Brands Brief: U.S. Puts Alibaba Back on ‘Notorious Markets’ Blacklist for Fake Goods

Top Stories

  • The U.S. Office of the Trade Representative put Alibaba Holding Group Ltd. on its annual “Notorious Markets” blacklist, citing high levels of reported counterfeit products and piracy. The China-based e-commerce company had its name removed from the list four years ago, and the firm said it’s disappointed that USTR put it back on the list. (Bloomberg News)
  • National Football League ad revenue slipped 26 percent last month, compared with November 2015, on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. (FierceCable)
  • Comcast Cable Communications is aiming to launch two African-American-owned, independent networks by January 2019. (The Philadelphia Tribune)

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Advertising and Marketing

Why Everybody—Including the World’s Biggest Brands—Wanted Selena Gomez in 2016
Kenzie Bryant, Vanity Fair

One week ago, a rumor rumbled on the celebrity-meets-fashion fault line: Selena Gomez, singer and ex-Disney star, had signed a deal with Coach, American luxury leather goods company. The rumor, which Page Six initially reported, became fact five days later when Coach made its new relationship status with Gomez official via a press release.

Personalization is rewriting the brand narrative
Mike Densmore, Campaign

If there’s one positive lesson to come out of the wild and woolly election, it’s that storytelling is as powerful as ever. From Facebook posts to email outreach, personalized targeting techniques were widely used in the election.

J. Crew’s Debt Looms as Retailer Seeks to Regain First-Lady Glow
Lindsey Rupp and Emma Orr, Bloomberg News

J. Crew Group Inc. is heading into 2017 on a mission that gets more critical with each passing day: turn around a two-year sales slump or slam head-on into a wall of debt. Some of the company’s $2 billion in debt becomes current in 2018, and J. Crew needs to revive its flagging business to stave off rising odds of default.

Ad of the Day: Adults Hate Christmas So Much That Walmart Hypnotized Them Into Enjoying It
Angela Natividad, Adweek

Walmart’s holiday ad begins by reminding us of something we already know: Kids love Christmas. They can’t sleep.

Media and Entertainment

Comcast seeks proposals for African-American-owned independent networks
Tribune Staff Report, The Philadelphia Tribune

Comcast Cable is now accepting proposals for two substantially African-American-owned, independent networks that it will launch in select Comcast markets by January 2019. The announcement is part of the company’s commitment to launch independently owned and operated networks as part of a series of public interest commitments made by Comcast in connection with the NBCUniversal transaction completed in 2011.

ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC ad revenue hurt by NFL’s lower ratings
Ben Munson, FierceCable

The recent decline in ratings for the NFL caught up to broadcaster ad revenues in November, according to Standard Media Index. In all, year-over-year declines in November had revenue down 18 percent for CBS, 5.8 percent for NBC, 14.5 percent for Fox and 7.6 percent for ABC.

U.S. university launches tool to show how fake news spreads
Patricia Reaney, Reuters

Researchers at Indiana University have developed a new tool that shows how fake news and unverified stories spread through social media. The search engine, dubbed Hoaxy, is the latest effort to combat the proliferation of fake news, which proliferated during the U.S. presidential campaign, with one bogus post-Election Day story sparking a real-life event when a gunman fired shots into a Washington, D.C., restaurant.

ABC Will Create Original Series for Snapchat, Starting With a Bachelor-Themed Show
Jason Lynch, Adweek

Yet another big media company is teaming up with Snapchat in a bid to reach millennials. This time, it’s Disney-ABC Television Group, which is partnering with Snap Inc. to produce original series for the platform.

Sling TV Readying AirTV Player With Free Broadcast TV, Netflix Integration
Janko Roettgers, Variety

Sling TV and its corporate parent Dish are getting close to releasing a new streaming device dubbed AirTV Player that will combine free over-the-air broadcast channels with Sling TV’s paid streaming service and Netflix programming, according to a new report from gadget blogger Dave Zatz. The device could possibly allow Sling TV to spend less energy and money on negotiating carriage agreements with broadcast networks and their local affiliates across the country.

