Who knew the sole of a shoe could cause such a ruckus?
When that sole speaks to a brand's soul, then it is worth fighting for, Christian Louboutin SA says. In a hearing that began Friday in Manhattan federal court, the luxury shoemaker said that rival Yves Saint Laurent America Inc. violated its trademark by selling red-soled shoes.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Louboutin a trademark for the red sole in 2008, according to the complaint. In response, the lawyer for Yves Saint Laurent said that the company has been using red as a signature color since it was founded in 1962. In the 2010-2011 season, Yves Saint Laurent sold 1,631 pairs of red-soled shoes, according to the filing.
The red sole, however, is Louboutin's "lifeblood," according to its lawyer. The company's shoes sell for anywhere from $319 to $4,645 a pair, and sales are projected to be $135 million this year. Many consumers may agree that the flash of red says "Louboutin" as definitively as the brand name itself.
The judge has yet to rule on the case. But the lesson for marketers may be in before the verdict. Sellers need to create a unique proposition for consumers, especially for a product as common as shoes. Otherwise, brand battles -- and unfortunate puns -- may follow. (Bloomberg)
Bamboo Ceiling (FINS)
Asian-Americans are underrepresented in executive suites, according to a report from the Center for Work-Life Policy. Less than 2% of executive roles at Fortune 500 companies are held by Asian-American professionals.
Dunkin' Donuts Expansion (Bloomberg)
Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. is planning a U.S. expansion. The company will seek to raise as much as $401 million this morning in an initial public offering that will help the coffee chain double its locations in the next 20 years.
Extra Extra! (FINS)
Gannett Co. Inc., the newspaper giant, named Debra Goetz, formerly of NBCUniversal, as its new vice president of marketing.
AOL Sales Chief Out (AllThingsD)
Jeff Levick, president of global advertising and strategy at AOL Inc., is leaving the company. Levick was one of CEO Tim Armstrong's first hires in 2009.
Meet Your Audience: Digital Junkies (McKinsey)
Nearly half of U.S. online consumers are now advanced users of smartphones and social networks, up from about a third in 2008, according to a report from management consulting firm McKinsey &Company.
The Meredith Guarantee (Ad Age)
The publisher of Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal is guaranteeing that major ad campaigns in its titles will boost sales.
Buzz Around the Office
Annual Hot Dog Racing (CBS)
Further proof that if you can imagine it, it has already happened.
List of the Day: How to Handle a Bad Day
1. Don't talk to anyone while upset, to avoid snapping at coworkers.
2. Take a deep breath and start over.
3. Get some exercise.
4. Once you've calmed down, talk it out.
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