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Elizabeth S. Mitchell

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Urban Outfitters Semi-Apologizes for Kent State Sweatshirt with Blood-Red Stains

The latest installment of the “Urban Outfitters hocks yet another terribly-offensive clothing item” saga centers around this Kent State shirt, complete with what looks rather unmistakeably like blood stains. enhanced-16199-1410759430-11

What was listed as a $129 “vintage” shirt struck most people who saw it as a tasteless, insensitive reminder of the Kent State Massacre that left four people dead in 1970. As the image swirled around the internet and outrage mounted, even Kent State itself made its disgust known, saying in a statement:

“We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit…This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.We invite the leaders of this company as well as anyone who invested in this item to tour our May 4 Visitors Center, which opened two years ago, to gain perspective on what happened 44 years ago and apply its meaning to the future.”

In response to the flood of complaints, Urban Outfitters issued a semi-apology for the product on Monday morning, saying “We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively.”

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Groundskeeper Willie of The Simpsons Takes a Stand for Scottish Independence

Willie_s Views On Scottish Independence | THE SIMPSONS | ANIMATION on FOX - YouTube

It’s common for celebrities to publicly back political candidates or openly support causes they care about, but no one ever asks fictional cartoon characters what they think, and as it turns out, they might just have a lot to say — The latest pop culture icon to release a statement urging his countrymen to vote a certain way is none other than the (highly) animated Groundskeeper Willie of The Simpsons.

The proud Scotsman has officially weighed in on the upcoming vote that will decide whether Scotland will separate from the United Kingdom.

“Now, both sides of this argument have valid points,” Willie amicably admits at the beginning of the video (below, after the jump), but his true opinions become clear when he goes on to describe those opposing sides as “the freedom-loving heirs of the highland tradition, and those who enjoy crawling like worms under British boots.”

Well then. Read more

Burger King Japan Brings Back the Strangely Popular Black Burger

BN-EM432_bkingj_D_20140911023522Well, if Dr. Seuss taught us anything, it’s that strangely-colored food just tastes better (and can be eaten on a on a train, in the rain, in a boat, with a goat…).

But it isn’t green eggs and ham that have won the hearts of Burger King Japan‘s customers — it’s a black burger, complete with black bun, black cheese and black sauce. And while we, personally, may think the sandwich more closely resembles industrial waste than a viable lunch option, we are in the minority.

The black burgers, now called The Kuro Pearl burger and Kuro Diamond burger (“kuro” meaning black), were first introduced for a limited time in 2012. They became so popular that they outsold all other new products the company offered that year. Due to high demand, the burgers were temporarily brought back again in 2013. Now, the burger chain is hoping for an equally-warm welcome the third time around. Read more

Roll Call: Waggener Edstrom, W2O Group and More

Waggener Edstrom Communications announced that industry veteran Michael Murphy will join WE as a senior global advisor to the executive team. He will work with WE leaders as the firm continues its evolution into one of the industry’s largest, integrated independent global agencies. Murphy is a business leader and communications specialist with decades of global experience in helping organizations successfully develop a range of growth strategies from organic account growth around the world through to M&A to complement existing capabilities. Coupled with the agency’s already strong global leadership, Murphy’s insights will help map growth strategies and potential strategic and business development opportunities. (Release)

W2O Group announced the opening of a Silicon Valley office and the promotion of digital marketing expert, Aaron Strout, to technology practice lead in response to the growing momentum of this business sector across its firms. Technology is now the second largest and fastest growing practice within W2O Group. The Technology Practice started with two accounts less than three years ago and now services 14 clients, including HP, Verizon, Intel, BMC Software and INRIX. Strout will focus on expanding the Technology Practice across all W2O companies — WCG, Twist Mktg and Brewlife — while enhancing the range of services offered. The Silicon Valley office, which will include several team members representing account services, analytics and finance, will strengthen the Technology Practice and expand its footprint. Group director and author Michael Brito, who has been working with and for technology clients for more than 15 years, will partner with Strout to lead business development and growth in that office. (Release)

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What Will Starbucks ‘Express’ Stores Mean for the Brand’s Culture?

