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The Bandit Trans Am, and Detroit’s Old Brands

May 28th, 2016 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

Pontiac Hood OrnamentTALLAHASSEE – A reproduction Trans Am, signed by Burt Reynolds, has been a hit on social media and in car shows this spring. The $115,000 car, a specialty item derived from a new Chevrolet Camaro, is a modern interpretation of the car that  gained fame in the hilarious Jackie Gleason, Sally Field and Burt Reynolds 1977 comedy, Smokey and the Bandit.

The car is a limited run, and made by a specialty shop Trans Am Worldwide. Even as it is a small run by a shop, this is a smart step and could be a model for other companies that have mismanaged iconic brands and have had to drop the nameplates. The idea? Find a small, nimble entrepreneurial company that loves your castoff brand, and set them loose.

Initially, the Trans Am was actually a souped up Firebird, and shared a wheelbase with a Camaro. So its current relationship actually makes sense. This car is much more than a rebadge or custom kit. The car is completely re-engineered, and is a vast upgrade from the Chevrolet it was. The Tallahassee company that built the cars has built others, including GTO and Hurst editions. They are not some chop shop yahoos, but a highly sophisticated outfit that uses the latest technology and even OEM colors from PPG. [Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: News

Earl Hamner, Lou Dorfsman, Lorimar and the CBS Brand

March 25th, 2016 · 1 Comment

By Garland Pollard

LD_06-1Many believe that a brand is all about contriving some image for a commodity, and once you do that, to a particular degree of coolness or hipness or edginess, you have a brand.

That is wrong. Instead, what is important is good taste, authenticity and eternal values. Seeing today’s news of the death of Earl Hamner, Jr., creator of The Waltons, brings that point home. There are no shortage of articles and stories on the work of Hamner, which will endure forever. As a Virginian and a graduate of University of Richmond, I take great happiness in the success of The Waltons, my only criticism of the show is that it seemed to have too many fires and disasters, and when they went to Virginia Beach, the beach had rocks. [Read more →]

→ 1 CommentTags: Media

Bic Round Stic Grip, the Best Pen Ever

February 14th, 2016 · 2 Comments

By Garland Pollard

812Q6-wLhtL._SL1500_Sometimes, the best things are not necessarily the most expensive, or easy to find. Such is the case of the Bic Round Stick Grip, a pen I consider one of the best pens ever.

Of course, Marcel Bich & Edouard Buffard’s original great pen is the 1950 vintage Cristal, that classic of offices everywhere. But I am not a fan of it, even though it has flat sides so that it does not roll. First, the Cristal is quite hard plastic, and while its ok, when you get used to the Round Stic, you don’t want to go back.

And others might like the Bic Click, or the Bic Banana. Or the multi-color Bic pen, that switches from red to blue to black to green. Frankly, they are all elegant classics, but the Grip is the best.

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Office

Texaco Still A Strong Brand

January 17th, 2016 · 3 Comments

By Garland Pollard

The Texaco brand is still a potent icon on the highways of the United States and world. As oil companies struggle with the low price of gas, this is perhaps the perfect time for its parent company to refocus attention on this icon of American history. A downturn is the time to plan for greater things.

Today, the Texaco star is still recognizable, though it is no longer as well known as it was. Part of the confusion came with Texaco’s merger with Chevron. While Chevron has wisely kept the brand (sort of unequal co-equals), it is slightly confused about it, as it has to promote two different brands of gas, even though all of that gas is coming from the same place.

This is the same issue that Exxon and Mobil faced after their merger. Again, ExxonMobil has kept both the brands, and has separate identity packages for them.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Texaco star was all about trust. The slogan was all about trust, and it was seen on NBC’s Texaco Star Theater and Huntly-Brinkley Report. Even today, those who remember the slogan can still recite the words; a reel of Texaco commercials can be seen below. The line goes:

“You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.”

It was sort of poetry, and terribly practical. Gradually, service stations declined and gas became a bit of a commodity. In the 1950s to early 1970s, regulations made gas retailers fill up your car, and so it mattered that you trusted the man who came to  your car to fill it up. No woman wanted a creeper looking into her car, and down her dress, as he got her to sign the credit card carbon copy. [Read more →]

→ 3 CommentsTags: Energy

Kmart Tries Again With Blue Light

January 16th, 2016 · 2 Comments

By Garland Pollard

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Kmart, a unit of Sears Holdings, has struggled for the last two decades. In the last two years, management has tried to give the brand focus, all the while suffering from old stores and less viable locations. This month, more bad news came as more store closings are announced and Christmas sales are down.

But the chain is still optimistic.

At the end of 2015, they debuted new promotion that’s pretty old; the Blue Light Special. Kmart was known for the specials in pop culture, though it has been years since they were actually used. The idea was simple; there would be a short term bargain offered by management, and when it was, the manager would turn on the blue light and store goers would rush to the bargain to buy it, but only while the blue light was flashing. [Read more →]

→ 2 CommentsTags: News · Retail

Kodak Brings Back Super 8

January 15th, 2016 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

Kodak is taking a route back to move forward as it reintroduces the Super 8 camera.

