off (72%).
- Half of luxury consumers cited discounts and sales as a major influencing factor in making luxury purchases and more than half of wealthy consumers say they are likely to respond to a special offer or sale from a luxury brand over any other factors.
A national sample of 500+ wealthy American consumers was surveyed online by the Luxury Institute. The Institute's respondents had an average income of $308,000.00 and an average net-worth of $3.9 million.