Next month:
August 2006

Bloggers Fail to Beat Metallica at Brand Destruction

Reading about negative responses from bloggers to the news that Metallica has rejoined iTunes reminds me that brand destruction by blog attack is way overrated, even when supplemented by the NY Times.  Metallica's always been able to undermine their relationship with their fans for more effectively than could any group of bloggers unless, of course, those bloggers had a history of being followed by Metallica fans.


Unwrapping Macy's: Brand Management on Reality TV

When I first saw the headline of this NY Times advertisement preview for Unwrapping Macy's, a new reality show set to appear in September on WE, I assumed it was a brand disaster waiting to happen.

Upon reading the article, I realized that it should be taken as a major branding move and/or advertising campaign with Macy's working hand in hand with the Women's Entertainment network:

Rather than featuring grumbling customers, as the A&E show “Airline” did in its portrayal of Southwest Airlines, “Unwrapping Macy’s” will, for the most part, depict the daily lives of employees.

Ron Klein, chairman of Macy’s Eastern division said, “Most reality TV is a negative experience, waiting for someone to fail,” but that “Unwrapping Macy’s” would not follow that format.

For Macy’s parent company, Federated Department Stores, the show’s timing is serendipitous. It will have its premiere just as the retailer expands into several new markets.

Serendipitous?  No.
Smart? Yes.

Though I join those who want to believe that the customer owns at least part of your brand and that companies will have to share control of their brand to succeed in today's constantly emergent media environment, I'm reminded that many scientists study chaos in order to control it and that they're getting better at it all the time.

Perhaps this reality tv show is just one early example of a company embracing relatively recent developments in order to maintain control of emergent phenomenon, a control that goes beyond establishing Internet outposts for greater visibility into consumer behavior, as did Conde Naste with Lipstick.com, and is perhaps most closely related to company controlled entities created to leverage viral phenomenon, as in the case of Hewlett-Packard.


BusinessWeek/Interbrand Annual Ranking of the 100 Best Global Brands

Google Rises 46% in Brand Value, the Biggest Leap for Any Company in the Ranking's History

NEW YORK, July 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Google, Starbucks, Motorola, and eBay are among this year's top gainers in BusinessWeek's annual ranking of The Best Global Brands. For the sixth consecutive year, BusinessWeek has teamed up with Interbrand, a leading brand consultancy, to publish a ranking of the top 100 global brands by brand value.

The BusinessWeek/Interbrand Best Global Brands ranking measures an elusive but crucial quality. Every company wants its brand to get bigger. The hard part is balancing what the brand already is with a vision of what it would like to be. Companies that score high can count on plenty of customer loyalty as they push into risky expansion.

The 2006 ranking is brimming with hot brands that are crafting new and surprising ways to branch into entirely new product arenas. Starbucks is serving up music; Google is wading into selling ad time on the radio. Others are mining their brand's goodwill value to dodge problems, like McDonald's health and fitness marketing campaign and premium offerings to counter concerns about junk food.

Brand values were determined using the method Interbrand pioneered nearly 20 years ago and has since used to value more than 4,000 brands. Brand value is calculated as the net present value of the earnings that the brand is expected to generate and secure in the future for the time frame from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006. In order to be included in the top global brands list, a brand must have a minimum brand value of $2.7 billion, achieve about one third of their earnings outside of their home country, have publicly available marketing and financial data, and have a wider public profile beyond their direct customer base.

BusinessWeek's special report, The Best Global Brands, (August 7th issue) will be available at www.businessweek.com at 5:00 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, July 27th and on newsstands Monday, July 31st.

About BusinessWeek:

BusinessWeek is a leading global business media organization, providing unparalleled insight and analysis to a worldwide audience of business leaders. Founded in 1929 and published by the McGraw-Hill Companies, BusinessWeek magazine is the market leader, with 4.7 million readers each week in 140 countries. Local language editions include Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and Bahasa Indonesian. Launched in 1994, BusinessWeek Online is the preeminent provider of daily, essential business news, information, and services to business decision-makers. Reaching 80% of the nation's households, BusinessWeek Weekend delivers important business, consumer and financial news to television viewers every week.

