Archive for the ‘Mktg – Promotion’ Category

Big Question: Will an iPhone blend?

July 24, 2015

All the hoopla surrounding  Trump’s announcing Sen. Graham’s cell phone number …. and Graham’s humorous video of ways he tried to remediate the situation by destroying his cell phone … reminded me of an ad campaign run by a company called  Blendtec.

According to George Parker of  AdScam ….

At a conference a couple of years ago. GE and their agency, BBDO, made a presentation of their new “Imagination” campaign.

After showing some nice TV spots and explaining that they’d spent $300 million on media over the last year, they proudly declared that brand awareness had increased substantially.

This generated polite applause.


Next up was the Marketing Director of blender manufacturer Blendtec who proceeded to blend:

  • a brick
  • some ball bearings
  • an 8 ft garden rake
  • an iPhone

He then put up a single slide showing that every time they posted a self-produced, ten dollar video on YouTube in their long-running “Will It Blend” campaign (which to-date has had more than 220 million views,) sales went up by an accurately measurable percentage.

Understandably, the crowd went nuts.  

The point being, GE spent hundreds of millions and couldn’t quantify with any certainty what they had achieved for all that money.

Blendtec spent pennies and achieved consistently significant and measurable results.

Below are the links to the Blendtec iPhone videos…  worth watching.


Big Question Will the Apple Watch blend?

May 4, 2015

All the hoopla surrounding the Apple Watch launch reminded me of an ad campaign run by a company called  Blendtec.

According to George Parker of  AdScam ….

At a conference a couple of years ago. GE and their agency, BBDO, made a presentation of their new “Imagination” campaign.

After showing some nice TV spots and explaining that they’d spent $300 million on media over the last year, they proudly declared that brand awareness had increased substantially.

This generated polite applause.


Next up was the Marketing Director of blender manufacturer Blendtec who proceeded to blend:

  • a brick
  • some ball bearings
  • an 8 ft garden rake
  • an iPhone

He then put up a single slide showing that every time they posted a self-produced, ten dollar video on YouTube in their long-running “Will It Blend” campaign (which to-date has had more than 220 million views,) sales went up by an accurately measurable percentage.

Understandably, the crowd went nuts.  

The point being, GE spent hundreds of millions and couldn’t quantify with any certainty what they had achieved for all that money.

Blendtec spent pennies and achieved consistently significant and measurable results.

Below is the links to the Blendtec iPhone videos…  worth watching.


Marketing ROI: What you get for $300 million … and for $10.

September 2, 2014

According to George Parker of  AdScam ….

At a conference a couple of years ago. GE and their agency, BBDO, made a presentation of their new “Imagination” campaign.

After showing some nice TV spots and explaining that they’d spent $300 million on media over the last year, they proudly declared that brand awareness had increased substantially.

This generated polite applause.


Next up was the Marketing Director of blender manufacturer Blendtec who proceeded to blend:

  • a brick
  • some ball bearings
  • an 8 ft garden rake
  • a Blackberry donated by a member of the audience

He then put up a single slide showing that every time they posted a self-produced, ten dollar video on YouTube in their long-running “Will It Blend” campaign (which to-date has had more than 220 million views,) sales went up by an accurately measurable percentage.

Understandably, the crowd went nuts.  

The point of the story …


Big Question Will the iPhone 5 blend?

September 26, 2013

All the hoopla surrounding the iPhone 5 launch reminded me of an ad campaign run by a company called  Blendtec.

According to George Parker of  AdScam ….

At a conference a couple of years ago. GE and their agency, BBDO, made a presentation of their new “Imagination” campaign.

After showing some nice TV spots and explaining that they’d spent $300 million on media over the last year, they proudly declared that brand awareness had increased substantially.

This generated polite applause.


Next up was the Marketing Director of blender manufacturer Blendtec who proceeded to blend:

  • a brick
  • some ball bearings
  • an 8 ft garden rake
  • an iPhone

He then put up a single slide showing that every time they posted a self-produced, ten dollar video on YouTube in their long-running “Will It Blend” campaign (which to-date has had more than 220 million views,) sales went up by an accurately measurable percentage.

Understandably, the crowd went nuts.  

The point being, GE spent hundreds of millions and couldn’t quantify with any certainty what they had achieved for all that money.

Blendtec spent pennies and achieved consistently significant and measurable results.

Below is the links to the Blendtec iPhone videos…  worth watching.


Warning: Could be contagious !

March 19, 2013

Malcolm Gladwell gave us Tipping Point.

Now, Prof. Jonah Berger from Wharton hopes to catch a wave with a new book: Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

Berger says you need 6-elements – or STEPPS – to boost your odds of going viral:

  • Social currency:, It’s all about people talking about things to make themselves look good, rather than bad
  • Triggers, which is all about the idea of “top of mind, tip of tongue.” We talk about things that are on the top of our heads.
  • Ease for emotion: When we care, we share. The more we care about a piece of information or the more we’re feeling physiologically aroused, the more likely we pass something on.
  • Public: When we can see other people doing something, we’re more likely to imitate it.
  • Practical value: Basically, it’s the idea of news you can use. We share information to help others, to make them better off.
  • Stories, or how we share things that are often wrapped up in stories or narratives

One of the book’s examples is BlendTec – a blender company that we posted a couple weeks ago in an article worth reading (again): Marketing ROI: What you get for $300 million … and for $10.

For more, click to see a 15 minute interview with Prof. Berger.

Pretty interesting.


* * * * *
Follow on Twitter @KenHoma              >> Latest Posts

Rapid response marketing: A snow day deal ….

March 6, 2013

Here’s an interesting play ….

Northern Virginia schools are closed today because of the threat of a snow storm.

So, Pizzeria Uno sent an email announcing a special “Snow Day Deal” … free meals for the school-cancelled kids … (with a matching adult paying full fare, of course).



Question: Wonder if Uno’s will get sued if some jabrone drives off a slippery road coming to score some free chow for his kid?

* * * * *
Follow on Twitter @KenHoma          >> Latest Posts

Jobs: Now, MBAs are competing against Justin Timberlake, too.

February 12, 2013

Well, not really … but it sure sounds like that..

Working with celebrities used to be a simple matter.

Marketers would write a big check for a star to perform a specific purpose — for Olympian Mary Lou Retton to grace boxes of Wheaties, or for model Cindy Crawford to don short-shorts and sip Pepsi.



Now, according to AdAge, brands aren’t just featuring celebs in marketing campaigns — they’re giving stars a place in the marketing suite. 

Big brand names are going beyond celebrity endorsements and hiring celebs for actual marketing jobs, giving them titles like Brand Manager, Creative Director, and even CMO.

Here’s what’s happening … (more…)

Coincidence: The characters drive their Geico-insured Fusion to Red Lobster where they plan their Virgin Air flight …

February 11, 2013

No it’s not a coincidence.

It’s called “product placement”.

Back about 25 years ago, I was at Black & Decker and my marketing team was on the leading edge of product placements – paying to get our stuff into TV shows and movies.

Our big score was getting Marty to ogle over a Dustbuster in Back to the Future – Part 2.


Now, is iit just me, or is product placement out of control?

ABC, NBC and IFC are taking product placements up a notch in their prime time network shows.

