Facebook is working on a mobile phone to counter the increasing power of the iPhone and Android platforms and the long term competitive threat to its apps. The company wants to integrate deeply into the contacts list and other core functions of the phone. Techcrunch 9/19/10
A Florida entrepreneur is relaunching the Commodore computer brand. Products include an update of Commodore's once popular C64 model, the former high-end Amiga brand and its AIO (All-in-One) computers in a keyboard.Commodore declared bankruptcy in 1994. BrandFreak 9/17/10
SYMS Corp, owner of Filene's Basement, has unveiled three new stores in Manhattan, Westchester County and Long Island with the mashup name fbSY (pronounced fib-see.) The company says the name makes sense in the age of Twittering and text messaging. Name Wire 9/17/10
As part of a new, externally focused, customer-centric mission to actively promote the local marketing platforms and solutions that local stations have to offer, the 57-year-old Television Bureau of Advertising is replacing its “Serving America’s Television Stations” tagline with “Local Media Marketing Solutions” and rebranding itself as TVB. TVB.org 9/16/10 via NYTimes.com
Ford is running a combined print and mobile campaign for its 2011 Edge crossover in The New York Times that includes 2D barcodes in print ads providing mobile users with access a selection of Times articles on technology and style intended to appeal to tech-savvy prospective Edge buyers. MediaPost 9/16/10
The Corn Refiners Association (CRA), the makers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), has asked the FDA to rename their product "corn sugar.” The CRA says HFCS is no worse for consumers than other sugars, but has been linked to obesity. Name Wire 9/15/10
Oprah Winfrey topped her 2004 Pontiac car giveaway by giving the 300 members of her 9/13 studio audience on an eight-day, all-expenses-paid trip to Sydney, Australia, in December. Oprah is promoting her premiere week, her 25th and “farewell season.” NYTimes.com 9/13/10
Walmart (WMT) has launched Walmart Family Mobile powered by T-Mobile, a new brand of post-paid cell phone service that offers monthly post-paid plans without a contract or multi-year commitment. It will be sold in nearly 2,500 Walmart stores. Marketwatch 9/13/10
ConAgra Foods’ frozen meals brand Marie Callender’s is presenting mealtime as a respite from the day's worries in a campaign themed "Time to Savor" that portrays the brand's products as comfort food. Adweek 8/29/10
Asian models have been added to represent the brands of Estee Lauder and Maybelline to appeal to the fastest-growing market in the world. SifyNews 8/28/10
A study of YouTube videos for tobacco brands including Marlboro, Benson and Hedges and Winston, says most had pro-tobacco content, using themes like celebrities and movies, sports, music or archival footage (such as an ad using the Flintstones smoking Winston cigarettes), and noted that some videos seemed to be professionally made. A World Health Organization treaty requires participating countries to ban all forms of tobacco advertisements and sponsorships but YouTube is a user-generated site that is not regulated for content control. Pagingdrgupta.com 8/27/10
Federal regulators are looking at Google Inc.'s plans to buy travel technology company ITA Software Inc., which could position Google to compete with travel brands Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz. Huffingtonpost.com 8/27/10
Two teenagers are suing Facebook, claiming their names and images were sold to advertisers without parental permission as part of a Facebook feature that allows members to ‘like’ a service or product. Facebook broadcasts likes to the user's friends. Huffingtonpost.com 8/27/10
Apple has set the date of its next "big announcement" for Sept. 1. Speculation is that the company will unveil a cloud-based music service. Brandweek 8/27/10
Nissan's Infiniti luxury brand plans to launch its first performance sub-brand in December, a version of its G coupe, to compete with BMW's M-series, Cadillac's V-series and Mercedes-Benz's AMG. Detroit Free Press 8/26/10
Japanese fast-fashion brand Uniqlo has named Charlize Theron and Orlando Bloom global brand ambassadors for its new “Made For All” philosophy. The company’s new tagline, emphasizes its commitment to provide clothing for everyone, regardless of nationality, age, occupation or gender People 8/26/10
Google has rolled out the “Call Phone” feature to all US Gmail users enabling them to call people directly on their phones. The service is free for calls in the US and Canada for the remainder of 2010. Gmailblog 8/26/10
RIM falls to 17-month low as India plans to ban BlackBerry messaging services Aug. 31 unless RIM resolves concerns the smart phones could be used for terrorist attacks or other illegal activities. Bloomberg 8/26/10
Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Co. are recalling 1.3 million 2005-2008 model vehicles because of engine stalling complaints. Autonews.com 8/26/10
Tiffany & Co. is launching a collection of handbags in a dozen U.S. stores on Sept. 1.The move will help Tiffany to drive sales through accessibly priced goods while maintaining the brand’s luxury image. WSJ.com 8/26/10
GM is launching the Chevrolet Cruze in September. As part of GM’s effort to achieve long term profitability the Cruze will be priced higher than previous compacts. WSJ 8/26/10
Four Points by Sheraton has reached a milestone of 150 properties in 24 countries.The Four Points’ brand positioning of “uncomplicated comfort” and value has helped the brand become one of the fastest growing brands within the Starwood portfolio. MarketWatch 8/25/10
American Eagle Outfitters Inc. plans store closings and layoffs in the wake of weaker margins, higher overhead and losses related to its failed Martin + Osa chain. The company points to inconsistent business trends and unpredictable consumer behavior as contributors to losses. WSJ 8/25/10
McDonald’s has named Steve Easterbrook evp, global chief brand officer, a new position at the fast-food giant. Reuters 8/24/10
Sweet ‘N Low is introducing a new campaign to relaunch the brand to consumers and differentiate it in an increasingly crowded category. NYTimes 8/23/10
Kraftis launching a new campaign that “centers on the moments of exultation moms and children alike derive from eating the cookie, that will replace its eight-year-old “Cookie Guys” campaign. The new tagline: “There’s a lotta joy in Chips Ahoy!” Brandweek 5/23/10
7-Eleven is launching a six week promotion, beginning June 1, with Zynga, a maker of social games, to offer FarmVille, Mafia Wars ad YoVille-branded items on Slurpee and Big Gulp cups, bottled water, signature ice cream and more in its 7,000 stores. Techcrunch 5/23/10
Burger King is offering bone-in pork ribs for a limited time, priced at $7.19 for an eight-piece meal, in an attempt to wean customers off the heavily discounted budget deals that have become common among many quick serve brands. Brandweek 5/21/10
The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) has launched eStore, an online shopping site featuring P&G brands including Tide, Pampers, Olay, CoverGirl, Swiffer and Febreze. The main function of the new site, which is owned and operated by PFSweb, is to “act as a ‘living learning lab’ for developing e-commerce innovation to win with shoppers.” The eStore offers a single flat rate for standard shipping of $5, regardless of quantity or product size. The Procter & Gamble Company 5/20/2010 via Techcrunch
Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers' names and other personal details, despite promises they don't share such information without consent, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The sites send user names or ID numbers tied to personal profiles being viewed when users click on ads. After questions were raised by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook and MySpace moved to make changes. DoubleClick, Right Media and other large advertising companies identified by the Journal as receiving the data said they were unaware of the data being sent to them and hadn’t made use of it. Wall Street Journal 5/21/2010
Fan Page List wants to make it easy for anyone to find the Facebook Fan Pages that are interesting to them. Users can search by brands, as well as celebrities, athletes, movies, TV shows, news and sports teams. Here’s a list of the top 25 fan pages by brand and number of fans according to Fan Page List, as of 5/23/2010.
More proof that social networking isn’t just for the young; a new survey from Arbitron and Edison Research says 51% of 35 to 44 year olds have personal profile pages compared to 78% of 18-24 year olds. Also, for the first time in the survey’s history, the majority of Americans (42%) chose the Internet as "most essential" to their lives versus television (37%). MediaPost 4/9/10
Social media helps improve offline relationships says new research conducted by Euro RSCG Adweek 11/20/09
74% of Americans read newspapers either in print or online according to the Integrated Newspaper Audience report from Scarborough Research. Marketing Charts 11/19/09
Spamming is illegal but here’s another reason not to do it: 41% of respondents in a study of email and traditional mail promotions say irrelevant promotions would make them consider ending a brand relationship; an additional 22% say they would definitely defect from the brand. Marketing Charts 11/18/09
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.