Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mid-week musings from the world of branding and business

- Starbucks, feeling the heat from lower cost players like McDonald's, announced that it is introducing a second coffee brand.  Seattle's Best Coffee is a brand which Starbucks acquired seven years ago and now is being positioned as a competitor to the coffees sold at Dunkin' Donuts and other quick service restaurants.  One has to wonder if this is the smartest of moves for Starbucks, a brand which made its name on quality of product and service, and being the "third place" (with the other "places" being home and work.)  Not only could the move cannibalize Starbucks' sales but it also takes the brand downmarket given plans to sell Seattle's Best in convenience stores, fast food franchises and, gulp, vending machines.  It's unclear as to how the brand identity strategy will work but the best move would be to disassociate the new brand from Starbucks, allowing Seattle's Best to function as a true low cost option.

- The deep discounting in the lodging business has apparently hit the Walt Disney Co.  The entertainment company reported quarterly earnings and the theme park side of the business was down.  Consumers are continuing to shop for travel bargains and Disney has not, as yet, responded with discounts as deep as competitors' offerings.

- It's a 3-D world and we're all just livin' in it.  Playboy announced that those who "read" the magazine will soon be able to see Playmates in all of their 3-D glory.  Beginning with the June issue, out Friday, the centerfold will be view-able in 3-D.  One has to suspect that 3-D designer eyewear is soon on the way given the seeming proliferation of 3-D movies, televisions and, now, magazines.

- Haven't we seen this before?  Chrysler, according to, is about to launch a corporate branding television campaign and will use "real employees" in the work.  Not only does Chrysler have a history of a highly publicized brand makeover campaign (who can forget Lee Iacocca), but the use of "real" people to tell a brand's story, in order to make it credible, has been used many times before.  Gotham, an Interpublic company, is creating the new advertising.

- The bid for the 2014 Super Bowl, made today by New York, was outlined in the New York Times.  And, if it happens, events for the week of festivities will be scattered throughout the island of Manhattan and in New Jersey, close to the Meadowlands, where the game (oh yeah, they DO actually play a game at the Super Bowl) will be held.  The NFC and AFC team hotels will be located in New Jersey, as will the NFL Tailgate Party, which takes place prior to the game and is usually held adjacent to the Super Bowl stadium.  The NFL Experience, the weeklong extravaganza of sponsor and league exhibits and interactive events, will be in the city as will the media center and media hotel.  The big Friday night NFL Party would also be in Manhattan.  While cold weather locales are never favorites for sponsors, media and the participating teams and their fans, an event of this magnitude in the media capital of the U.S. would be truly unique.

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