Here are some examples …


No lights, no problem: Dunk (and tweet) in the dark

February 5, 2013

Oreo’s quick thinking during the infamous Super Bowl blackout generated a spontaneous twitter ad that caught the attention of millions. 


Anyone watching the Super Bowl this evening saw a great game — and one of the greatest embarrassments in pro sports history: a power outage that halted play for a full half-hour.

As both teams, tens of thousands inside New Orleans’ Superdome and millions watching on TV waited, Oreo came up with an idea so brilliant and bold that it out and out won the night.


JCP: deals or no deals?

January 31, 2013

Answer: deals.

Earlier this week we posted that JCP CEO Ron Johnson insisted at an investor conference that Penney’s “marketing is really starting to connect” with customers … and that in 2013, Penney will become “a happening place.”

That was 2 days ago.  Then yesterday …


According to USA Today: CEO Ron Johnson announced a strategic evolution to its plan to offer everyday low prices that customers could count on rather than the nearly 600 fleeting discounts, coupons and sales events each year.

What sort of “strategic evolution”?


Buzz: Which brand generates the most?

January 28, 2013

According to the YouGov Brand Index annual survey, the winner is …


YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score asks respondents:  “Have you heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth?”

That’s a pretty wide net – can be positive or negative – but, it is certainly a measure of “buzz”.

Here are the rest of the Top 25 … many surprises …


Prices: How much for a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck?

January 25, 2013

In California, Two-Buck Chuck has been upchucked … from $1.99 to $2.49.

Is nothing sacred?


* * * * *
Here’s what’s behind the end-of-an-era pricing move …


Marketing ROI: What you get for $300 million … and for $10.

January 24, 2013

According to George Parker of  AdScam ….

At a conference a couple of years ago. GE and their agency, BBDO, made a presentation of their new “Imagination” campaign.

After showing some nice TV spots and explaining that they’d spent $300 million on media over the last year, they proudly declared that brand awareness had increased substantially.

This generated polite applause.


Next up was the Marketing Director of blender manufacturer Blendtec who proceeded to blend:

  • a brick
  • some ball bearings
  • an 8 ft garden rake
  • a Blackberry donated by a member of the audience

He then put up a single slide showing that every time they posted a self-produced, ten dollar video on YouTube in their long-running “Will It Blend” campaign (which to-date has had more than 220 million views,) sales went up by an accurately measurable percentage.

Understandably, the crowd went nuts.  

The point being, GE spent hundreds of millions and couldn’t quantify with any certainty what they had achieved for all that money.

Blendtec spent pennies and achieved consistently significant and measurable results.

Below are links to a couple of the Blendtec videos …  worth watching.


Gotcha: How long is a Subway footlong?

January 22, 2013

Forget Nenghazi … here’s a scandal for you.

According to the UK Telegraph

An Australian teenager measured his Subway “foot-long” sub and find it was an inch short.


The picture-is-worth-a-thousand words is buzzing the internet.

Subway’s  corporate responses (two of them) are classics …


Axe: Wanna be a chick-magnet-astronaut ?

January 21, 2013

Punch line: Taking a page from Red Bull’s book, Axe launches a ‘Space Academy’ campaign, with a contest that sends winners on a space ship to the moon.

* * * * *

Excerpted from’s, “Super Bowl Ad Watch: Axe Challenges Red Bull With Space Mission”

Axe has made its reputation with edgy advertising that makes no bones about why it believes young men should use it — to attract women to them as if they’re sexually magnetized.


Now, the Unilever brand is pushing the envelope just a bit more in two ways: …


For Sale: Treadmill … Coke says to laugh off the calories …

January 16, 2013

Punch line: Coca-Cola is defending itself with a new TV Campaign that  focuses on the health benefits of Coca-Cola’s products. 

Say, what?

* * * * *
Excerpted from’s, “Coca-Cola Addresses Obesity Critics With U.S. TV Campaign”

The Coca-Cola Company on Monday evening began airing a two-minute spot on U.S. cable news networks.

The subject, in a first for the company: America’s obesity debate, in a bid to defend its brands ahead of looming beverage size controls.

Coca-Cola Coming Together Video

The world’s biggest beverage company debuted the “Coming Together” commercial in hopes of flexing its marketing muscle in the debate over sodas and their impact on public health.

The theme ties into the company’s “Live Positively” and “Open Happiness” campaigns.

Another ad, which will run later this week during American Idol and before the Super Bowl, is much more reminiscent of the catchy, upbeat advertising people have come to expect from Coca-Cola.

It features a montage of activities that add up to burning off the ‘140 happy calories’ in a can of Coke: walking a dog, dancing, sharing a laugh with friends and doing a victory dance after bowling a strike.

The ads are intended to address “confusion” about the number of calories in soda.


Think “sharing a laugh with friends” can really burn off 140 calories?

Beats the old treadmill, for sure.

Edit by BJP

* * * * *
Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

Patagonia: “Don’t buy our stuff” … say, what?

January 14, 2013

Punch line: Cloaked in green, Patagonia’s proposition — that you not buy its clothes — is resulting in some of its best sales ever.

* * * * *

Excerpted from Fast Company’s, “How Patagonia Makes More Money By Trying To Make Less”


Instead of blasting sales prices and urging consumers to load up their virtual shopping carts, Patagonia encourages consumers to buy less.


Promo: Is that burger grease on your book?

January 10, 2013

Here’s a promotion that’s likely to cause some commotion.

click pic to view video

* * * * *
The Telegraph reports that McDonald’s is about to become UK’s largest book distributor.

Say, what?


Here are the details …


High frequency: You’re the asset being traded …

December 7, 2012

Punch line: In milliseconds, advertisements are being served based on your browsing habits.

Behind the every one of these ad placement opportunities is a sophisticated tracking system that allows access to the highest bidder.

* * * * *
Excerpted from New York Times’ “Your Online Attention, Bought in an Instant”

ad-impression - image from The Gaurdian

The odds are that access to you — or at least the online you — is being bought and sold in less than the blink of an eye.

How it works …


Who told the Donald that he’s fired?

December 5, 2012

Answer: Nobody yet, but some Macy’s customers think that it would be a good idea

Facing a petition from consumers to ‘dump’ Donald Trump as a spokesperson, Macy’s claims that marketing and politics have nothing to do with each other, despite using some of Trump’s famous political comments as inspiration in the company’s new campaign.


* * * * *
Excerpted from Adage’s, ‘”Macy’s Unmoved by Dump Trump Petition”

As a petition encouraging Macy’s to “Dump Donald Trump” continues to gain steam, with nearly 558,000 signatures, the retailer shows no sign of dropping the outspoken tycoon.

Here’s Macy’s thinking: 


What did Black Friday teach us this year ?

November 30, 2012

Punch line: A record number of shoppers spent Black Friday weekend shopping for deals, revealing new consumer trends present this holiday shopping season.

* * * * *
Excerpted from’s, “Four Things Holiday-Shopping Kickoff Tell Us About the Economy, Consumer Habits”


A record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 226 million last year. The average shopper spent $423 this weekend, up from $398 last year, helping total spending reach an estimated $59.1 billion.

Here arefour things we’ve learned from the holiday-shopping kickoff:

T’Day Flashback: Ken tells WaPo “Get to the pocketbook first.”

