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Branding

Naming Names in the Growing Ranks of Hotel Brands

Epiphany HotelWhile there’s no magic formula for launching new hotel brands, E = mc2 best suits some recent hotel concepts. That’s because the famous physics energy equation reflects new or planned properties and brands, namely Epiphany from Joie de Vivre Hospitality, Moxy from Marriott International and Curio collection from Hilton Worldwide.

Branding was a hot topic at NYU’s International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference this week in New York, where panelists weighed in on the degree-of-difficulty factor, the rationale for launching new offerings and repositioning legacy brands. Names do matter, but they’re only part of the picture. Below are key takeaways.

Creating new brands for the long-haul: “Brand building isn’t for wimps; it’s for the persistent and patient. Most brands grow slowly, and you need to think several years out, since you’re often signing 20-year licensing agreements”, said James Anhut, SVP of design and quality at IHG/InterContinental Hotels Group.

Big hotel companies still have an edge, noted David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International. “It’s immensely difficult to start from scratch. But it’s easier for larger scale hotel companies to create smart brands that will appeal in the long run.”

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Millennials Are A Big Reason Panera Bread Will Dump The Additives In Its Food By 2016

panera tweetPanera Bread isn’t stopping with the bread. The company has announced that it will rid its food of all artificial additives by the end of 2016. “That means no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives in any of the hundreds of food items it sells,” reports USA Today.

Consumers have become much more cautious about what they eat. With issues like allergies, obesity, and just overall good health at the forefront, restaurants — whether fast food, cafe chains, or anything of the like — that can build a brand on being good for you (or at least not bad for you) have a new and very powerful selling point.

“I want to serve food that I want to eat,” Ron Shaich, founder and CEO of Panera, told the newspaper. Beverages could be next, with high-fructose corn syrup on the chopping block.

Among the ingredients that will be nixed are maltodextrin, ascorbic acid and potassium lactate. If it’s too much like a chemistry class, people will be wary. Panera believes this is especially true for millennials.

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9 Brands that Kicked Off Summer on #MemorialDay Social Media Style

memorial-day-sales

Despite any proclivity there may be in the world to resist the commercialization of Memorial Day, the push to sell mattresses, cars, and stuff will always happen on this day.

Why? Summer has arrived and all is right with the world. It’s in the air. People want to go out, spend money, and forget how difficult school and being stuffed in a cubicle can really feel.

Sunblock and swim suits, grills for the house and your teeth, and that convertible is starting to look all the more tempting this time of the year. Naturally, there are some brands that kick off the summer festivities better than others. And for your reading pleasure, your friends at PRNewser has nine that did it just right.

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This Week’s Most Bizarre Branding Move: Axe’s Pheromone-Infused Business Cards. Gag.

In case Axe‘s incredibly misogynistic and epically douchey ads and overpowering fragrances don’t make you gag enough, here comes the brand’s newest campaign: “Pheromone Business Cards.”

In the promo video below, we see “Axe associates” (every frat boy’s dream job) working out while wearing sweatbands. The secretions collected in the bands (ugh, I can’t even write this without nearly losing my breakfast) are then extracted by “scientists” who go about “isolating their essence, distilling it into a concentrated solution that could only have come from that specific axe associate.” That solution is then infused into business cards stamped with the gross proclamation, “Infused with the essence of (name here).”

The idea, as the spot explains, was to create a business card that goes beyond communicating an associate’s contact information, and instead “communicates the very essence of that person’s attraction.” As such, it’s designed to be “a card that may attract more than just business for our associates.”

Yeah. Like a slap to the face and panicked use of hand sanitizer.

10 out of 10 Kids Agree: New McDonald’s Mascot Is ‘Creepy’

This week McDonald’s brought a new mascot out of hiding (he’d been hanging out in Europe) and introduced him/her/it to American audiences. Media folks on Twitter predictably responded with mockery, and some wiseguy with too much free time on his hands even created a parody account:

Now, via Grub Street New York, we have the answer to the question that you hopefully haven’t been asking yourself all week: what will the kids think?!

Take it away, focus group A!

The best quote is also the most overly dramatic:

“People are going to make a joke out of it and it’s going to totally ruin their business.”

