see you in court
Posted by Eric Starkman on November 25, 2013 02:57 PM
The following is a guest post from Eric Starkman, the president of STARKMAN, a public relations and brand management firm with offices in New York and San Francisco. He previously was an editor and reporter at major newspapers in the US and Canada.
Effective brand management is no easy feat, and it certainly is not the sole responsibility of those who carry the terms "brand management" somewhere on their company's business card. As we all know, marketers, employees, customers, the media, and the general public all have an impact on how a brand is perceived. Individual experience, coupled with those of trusted influencers, can have far greater impact on brand perception than the most ambitious PR, marketing, and branding campaigns. So why is it that corporations fail again and again to protect what brand "control" they do have when it comes to their attorneys?
As Wells Fargo, Google, and Goldman Sachs have demonstrated, attorneys can often define—and by doing so sully—the brands they are there to protect. In Wells Fargo’s case, Judge William G. Young of Federal District Court was so outraged by the conduct of the bank's attorneys in a predatory lending lawsuit that he demanded a corporate resolution signed by the president—and a majority of its board—affirming they supported the seemingly audacious behavior of the bank’s legal eagles. While Judge Young grudgingly accepted the legal argument of Wells’ attorneys, he was clearly bothered that the bank’s victory was won on a “technicality”:
“The disconnect between Wells Fargo’s publicly advertised face and its actual litigation conduct here could not be more extreme,” Judge Young ruled. “A quick visit to Wells Fargo’s website confirms that it vigorously promotes itself as consumer-friendly… a far cry from the hard-nosed win-at-any-cost stance it has adopted here.”Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 7, 2013 02:57 PM
And so the saga of out-of-touch retailers continues.
After a rousing few months of PR lows, teen outfitter Abercrombie & Fitch and yogi cult clothier Lululemon still have some gas in their engines. The purveyor of $90 stretch pants has largely recovered from its March "sheer pants" issue, with sales—and poor judgment—back at normal levels. A&F, however, has had a rougher go at it since the brand was thrust into the spotlight in May over some ill-advised comments from CEO Mike Jeffries that brought to light the brand's 'cool kids only' culture.
The consumer outcry over Jeffries' old comments—"A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."—only added wood to the fire that was A&F's falling sales. The company netted its seventh quarterly consecutive loss in same-store sales this week, resulting in an overall 30 percent devaluation in 2013. And after months of trying to put a band-aid on the brand damage, A&F announced that it will begin stocking more styles and larger sizes of its women's tops by spring and even start selling shoes and accessories in a bid to woo back teens that have defected to trendier retailers like H&M and Forever 21.
In an age where inclusiveness is the key, A&F's preference for the “all-American kid(s) with a great attitude and a lot of friends," could be called downright archaic. Outright ignoring the flourishing plus-size industry, the retailer previously only carried up to a size large for its women's clothing, while rival American Eagle, as well as H&M and Forever 21 produce XL and plus-size lines.Continue reading...
Posted by Abe Sauer on November 5, 2013 10:05 PM
Hurdler Liu Xiang is no longer the only Chinese Olympic superstar to embarrass his sponsors. Add to that list, Olympic gold medal winner and swimming mega-star Sun Yang.
Last week, the celebrity athlete and London pool sensation was taken into custody after a traffic accident involving a Porsche SUV. That's embarrassing enough for his sponsor, Hyundai. But it's worse. It seems, given all that time in the pool, Sun Yang never got around to getting a driver's license. Now Hyundai is the focus of Chinese authorities too and laughing consumers. Continue reading...
brand of crazy
Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 30, 2013 04:41 PM
When life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade—not squirt the juice in your eyes.
But Lululemon’s latest move in its NorthPark Center, Dallas store makes one wonder if the cult-like, eccentric yoga lifestyle brand subscribes to the age-old adage, "there is no such thing as bad publicity."
