Reggae singer Bob Marley's name and likeness have been slapped on unauthorized merchandise since his death in 1981. Now, the Marley family and a private equity firm that invests in retail brands are preparing a major push to license Mr. Marley's likeness, trademarks and themes to apparel, food and even video games.
As tourists start returning to the Gulf of Mexico two years after the disaster that marred its name, BP would like to rebuild its image as an oil company that actually gives a hoot about the environment.
When it comes to wooing wary shoppers, many retailers are playing the percentages. Campaigns for stores, from giant chains to mom-and-pops, are promoting sales that are frequently expressed in percentages off from regular prices. Twenty or 25 percent off, once considered a hefty discount, is practically nothing nowadays, as most consumers must be enticed further to open their wallets or purses. How willing shoppers are to shop is important as retailers approach the start of the crucial Christmas season. To prime the pump, ads are routinely proclaiming savings of 50, 60 and even 70 percent off. In some instances, the discounts are going as high as 85 percent. Some retailers are subtracting atop subtraction by offering an “extra” percentage off merchandise, typically items that had been marked down earlier.
Back when the first towns were so small that every resident and half the itinerant traders passing through were on a first-name basis, advertising a professional service meant little more than walking into the village pub and introducing yourself to the innkeeper. Chances are, you would have gotten to the next stage--in part because you were the only lawyer, accountant or land surveyor in town. These days few potential buyers will even take a meeting unless you've found a way to tell them who you are before you walk in the door. Which means something has to open that door for you. Then and only then can your professionalism, empathy, experience and ability to demonstrate a clear value proposition come into play. That's why I'm a big believer in advertising.
Evolving from the world's biggest factory to creator of the world's biggest brands is a challenge, and China continues to struggle with crafting a name for itself beyond just low-priced products.
Big bank Goldman Sachs is trying to repair its reputation, damaged by charges of civil fraud and a criminal investigation — never mind an embarrassment of riches in the firm's report of over $13 billion of net earnings in 2009. So it may come as no surprise that Goldman Sachs is reportedly considering everything from an ad campaign to an appearance on The Oprah Show by CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
Search any of these phrases on Google: oil spill, BP, or Deepwater Horizon. Take a look at the sponsored link on top of the page. It doesn't direct you towards, say, an oil disaster recovery group or news about the spill's impact on the Louisiana economy. In each case, the sponsored link goes to BP's Gulf of Mexico response page--essentially, BP's propaganda page about the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
High-fructose corn syrup is getting a bad name. Hunt's ketchup is the latest product to replace corn syrup with old-fashioned sugar. Gatorade, Wheat Thins, Ocean Spray cranberry juice and all the baked goods at Starbucks are now made with regular sugar. In New York State, a bill to ban the sale of food containing high-fructose corn syrup was introduced this year. One analyst estimates that U.S sales of high-fructose corn syrup were down 9% in 2009 compared with 2007. A further fall is expected this year. This decline has taken place in spite of a two-year $30 million "Sweet Surprise" advertising campaign sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association. The campaign highlights what the association says are vague and unsubstantiated opinions.
What should you do to rehabilitate your general reputation if you are in Goldman Sachs' executive suite at 200 West Street in New York? Beset by an SEC complaint, a criminal investigation, a Senate grilling, and the resulting loss in two weeks of more than $20 billion in market capitalization, Goldman has assumed a defensive posture. This is so even though the firm just announced $3.46 billion in first quarter earnings.
The legal and political consequences of the complaint brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Goldman Sachs have drawn most of the public's attention, but it is the cultural fallout that will be the more meaningful legacy of the case. The fuzzy link between a real asset like a home mortgage and a synthetic collateralized debt obligation is hard to grasp for people focused on Roth IRAs and pretax health care expense accounts. By ignoring the need most of us have to see how investments are linked to tangible assets, Wall Street generally, and Goldman Sachs specifically, have given us ample reason to believe the truth of the charges.
