• Applebee's Campaign Ready To Go
    Applebee's will launch a rebranding campaign Sunday that includes a wide-reaching advertising effort, new logo, new uniforms, redesigned restaurants and a new theme: "Together is good." The campaign is the first work from Applebee's new creative agency, McCann Erickson Worldwide. The star of the new commercials is a Red Delicious apple--given voice by the wisecracking comedian Wanda Sykes--who will chastise people eating at their desks or send text messages to friends on a park bench, imploring them instead to gather with friends and family at Applebee's for "the flavors that bring people together." The hope is to …
  • Sex In The Grocery Aisles
    Body paints and more have discreetly slipped into health-and-beauty aisles at grocers and pharmacies in metro Detroit over the past few months as some of the nation's leading condom makers hope customers wanting to spice up their love lives will toss sexual aids into their shopping carts. Stores stocking the items include Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, Target and Wal-Mart. While retailers were shy about discussing the racy products, several said they hadn't received any complaints and noted that they wouldn't devote space to items that weren't in demand. "America is aging, and people are staying sexually active much …
  • Toyota Mulls Additional Body Styles For Prius
    While there are currently no specific plans to develop other body styles for the hybrid Prius, Toyota's head of global marketing for the brand says that developing new styles such as a minivan "is something that is desirable from a marketing point of view." Toyota's Tokuichi Uranishi notes that evaluating the possible development of new Prius body styles has to take into consideration the effect on other models in Toyota's line that come in hybrid versions, or may in the future. For example, Toyota makes a hybrid version of its best-selling Camry sedan. And there has been talk …
  • Automakers Collaborate To Cut Green R&D Costs
    Companies including General Motors, Toyota and Daimler are increasing spending to research and develop a range of projects--cleaner gasoline and diesel engines, hybrid systems and electric and fuel-cell cars as well as ethanol-powered cars--that cut carbon-dioxide emissions and improve fuel economy. To reduce costs and speed development, some companies have begun joining hands with rivals. GM, which is competing with Toyota to retain its No. 1 spot in global sales for this year, is developing a hybrid power source in partnership with BMW and Daimler, for example, in an effort to catch up with Toyota. And Toyota …
  • Diddy Takes On Big Ciroc Role
    Diddy, the multimedia mogul and CEO of Bad Boy Entertainment, is taking on all brand-management decisions for Diageo's Ciroc vodka, including marketing, advertising, PR, product placement and events. The role is "too big for one title," Diddy says, but adds that he'll be taking on the responsibilities of a traditional CMO or brand manager, "just doing them my way." Diddy intends to build up the luxury vodka to become the top beverage in its category by year's-end much the way he has indirectly helped put Courvoisier, Patron and Cristal at the top of their respective categories through …
  • Nike Hires 'Influencers'
    It's best known for mega-endorsers like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, but Nike CEO Mark Parker also sees a role for Mr. Cartoon, a Los Angeles tattoo artist whose ink-on-flesh flourishes are popular with rappers like Eminem and 50 Cent. Mr. Cartoon--who Parker calls an "aesthetic influence and a friend"-- has designed six lines of limited-edition shoes for Nike, ranging in price from $70 to $130. They include a version of the company's classic Air Force One basketball shoe that nods to what Mr. Cartoon calls the "old icons of the gangsters": skulls and roses, dark tenements …
  • Glaxo's Coffers Gain On OTC Weight-Loss Product
    Consumers have shelled out $60 for more than 2 million starter packages of Glaxo's Alli -- the first government-approved weight-loss drug available without a prescription--since it became available four months ago. Each package contains 90 pills. Steven L. Burton, vice president, weight-control products, for the consumer health care division of Glaxo, says consumer satisfaction for Alli is strong, and about 70% of users report losing weight. Glaxo introduced Alli in June with an unusual marketing campaign that warns consumers that they must be committed to a restricted diet before they take it. The weight loss drug …
  • Wal-Mart Sees Sales Slowing; Grows Faster Overseas
    Wal-Mart says sales growth will slow in the current 2008 fiscal year to 9% from nearly 12% in fiscal 2007. It will then be between 5% and 8% the next two years, according to executive vice president and CFO Tom Schoewe. Wal-Mart's fiscal year ends in January. The world's largest retailer expects to open 195 supercenters in the U.S. this year, down 30% from the 281 opened during the last fiscal year. Projections for next fiscal year and the following year call for 170 and 140 supercenters, respectively, including expansions and relocations. Because supercenters have a higher rate of …
  • Nissan Wants U.S. Partner
    Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says he is still interested in a partnership with a major U.S. automaker, but there no discussions being held at present. Talks between Ghosn and General Motors about a possible alliance ended without a deal about a year ago. Proponents said the alliance would create significant savings, but critics said it could be a distraction from GM's efforts to return to profitability. An ongoing collaboration between Nissan and Renault has worked to the benefit of both companies, Ghosn says. The two companies save costs by using the same auto parts and sharing research. "If …
  • Coach's Results Strong, Faces Tough Quarter
    Despite a strong first quarter, Coach is forecasting weaker sales going forward, primarily due to the warm autumnal weather. The bag-and-accessories retailer is also pressured by the protracted housing slump and rising fuel prices. Many economists believe customers will tighten their wallets until conditions improve. As a mid-level luxury retailer, Coach may be in for a particularly rough holiday season. While the upper end is usually immune to macroeconomic shifts, middle-to-above-middle class consumers may hold off on buying $300-plus handbags and temporarily defect to discount chains. Coach predicts second-quarter profits will be 68 cents a share, with …
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