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Strong Box Office For Anti-Obama Film "2016" Makes for GOP Curtain-Raiser

Posted by Dale Buss on August 27, 2012 05:00 PM

Among the many planned and officially sanctioned video showings at the Republican convention in Tampa this week will be a short tribute to Ron Paul, the Libertarian-leaning candidate who threw a fright into mainstream Republicans in the early presidential primaries but then faded -- and dutifully pledged not to mount a third-party effort to challenge the eventual GOP nominee, who will turn out to be Mitt Romney.

But by far the biggest video on the minds of convention-goers is likely to be one not officially screened there: 2016: Obama's America. The anti-Obama documentary narrated by conservative author Dinesh D'Souza was a huge box-office hit across the country over the weekend as it expanded to more than 1,000 screens, perhaps the start of what could be a strong run right on up to the November elections.

"You may love him. You may hate him. But you don't know him" is how TV ads on Fox News and elsewhere over the weekend were positioning the movie. Continue reading...


Join the Debate: Dotbranding and ICANN's new gTLDs

Posted by Shirley Brady on September 16, 2011 12:15 PM

ICANN's new "generic Top-Level Domain" (gTLD) initiative continues to create controversy and confusion.

The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers voted in June that any word in any language can now be used as the suffix on a URL, so brand owners can now pony up to buy .pepsi, .nike or .mtv instead of being limited to .com, .net, .org, .edu and other more common web address endings.

The problem: anyone can submit a name (along with a non-refundable $185,000 fee) for a gTLD, sparking fears of cybersquatters and irritating brands and organizations that already own their trademarks. It's also unclear whether switching to a new so-called "dotbrand" will boost online search engine results and strengthen digital branding, or override the long tail of digital equity that many brands have spent years establishing online with a seasoned dotcom address.

Our blog post on ICANN's gTLD ruling noted that while New York City pounced on .nyc, other brand marketers are taking a wait-and-see approach. Responding to the debate raging over gTLDs, ICANN president Rod Beckstrom — speaking Monday at the Futurecom conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil — stated that the organization is not "advocating" gTLDs, just enabling them.

Beckstrom emphasized in his remarks to Futurecom attendees: "I want to make clear that ICANN is an organization that is not advocating new gTLDs for anyone. Our role is merely facilitation to implement the policy and the programs approved by our community, so we are here to educate not to advocate."

To understand the pros and cons of gTLDs and dotbranding, read Interbrand's new white paper, "What's in a Domain? Generic Top-Level Domains and the New Dotbrand Frontier" and tell us what you think in this week's debate.


Did Nike Shoot Itself in the Foot by Making Marty McFly Nike MAG Shoes for VIPs?

Posted by Shirley Brady on September 9, 2011 06:17 PM

The first pair of Nike MAG shoes have been sold to British performer Tinie Tempah.

The 22-year-old rapper paid $37,500 for the first pair of the shoes in a live auction in Hollywood last night. The 1,499 other pairs of the Back to the Future-inspired shoes are being sold to "qualified bidders" on eBay, after being hyped this week in a viral campaign and then revealed last night by Michael J. Fox, whose Parkinson's foundation will benefit from the proceeds (which Google will match). 

The only problem: fans of the movie and sneaker collectors who've been clamoring for the one-of-a-kind kicks are complaining that they've been tricked — that only celebrities and VIPs like Tempah can get them, because they certainly can't afford to pay thousands of dollars for the limited-edition kicks, even for a great cause.

What do you think? Did Nike shoot itself in the foot by whipping fans into a frenzy with a brilliantly executed public viral campaign —only to reveal that they can't afford them? Post your thoughts in our debate forum.


Jawboning By Starbucks CEO Schultz Highlights CEO Political Divide

Posted by Dale Buss on August 29, 2011 01:58 PM

With his campaign to deprive incumbent politicians of corporate campaign contributions until they get the federal-debt issue right, Howard Schultz has certainly added to the increased noise by executives yammering about what's wrong with the American economy, and what to do about it. And at a time of continued economic distress -- including stubbornly high unemployment and the threat of a double-digit recession -- many CEOs aren't just talking. They're also putting -- or not putting -- their money and companies' resources where their mouths are.

Take Schultz and his simpaticos. “We’ve touched a nerve,” the Starbucks CEO said in an interview with TheWrap last week. "There’s such a groundswell of disappointment and concern with regard to the leadership in Washington and crisis of confidence that we have.” He called for a suspension of donations to all incumbents, including President Obama, and dozens of other CEOs have signed on to Schultz's pledge, including Tim Armstrong of AOL and Mickey Drexler of J. Crew. Schultz doesn't even want politicians on vacation until they get the nation back on a viable fiscal path.

But at the same time, another renowned CEO, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, made a tacit -- but very clear -- expression of confidence in the Obama administration last week by plunking down $5 billion to invest in and help the Bank of America through a rough patch. The renowned financier also promised to hold a big fundraiser in New York next month for the beleaguered president, who at some point last week interrupted his Martha's Vineyard vacation to call Buffett, presumably to thank him for his support. Of the same accord seems to be a new TV advertisement by Midwestern stalwart Fifth Third Bank, which says, "We're not waiting for the economy to improve -- we're helping businesses to make it happen."Continue reading...


Join the Debate: Is the New USDA Healthy Eating Logo a Waste of Time?

Posted by Shirley Brady on June 3, 2011 05:45 PM

This week the U.S. government abandoned the classic food pyramid that visualized its healthy eating recommendations.

Now, the dietary guildelines are being rebranded, using a plate icon designed to symbolize and simplify the recommended daily amounts of food. Will the new system succeed where the food pyramid didn't?

Tell us what you think in this week's debate forum.


Pop Quiz: Is Lady Gaga Diluting Her Brand?

Posted by Shirley Brady on May 27, 2011 07:00 PM

Lady Gaga's massive media (social and traditional) blitz to promote the launch of Born This Way made Madonna look shy, but the non-stop self-promotion appears to have paid off, with first-week sales of her new album today estimated by Billboard to crack the one million mark.

Still, does it come at a cost to her personal brand? Let us know if you think she's too overexposed (a word not likely found in her vocabulary!) in our debate.


Is the British Monarchy Back?

Posted by Shirley Brady on April 30, 2011 11:00 AM

Beyond the fashion, the car, the kiss and the pomp and ceremony, the Royal Wedding is as much about revitalizing the brand of the British monarchy as it is about the marriage of the couple now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

CNN's Piers Morgan argues that the record-breaking popularity of the event is a sign that "the British monarchy is back," while the New York Times' London bureau chief, John Burns — whose daughter went to school with Kate Middleton — gave a more detailed analysis on PBS.Continue reading...


Are Australia's Tobacco Shock Tactics Going Too Far?

Posted by Shirley Brady on April 8, 2011 05:30 PM

The Australian government's move to become the first country in the world to adopt plain packaging for cigarettes is naturally meeting resistance from the tobacco industry. Australia's prime minister Julia Gillard is backing legislation introduced yesterday by health minister Nicola Roxon that would mandate that cigarette packages sold in the country adopt a standard olive green, found in research to be the the most repulsive color to smokers.

But that's not all: the packages, assuming the legislation survives legal challenges by Big Tobacco, would also remove logos and branding, with the brand name in a standard font and size. Each package will bear a ghoulish graphic (such as a sickly eyeball) meant to shock and hopefully stop the prospective buyer, along with a related health warning in uppercase text, such as "SMOKING CAUSES BLINDNESS."Continue reading...

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