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Consumer

With the US Muslim Population Growing, Marketers Are Missing a Consumer Opportunity

muslim familyUnless you were celebrating Ramadan or know someone who was, you may have missed the fact that the month-long religious fast ended on Monday. Unlike other times of year, Ramadan doesn’t have a national day of recognition. That includes a day or days that shoppers can score a deal as a means of acknowledgement.

The Atlantic argues that should change.

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Mediabistro Course

Presentation Writing: Design and Delivery

Presentation Writing: Design and DeliveryLearn how to use storytelling techniques and visual content to create and deliver successful pitches and presentations! Starting August 6, Amanda Pacitti, the manager of learning at Time Inc., will teach you the best practices for presentations, from using software like Prezi and Powerpoint, to writing your script, and using images, audio, and video to drive your points. Register now! 

The Barbie/Girl Scouts Partnership Is Not Going Over Well

girl scout barbieA Girl Scouts-themed Barbie doll is coming to stores this week. And, as one would expect, it is not going over well with parents who think that Barbie is not the best role model for little girls.

The relationship between Mattel and the Girl Scouts was actually forged last year, when the Girl Scouts began to offer a “Be anything. Do everything” patch, the first time the group signed on for a corporate partnership.

“Barbie is basically a terrible role model for girls, and she’s not about what the Girl Scouts’ principles are, which have to do with leadership and courage,” Susan Linn,  director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood tells the Today show.

However, the Girl Scouts have defended the partnership.

“Girls and moms alike associate this doll with the outdoors, camping, giving back in your community, and we think that those are really positive messages to all of our girls,” Kelly Parisi, spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of the USA told the morning show.

The partnership appears to be a mutually beneficial one. But some women can’t get over the fact that a good chunk of Barbie’s appeal is superficial.

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Best Practices: What to Do When Activists Come Calling

bpa_free_logoOne of my go-to quick-and-healthy dinners is a can of Amy’s Organic fat-free vegetable soup topped with slices of chicken sausage.

OK, yes: It’s still processed food (and I know I could and should do better!), but some of that guilt is removed thanks to a new sticker Amy’s has been putting on every can that reads: “This soup is canned in a BPA-free liner.”

Good move, right? This little sticker reinforces the notion that buying Amy’s Organic is the healthier choice. It’s also a perfectly proportional response to health concerns raised by groups such as the Breast Cancer Fund over the use of Bisphenol A, or BPA, in can linings. Other companies, such as Campbell Soup Co., have followed suit in removing BPA from their packaging.

As Advertising Age points out, processed-food companies—even seemingly “good” companies, like Amy’s Organic—are on the defensive as never before, and repeatedly under attack from online health advocates and activists.

The rise in attacks comes from, you guessed it, “social networking tools and digital media, [which] have created opportunity for groups of consumer advocates to target individual brands in order to influence company decisions,” notes Sanford C. Bernstein notes in a recent report.

So what’s a company to do? Should companies respond to every single threat? And how?

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Whole Foods Is Getting Hit By Hobby Lobby In An Unexpected Way

whole foods signSometimes, a brand can get hit with a controversy that they didn’t even know they were involved with. Surely, that must be what Whole Foods is thinking.

Usually involved with issues surrounding food and the prices at their shops, it’s likely they didn’t have a crisis plan in place for the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which made it OK for employers to determine whether or not to offer contraception coverage. The company itself has no plans of discontinuing the coverage. However, one of the brands they carry, Eden Foods, is trying to opt out of the coverage. And now there’s a petition against Whole Foods with 12,500 names, demanding that they stop selling Eden Foods products. According to The Daily Beast, the company is one of 82 trying to discontinue the coverage.

“While individual-level boycotting of Eden Foods may not have much of an impact, telling Whole Foods to stop carrying Eden Foods’ products in their stores around the nation should have a much bigger effect. Let’s seek out the best messenger to send this message to Eden Foods- and in this case, Whole Foods seems like the perfect fit,” reads the petition.

We can all just imagine the looks on faces of the Whole Foods publicists when they saw this.

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Target Is Using Philanthropy to Make Back-To-School Better Than the Holiday Season

targetThe holiday shopping season certainly wasn’t good to Target. Perhaps a little too eager to put that in the past, the retailer is already focusing on the back-to-school season. Not even a week after the 4th of July.

To get its mojo back post-data breach, Target is launching a campaign focused on social responsibility — Buy One, Give One — that will give one of Target’s brand of up & up school supply items to a student in need for every purchase made between July 13 and August 2. Items like crayons and paper will be included, more than 300 products in total. The goal is to donate $25 million worth of things to Kids in Need.

