Welcome to Brandsmart 2010!

Attend the Chicago AMA Conference on June 24

Join us here for lively discussion and interaction about brand relevance. Find out what topics and issues will be highlighted at the conference and contribute to the conversation.


BrandSmart 2010 Shines the Spotlight on Relevant Brands

BrandSmart 2010 brings together a diverse spectrum of experienced brand managers for a top-level conference that will illuminate the challenges and achievements of global brands as they navigate the turbulent waters of today’s marketing environment. You’ll hear insights from leaders of established brands as well as some up-and-coming companies who are making a name for themselves.

If Danielle Paris, director of US menu management, product innovation & development at McDonald's Corporation, has her way, we’re all gonna be lovin’ it a lot more this summer. Paris is credited with the launch of the McCafé line in 2009 and has been instrumental in McDonald's foray into the frozen blended beverage category.

The global brand is set to introduce some
new menu items such as Angus Snack Wraps, McCafé Real Fruit Smoothies, and McCafé Frappés (which have been rolling out nationally for the past few months). At an exclusive product-tasting event in NYC in early June, McDonald's executives and representatives “made it loudly known that they care about the quality of their ingredients, they are constantly innovating and they base many of their actions on customer feedback.”

While all McDonald's product innovation is the result of brainstorming sessions with, and reactions from, “food scientists and engineers, high-caliber chefs, suppliers, [and] independent store owner/operators,” feedback from customers is key to  determining what is eventually developed. According to the company bio posted on Twitter, “We’re here to listen and learn from all of our fans and followers.” 

Some of that feedback may not be quite what McDonald’s wants to hear, but customers and columnists voice their opinions over everything from remodeling to menus and ambiance. Attend the BrandSmart 2010 conference this week to find out how McDonald’s uses customer feedback to implement changes in its offerings.

Meanwhile, over at Walgreen’s, the dispute between the company and CVS Caremark Corp. seems to have been resolved, as reported by ChicagoBreakingBusiness.com. Kim Feil, chief marketing officer of Walgreen’s, may be able to shed some light on the outcome of the falling-out that recently concluded in a truce. Walgreen Co., with 7522 outlets, is the largest U.S. drugstore chain operator, slightly ahead of CVS.

The dispute threatened to prevent thousands of people from getting their prescriptions filled at Walgreens stores. Here’s an excellent example of the impact of the media on brands—and the ability of relevant brands to weather the storms surrounding corporate business decisions. According to an article at ChicagoBreakingBusiness.com, “shares of Walgreen and CVS Caremark jumped more than 3 percent each in (Friday) morning trading after tumbling more than 5 percent since the public battle began.”

Not only are Walgreen’s stock prices up, but the company recently inaugurated a new feature: prescription text alerts to let customers know when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up. Walgreens also has launched mobile applications for the BlackBerry and Google’s Android platform.

“These new applications follow the previous release of the company’s iPhone application in the fall. That program has been updated with new features, including the ability to view a prescription history and search for the nearest store using the phone’s GPS function,” reported ChicagoBreakingBusiness.com on June 15.  Feil may spend some time on these latest developments during her presentation at BrandSmart 2010 this Thursday.

If the big brands aren’t enough to whet your appetite, perhaps the VP and Brand Alchemist of SCVNGR, John Dobrowolski, will provide some tasty morsels for your consumption. The recently-released consumer version of Google-backed app SCVNGR awards points to users for taking photos of themselves at various locations, its chief difference from the likes of Foursquare. At this time, Chicago currently only offers up a President Obama-based trek and a search around Millennium Park. You may be able to suggest additional treks that could become part of SCVNGR’s searches in the future.

Don’t let the lack of local pickings keep you from joining the hunt—SCVNGR’s location- and mobile-based social gaming platform “goes beyond the check-in process…to provide challenges that put the mobile phone owner in the game. It's about participating in challenges, going places, earning points and unlocking badges. People who play the games scan QR codes, take photos, and solve riddles.”

We’re only a few days away from the BrandSmart 2010 conference, where you’ll hear from these—as well as several other—speakers from top companies who will share stories of how their companies stay relevant in a world that is in constant flux. 

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