TIME tobacco

Big Tobacco Sues British Government Over Effort to Strip Logos From Cigarette Packaging

New laws would strip logos from cigarette packages

Tobacco companies are fighting a recently passed law that would strip logos and branding from cigarette packages to in order to make them less enticing to consumers in the United Kingdom.

Philip Morris International, which owns the Marlboro band, filed suit Friday in a British court seeking to stop regulators from imposing standardized packaging on cigarettes. Philip Morris argues that such regulations would unlawfully deprive the company of use its own trademarks.

“Countries around the world have shown that effective tobacco control can co-exist with respect for consumer freedoms and private property,” Philip Morris said in a statement.

Under the new law, traditional cigarette logos would be replaced with large, graphic health warnings. Australia enacted a similar law in 2012.

According to Philip Morris, Marlboro was the ninth most valuable brand in the world in 2014 with an estimated value of $67 billion.

TIME Advertising

Somehow This Olive Garden Commercial Is Pretty Touching

It's surprisingly tasteful

Olive Garden just released a 60-second ad that tugs at the heartstrings and celebrates family.

The spot, produced by Grey New York, features families singing together, reuniting after years apart and other touching moments captured in low-definition that suggests authenticity. There aren’t any cheesy food-shot clips, as noted by Adweek, which first reported on the new commercial’s release. Throughout the minute-long ad a sweet tone is set as a young girl and an older family member sing and play the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

“In our latest commercial, Olive Garden celebrates family–whether traditional, blended and extended, neighbors, co-workers or friends. It’s family that supports us, cheers us on, and grounds us in what truly matters,” according to the restaurant chain on YouTube. “That’s why at Olive Garden, we’re all family here.” The ad marks a departure from Olive Garden’s past ads and fits in more closely with with their tagline: “We’re all family here,” which Adweek said its used since 2013.

Olive Garden is owned by Darden Restaurants, which posted higher sales and solid earnings in its latest financial quarter. In fact, the company said Olive Garden celebrated same-store sales up 2.2% boost and growth for the second consecutive quarter for the first time since 2010, according to CNN Money.

Olive Garden made headlines recently with a new item on its men: a breadstick sandwich.

TIME Fast Food

Why Ronald McDonald Will Never, Ever Get Fired

Latin GRAMMY Street Parties In Phoenix With Conjunto Primavera
Mike Moore—WireImage for LARAS

McDonald's clown mascot has a job for eternity

Ronald McDonald has the kind of job security that most Americans can only dream of.

Responding to criticism over the fast-food giant’s use of the 52-year-old clown to market its food to children, CEO Steve Easterbrook made it clear that Ronald isn’t going anywhere. “With regards to Ronald, Ronald’s here to stay,” Easterbrook said at the fast-food giant’s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Consumer advocacy organizations have criticized McDonald’s for its use of marketing tactics that appeal directly to children, particularly in the wake of increased concern over childhood obesity in the U.S.

The restaurant chain, which has endured sluggish sales at home and abroad and has closed hundreds of locations this year, is in the process of attempting a turnaround. Its plan includes a shift in the company’s marketing. Earlier this month, McDonald’s somewhat more nefarious mascot, the Hamburglar, was reinstated with a fresh look, to decidedly mixed reviews.

The company’s annual shareholder meeting was a primarily civil affair, despite the fact that thousands of protesters showed up at McDonald’s headquarters, calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage for the restaurant’s workers. In April, McDonald’s announced that it would increase the minimum wage for workers at its corporate-owned restaurants to $10 an hour by 2016.

On Thursday, McDonald’s shareholders approved a proposal to give the company’s investors an increased say on who is nominated to serve on the fast-food giant’s board of directors.

TIME Advertising

This Beer Ad Only Works When Women Pass By

It uses state-of-the-art "gender detection" software

 

German beer maker Astra wants women to know their purchasing power is important.

The beer brand has made an automated billboard that speaks only to women when they pass by, Engadget reports. The billboard comes equipped with a camera and “gender detection” software. It also responds to women according to their age from one of 70 different recorded responses. The billboard was developed by the ad agency Philipp und Keuntje and features German comic Uke Bosse.

Read next: What your beer says about you

TIME Apple

Apple Is About to Change Something Very Basic About its Devices

New Product Announcements At The Apple Inc. Spring Forward Event
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during the Apple Inc. Spring Forward event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, March 9, 2015.

The writing's on the wall

Apple is expected to refresh the font used across its devices, 9to5Mac reported Wednesday.

Apple currently uses the new font, called San Francisco, in the Apple Watch. Now, it could make its way to iPhones, iPads, and Macs, replacing Helvetica Neue. San Francisco was developed for the Apple Watch to improve readability on the device’s small screen.

