auto motive

Acura, Honda Look to End of Summer Campaigns to End Sales Slump

Posted by Dale Buss on August 11, 2014 04:29 PM

Acura sedan sales have been lagging and the launch of its new one, TLX, was delayed from spring to this month. So brand executives are counting on Acura's biggest-ever launch marketing campaign and its huge digital elements, beginning next week, to reverse the slide, accelerate Acura sales to a gain for the year, and re-establish bona fides in the luxury-sedan market in the US.

Meanwhile, brand sibling Honda has been spending the end of summer attempting to squeeze every possible sale out of seasonal-clearance mode with its clever short-term "Cheerance" marketing campaign and an aggressive effort to prod its dealers.

Mike Accavitti, senior vice president and general manager of an Acura division that has been newly separated from Honda marketing, told reporters that the aim of introducing the all-new TLX mid-sized sedan is nothing less than restoring Acura's once-respectable place in the sedan segment as it replaces current slow-selling TL and TSX models and joins the flagship new RLX sedan that was introduced last year.

And he's pulling out all the stops, including a relationship with Ludacris, to do it.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Trouble in Big Box Land: Target, Walmart Fight Slow Demise with Digital

Posted by Dale Buss on August 4, 2014 06:21 PM

Walmart and Target are installing new top executives to heal their bleeding business models, but an increasing number of analysts believe it may be too late for one or both big box brands. 

Last week, Goldman Sachs analysts published a research note that cut investment ratings on Walmart, pointing out that "narrow format" stores like drug stores and dollar stores are beating the big dogs on convenience and sometimes even price, leaving little to no motivation for shoppers to peruse Walmart or Target's 100,000-plus square foot mega-stores to pick up toothpaste.

But the news of the struggle isn't in fact news at all for the brands, which have been fighting now for months on end to bring shoppers through their doors and onto their websites. The struggle has become so apparent that both retailers have recently appointed new senior management: Target recruited its new CEO, Brian Cornell, from the upper ranks of PepsiCo, while Walmart just nudged out its US CEO, Bill Simon, and replaced him with fast-rising former Asia chief Greg Foran after years of disappointing US store sales. 

But it wasn’t long ago that each retailer seemed well in command of its audience as well as its business model: Walmart was the world’s pre-eminent retailer and a major force in the US economy because most lower-income and middle-income Americans shopped there regularly. Target had a strong position just up-market from Walmart because of its fashion-forward apparel business and private-label merchandise.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Still Struggling, Campbell's Hopes to Generate Buzz with 200 New Products

Posted by Dale Buss on July 22, 2014 04:12 PM

Campbell Soup already has tried just about everything in its efforts to jump-start growth in the last few years under CEO Denise Morrison. And now the packaged-goods giant says it's going to try more of just about everything in a bid to finally get over the stagnation hump—and supercharge revenues by 20 percent to become a $10 billion company within the next five years.

Morrison plans to reach that goal with a flurry of new products, greater leveraging of Campbell's recent acquisitions and the likelihood of more acquisitions ahead to counter the slow-growth "new normal" in the US packaged-goods industry and to pick up the company's uneven recent efforts to spur new organic growth.

She and other Campbell executives told an investor conference this week that, among other things, they plan a blitz of more than 200 new products in 2015 that will include protein bars and shakes to capitalize on the protein trend, the first organic varieties of Campbell Soup including flavors such as chicken tortilla and garden vegetable, and a new range of V8 flavors that seek to seize on the juicing trend with varieties such as Purple Power, a veggie blend with beets.Continue reading...

brand insights

Paying for Premium: Do Name Brands Survive on Consumer Ignorance?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 22, 2014 12:52 PM

Pharmacists buy store-brand aspirin and chefs buy store-brand sugar and salt, so why won’t the rest of the consumer population?

A new study from Dutch economist Bart Bronnenberg of Tilburg University and three researchers from the University of Chicago into the purchase funnel and what drives consumer choice suggests that the more informed consumers are, the more likely they are to buy private label or store brand items. 

The study analyzed more than 77 million shopping trips at markets and chain stores from 2004 to 2011 and matched purchases with consumers’ jobs and knowledge. The less education a consumer had, the more likely they were to buy name brand products vs. private-label brands.

