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December 2008

Domino's taste-test attack on Subway may be tough to swallow

Posted on Wed Dec 31 2008

Now that it has oven-baked sandwiches, Domino's is wasting no time going after the competition, launching a sub attack on Subway this week. The pizza purveyor has trotted out the good old taste test, claiming that people prefer its hot subs two-to-one over Subway. The debut ad attempts to quantify two-to-one by showing the world's smartest man (IQ 200) matched up against your average fifth grader (IQ 100) in a board game. The approach isn't too surprising, given that it's from the same ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, that did Burger King's "Whopper Virgins" taste-test campaign. But will it work? Subway isn't exactly known for its terrible-tasting food. In fact, according to a recent BrandIndex survey of 5,000 consumers, on a scale of -100 to 100, Subway food received an overall score of 55.1, while Domino's pulled in a -8.3. Maybe Domino's is the one with the fifth-grade IQ.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

Yum! Brands sincerely supports your efforts to lose that weight

Posted on Wed Dec 31 2008


In our opinion, there's really no better way to follow up an 840-calorie Fiesta Taco Salad* than a quick trip to a no-impact virtual gym.
  Yum! Brands, the Louisville, Ky.-based proud parent of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's and A&W Restaurants, is getting ready to offer an online fitness tool to assuage the consciences of those who would like to get in shape after the New Year while still indulging in Yum!'s food. Yum! is partnering with eFIT4Me to offer "free" (wait for it...) online exercise programs on each of its five restaurant sites. The initiative is part of the company's "Keep it balanced" effort, which is fine for those who can "balance" a value-menu bargain with a side of portion control (i.e., not us).
  The press release goes on to remind us that each Yum! restaurant has some healthy options, such as Taco Bell's Fresco Menu (each item has 9 grams of fat or less), Pizza Hut's Fit 'N Delicious lower-fat pies and KFC's soon-to-debut Kentucky Grilled Chicken.
  A trial membership will last for a month. After the 30 days are up, it's $5.99 a month—50 percent off the normal price of an eFIT4Me membership (but still a lot for a robot trainer, right?). Then there's our suggestion for avoiding eFIT4Me. You know, where the chalupa screams, "Just don't eat me!"
  *Don't worry, only 390 of these calories are fat-based.

—Posted by Becky Ebenkamp

Carnival counting on big balls to make impression with cruisers

Posted on Wed Dec 31 2008

You've got to applaud Carnival Cruise Lines for taking an unexpected approach in its latest marketing.
  Ad agency Arnold, which featured the standard fun-and-sun imagery for years when it handled Royal Caribbean, takes a totally different approach here. The run-up to Carnival's big media buy (with ads breaking in earnest since Christmas) consisted mainly of stunt-marketing exercises with a giant piñata and a giant beach ball emerging as central icons.
  After building some buzz, footage from those events graces commercials that play down actual cruising, yet still manage to capture a sense of carefree and slightly irreverent fun. There's also the sight of a huge multicolored inflatable ball bounce around the concrete canyons of landlocked downtown Dallas—surprising imagery that might just keep some viewers from turning away.
  It should also tip the scales against Dallas as a rival getaway option, if only because the place seems filled with unstable, anti-social types who get off on pushing big balls from rooftops onto unsuspecting passersby below.

—Posted by David Gianatasio

PETA coming out with its own yummy meat-scented fragrance

Posted on Tue Dec 30 2008


Burger King caused a stink among animal-rights activists when it introduced Flame, a meat-scented cologne, earlier this month. Now, PETA is fighting back with Gore, a fragrance from "Murder King" that is said to "evoke the actual aroma of rotting flesh," according to a press release from the group. Each vial of the "eau de mort" contains a floating, glow-in-the-dark "maggot" and a dead cow on the label. While Flame is sold out at novelty store Ricky's, PETA rep Lindsay Rajt said pricing and distribution for Gore haven't been worked out yet. Of the BK scent, Rajt said, "We wouldn't be surprised if only dogs were chasing men wearing Flame and women ran the other way." This isn't PETA first foray into fragrances. The group launched a scent called Viscera in 2001 directed at Vogue editor and fur proponent Anna Wintour. Viscera also had a fake maggot in every bottle.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Segway scooters hit a new low as Kevin James climbs aboard

Posted on Tue Dec 30 2008


Has any brand in history fallen from such great heights to such ignominious depths as Segway? Dean Kamen's dream machine, introduced to great fanfare in December 2001, once seemed to embody the best of what the future had to offer: remarkable gravity-defying technology employed for the most practical purpose imaginable. Now, seven years later, it's the butt of a movie-length Kevin James joke. In the new film Mall Cop, James plays a shopping-mall security guard whose means of transport serves to underscore his emasculated, bumbling idiocy. The film, which reminds us yet again why police should never ride Segways, represents a new low in a series of progressively lower lows for the company, which suffered its first big PR fiasco in 2003, when George W. Bush fell off a Segway in Kennebunkport (immediately casting into doubt Kamen's dream that U.S. special ops would eventually ride Segways into battle). The problem, of course, is that even when people manage to stay atop their Segways, they look vaguely foolish riding them. As James admits: "I had driven a Segway for a promo for King of Queens, and I thought it was the funniest [vehicle] I had ever seen." Funny = perhaps not the greatest brand attribute for a scooter. Perhaps Segways will eventually have their day in the sun, but these days not even Ferrari can make them cool.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

