business news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

Advertising Age reports that Pepsi’s “ambitious, high-energy marketers” have come up with a new campaign designed to “ to chart a new course for a brand that has endured an embarrassing slip to the No. 3 soda, just behind Diet Coke.”

The new campaign, which uses the slogan “Live For Now,” is designed to make the brand cool again and “returning Pepsi to pop-culture relevance” that will lead to growing sales and profits for the company.

With all due respect to my friends at PepsiCo, they may be sending mixed messages. “Live For Now” is the verbiage, but it is the image of a dead, drug-addicted, likely pedophile and absolutely weird pop star - Michael Jackson - that is being put on its cans.

I can understand wanting to pay tribute to its marketing past. But they would be better advised to turn to another Michael - Michael J. Fox - who did so many great commercials for the company back in the eighties and who has done nothing to embarrass himself or his brand in the years since, and in fact has become through his charity work and medical research funding something more than just an actor.

• The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 16 years after it identified the market as a place where it would like to open a store, Wegmans has opened a 123,000 square foot unit in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Fortune was out yesterday with its list of top revenue-generating US companies, and Exxon Mobil passed Walmart to retake the top spot on the “Fortune 500” list.

Walmart was second, followed by Chevron, ConocoPhillips, General Motors, General Electric Co., Berkshire Hathaway, Fannie Mae, Ford Motor Co. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

How many of these top ten companies have gotten - or are getting - federal tax subsidies? I was trying to figure it out this morning, but sort of ran out of time.

People on one side of the aisle will defend the tax subsidies to the oil companies, and on the other will defend the support given to companies like General Motors and Fannie Mae. I almost don’t want to get into that argument ... but I just thought this was interesting.

• The Los Angeles Times reports that Ron Burkle - almost always described as “supermarket magnate Ron Burkle” - is shopping in a new aisle these days. Yesterday, Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos., together with Perry Capital, took ownership of Barneys New York in a debt restructuring deal.

Burkle’s interest in Barneys dates back to 2010, when he tried but failed to buy the company.
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