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china breaking

China's Violent Anti-Japan Protests Hit Japanese Brands

Posted by Abe Sauer on September 17, 2012 11:07 AM

"Car destruction ahead. Japanese made cars should turn around now."

So read the warning on a flattened cardboard box one Chinese man held up to traffic in the city of Xian. The man's advice was not based on fearful speculation either, as cities across China erupted in anti-Japanese protests over the weekend (including, The Economist notes, about 3,000 at the Japanese Consulate in Shanghai on Sunday), Japan's auto brands were bracing for the backlash. One man set his own Honda Civic on fire in front of a dealership. One of the more moving photos shared on social media was of a young woman, weeping as she begged protesters to spare her car.

Targeting Japanese products for boycott or destruction is nothing new in China. But this weekend's actions — sparked by ownership dispute over islands between the two nations — were especially dire, called the worst flare-up of tensions between the nations in decades by The New York Times. As Japanese companies ordered their workers to stay home and closed their factories over fear of reprisals, what's unknown is the degree to which Japanese brands have been hurt in China's marketplace.Continue reading...

sip on this

Big Soda Vows to Fight Bloomberg's NYC Big Soda Ban

Posted by Dale Buss on September 13, 2012 06:06 PM

To no one's surprise, the New York City Board of Health approved on Thursday a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, street cars and movie theaters. It was the first restriction of its kind and scale in the country.

It also surprised no one that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the spiritual father and political force behind the ban, quickly hailed the enactment of his brainchild. "NYC's sugary drink policy is the single biggest step any gov't has taken to curb obesity," he stated. "It will help save lives." The Mayor's Office also released statements of support, along with the news that the new Barclays Center will comply.

The measure will take effect in six months unless the American soft-drink industry manages to get some judge to overturn it. Of course, there's always the possibility that popular sentiment could turn heavily against the ban and result in political pressure that would cause its reversal. But no one is betting on that.

"This is not the end," Eliot Hoff, a spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, an industry-financed group opposed to the ban, commented in a statement to the New York Times. "We are exploring legal options, and all other avenues available to us." The coalition's chairwoman, Liz Berman, also released a video statement reiterating that stance.Continue reading...

sip on this

Dew Process: PepsiCo Stunt Takes a Pop at Bloomberg's NYC Soda Ban

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 13, 2012 10:55 AM

In the 1920s and early ‘30s of New York, as Prohibition ruled the land, folks didn’t have to go without a drink. There were speakeasies aplenty back on those days that would be happy to quench your thirst as long as you didn’t mind needing to remember the password, being ready to dump your liquor at the drop of a hat, and having a few extra bucks to help pay off any police that happened by the place.

The folks at Mountain Dew seem to think that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is about to return the Big Apple to those long-gone days if his suggested bill — which could be passed today — winds up restricting consumers from buying sodas that are bigger than 16 ounces goes through. Some call it a gamble; Bloomberg says he’s looking out for the long-term health of his city’s dwellers and visitors.

The whole thing has got Mountain Dew execs and indeed the entire beverage industry agitated — and not because of the caffeine in their beverages, either. The PepsiCo-owned soda brand has teamed up with "cultural production" studio New York Art Department to plaster ads around New York City that say “Prohibition” and feature a 17 ounce, vintage can of Mountain Dew (long before it was abbreviated to Mtn. Dew). To drive the message home, a smaller message quips: “Also available in legal sizes!” 

On a more serious note, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, an industry coalition backed by the American Beverage Association, says more than 250,000 New Yorkers have signed a petition. While small business and industry lobbying has failed to sway New York City’s Board of Health, which appears poised to pass the ban on Big Soda (update: it passed), you can be sure Bloomberg's public health watchdog is unhappy with another move Mountain Dew has made as well.Continue reading...

local branding

Lost in Translation: McDonald's Hmong and Hindu Cultural Marketing Missteps

Posted by Dale Buss on September 5, 2012 06:06 PM

One way McDonald's plans to keep on growing around the globe is to open itself increasingly to local tastes rather than simply trying to impose the Big Mac on every national market, which is how the chain started out. Interestingly, however, just as McDonald's is making such a move in India with new vegetarian restaurants, it's being tripped up by a matter of cultural sensitivity just a few hundred miles from McDonald's Chicago headquarters in the good ol' U.S. of A.

