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There are 107 days until Super Bowl LIII: Is Atlanta prepared?

There are 107 days left before Mercedes-Benz Stadium hosts Super Bowl LIII, and massive preparations are ongoing in Atlanta.

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Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman of Operations Brett Daniels is one of an army of local leaders who have spent more than two years preparing for the big game, which will be played Feb. 3.

The collaboration is unbelievable," Daniels said. "Every different scenario has been factored in. Everything you can imagine has been thought of."

At a media briefing Friday, Daniels announced specific downtown road closures. 

All of Andrew Young International Boulevard through the Georgia World Congress Center Campus will be closed to traffic for 10 days. 

On Saturday and Super Bowl Sunday, Northside Drive will be shut down between Ivan Allen Jr. and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards. So will MLK and Mitchell streets from Northside Drive to Centennial Olympic Park Drive. 

MARTA trains will run 24/7 from Friday through Sunday. 

Jeffrey Parker, the CEO of MARTA, said the transit system expects some of the highest ridership the city has ever seen. 

“I’m not going to be on who’s going to win the game, but I’ll bet that it’ll be the highest ridership, transit ridership, of any Super Bowl, so we have a lot of work to do," Parker said. "But we’ve also done a lot of work in preparation.”

Jon Barker, the vice president of event operations with the National Football League, said he has high confidence that the city is prepared. 

“Without a doubt, (I have a) high level of confidence, especially with everything we’ve seen here, all the meetings that we’ve had, the years of planning that have gone into this," Barker said. "Yeah, confidence level is extraordinarily high for this Super Bowl.”

Public safety is also obviously a huge concern. 

Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields won't release too many specifics of her department’s public safety plan, but said people can expect a huge police presence on the Georgia World Congress Center Campus and expanding security perimeters as you get close to the Super Bowl itself. 

"We are in a good space," Shields said. "We are on point where we should be and it's good."

Shields said collaboration among the many organizations planning for the Super Bowl is essential. 

"There's a lot of nuances you have to consider and anticipate, which is why it's imperative that we have so many diverse people," Shields said. 

Daniels said there's always the unknown, but they are ready for it. 

“You have to rely on your teammates and know that you can count on them," Daniels said. "And when something does change and you get that curve ball, they're ready for it.”

"We’re ramping up to that place where we’re ready to execute," Shields said. "We want to play our game.”

Nike offers pro contract to Oregon runner with cerebral palsy

A runner at the University of Oregon became the first professional athlete with cerebral palsy to sign a contract with Nike, Sports Illustrated reported.

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Justin Gallegos, a 20-year-old junior, thought he was being filmed for completing a cross country race for the university’s running club last Saturday. Instead, cameras captured the moment as John Douglas, Nike’s Insights director, handed Gallegos a contract.

In a video that has since gone viral, Gallegos sinks to his knees in joy as his teammates applaud.

“You don’t realize how realistic and emotional your dreams are until they play out before your very eyes!” Gallegos wrote on Instagram.

Gallegos began running as a ninth-grader. One of his coaches had gone to the University of Oregon, so Gallegos decided to attend the school and join the running club, Running magazine reported.

Gallegos used a walker as a child and endured plenty of physical therapy to improve his walk, the magazine reported.

He was noticed by Nike when he attended high school in California, and he has helped the athletic retail giant develop a shoe for runners with disabilities, called the FlyEase, Running reported.

Gallego said he was stunned by the contract offer from Nike.

“I’m still at a loss for words,” Gallego wrote on Instagram. “Beyond blessed to officially represent the swoosh!”

The video was released Oct. 6 to coincide with World Cerebral Palsy Day, Sports Illustrated reported.

Hershey's mixes two favorites in new candy bar

It is a match made in candy heaven.

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The Hershey Company is debuting a new candy bar that combines the company’s signature chocolate bar with Reese’s Pieces, and has found the perfect couple to celebrate the union, WHTM reported.

Hershey’s invited Craig Hirschey and Jenny Ries for a photo shoot at the company’s headquarters in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the television station reported.

The couple got engaged this year and will be married in February.