When a consumer worked in a specific field, he or she was more likely to buy store brands of products related to that field. For example, 23 percent of the time that chefs bought such pantry staples as salt, sugar and baking soda, they bought name-brand products. That number rose to 40 percent with all other consumers.Continue reading...

that's entertainment

Summer's Here and the Time is Right for Branding of Your Beats

Posted by Claire Falloon on July 21, 2014 01:03 PM

As concert and festival-goers don their denim cut-offs and band t-shirts this summer, they should also get ready for the usual barrage from brands clamoring for their money and attention.

This year fans will encounter everything from advertising and promotions to carefully integrated digital and live experiences from brands including Jim Beam, HondaBudweiser, Vans and even Staples, which is sponsoring Katy Perry’s Prismatic World Tour (seriously, office supplies? What happened to sex, drugs and rock & roll?)

Old school purists may not like it, but concert sponsorship is nothing new and the presence of big corporate brands in music is a reality we may all have to get used to. 

As Lady Gaga noted at SXSW back in March, “without sponsorships we won’t have any more artists in Austin, because record companies don’t have any f*cking money.” And as music labels recede, the big brands are marching in.Continue reading...

bc q&a

Of Mazda, Music and Miata: 5 Questions with Russell Wager

Posted by Dale Buss on July 18, 2014 03:03 PM

Music has long been a great currency of marketing. But automotive brands are taking their involvement with music to new levels these days as they seek ways to make connections digitally and with their toughest demographic, Millennials.

Honda, for example, just launched an ambitious effort called Honda Stage that involves concert sponsorships and other music touch points. Nissan this week announced a two-year partnership with the Americana Music Association, give the brand closer ties to country music and Nashville.

And Mazda, though a small brand by automotive standards, now also is trying to mount an outsized presence in the music arena. The automaker just announced an expanded partnership with the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series, making Mazda the official automotive partner and doubling the brand’s participation this year to eight or nine events.

The series involves combining entertainment and running, featuring live bands performing at every mile along the course and a post-event headliner concert. Mazda will also have lots of on-site activations such as the Mazda Fueling Station with free food and beverages. It kicked off in Chicago this week and continues through December.

Mazda’s North American vice president of marketing, Russell Wager, talked to brandchannel about the new partnership and the brand's bigger strategy and goals:Continue reading...

bc q&a

Now Read This: 5 Questions with Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin of theSkimm

Posted by Taylor Goddu on July 17, 2014 10:29 AM

At some ungodly hour each morning, your alarm is bound to go off, and if you’re like me, you’ll blindly slap your phone, eyes still closed, hoping you happen to press “snooze” rather than inadvertently turn it off. Eventually, though, chances are you’ll roll over and grab said phone and begin your morning ritual of scrolling through feeds and email. Born was the beauty of a simple business plan: “We read. You Skimm."

Founded by two former producers for NBC News, Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin teamed up as the masterminds behind theSkimm, a daily email newsletter that arrives in subscribers' inbox sometime around 6 a.m. that has been featured in NBC's Today Show, Vanity Fair, Forbes, Bloomberg, InStyle, CNN and more.

theSkimm, which turns 2 on Friday, primarily targets Millennial women pressed for time with its bite-sized, gender-neutral news that ranges in topic from politics, sports, entertainment, international affairs, finance and more, all of which is made both relatable and easily digestible through the lens of Weisberg and Zakin’s signature voice.

(Extra, extra!) Read all about it:Continue reading...

chew on this

General Mills is Banking On New Flavors, Products and Grumpy Cat to Boost Sales

Posted by Dale Buss on July 10, 2014 04:29 PM

General Mills says it’s going to try hard to revive US cereal sales, but the CPG giant isn’t going to be content with re-inventing the wheel: The company also is investing heavily in a variety of other new products, in marketing to Millennials and in expanding its distribution in convenience stores and foodservice locations.

The company, like Kellogg's, has been stymied by a steady decline in sales of their traditional staple, ready-to-eat cereal. So part of its answer is to exploit more eat-away-from-home occasions where General Mills brands and products have never been a big part of the menu. C-stores have become a main target.

“Many of our snack items leverage our US retail brands and offer different formats and flavors specifically for our convenience-store customers,” said Bethany Quam, the company’s newly named president of convenience stores and foodservice, in a recent investor presentation.Continue reading...

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