We certainly wouldn’t go that far, but we do think we know someone who has a future in market research…

BAD PR: John Oliver’s GM Parody Highlights Real, Disturbing Details of Internal Company Practices

Let’s play a little game of word association, shall we? What comes to mind when you think of the following words: deathtrap; decapitating; grenade-like; powder keg; and rolling sarcophagus? If your answer to any of these is “a car made by General Motors,” then an internal GM memo specifically banning the use of these words (and over fifty others) must have failed.

This past Sunday on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver delivered a scathing breakdown of a decade’s worth of disturbing internal PR practices at GM, and then — as the final nail in the rolling sarcophagus — showed a pitch-perfect parody of a GM ad. And in case not enough people subscribe to HBO for this clip to contribute to the company’s already-sticky PR problem, the network has made the video available on YouTube (where it has already been watched almost 700,000 times).

Just like in Shakespeare, the fool often speaks the truth more boldly and honestly than anyone else, and in this case, while viewers may be laughing (we certainly are), they are most definitely not laughing with GM.

The New Happy Meal Brand Ambassador is Scaring the Daylights Out of People

happy meal ambassadorMcDonald’s has introduced a new brand ambassador for its children’s Happy Meal, named Happy. It’s going to be nationwide on May 23 “and will encourage kids to enjoy fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and wholesome beverages such as water or juice.”

Of course, because the Internet shows no mercy, they jumped all over this new character. Example: “It’s the meal that eats you.”

Time points out that McDonald’s has a history of creating the brand ambassadors of people’s nightmares. Seriously, take a minute to look at the creepy poop pile that once was Grimace. Also, that article reminds us about the Quizno’s radioactive rat that it used to sell sandwiches before the company filed for bankruptcy.

We thought we’d help out with three tips for creating a mascot that doesn’t scare people.

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Lunar Advertising: Japanese Company to Launch Can of Soda to the Moon

LUNAR DREAM CAPSULE PROJECT | キミの夢を、月に届けよう。

Japanese soda company Otsuka is about to take “one giant leap” for advertising.

The moon’s surface, once described by Neil Armstrong as “magnificent desolation,” is about to become a bit less desolate thanks to a 2.2-pound titanium capsule filled with “powdered sports drink and children’s dreams,” which the beverage maker, in partnership with Pittsburgh-based aerospace company Astrobiotic Technology, plans to bestow upon our lunar neighbor.

Astrobiotic is currently in competition for the $20-million Google Lunar X prize, which will be awarded to the first company to land a payload on the moon’s surface that can travel at least 1,640 feet and transmit high-definition images back to Earth. To fund such a project and to purchase a spot on a launch vehicle (which, in this case, is the Falcon 9 rocket designed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX), the company needs sponsors, and Otsuka has offered Astrobiotic a hefty half-million in exchange for a can of its Pocari Sweat sports drink acting as a stowaway. Read more

Bored on Your Lunchbreak? Chipotle Prints Literary Works on Bags and Cups to ‘Cultivate Thought’

chipotle-cups-hr-hed-2014Remember, as a kid, sitting at the kitchen table and reading the back of the cereal box over and over again? We don’t know about you, but once we had figured out the puzzles and read the stories, if there was still milk in the bowl, we’d move on to reading the ingredients — we needed to keep our eyes and brains busy while mindlessly munching on Cheerios.

Now, Chipotle is betting that we haven’t outgrown the impulse to scan for something to read while eating alone; next time you find yourself eating a burrito bowl solo, there will be no need to reach into your pocket for your phone or dig through your bag for your Kindle — works by literary giants will now appear conveniently on the bags and cups containing your culinary delights. Read more

A.1. Steak Sauce ‘Breaks Up’ with Its Brand and Gets a #PRWin

A1 old school

That’s right. Old school! It’s how we roll.

I have shared this with many people in the advertising and PR industries:

“Advertising and PR intersect all the time without either industry knowing it. Ads establish position. PR creates perception.”

We need to work together. You know? Like “We are the World,” only without all that mushy singing and fighting world hunger stuff. That said, when a brand or an agency has figured out how to do both, it’s a golden day.

A.1. Steak Sauce did just that via Facebook of all places, and it was glorious in the world of social media, PR, and whatever the hell they put in that hazy brown elixir of yumminess.

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