Undoubtedly, this couple has shared some kisses during their four-year courtship, and Hershey will document that love in its marketing campaign, WHTM reported.

The new candy bar will hit stores in November.

Colin Kaepernick's company files for trademark to former QB's image

Colin Kaepernick’s company, Inked Flash, filed for the trademark to a black-and-white image of the former NFL quarterback’s face and hair, ESPN reported Wednesday.

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Inked Flash filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Friday, but it appeared for the first time on the patent office’s website Wednesday. The company’s intent is to use Kaepernick’s image on items such as shampoo, hairspray, jewelry and even lampshades.

Other items include mugs, plates, bowls, drinking glasses. water bottles, tins, afro picks, brushes and combs, coasters, pillowcases, blankets, towels and handkerchiefs, according to the patent office website.

>> Colin Kaepernick face of Nike’s 30th anniversary ‘Just Do It’ campaign

The filing also says the image could be used in association with "providing classes, workshops, seminars and camps in the field of self-empowerment and awareness to properly interact with law enforcement"

Kaepernick became the face of Nike's “Just Do It” 30th anniversary campaign last month. He also has been marketing his own merchandise, including jerseys with the slogan #ImwithKap on them.

The decision to use Kaepernick as the face of its brand was a polarizing move for Nike. Some fans said they would shun the product, while others said they were more likely to buy Nike items as a result.

Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season.

Nike online sales rise by 31 percent

Despite some early backlash and a slight dip in sales, Nike’s online sales increased by 31 percent from Sunday through Tuesday of this week, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

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The company introduced controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” advertising campaign. President Donald Trump, police officers and many football fans objected to the choice, arguing that Kaepernick taking a knee to protest police brutality and racial injustice was out of line. 

>> Colin Kaepernick face of Nike’s new ‘Just Do It’ ad campaign

The ad, released Monday and featured on television for the first time during Thursday’s NFL opener between the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons, featured a close-up, black-and-white image of Kaepernick with the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” 

On Friday, San Francisco-based Edison Trends revealed that after an initial drop in sales, Nike recovered strongly. Its 31 percent rise is nearly double its 17 percent gain over the same time period in 2017.

“There was speculation that the Nike/Kaepernick campaign would lead to a drop in sales,” Edison Trends co-founder Hetal Pandya said in a statement. “The data does not support that theory.”

>> Nike campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick sparks boycott

But after Nike’s stock fell 3.9 percent to touch a low of $79 per share on Tuesday, it rebounded to end the week at $80.30 per share, The New York Post reported.

’Country over company': Missouri college removes Nike logos from uniforms

A private Christian college in Missouri said it would “choose its country over company” and remove all athletic uniforms bought from Nike or those that contain the Nike logo, KMBC reported.

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The College of the Ozarks, which is an NAIA school in Point Lookout, made the announcement in a release Wednesday. The college was responding to Nike’s 30th anniversary advertising campaign that features former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee before the national anthem during the 2016 season to protest police brutality and racial injustice.

>> Colin Kaepernick face of Nike’s 30th anniversary ad campaign

“In their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America," College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis said in a statement. "If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them.

“We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform."

>> Nike campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick sparks boycott

Nike has retained Kaepernick on its endorsement roster since signing him in 2011. He has not appeared in any of the brand's ads since 2016, KTRK reported.

"We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward," Gino Fisanotti, Nike's vice president of brand for North America, told ESPN.

Kaepernick is suing the NFL for allegedly colluding to keep him out of the league, KTRK reported. An arbitrator sent Kaepernick's grievance with the NFL to trial, the television station reported.

>> Critics suggest Pat Tillman was better choice for Nike campaign

In October 2017, the College of the Ozarks changed its contracts for all sports, adding a stipulation that all players and coaches show respect for the American flag and national anthem. KMBC reported.

Critics suggest Pat Tillman was better choice for Nike campaign 

Fans of the late Pat Tillman criticized Nike’s choice of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of the company’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” ad campaign, The Arizona Republic reported. 

