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February 2009

Coca-Cola's calorie-burning soda Enviga goes up in flames

Posted on Fri Feb 27 2009

Enviga-200

In 2006, Coca-Cola debuted something of a miracle product called Enviga. The sparkling green tea's claim was that you drink three cans and burn an average of 106 calories. Pepsi was waiting in the wings with Tava, its own calorie-burning drink. But Enviga was quickly met with skepticism, and then a lawsuit from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Pepsi reacted by radically altering its plans for Tava. Enviga, meanwhile, set out to defend itself. It didn't work. The Boston Herald reports today that Coke and Nestlé (who partnered to create the drink) agreed to pay out a settlement of $650,000 to 27 states. It will also add disclaimers to the product, which is already on its way to extinction. Apparently, its weight-loss claims weren't the only thing no one bought.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

Sam Jackson does his 'Pulp Fiction' rap for ... the Golf Channel?

Posted on Fri Feb 27 2009

Talk about violating your holiest of holies. This promo for the Golf Channel features Samuel L. Jackson reciting a version of his "Ezekiel 25:17" speech from Pulp Fiction. In the movie, the speech (loosely based on the actual verse from the Bible) is revealed as the source of an epiphany for Jackson's character. But here he's relating it to ...Tiger Woods, who returned to golf this week after a long layoff due to knee surgery. Maybe next they'll bring out the Gimp to promote croquet.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Barbie's 'unapologetic glam' inspires a new line of chocolates

Posted on Fri Feb 27 2009

Barbie-chocolate copy

Luxury chocolatier Hotel Chocolat said today it has created "The Barbie Box" to celebrate the Mattel doll's 50th anniversary. The limited-time "Love Barbie" and "Luxe" boxes honor Barbie's "unapologetic glam of a style-superstar extraordinaire," the company says in a very giddy statement. Brand director Fredrik Ahlin says, "She is a constant inspiration, and is up there with all of the timeless icons of fashion and beauty. When I worked on this dream project, I tried to work out who she would be if she were a living person. I couldn't, there is only one Barbie. Happy birthday darling!" While Ahlin sounds completely insane, there is some rational logic to Barbie-branded chocolate—after all, candy is one thing women never outgrow. Let's just hope Barbie doesn't consume too much of it.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

'Top Chef' also-ran Fabio Viviani to pretend he likes frozen pizza

Posted on Fri Feb 27 2009

Fabio-Viviani copy

Really, is there no greater honor for a chef than to be associated with a delicacy like frozen pizza? That's the way Fabio Viviani, "the Italian Stallion" from season five of Bravo's Top Chef, evidently feels. He has signed on as  spokesman for the U.S. launch of Dr. Oetker's frozen pizza. The brand, despite it's utterly horrible name, is No. 1 in Italy. Viviani said in a statement: "Growing up in Italy, my mom often had Dr. Oetker's products in the home." Apparently she wasn't much of a cook.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

Coke, not Pepsi, reportedly the choice of Obama administration

Posted on Fri Feb 27 2009

Obama-soda

Pepsi is the one that's gone ga-ga for Barack Obama, with its similar logo and call for a refreshed and renewed America. But according to Time magazine's White House correspondent, Michael Scherer, who has his finger on the pulse, it's Coke, not Pepsi, that's the choice of this new administration.
  Obama himself doesn't care much for either beverage. (He prefers Honest Tea, apparently.) But as Scherer reports, his advisers tend to prefer Coke. "Several senior Administration officials are committed cola drinkers, and without fail they spend their days sipping from a can of Diet Coke, a product of Pepsi's chief competitor, Coca-Cola," Scherer writes. Devotees include Larry Summers, Obama's top economic adviser, who "rarely walks anywhere in the White House complex without a can of Diet Coke in his hand. He is well known for interrupting conversations to take another swig."
  Scherer asked another White House official, who had a can of Diet Coke on his desk, whether the Obama administration had a clear bias for Coke over Pepsi. The official, who was granted anonymity, perhaps because he wasn't authorized to discuss such a sensitive topic in public, replied, "I think that's true. Don't most Americans?"

