Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Coca-Cola happiness goes a long way

I wish every vending machine was as magical as the one featured in Coca-Cola's first viral video campaign. The "Happiness Machine" clip above features a Coca-Cola vending machine transformed to deliver small "doses" of happiness for unsuspecting college students, in the form of everything from flowers and pizza, to 6-ft. subs and balloon animals.

Filmed on the Queens, N.Y., campus of St. John's University, a production crew secretly installed a Coca-Cola vending machine overnight, along with several hidden cameras strategically placed to capture all the happiness in action.

"We were looking for a creative way to connect with teens outside of the typical TV commercial or online game," said A.J. Brustein, global senior brand manager, Coca-Cola. "We wanted to give them something that would spread a bit of happiness and something they could pass on to their friends to keep the happiness flowing."

And it's certainly working! Only a few days after its launch on YouTube, the video has attracted over 700,000 views -- and I'm sure that's just the start of it. Coca-Cola is scoring some big branding points with this one and I'm just loving it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Zappos CEO takes home Innovator of the Year award

You might be familiar with my frequent gushes about, so get ready -- here comes another one.

While attending the National Retail Federation's 99th Annual Convention & EXPO earlier this week at the Javits Center in New York City, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh accepted NRF's
Innovator of the Year award. In addition to telling his famous drunk-dialing pizza story during his acceptance speech, Hsieh encouraged attendees to attend a free public tour of the company's Henderson, Nev.-based headquarters the next time they fly into Las Vegas. In fact, Zappos will pick you up at the airport, take you to its headquarters and then drop you back at your hotel. How's THAT for door-to-door service?

The online shoe retailer is not only known for its quirky and fun company culture -- watch this video to see for yourself -- it's also known for top-shelf customer service. And that all starts with hiring the right people. During Zappos tours, visitors can walk around the offices and talk to any employees they want. The company invests so much time and effort into carefully selecting and training staffers that it trusts everyone will represent the brand best just being themselves. I would imagine this would give visitors yet another reason to buzz about Zappos after the tour ends.

Anyway, Tony Hsieh is certainly worthy of NRF's Innovator of the Year award -- and next year's contendors already have some big shoes to fill.

Retailers help out Haiti

U.S. retailers, fashion brands and restaurant chains are reaching out in response to the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday. The Walmart Foundation will give $500,000 in cash, and food kits worth $100,000 to help victims.

The Walmart Foundation said its donations will be given through the American Red Cross. The foundation also launched a Web site at, where customers and employees can donate to nonprofits that are helping Haitian victims of the natural disaster.

Target Corp. said that it is donating $500,000 and more than a million meals to help those affected by Tuesday's earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The retailer said it will make the monetary donation through the American Red Cross. Volunteers are working with students from Minneapolis-based The Fair School and nonprofit ImpactLives to make meals to send to Haiti.

For more on how retailers are helping out, read the full story from here.

What is your company doing to help? I'd love to hear. Shoot me an email at

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The power of social media: H&M puts down the scissors

News about H&M slashing its new, unworn clothing spread like wild fire last week after this New York Times report hit the Web. People on Twitter and Facebook feverishly re-posted the link, adding fiery comments and refusing to shop retailer until changes were made. H&M was the second most discussed topic on Twitter that day.

The next day, H&M responded in a follow-up article: "We are committed 100 percent to make sure this practice is not happening anywhere else, as it is not our standard practice."

The company also addressed the issue on its Facebook page:

“H&M is committed to taking responsibility for how our operations affect both people and the environment. Our policy is to donate any damaged usable garments to charity. We’re currently investigating an incident in a NY store that is not representative of our policy. We will follow with more information as soon as we are able. H&M’s US sales operation donates thousands of garments each year through Gifts In Kind Int.”
I'm just glad H&M is taking measures to correct this very serious mistake.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

H&M cutting more than just its prices

Did anyone else see this disappointing story in the New York Times today about H&M?

At the back entrance on 35th Street, awaiting trash haulers, were bags of garments that appear to have never been worn. And to make sure that they never would be worn or sold, someone had slashed most of them with box cutters or razors, a familiar sight outside H & M’s back door. ... Were the clothes usually cut up before they were thrown out? “A veces,” she said in Spanish. Sometimes. ... It is winter. A third of the city is poor. And unworn clothing is being destroyed nightly.

Click for the full piece here.

Peeps for the people

Those in Washington, D.C., don't have to wait until Easter to indulge in Peeps this year. The sugary-sweet company is kicking off the new year with its first-ever Peeps & Co. store, located in the new National Harbor mall and convention center, just outside of our nation's capital. The store features bright yellow awnings, chick-shaped door handles and 3-D chick tile work behind the register. For more pictures of the store, visit Chain Store Age's photo gallery by clicking here.

PS - Happy New Year!