Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pepsi Yields to Public Pressure

Well, it probably had to happen sooner or later, but a major soft drink brand is changing its diet cola formula in response to a growing public suspicion and worry about aspartame. PepsiCo recently announced it would be removing aspartame from Diet Pepsi and replacing it with a blend of sucralose. Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi will also be changed. The reason? Pepsi is crediting consumer complaints for motivating the switch.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Apple Music Enjoying Early Gains

Since the debut of its new streaming service, Apple Music has already racked up 11 million members. Not bad for five weeks. Apple executives said they are “thrilled” with the numbers … and why shouldn’t they be? Even though the service is free (for the first three months) users are still flocking to it in what could be described as amazing numbers.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Walmart fires back at Amazon

Recently, it was announced that Amazon stock value topped retail giant Walmart, making the ersatz online “everything” seller the top retail powerhouse. That title is more than just a name. Owning the top spot is the result of consumer trends as much as it is company value. And trends are changing. This could spell doom for brick and mortar retailers. Maybe not Walmart, but many of the also-rans that are desperately trying to hold ground against Sam Walton’s international behemoth are now staring at the real engine of their extinction. And it’s logo is smiling back at them.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Starbucks Faces Minimum Wage Hike

Any time the subject of raising the minimum wage comes up, the narratives seem to split between workers and management. The narratives are so set that you can nearly predict the conversations before they happen. But now one national chain is breaking the mold. Starbucks just reported a massive jump in profits, even while wage hikes are hitting it hard in multiple major cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Starbuck’s home city of Seattle. New York may soon follow.

That’s not to say operating expenses are minor. According to reports, Starbuck’s operating costs have jumped 18% in the past year. Why? Well, according to Starbucks executives the biggest reason for the increase was, quote, “Investments in our store partners.” Translation – wage increases for employees. They had to pony up the cash and increased their expenses 18%.

While Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has been adamantly against a wage hike to $15 per hour, the company seems to be doing okay. Some are saying this example should put to bed the notion that doubling the minimum wage wouldn’t “really” hurt companies. Leaders such as Schultz and Dunkin’ Brands CEO Nigel Travis, continue to argue that the problems will come.

But there’s no doubt that the PR narrative has shifted. While CEOs and business owners are still saying doubling the minimum wage will mean huge cuts for their businesses, proponents are already beginning to point to Starbucks’ recent quarters as proof that businesses can take the increase.

To successfully counter this narrative, the companies must prove to people these conclusions are preliminary. It may also work to do something the larger companies have been reluctant to do – reach out to small businesses. If the idea of a $15 minimum wage catches on it will be the smaller mom and pop shops that face the biggest hurdle. They could close their doors, providing a wider customer base for the big brands that can more easily absorb the loss. But if they don’t want the sky to continue falling, the big brands will have to take control of the national narrative before they can reap those rewards.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Jiffy Lube Scam Catches Techs Stealing

Oil change places charging for services they don’t actually perform. It’s a rumor that has reached urban legend status. Now, a California news station has documented it happening, stunning consumers and blasting a major national chain.

The headline alone creates a palpable PR crisis: “Jiffy Lube Scam Caught on Tape!”

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ongoing Investigations Lead Subway and Jared to Part Ways

There was a time when Jared Fogle was not only the face of Subway, he was a dream come true for an also-ran brand desperately trying to find its place in the crowded fast food marketplace. They found a PR savior in Fogle, a formerly massively obese man who claimed eating Subway twice a day helped him shed hundreds of pounds and lead a healthier lifestyle. Suddenly, eat fresh was also “eat healthy.” That match made in Madison Avenue Heaven lasted more than a decade. Now, though, the marriage is on the rocks.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Panera Public Relations Goes All Natural

These days an increasing number of casual dining restaurants are choosing to ride the “all natural” menu train. While this choice used to be relegated to boutique restaurants, bistros, and high-end dining establishments, many “fast and casual” eateries are beginning to chase the trend. Next on the list? Panera Bread. Thanks in part to the efforts of head chef Dan Kish, who grew up visiting his grandparents’ Pennsylvania farm.