Gaffes of the Day

Inexplicably, Virgin head Richard Branson has teamed up with low-rent celebrity spouse Kevin Federline to call for protected status for the humble penny. Of course, the call to action accompanies a special SMS rate plan rollout from Virgin Mobile, but as Branson’s full-page ad in today’s New York Times says, pennies make us “feel American.” Huh?

One, without being jingoistic, what does a Brit know about feeling American? Maybe we should bring back the ha’penny. Secondly, teaming up with Federline seems to be a branding misstep for Branson. What does Federline bring Branson in terms of popular opinion or credibility? Not a lot.

Oddly, the media event happened in close conjunction with another possible branding misstep. Target has licensed its name to develop a line of consumer goods under the umbrella of Target — add one l’accent aigu — Couture. Among the offerings, $140 jeans and $3,200 jewelry. But here’s the rub: The goods won’t actually be sold in Target stores.

Distancing, anyone?