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  • Fred Franzia

    Here's the second of two part of my post on wine maker Fred Franzia: If Franzia isn't quite a pariah in Napa Valley, he's close. He prefers "maverick," known for his straight-talking complaints about what he calls a snooty wine business, indignant over the high cost of wine for no real reason other than greed, and an approach to the American consumer that severely restricts the industry's overall growth.

  • Fred Franzia

    Sure, I'm the Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, but every now and then I get to cover stories from that other newsmaking valley just north of here: Napa Valley. We're working up a story on Fred Franzia and when it comes to the wine business, he's probably not a name you easily recognize. There's Mondavi; the Gallos; and yes, Fred Franzia. He's either revered, or reviled, depending upon whom you talk to in the wine world.

  • There's no question that Blockbuster's livelihood is under attack--the business of driving to a store to rent a DVD and driving back when you're done is threatened from video on demand, and digital downloads, especially since both technologies are getting better and faster. So, looking to avoid going the way of the Beta Max, Blockbuster just purchased online movie downloading company Movielink for under $20 million.

  • Kohl's Vera Wang Line: Why Don't They Talk About It? Friday, 10 Aug 2007 | 8:38 AM ET

    It is the biggest launch in Kohl's history but the company does not want to discuss it. That was what Kohl's press person told me when I phoned to ask if there were any events planned around the September 9th launch of their first major guest designer clothing line. With the massive launch of the Vera Wang designed "Simply Vera" collection, you would expect that Kohl's would be backing up their bet on Vera with a media onslaught. But that's not the case.

  • John Daly: Should He Be Spokesman For Coke? Weigh In Thursday, 9 Aug 2007 | 3:50 PM ET
    Diet Coke

    Imagine there is a sports star and he's absolutely obsessed with your product. Sure he has some major issues here and there, but he's a fan favorite. And he can't live a day without your product. Would you take a chance on him? How could you not? In an era where it's sometimes hard to believe that athletes really use the products they pitch, John Daly is what they call a breath of fresh air. He loves Diet Coke.

  • Elvis Gets A New And "Tasty" Tribute Thursday, 9 Aug 2007 | 3:12 PM ET

    I love the way press releases are written. Here are two very different ones. First, the press release making the biggest stretch: REESE'S® PEANUT BUTTER & BANANA CREME CUPS PAY TRIBUTE TO ELVIS PRESLEY. This is promoting--ok, I'm not kidding--new "Collector Edition Reese's Elvis cups" which feature "the unique flavor combination of peanut butter and bananas made famous by Elvis' love of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, a Southern favorite." COLLECTOR EDITION? Look for them to be bid up like crazy on eBay!

  • Perry Ellis

    Talk about the American dream. I went to the Perry Ellis showroom yesterday in midtown Manhattan for an exclusive conversation with company CEO George Feldenkreis. Normally, George and his son Oscar Feldenkreis (President & COO) work out of the Miami, FL corporate headquarters, but the two were in town to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary and to ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq.

  • Li-Ning

    If you're watching CNBC today, you'll see my piece on the battle of shoe brands in China as the Olympics approaches. (You can also see it on CNBC.com right now or in clip below). Anyway, unfortunately there's only so much to fit in in "television time" and I had three great interviews with top executives from Nike, adidas and Li-Ning. So I thought it would only be fair if I could run the best parts of the three interviews in the blog.

  • Worst Ad, Kragen & Bonds, Quinn: Readers Respond Thursday, 9 Aug 2007 | 9:59 AM ET
    Papelbon driving a yellow Lamborghini

    Many of you are aware that Boston Red Sox pitcher Jonathan Papelbon won the worst athlete ad contest here on this blog for his work in spots for 125 Auto. In the advertisement, Papelbon is seen ordering his 2004 Hummer. Well, Papelbon must not have his deal with 125 Auto anymore. Alert reader Chris caught what looks to be Papelbon driving out of the player parking lot at Fenway Park last month in what Chris suggests is a yellow 2006 or 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo.

  • Buick Is Now As Good As Lexus--Say What? Thursday, 9 Aug 2007 | 8:27 AM ET

    Admit it, the headline caught your attention. Admit it, you may have scoffed and said, "yeah right" sarcastically. Admit it, you never imagined Buick and Lexus would be considered "equals."Well, back up your daddy's LeSabre and check out the latest vehicle dependability results from J.D. Power and Associates. For the first time in 12 years, another brand tied Lexus.

