Best Global Green Brands 2014

brands under fire

Up in Smoke: UK Looks to Adopt Plain Cigarette Packaging to Combat Smoking

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 30, 2014 04:52 PM


Big Tobacco has been fighting against plain packaging for years as a global health trend continues to push an anti-smoking agenda. By blocking the brand names, some of the products will lose a major part of their social cachet, one of the reasons some smokers even get started.

According to The Guardian, the UK will announce possible plain packaging regulations this Thursday. Back in April, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison had promised that such regulations would be presented by the end of that month, and the tardiness has created concern among public-health advocates.

The regulations won't guarantee plain packaging in the UK, but will bring it closer to reality.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Big Beef: Texas Ranchers Brand Chipotle Over its Agricultural Imports

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 27, 2014 10:37 AM

Chipotle, which markets itself as selling “Food With Integrity,” has rolled itself a burrito full of bad PR recently due to it importing its grass-fed, antibiotic-free beef from Australia instead of the US, where it says the product is in low-supply.  

But the claims by the quick-serve restaurant aren't going over well with Texas ranchers. Texas Agriculture commissioner Todd Staples wrote an open letter to Chipotle founder and co-CEO Steve Ells that decries him for his “misguided and irresponsible declaration that the meat from Australia is somehow more 'responsibly raised' than meat produced by Texas ranchers," Adweek reports. "Steve Ells should get together with Texas beef industry leaders to have a real discussion about 'meating' their needs.” He goes on to encourage those who dine at Chipotle to “push Mr. Ells” to work with his organization.

As Beef Magazine puts it, “(Ells) insinuates that traditional beef is full of hormones and antibiotics, and sourcing beef that has been raised with “integrity” is incredibly difficult in the US, which couldn’t be further from the truth.”Continue reading...

brands under fire

Amid Marketing Pushback, Chobani Learns that #WordsMatter

Posted by Nate Bartell on June 6, 2014 06:33 PM

What seemed like smart marketing turned into a headache for Chobani as their #HowMatters campaign has transformed from a seemingly good-hearted platform to a legal and ethical mess.

The campaign, which debuted during this year's Super Bowl and ran througout the Winter Olympics and The Oscars, has met criticism from Dov Seidman, the CEO of business consultancy LRN, who claims that the catchphrase was stolen from the founding principle featured on his company’s website. Seidman has also written a book entitled “How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything,” from which he believes Chobani extrapolated their controversial marketing campaign title.

Suing for damages based on trademark infringement, Seidman's argument hinges on a small, social detail: a tweet that Chobani sent Seidman back in January, thanking him for inspiring the "how" movement, and asking for his help in supporting their cause.Continue reading...

brands under fire

With No Rules, E-Cig Brands are Smoking Up and Taking (Other Brand) Names

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 27, 2014 03:46 PM

After years of work to suppress the use of cigarettes, the booming e-cigarette market is forcing regulators and brands alike to take a second look at an industry that won't seem to burn out. 

While the FDA says it is planning to regulate e-cigarettes, in which consumers purchase battery-powered devices filled with liquid nicotine, e-cig manufacturers are taking full advantage of the open marketplace to introduce its products to more consumers. The latest tactic includes attaching well-known brand names to e-cig products, particularly to describe vapor flavors, which has several big brands up in arms.

According to the Associated Press, General Mills, the Girl Scouts of the USA and Tootsie Roll Industries have all sent cease-and-desist letters to various e-cig makers in an attempt to get them to stop using the names of their products, such as Thin Mint and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

“It’s the age-old problem with an emerging market,” said Linc Williams, board member of the American E-liquid Manufacturing Standards Association and an executive at NicVape Inc., according to the AP. “As companies go through their maturity process of going from being a wild entrepreneur to starting to establish real corporate ethics and product stewardship, it’s something that we’re going to continue to see.” NicVape has used such brand names as Junior Mints on its products.Continue reading...

brands under fire

McDonald's is the Miller Lite of the Craft Beer Market—And That's a Problem

Posted by Abe Sauer on May 22, 2014 06:27 PM

10 years ago, reasonable people wondered if the hit film Super-Size Me would be the death of McDonald's, with the film's last lines inviting the chain's demise: "Who do you want to see go first? You… or them?" Nothing could have been further from the truth.