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The ad, which was released Monday, features a close-up, black-and-white image of Kaepernick with the slogan, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

>> Colin Kaepernick face of Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ ad campaign

Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals football player and Army Ranger, was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire in 2004. Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, saying he was drawing attention to racial inequality.

While many people on social media lauded the choice of Kapernick, others were just as vigorously opposed, the Republic reported.

“Just putting it out there that Pat Tillman sacrificed just a *bit more than Colin Kaepernick,” commentator Stephen Miller of Fox News tweeted.

Others suggested that Tillman would have supported the players’ right to protest before games. Meanwhile, other posters criticized using Tillman to politicize the issue.

Tillman’s widow, Marie Tillman, released a statement last year saying her husband's service "should never be politicized in a way that divides us," the Republic reported.

Tillman’s family has not commented on the Nike campaign, the newspaper reported.

Coca-Cola agrees to buy Costa Coffee chain for $5.1 billion

Coca-Cola is getting a jolt of caffeine.

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The company agreed to buy Costa, the largest chain in the United Kingdom, for $5.1 billion, The Guardian reported Friday.

Alison Brittain, the chief executive of Whitbread, which owns Costa, said Coca-Cola’s offer led to “an absolutely stonking deal,” the newspaper reported.

Costa has nearly 4,000 stores in 32 countries, The Guardian reported.

The deal will give Coca-Cola “a strong coffee platform across parts of Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, with the opportunity for additional expansion," the company said in a statement.

Whitbread bought Costa in 1995 from its founders, Sergio and Bruno Costa. Stock for Costa jumped 15 percent Friday, The Guardian reported.

The deal still needs to be approved by shareholders and regulators, CNN reported. The companies expect to complete the deal in early 2019.

KFC offering college fund for first baby named for Colonel Sanders on Sept. 9

Want to name your child Harland? Doing so could be worth $11,000 toward the baby’s college education, Kentucky Fried Chicken announced in a news release.

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To commemorate the 128th birthday of its founder, Colonel Harland Sanders, KFC said the first child named Harland on Sept. 9 will receive the cash.

Sanders was born Sept. 9, 1890, and founded Kentucky Fried Chicken while he was in his 60s. He died Dec. 16, 1980.

"Even though vintage names are making a comeback, our iconic founder's name was dwindling in popularity, and we couldn't just stand idly by and let that happen," Andrea Zahumensky, KFC U.S. chief marketing officer, said in the news release. "We hope that this birthday celebration honors the Colonel and encourages the next generation of people aspiring to live the American dream."

On Sept. 9, parents can submit the name, date and time of their baby Harland's birth along with their contact information on www.kfc.com/babyharland. The site will be live for 30 days. The baby's first name must be Harland to qualify. 

California mall offers prime parking spaces -- for a price

A California mall is offering prime parking spots for its customers on the weekends -- for a price.

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On Aug. 11, the Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto introduced a paid parking program called Front & Center Parking at its busiest entrance, The Modesto Bee reported.

There are 200 parking spaces designated in the “assisted valet service” area of the mall, and customers can park all day for $5, the newspaper reported. 

It deviates from traditional valet service, because while the attendant takes the customer’s money, the driver parks his or her own car.

“Over Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, we’re typically at capacity for parking, or close to it,” Vintage Faire Mall Marketing Manager Annie Amies told the Bee. “We just wanted to make it more convenient to shoppers who maybe didn’t want to look around the parking lot for spaces. It’s another service and amenity we thought shoppers would enjoy.”

Handicapped and electric vehicle charging spaces will remain free, the Bee reported. The service will remain in effect through Dec. 31, and while few drivers have taken advantage, it may become more popular during the holiday shopping season.

“For today, I figured it would be good because it gets packed on the weekends,” shopper Teresa Souza told the Bee on Saturday. “It made things a lot easier.”

Some of the mall tenants were not happy with the arrangement.

“This used to be the busiest entrance at the mall and now there are 20 cars parked there,” said Jeff Klotz, who runs a kiosk inside the mall near the premium parking entrance.

The Modesto mall is owned by Macerich, which owns and operates major retail real estate properties. Another mall owned by Macerich, the Freehold Raceway Mall in New Jersey, opened a similar service in July, NJ.com reported.

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