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Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Original Story 247WallSt.com

Even before global marketing campaigns, television commercials, and social media, a company's logo has been important. Over time, as businesses and consumers have changed, most major companies have also changed their logos dramatically. Still, some logos have had incredible staying power and have lasted for decades or even hundreds of years.

The world's oldest logos have all retained some core visual element, although several have been noticeably altered. Stella Artois, for example, is recognized by several details of its icon. The horn and the star resting above the label are the features continually represented in the brand's history.

Not surprisingly, the original intent behind a company's icon may be mysterious to many consumers. In some cases, this is due to the logo predating the company's current operations. Global energy conglomerate Royal Dutch Shell plc was originally a shipping company, transporting kerosene to India and returning with seashells to sell in Euro. The company selected a shell image as a result.

Paint company Sherwin-Williams, on the other hand, chose to symbolize its business with an image of a bucket of paint poured over a drawing of the Earth, a somewhat more explicit representation.

Many companies use their longevity as a selling point to consumers in advertising and on corporate websites. Companies also emphasize that they remain connected to their founding principles, with key management often related to the brand's inventor or the company's founder. Twinings Tea and Peugeot, for example, still employ descendants of their original founders.

While many of these companies operate internationally, all are recognizable to American consumers. Some are industry leaders — Sherwin-Williams, Levi's, and Heinz, for example, dominate U.S. markets. Peugeot, on the other hand, failed in the U.S. Many Americans, however, recognize the brand as virtually ubiquitous in Europe.

Based on a review of the world's oldest companies, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 oldest corporate logos still in use today. In order to be considered, the logo had to currently have an international presence. The logo also could not have been meaningfully changed.

1. Stella Artois

> Logo first used: 1366

> Company founded: 1366

> Parent company revenue: $43.2 billion

> Industry: Beverage

The origins of Stella Artois can be traced to 1366 when the Den Hoorn brewery was established in Leuven, Belgium. Local brewer Sebastian Artois bought the brewery in 1708 and renamed it after himself. The word Stella, meaning "star" in Latin, was not added to the name until the company released its first seasonal beer, the Christmas Star, in 1926. However, despite numerous shifts in management over hundreds of years, the original horn logo has not changed. The same horn that once beckoned travellers in Belgium is still prominently featured in the current Stella Artois brand. Today, Anheuser-Busch-Inbev distributes Stella Artois in more than 80 countries. According to Plato Logic Limited, a beer market data company, Stella Artois is the best-selling Belgian beer in the world.

2. Twinings Tea

> Logo first used: 1887

> Company founded: 1706

> Parent company revenue: $22.6 billion

> Industry: Beverage

Twinings Tea has used the same logo — capitalized font beneath a lion crest — continuously for 227 years, making it the world's oldest unaltered logo in continuous use, according to the company website. Perhaps even more remarkable, the company has occupied the same location on London's Strand since its founding by Thomas Twining in 1706. Tea consumption was not always essential to everyday British life. Coffee, gin, and beer dominated English breakfast drink preferences in the early 18th century. By the turn of the century, however, tea had become extremely popular. After 10 generations, family-owned Twinings is now a globally recognized company, distributing its tea to more than 100 countries worldwide.

3. Bass Ale

> Logo first used: 1876

> Company founded: 1777

> Parent company revenue: $43.2 billion

> Industry: Beverage

Bass Ale has used the red triangle logo since 1876, when the logo became the first registered trademark ever issued by the British government. Its simple design may have helped Bass become one of England's leading beer producers by 1890. The logo became so popular that Edouard Manet featured it in his 1882 work "A Bar at the Folies Bergere" and James Joyce explicitly mentioned it in his novel "Ulysses."Bass Ale is even mentioned in connection with the sinking of the Titanic, as it was carrying 12,000 bottles of Bass in its hold when it sank. According Anheuser-Busch-InBev, Bass ale was even fought over by Napoleon.

