Chicago-based beer maker Pabst, plans to relocate its headquarters to Los Angeles this summer. The company has not commented on reasons for the move, but Eric Schmidt, an analyst with Beverage Information, says the Metroupolos family, which purchased the company last summer, will likely “move aggressively to rebuild Pabst brands.” Two family members live in LA. Latimes.com 5/14/11
Skechers Shape-ups, toning sneakers promoted to adults, are now being pitched to young girls. The Parents Television Council say’s Skechers advertising emphasizes popularity, thinness and attractiveness, and encourages young girls to look like older girls. Skechers says Shape-ups for Girls promote exercise and fitness. CBS News 5/13/11
Yum Brands, owners of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, wants to increase its 27.2% stake in “Little Sheep” a chain of hot pot restaurants in China. NYTimes.com 5/13/11.
Walmart (WMT) plans to acquire a minority stake in the holding company of Yihaodian, a fast-growing e-commerce company in China with significant sales of groceries, baby, consumer electronics and other items. Forbes 5/13/11
Burberry plans to boost sales in far eastern markets by using its “Britishness” to differentiate itself in a luxury market dominated by European brands such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Guardian.co.uk 5/13/11
Facebook is being accused of hypocrisy for promoting transparency while anonymously trying to persuade reporters to write stories critical of the privacy implications of Google’s search feature Social Circle. NYTimes 5/13/11
Procter & Gamble (PG) says consumers are increasingly choosing its brands over store brands, a sign of an improved economy. The company plans to raise prices on products including Pampers diapers, Iams pet food and Head & Shoulders shampoo but is keeping prices down on lower tier products such as Luvs diapers. Businessweek 5/12/11
Prestige Brands (PBH) nearly doubled its fourth-quarter profit on strong over-the-counter product sales, helped by acquisitions and growth of its five core brands. The company makes products including Clear Eyes, NightGuard, Dermoplast, Sleep-Eze, Comet and Spic and Span. Foxbusiness.com 5/12/11.
Maidenform is extending its brand with the launch of Maidenform Swimwear, in partnership with Malibu Dream Girl. PRNewswire 5/12/11
Apple is the world’s most valuable brand according to Brandz top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2011. Download report here.
Starbucks (SBUX) has pulled the plug on Seattle’s 15th Ave Coffee & Tea, an independent-café-like concept store to provide a “real-time, real-world exploratory environment” for their designers. The company still operates another “indie-model” testing lab, Roy Street Coffee. Investorplace.com 1/11/11
General Motors (GM) Chevrolet division has introduced a new subcompact brand, Sonic, emphasizing that the Sonic will be built in America, and provides 138 hp, 40 mpg on the highway. Buick has introduced Verano, the smallest car in its lineup in about 20 years. AutoNews.com 1/11/11
Groupon, the site that sells daily coupons for local businesses, has raised $950 million from investors, the largest amount raised by a start-up. The investment follows Google’s $6 billion bid for Groupon, which fell apart last month. HuffingtonPost 1/10/11
McDonald’s new Fruit & Maple Oatmeal must contain 100% maple sweetener in the maple product to use maple in the name, says the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. According to the VAA “there is no actual maple in the McDonald’s product being advertised.” Slashfood 1/10/11
Crumbs Bakery, the largest chain of cupcake bakeries, is going public in a reverse merger worth $66 million. The deal is expected to close next month. Business Insider, 1/10/11
Arm & Hammer, maker of kitty litter product "Super Scoop" is asking a Federal Court to stop Clorox, maker of “Fresh Step” from asserting in a commercial that cats prefer Fresh Step. The suit argues that "It is not possible scientifically to determine whether cats view one substance to be more or less malodorous than another substance." NYDaily 1/5/11
In case you missed it, here's the third and final song in the United Airlines trilogy from musician Dave Carroll. You may recall that he decided to compose three songs and release them via YouTube when United Airlines refused to replace a treasured guitar destroyed by baggage handlers. To date, the YouTube video of song #1 has been viewed over 8.6 million times.
