• The Marketing World Gears Up Quickly For Swine Flu
    I wasn't paying the swine flu stories a whole lot of attention, frankly, but a doctor and author I respect mentioned to me yesterday that, in his experience, medical authorities tend to underhype stories like this. As a result, I've been on the lookout for breaking news this morning. And one thing you can count on is that marketers and Cable TV never underhype anything. And The World Health Organization has, of course, upgraded its pandemic alert to Phase 5 -- the second-highest level -- as concern spreads globally, NPR reports. My quest began, really, when I saw a …
  • Soap Makers, Others Hitch Ads to Swine Flu
    Emily Steel reports that companies ranging from soap and hand-sanitizer manufacturers to makers of designer facemasks are mostly pitching prevention messages starring their products. Global Autoclave Compliance has started selling a "Swine Flu Protection Kit" for $19, which includes masks, gloves and sanitizers. Argenus Air Sterilizer, part of Hunter Fan, is marketing its air purifier in search ads with the headline "Kill Deadly Viruses Like Swine Flu," she writes. And Safety Videos Now is selling a "Swine Flu Safety" DVD for $47. Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer is updating its Purell.com Web site and Lysol, owned by Reckitt Benckiser, …
  • Crisis Management Lessons From the Government
    Pete Blackshaw, evp of Nielsen Online Digital Strategic Services and chair of the National Council of Better Business Bureaus, says that marketers often learn their best lessons in times of crisis and he offers ten tips gleaned from what he calls the "highly effective -- and critically timely" work of the U.S. government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It's a good piece about an unlikely source for marketing wisdom. "The communication work they are leading is neither sexy nor flashy," Blackshaw writes, but the agency has more than 15,000 new followers on Twitter and Nielsen data suggest …
  • Starbucks Turning To Advertising To Pitch Value Messages
    Starbucks, which built its business on word-of-mouth, is about to unveil a "long term, multi-million dollar" advertising campaign that will focus on "the quality, value, and the values that Starbucks offers," Jonathan Birchall reports. In particular, it will battle the perception that its products are too pricey. "We're doing a very good job of starting to demystify the fact that Starbucks coffee does not cost $4 as people are charging us with," says Howard Schultz, who resumed the CEO position early last year. He says that customers who are opting to take their java at fast-food eateries such as …
  • Fast Food Chains Have Their Own Value Strategies
    The fast-food universe is becoming a battleground of competing give-away and price-slashing offers, Jerry Hirsch reports, from KFC handing out free pieces of its new grilled chicken on Monday to most El Pollo Loco stores offering two pieces of chicken, two tortillas and salsa free upon request on Tuesday. "The marketplace is contracting and all the brands are using value to get sales," says David Ovens, CMO of Taco Bell, which itself touting its "Why Pay More" menu of 79-to-99-cent items such as the Cheesy Double Beef Burrito and Triple Layer Nachos. Quiznos is one chain that has …
  • Bankruptcy Looms For Chrysler After Talks Fail
    But Reuters reports in an "exclusive" this morning that Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli says the automaker "remains focused on reaching an agreement with its lenders to cut the its debt in a bid to complete the government-mandated restructuring targets and qualify for aid." He also says Chrysler has made "great strides" toward an alliance with Fiat.
  • Toys 'R' Us Becomes Packaged Goods Retailer
    Toys "R" Us is expanding front-of-store offerings to include everything from paper goods to light snacks to laundry detergent, Elaine Wong reports. The shops are called "R" market.
  • Walgreens Moves Ahead With Store Redesign
    By this fall, some 400 of the company's more than 6,700 drug stores will sport anew, slimmed-down prototype in which many slow-moving and redundant product facings and offerings will be scrapped in favor of what the company is calling "affordable essentials" like detergent, mouthwash, skin care products, shampoo and batteries, Jim Frederick reports.
  • P&G Earnings Beat Expectations
    That's the good news. The bad news is Procter & Gamble reports a 4% drop in profits, to $2.6 billion, for the January-March quarter and net sales declined 8% percent from the same quarter a year ago. But organic sales, which don't include the impact of currency exchange, acquisitions and divestitures, grew 1%.
  • Marketing Part Of The Upheaval At Anheuser Busch InBev
    InBev, the Belgian company that bought Anheuser-Busch last fall, has cut jobs, revamped the compensation system, dropped longstanding perks for managers and told vendors that it wants to take up to 120 days to pay bills, David Kesmodel and Suzanne Vranica report. It also has begun making drastic changes in its relationships with ad agencies, sports teams and TV companies. Relying on research commissioned before the merger, new management believes changing demographics and media habits no longer require spending as much on mainstream sports events watched most heavily by men aged 21 to 40. It recently told NBC it …
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