I24905278_BG1f you’re addicted to your morning cup of Starbucks but are sick of waiting in long lines of giggling tweens ordering ten-word-long beverages before homeroom, the cafe chain has some good news for you.

In an effort to cater to busy commuters, the company plans to launch smaller, express-style stores with reduced menu items, mobile ordering, and digital payment systems, all with the aim of getting you on your way faster. This move comes as the coffee chain looks to further strengthen its already-successful drive-through stores, which make up about 40% of its US locations and already have a higher sales growth than its stores without drive-through windows.

Starbucks also plans to open at least 100 new stores in the next five years dedicated solely to its Starbucks Reserve small-batch arabica coffee line.

But if you don’t have to wade through a sea of aspiring novelists typing furiously on their iPads or listen to the Dr. Seuss-esque tongue twisters that are the epitome of drink orders, then are you really part of the Starbucks culture?

Well, in a word, yes; you’re just part of the other Starbucks culture. Read more

Roll Call: Hager Sharp, Lambert, Edwards & Associates, Elasticity and More

Hager Sharp announced the appointment of Lisa Matthews, longtime planning editor for the Associated Press in Washington, DC, as vice president. Matthews organized national and international news coverage and is a leader in storytelling in today’s multiplatform media environment. Matthews is an award-winning journalist who has orchestrated AP coverage of major events such as the Olympics, the Summit on Africa, and breaking news across the country. She most recently served as planning editor at the AP, overseeing teams of video, radio, and digital journalists and working with AP print and photo divisions as well as bureau leaders across the country. Matthews has been twice honored with Edward R. Murrow awards, for coverage of 9/11 and of the economy. She is active in professional organizations such as the Radio Television Digital News Association and the National Association of Black Journalists, and has served as a mentor for young journalists and students in programs sponsored by the Radio Television News Directors Foundation and James Madison University, her alma mater. (Release)

Lambert, Edwards & Associates (LE&A) announced the addition of Matt Magee as a director in the Financial Communications Practice. Matt adds more than a decade of experience in the financial industry to the firm, with a background ranging from investment banking to equity trading. In his new role, he will be responsible for developing and implementing integrated strategies for publicly traded companies seeking to engage the investment community and other pertinent audiences, providing full-service investor relations and corporate communications programs. Previously, Matt worked as vice president in the Financial Institutions practice of both Boenning & Scattergood and FIG Partners. He was responsible for advising executive management teams and Board of Directors from various financial institutions on corporate strategic plans and initiatives such as capital raising and merger & acquisitions. (Release) Read more

Enraged Little Girl Insists that ‘Hello Kitty’ Is Indeed a Cat

jjjjjjkitIn case you missed the recent Earth-shattering revelation that Hello Kitty is not, in fact, a feline, here’s a brief update to put the below video and its furious, ranting star in context: Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist who is currently curating a Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, was informed by Sanrio (Hello Kitty’s parent company) that despite her feline features and name, Ms. Kitty is, in fact, a member of the human race.

“I was corrected — very firmly,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat.”

Once this news broke, social media rants circled the web, and general pandemonium ensued. Among the shocked, confused and disbelieving fans was this little girl, who, despite being visibly and audibly distraught, makes a pretty clear-cut case as to why she just isn’t buying it.

“She LOOKS  like a CAT,” she sputters. She is a cat that acts like a human, like usual cartoons!”

We hear, ya, Honey. It’s enough to send a person spiraling into existential crisis. Isn’t Goofy a dog? Isn’t Winnie The Pooh a bear? Isn’t Sebastian a crab? We don’t even know what to believe anymore.

The Power of Packaging: Same Old Miller Lite ‘Tastes Better’ in Retro Cans

newmillerlitecan_fullsize_story1One way to revive sales of a product is to revamp the recipe, improve the taste, and bump up the quality. But why go to all that trouble when you can just change up the packaging and sell the same old swill in a shiny new — or in this case, old — can…and watch your profits climb?