Facebook brings live audio to platform, starting with the BBC
Jefferson Graham, USA Today

Facebook is expanding its Live platform to also include just audio. As with many other Facebook launches, the new platform, announced Tuesday, is currently only available to a handful of pre-selected partners.

Social Media and Technology

OurMine hacks Netflix, Marvel Twitter accounts
Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

OurMine is up to its old tricks again, with an attack on Netflix’s official U.S. Twitter account. The hacking team has been responsible for taking over a number of high-profile Twitter accounts during the past year or so, including Google’s Sundar Pichai, actor Channing Tatum – and us, TechCrunch dot com.

Arianna Huffington’s new store wants to help you break your phone addiction
Jason Del Rey, Recode

For years, Arianna Huffington has preached the gospel of sleep. Now she’s selling it. 

PR and Communications

U.S. Again Labels Alibaba ‘Notorious Market’ for Knock-Offs
Selina Wang and Lulu Yilun Chen, Bloomberg News

The U.S. has again labeled Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. one of the world’s largest destinations for fake goods, a major embarrassment for a Chinese e-commerce titan trying to shake off its reputation as a haven for counterfeiters. The U.S. Office of the Trade Representative on Wednesday restored Alibaba to its annual Notorious Markets blacklist — just four years after the Chinese company managed to get off.

Volkswagen reaches $1 billion settlement on final cars in emissions scandal
Tribune News Services, The Chicago Tribune

Volkswagen reached a deal that will give at least some owners of the remaining 80,000 diesel vehicles caught in the company’s emissions cheating scandal the option of a buyback and provide compensation to all of them on top of any repurchase or repairs, U.S. regulators and a federal judge said Tuesday. The $1 billion settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will give owners of 20,000 3-liter diesel cars the choice of a buyback.

Amazon, Walmart urged to stop selling “spying” doll
Aimee Picchi, CBS News

Consumer advocates are pressing retailers including and Walmart to stop selling a doll that can eavesdrop on children and families. The groups are asking the retailers to discontinue sales of the doll My Friend Cayla following a complaint they filed earlier this month with the Federal Trade Commission.

One businessman says Amazon kept his merchandise—and his money
Ari Levy, CNBC

During last year’s holiday season, hoverboards were all the rage. The electronic self-balancing scooter was the hottest-selling item on Black Friday and clips from “Back to the Future Part II” were all over the internet.

No-Fun Ikea Wants Teens to Stop Having Illegal Sleepovers in Its Stores
Lisa Ryan, New York Magazine

Teens these days are under a lot of stress: Their every move is recorded on social media, they’re super busy heckling Trump offspring, and every single one of them applied to get into UCLA this year. Now, on top of all of that, Ikea is rudely asking teens to stop having illegal sleepovers in their stores.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Silicon Valley Philanthropists Often Overlook Local Needs, According to New Report
Jennifer Wadsworth, San Jose Inside

While Silicon Valley’s affluence and charitable giving has exploded, the report found that region’s income inequality rivals that of the poorest nations and its philanthropy is directed just about everywhere else but in its own backyard. The study, titled “The Giving Code” and published last month by consulting group Open Impact, found that only about 7 percent of all giving by private foundations in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties goes to local nonprofits.

Op-Eds, Perspectives and Research

How President Trump Could Damage Gap’s Earnings by a Mind-Boggling 100%
Brian Sozzi, TheStreet

Just when struggling apparel retailer Gap  thought things couldn’t get any worse, in strolls Donald J. Trump into the White House. If a President Trump pushes through his promised major overhaul of U.S. corporate taxes and implements lofty taxes on goods imported from overseas, it could materially harm the bottom line of apparel retailers in 2017, most notably Gap, according to a new 30 page report from Wells Fargo.

Yelp’s Brand Recognition Has Risen Considerably, Survey Shows
Brian Deagon, Investor’s Business Daily

RBC Capital Markets reiterated its outperform rating on Yelp stock with a price target of 55 in the wake of positive results from a consumer survey. RBC analyst Mark Mahaney said Yelp’s brand recognition has risen significantly, from 66 percent in 2014 to nearly 100 percent in the latest survey, which polled 2,800 people.