Google's first search engine let people search by typing text onto a Web page. Next came queries spoken over the phone. On Monday, Google announced the ability to perform an Internet search by submitting a photograph. The experimental search-by-sight feature, called Google Goggles, has a database of billions of images that informs its analysis of what's been uploaded, said Vic Gundotra, Google's vice president of engineering. It can recognize books, album covers, artwork, landmarks, places, logos, and more.
Duane Reade this week introduced an exclusive line of food and beverage products dubbed DR Delish. The line currently includes 25 products, such as baked potato crisps and raisin oatmeal cookies. The drugstore chain, which has 256 locations in metropolitan New York, expects the total number of offerings to grow to 100 or more by Christmas. The move is part of Duane Reade’s overall strategy to spruce up its image. The 50-year-old drugstore chain recently debuted an outdoor campaign, via privately held agency DeVito/Verdi, with the tagline: “Your City. Your Drugstore.” To date, Duane Reade has either “completely rebuilt or remodeled” 30 of its 256 locations—to include pre-packaged foods like sandwiches and salads, and more improvements are coming, said acting chief marketing officer Joe Jackman. Although bold, marketing strides like these are contemporizing and keeping the Duane Reade brand top-of-mind among consumers, and so far, the feedback has been positive, Jackman told Brandweek.
"Intel Inside" was the first, and arguably the best, "ingredient" branding to come out of Madison Avenue. And thanks to that campaign everyone knows that Intel chips are inside computers. But the success of that ad push, which made its debut in 1991, created an image of Intel as a staid chipmaker.
AOL is calling on Leo Burnett USA to help reinvent the brand and give the internet giant a new corporate identity as it prepares to spin off from Time Warner and emerge as an independent, publicly traded firm later this year. The move comes after AOL in July quietly reached out to five agencies, a mix of large, traditional ad firms and small design shops, in what AOL Chief Operating Officer Kim Partoll calls "a very accelerated pitch process."
Beleaguered insurer AIG is renaming its property-casualty and general insurance business "Chartis," which it derived from the Greek word for map. It is giving Chartis a compass logo, which AIG, which began the rebranding effort last month, hopes will represent the franchise's approach to "navigating changing marketplaces and complex risks worldwide."
As U.S. auto manufacturers whither, Hyundai--which once struggled to overcome a reputation for cheesy, entry-level cars--is on a roll. The Korean automaker spent the last decade preaching a necessary, if not boring, message of quality. Today it's taking bold moves with its marketing. Hyundai's U.S. arm, representing nearly one-fifth of total sales, is trying to convince shoppers that, recession be damned, they shouldn't be afraid to buy a Hyundai.
There are elegant, streamlined clothes that began life on the sketchpad of designer Michael Kors. Then there are short, gymslip-style black jersey dresses by Gwen Stefani, the frontwoman of the punk-ska band No Doubt and creator of the clothing line L.A.M.B. So far, so fashion. But neither Kors’ nor Stefani’s designs are on the catwalk or in a shoot; rather, they are uniforms for staff of the trendy W Hotels chain. This summer, what you see while lounging around a resort could be as chic as anything you see in a store.
As governments respond to the financial crisis and its reverberations in the real economy, a company’s reputation has begun to matter more now than it has in decades. Companies and industries with reputation problems are more likely to incur the wrath of legislators, regulators, and the public. What’s more, the credibility of the private sector will influence its ability to weigh in on contentious issues, such as protectionism, that have serious implications for the global economy’s future.
Your neighborhood video store. Your cell phone carrier. Your credit card company. The airline you flew last week. What do all these companies have in common? Two things, really. One is that these categories generally score quite low on customer satisfaction surveys. The other is that companies in these categories have become notorious for nickel-and-diming customers.
A March 2009 survey conducted by Interbrand found that “trust and confidence” was second only to “convenience and location” in consumers’ selection of a bank. In the same survey, one-third of the respondents were considering changing banks because of a loss of confidence.