In a press release, the company said it had built a “roadmap”super8_pressReleaseImage that includes a range of cameras, film development services, post production tools and more. “It is an ecosystem for film” said Jeff Clarke, Eastman Kodak Chief Executive Officer. “Following the 50th anniversary of Super 8, Kodak is providing new opportunities to enjoy and appreciate film as a medium.”

The revival comes on the heels of a series of analog and retro revivals that include electronics like vinyl records and Polaroid film as well as the trend to the traditional seen in the passion for artisanal food, heritage vegetables, single malt Scotches and craft beer. Perhaps the most notable of the revivals is Polaroid, the return of which was heralded as The Impossible Project.

Super 8 is being pushed by a number of film-makers including Quentin Tarantino and Steven Speilberg, who both were quoted in the Kodak news service item. It helps that many of these old school revivals are being touted by older generations, yet the market and demand is being stoked by millenials and such.

This is very good news, and very smart for Kodak.

Could Kodachrome and the Carrousel be next?


→ No CommentsTags: Technology

Classic Brands: Ritz Cheese Cloth, Since 1892 

November 22nd, 2015 · 1 Comment

By Garland Pollard

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN – The Ritz cloth brand was originally founded in 1892 by the John Ritzenthaler Company. This lower Manhattan (aren’t so many great brands founded there?), was started by John Ritzenthaler, a German immigrant, who gave the products the name Ritz Cloths.

In 1970, Howard Steidle bought the company, and through the years other products were added to the line, which includes kitchen textiles, table linens, bath textiles, laundry and cleaning products.

The brand is sold not only in craft and grocery stores, but in gourmet cooking stores. This holiday season, Publix even has the brad at the end of the aisle.

John Ritzenthaler, based in West Conshohocken, Penn., is still a private company.

→ 1 CommentTags: Cooking · Grocery

Hilco Auctions A&P Brand Portfolio

October 24th, 2015 · 3 Comments

By Garland Pollard

MONTVALE, N.J. – ACSFGmEoUcAAFapw&P, one of the greatest brand names in the history of the United States, is up for auction, along with all the assets of the annoyingly mismanaged and bankrupt Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company.

Joan Verdon of The Bergen Record reports on the upcoming sale, where I talk about the company.

Hilco Streambank, a division of the liquidation company that is working with A&P to dispose of its assets, announced on Friday that it is seeking bids for six store names – A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaums, Food Basics, SuperFresh, and Best Cellars – and for eight private label brand names.

Interest in the brands will be telling. The names of great retailers certainly have appeal for re-use, but they often only have niche value as web addresses or for use as store brands. Of course, the important sale to watch is who buys the A&P brand.

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→ 3 CommentsTags: Grocery

Bremner Wafers Still Around, and Still Green

October 8th, 2015 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

Bremner_WaferDENVER – One of the great cracker brands, still independent, is Bremner. They are classic cocktail party crackers, and none better.

Of course, Mr. Bremner said that himself in 1890.

“We acknowledge no superior in the quality of our goods and fear no competitors on that score.”
– D.F. Bremner Baking Company
January 17, 1890

The company dates from the 19th Century, and was founded the year the Civil War ended by David F. Bremner, who operated a bread bakery in Cairo, Illinois. [Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: Grocery

ConAgra Needs a Fix of Its Classic Brands

October 7th, 2015 · 1 Comment

By Garland Pollard

Ranch Style BeansOMAHA – ConAgra has consolidated itself into a purveyor of dozens of some of the best-known brands in the United States, including Hunt’s, Swiss Miss, Peter Pan, Blue Bonnet, La Choy, Mueller’s, Jiffy Pop and Banquet. However, if you look at its stock price over the last 20 years, it was only this year that it hit the high it made in 1997.

It should be doing better with these great brands. Let’s list some more, namely Gulden’s, Kid Cuisine, Fiddle Faddle, Wesson, Parkay, Chef Boyardee, Manwich, Pam, Tennessee Pride, Orville Redenbachers, Marie Callender’s, Rotel, Slim Jim and even those Andy Capp potato sticks. A few products are even declasse, including those funky Penrose sausages and Slim Jims.

Again, they have GREAT brands, all with stellar consumer awareness. What they are lacking is a narrative for the company that ties them all together, with a company brand to stand behind the individual brands.

To get a sense of the consolidation that has happened since the 1970s, most of those individual brands were owned by different companies, and all aggregated together as the decades moved on.

The company just announced a move to Chicago, a decision that proves ConAgra has shed its agricultural roots fully. While an office in the Merchandise Mart is glam and sexy, and may keep the company closer to advertising agencies and such, there is no reason why Chicago is a better place for consumer product brand management. [Read more →]

→ 1 CommentTags: Grocery