About Interbrand:

Interbrand, the leading brand consultancy and authors of the annual ranking of The Best Global Brands, published by BusinessWeek, combines the rigorous strategy and analysis of a management consulting practice with the entrepreneurial and creative spirit of branding and design. The company offers a comprehensive array of consulting services that guide clients in the creation, enhancement, maintenance and valuation of their most valuable asset -- their brands. Founded in 1974, Interbrand has offices in over 30 cities in more than 20 countries around the globe and clients from among the most respected businesses. For more information about Interbrand, visit www.Interbrand.com.

BusinessWeek/Interbrand's Annual Ranking of The Best Global Brands For 2006

     Rank       Company       Brand       Percent        Country of
     2005                     Value       Change         Ownership
                              2006       (over 2005)
                            $MILLIONS

     1    Coca-Cola          67,000        -1%             U.S.
     2    Microsoft          59,926        -5%             U.S.
     3    IBM                56,201         5%             U.S.
     4    GE                 48,907         4%             U.S.
     5    Intel              32,319        -9%             U.S.
     6    Nokia              30,131        14%             Finland
     7    Toyota             27,941        12%             Japan
     8    Disney             27,848         5%             U.S.
     9    McDonald's         27,501         6%             U.S.
    10    Mercedes-Benz      21,795         9%             Germany
    11    Citi               21,458         7%             U.S.
    12    Marlboro           21,350         1%             U.S.
    13    Hewlett-Packard    20,458         8%             U.S.
    14    American Express   19,641         6%             U.S.
    15    BMW                19,617        15%             Germany
    16    Gillette           19,579        12%             U.S.
    17    Louis Vuitton      17,606        10%             France
    18    Cisco              17,532         6%             U.S.
    19    Honda              17,049         8%             Japan
    20    Samsung            16,169         8%             S.Korea
    21    Merrill Lynch      13,001         8%             U.S.
    22    Pepsi              12,690         2%             U.S.
    23    Nescafe            12,507         2%             Switzerland
    24    Google             12,376        46%             U.S.
    25    Dell               12,256        -7%             U.S.
    26    Sony               11,695         9%             Japan
    27    Budweiser          11,662        -2%             U.S.
    28    HSBC               11,622        11%             Britain
    29    Oracle             11,459         5%             U.S.
    30    Ford               11,056       -16%             U.S.
    31    Nike               10,897         8%             U.S.
    32    UPS                10,712         8%             U.S.
    33    JPMorgan           10,205         8%             U.S.
    34    SAP                10,007        11%             Germany
    35    Canon               9,968        10%             Japan
    36    Morgan Stanley      9,762         0%             U.S.
    37    Goldman Sachs       9,640        13%             U.S.
    38    Pfizer              9,591        -4%             U.S.
    39    Apple               9,130        14%             U.S.
    40    Kellogg's           8,776         6%             U.S.
    41    IKEA                8,763        12%             Sweden
    42    UBS                 8,734        15%             Switzerland
    43    Novartis            7,880         2%             Switzerland
    44    Siemens             7,828         4%             Germany
    45    Harley-Davidson     7,739         5%             U.S.
    46    Gucci               7,158         8%             Italy
    47    eBay                6,755        18%             U.S.
    48    Philips             6,730        14%             Netherlands
    49    Accenture           6,728        10%             Bermuda
    50    MTV                 6,627         0%             U.S.
    51    Nintendo            6,559         1%             Japan
    52    Gap                 6,416       -22%             U.S.
    53    L'Oreal             6,392         6%             France
    54    Heinz               6,223       -10%             U.S.
    55    Yahoo!              6,056        15%             U.S.
    56    Volkswagen          6,032         7%             Germany
    57    Xerox               5,918         4%             U.S.
    58    Colgate             5,633         9%             U.S.
    59    Wrigley's           5,449        -2%             U.S.
    60    KFC                 5,350         5%             U.S.
    61    Chanel              5,156         8%             France
    62    Avon                5,040        -3%             U.S.
    63    Nestle              4,932         4%             Switzerland
    64    Kleenex             4,842        -2%             U.S.
    65    Amazon.com          4,707        11%             U.S.
    66    Pizza Hut           4,694        -5%             U.S.
    67    Danone              4,638         3%             France
    68    Caterpillar         4,580        12%             U.S.
    69    Motorola            4,569        18%             U.S.
    70    Kodak               4,406       -12%             U.S.
    71    Adidas              4,290         6%             Germany
    72    Rolex               4,237         8%             Switzerland
    73    Zara                4,235        14%             Spain
    74    Audi                4,165        13%             Germany
    75    Hyundai             4,078        17%             S.Korea
    76    BP                  4,010         5%             Britain
    77    Panasonic           3,977         7%             Japan
    78    Reuters             3,961         2%             Britain
    79    Kraft               3,943        -7%             U.S.
    80    Porsche             3,927         4%             Germany
    81    Hermes              3,854         9%             France
    82    Tiffany & Co.       3,819         9%             U.S.
    83    Hennessy            3,576        12%             France
    84    Duracell            3,576        -3%             U.S.
    85    ING                 3,474         9%             Netherlands
    86    Cartier             3,360        10%             France
    87    Moet & Chandon      3,257         9%             France
    88    Johnson & Johnson   3,193         5%             U.S.
    89    Shell               3,173         4%             Netherlands
    90    Nissan              3,108        -3%             Japan
    91    Starbucks           3,099        20%             U.S.
    92    Lexus               3,070        NA              Japan
    93    Smirnoff            3,032        -2%             Britain
    94    LG                  3,010        14%             S.Korea
    95    Bulgari             2,875         6%             Italy
    96    Prada               2,874         4%             Italy
    97    Armani              2,783         4%             Italy
    98    Burberry            2,783        NA              Britain
    99    Nivea               2,692         4%             Germany
    100   Levi's              2,689         1%             U.S.

