brands under fire

30 Years On, Bhopal Disaster Weighs on Victims—and Dow Chemical's Reputation

Posted by Dale Buss on December 3, 2014 05:05 PM

Before BP and the Exxon Valdez, the Bhopal pesticide plant leak in India—which happened 30 years ago this week—remains the world's worst industrial disaster.

Is the toxic legacy of the Bhopal gas explosion disaster at a Union Carbide plant in India any responsibility of U.S.-based Dow Chemical, which now owns Union Carbide? Or is it fully on the shoulders of the Indian government that settled with Union Carbide 25 years ago?

Or is it a brand-building and corporate citizenship opportunity for today's Dow management team to alleviate the continued suffering of many among the population of Bhopal's some half-million Indian victims? So many questions, and so much angst, as the company faces protests this week by Bhopal survivors still fighting for compensation.

The gas leak from the pesticide plant killed about 2,500 people almost instantly when the pesticide factory began to seep toxins and the explosion occurred. But that was just the beginning of its repercussions—and some major issues remain unresolved.Continue reading...

bc q&a

The Green Giant: 5 Questions with Walmart Sustainability VP Manuel Gomez

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 7, 2014 01:28 PM

Walmart is increasing its commitment to environmentally-friendly practices, which is a very good thing given that with 2014 sales on track to pass $473 billion and more than 2 million employees worldwide, Walmart’s industry sway—and carbon footprint—is massive.

As the largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart corporate touches more than 245 million customers in 11,302 stores—each week—operating under 71 brand names in 27 countries. 

Among the goals outlined in the company's 2014 Global Responsibility report is to become the largest on-site green power generator in the U.S. and, globally, to increase the company's supply of renewable energy 600% by the end of 2020. 

brandchannel's Sheila Shayon spoke with Manuel Gomez, Walmart's VP of Sustainability, to discuss the report's impact on the company's future practices.Continue reading...

sustainability

Business, World Leaders Urged to Walk Their Talk at UN Climate Summit

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 23, 2014 06:15 PM

During the kick-off to the United Nations Climate Summit on Tuesday, business leaders and political leaders vowed to action plans on behalf of their companies or countries. Commitments made to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the General Assembly included, on the corporate side:

IKEA announced it's expanding the availability of residential solar panels from the UK to the Netherlands and Switzerland and six additional countries and also unveiled "a new commitment for all plastic material used in its home furnishing products to be 100% renewable and/or recycled by 2020."

Mondelez International Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld "joined world leaders at the UN Climate Summit to announce the first global timeline to slow and then end forest loss. The New York Declaration on Forests strives to cut forest loss in half by 2020, and end it by 2030—and also calls for restoring at least 350 million hectares of degraded forest lands by 2030, an area greater than the size of India." She also pledged "new support for the UNDP Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil Platform."

• In all, 39 major companies (incuding Walmart, Unilever and McDonald's) and 32 countries (but not, alarmingly, Brazil) signed the Declaration on Forests, including Asia Pulp and Paper, whose longtime foe Greenpeace welcomed the Declaration but also urged that voluntary action not replace government action.Continue reading...

sustainability

Brands Unite Around Climate Change Ahead of UN Summit

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 22, 2014 02:01 PM

A tipping point has been reached vis-à-vis climate change. Sunday's People’s Climate March (supported by Ben & Jerry's and a host of organizations) drew an estimated 400,000 people in New York alone, making it the largest climate march in history. And it's not just private citizens, but corporate citizens that are taking a stand in response to customer demands ahead of Tuesday’s opening of the UN Climate Summit in New York.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has identified the issue as a top priority and is using NYC's Climate Week to set the stage for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Paris in December 2015.

On the eve of this week's Climate Summit, companies are speaking out and aligning their brands with popular sentiment by making pledges to help fight global warming, with the Climate Group announcing commitments by "100 of the world's largest companies" to adopt renewable power by 2020.

Case in point: Apple CEO Tim Cook, barely catching his breath from a record opening weekend for iPhone 6 sales, flew from California to attend a Climate Week kick-off event in New York, where he commented that "Apple has a very core value of leaving the world better than we found it."