It’s unclear exactly when the font switchover might happen. However, it could be announced during Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference, set for early next month. While Apple’s annual WWDC events are geared towards software developers, the company often uses the occasion to announce new products, as well as new features for its existing offers.

Still, nothing’s a sure bet. As 9to5Mac notes, “Apple could ultimately choose to retain Helvetica Neue this year and push back or cancel its plans for San Francisco.”

MONEY Shopping

J.C. Penney Sued for Never Charging Full Price

JCPenney store at the Newport Mall in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Kena Betancur—Getty Images JCPenney store at the Newport Mall in Jersey City, New Jersey

The "original price" is a big fat lie.

J.C. Penney has long been in the business of giving merchandise “fake prices.” That’s how Ron Johnson described the retailer’s pricing strategy when he took over as CEO in 2012, pointing out that less than 1% of store sales were for items at full original price.

After the short-lived Johnson experiment in more transparent, less promotion-driven sales ended in monumental failure, J.C. Penney resorted to its old high-low pricing scheme, in which items were given inflated original prices solely for the purpose of making the inevitable discounts seem more impressive. It’s a classic sales strategy known as “price anchoring,” and J.C. Penney is hardly the only store known to engage in the practice.

Yet J.C. Penney is the one that has been hit with a class-action lawsuit in California federal court for its pricing strategies, a “massive, years-long, pervasive campaign” that has allegedly been tantamount to deceptive and fraudulent advertising. According to Reuters, the lead plaintiff in the suit purchased three blouses at J.C. Penney at a price of $17.99 each—seemingly a good deal in light of the $30 “original” price on the tag. But with a little research, the shopper discovered that the blouses in question were never priced for more than $17.99 during the three months prior to her purchase.

“Price comparisons are not illegal, but it is deceptive if there is no basis for the original price,” said Matthew Zevin, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, who could number in the hundreds of thousands.

This isn’t the first time a retailer has gotten sued for allegedly having too many sales and promotions—or rather, for never actually selling items at non-discounted prices. In 2012, Jos. A. Bank, the men’s apparel retailer known for seemingly insane “Buy 1, Get 7 Free” promotions, was hit with a class-action lawsuit in New Jersey for allegedly using “misleading, inaccurate and deceptive marketing” to create “a false sense of urgency” among shoppers. Essentially, the retailer was accused of partaking in the same tactic that’s gotten J.C. Penney sued: Showing items with list or “original” prices that are never (or almost never) charged.

The suit against Jos. A. Bank was dismissed because the plaintiffs failed to quantify “the difference between what the regular price actually was and what the discount price should have been,” according to the New Jersey federal judge hearing the case. This doesn’t prove that Jos. A. Bank didn’t engage in the practice; it just means that the plaintiffs could not prove how much of an “ascertainable loss” they suffered as a result of the retailer’s pricing strategies.

In any event, last month Jos. A. Bank pledged it would be moving away from a “hyper aggressive promotional strategy” because it has hurt the brand—and sales and profits by extension. The announcement took place roughly a year after Jos. A. Bank was purchased for $1.8 billion by rival Men’s Wearhouse.

Let’s hope that regardless of the results of any lawsuits, stores get the message that the common practice of listing items at inflated, meaningless original prices is bad for business.

MONEY

Top 10 Things That Got Great Free Publicity from David Letterman

Everett Collection

He's done quite a few Top Ten lists. So we've done one in his honor.

With David Letterman’s final show set to air this week, we thought it would be appropriate to celebrate an oddball assortment of products, places, businesses, and brands that somehow benefited from their association with Letterman and his program—even when Dave was making fun of them.

10. Alka-Seltzer
In one classic bit from 1984, Dave put on a tank with compressed air and a suit covered in 3,400 Alka-Seltzer tablets. He was then hoisted into the air and dipped head-deep into a glass enclosure filled with water, which bubbled and fizzed excitedly. It was pure stupidity—and made for great, memorable TV. Letterman has also done silly tricks wearing suits covered in sponges and Velcro. He frequently warned the audience, “Don’t try this at home.”

9. Ham, Meats in General
The #1 item on David Letterman’s very first Top Ten List—”Top Ten Words That Almost Rhyme With ‘Peas,'” recorded in 1985—was “Meats.” It’s fitting because Letterman shows seem to have quite the love affair with meat, ham in particular. Dave has worn a meat helmet to entice a hawk into landing on his head, and there were meat-themed Top Ten lists and a running “Know Your Cuts of Meat” segment on the show. Canned hams were often awarded to audience members as prizes of quizzes and other contests.

8. Cabin Boy
Though some insist it’s a cult classic, the 1994 film Cabin Boy received horrible reviews and was a flop at the box office. It would have likely been forgotten entirely were it not for a short cameo by David Letterman, who played the “Old Salt in the Fishing Village” and tried to sell a monkey to the title character, played by longstanding Letterman pal, writer and actor Chris Elliott. Most memorably, Letterman mocked his performance in a funny bit from the 1995 Oscars, which he hosted.