November 22, 2012

Last year, I was interviewed by the Wash Post re: retailers moving to Thanksgiving evening openings in advance of Black Friday.

I served up some ivory tower stuff about budget effects, shopping days’ effects, etc.

Here are my full talking points and what made the cut …


Black Friday 2011: Holiday shoppers hit stores, with a Thanksgiving head start

Last year, Toys R Us became one of the first big-box chains to launch its Black Friday specials at 10 p.m. Thursday. This year, Wal-Mart matched the move.

So Toys R Us opened its doors even earlier, at 9 p.m.

“This is just the beginning,” said Ken Homa, professor of marketing at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “Next year, we’re likely to see everybody doing this. . . . The guys with the first opportunity to get to somebody’s pocketbook are likely to take share away from their competitors.”

Accurately quoted and, if I must say so myself, captures the essence of my message … and my style.

Probably a bit nostalgic for my former students …

* * * * *

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

Papa asks: “Want a Taylor Swift CD with your pizza?”

November 16, 2012

Punch line: With internet piracy and digital song-sharing sites like Spotify, selling records is increasingly difficult.

Taylor Swift uses retail partners, traditional media and broad audience targeting to top the charts once again.

* * * * *
Excerpted from WSJ’s, “Taylor Swift Album Fast Out Of Gate”

Taylor Swift’s “Red,”  is on track to sell more than one million copies in its first week in U.S. stores.

The album is expected to set new one-week sales records on Apple’s iTunes Store.

Target — one of Ms. Swift’s corporate sponsors—sold more than 400,000 copies, also a one-week record for the chain.

Breaking the one-million-unit mark today takes more ingenuity than it did in 2000, the year the CD-sales boom peaked.

The pace of million-sellers has slackened along with broader music sales, which have fallen by nearly 42% in the past 12 years.

Sales have been hurt by Internet piracy and a variety of other factors.

As online access replaces ownership, million-selling debuts could become a thing of the past.

Ms. Swift’s latest ascent into the stratosphere has been aided by several corporate partners, including Papa John’s Pizza which has been delivering to customers Ms. Swift’s “Red” CD along with a single-topping large pizza for a total of $22.

Her photo also appears on Papa John’s pizza boxes.


Many of Walgreen’s 8,000 locations have displayed the disc prominently, along with free-standing, life-size cardboard images of the 22-year-old pop star that fans have used for photo opportunities.

Wal-Mart offers a limited edition Red ‘Zine Pack.


The album has also been powered largely by more traditional means.

Since announcing the album in August, Big Machine has released four singles and played 30-second previews of each song the day before the singles went on sale on iTunes.

Potentially boosting Ms. Swift’s sales, Big Machine isn’t making her album available through online streaming services such as Spotify for at least several months.

Many artists and labels have complained that they make little from such services, which let users listen to unlimited amounts of music for a flat monthly price, or even free.

Though Ms. Swift is nominally a country artist, her music has taken on an increasingly pop sound, a key to attracting more buyers.

You don’t get a number like she did without attracting a number of tribes.

It’s the niche-ing of America.

Edit by BJP

Old Spice keeps it weird …

November 15, 2012

Punch line: The agency that made Old Spice famous online is keeping it weird in their search for a new social strategist to work on the brand.

Throwing traditional job interviews out the window, Wieden + Kennedy is asking applicants to compete in weird digital challenges, then create a deck outlining the strategy used to complete them.

* * * * *
Excerpted from’s, “Wieden + Kennedy Seeks Help on Old Spice in Crazy, Epic Job Listing.”


 Wieden + Kennedy’s Old Spice campaign is a hallmark for epic weirdness in advertising.

So, it stands to reason that you’d have to complete some kind of weird, epic quest to join the agency’s Old Spice.

Now, we know the exact parameters of that question.

W+K posted a help-wanted ad on its website seeking a social strategist on the Old Spice account.

Beginning today, the posting says, applicants will have a week to complete “one or more of the challenges listed below” and then create a “case study presentation deck outlining what you did and why it was effective.”

Here are the challenges:

  1. Create the best original Pinterest board dedicated to the sport of inline speed skating
  2. Create and post an original piece of content to Reddit that then receives the most upvotes in a single week
  3. Create and upload to SlideShare an original, in-depth competitive analysis of the Ed Hardy social media ecosystem
  4. Get the most people to friend your mother or your father on Facebook in a single week
  5. Create an original Twitter account and then use it to get the most followers in a week using any verbs you like, but only the following nouns: “BLUEFUDGE,” “HAMMERPANTS” and “GREEK YOGURT.”
  6. Create an original YouTube video that then receives the most plays in a single week using this script verbatim:
    #1: “Wait. What are you doing?”
    #2: “Trust me. This will be fine.”
    #1: “Ok. Go ahead.”
  7. Get recommendations on LinkedIn from at least three other people trying to get this job
  8. Create the most reviewed recipe on in a single week using cottage cheese as an ingredient
  9. Upload the most pictures of your armpit(s) to Instagram during the course of this challenge. The pictures must have your face in them to verify your identity and include the hashtag #mypits
  10. Using Quora, give thought-out, meaningful answers to as many dream catcher-related questions as possible in a single week

As W+K says in the note: “Good luck, cyber warriors.”

Edit by BJP

General Mills’ Monster Cereals’ limited availability creates continued demand

November 8, 2012

Punch line: General Mills’ Monster Cereals create a buzz for fans with limited availability.

Die hard fans of Boo Berry, Count Chocula and Franken Berry will go to great lengths to purchase the 1970’s classics, and resellers have capitalized on this, selling the boxes for 3X the price on ebay.

* * * * *
Excerpted from the WSJ’s, “Boo Berry is Big at Halloween with Kids, Hoarders and Resellers”

October is the coolest month for Roger Barr. For a few happy weeks, grocery stores stock the object of his desire: Boo Berry.


That is the berry-flavored cereal that turns milk bluish, delighting generations of American kids—and some adults, too.

The problem is that you can’t eat as much Boo Berry as you might  like.

Not long after Halloween, Boo Berry disappears from stores like an apparition.

The same affliction haunts lovers of Count Chocula and Franken Berry, the other two cereals General Mills produces for the Halloween season.

At first, the three surviving cereals were year-round familiars.

But the cereal maker cut distribution to the period from September to around Halloween in 2010.

General Mills wanted to focus on the pre-Halloween weeks to best capture the holiday excitement and enthusiasm for the products.

he company doesn’t release sales figures and won’t say whether the cereals were selling poorly the rest of the year.

One of the most amazing things about the monster cereals is the passion of the people.

Carol Shelley Thomas, a 45-year-old medical-billing specialist, for the past several years has bought 14 boxes of Franken Berry in October, enough to last until the following Halloween when more of the neon-pink cereal again appears in stores.

A quest for Count Chocula will lead Ron Macedo, a 41-year-old Toronto food distributor, across the border this month to Buffalo, N.Y., in order to buy at least 10 boxes of Chocula for himself and at least 20 boxes of Boo and Franken Berry for friends—to take back to Canada, where General Mills doesn’t market the stuff.

Many fans would love the cereals to be less elusive, but General Mills has no plans to make the three cereals available year-round.

