With international opinion against the United States growing increasingly hostile and economic uncertainty looming at home, U.S. companies are becoming more worried about their appeal abroad. "In an annual survey conducted since 1998, RoperASW has been looking for a connection between the dwindling reputation of America and the worldwide appeal of its top brands, from Disney to Microsoft," Newsweek's Karen Lowry Miller reports.
"Kraft Foods' recently announced initiatives on obesity have marked a new phase in how food companies will address Americans' concerns about food and nutrition," PR Week writes. Until now, the food industry has tried to deflect the blame for America's growing waistlines by promoting physical activity. Now Kraft and others are talking about changing products and marketing.
"Documents released yesterday in the case of a drug company
whistle-blower shed light on how extensively doctors were
involved in promoting unapproved uses of a Warner-Lambert
drug, Neurontin. Warner-Lambert paid dozens of doctors tens of thousands of dollars each to speak to other physicians about how Neurontin, an epilepsy drug, could be prescribed for more
than a dozen other medical uses that had not been approved
by the Food and Drug Administration. The top speaker for
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a booklet put out by the Australasian Menopause Society that "suggested [hormone replacement therapy] could prevent heart disease, Alzheimer's and ageing skin, yet ... failed to mention the established side-effect of blood clots, or the accumulating evidence that the drugs were causing heart disease" was drafted by HRT manufacturer, Wyeth, and its PR firm, Hill & Knowlton. HRT's revenues for Wyeth are $3 billion a year.
"More than half of U.S. consumers say they would take into account whether a company is from a country that did not support the U.S. invasion of Iraq before buying stock, according to a Fleishman-Hillard/Wirthlin Worldwide poll of 1,000 adults," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "Consumers who advocate and have taken part in boycotts of goods made in those countries were found to be white, mid- to upper-income, conservative Republicans, according to the survey." There is some confusion, however, among those surveyed as to country of origin of many brands.
"A day after U.S. allied forces marched into Iraq, Sony applied for a trademark on the war's catchphrase, 'shock and awe,' for use as a video game title, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It was unclear if Sony planned to make use of the name. The application, dated March 21, was first discovered by British publication Media Guardian. The U.S. Patent and Trademark office has more than a dozen applications for uses of the phrase, including for fireworks, lingerie, baby toys, shampoo and consulting services.
"While the Humvees are lined up in the desert, their cousins, the Hummers, continue to be Detroit's hottest seller. .... Rick Schmidt, founder of IHOG, the
USA Today reports on "a surge of anti-Americanism that threatens to erode the global dominance of American brands. ... Nike, Coca-Cola and McDonald's are just a few examples of U.S. companies that sell more than half their products abroad. Their value and the prices they can charge depend strongly on their brand image. And though Coke, Levi's, Budweiser and the like have nothing to do with the Bush administration's foreign policy, they become de facto targets for protesters lashing out at the USA's dominance. ...
With the help of various PR and advertising gurus the Bush administration has waged an expensive Brand America campaign to change global perception of the world's only superpower. Many critics have pointed out that "America's image is not a product that can be pushed
A $100 million lawsuit against Bayer Corp. has yielded e-mails and internal documents that suggest the drug company let marketing and PR concerns trump safety, disregarding disturbing research on the cholesterol drug Baycol before it was pulled off the market because of dozens of deaths. "There have been some deaths related to Baycol. ... So much for keeping this quiet," said one E-mail.