Source: BusinessWeek

CONTACT: BusinessWeek Contacts:
Heather Carpenter - +1-212-512-2854
Patti Straus - +1-212-512-2680
Interbrand Contacts:
Lisa Marsala - +1-212-798-7646
Jeff Swystun - +1-917-690-5383

Web site: http://www.businessweek.com/
http://www.interbrand.com/

Update:
Business Week on The World's Best Brands


First Lance, Now Landis, The Witch Hunt Continues

Tour Cyclist Yields Positive Sample for Doping

Landis Fails Drug Test After Triumph in Tour de France

Landis: Stigma 'May Never Go Away'

I think following the progress of the current drug charges against Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, charges that I believe are a continuation of the extensive witch hunt against Lance Armstrong, will be an instructive case.

In particular, it will open up the seemingly arcane but quite relevant issue of testing labs and their roles in brand destruction, even when clearly discredited by relatively objective third party analysis.

Not only will BDR's investigation raise questions about drug testing in sports but also in legal settings, such as the LAPD's criminal approach to drug testing, and in school setting where testing is used to maintain social order.

However, BDR will not be opening a case file on Barry Bonds due to lack of interest on the part of our key researcher, um, that's me!

This topic may also be a bit more enjoyable for those without interest in CIA tactics and strategies or Republican Party fun and games.

More soon.  But you knew that already.


Film of Hillary Clinton "Nude Bust" Reveals Similarities to Classic CIA Disinformation Campaigns

I know attacks on Hillary Clinton are ongoing and that not every oddball project that comes along that gives her opponents fresh ammunition is initially intended as such but it's difficult [and dangerous for the Democrats] to interpret this short film about a sculpture of Hillary Clinton in any other frame given the Republicans' history and current state of crisis.

Now that I've watched it, the film really does seem to use classic CIA media disinformation approaches in artistic/documentary form.  I'd be investigating the funding of the film and the sculpture if I was researching this episode.  At the same time, this is the guy who made the Britney giving birth nude sculpture so, though I see the artistic legitimacy of the project [seriously], I would still be taking a closer look at this guy and his network of support.

According to the video, it's being displayed at the Museum of Sex starting this month.  Suspicious timing given the upcoming elections in New York.

It's not that I'm saying the Museum of Sex isn't just trying to make some money, but paranoia really is sometimes your best defense.

BDR Quick Take:
If there is a disinformation campaign in progress, the filmmaker would be the most likely source or direct connection given the juxtaposition of the Hillary Clinton bust, the initial story of an entirely unrelated project that introduces a violent theme, the references to Sharon Stone, the busts of black musicians and the near continuous presence of the image of the Hillary Clinton sculpture in the visual frame.

Such juxtaposition techniques have long been used by the CIA in foreign media in which, for example, images of leaders that they are attempting to destabilize appear next to headlines of unrelated disasters.  I would assume that other agencies use such techniques but I'm primarily familiar with CIA tactics and strategies.  Plus given the Bush connection and the CIA's increased ability to conduct domestic campaigns, it would be foolhardy for political operatives to not consider this possibility.