Apple (AAPL) has sold more than two million iPad tablet computers since its launch on April 3rd. Techcrunch 5/31/10
Wal-Mart (WMT) is cutting prices an average of 30 percent on 22 foods and other essentials, restoring brands it previously dropped, and replacing trendy clothing with basic styles to reinforce their brand positioning and fight competition from dollar stores, local grocery chains and other big box retailers. Huffingtonpost.com 5/29/10
Ford Motor Company (F) says it’s reviewing its portfolio of brands and specific nameplates but won’t confirm it plans to kill the Mercury brand. LAtimes.com 5/29/10
A key attraction of Procter & Gamble’s (PG) purchase of Natura Pet Products is thought to be access to Natura’s distribution channel of independent pet stores. But pet supply retailers have taken to social media to protest that the buy will adversely affect them. Advertising Age 5/29/10
Heineken has launched "Your Heineken", enabling European consumers to personalize Heineken sleeves with provided photography/images, see 3D visualization of their creation and order the six-pack of Heineken. Mediabistro 5/28/10
When guests check in at Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) brands – Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Staybridge Suites or Candlewood Suites – on the Gowalla mobile social network via their mobile phone between now and Aug. 31, they receive “Hit it Big” rewards including loyalty points, double air miles, retail gift cards, etc., to promote IHG’s loyalty programs. Mobile Marketer 5/28/10
Time Warner and NBC Universal do not plan to convert their existing Flash-authored videos to HTML5 format so they can be viewed on Apple’s new iPad. PCMag.com 5/28/10
Ann Taylor (ANN) apologizes for altering images of models on their web site to make them appear perfectly shaped and unnaturally slender. Jezebel via BrandFreak 5/28/10
Kraft (KFT) is targeting women 35-54 with their recently launched Sandwich Shop brand of flavored, restaurant-inspired mayonnaises. Brandweek 5/27/10
Procter & Gamble (PG) has relaunched the Pantene brand with a new campaign and a contest that announced the “First Reality TV Hair Star,” during NBC's season finale of The Biggest Loser: Couples. Brandweek 5/27/10
Pabst Brewing Co., the maker of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schlitz, will be sold to food investor C. Dean Metropoulos. Pabst Blue Ribbon is seeing a resurgence in popularity 20-somethings. HuffingtonPost.com 5/26/10
In spite of overall growth, McDonald’s and Burger King are seeing their breakfast business decline as unemployment climbs and fewer workers purchase breakfast on their way to work. Washington Post 2/21/10
Tiger Woods’ apology statement on Friday, 2/19, has reignited the debate over whether he will ever be able to revive his “once-unstoppable endorsement career, which had topped $90 million annually.” Woods’ ranking of endorsement attractiveness has sunk to 2,250 from a pre-scandal ranking of 11 according to Davie-Brown Entertainment, a company that tracks the appeal of celebrities using online polls of U.S. consumers. Wall Street Journal Online. 2/20/10
Have you dreamed of being an Old Navy ‘supermodelquin’? Now’s your chance – the apparel brand is offering one lucky winner the chance to have their likeness turned into a supermodelquin that will be paid $100K to appear in a TV ad. AdFreak 2/19/10
Consumer package-goods companies, including Kraft, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Hershey and Heinz are vowing to make bigger investments in advertising, in-store promotion, shelf signage, coupons and packaging to fight off encroaching private labels. AdAge 2/18/10
Odwalla has signed a deal to become the first brand to have a presence in all 50 state parks, according to the National Association of State Park Directors. The NASPD hopes to sign more branding programs, but they say only brands in certain categories will be considered and that in-park signage will be subtle. Brandweek 2/18/10
“U.S. retailers continue to make progress in offering store brand products with health claims relevant to shoppers looking for healthier food choices…Store brands now comprise almost 40 percent of products with preservative claims, one-fourth of organic product sales, and nearly one-fifth of all products with natural and fat claims in food/drug/mass merchandise retailers.” Progressive Grocer, 2/18/10