7. Tahlequah, Oklahoma
It was big news in 1992 when the Letterman show relocated its home office way from Lebanon, Pa., to Tahlequah. The town put up a highway billboard and hosted a “Stupid Parade” in celebration. It mattered little that there is no Letterman home office outside of its New York City studio. Every city that’s served as the fictional home office—there have been 11 in total, including Milwaukee; Scottsdale; Oneonta, N.Y.; and current home office site Wahoo, Nebraska—has embraced the totally made-up honor.

6. Hello Deli
Tourists from all over know Manhattan’s Hello Deli and owner Rupert Jee from their regular appearances on the Letterman show, which is taped next door. Customers can also order sandwiches like the “Alan Kalter” (the Late Show’s announcer), the “Late Show Research,” and simply the “Letterman.” Here is Rupert Jee singing “Let It Go” from Frozen, the day after it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song:

5. Delaware
If there’s no such thing as bad publicity, then Delaware should be grateful for all the attention paid to it by David Letterman over the years. The state has served as a go-to punchline, featured in a mocking segment called “Get to Know Delaware” and on multiple Top Ten lists. Sample, from a Top Ten list of questions from the U.S. Citizenship Exam: “If all the good states are full, would you be willing to live in Delaware?”

4. Best Bagger Championship
Year after year, the winner of the National Grocery Association’s Best Bagger Championship won a $10,000 check plus, in all likelihood, the opportunity to compete in a grocery bagging challenge against David Letterman on his show. Here’s the 2015 champ’s appearance:

3. Indianapolis 500
OK, so this is one of the most famous Formula One auto races on the planet. So it isn’t exactly hurting for publicity. Still, the race, and Formula One racing in general, have benefited from an extra image boost thanks to the longstanding association with Indianapolis native Letterman, who was a goofball reporter at the Indy 500 in 1971 when he was just 24 years old and who has been a part owner of a race team for a decade. Countless racecar drivers have been on Letterman’s shows over the years as well.

2. Ball State University
A self-professed slacker as a student, Letterman has periodically plugged his Muncie, Ind., alma mater, Ball State, where a building is now named after the talk show host. Letterman credits one of his professors, Darren Wible, with changing his life and setting him on the path to great success. Letterman even managed to bring Oprah Winfrey to the Ball State campus for an interview/lecture in front an audience that lasted nearly two hours. Here is Letterman praising one of his alma mater’s recent successes:

1. Adidas
David Letterman will never be memorialized as a fashion icon. He may, however, be remembered as a guy who had quite a unique look. “His hair resembled an ill-fitting vintage leather motorcycle helmet. His front teeth had a massive gap that looked almost painted-on as a joke,” Conan O’Brien, another talk show host who doesn’t look the part of the traditional broadcaster, wrote recently for Entertainment Weekly. Perhaps most memorably, “He was wearing the requisite broadcaster’s tie, but khaki pants and Adidas sneakers.”

MONEY marketing

Someone at Rolls-Royce Has Been Reading Too Much Fifty Shades of Grey

1952 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn—one of the rarest cars in the world, and muse for the new Rolls-Royce Dawn.
courtesy Rolls-Royce 1952 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn—one of the rarest cars in the world, and muse for the new Rolls-Royce Dawn.

"An erotic tingle on the skin" is being used to sell a fancy new car.

Here’s a snippet of a steamy new thriller that came across our desks this week:

In its tentative, inchoate, anticipatory state, dawn is the world coming to light from the ethereal dark of the night. The early-day chill of dawn provides an erotic tingle on the skin, awakening the senses and passions as the day begins.

It gets even more hot-and-bothered later on, when the prose reaches something of a climax:

It excites both men and women – they want it, they need it and they want to immerse themselves in it. It is languid and beautiful, fresh and fragrant and awakens the passion of your life.

What exactly is “it”? Without knowing any better, our guesses would have included the Apple Watch, the new Frito-shell taco at Taco Bell, and Ryan Gosling. Oh, and, you know, sex. But we would have been wrong on all accounts. Instead, “it” is the Rolls-Royce Dawn, a “beguilingly visceral” model that “promises a striking, seductive encounter.”

The new Dawn (get it?) is a modern tweak on the Silver Dawn, a model released by Rolls-Royce in the mid-20th century. The auto brand is describing the new model as “an exciting and sensuous drophead,” which means it’s a convertible, in American-speak.

It’s unclear how much the Dawn will cost, but presumably Christian Grey, the kinky billionaire from Fifty Shades of Grey, could afford one. Based on Rolls-Royce’s sales pitch—”New life, new possibilities, fresh horizons – a tingling, anticipatory ambience in the air – all signified by a new Dawn”—he just might want one.