Car companies like Hyundai and Ford have been showing solidarity with consumers recently, running ads promising that the companies will help them should they lose their jobs. Mercedes-Benz USA is trying a different way to get customers to buy cars as it introduces its updated E-Class Series.
Restaurant chains are reaching out to consumers in an unexpected place: supermarket aisles. As the economy has soured, many consumers have ditched going out to eat for a trip to the grocery store, and restaurant chains are following.
There is Ally Bank: “A better kind of bank.” And A.I.U.: “A unique franchise.” And — really — Redneck Bank: “Where bankin’s funner!” All are new names and new slogans for old companies with big worries and, in some cases, even bigger image problems.
There is no hotel on Santorini that doesn't look amazing in the photos on their website. They all show rooms with white washed walls and clear blue exteriors. Glasses of wine on tables overlooking amazing sunsets. Beauty products are the same online, promising supermodel style complexions with no wrinkles in sight. Flickr is full of photos that are "tweaked" in some way to slightly increase their beauty, and the tricks that used to be only in the realm of tabloid photo editors are now available to us all.
Say goodbye to surfin' dudes and babes, the amoral party that is Hollywood, and any fashion or legislative references that might imply peace, love, or pukka shells. California is rebranding itself. Yesterday, its Supreme Court upheld the voter-passed ban on same-sex marriage by a 6-1 margin. The state has a seriously (and frighteningly) direct, participatory democracy thing going on, which allows the ballot box to directly set legislation and regulations (they decided they didn't want to pay too much in property taxes a while back, for instance, so a referendum made it so). It turns out that a simple ballot initiative can also make verbatim changes to its constitution. California has been crowdsourcing its government for years.
The image ad from Bessemer Trust reads "Why Should You Believe Anything We Say?" followed by a handful of paragraphs that explain why. Well, I don't.
In light of rising childhood obesity rates and the general confidence in supermarket sales, Disney, the world’s top licensor, is steadily making the push to realign its brand with a healthier image, targeting kids with fruits and vegetables instead. The savvy marketing move appears to be working too, as sales of the Disney Garden line were up 70 percent in 2008, a trend that can at least partially be attributed to consumer attitudes about the products.
I hear the word “brand,” as in “learn how to brand yourself,” and my heart sinks. I became a journalist rather than a salesperson because I do not like selling anything — including myself. And selling myself as a brand seems even less appealing than selling myself as, well, me. I know, I’m showing my age. And it’s not that I don’t appreciate that social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook (on which, yes, I have profiles) are providing a great way for companies to find people and people to find jobs. It’s just that everything I’ve read about branding doesn’t make me want to leap into this brave new world.
Clarins Group is trying to remake its American face. Next month, the upscale French beauty brand will begin opening spas inside department stores, eventually reaching locations across the U.S. New products, counters and services are also in the works, and Clarins will increase its efforts to woo Hispanic women -- all part of an effort to revamp Clarins's classic French image in the U.S.
You can pretty much bet on this: If consumers are looking for insurance these days, they're not going to AIG.
Beleaguered dealers frustrated with General Motors Corp. for sitting quietly on the sidelines are clamoring for a national ad campaign to counteract the daily drumbeat of negative news about whether the company will go belly up.
Georgia lawmakers are trying to revive the peanut’s good name. The lunch box staple didn’t used to be such a tough sell, but Georgia’s vital crop has taken a whipping since a nationwide salmonella outbreak tied to peanut products from a Blakely, Ga., plant, has sickened more than 600 people and been linked to nine deaths.
General Motors Corp. plans to unveil today five concept vehicles starring in the upcoming summer blockbuster sequel "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" -- a marketing move the struggling automaker is hoping will boost its image at a critical time.
For the first time, J.C. Penney Co.'s spring advertising campaign will focus only on its most fashion-forward clothing lines, designed by trendy names such as Kimora Lee Simmons and Nicole Miller. The move is part of a bid by the midtier retailer to appeal to shoppers who in the past have turned to high-end stores and boutiques for the latest looks in fashion but have cut back on spending.