Mall-goers noticed that the store adorned their front display window with a less-than-clever statement: "We do partners yoga, not partners card," referring to the annual, flagship fundraiser for The Family Place, a well-respected Dallas charity that gives support to battered women and children. A Partners Card can be purchased for $70—all of which is donated to the charity—and entitles users to a 20 percent discount at 750 partcipating area retailers through October and November—a list that does not include Lululemon.Continue reading...
Posted by Abe Sauer on October 30, 2013 12:42 PM
In China, sales of foreign fast food continue to slow. McDonald's, despite a huge hiring push and nearly 250 new stores in China this year, has recently seen regional sales decrease. KFC is doing worse, with sales continuing to tank despite the brand weathering a hormone scandal a year ago and a recent H7N9 bird flu scare.
And chinese fast food brands appear to be closing the gap. Whether it's pricing, food safety or just taste, more local names like Taiwan's Dicos and the Bruce Lee-branded Kung Fu Catering are drawing the eye of Chinese eaters.
And to help along local vendors, KFC seems to be going for a hat trick of PR disasters. In an attempt to boost sales, this week KFC launched a two week promotion in which its chicken bucket is half-price. Except, it shrunk the contents—and Chinese customers have noticed.
On the first day of the promotion, advertised as the "Half-Price Bucket," social network users on Weibo and elsewhere have kicked up a storm of complaints pointing out that the bucket is half-priced because it has nearly half as much chicken. In a Weibo post forwarded nearly 3,600 times, user "Happy张江" breaks down how the new "half-price" bucket contains a lot less than the old bucket meal, asking in the end, "这特么是半价?" or "So what's this special half price?"Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 28, 2013 05:32 PM
NBC already has indicated it will enjoy a record haul for US TV advertising during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But the job for brand sponsors of the Games and athletes has only begun on their path to the opening of the games on February 7.
Top-tier marketers including Coca-Cola, P&G, Target, and Kellogg's are signing up to sponsor Team USA athletes as well as trying to navigate the increasingly icy waters around Sochi regarding the tendency of the Russian government to violate human rights and LGBT rights.
On Tuesday, the US Olympic Committee will kick-off a 100-Day Countdown campaign featuring Team USA in Times Square in New York, hoping to recreate the excitement of 2012's Road to London event (at top) with the Liberty Mutual-sponsored Road to Sochi (#RoadtoSochi) tour.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 28, 2013 02:13 PM
Google Glass is coming to America. It’s coming on a boat—a very slow boat that is stuck in San Francisco Bay, and not going anywhere anytime soon. According to local reports, Google has been working on a mystery barge in San Francisco Bay, constructing a Google Glass retail experience that the company will eventually motor to a nearby pier and open to interested consumers.
The Bay Area's real estate market may be ridiculously expensive, but Google isn't shopping for a bargain. The brand has poured millions into the project but it's now stalled, CBS reports, because Google didn't have the proper permits. “The law is crystal clear in this case,” Larry Goldzband, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission executive director, told the local San Francisco CBS affiliate. “The Bay is not to be used for something that can be built on land.”
Across the country, meanwhile, a similar floating cargo-like construction is reportedly being built near Portland, Maine.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 28, 2013 12:09 PM
English Premier League champs Manchester United once again found the club tied to some unsavory folks. In an email to fans about its young players with the subject line “New Order,” the team’s initials were designed in such a way that the design resembled the Nazi swastika.
As an uproar ensued, ManU was forced to quickly apologize on Saturday for the unintended affront in its weekly email. "The creative is completely inappropriate,” the club’s head of media, David Sternberg, commented to The Guardian. “We apologise unreservedly and are taking appropriate internal action."
While some outraged fans let the team have it on Twitter, others didn’t see the swastika image in the revised logo and wondered why ManU had bothered to issue an apology.
While evidently still unclear how the creative was designed and approved, the team may be a little sensitive to the issue since the publication of Bill Buford’s 1990 book, Among the Thugs, chronicled the misadventures of ManU fans, some of whom were attached to the far-right, whites-only political party, the National Front.Continue reading...