It’s precisely this branding move that’s had Miller Lite patting itself on the back — the beer had been sold in blue cans since 2001, but as a promotional tie-in with “Anchorman 2” at the tail end of last year, the brand brought back its retro white labeling from the 80′s. As soon as the throwback cans hit store shelves, sales increased across the US.

Were people nostalgic for their drinking days of yore? Did the white can simply make Miller stand out in a sea of blue-labelled light beers? Maybe it was some combination of the two. One thing, though, is for certain: the label change caused a measurable shift in consumer opinion and demand.

“A lot of people said, ‘I think the beer even tastes better,’” Ryan Reis, senior director for Miller’s family of brands, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

That’s right — consumers even felt the resurrected can made Miller Lite, which hasn’t actually changed in the least, taste better. The power of packaging, people: don’t ever doubt it. Read more

Roll Call: Burson-Marsteller, Edelman, RLM Finsbury and More

Burson-Marsteller has hired Rowan Benecke to lead its global technology practice. Benecke comes to the firm from Text 100, where he spent almost a decade. He joined Text100 in 2005, after working at Waggener-Edstrom and Zeno. In 2012, he relocated from Europe to New York to lead the Next15 firm’s North American operations. Benecke has played a key operational role at Text 100, leading the firm at successive stops in Asia, EMEA and North America. He takes on the global tech chair role that was previously occupied by Lisa Poulson until her departure from Burson last year. (TheHolmesReport)

Edelman has named Maria Amundson as global chair, Technology sector, effective September 15. Amundson, currently general manager of Edelman Silicon Valley, will lead the agency’s team of 440 technology communications experts in 23 countries and be responsible for client counsel, portfolio management, new business development and sector marketing. She will report to Kym White, global director of sectors and global chair of Edelman’s Health sector, and be based in Silicon Valley. Amundson joined Edelman as an executive vice president in 2006 when the firm acquired A&R Partners, the leading independent Bay Area technology PR firm that she co-owned in San Mateo, Calif. She became general manager of Edelman’s Silicon Valley office in late 2012, counseling technology companies from early stage start-ups to Fortune 50 leaders. (Release)

RLM Finsbury announced that it is opening a San Francisco office, bolstering its global footprint. Doug Michelman, former chief communications officer and global head of Corporate Relations of Visa, Inc. who was most recently a senior advisor to RLM Finsbury, has been named a partner and will lead the new office. Prior to Visa, Michelman served as regional president and senior partner of Fleishman-Hillard, where he managed its West Coast operations. In addition to various roles at Fleishman-Hillard both in the U.S. and internationally, his extensive communications experience also includes staff positions in the press office for two presidential campaigns. (Release) Read more

Roll Call: The Glover Park Group, Kravetz PR and More

Jenni LeCompte, an Obama administration veteran who served as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of the Treasury before working as a consultant, has joined D.C.’s The Glover Park Group as managing director. LeCompte acted as deputy assistant secretary until Obama promoted her in 2011, and in her new role she will work across the firm’s strategic communications and financial services practices.

In the release, Glover Park CEO Chip Smith cites LeCompte’s “rarely matched experience”. While working for the administration, she handled media relations, speechwriting and business/public liaison concerns while advising top officials like Secretary Tim Geithner on how best to communicate with the public. Prior to joining Obama’s team, she served as deputy CEO for public affairs for the Democratic National Convention Committee and managed messaging for the 2008 event. Previous roles include director of communications for the Recording Industry Association of America and positions within the Clinton White House press office and the comms operations of Senators Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer.

LeCompte holds a B.S. from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Kravetz PR has named Larry Fink the new vice president of the company. Fink brings 10 years of PR experience, which spans from the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas where he served as the executive director of Public Relations to Planet Hollywood International in Los Angeles as the vice president of Public Relations/Celebrity Entertainment. Prior to the Palms, Fink was a segment producer at Access Hollywood. (Release)

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