But those who run out can turn to people like Josh Rhodes, who on eBay charges $7 per box from buyers.  Last year, he says, he sold about 300 boxes and expects to sell about 350 this year.  “Sure, I get some funny looks at the register,” says the 35-year-old Orchard Park, N.Y., resident, who buys about 40 boxes at a time for about $2 each.  “It’s worth it,” he says.

“People are willing to pay an arm and a leg for this stuff.”

Edit by BJP

Red Bull: Getting high from Felix’s 24-mile freefall from space …

October 28, 2012

Punch line: While it is too early to quantify the impact of Red Bull’s recent Stratos mission, that isn’t stopping valuations as high as $8 billion.

* * * * *
Excerpted from brandchannel, “Now Red Bull Has Conquered Space, Can Brand Escape Tang’s Fate?”


Pretty much the entire planet now knows the name Felix Baumgartner, thanks to the 43-year-old Austrian skydiver’s record-breaking supersonic freefall, 24 miles out of the sky.

His main benefactor since 1988, Red Bull, deserves to milk the historic feat for all its worth for some time.

The … big question — besides “Is he single?” (no) and “What’s his next daredevil stunt?” (none) — is what all the publicity, social media buzz and press does for the value of the Red Bull brand, and how much all the brand awareness generated by the stunt will goose global sales.

While it’s too early to tell the impact on Red Bull’s financials, of course, it’s not stopping valuation guesstimates as high as £5bn ($8 billion).

While much hay was made of the brand’s “gives you wings” tagline, Baumgartner didn’t drink any Red Bull before his jump for medical, safety and “are you kidding?” reasons.

Edit by JDC

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McDonald’s reverts to dollar menu to build loyalty … say, what?

October 23, 2012

According to the WSJ


McDonald’s  reported a 3.5% decline in third-quarter earnings as sales slowed more dramatically than expected because of a sluggish economy and a disappointing marketing campaign.

McDonald’s … conceded that it needs to be more aggressive in advertising low prices.

In a weaker economy, customers may not go out to eat as frequently and tend to stop getting extras like drinks and desserts and premium items like Angus burgers, which all offer higher profits.

McDonald’s move earlier this year to shift its marketing focus in the U.S. to the higher-priced and more profitable “Extra Value Menu” from the successful “Dollar Menu” didn’t “resonate as strongly” with consumers.

“We’re going back to talk of the Dollar Menu.”

The company hopes that focusing attention to its lower prices will attract more customers and gain their loyalty.

This way, when the economy starts to improve, McDonald’s will have a larger consumer base and more ability to raise prices.

OK, I understand that low prices move burgers.

In fact, I think the McDouble for a buck is the best food value on the planet.

But, face it Mickey, low prices appeal to price-sensitive customers … not loyalists.

Trust me, when you try to jack the prices up, their (and my) “loyalty” will shift quickly to the new “value” burger joint.

Just ask Subway.

I’m sure they’ve been wondering “where’s Ken?” since they shifted from $5 Foot Longs to … a couple at $5, some at $5.50, some at $6.50, etc.

Let me repeat: you don’t build loyalty with bargain basement pricing … you just move a ton of burgers at low prices.

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Xbox: Your source for beauty and fashion

October 16, 2012

Punch line: Xbox targets the 40% of female Xbox users by launching the first female-tailored app – a beauty and fashion app produced and branded by L’Oreal.

* * * * *
Excerpted from’s, “L’Oreal Seeks Women in Unlikely Place: On Xbox”

L’Oréal is looking for women in a surprising place — on Xbox 360.


The beauty behemoth unveiled “The Next Level” app on Microsoft’s Xbox Wednesday, yet another move in the gaming console’s efforts to attract an audience beyond core gamers.

“The Next Level,” is designed to be a one-stop beauty and style hub for women where they can watch how-to videos and gain more information on products. Condé Nast’s Lucky Magazine will also help build some of the content.

The app allows users to create personalized event calendars, shopping lists and receive weather-based beauty recommendations, as well as receive rewards points that can be redeemed for branded products. L’Oréal intends for this be a total style experience, with fashion and entertainment elements beyond makeup and hair care.

This is the first female-tailored app to launch on Xbox, but as 40% of Xbox’s 20 million users are female, more apps geared toward women are expected.

Edit by BJP

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NetTrax: If you think that you’re being followed around on the net … you’re right.

October 2, 2012

And the company doing it is probably Acxiom … recently profiled in the NY Times.

I had some weird happenings recently.

A friend who works internet marketing for a “plus sized” women’s clothes company used my computer to show me her site’s cool redesign.

For the next couple of weeks I was getting pop-up ads for big women’s clothes … even when I was on common sites like ESPN or WSJ.


Another time, I checked the spelling of a Spanish word via Google.

Next couple of times that I went to You Tube, the lead in ads were in Spanish.

Double huh?

I was wondering how the web “knew” … now I know, courtesy of the NY Times.

Here are some highlights …


IT knows who you are. It knows where you live. It knows what you do.

It peers deeper into American life than the F.B.I. or the I.R.S., or those prying digital eyes at Facebook and Google.

If you are an American adult, the odds are that it knows things like your age, race, sex, weight, height, marital status, education level, politics, buying habits, household health worries, vacation dreams — and on and on.

Right now, more than 23,000 computer servers are collecting, collating and analyzing consumer data for a company …  called the Acxiom Corporation, the quiet giant of a multibillion-dollar industry known as database marketing.

Acxiom has amassed the world’s largest commercial database on consumers —  Its servers process more than 50 trillion data “transactions” a year.

Acxiom maintains its own database on about 190 million individuals and 126 million households in the United States

Its database contains information about 500 million active consumers worldwide, with about 1,500 data points per person.

Acxiom’s Consumer Data Products Catalog offers hundreds of details — called “elements” — that corporate clients can buy about individuals or households, to augment their own marketing databases. Companies can buy data to pinpoint households that are concerned, say, about allergies, diabetes or “senior needs.”

In a fast-changing digital economy, Acxiom is developing the most advanced techniques to mine and refine data.

Digital marketers already customize pitches to users, based on their past activities … think “cookies”.

Acxiom  is pursuing far more comprehensive techniques in an effort to influence consumer decisions.

It is integrating what it knows about our offline, online and even mobile selves, creating in-depth behavior portraits in pixilated detail …  Its  a “360-degree view” on consumers.


How it works

Scott Hughes, an up-and-coming small-business owner and Facebook denizen, is Acxiom’s ideal consumer.

In fact,  Acxiom created him.  Mr. Hughes is a fictional character who appeared in an Acxiom investor presentation in 2010.

A frequent shopper, he was designed to show the power of Acxiom’s multichannel approach.

In the presentation, he logs on to Facebook and sees that his friend Ella has just become a fan of Bryce Computers, an imaginary electronics retailer and Acxiom client.

Ella’s update prompts Mr. Hughes to check out Bryce’s fan page and do some digital window-shopping for a fast inkjet printer.

Such browsing seems innocuous — hardly data mining. But it cues an Acxiom system designed to recognize consumers, remember their actions, classify their behaviors and influence them with tailored marketing.

When Mr. Hughes follows a link to Bryce’s retail site, for example, the system recognizes him from his Facebook activity and shows him a printer to match his interest.

He registers on the site, but doesn’t buy the printer right away, so the system tracks him online.

Lo and behold, the next morning, while he scans baseball news on, an ad for the printer pops up again.