Nielsen says Facebook usage is growing; the average U.S. visitor spent seven hours, one minute and 41 seconds on Facebook in January, 2010, compared with four hours and 39 minutes in June, 2009. Wall Street Journal Blog 2/17/10
Burger King plans to replace its BKJoe coffee brands with Starbuck’s Seattle’s Best Coffee, and add a line of coffee drinks to improve their breakfast business. Washington Post 2/16/10
Burger King Corp. plans to open a Whopper Bar in the South Beach area of Miami this month, catering to Miami's night life. Whopperistas will be able to indulge their “flame-broiled passion in a crisp, modern, über-chic bar setting.” The Whopper Bar will offer American beer and Whopper sandwiches with 22 toppings and sauces 24 hours a day, seven days a week. CNNMoney.com 1/23/10
Microsoft (MSFT), Sephora, NASCAR and Comcast (CMCSA) are using Twitter as a component in sweepstakes promotions to boost buzz about their brands. Adweek 11/22/09
Complaints over ads from competitors filed with the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the industry’s main self-regulatory program for national ads, will set a record in 2009. Combatants include Pantene vs Dove, Science Diet vs. Iams, AT&T(ATT) vs. Verizon Wireless (VZ) and Campbell Soup vs. Progresso. New York Times 11/22/09
Mega media brand Oprah Winfrey is ending her talk show in 2011 after 25 years on the air to launch OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. Adweek 11/20/09
eBay (EBAY) will sponsor free wireless Internet on Delta (DAL) flights during the holiday travel period Nov. 24 through Nov. 30 to promote eBay’s “Holideals.” Clickz 11/18/09
Intel (INTC) hopes to strengthen the connection between it’s brand and consumers through a new website they’ve launched called LifeScoop. The site is designed to appeal to consumers interested in technology “but aren’t hard-core geeks.” Brandweek 11/14/09
Hundreds of “older, poorly perfoming” Holiday Inn hotels in North America could lose the right to call themselves a Holiday Inn if the franchisees don’t meet franchisor Intercontinental Hotel Group's (IHG) quality specs and undertake extensive renovations. Wall Street Journal 11/13/09. Requires subscription.
McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) plans to open about 1,000 new restaurants, remodel 2,300 existing ones around the world next year, and is experimenting with new technology to prepare for a global economic recovery. Wall Street Journal 11/13/09. Requires subscription.
The American Family Association is calling on consumers to boycott Gap Inc. (GPS) and its brands, which include Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, this holiday season because the retailer's ads downplay the word "Christmas." Brandweek 11/13/09
Burger King franchisees are suing the company, alleging that Burger King Corp (BKC). doesn't have the right to set "maximum prices" for certain menu items. The lawsuit was spurred by the double-cheeseburger promotion that franchisees fought against saying it causes them to lose money. Advertising Age 11/12/09
Miracle Whip bought every ad slot on The Colbert Report on November 12th, and announced the buy “in newspapers warning Colbert that his commercial breaks would expose his viewers to “hardcore Miracle Whip attitude.” The Miracle Whip ad roadblock was in response to a parody of a Miracle Whip ad that Colbert ran on his show in October. MediaFreak 11/12/09
Ashley Furniture sponsors live-streamed birth on MomsLikeMe.com, a one-year-old site owned by newspaper publisher Gannett. The company had a featured banner running during event which was seen by 3,600 people watching the live stream, and an additional 148,600 unique visitors who downloaded the video during the next 72 hours. ClickZ Network 11/11/09
Breaking with other airline sites, Continental Airlines (CAL) plans to sell advertising on their website, saying their 10 million monthly unique users are in a trip-planning frame of mind, creating “an extremely conducive atmosphere for advertisers."Brandweek 11/11/09
The beloved brand was born 1914 when the owner of a San Francisco newspaper stand begain selling home-baked cookies. The company closed its doors in 2008 and was relaunched by Kellogg in 2009. Image credit: MothersCookies.com