4. Shell Oil

> Logo first used: 1904

> Company founded: 1833

> Parent company revenue: $451.2 billion

> Industry: Energy

In 1891, Marcus Samuel and Company began shipping kerosene from London to India and bringing back seashells for sale in the European markets. Initially, the seashell business was so popular that it accounted for most of the company's profits. Samuel incorporated the name "Shell" in 1897 and designated a mussel shell as its logo. In 1904, a scallop shell became the official logo. In 1907, Shell merged with the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, retaining the logo that remains synonymous with the oil conglomerate. In 1915, Shell opened its first service station in California, introducing the red and yellow color scheme still in use. Today, Shell is one of the world's largest energy companies, with a market value of nearly $260 billion.

5. Levi Strauss & Co.

> Logo first used: 1886

> Company founded: 1837

> Parent company revenue: $4.7 billion

> Industry: Clothing

Levi's logo featuring two horses is perhaps just as durable as the denim it is printed on. Levi's first used the logo in 1886 as a way to grow its market share before its patent on the jean-making process expired. In fact, the logo became so widespread that, according to Levi Strauss & Co., early customers would often ask for "those pants with two horses." In fact, the brand used the name "The Two Horse Brand' until 1928, when Levi Strauss officially trademarked the Levi's name. Levi's employed roughly 16,000 employees worldwide as of last year. Its product line now includes jeans, casual and dress pants, and jackets.

6. Sherwin-Williams
> Logo first used: 1905
> Company founded: 1866
> Parent company revenue: $10.2 billion
> Industry: Specialty chemicals
Sherwin-Williams’s logo was originally created in the 1890s by George Ford, the company’s head advertiser. Despite initial reservations about the design, general manager Walter Cottingham considered it an accurate illustration of the company’s rapid growth. In 1905, the “cover the earth” logo replaced an image of a chameleon as the company’s official logo. Sherwin-Williams, based in Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of paint. It had nearly 4,000 stores and employed nearly 38,000 people worldwide as of 2013.

7. Heinz
> Logo first used: 1869
> Company founded: 1869
> Parent company revenue: $11.5 billion
> Industry: Food

Heinz first hit the market in 1869 when Henry Heinz and L. Clarence Noble used vegetables from the garden of Heinz’s mother to bottle horseradish and sell it in U.S. markets. While Heinz & Noble Co. did not survive the financial panic of 1873, Heinz returned to selling condiments in a big way in 1876 when he introduced ketchup to the American consumer. Since 1876, Heinz has grown to supply more than 5,700 products worldwide. The Heinz logo itself has its roots in the original Heinz & Noble Co. of 1869. In terms of font, size, and shape, very little of the logo has changed since its inception. Last year, Heinz was acquired by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and private equity firm 3G Capital for $28 billion.

8. Prudential
> Logo first used: 1896
> Company founded: 1875
> Parent company revenue: $41.5 billion
> Industry: Life insurance

Prudential introduced its “Rock of Gibraltar” logo in 1896, shortly after the company was founded. The symbol appeared in a weekly newspaper above the words, “The Prudential has the strength of Gibraltar.” According to the company’s website, the rock is an icon of “strength, stability, expertise, and innovation.” Prudential has always been an insurance company, founded by John Fairfield Dryden as the Prudential Friendly Society in 1875. The prominence of the logo has paid off particularly well in international markets, where Prudential shares a name with local unrelated companies. In these cases, Prudential uses the rock logo with the alternative wording to promote its brand. Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU) is now among the world’s largest financial institutions, operating in more than 40 countries around the world. The company reported total revenue of $41.5 billion at the end of last year.

9. Peugeot
> Logo first used: 1850
> Company founded: 1810
> Parent company revenue: $54.1 billion
> Industry: Automotive

Justin Blazer, an engraver by trade, designed the original Peugeot trademark in 1847. The logo, originally depicting a lion standing on an arrow, has undergone some modifications — the arrow, for example has been removed, and the lion has changed its pose. The company itself has undergone more considerable changes. Peugeot was initially founded in 1810 as a steel manufacturer. Before becoming one of the world’s most well-known automakers, Peugeot was in the bicycle business. Peugeot is now known as PSA Peugeot Citroen.