That evening, he returns to the Bryce site where, the presentation says, “he is instantly recognized” as having registered.

It then offers a sweeter deal: a $10 rebate and free shipping.

It’s not a random offer.

Acxiom has its own classification system, PersonicX, which assigns consumers to one of 70 detailed socioeconomic clusters and markets to them accordingly.

In this situation, it pegs Mr. Hughes as a “savvy single” — meaning he’s in a cluster of mobile, upper-middle-class people who do their banking online, attend pro sports events, are sensitive to prices — and respond to free-shipping offers.

Correctly typecast, Mr. Hughes buys the printer.

But the multichannel system of Acxiom and its online partners is just revving up.

Later, it sends him coupons for ink and paper, to be redeemed via his cellphone, and a personalized snail-mail postcard suggesting that he donate his old printer to a nearby school.



There is a fine line between customization and stalking.

While many people welcome the convenience of personalized offers, others may see the surveillance engines behind them as intrusive or even manipulative.

Privacy advocates say they are more troubled by data brokers’ ranking systems, which classify some people as high-value prospects, to be offered marketing deals and discounts regularly, while dismissing others as low-value — known in industry slang as “waste.”

Exclusion from a vacation offer may not matter much …  but if marketing algorithms judge certain people as not worthy of receiving promotions for higher education or health services, they could have a serious impact.

“Over time, that can really turn into a mountain of pathways not offered, not seen and not known about.”

A bit creepy, right?

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Absolut takes customization to the extreme

September 28, 2012

Punch line: Absolut Vodka recently re-engineered a production plant in order to produce 4 million bottles – all of which are completely unique with no two bottles having the same design.

In a world where consumers are demanding more and more customization, where should companies draw the line?

* * * * *

Excerpted from PSFK’s, “Absolute Creates 4 Million Unique Vodka Bottles.”


Absolut Vodka recently launched ‘Absolut Unique,’ a project in which the vodka makers will release 4 million limited-edition, unique bottles.

The project required a company’s production plant to be completely re-engineered; the ‘carefully orchestrated randomness’ to the bottle design involves using complex pattern programming alongside splash guns and color-generating machines to ensure that no two bottles come out the same.

The vodka bottles will be individually numbered and will be distributed globally in 80 markets.

“Absolut Unique feels a bit mad scientist, a bit street art. When the bottles first appeared on the conveyer belt, we cheered. By that point the production line looked more like an artist’s studio than a bottle factory.”

Take a look at this video for a behind-the-scenes look at the process.

Absolut Unique–Behind the Scenes

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The new Kraft : the spirit of a start-up and soul of a powerhouse

September 27, 2012

Punch line: CEO Tony Vernon sets lofty goals for the new North American standalone business.

* * * * *

Excerpted from’s, “Kraft’s New Grocery Company Plans Marketing Boost in Search of Renaissance.”


Tony Vernon, the CEO of Kraft Foods’ new standalone North American grocery business  set lofty goals for the company, pledging to pour more advertising behind top “power” brands while slashing overhead to create a more nimble corporate culture.

Vernon said his goals are “nothing short of creating a renaissance in North American food and beverage.” He added:

“We will create a new Kraft, one with the spirit of a startup and the soul of a powerhouse.”

Mr. Vernon gave the most detailed look yet at his strategy for the $19 billion company. 

In a plan put in place last year, these grocery brands are being split from Kraft’s global snacking and candy products such as Trident and Oreo, which will become part of a company called Mondelez International.

Kraft is betting that the split will bring more focus to brands while creating two distinct investment choices for Wall Street.

Mondelez is positioned as a high-growth company with penetration in developing markets, such as Brazil and India, while Kraft Foods Group is full of category-dominant meat and cheese brands, which act as cash cows that will generate consistent dividends for investors.

The trick for Kraft Foods Group will be to differentiate its grocery brands in categories that risk becoming commoditized.

Vernon suggested that Kraft would spend more with marketing to catch up to peers.

Kraft Foods Group brand spent 2.9% of its net revenue on advertising in the latest fiscal year, compared to the 4.5% average spent by competitors, including 8.6% by Kellogg Co., 6.4% by Campbell Soup. Co. and 5.5% by General Mills.


As it puts more money in marketing, Kraft Foods Group will continue the strategy already underway in which top power brands, will get the lion’s share.

Those brands include Lunchables, Planters, Velveeta Shells & Cheese, Capri Sun, Jell-O, Philadelphia, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Kool-Aid, Miracle Whip, MiO and Gevalia.

Key non-power brands, such as A1, Athenos and Cool Whip, will be supported with more “entrepreneurial” methods,

Mr. Vernon said, including with digital advertising such as YouTube videos. Among the ads Mr. Vernon showed off to analysts is this YouTube spot for Cool Whip, featuring characters from TV show “Family Guy.”

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Better vision: Warby Parker eyeglasses.

September 20, 2012

Punch line: Warby Parker, a luxury eyeglass company with a social component, has grown 500 percent by following a few easy guidelines.


* * * * *

Excerpted from Inc., “How Warby Parker Grew So Fast: 3 Reasons”

Addressing a crowd of more than 550 entrepreneurs and business owners at the Growco conference, … the company’s co-founder, Neil Blumenthal, offered a bit of insight into how and why the company has grown so rapidly …

  1. Cut out the middle men: By working with a manufacturer in China, and designing the glasses themselves, Warby cut out the middle men and make the glasses far more affordable.
  2. Don’t overspend on unnecessary marketing: Instead of a five or six figure launch spend … Warby launched with two well-placed editorials in Vogue and GQ. The tactic was so effective that … within two weeks, they had sold out … and had a waitlist of 20,000 customers.
  3. It all comes down to company mission: When the company moved into its new offices a couple of months ago, it decided to knock down the walls of the office … “to institute mechanisms for people to learn on a regular basis.”

Edited by JDC
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You can slip into these sneaks for about $300 … deal or no deal?

September 12, 2012

Punch line: How do you market a pair of $300-plus sneakers? If you’re Nike, you just do it quietly. And by acting like you’re not marketing them at all.


* * * * *

Excerpted from Advertising Age, “Nike’s $300 Shoe Has the Marketing Built Right In”

Nike found itself in another controversy this week when news surfaced that it’s planning its most-expensive sneaker ever: the uber expensive LeBron X …

As the Swoosh is no stranger to controversy it is poised to combat the backlash through:

  1. Counterattack: The athletic giant hasn’t said what the final price will be for the shoe but it ripped the $315 price tag quoted by the WSJ as “inaccurate.”
  2. Word of mouth: Instead of expensive ads, Nike’s relying on word-of-mouth to build anticipation. The result: the buzz from athletes and sneaker blogs has helped score stories in every major media outlet.
  3. Product placement: Nike had the placement of all placements when millions of NBC TV viewers watched LeBron wear the shoes while leading the U.S. men’s basketball team to the gold medal in London.


One of the strongest selling features for shoes like the LeBron X is that they’re not for everybody.

In fact, Nike will only make 25,000 to 50,000 pairs which is expected to drive up prices and demand.

Edited by JDC

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Do Olympic sponsors capture the gold?

September 5, 2012

Punch line: Corporate giants spent millions during the Olympic games with the expectation of a return on that investment.  What sales levels can Adidas, P&G, and McDonald’s expect to see after Olympics advertising?