“If we reach that goal, this will be the largest cause campaign donation Target has ever made to a single organization; an important milestone on our way to giving $1 billion for education by the end of 2015,” reads the press release about the program.

This is great. The company points out that parents are spending an average of $600 on back-to-school shopping each year, a steep price for many people. But it doesn’t really address the whole data-breach, digital-security thing. Read more

Mattel Shouldn’t Let The Opportunities From Entrepreneur Barbie Slip Away

business barbieBarbie has had many jobs (150, according to CNN), outfits, homes and houses. She’s lately added a business suit and tech gadgets to her wardrobe with Entrepreneur Barbie, a doll that comes with a smartphone and tablet.

She’s still the same blond bombshell. Still chic in pink. But this time around, she comes with a social network that includes 10 (human) entrepreneurs, who are the doll’s “Chief Inspirational Officers.” Founders from Rent the Runway, One Kings Lane, and Girls Who Code are part of the network and they conducted a Twitter chat last week to launch the doll.

The Atlantic finds it strange that the brand is using the #Unapologetic hashtag for this doll seeing as how it was used for the previous one, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue collaboration. We’ll second that, but there’s actually a little more at stake here than just a wrongheaded hashtag.

This partnership is a real opportunity to jettison Barbie into 2014, with a lesson for young girls that is modern and tied very much to reality. Barbie has the chance to be something more relevant and significant than she has been in the past.

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McDonald’s Voted America’s Least Favorite Fast-Food Chain

mcd's drive throughThe most recent study from the American Customer Service Index shows that McDonald’s is America’s least favorite fast-food chain. For the report, the organization, which measures customer satisfaction in a number of industries, finds that the average customer satisfaction rating is 80 out of 100. Pizza Hut and Papa John’s are two of the few chains that scored the average. Burger King and Taco Bell were below the average (76 and 72 scores respectively). And McDonald’s comes in last with 71.

Also noticeable from the chart: a number of fast-food chains scored below average. Many more this year than last actually.

But when you talk about fast food in America, it’s McDonald’s that’s synonymous. That’s where larger trends become key factors.

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Best Interview Ever: Starbucks’ CEO Schultz Talks About ASU College Partnership With Jon Stewart

starbucks cupIt’s not too often that The Daily Show invites a corporate leader to sit in the special guest chair opposite Jon Stewart. Usually it’s political activists and elected officials, authors and thinkers, or actors and directors. Last night, Howard Schultz, the CEO and chairman of Starbucksmade an appearance on the program. And he opened with the big news of the day (hey, it was on our Ticker!): Starbucks will be offering a free college education to its employees.

Through a partnership with the *Arizona State University, the company will give workers seeking a Bachelor’s degree the opportunity to pursue one, tuition-free, through online courses. He could barely get the words out and the audience was cheering.

“It is my job to hate everything. I’m having a really hard time with this one,” Stewart replied. “This sounds really lovely.” A talk show appearance – particularly one with Jon Stewart – doesn’t get much better than that.

Schultz said this is an opportunity for his company to tackle the issue of student indebtedness and help workers achieve something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get on their own. And waiting on Washington is a waste of time.

“We’ve got to step up as we have in the past and show true leadership,” Schultz continued.

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The Dockers ‘Dad Pants’ Campaign Works on a Few Different Levels


Father’s Day might be over, but the awfulness of dad pants lives on. To help remedy that, Dockers has its #StopDadPants campaign. And even better, the brand has chosen a big-name football couple — San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and his wife Sarah — to serve as the face of this effort.

This campaign is a great example of a marketing and PR effort that brings it all together — spokespeople, sports, hashtags, advertising, etc — to speak volumes about the brand and reach its audience.

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Girls Are Scientists, Too: LEGO Responds to Customer Demands for Female Minifigures

lego 1_0Last week we told you about Disney coming to the hard-won, customer-fueled realization that girls like Star Wars, too, and that it might be a good idea to make Princess Leia toys (who knew??). Now, thanks to consumer demand, LEGO has come to a similar conclusion; the company has just announced the approval of the “Research Institute” set, which will feature a female astronomer, chemist, and a paleontologist.

A few months back, we covered the story of a little girl named Charlotte, who, dissatisfied with the limited selection of female minifigures and their stereotypical themes (beauty parlor, shopping, etc.), wrote a strongly-worded letter to LEGO, saying:

“My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I have LEGOs, but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. Today I went to a store and saw LEGOs in two sections…All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun OK?!?”

Little Charlotte, it seems, is nowhere near alone in her strong sentiment; Read more

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