Ah, the paradoxes of everyday life. Ad Age reports that McDonald's plan to build coffee bars in the chain's 14,000 locations is being crimped by the squeeze on credit. In the midst of all the stories telling us how hard it is to borrow a buck or two, however, I received an unsolicited email this morning from Bank of America telling me that my credit line has been increased.
It looks like BoA is feeling bullish about golf, as well as my ability to pay it back. It has become the presenting sponsor of the PGA's Chevron World Challenge due to its acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp., according to finchannel.com . And BoA's pending acquisition of Merrill Lynch could give it a third major golf sponsorship -- the Greg Norman-hosted Merrill Lynch Shootout -- according to Sports Business Journal .
Who can make sense of the day's headlines? No wonder that the second-most emailed story at the Wall Street Journal this morning is an Intelligent Investor column with the lead, "Wall Street is dead." But the headline seems to contradict that ... in a good way: "The Depression of 2008? Don't Count On It." Down near the bottom of the story, we're told: "The only true certainly is surprise." Oy, what to do? Bottom line: "Don't bail out."
Peter Madden, blogging in Ad Age , agrees with the "don't bail out" motif, urging small ad agency owners to "remain calm in midst of panic." "As in branding, if you don't take the reins and define who and what your agency is in the midst of pretty damn serious news, you stand the risk of being defined by your employees," he writes. "And you may not like the definition."
Onward, then! Read the whole story...
The Journal tells us that Pfizer is set to announce that it is halting its development of medicines for heart disease -- "a field that includes its cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor and other medicines that fueled the company's dominance of the pharmaceutical industry for more than a decade." It will focus on more lucrative areas like cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
The Journal also reports that Roland Smith, president and CEO of the new Wendy's/Arby's Group, plans to reverse the previous' management's strategy of courting 18- to 24-year-olds and will instead aim Wendy's marketing at customers ages 24 to 49. A new campaign will ditch the red wig and focus on the quality of the food. Novel idea.
And the Times reports that in the midst of all the brouhaha about the impact of digitalization and the long tail on the music industry, MTV will announce today it will create an AC/DC version of its Rock Band video game that will be sold in the U.S. only at Walmart, Sam's Club and walmart.com. "If you want to be a physical band, you better make an alliance with a strong physical retailer," says Steve Barnett, chairman of Columbia Records, the band's record label. Read the whole story...
Apple's shares plunged 18% Monday -- the sharpest sell-off of the company's stock in eight years -- following an analyst's downgrading of the stock based on a survey suggesting that sales were cooling off. But Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out that the survey is open to different interpretations, and that "Mac purchases have been trending up even as computer purchases across the board have been slumping."
While sales are indeed cooling, Elmer-DeWitt suggests that RBC Capital analyst Mike Abramsky's report may have caused an overreaction in the marketplace.
Can you imagine a marketing campaign that with the impact that an analyst's report, apparently based on an ambiguous survey, wields? Not even the Mac guy could, I'd venture. But the more I see the PC Guy clone trying to convince me that Microsoft is hip, the more I disagree with critics like Adweek's Barbara Lippert and Slate's Farhad Manjoo that the ads are at least a step in the right direction. They seem awfully defensive to me. But, then, I'm a Mac guy. Read the whole story...
Even as McDonald's (see above) and others try to beef up their coffee offerings to compete in the caffeine-crazed world that Starbucks has wrought, the Seattle-based behemoth is moving on to new products to fuel growth. The latest -- "Starbucks signature hot chocolate - will be unveiled today in North American stores.
"What got us to this place is no longer going to be exactly the model as we're going forward," says Michelle Gass, Starbucks svp senior vice president of marketing. And chocolate has great power to detour people into a cafe, according to Rachel Antalek, Starbucks' director of espresso.
The new hot chocolate contains four types of West African cocoa and is less based on milk than the original beverage, which will still be sold. It's also customizable. Sprinkled atop the whipped cream is French sea salt that is smoked over burning chardonnay barrels and blended with Hawaiian Turbinado sugar. Why bother? "Because it tastes good," says Antalek.
Another product to be unveiled today, writes Andrea James, will be Italian-inspired square sandwiches that come with either sausage, egg and cheese or portabello mushroom, spinach and ricotta cheese. Read the whole story...