Macy’s is reprising its “Believe” campaign this month, which recounts the famous, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” editorial from the New York Sun. The campaign incorporates numerous elements including a 30-minute, animated special on CBS, a 25-city Santa tour a commercial featuring Grammy Award-winning singer Queen Latifah and a “Telll Us Why You Believe” contest that enables people to share their thoughts about what they believe in and why they believe.” Brandweek 11/7/09
Sears (SHLD) will add a new line of Jenn-Air kitchen appliances to its lineup this month, the only national retail chain to sell the high-end appliances. Sears market share in appliances has dropped from 40% to 31% over the last decade. Chicago Tribune 11/5/09
Borders (BGP) will close 200 Waldenbooks and Borders Express stores and cut 1,500 jobs in January so that it can focus on its more profitable superstores. Miami Herald 11/5/09
SnapNames, the largest the largest reseller of Web site names, has admitted that an employee was shill bidding on auctions to enrich himself and drive up the cost of names sold by the company. SnapNames says just 5 percent of total auctions between 2005 and 2007 were affected, about one percent of the company’s auction revenue during that same time. Washington Post 11/4/09, TechCrunch 11/4/09
AT&T (ATT) is suing Verizon (VZ) over Verizon’s “There’s a map for that” ad. The ad plays on Apple’s “there’s an App for That” slogan---but that’s not the problem. At issue is a map in the ad (see map graphic, video below) that shows that Verizon has 5 times more 3G coverage than AT&T, but doesn't show that the gaps in AT&T 3G coverage might be covered by AT&T's 2G network.
AT&T accuses Verizon of “misleading consumers into believing that AT&T doesn't offer ANY wireless service in the vast majority of the country.” Engadget 11/3/09 Image Credit: Techflash
Last week we posted about TechCrunch's expose of social gaming companies, such as Zynga, who make hundreds of millions of dollars on Facebook and MySpace by scamming players who accept offers for in-game currency. The problem is that the special offers are really lead generation scams. One example: a “Farm IQ Quiz” offered by Offerpal rewards the user with Farm Cash for taking the survey---and signs them up to a $9.99/month mobile subscription without the user’s consent.
A previous video of the Zynga CEO, Mark Pincus, has surfaced showing him saying:
“I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this zwinky toolbar which was like, I don’t know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it.”
The video is below: if you're viewing it at work, turn the volume down; Pincus drops the F-bomb in it.
Social gaming companies are making hundreds of millions of dollars on Facebook and MySpace. But in a series of posts, TechCrunch says some of these gaming companies, such as Zynga and Farmville are making money by scamming players who accept offers for in-game currency in exchange for special offers that are really lead generation scams. One example: a “Farm IQ Quiz” offered by Offerpal rewards the user with Farm Cash for taking the survey---and signs them up to a $9.99/month mobile subscription without the user’s consent.
Another example provided by TechCrunch: Users are offered in-game currency when they sign up to receive a learning CD from Video Professor for just $10 shipping. But a different page, separate from checkout, tells them they will be getting a full set of CDs at a cost of $189.95 unless they return them.
TechCrunch notes: “Here’s the really insidious part: game developers who monetize the best (and that’s Zynga) make the most money and can spend the most on advertising. Those that won’t touch this stuff (Slide and others) fall further and further behind. Other game developers have to either get in on the monetization or fall behind as well…The games that scam the most, win.”
The posts have generated a firestorm of reaction, from companies who provide the offers, such as Offerpal, who called the assertions “shit, double shit and bullshit,” to commenters who say they’ve been victimized by the offer scams. Companies who have participated, or who have been approached to participate in offer scams, have commented that this has been going on for awhile without much notice from the media or social media sites.