MONEY marketing

You Can Now Have Free Breakfast in Bed at IKEA

IKEA bedroom furniture
courtesy IKEA

In an inspired piece of stunt marketing, IKEA is opening a pop-up Breakfast in Bed Café. Each patron gets a Scandinavian breakfast—served in single or double IKEA beds, of course—totally free. No assembly required!

IKEA stores pride themselves on being homey. Customers in China are known to visit IKEA stores for hours on end and even go to sleep on the furniture. It’s a practice IKEA encourages.

The Swedish furniture company is also known for quirky marketing ploys. Last summer, an IKEA in Sydney, Australia, hosted a contest in which three families were allowed to spend the night. The winners also received perks like a communal Swedish meal and one-of-a-kind wakeup calls ranging from the bedside performance of a full orchestra to the arrival of a bundle of soft puppies available for cuddling.

Part of the Sydney package was breakfast in bed—an amenity that features quite prominently in IKEA’s latest whimsical PR move. From Monday to Wednesday next week (May 18-20), the Swedish furniture giant is opening a “zzzany pop-up” in East London dubbed the Breakfast in Bed Café.

Instead of tables, customers reserve single or double beds and are served a Scandinavian breakfast that includes pastries, juice, and coffee. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.; from noon to 3 p.m. the beds are reserved strictly for napping. Sleep specialists will be on hand to help customers maximize their slumber time.

It’s all available for free for those who manage to get reservations. To do so, you must email IKEAbreakfastinbed@hopeandglorypr.com.

As for what IKEA gets out of this, well, beyond the publicity (“Var sa god,” we’re pretty sure that’s “You’re welcome” in Swedish), the store presumably gets to expose plenty of potential paying customers in London to its beds, comforters, and other products. There will be plenty of IKEA merchandise on hand at the pop-up, naturally.

Note that while IKEA may welcome customers to take naps in its stores, and on rare occasions even welcomes them to breakfast in bed, there are limits to what’s acceptable in retail locations. For instance, IKEA frowns upon games of hide and seek in its stores, at least ones involving tens of thousands of participants.

TIME Parenting

Why Millennials Are Giving Their Kids Weird Names

And because Millennials love small brands

Every time the Social Security Administration releases the list of most popular baby names in the U.S. for the prior year, observers of the human species try to figure out what the significance of the most popular names are. This is not so surprising since we are the only species on the planet that gets to name its offspring (as far as we know.) Some of these explanations are more speculative than others, but none feels completely right.

Now that this year’s list is out, name-watchers have noted that J-names are getting unpopular while names starting with vowels are hot. Names that end in a plosive (Pete, Jack, Kate) are less popular than names that end in a fricative or a vowel. People seem to be losing interest in New Testament names (Mary is thin on the ground and Michael, who had a 45-year reign as male baby name No. 1, is trending down.) But Old Testament names (Noah, Jacob, Ethan, Abigail and Daniel) are enjoying a spike.

Now comes Goldman Sachs, pointing out in a study of Millennials, that even the most popular names these days aren’t anywhere near as popular as those of yore. Twenty five years ago, 3% of American babies were called Michael, and 2.3% were called Jessica. But Michael and Jessica, who are now of childbearing age, are giving their kids names that fewer kids share. The most popular names in 2014, Noah and Emma, accounted for only 1% of babies each. The report points out that you’d need to add all the Noahs, Jacobs, Liams and Masons together to get the percentage of Michaels there were in 1980.

“We turn to the history of baby names to possibly provide a window into evaluating parents’ expression towards brands,” says the Goldman Sachs report, which identifies two main reasons for the wider spread of baby-naming: “greater diversity among parents and … an appetite for more differentiated and unique brands (which we believe names are).”

That’s right: parents want to give their kids a different name not so they can call it out on the playground and not have five kids look at them, and not so that Olivia (second most popular girl’s name) will be the only Liv in her class, and not so that if she loses her towel at camp everybody will know whose it is, but because they want their kid to have a unique brand. Millennials are disruptive; they prefer small brands. And they don’t want their kid associated with any monolithic name that might dominate the cut-throat baby name market. (Tip: get in early and invest in Gannon and Aranza now.)

Goldman Sachs somewhat gingerly admits it doesn’t know everything about Millennial parents: “…their attitude towards parenthood strikes us as being more idealistic and aspirational,” than their forebears, the report notes. “Having said this, we acknowledge that we are still in the infancy of this theme and are likely to be introduced to changes in values, companies and business models as it develops.”

Just to prove disruption isn’t limited to Millennials, this Gen Xer has put both her kids names in this story. See if you can spot them (hint; they’re lower case.)

 

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com