By macleans.ca - Friday, November 16, 2012 - 0 Comments
This week: An electric vehicle wins car of the year and Pepsi launches a “fat-blocking” soda in Japan
Awash in oil
The International Energy Agency said the United States will become the world’s largest energy producer by 2020, overtaking Saudi Arabia. It will also surpass Russia as the top producer of natural gas, thanks to new technologies like hydraulic fracking. Though the tectonic shift underscores the importance for Canada to sell more oil sands crude overseas, the prospect of North American energy independence promises to eliminate a key source of geopolitical instability: America’s long and often troubled relationship with the Middle East.
According to the latest data, women now make up almost half (46.6 per cent) of the U.S. labour force, while a recent American study found that if female employment rates were to match male levels, overall GDP would rise by five per cent. In other encouraging news, Lockheed Martin named Marillyn Hewson its new chief executive, which means half of America’s six most powerful defence contractors are now led by women. We can only hope the Pentagon—and the C.I.A.—are taking note.
For the first time in the 64-year history of Motor Trend magazine’s prestigious car of the year award, an electric vehicle won: Tesla’s Model S sedan. The car is a testament to American engineering, said the magazine, noting “it drives like a sports car . . . but it’s also as smoothly effortless as a Rolls-Royce, can carry almost as much stuff as a Chevy Equinox and is more efficient than a Toyota Prius.” That a small, California-based start-up can top all the global automakers is a wake-up call for the industry. Silicon Valley is the new Detroit. Continue…
By Chris Sorensen - Monday, May 14, 2012 at 11:22 AM - 0 Comments
One billion Pepsi cans plastered with Michael Jackson’s silhouette will soon be on the market
Pepsico’s long-time relationship with the late Michael Jackson has been both lucrative and controversial, in life and death.
Nearly three years after Jackson’s overdose, Pepsi is still counting on him—or at least his likeness—to do battle with archrival Coke. As many as one billion Pepsi cans plastered with Jackson’s silhouette are set to hit store shelves as part of a marketing deal brokered with Jackson’s estate. Not surprisingly, some have called the campaign in poor taste. But others argue Pepsi will cash in with consumers who yearn to remember “MJ” the ultra-talented entertainer, not “Jacko” the tabloid freak.
The irony is that Jackson’s drug problem may be traced to the shooting of a Pepsi ad in 1984. He took painkillers after his hair caught fire following a pyrotechnics mishap. Jackson nevertheless settled with Pepsi out of court for US$1.5 million and continued to appear in Pepsi ads well into the 1990s and, it turns out, beyond. The King of Pop, indeed.
By Tom Henheffer - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 2 Comments
Newfoundlanders are up in arms over St. John’s new hockey team being named after a popular Tim Hortons beverage
It’s the vodka fuelling their jigs, the blended cappuccino expanding their waistlines, the frozen islands sinking their cruise liners—ice caps are ingrained in Newfoundland culture. But many islanders don’t want the iconic iceberg adorning the jerseys of St. John’s new AHL franchise.
“It’s probably a little bit close to the Tim Hortons thing,” says Gerry Taylor, chairman of Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador. A recent online poll by the Telegram, St. John’s daily newspaper, found a full two-thirds of residents are unhappy about calling their team the Ice Caps. Many critics simply don’t like the association with the creamy summer beverage, but Taylor also feels that the designation is too St. John’s-centric. “It should be more than a capital city team,” he says.
Team director Danny Williams, the former premier of Newfoundland, says the name was actually chosen to appeal to the entire province. “We make Iceberg Vodka, Iceberg Water, we’re the leading jurisdiction for Arctic research. The ice cap is iconic here.”
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 11:13 AM - 0 Comments
Coke and Diet Coke are now beating Pepsi in sales, but fresh ad spending suggests the fight isn’t over
The decades-old cola war that has seen Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. square off in supermarket aisles, restaurants and corner stores around the world saw a historic twist last week. Diet Coke overtook Pepsi as the second-most widely sold carbonated soft drink in the U.S. market, just behind regular Coke, according to industry figures. Diet Coke and Pepsi have each accounted for almost 10 per cent of U.S. sales (compared to 17 per cent for Coke), but in 2010 Pepsi-Cola sales slid back nearly five per cent, propelling Diet Coke up to the coveted second place, according to Beverage Digest, a trade publication.
The historic shift comes at a difficult time for the cola industry. In North America, sales of soda have been declining since the mid 2000s. Pepsi and Coca-Cola have long been retooling their arsenals, loading up on products that appeal to a health-conscious public like teas, energy drinks, and bottled water. Pepsi has invested heavily in Gatorade, while Coke owns numerous non-carbonated brands, including Vitaminwater and Minute Maid.
