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BRANDS: IN TROUBLE, IN DEMAND: WINNERS AND LOSERS: DECIPHERING THE NEW TACTICS NEEDED TO THRIVE IS TOUGH AS NEW MEDIA AND WALL ST. PRESSURES CONVERGE ON MARKETERS

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Branding is the marketing buzzword of the late '90s. And brands are under more pressure today than ever, facing not only traditional challenges such as crowded store shelves and fickle consumers, but a host of new business pressures.

Brands that reside below the top tier or lack global potential are being filtered out of the portfolios of major product marketers. The stock market is keeping a close eye on quarterly earnings, forcing companies to demand proof of the return on investment for their marketing budgets. That's straining relationships with ad agencies, as are such factors as executive turnover and the rise of consultants.

Add to that mix the explosion of new media options and resulting shift in the communications paradigm, and it's clear that building and sustaining a successful brand is no longer as simple as getting a product distributed and buying a flight of network TV spots.

With this issue, Advertising Age introduces the first in a regular series of reports on "Brands in trouble/brands in demand." This debut package features mini-case studies on one brand that's struggling and one that's on the rise in each of five key categories: fast-food, automotive, household products, alcoholic beverages and technology. Future issues will profile brands in trouble and those in demand in categories including soft drinks, fashion and pharmaceuticals.

While some of these brands' ups and downs are specific to their categories, the challenges in many cases are common to all marketers trying to build, grow, sustain or resuscitate those combinations of product and promise known as

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