Even if my suspicions are misplaced, and that can only be disconfirmed through research that I'm currently incapable of pursuing, it certainly will provide Republicans with a great angle for attack and its availability on YouTube offers an incredible range of viral distribution possiblities from oddball humor sites to the sites of conservative bloggers.

Jul 26, 2006 14:39 America/Los_Angeles

Hillary Topless - Documentary Uncovers Nude Origin of Sex Museum's 'Presidential Bust' of Senator Clinton

NEW YORK, July 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The nude study of Senator Hillary Clinton used in creating her first portrait as U.S. President is featured in a documentary now viewable at YouTube.com, the net's leading video download site. "Hillary's Bust", an eight-minute short produced by Goodnight Film, reveals the sexy origins of a statue of the former First Lady planned for display at New York's Museum of Sex. The film contains the only footage taken of an unclothed preparatory study of Hillary Clinton's upper torso used for developing the heroic-scaled "Presidential Bust of Hillary Rodham Clinton: First Woman President of the United States of America."

The documentary reports Hollywood actor Sharon Stone's recent statements regarding Mrs. Clinton's potential White House bid as inspiration for her Presidential portrait. The bust's creator, Daniel Edwards, points out that during the promotion of her most recent Basic Instinct film, Stone sparked a sexual power debate with, "I think it is too soon for her to run. This may sound odd, but a woman should be past her sexuality when she runs. Hillary still has sexual power and I don't think people will accept that. It's too threatening."

...

For more information, contact Goodnight Film at 203-710-0029 or 860-564-0123, goodnightfilm@gmail.com, or Noelle Daidone at Museum of Sex, 212-689-6337 x113, ndaidone@museumofsex.com.

  Related Links:
  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4R-8MUs4R8
  http://www.triggerstreet.com/gyrobase/Submission?oid=oid%3A999102
  Goodnight Film, http://www.goodnightfilm.com/
  Museum of Sex, http://www.museumofsex/. com

This release was issued on behalf of the above organization by Send2Press(R), a unit of Neotrope(R). http://www.send2press.com/

Source: Goodnight Film, LLC

CONTACT: A.D. Calvo of Goodnight Film, +1-203-710-0029,
goodnightfilm@gmail.com; or Daniel Edwards, +1-860-564-0123,
danieledwards65@msn.com; or Noelle Daidone, Director of Public Relations &
Special Events of the Museum of Sex, +1-212-689-6337, ext. 113,
ndaidone@museumofsex.com

Web site: http://www.send2press.com/
http://www.goodnightfilm.com/

Related Post:
Regarding the Hillary Clinton "Nude Bust" Post


The CIA Reminds Axsmith of the Downside of Brand Ownership

Some of our greatest American heroes have come from within the CIA when exemplary agents finally realized their complicity with evil and their personal inability to continue to perpetuate evil.  From Phillip Agee to Ralph McGehee, each loved their country so deeply that they ultimately had to turn against its highest intelligence agency, one that has been operating within the U.S. much longer than most folks care to admit.

I don't know if Christine Axsmith aka Covert Communications will join their ranks or not, but she recently discovered the downside of shared ownership of Brand America:
Top-Secret World Loses Blogger

Only people with top-secret security clearances could read her musings, which were posted on Intelink, the intelligence community's classified intranet. Writing as Covert Communications, CC for short, she opined in her online journal on such national security conundrums as stagflation, the war of ideas in the Middle East and -- in her most popular post -- bad food in the CIA cafeteria.

But the hundreds of blog readers who responded to her irreverent entries with titles such as "Morale Equals Food" won't be joining her ever again.

On July 13, after she posted her views on torture and the Geneva Conventions, her blog was taken down and her security badge was revoked. On Monday, Axsmith was terminated by her employer, BAE Systems, which was helping the CIA test software. . .

"I thought it would be okay" to write about the Geneva Conventions, she said, "because it's the policy."

In recounting the events of her last day as an Intelink blogger, Axsmith said that she didn't hold up well when the corporate security officers grilled her, seized her badge and put her in a frigid conference room. "I'm shaking. I'm cold, staring at the wall," she recalled. "And worse, people are using the room as a shortcut, so I have no dignity in this crisis."

