The daily business briefing: February 13, 2023
Toyota's incoming leader announces EV catchup plan, Super Bowl ads take a feel-good approach in tough times, and more
New Toyota chief announces EV push
Toyota Motor Corp.'s incoming president, Koji Sato, said Monday the Japanese automaker would step up development of all-electric cars, starting with new EVs in its luxury Lexus line by 2026. Sato, who takes over from longtime leader Akio Toyoda in April, appears to be aiming to push Toyota to catch up with overseas rivals, including Tesla, which dominates the EV market. The company, which was considering how to boost its EV business before the management change, plans to invest in EV-optimized parts and new manufacturing methods. "We've seen the kind of EVs we are aiming for," Sato said. "Now that the timing is right, we will accelerate that development with a new approach."
Super Bowl ads aim to make viewers feel good in tense times
With a possible recession looming and the war in Ukraine escalating global tensions, Super Bowl advertisers avoided "edgy humor or experimentation" in this year's closely watched commercials during the championship football game, and focused on positive themes, with light humor, celebrities, and "plenty of dogs," according to The Associated Press. "This year's ads took a very light touch and focused on being fun and making the viewer feel good," said Charles Taylor, marketing professor at Villanova University. Dunkin' Donuts' ad featured Ben Affleck taking drive-through orders, including one from Jennifer Lopez. General Motors and Netflix had Will Ferrell tout their deal to show more electric vehicles in Netflix shows. The ads cost up to $7 million per 30-second spot, and reach 100 million viewers.
Adidas considers options for repurposing unsold Yeezy products
Adidas is seeking ways to repurpose unsold Yeezy merchandise it has been stuck with since cutting cut ties with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, over his recent antisemitic remarks. The company stopped making Yeezy products and sending payments to Ye's companies in October. The German sportswear company said it had zero tolerance for antisemitism and other hate speech. The company issued a profit warning last week, saying its full-year revenue would drop $1.3 billion from previous forecasts because of the decision to stop selling Yeezy shoes and other products. One option the company has, according to NPR, is removing Yeezy labels and selling the goods in its own stores.
OSHA fines Mars Wrigley over chocolate factory accident
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined a Mars Wrigley factory in Pennsylvania over a June 2022 incident in which two contractors fell into a vat of chocolate. More than two dozen rescuers rushed to pull the workers out. One had to be transported by helicopter to a hospital. The two workers had been hired to clean tanks used to mix ingredients for Dove chocolate. OSHA said they did not received proper training, and fined the company more than $14,500. Mars Wrigley said it appreciated OSHA's effort to work with the company to review what happened. "The safety of our associates and outside contractors is a top priority for our business," a company spokesperson said.
Stock futures struggle to rebound from rough week
U.S. stock futures were mixed early Monday after last week's losses. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.1 percent at 7 a.m. ET. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were up 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 1.1 percent and 2.4 percent last week, their worst weekly losses since December. The Dow lost 0.2 percent on the week. The losses followed comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who warned that the U.S. has a long way to go before inflation falls to acceptable levels, and that the Fed might hike interest rates higher than previously expected. The remarks dampened investor hopes that the central bank might soon stop raising rates.