10. Johnson & Johnson
> Logo first used: 1887
> Company founded: 1886
> Parent company revenue: $71.3 billion
> Industry: Drug manufacturers

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) — the first company in the U.S. to mass-produce and distribute sterile surgical dressings — was founded in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1886. The distinctive cursive of the “Johnson & Johnson” logo was modelled after founding brother James Wood Johnson’s written signature the next year. The logo continues to be among the world’s most recognizable images. Johnson & Johnson is now a publicly traded company manufacturing a wide range of medical and consumer products. The company’s products are sold in nearly every country in the world. Last year, the company invested between $20 million and $30 million in a global corporate branding campaign, prominently featuring the company’s long-standing script logo.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Original Story:  Business Insider

Some people owe American Apparel CEO Dov Charney an apology: The vast majority of the sexual harassment claims made against him have come to nothing.

A couple of years ago, Charney's name was synonymous with sexual harassment — he was accused at one time in seven different cases of unwanted sexual contact with female staffers or the models he shoots for the chain's advertising.

Most notoriously, one woman, Irene Morales, claimed she was briefly kept as Charney's sex slave inside his Los Angeles apartment.

Fast forward to today and it turns out most of the claims against Charney were bogus.

In American Apparel's annual report — which contains an update of the litigation against Charney and the company — only one very old case remains outstanding in court. That case, filed in 2006 by Sylvia Hsu, doesn't even have any specific allegations against Charney — it's a class action on behalf of all female employees and it cites an unidentified co-worker as a defendant.

The annual report describes three harassment cases in arbitration. One was settled "with no monetary liability to the Company." And, "The Company recently prevailed on the sexual harassment claims in another of these cases." (Normally, when companies settle cases they pay to make them go away, to avoid embarrassing facts from coming out. The fact that AA hasn't made any payout so far on the harassment claims suggests Charney's defense was a strong one.)

That leaves the Hsu case and one other case in arbitration. Here's the company's update:

The Company has previously disclosed an arbitration filed by the Company on February 17, 2011, related to cases filed in the Supreme Court of New York, County of Kings (Case No. 5018-1) and Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles (Case Nos. BC457920 and BC460331) against American Apparel, Dov Charney and certain members of the Board of Directors asserting claims of sexual harassment, assault and battery, impersonation through the internet, defamation and other related claims.  The Company recently settled one of these cases with no monetary liability to the Company.  The Company recently prevailed on the sexual harassment claims in another of these cases.  While the ultimate resolution of the remaining claims cannot be determined, in light of the favorable ruling in one of these cases, the amount of settlement in the other of these cases, and based on information available at this time regarding the remaining cases, we believe, but we cannot provide assurances that, the amount and ultimate liability, if any, with respect to these remaining actions will not materially affect our business, financial position, results of operations, or cash flows.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Original story:  USAToday.com

The pretzel burger is finally, mercifully back.

And Wendy's is hinting — though not promising — that it may be back for good.

After a six-month absence, Wendy's will bring back over the July 4th weekend both its wildly popular Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger and its Pretzel Pub Chicken Sandwich. The success of Wendy's pretzel burger arguably set off 2013's pretzelmania trend in fast-food, from Sonic's pretzel dog to Dunkin's pretzel roast beef sandwich to DQ's pretzel Blizzard.

Above all else, pretzels — especially soft pretzels — sell. Proof: consumers inhaled more than 50 million pretzel sandwiches from Wendy's in 2013, driving 3% sales jumps in both the third and fourth quarters, says CEO Emil Brolick.

"The relaunch is a seminal event in our innovation history," says Brolick in a phone interview. But this go-around, he says coyly, Wendy's won't specifically say if the re-launch is a limited-time offering or a permanent menu addition. "Time will tell," he says.