* * * * *

Excerpted from WSJ, “Companies Seek Olympic Legacy

The Olympics has highlighted the boost that companies can get from sports sponsorship in the short term but experts say that the real benefit is brand awareness over the long term, which isn’t so easy to quantify.

Over the past few weeks several companies have trumpeted how sports sponsorship has paid off in terms of sales, with Adidas reporting an 18% jump in second-quarter profit tied to sponsorships.


Procter & Gamble expected its sponsorship of the London Olympics to bring in $500 million in incremental sales, with the hope that a bevy of commercials around the events would propel consumers to pick up more Bounty paper towels and Gillette razors.

And U.S. fast food giant McDonald’s Corp. will receive a boost to sales with the exclusive right to sell fries at four sites around the Olympic stadiums.

“There are not that many opportunities for brands to get the massive audiences that sporting events such as the Olympics, soccer World Cup and Euro 2012 attract,” said Graham Hales of Interbrand. “The value of being associated with, say, the Olympics, definitely makes for a stronger brand but working out the financial benefit is a trickier call.”

Adidas, as the sole sportswear partner of the Olympics and with individual deals with athletes including sprinters Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake, sped away from rivals Nike and Puma to post an 18% second-quarter jump in profits thanks to its strong sponsorship deals.  The German company invested $157.1 million in this summer’s Olympics which it has already made back in the past 12 to 18 months in license product sales alone, which have more than tripled since the 2008 games in Beijing.

Procter & Gamble were similarly vague about returns on sponsorship investment. CFO Jon Moeller didn’t disclose how much the world’s largest consumer-products company spent but said that a $600 million figure floating around some circles “is not the number we are spending,” and that the company is pleased with its expected return on this year’s games.

Paying for sponsorship must be weighed up in the context of a company’s overall marketing budget.  Each sponsor pays only to be allowed to be associated with the Olympics—you don’t get much more than that for your money particularly because there is no sponsorship allowed inside Olympic stadiums.  A company must judge whether a $300 million marketing bill with no direct Olympic association is better or worse than paying $100 million for sponsorship and then $200 million to activate it.

The exercise is complicated by “ambush marketing” strategies which enable companies to associate themselves strongly with a sporting event even though they aren’t official sponsors. Nike, for example, which isn’t an official sponsor of the International Olympic Committee or the London 2012 Olympics, but does sponsor the U.S. team, launched a global TV campaign featuring everyday athletes competing in places around the world named London timed to coincide with the Olympics 2012 opening ceremony.

Awareness is not an issue for these large companies and the short-term boost to sales is not significant in their world-wide sell, but being a sponsor is definitely a benefit and justifies the cost of the sponsorship.


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Adult Content: The ultimate in “buzz” marketing …

August 9, 2012

From the great moments in marketing file …

If you wan people to buy your product, give ‘em a free sample.



Excerpted from from the NYT

In  a special promotion, Trojan Vibrations is handing out 10,000 vibrators from two Manhattan hot dog carts identified as pleasure carts.

Along with the brand’s logo, the carts will feature sayings like “Getcha vibes here!” and “Relish the moment.”

“We thought that by giving out more vibrators, it would create some buzz, so to speak”

Trojan asserts this is the biggest handout of vibrators ever.

So new are the devices to mainstream retailers that growth in that channel has been phenomenal.

In the past year, revenue for sexual enhancement devices sold in drugstores and mass retailers grew 23.2 percent over the year before, to $16.1 million.

According to studies financed by Trojan and published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 52.5 percent of women and 44.8 percent of men have used vibrators.

Contrary to perceptions that they are used nearly exclusively by the unaccompanied, 40.9 percent of women and 40.5 percent of men report having used them with sexual partners.

What we’re doing is taking something like a hot dog cart that is so everyday and so mainstream … and we’re showing people that vibrators are mainstream.”

Carol Queen, curator of the Antique Vibrator Museum and a staff sexologist for Good Vibrations, a sexual products retailer founded in 1977, credits the new Trojan ads with “pretty seamlessly integrating men into the campaign.”

Rather than seeing the growing availability of the devices at mass retailers as a threat to specialty retailers like Good Vibrations, Ms. Queen said, “what’s fabulous about the way that Trojan has entered the marketplace is that a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Some consumers who buy their first device as an impulse buy at a mass retailer are apt to eventually be drawn to boutiques … with trained people who can answer your questions and help you choose,

You just can’t make this stuff up …

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Ken, was that really you on NPR last week?

June 4, 2012

Don’t faint, I wasn’t talking politics.

The topic on Marketplace was JC Penney’s decision to supplement their  “fair & square – no sales” strategy with Friday sales.

My predictable reaction:

Kenneth Homa: Well now their basic proposition is they’re not going to have sales, except for when they have sales.

Reporter: Ken Homa teaches marketing at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

Homa: I don’t know how they can possibly communicate that clearly to any consumers

click to hear the 2-minute podcast or read the full transcript


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Wake up and smell the coffee … even without the coffee!

May 10, 2012

Takeaway: Dunkin Donuts launches out-of-store sensory experience linking radio ads with a light coffee aroma spray inside commuter busses.

* * * * *

Excerpted from “Dunkin’ Donuts Interactive Bus Ad Sprays The Aroma Of Coffee


A South Korean Dunkin’ Donuts campaign is reinventing the traditional radio advertisement using unique technology and the smell of coffee.

The campaign, named, Flavor Radio releases coffee aroma via sound recognition technology.

Each time the Dunkin’ Donuts radio ad was played a light coffee aroma was released using atomizers installed on commuter buses in Seoul.

The aroma has reinforced the sensory connection and experience of the Dunkin’ Donuts brand, and has boosted in-store traffic in South Korea.

In fact, over than 350,000 people experienced the ad during the campaign, leading to number of visitors to the Dunkin’ Donuts stores increasing by 16 percent and sales going up 29 percent.

In-store sensory experience is nothing new to retailers, but now this experience has been taken out of the store and into the streets.

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Carly goes leather: “No more Mr. Nice Guy”

April 25, 2012

TakeAway: T-Mobile reboots the its brand with an alter-ego of its well-known spokeswoman in the hopes of increasing trial.

* * * * *
Excerpt from AdAge:
“T-Mobile Talks Tough for Its Comeback, Vowing ‘No More Mr. Nice Girl’”

Carly who has starred in T-Mobile’s ads since 2010 and been dubbed by some a DVR-proof pitch personality, is trading her usual frocks for biker leather as the T-Mobile looks to halt mass subscriber defections.


“The pending AT&T deal negatively impacted customer satisfaction and brand perception in 2011, which is why we believe it is time to reinvigorate the challenger strategy and to relaunch the brand,”

Despite its smaller budget, T-Mobile ads have seemed to cut through the clutter, thanks largely to Carly, the only current spokescharacter for a mobile carrier who’s easily recognizable.

Ads featuring biker Carly are intended to equate the brand with speed which is the single-biggest thing consumers are looking for in their next smartphone.

Speed?  Yeah, right/

Edited by ARK
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Start up says “Our Razors are (expletive deleted) Great!”

April 20, 2012

TakeAway: A new start-up is using disruptive innovation to cut its way into the multi-billion dollar shaving industry.