Let's not abandon Christine Axsmith in her hour of need.  She may mean much more than any of us currently realize.

I believe she could be a great asset to any company that is not seeking CIA Venture Capital or handling government contracts.

Just don't make her sit there obsessing over the case of:
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, the Navy lawyer who successfully challenged the constitutionality of military tribunals at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

The National Law Journal named Swift one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the country, but the Navy has so far passed him over for promotion. He told the Los Angeles Times then, "One thing that has been a great revelation for me is that you may love the military, but it doesn't necessarily love you."

Christine, if I wasn't busy idolizing Floyd Landis, you'd be my new hero.

Related Post:
Wise Words From Mike Wagner


Opposition Research: War By Other Means

Opposition Research Aids Political Wars:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican Rep. Anne Northup of Kentucky was caught in an uncomfortably close race a few campaigns back, until she plucked the fruits of months-old research that her campaign had compiled into her opponent's record.

The resulting commercial showed Eleanor Jordan in an unflattering moment, standing on the floor of the Kentucky Legislature urging fellow lawmakers to wrap up their work. "I have a fundraiser at 6 o'clock and I want to get out of here,'' Jordan said with an impatient glance at her wristwatch.

Jordan "lost her momentum after that,'' Northup recalled recently - neither the first nor the last candidate to benefit from a political subspecialty known as opposition research...

To some, opposition research is a tedious but important part of politics. To others, it's a black art. Equally available to both parties, even senior Democrats acknowledge that Republicans have excelled in recent years at conducting and using the research...

"We send someone into the district who would go to the library, check (online) or old clips of newspapers. They'd go to the county courthouse and look through tax records, property records, all available public documents, including criminal records,'' said Carl Forti of the House Republican campaign committee.

In other cases, committees or candidates hire outside companies to do the job, saving money on travel costs.

Final reports can be voluminous. Strategy considerations dictate when and how the material is used.

"You're thinking about how you might want to release the information so it's going to have a maximum amount of impact,'' Jones said. The options include mass mailings and television commercials, but in some cases, it's preferable to "get the information into a newspaper. Then you have third party credibility.''

A Web site or blog are other options, on the theory that once information is on the Internet, it may gain wider circulation in the mainstream media.

Key Quote:
Given the scrutiny they can expect, it's wise for candidates to conduct opposition research on themselves.

Update:
Though I'm emphasizing the Republicans mentioned in the article, one can sense the jealousy of the Democratic Party.  Of course, my hope is to help up their skillset for future electoral battles, even if I don't trust Democrats farther than I can kick them.


Brand Destruction Research and My Irish Ancestors

[Who Were Probably Enslaved By My English Ancestors But Nobody's Talking]

I'm trying not to reprint every bit of Mike Wagner's How Bloggers Can Save Civilization, but it's so good I'm really having a difficult time holding back:

Bloggers remind me of the Irish. Traditional mass media types remind me of the Romans.

When the Romans first encountered the Irish they had no idea what to do with them. The Irish stripped before battle, rushed their enemy naked wearing only sandals and a torc – a twisted golden neck ornament.

Urged on by the annoying sound of their pipers, the Irish fanatics looked less than human. They even had a name for this transformation – it was called the “warp-spasm”. Howling like demons they charged the Roman Legions.

Bloggers are not much different. They confront radio, TV and print journalists along with broadcast advertisers. They can be stripped down to their pajamas (or maybe less – you never know), seated before their computers, muttering unrecognizable utterances. Urged on by the prolific postings of their champions: Robert, Seth, Steve, Doc, Guy, et al, they charge into the blogosphere shaping opinion, building brands, and transforming business...

As it turned out, the Romans were the one’s about to disappear. Their poets were deliberately unoriginal, their thinkers were cynical, their leaders were corrupt, and their institutions top heavy with bureaucracy. The brutal fact was they had lost touch with the people.

Mike closes with a series of questions, including one that speaks directly to the inspiration for Brand Destruction Research:
Will the blogosphere keep creativity alive while defending idealism against “bottom line only” thinking?

Though folks may not see it yet, that's exactly what I'm trying to do in my own counterintuitive manner.

My apologies to Mike for jacking so much of his excellent post.  I won't make it a habit.  Please do click through to his post for the live links as well as the complete discussion and related comments.

Mike Wagner blogs at own your brand