MGA Entertainment CEO Isaac Larian says he cried yesterday when he found out that a federal appeals court in San Francisco had thrown out a lower court's decision that would have forced his company to turn over the Bratz line of dolls to Mattel. Carter Bryant, the dolls' designer, was under contract to Mattel when he sold the concept to MGA, as Ann Zimmerman reports, and the original finding was based on copyright infringement.
"America thrives on competition; Barbie, the all-American girl, will too,'' wrote chief judge Alex Kozinski in yesterday's ruling.
"We always believed that in the end the right thing would happen," said Larian, who was optimistic enough about prevailing that he'd manufactured a new 10-doll line that will hit shelves in October. "If I had let Bratz die and they ruled in my favor, [the brand] would have been dead," he said.
The case is not over, however. The court ruled that the original trial judge had made errors in instructing the jury and said that the case would need to be retried. "We look forward to a full trial on all of Mattel's claims against MGA," Mattel said in a statement.
Mattel, meanwhile, is set to roll out its Barbie "Mad Men" Collection in concert with the premiere of the fourth season of the hit series this Sunday. A YouTube video takes a "Behind The Scenes" look at the collaboration between the brand and the show. Read the whole story...
Writing in the "You're the Boss" blog and bearing the title "A Sound Approach to Marketing," MP Mueller looks at the ways that different noises can build a strong emotional connection. For example, the founder of the Austin-based boutique advertising agency Door Number 3 writes about "the silent sigh of relief when I hear that soothing, reassuring HHHHHMMMM bar emitted as my four-year-old laptop boots up." Ain't that the truth.
There are, of course, emotive soundtracks and jingles -- including the ones we love to hate. And sensory branding companies such as DMX and Play Network fashion customized retail and office licensed-music experiences, Mueller reports. "Want those tables to turn over quicker at lunch? Serve up fast tempo music. Want customers to linger over high-margin cocktails and desserts? Slow it down."
The point of Mueller's column is that sound marketing is not beyond the reach of small businesses. DMX, which has clients such as Office Depot and Gold's Gym, charges about $1,000 for an installation in a retail or office space of 4,000 square feet and programmed music selections cost dollars a day. You can also use them on your Web site and voice jail system. Read the whole story...
After touring Ford's revamped -- to the tune of $500 million -- Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne this week, Brent Snavely reports that the all-new, fuel-efficient Ford Focus that is rolling off the line there is indicative of the reinvention taking place at the automaker. The plant formerly manufactured SUVs.
Workers are assembling about a half-dozen cars per day that will help Ford smooth out the production process and ensure the quality of the new car. One big break with recent times is that the cars are being assembled in the U.S. at all.
"In the U.S., we were known as a Mustang, SUV and truck company," Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally tells him. "Because of our agreements with the UAW and our cost structure, we couldn't build cars in the U.S. profitably." But that has changed.
Mulally says the anticipated volume from global platforms like the Focus, as well as new deals with the UAW, have lowered the cost of car-building in the U.S. Coupled with good performance reviews, that's a message that's likely to resonate with domestic car buyers.
MSNBC's Paul A. Eisenstein, meanwhile, reports that the 2010 APEAL (Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout) study by J.D. Power and Associates, which looks at what the industry calls "Things Gone Right," indicates that "U.S. motorists are taking a closer look at domestic iron -- and that they're starting to like what they see." Read the whole story...
Ylan Q. Mui reports that several major retailers are taking an advance on the Christmas spirit by holding Black Friday-style sales that they hope will stimulate consumer spending. Toys R Us has had daily mystery discounts during the week and will have bonus promotions today and tomorrow, for example. Target's sale, called "Back in Black Friday," features about 500 items on sale on its Web site for 24 hours at an average of 40% off.
C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, says his surveys show only about 5% to 7% of consumers shop for Christmas gifts throughout the year and that the campaigns are a tactic to lure customers into stores during a slow month.
"It's really a kind of fun and playful way to bring the joy of the holidays and the value proposition of the holidays ... back into people's minds when they least expect it," says Greg Ahearn, svp of marketing and e-commerce for Toys R Us Read the whole story...
Sandra M. Jones takes a stroll down Rush Street on Chicago's Gold Coast and pops into what she says is Gap Inc.'s future: a tiny store called 1969 that purposefully offers no indication that it is part of Gap.
The 1969 line claims to offer a fit suitable for work or a date at a mass-market price. It hopes to take a piece of the premium denim market and the San Francisco-based company has opened three test stores -- in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York -- in the heart of luxury shopping neighborhoods.
"We're trying to transform people's buying habits," says Gap spokeswoman Olivia Doyne. Read the whole story...