From the grave, John Lennon endorses One Laptop Per Child

Posted on Tue Dec 30 2008

John Lennon once hauntingly sang, "Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can." Now, more than 35 years later, Lennon is literally the ghost in the machine, shilling post-mortem for One Laptop Per Child, the group that provides computers to kids in impoverished countries. His widow, Yoko Ono, gave OLPC the OK. And the staunchly liberal Beatle would probably have admired the group's mission, even though it capitalistically equates the ownership and manipulation of technology with social justice and parity. At the very least, John would have appreciated the way his image has drummed up global headlines for the cause. The man used to stage "bed-ins" to generate publicity—though peace was the commodity he was trying to sell. All that aside: Was this low-budget atrocity really the best they could do? The zooming logos, pixelation and oddly sped-up Liverpudlian delivery seem like random elements from Lennon's LSD phase. "You can give a child a laptop and more than imagine. You can change the world," John says in the ad. If he wasn't already dead, lines like that would have killed him. Via Rolling Stone.

—Posted by David Gianatasio

Trojan goes the not-so-subtle route for holiday safe-sex message

Posted on Mon Dec 29 2008

Ever the polite marketer, Trojan condoms launched a viral campaign this Christmas on that suggested, among other things: "Good gravy, Santa's packing a Yule log!" In its continuing effort to spread the message of safe sex (and sell more condoms), Trojan posted the "Reindeer STD" clip earlier this month. The two-and-a-half minute video, not-so-subtly brought to you by Trojan, provides plenty of sexual Christmas innuendos. A line like "She's worked more chimneys than Santa on Christmas Eve" always arouses the Christmas spirit. Of course, the overall lesson is made clear when Santa asks the STD-infested reindeer: "Did you wrap your present before stuffing it into the stocking?" Apparently, Rudolph's nose isn't the only part of him that's glowing red.

—Posted by Matthew Fields

Radio Flyer comes up with a kiddie wagon for the 21st century

Posted on Wed Dec 24 2008

Cloud9 copy

Radio Flyer has a new 2.0 version of its classic red wagon in development. It's called the Cloud 9. Tom Schlegel, the company's vp of product development, tells CNN: "When we're designing our products, we're really looking at how can we get kids outside and playing, away from the video games and TV screens and computer screens." The high-tech Cloud 9, though, might make kids feel like they've never left home (or at least the comfort of their folks' minivans)! It comes equipped with padded seats, cup holders, foot brakes, fold-out storage containers, a sound system and a slot for an MP3 player. There's even a digital handle that tracks temperature, time, distance and speed. With all that stuff, it's unclear just how fast this thing will go. Parents should be ready to break a sweat if Cloud 9 makes it out of the prototype stage and into showrooms—I mean, toy stores—nationwide.

—Posted by David Gianatasio

ViB: a drink that's also the answer to all of your problems

Posted on Tue Dec 23 2008


If you ever feel hopeless, anxious or burned out, a classic Zoloft ad once said, take our pill and everything will be all better. Well, a new functional beverage called ViB (pronounced "vibe") takes that sentiment and runs with it.
  "Hopelessness. Anxiety. Burnout," says the press release. "These are concepts everyone can empathize with in these uncertain times. Happiness is taken for granted, as is the relaxation that's a byproduct of stress-relief. Stress is not just a problem—it's the problem. Everyone longs for an escape from their problems; a vacation; a place where they can go to be happy; a place from where they return and share their happiness with everyone around them. ViB is your vacation in a bottle."
  That's a lot to expect from pomegranate and berry juice.
  Last I checked, Corona was the vacation in the bottle. Perhaps realizing that alcohol can only help its case, the press release also suggests mixing ViB with vodka to make a ViB-rator. Which, of course, brings to mind a whole other kind of stress relief.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

Billy Mays here for the unbelievable, indescribable ESPN360!

Posted on Tue Dec 23 2008


ESPN has long enjoyed mimicking lowbrow ad genres in campaigns targeting hip sports fans. So, what better way to promote, where fans can watch their favorite teams and games "anywhere, anytime," than to hire Billy Mays, that yelly man who sells OxiClean, Mighty Putty, Mighty Mendit and other amazing crap on late-night infomercials?
  See the four ads here. In one of them, Mays meanders into an office and opens with a pitch that will be familiar to late-night basic-cable viewers. "Billy Mays here for! The revolutionary tool for watching sports!" he shouts in his customary, this-one-goes-to-11 voice, as if reading snakebite-antidote instructions to his deaf grandpa. Soon, he's crawling under a cubicle and giving an office drone a Ted Stevens-worthy "series of tubes"-type explanation of how ESPN sends live sports through the Internets right to his desktop.
  Another ad shows Mays with his blonde wife and young daughter, who also sport his trademark black werewolvian beard. In a third, he's hiding out from criminals in a motel room so tacky even the once-bolted-down TV has been ripped from its casing. Hmmm, maybe there's more to this Ted Stevens connection than we thought?
  The ads, created by Arnold in Boston, will run on TV and online.

—Posted by Becky Ebenkamp



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