  • CherryPharm: A Passion For Making Natural Cherry Juice Wednesday, 8 Aug 2007 | 4:22 PM ET

    How many company founders have you seen 'shrink wrapping' product on the factory floor? Or, CEO's trying to help get the production line operating? We saw them both at CherryPharm in Geneva New York. It's a three year old company with a small production facility that makes one thing--cherry juice. But this is not your supermarket cherry juice. Or even your health food store concentrate.

  • Barry Bonds' Homer: Kragen Auto Parts Circles Bases Too Wednesday, 8 Aug 2007 | 10:49 AM ET
    Barry Bonds record breaking shot.

    Matt Murphy, who caught home run ball No. 756, wasn’t the only winner on Tuesday night, so too was Kragen Auto Parts, whose rotating sign was behind home plate when Barry Bonds hit the record-breaking shot. Eric Wright of the sponsorship evaluation firm Joyce Julius & Associates told me this morning that he believes Kragen will receive in between $5 million and $6 million in equivalent advertising time for being associated with the moment...

  • Warner Music Group--as one of the world's largest recording companies--is a pretty good leading indicator for the embattled music industry. With its fiscal third quarter loss growing to 17 million from 14 million last year, let's just say, there's not much hope for the CD business-- new releases aren't selling as well as they used to, and sales are dropping off much faster in following weeks than they ever did before.

  • Tiger Woods is the only athlete who will come close to earning $100 million in endorsements this year. But the actions of two of the companies he had deals with questions whether Woods is worth the price companies pay. Last week, American Express signed a deal to become the official card of the PGA of America and the USGA and in the process decided to end its deal with Woods after a 10-year relationship with the brand.

  • Plan B., Yao And T-Shirts: Readers Respond Tuesday, 7 Aug 2007 | 11:03 AM ET

    Yesterday, I wrote about how a company called Plan B. found out that 71 percent fewer fans showed up on discounted beer night. This surprised me a little bit, but not some readers. From Larry Rascak:Personally I would avoid discount beer night like the plague, simply because I would not want to be at a ballgame (or in the parking lot, or driving home) with the sort of people who would go to a game just to drink a lot of cheap beer. Is this really that big a surprise?

  • Tom Glavine's 300th Win And The "Ties" That Bind Monday, 6 Aug 2007 | 12:26 PM ET

    If you're a big fan of Tom Glavine and you are happy he won his 300th game last night, you might as well get his 300th win tie. Oh yeah, it costs $1,000. Tie company Vineyard Vines is making 300 of the ties, which will be sold exclusively at www.rallyfoundation.com. The entire cost of the tie will be donated to the Rally Foundation, which raises awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.

  • Michael Vick: Rating Those Dogfighting T-Shirts Monday, 6 Aug 2007 | 10:16 AM ET

    When Kobe Bryant was charged with sexual assault, we saw a few nifty entrepreneurs come up with T-shirts to try to cash in on the news. There were the Kobe Bryant T-shirts were made to look like a jersey, with Kobe's number on it and "Colorado Prison League" on the front. One supporter made a "Free Kobe" shirt. But never in the history of sports have we seen the cottage industry that has become Michael Vick dogfighting T-shirts.

  • Bob Nardelli

    Talk about moving fast. Just two days after taking ownership of Chrysler, Cerberus Capital has put a new man in charge of the struggling automaker. And it's a bold move picking an auto industry outsider. Bob Nardelli steps in as Chrysler's chairman and CEO in a move that many will question. Yet, I think this move could work for a couple reasons.

  • Marketing Charity: What Really Makes A Sale Friday, 3 Aug 2007 | 9:36 AM ET

    With the market as up and down as it is these days, my schedule has been just as much of a rollercoaster ride! I'm behind on responding to some of the interesting notes that have made their way into my retail detail inbox. So this Friday I decided to catch up! Retail detail reader Mark Coleman raised a good question about cause-related marketing and the type of Super Saturday fundraiser events that I wrote about a few days ago.

  • BMW And Buick: One Gains, And The Other's In Pain Friday, 3 Aug 2007 | 9:00 AM ET
    BMW 3 Series

    Call this the tale of two brands going in opposite directions. One knows its core market and continues to roll out hot models that win over fans. The other is drifting with sales slumping and serious questions mounting about its future. When I look at the July sales, I'm struck by the numbers at Buick. How bad was it? Sales dropped 29 % and every single model was down at least 17%. Think that's bad?