* * * * *

Excerpt from WSJ: “A David and Gillette Story”

Dollar Shave Club, the e-commerce start-up, already developed a following for its quirky approach to hawking razors and blades for a $3 to $9 monthly fee.

It began with a YouTube video, in which founder rides on a forklift, plays tennis, and dances with a fuzzy bear. It’s already received some four million views.

The shaving industry market leaders have huge marketing budgets, deep consumer research and relationships with retailers that leave little room for newcomers.

What the start-ups have in their favor is technology. Companies with no marketing budget can command attention with free video and quickly build a following on services like Facebook and Twitter. Netflix have conditioned consumers to getting regular deliveries of the things they use by mail.

It is unclear whether those prices will prove low enough to lure users. By comparison, 15 Gillette Mach3 cartridges can be purchased for as low as $2.06 each on

Edited by ARK

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I spy a billboard … hint: look down.

April 4, 2012

Punch line:  Billboards are no longer larger than life.  Legoland goes against the grain and advertises its ‘Minibreaks’ using the nation’s smallest billboards – incorporating the iconic Lego blocks in its designs.

Excerpted from “Tiny Billboards Made Of Blocks Advertise Legoland Vacation

* * * * *



Advertising agency DLKW Lowe created this great poster campaign for Legoland Windsor, installing tiny Lego billboards around London and inviting passers-by to tweet #legolandminibreaks with a photo if they spotted one of them.

The agency shared a Google Map of their locations to help people find the miniature advertisements.

The nation’s smallest ever billboards promote different aspects of Legoland Minibreaks, including its resort packages, its new hotel, and the fact that kids go free.

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What does your bus stop smell like?

February 14, 2012

TakeAway: Promoting a new product, UK’s McCain Foods is pumping the smell of baked potatoes into local bus stops. That would drive Occupiers crazy in the U.S. … or, maybe, make them smell better.

Hmmm. Worth a try.

* * * * *
Excerpt from AdAge: “Smell-Vertising Hits U.K. With Potato-Scented Bus Shelters”

McCain Foods is tempting UK consumers with the wafting smell of “3-D baked potatoes” as they wait at city bus shelters.

When people press a button on a poster, a hidden heating element warms the fiberglass 3-D potato and releases the aroma of oven-baked jacket potato throughout the bus shelter.

The shelters will also dispense a discount for the product: baked potatoes that are ready to eat from frozen in five minutes.

Edited by ARK

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An apple a day is so yesterday … now, “go bananas” every day !

January 19, 2012

Takeaway: Forget the old adage, “An Apple a Day,” Dole wants you to make it a banana a day. As part of its “Go Bananas” campaign, Dole aims to drive more usage occasions with Americans, while making us all a bit healthier…

* * * * *
Excerpted from, “Dole Dares Consumers to ‘Go Bananas’ in 2012

… Although nearly 90 percent of U.S. households already buy bananas on a regular basis, Dole wants all Americans to make bananas part of their daily routine in 2012. The year-long initiative aligns with Dole’s long-time goal of bettering the public’s nutritional health through greater consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

As the world’s largest provider of fresh produce and the top banana brand in North America, Dole is building upon the success of its “Go Bananas” campaigns in 2009 and 2010 to take America’s love for bananas to the next level. The “Go Bananas Every Day” initiative from Dole Fresh Fruit offers recipes, promotions and partnerships with 366 ways (2012 is a leap year, after all) to enjoy the ubiquitous fruit this year …

Among the ways consumers can show their banana love throughout 2012:

  • Day 78 (Mar 18): Treat your post – St. Patrick’s Day hangover with a banana, nature’s Vitamin B6-rich hangover cure.
  • Day 238 (Aug. 25): Observe National Banana Split Day. The famous dessert celebrates its 108th birthday in 2012.
  • Day 285 (Oct. 11): Trade in the nicotine gum or patch for a banana to help stop smoking

The initiative will be supported by a 12-month-long multimedia marketing effort encompassing a campaign-specific microsite, traditional and digital advertising, a sticker program, public relations, social media, a blogger and other third-party partnerships. Dole will visit select cities throughout the year to meet with food bloggers, registered dietitians, retailers, the media and other influencers to discuss the health, versatility, affordability and convenience benefits of bananas …

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Ditch your scissors … mobile couponing is is what’s happening.

January 16, 2012

TakeAway: Sorry coupon printers, people are going mobile with their couponing… Juniper research report reveals global mobile coupon redemption is growing an average 8% yearly … overtaking  the best paper coupon campaigns.

* * * * *
Excerpted from, “Global Mobile Coupon Redemption to be 8 Times Paper by 2016

The global redemption rate of mobile couponing is   growing over 8 percent annually, according to Juniper Research.

According to the “Mobile Coupons Whitepaper,” by 2016 there will be over 600 million regular mobile coupon users worldwide.

The report found that mobile coupons have compelling advantages over their paper … as mobile coupons:

  • Bridge the divide between online and physical retailing
  • Can be individually targeted to drive traffic to stores

For the next few years users will be signing up to multiple coupon schemes and deciding on the ones they like best – so now is a crucial time for mobile marketing agencies to get it right on behalf of their clients and establish a loyal customer base. ”

Other findings from the report include:

  • The integration of mobile coupons and mobile payment data is rare and an untapped opportunity.
  • Redemption values will exceed $43bn globally by 2016, driven by better targeting and mobile apps.

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Go get me a ream of Dunder Mifflin paper … really!

December 8, 2011

TakeAway: Staples uses a fictional brand name from the popular TV show “The Office” to differentiate and boost sales in a declining commodity-like industry.

* * * * *
Excerpt from WSJ: “Great Scott! Dunder Mifflin Morphs Into Real-Life Brand of Copy Paper”

Staples’ has struck a licensing deal with NBC’s parent company to launch a Dunder Mifflin brand.

Priced above private-label copy paper, the Dunder Mifflin packages will be emblazoned with slogans such as “Our motto is, ‘Quabity First’ ” and “Get Your Scrant on,” well-known phrases from the comedy series.

The marketing deal is an effort to combat what Quill’s chief marketing officer calls a “race to the bottom in the paper business.”

The Dunder Mifflin deal is an example of “reverse product placement.”

For decades, marketers have worked to embed their brands in the plots of TV shows and movies as a way to stand out in a crowded ad market. Nowadays, they are seeing value in bringing to life fictional brands that are already part of pop culture.

Examples include Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, a candy from the Harry Potter books, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants, inspired by the 1994 film “Forrest Gump.”

For Quill, which has a roughly $3 million annual ad budget, using the well-known Dunder Mifflin name is a way to draw attention to its brand without spending heavily on marketing.

Edit by ARK

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Want a free sample? … OK, here’s a gift card.

November 15, 2011

TakeAway: A promotions company is trying to use prepaid cards to push product samples, but CPG firms are hesitant to get on board.

Ken’s Take: Geez, just what consumers need … another credit or gift card in their already too fat wallets. This one will get leapfrogged pretty quickly – with a mobile app that’ll do the same thing – without another card to carry.

* * * * *

Excerpt from AdAge: “A Prepaid Card Good for … One Full-Size Frozen Pizza?”

Young America, promotion-services company is joining with Citi Prepaid Services to create prepaid cards redeemable for full-size product samples at stores.