The Golden Arches deftly used the film to introduce a "healthier" menu (including apple slices with Happy Meals), essentially marketing itself out of the dilemma. Moreover, Super-Size Me's pursuit to make a point as unsubtle as possible gave rise to imitators who declared exactly opposite results, like an Iowan biology teacher who made headlines last year after losing 37 pounds eating only McDonald's for three months.

Today, McDonald's biggest detractor on nutrition is the 10-year-old Hannah Robertson, who first confronted CEO Don Thompson last year at the brand's annual shareholders meeting, asking him why the chain "tricks" kids into eating there. The adorable, plucky kid was an instant sensation and an excellent conduit through which parents could place blame for their kids' poor eating habits. But with consecutive quarters of U.S. sales declines, McDonald's probably wishes it was merely facing another Super-Size Me problem. But the situation facing McDonald's today is far more challenging—and multitiered.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Global Day of Fast Food Labor Protests Hits QSR Brands

Posted by Dale Buss on May 15, 2014 07:11 PM

Is the fast-food business model creaking under the weight of new wage protests? “Living-wage” advocates hope so after today's global demonstrations in support of better pay and workers' rights, billed as the biggest fast food strike ever.

On Thursday, labor and union activists and Occupy Wall Street alumni, as well as thousands of fast-food workers who walked off their jobs, came together to protest at least 17 major QSR chains in some 30 countries, calling for wages of $15 an hour as well as a right to form a union, organized by a group calling themselves Fast Food Forward.

The movement, which has its roots in the US where one-day protests have occured in over 150 cities for the last 18 months, stalled sales at fast-food outlets around the world as protesters demonstrated in front of restaurants, on sidewalks and inside malls, some even donning Ronald McDonald costumes.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Unpacking the Impact of the NBA's "We Are One" LA Clippers Content Strategy

Posted by Jeremy Shapero on May 5, 2014 06:43 PM

On April 25, 2014, the spotlight shifted from a historic first round of the NBA playoffs when TMZ released a recording that exposed the bigoted and hateful beliefs of longstanding LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. The NBA, consistently viewed as one of the most progressive among the major professional sports leagues, was now teetering on the brink of a brand disaster.

As noted here, the league complemented decisive action with a compelling content strategy to quickly control the situation. This strategy began with a press conference by Commissioner Adam Silver and was followed by a revamped Los Angeles Clippers homepage—a black screen with a simple message, “We Are One.”

The message and its accompanying visual identity was quickly rolled out across the league on social media channels. That night, throughout the three playoff games, the NBA ran a powerful 30 second spot featuring understated visuals of teamwork on the court complementing a succinct but sharp extension of the “We Are One” message. Now there are even official t-shirts, in partnership with adidas, to help spread the message and support anti-discrimination and tolerance organizations.

The NBA’s response was applauded by prominent figures, sponsors (not just adidas, but also Kia Motors and Kumho Tires), and organizations inside and outside the league. A representative for Kumho told The Oregonian, "Our confidence is even stronger going into a three-year sponsorship seeing how they handled such a serious and negative situation as racism. It shows us that we have a sound partner in the NBA that makes strong decisions even in the face of adversity." (Another brand, Skechers, is reportedly considering buying a stake in the team.)

But to gauge the effectiveness of this content strategy with the general public, it is critical to examine the conversation around the controversy across social channels.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Scouts Face Increasing Criticism for Policies, Partnerships Deemed Off-Brand

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 10, 2014 10:57 AM

The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America seem like they would be the perfect all-American brands, but the children's service organizatons have had their fair share of controversy. 

In a continuation of the gay rights saga surrounding the Boy Scouts, Walt Disney recently announced that it would cut funding to the organization due to its policies surrounding openly-gay Scout leaders. While the company doesn't donate funds directly to the organization, the company said it would "stop allowing employees to do volunteer work through Disney’s VoluntEARS program in exchange for cash donations to the Boy Scouts of America," according to Time.

The national organization voted last year to allow openly gay youths but decided to keep its ban on openly gay leaders intact. Other major brand sponsors, including Lockheed Martin, Chipotle, Merck and UPS have stopped funding the organization as a result. 

The Girl Scouts, on the other hand, are also having a bit of an image issue as the organization looks to put its brand in front of more children. The group struck a deal last year with Mattel for a Girl Scouts-themed Barbie doll, including a related patch, booklet and website.Continue reading...

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