In addition to calling Apple's new HQ the "greenest building on the planet," Cook announced that the company's 2013 goal to get its data centers fully powered by renewable energy sources is six percent shy of that goal.Continue reading...

green shoots

Hold the Protest: Will Funny Greenpeace Ads Drive Amazon to #ClickClean?

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 19, 2014 11:39 AM

Greenpeace’s latest campaign, #ClickClean, targets major tech players like Amazon and Twitter to source more of their energy from renewables such as solar, wind and hydro power.

Featuring musician/comedian Reggie Watts, Greenpeace launched ClickClean following its April report that showed which of the Internet’s biggest players are using dirty or clean energy. The activist group began addressing the cloud issue in 2012, challenging Apple, Microsoft and Amazon to power their data centers with renewable energy. Apple has since complied and is powering its iCloud with 100-percent renewable energy. Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Rackspace and Box also are taking actions to increase their green cred.

"We set out to develop a campaign that had humor at its core and that people would rally behind and share," said Mary Hanifin, executive producer from The VIA Agency that worked with Greenpeace, according to Fast Company. "Positive persuasion by numbers, you could say. Reggie’s unique brand of comedy, devoted following and ability to convey complex themes through humor made him a perfect fit."Continue reading...

trademark wars

BP Hopes to Prevail in Green Trademark Claim in Australia

Posted by Jerome McDonnell on July 3, 2014 12:56 PM

After more than 20 years of trying, BP has failed to convince the Australian government that its signature shade of green should be granted a trademark registration.

IP Australia, which administers that country’s intellectual property rights system, ruled on June 17 that it found no convincing evidence to support the petroleum giant’s efforts to protect the color shade Pantone 348C—despite the fact that the color has been central to the BP brand since the 1930s. While the company has the right (until July 17) to appeal, this decision is yet another setback for BP, which has successfully secured trademark registrations for the single color in markets including the UK, France, Iran and nearby New Zealand.

Australian retailer Woolworths, whose apple logo also utilizes the color green, had previously opposed BP’s attempts to register the color, and while some media reports have positioned this development as a huge victory for Woolworths, this latest update focuses on less the a war between two corporations but on whether the color, as BP seeks to protect it, actually functions as a trademark and warrants protection.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Apple Seeks FDA's Advice On Journey to More Powerful Personal Tech

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 3, 2014 03:26 PM

At a critical juncture for Apple, the house that Jobs built is now turning to health and fitness as the antidote to slipping iPhone sales and public criticism that the brand has lost its defining innovation and design mojo.

The company is reportedly working on a sensor-laden iWatch that works in tandem with a “Healthbook” app to monitor and store personal data on steps taken, calories burned, blood pressure, hydration levels and other blood-related metrics like glucose levels, following the growing popularity of health-monitoring devices like Nike's FuelBand, FitBit and dozens of others than debuted at this year's CES

Apple executives Jeff Williams, SVP operations, Bud Tribble, VP software technology, and Michael O’Reilly, a recent hire and former chief medical officer for Masimo, creator of non-invasive technology that measures blood oxygen, met in December with Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg about “mobile medical applications," according to the New York Times.

Mark A. McAndrew, a partner with Taft Stettinius & Hollister said the out of the ordinary meetings signaled that, “They are either trying to get the lay of the land for regulatory pathways with medical devices and apps and this was an initial meeting, or Apple has been trying to push something through the FDA for a while and they’ve had hangups.”Continue reading...

let's make a deal

Google's Connected Home Ambitions Take Flight with Nest Acquisition

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 14, 2014 12:57 PM

On the heels of CES 2014, Google has effectively tapped into arguably one of the biggest trends in consumer tech—the smart home—by buying Nest Labs for $3.2 billion in cash, its second-largest acquisition to date. 

The company founded by former Apple executives Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell, who is credited as a key player in the invention of the iPod, is known for creating smart thermostats and smoke detectors. Nest told Forbes that it has sold about 1 million of its thermostats, placing them in nearly 1 percent of US households. 

And that's where excitement turns to concern, as consumers fear that Google may use Nest's technology to monitor them. Google has already addressed the concerns, saying its existing privacy policy "clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services," but that hasn't quieted the critics much. 

But Nest, a company started by and filled with ex-Apple employees, doesn't seem to be worried. Continue reading...

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