Of course, customers will have serious influence, too. After Wendy's removed the pretzel sandwiches from its menu late last year, it was pounded on social media by pretzel-loving customers."We learned the passion and emotional connection that people have with Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger," says Brolick.

The burger, with a soft pretzel bun, is made with cheddar cheese, smoked bacon and honey mustard sauce, will be $4.99, about 30 cents more than last year. Also, notes Chief Marketing Officer Craig Bahner, consumers now will be able to request a pretzel bun with any other Wendy's sandwich for an additional 30 cents. "If you want a Dave's Hot 'N Juicy Double on a pretzel bun, we'll accommodate that," he says.

Beyond pretzel buns, the relaunch shows how quickly young, demanding consumers are changing fast food menus — particularly, sandwich buns and breads. "How long has it been since fast-food changed the white bun?" asks Elizabeth Sloan, a restaurant industry trends consultant. "There is a revolution going on in terms of sandwich carriers."

And beyond. Sloan points out that last year, 225 million Americans say they bought some kind of gourmet food or specialty food, and that number is growing.

For Wendy's, the intro also is a bid to boost sales during its already-busiest time of year and to regain its footing as an industry innovator.

Under its late founder Dave Thomas, Wendy's was regarded as a fast-food innovator with then-trend-setting offerings ranging from chili to baked potatoes to prepackaged salads.

The pretzel sandwiches may help change that. Within the industry's social-media buzz meter over the past several years, pretzel sandwiches arguably rank right up there with Taco Bell's game-changing Doritos Locos Tacos.

With the pretzel burger, Wendy's is chasing Millennials by aiming up, says Brolick. He says the chain is competing less with McDonald's and Burger King and increasingly with Chipotle and Panera Bread — which are preferred by Millennials.

That's also why Wendy's will launch a new version of its pretzel burger "Love Songs" ad campaign, which went viral last time around. This time, Morgan Smith, better known as "Red," the woman with the red hair who appears as a Wendy's booster in so many of its ads, will belt out a song professing her love for Wendy's pretzel burger.

Funniest, pretzel burger-worshiping line from her reinvented version of the song All By Myself: "When I was young, I never needed any bun."

Friday, June 13, 2014


Original Story: WSJ.com

Mergers and acquisitions pros like their pricey duds: $5,000 suits, $200 Hermès silk ties and $1,300 John Lobb shoes.

But a deal's a deal, and sometimes that means shopping at Men's Wearhouse.

The attorneys at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, which advised Men's Wearhouse on its recent deal to purchase rival Jos. A. Bank, shrugged off Armani and Zegna in favor of $600 suits by Joseph Abboud —a once-prestigious brand now owned by Men's Wearhouse.  Some of these lawyers are considering investing in Philadelphia Apartments to have some real estate property.

They were "custom-made," points out partner Steven Seidman, who says he donned a light blue number with a subtle plaid pattern to several meetings during the six-month negotiation period.

"If you're coming in to make a pitch to a client that you're going to be charging a lot of money to, you should understand their product," says David Edwab, vice chairman of the board of directors for Men's Wearhouse.

In the hypercompetitive world of mergers, acquisitions and initial public offerings, you really do need to dress to impress. And it helps to have a flexible definition of what that means.

Consider the IPO of yogawear maker Lululemon Athletica Inc. LULU -0.64%  seven years ago. Anxious bankers were prepared to strike a brand-appropriate pose to win the company's business.

Ditching their pressed shirts, suits and dress shoes, deal teams at several banks showed up at meetings wearing form-fitting yoga pants, track suit tops and sneakers to convince Lululemon's management that they would be committed to the underwriting assignment—and to the spirit of the brand.

But yoga isn't for everyone. The stretchy bottoms were tight, remembers one banker who pitched the company. "It was pretty embarrassing, actually," says the banker, who remembers leaving his hotel the morning of the pitch and feeling goofy as people in business suits walked by. Even though they were determined to wear the pants, the bank didn't get a piece of the deal.