But neither side is giving up on cola just yet. Coke has been marketing heavily on television shows like American Idol and with commercials during the Super Bowl. And its efforts earned it an endorsement from long-time investor Warren Buffett, who told stockholders that dividends from the Atlanta-based company could “double within 10 years”—a rare prediction from the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.
Pepsi, meanwhile, has been focusing on a hard-nosed marketing makeover of its cola brand. Last year, the company devoted the $20 million it usually spends for advertising on the Super Bowl to set up an online charitable initiative—a noble move, but one that analysts suggest didn’t help sell soda. This year, the brand that once counted Michael Jackson as a pitchman plans to spend 30 per cent more on television ads in the U.S., including $59 million to sponsor the television talent show The X Factor, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Coke may have won the latest battle, but the cola war is far from over.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 9:08 PM - 18 Comments
No one held our gaze like him
Live in the Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer addressed the nation. Michael Jackson, he said, was dead. Or at least that’s what other outlets were reporting. CNN was still working to confirm Jackson’s demise.
Blitzer consulted with a reporter known for his coverage of Jackson. They debated the precise level of shock to assign this development. Another reporter, this one having been to Neverland, mentioned Princess Diana. Blitzer introduced a 30-second clip of Jackson performing as a boy, then CNN’s “chief medical correspondent” was brought in to explain what happens to the body when it goes into cardiac arrest. A discussion of Jackson’s weight ensued. Blitzer stressed the need for heart defibrillators to be more readily available to the public. Another correspondent was brought in to find some irony in Jackson’s death coming just as he was to relaunch his career. Continue…
By Colin Campbell - Monday, April 20, 2009 at 3:21 PM - 1 Comment
Soft drink consumption is down 10 per cent since 2000
Late last year, Coca-Cola ran a series of ads in Australia as part of a campaign titled “Myths Busted.” In the ads, the company declared that Coke doesn’t make you fat, won’t rot your teeth and isn’t packed with caffeine. Those claims, no doubt, sent Aussie children into the streets on celebratory sugar highs. But the ads didn’t go over well with parents, or with the Australian government. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the messages “were totally unacceptable” and “had the potential to mislead parents about the potential consequences of consuming Coca-Cola.” Coke, which is being forced to run corrections, plans to clarify its message in new ads.
As Coke’s rather desperate attempt illustrates, all is not well in the world of cola. Soft drink sales have been steadily on the decline in the last several years. Last year, carbonated soft drink sales fell three per cent in the U.S., according to Beverage Digest. That marked the fourth straight year of declines. The consumption of pop is down 10 percent since 2000, and hasn’t been this low since 1992, reports Beverage Digest. Sales in Canada have also been in decline for four of the past five years, says Gary Hemphill, managing director of the New York-based Beverage Marketing Corp.
While the decline has something to do with the bad economy, it is also a reflection of a broader shift towards healthier and more varied drinks, like juices and teas. Sales of bottled water are up, as are sales of energy drinks like Red Bull (which enjoyed a five per cent surge last year).
And while cola giants PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have diversified their beverage and snack holdings, soft drinks still represent the largest segment of the industry. That’s what makes the decline so worrisome and has soft drink makers scrambling to at least stabilize the category, says Hemphill. Pepsi is trying to reverse the slide with some rebranding and a new U.S. marketing campaign. So is Dr. Pepper. Coke has also launched a new global campaign. Hemphill says companies have also looked to add new flavours, as well as packaging to reduce the costs of drinks during the downturn.
But there are other troubles on the horizon. Coke recently suffered a major setback in its expansion efforts in China. Last week, the government there rejected Coke’s US$2.5 billion takeover of a local fruit juice brand—juices and teas are more popular than soft drinks in China—citing antitrust concerns.
Neither Coke nor Pepsi are in any real danger. Both, after all, are giant, multinational brands and investors are also still content. But the steady volume declines do suggest a subtle anti-cola sentiment. Analysts will be closely watching earnings reports from the companies due out next week. The fizzling volumes aren’t exactly a crisis, but pop’s glory days may well be behind it.
By Alex Shimo - Monday, July 14, 2008 at 7:34 PM - 0 Comments
The taste of bottled mineral water depends its journey through different rocks and minerals….
The taste of bottled mineral water depends its journey through different rocks and minerals. And while taste matters, so too does touch, according to a study by Maureen Morrin, a professor of marketing at the Rutgers School of Business. Studying the responses of 1,000 men and women, she found that people would rate the taste of the water according to the container holding it. When served in a firm cup, people would find it more tasty, compared to a flimsy one. Continue…