The idea is to open up sampling alternatives for product categories such as frozen foods, over-the-counter drugs and laundry detergent, where it’s either impossible or impractical to send samples through the mail or insert them into newspapers.

The prepaid cards are programmed to be redeemable only for specific SKUs and only up to the price of the item.

One advantage of using cards over using paper coupons for the same purpose is reducing the risk of redemption fraud.

Other advantages include not having to pay to ship full items to homes, not having to manufacture a special sample size and the potential for tying sampling programs to shopper-marketing programs that can induce retailers to stock and prominently display the featured products.

Young America is in talks with several marketers on the tactic but hasn’t signed any up yet.

“The con is that the brand ends up paying the retailer price vs. the manufacturer price” said a former P&G sampling-promotion executive.

Edit by ARK

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Halloween: Battle of the bite-sized candies …

October 25, 2011

Punch line: Despite a tough economic situation, Americans are likely to spend more this Halloween season.  And, what candy should you buy for the trick-o-treaters? Well, this year consider bite-size M&Ms and Skittles – they scored the highest across all key metrics according to Insight Workbench … 

* * * * *
Excerpted from, “M&Ms and Skittles Best Bite-Size Halloween Brands

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, Americans will spend $72.31 on costumes, candy, and decorations, up from last year’s $66.28 and 2009’s $56.31 …

Overall, this Halloween is all about bite-size …

According to Insight Workbench, Candy Corn, the most iconic Halloween candy had the weakest metrics across all categories: lowest share of buzz, a Net Sentiment score of 52 and a Passion Intensity score of 48. Most people eat it solely at Halloween for tradition’s sake …

According to the NPD Group, about 5% of all candy consumed annually is eaten between Halloween and the week after with the most popular choices being chocolate, chewy candies and hard candy.

“It really came down to a battle of the bite-sized candy bits: the good ole reliable, melts-in-your-mouth-not-in-your-hand chocolaty M&Ms vs. the chewy, fruit-impersonating Skittles that let you “taste the rainbow.”

“Halloween was once an inexpensive holiday. Families made treats like candy apples, constructed costumes out of old bed sheets, and made their own spooky decorations. As stores stockpile all of the typical Halloween fare … plan a budget for this trick or treat season,” says Howard Dvorkin, CPA and founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc. …

Edit by KJM.

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Hot for Halloween, Keystone’s Keith Stone is da man … hmmm.

September 23, 2011

Takeaway: While irreverent, Keystone Light’s spokesidiot Keith Stone has won over a cult following… but, the campaign’s success begs the question about where the brand will go from here.

* * * * *
Excerpted from, “Keystone Light Mull(et)s Next Steps for Pervy Pitchman Keith Stone

“In developing the Keith Stone campaign, we wanted to literally bring the brand’s ‘Always Smooth’ essence to life in a way that is impactful and relatable to our Keystone Light drinker. We did this through the creation of an ownable brand hero, Keith Stone is the MC of Smoothness.”

Like the Old Spice Guy, the success of Keith Stone relies on a number of unpredictables.

First, there’s the “guy” himself …

The Keith Stone character aims to “elevate the key traits and values of Keystone Light at the core,” taking as its motto “Always Smooth” …

And yet, Keith Stone is extremely popular … When large numbers of Americans are dressing as your spokesperson for Halloween, it’s a pretty good sign you’re forming strong connections with your consumers …


Consumers identify with Keith “because, in many ways, [he] emulates characteristics of themselves. He’s easygoing and confident. He’s clever, resourceful and creative in unexpected ways. He’s lovably imperfect … He’s your laidback buddy who always has a 30-stone in tow.”

Keystone has extended the reach of its popular pitch man with additional virals and various tie-in partnerships.…

The brand uses the web to promote brand interaction through engagement with Keith’s fans, “his 21-34 year-old buddies who are looking for laughs across various content platforms” …

It’s impossible to assume Keith Stone would ever mature beyond his current self, which could pose a challenge for Keystone when it comes to growing its brand beyond the name recognition and “always smooth” positioning its locked down with the current campaign.

As for their pitchman’s future …  “It’s been a fun ride and we are currently discussing the possibilities for the brand in the coming years.”

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Ford ads a new benefit: buying from a company that stands on its own.

September 19, 2011

Punch lineFord hit the airwaves with a potentially controversial ad touting the fact that it’s an American company that stands on its own … unlike its bailed out competitors.

I like it …

Excerpted from US News: Ford TV Ad Slams Obama Auto Bailouts article & video

America is still fighting over President Obama’s costly bailout of Chrysler and General Motors. Especially the owners of Ford, the only member of Detroit’s “Big Three” who rejected the government dole and emerged perfectly healthy.

In its most political ad in the so-called “Drive One” ads where real drivers are thrust before cameras to explain why they picked Ford, a real Ford F-150 pick-up driver is featured.

His name is Chris. After he sits down the “reporters” bark “Chris, Chris.” One asks him to explain why “was buying American important to you.”

Sitting and looking sincere and serious, Chris says:

I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government.

I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own: win, lose, or draw.

That’s what America is about is taking the chance to succeed and understanding when you fail that you gotta’ pick yourself up and go back to work.

Ford is that company for me.”

Now, let’s see if Chris the Ford buyer gets tax audited like Joe the Plumber …

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Don’t call them spinsters … women DJs are hot!

September 1, 2011

TakeAway: Women disc jockeys are the newest trendsetters for music, fashion and popular culture. So, Unilever hired 3 of them for its new “Fresh Spin” campaign, aimed at young female consumers for its Rebalance branded deodorant products.

* * * * *

Excerpted from NY Times, “She hopes to help a Dove campaign become a hit

Dove is working with MTV for its new “Fresh Spin” campaign, whose first big event occurs at the Video Music Awards … targeting females ages 12 to 34

The brand is showcasing three young women D.J.’s in a new video series, social media and a new Web site. The D.J.’s also are engaging fans in an interactive music game on the Internet site …

Women disc jockeys are the newest trendsetters for music, fashion and popular culture,”…

This month, Dove introduced its “Fresh Spin” campaign, which focuses on social engagement and not a strong product sell, reaching out to targets with a Web site, commercials on MTV and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

The Web videos are behind-the-scenes looks into the lives of three D.J.’s — Jessica Who, Chelsea Leyland and Diamond Kuts — showing them in some sweaty situations, suggesting the need for deodorant …

This week, Dove began running commercials on MTV to introduce the trio. Ms. Who will report live from the video music awards, interviewing musicians on the red carpet and sharing her take on the music scene. The video will be available on after the awards …

As a brand, Dove does not want to focus on celebrities … The D.J.’s are real girls who are culturally relevant. They aggregate ideas about movements, fashion and, of course, music.”

Edit by KJM

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Proud to be a Marketer …

August 12, 2011

From Prof. Mark Perry’s blog

“Britain’s female beach volleyball champions are renting out their rears in an advertising deal that encourages spectators to photograph their behinds.

Zara Dampney, 24, and Shauna Mullin, 26, have turned their bottoms into their bottom line by wearing bikini briefs with a Quick Response (QR) code printed on the back where it will catch the eye of spectators.

When photographed on a smartphone, the code takes the user to a specific website – in this case, for bookmakers Betfair.”


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