In uptown Manhattan, UBS AG's bankers were planning an elaborate stunt of their own for the Lululemon pitch. The bank outfitted around 75 of its employees in Lululemon gear and had them descend upon Central Park for a "flash mob" yoga session. They photographed the event and presented it to Lululemon's management during their pitch. UBS was named as one of the deal's underwriters.

"Our sales went down when we stopped interviewing investment banks," jokes Robert Meers, Lululemon's CEO at the time, who was stunned by the number of bankers who loped into meetings sporting his product.

While bankers may resort to gimmickry for all manner of pitches, deal makers agree that retail clients require particularly special handling.

To woo a food company, for instance, bankers might arrange to have nibbles from the brand's pantry at the pitch. Tech bankers often dress down to be in sync with the relaxed vibe of Silicon Valley.

But fashion CEOs tend to have a discerning eye for detail and an obsession with who wears what.

True Religion founder and former CEO Jeffrey Lubell remembers one banker's entire outfit from when the two met in 2005.

"At the time, Peter Comisar appeared in my newest Big T Cords, a great shirt and blazer," recalls Mr. Lubell. "His fashion was a stand out in a sea of dark suits and ties."

Even the banker can recite his outfit for that crucial day: The corduroy pants were olive green with white stitching around the pockets.

The deal didn't materialize. But Mr. Comisar made such an impression that, years later, Mr. Lubell hired him to represent the brand in its sale to a private-equity firm.

The tradition of playing dress-up for a pitch extends back decades. Gilbert Harrison, founder of retail investment bank Financo LLC, remembers learning the lesson the hard way. In the 1970s, Mr. Harrison showed up to a meeting in St. Louis with the chairman of Interco Inc. wearing his go-to shoe: black Gucci loafers. Interco owned a number of shoe brands at the time, including Florsheim.

"Young man if you're coming here to sell a Camel, don't smoke a Lucky Strike," Mr. Harrison recalls being told by Maurice Chambers, an Interco executive who is now deceased. Later on, Mr. Chambers gave him a catalog and told him to order a few pairs. Mr. Harrison chose dress shoes in black and brown, and never got off on the wrong foot with Interco again, he says.

Fashion faux pas can be costly. Karen Goodman, a managing director at Financo, recalls driving to a pitch to sell a business for a different shoe retailer. Ms. Goodman says she usually wears the products of the client she is pitching. But on her drive over to the meeting, she realized she had on a competitor's kicks.

"It was 8 a.m. and stores weren't open," she laments. Financo lost the deal to a competitor and later learned, from a board member, that the snub had to do with the not-so-fancy footwork.

All the wardrobe changes can add up. Bankers are typically expected to pay for outfits and accessories out of pocket, which can get pricey when it comes to pitching luxury clients.

Jane DeFlorio, a former retail investment banker at Deutsche Bank, still grits her teeth when she opens her jewelry box and finds two cheap-looking necklaces she bought for a meeting with the founder of an accessories brand. The opera-length cream and gold plastic disk necklaces set her back $500 each, plus expedited shipping, she recalls.

"It just killed me to buy them," she says. To make matters worse, spending big bucks didn't work. The company chose a different bank.

Sometimes, the sartorial solicitation makes for delicate business. When Ms. DeFlorio worked on bra and panty maker Maidenform's initial public offering, she was often the only woman in the room, she says. Whenever the management team or other bankers would talk about the fit or comfort of the bras, they'd motion to her and ask her opinion, she remembers. Intimately familiar with the product, she obliged.

During a roadshow presentation in New York, Ms. DeFlorio remembers addressing a room full of men. To add a bit of levity to the session, she introduced Maidenform's management team with a tacit product endorsement that elicited laughs.

"I can speak to the quality of this company, the quality of its management team," she said, jutting out her hips for the punch line. "And most of all, I can speak to the quality of the product."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Original Story: Chicago Tribune

Illinois regulators have charged Daedalus Capital LLC founder and chief investment officer Stephen Messiah Coleman with fraud, claiming in a civil action that the money manager sold improper investments and acted as an unlicensed adviser.  Will he need a Novi Divorce Lawyer when his wife finds out?

