These experts from the UW-Madison faculty and staff have agreed to comment on breaking news, ongoing developments and trends in their areas of expertise. If you need help arranging interviews, email University Communications.
Experts on today’s news…
Nancy Wong on: Coach becomes Tapestry
Nancy Wong, an expert on consumer decision making and luxury marketing, can discuss luxury brand Coach changing its parent company name to Tapestry. Coach said the new name reflected the company's history and the fact that many brands will be interwoven to create one product. Coach acquired high-end shoe brand Stuart Weitzman for $574 million in 2015 and then scooped up quirky apparel brand Kate Spade for $2.4 billion earlier this year.
"Going to Tapestry gives Coach the opportunity to create an all American luxury group (first of its kind) with Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman under its umbrella, similar to how Google renamed its holding company Alphabet and other European luxury groups such as LVMH, Richemont and Kering," Wong says. "However, each brand is likely to be marketed under its own brand name so as to retain the brand cache that each has already built. It is a well balanced strategy and consistent with the competition."
R. Alta Charo on: Gene therapy treatment for childhood blindness
R. Alta Charo, an expert on the regulation and ethics of scientific and medical innovation, can discuss new gene therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration for a rare condition that causes a progressive form of blindness that usually starts in childhood.
Donna Friedsam on: Executive order to dismantle Obamacare
Donna A. Friedsam, an expert on health care financing, can discuss an executive order President Trump has signed that could weaken Obamacare.
"President Trump's executive order will create two separate insurance markets: Healthier, younger people will be able to purchase low cost plans that offer less coverage," Friedsam says. "But people who have health conditions that require more coverage (and people who understand that they may need more coverage in the event that something happens) will need more comprehensive coverage that, because of this executive order and the departure of younger healthy people from their risk pools, will face much higher premiums. Insurers may not be able to offer comprehensive plans if only high need consumers buy them, and insurers may depart from this market. This executive order detracts from the nascent efforts in Congress to reach bipartisan solutions to health care that benefit people across the spectrum of income and health status."
Lydia Zepeda on: Organic food labels
Lydia Zepeda, an expert on organic foods and food labels, can discuss concerns from U.S. organic farmers who say they’re facing intense pressure from cheap imports that are labeled “organic” but don’t comply with U.S. Department of Agriculture standards.
"Consumers should look for the USDA organic seal," Zepeda recommends. "This is a certification that the producer has met the U.S. organic standards."
Volker Radeloff on: California wildfires
Volker Radeloff, an expert on wildland fire, can comment on the devastating Northern California fires that have left 17 people dead and forced more than 20,000 to evacuate.
"The current fires are extreme both in their behavior and in the devastation they caused," Volker says. "While extreme, these fires were neither unprecedented nor unforeseeable, because so many homes have been built close to forests and shrublands that are highly flammable."
Jonathan Gray on: "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"
Jonathan Gray, an expert on film hype and promotion, can comment on the new "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" trailer which was released Monday.
"At this point in the life of the franchise, films in Star Wars’ main story line seem almost immune to box office failure: there are enough people invested or curious, surely, to guarantee at least a fairly decent box office showing," Gray says. "Indeed, what intrigues me is that whereas trailers often exist to drum up support and interest, a great deal of the buzz around this new trailer is that people shouldn’t watch it. It does seem especially spoiler-y, and its director noted this, though then had to spend a whole day refuting reports that he was actively telling people not to watch it. However, what this buzz suggests is that there are enough people out there who are assumed to want to watch it that a trailer isn’t necessary. And that assumption’s probably pretty accurate."
Thomas (Tom) O'Guinn on: Dove ad
Thomas O'Guinn, an expert on branding and consumer behavior, can comment on a recent Dove ad that has been accused of being racist and has many consumers encouraging a boycott. “This is part of an ongoing trend by marketers to leverage political fissures in the culture," says O'Guinn. "We’ve always seen issues put into a commercial context, but the form and magnitude have increased and morphed with a changing media landscape with a huge feed-back loop. This particular ad was just plain stupid, no matter what the good intent was or wasn’t.”