It seems that billboards in St. Paul touted McDonald's breakfast offerings in Hmong, the indigenous language of Hmong-Americans who comprise a major enclave of 64,000 people in the Twin Cities. The billboards put up by local franchisees — the first time McDonald's has ever advertised to Asia's Hmong community in the U.S. — were supposed to say, "Coffee Gets You Up, Breakfast Gets You Going."

But thanks to a garbled translation from English to Hmong, the text reads as gobbledygook to the Hmong-American population. McDonald's apologized for the error and set about to correct it immediately. Overseas, meanwhile, McDonald's newest culturally relevant move outside the U.S. — bringing vegetarian-only fare to some restaurants in India next year — is one of the biggest efforts by McDonald's in accommodating its brand to consumers outside its home U.S. market, and also inadvertently stepping on some toes.Continue reading...

sustainability

Nestle, SABMiller See World Water Week as Far From a Washout

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 4, 2012 03:16 PM

“If something isn’t given a value, people tend to waste it. Water is our most useful resource, but those using it often don’t even cover the costs of its infrastructure,” said Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke, speaking in Stockholm for 2012 World Water Week, which concluded Friday. 

The key issues this year: water and food security, followed by partnerships, tools and data. The water-food-energy triangle was key at the 2011 Bonn Nexus Conference, but the key the difference this year, according to an essay penned by David Grant, SABMiller's senior director of water risk and partnerships, for the Guardian, “was the progression of the issue from a broad theoretical concept to actually seeing practical examples of how it is being both experienced and addressed on the ground.”

Grant added, “It has been encouraging to hear of projects being implemented that not only demonstrate understanding of the link between the issues but also the recognition that we can no longer tackle resource challenges in silos.” But will they go far enough, soon enough? Promoting and monitoring sustainable water practices with partners along the supply chain is vital, as Nestlé's CEO argues.Continue reading...

brands under fire

GLAAD Kiss-In Caps Wild Week for Chick-fil-A

Posted by Dale Buss on August 3, 2012 03:39 PM

The numbers were probably stacked against them from the start, but Friday's protest of Chick-fil-A by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) didn't turn out nearly as many participants in the planned LGBT "Kiss-in" as the chain was able to generate at former Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee's nationwide "Appreciation Day" for the restaurant chain on Wednesday.

Or gauging by another measure, by mid-afternoon Friday, nearly 14,000 Facebook users had subscribed to GLAAD's "National Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A" event, while some 630,000 subscribed to Wednesday's "appreciation day," according to a report by Politico.com.

And while Politico reported that the "kiss-ins appear to have occurred without incident" in Chick-fil-A restaurants, there was one ugly scene: The exterior of a Chick-fil-A in Torrance, Calif., was defaced with graffiti reading, "Tastes Like Hate."Continue reading...

London 2012

London 2012: Adidas Goes All In With Nicki Minaj For Last Summer Olympics

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 2, 2012 10:19 AM

This is the last Summer Olympic Games that Adidas is sponsoring, so it's going big with its messaging around London 2012.

The official outfitter of Team Great Britain today reported that it has sold $100 million of 2012 Olympic merchandise to date, no doubt helped by its high-profile guest designer, Stella McCartney. As the Telegraph notes, "As well as making the official London 2012 sports apparel merchandise, Adidas provides the kit for hosts Team GB and it is providing 3m items of clothing for the athletes to wear in the Olympic village and for volunteers."

Despite being targeted by rival Nike with its faux London 2012 campaign and sweatshop activists, the sportswear giant is keeping on track.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Chick-fil-A Day Lures Same-Sex Marriage Foes as GLAAD Gears Up Friday Protest

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 1, 2012 03:12 PM

If Mike Huckabee ever runs for U.S. president again, he’ll be sure to get the Chick-fil-A vote. The former Arkansas governor suggested that consumers go eat at the fast-food chain in order to show their appreciation for the organization’s disdain for same-sex marriage. 

Chick-fil-A pulled in $12.7 million a day in 2011, according to ESPN’s sports business reporter Darren Rovell. And that’s without doing any business on Sundays, since the chain closes down in case its workers want to attend church.

Observers on both sides will be paying close attention to how much traffic and how many dollars Chick-fil-A pulls in today. (According to Huckabee's podcast and BuzzFeed's report, Chick-fil-A restaurants saw line-ups across the country.) But the chain will also get a few customers on Friday as well, CNN reports, when GLAAD is encouraging same-sex couples to visit Chick-fil-A’s across America to protest with a "Kiss Day" public display of affection.Continue reading...

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