Coleman had earlier been the subject of an investigation by Missouri securities regulators. He moved to Chicago two years ago from St. Louis and has been running advertisements in theater programs, promising to double investors’ money in five years or less regardless of market conditions.

In a “temporary order of prohibition” dated May 16, the Illinois Securities Department prohibited Daedalus for selling securities, namely the Deuce and Alpha, for 90 days effective May 16 subject to further order from the state. Coleman has 30 days to request a hearing after having been served the order. If he doesn’t, the order can become final.

“On the Illinois matter, I have no comment today,” Coleman said Friday morning. The Illinois securities division, which brought the charges, also declined to comment on Friday.

Missouri, where Coleman had lived for most of his life, had prohibited him from selling securities. That state’s securities commissioner had found that Coleman had committed fraud, a ruling that a division spokesman said was upheld by circuit and appeals courts in the state. But an administrative hearing commissioner looking into whether Coleman had violated professional conduct standards rejected charges in 2010 that Coleman had misled people who invested in a related company, saying financial arrangements were disclosed in documents. In another legal proceeding in 2012, a Missouri county court ruled that no evidence was presented that Coleman’s investors lost money, but it fined him and Daedalus $50,000  and found he committed fraud after selling unregistered securities and acting as an unregistered investment adviser, in violation of securities laws.

Illinois is charging him with fraud in the offer and sale of  securities; the offer and sale  of unregistered securities; fraud in offering investment advice; and acting as an unregistered investment adviser.

Deuce is a "debt security" that seeks to double its money in five years. A copy of the Deuce agreement on Daedalus' website prominently states that the security isn't registered with the SEC or any state securities laws.

Coleman has accepted $346,000 from four Deuce investors, but the vehicle has an undisclosed $248,404 unfunded liability, Illinois said in its eight-page order.

Coleman and Daedalus “omitted to inform investors that they had insufficient assets to cover projected liabilities to current investors,” Illinois said.

Daedalus had assured at least one Deuce investor in January that it was “highly confident” that it would be able to fulfill its obligations, the state of Illinois said.

Although the Deuce agreement, as well as that for Alpha, discloses that the state of Missouri had fined Daedalus $50,000 for selling unregistered securities, the agreement failed to say that the penalties were unpaid, the state of Illinois pointed out. The Deuce and Alpha agreements also didn’t mention federal tax liens filed against Coleman, the state said.

Securities sold in Illinois must be registered unless they receive exemptions.

“Daedalus is not using an exemption from registration,” Illinois securities regulators quote Coleman as saying under oath in February 2014. “We did not seek registration of the Deuce because it is borrowed money, like a bank loan.”

Another Daedalus investment is Alpha, which invests in up to five stocks. Coleman told the Tribune on May 7 for a story that ran May 18 that clients give him their usernames and passwords to allow him to manage money in their accounts, a practice known as proxy trading. Coleman said that was one reason he didn’t need to be registered.

In its  May 16 complaint, the state of Illinois says it’s typical industry practice to file a limited power of attorney with a broker dealer granting the money manager the power to execute trades in the customers’ accounts.

The state of Illinois said Coleman essentially misrepresented himself as the account’s owner. The state said it suspects that Coleman did so because he was afraid that the broker dealer might not do business with him given his past history with regulators.

Also, by acting in such a manner, Coleman was acting as an investment adviser despite not being registered, the state of Illinois said.

Coleman, who declined to comment on Illinois’ actions, on Friday called the Missouri actions “a rigged game.”

“This was nothing simple or benign,” he said. “It was evil in my eyes.

“Do not get lost in the muck,” Coleman told the Tribune on Friday. “The truth that brought Daedalus to your attention endures: Daedalus Capital  LLC promises a return of 100 percent or more to our clients, in five years or less, regardless of general market conditions."