—Posted by Tim Nudd

CBS's 'Twilight Zone' product line is missing a certain someone

Posted on Fri Feb 27 2009

What, no Talky Tina doll?
  CBS Consumer Products is rolling out a line of swag to mark the 50th anniversary of The Twilight Zone, but so far it's missing one of the freakiest toys ever immortalized in entertainment (even creepier than Chucky). Series creator and narrator Rod Serling introduced Talky Tina, who was a nightmare-inducing version of Mattel's popular Chatty Cathy, as "a doll that does everything, a lifelike creation of plastic and springs and painted smile." She took a real disliking to Telly Savalas in the 1963 episode called "Living Doll," telling him, "I'm beginning to hate you," and eventually, "I'm going to kill you." Guess what happened?
  CBS plans more benign tchotchkes for the classic thriller series, along the lines of trading cards from Rittenhouse Archives, a commemorative stamp, interactive DVD trivia and board games, and holiday ornaments from Hallmark (OK, that last one's a little weird). There's also bobbleheads and action figures from Bif Bang Pow. They can't hurt anyone, right? Just don't make them mad.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

You have to accept that you'll never be as awesome as Mr. Clean

Posted on Fri Feb 27 2009

He's bald, and he's bad. Who wouldn't be jealous?
  A pair of new commercials from Grey, New York, feature various second-string cleaners bad-mouthing Procter & Gamble's Mr. Clean from the safety of a supply closet. In the first spot, they turn green with envy over Mr. Clean with Febreze. "Hey, world, he cleans great, and he helps eliminate odors, too," one bottle says sarcastically. "Oh, wow," replies another. "He's like a guy that's, like, a good actor but then he's also a musician, too." In the other spot, the peanut gallery is flabbergasted by the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser: "Dude, dude, he's got these, like, micro-scrubbers," one spray bottle remarks. Another has teardrops welling up at his nozzle at the end.
  Michael Collins, creative director on the Mr. Clean brand at Grey, says the cheeky humor is meant to loosen up the brand's stiff image, in a departure from the classic old product demonstration ads. "Rather than hitting women over the head, we wanted to go ahead and delight them and tickle them," he says.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Mountain Dew is great until it completely rots out all your teeth

Posted on Thu Feb 26 2009

Mdmouth copy

There used to be a joke in corporate America that if you heard Mike Wallace mention your brand name, it wouldn't be a good day. As Pepsi found out last week, it's not much better when it's Diane Sawyer.
  As part of a series on impoverished Americans living in Appalachia, ABC News aired a segment on an oral ailment with the oh-so-memorable name of "Mountain Dew Mouth." The producers came across Dr. Edwin Smith of Barbourville, Ky., who's sunk $150,000 of his own money into a mobile dental office to treat kids whose teeth have rotted to the gumline thanks to their copious consumption of Mountain Dew. Before a national audience, Smith related stories of babies "doing the Dew" thanks to mothers who put the stuff in their bottles, and teenagers pulling their teeth with pliers because of the pain.
  That was last Thursday. You can imagine the kind of morning the PR folks in Purchase, N.Y., had on Friday. But the ensuing response to the PR fiasco was, well, another PR fiasco. First came a statement saying it was wrong to blame decay on the Dew, because raisins and cookies stay in the mouth longer. Strike one. Next came a statement saying PepsiCo soft drinks "consumed in moderation can be part of a healthy, balanced diet." Strike two. Finally, a third release said PepsiCo vp of global health Dr. Derek Yach had phoned the dentist to find out how the company could help. That, it seems, was more like it.
  Note to brands: When a national news show accuses your product of hurting 11-year-old boys who are too poor for shoes, the only solution is to write a check.

—Posted by Robert Klara

Stride gum has so many uses, it needs its very own infomercial

Posted on Thu Feb 26 2009

If you're trying to sell gum, an infomercial sounds like overkill. You don't really have to demonstrate its uses or anything, right? Wrong. This three-minute ad for Stride Gum from JWT shows various alternatives to just chewing the stuff, including using it as a "tiny one-way boomerang" or as fake eyebrows. (Such uses come in handy, you see, because Stride is said to never lose its flavor. No need to buy a second pack.) The ad could pass for a real infomercial with its voluble Married With Children-like crowd and special guests, including a "world-famous scientist" and a "paid actor." For now, it's only running online. But JWT creative director Jackie Hathiramani says the agency hopes to get it on TV, preferably late at night. Says Hathiramani: "In hard times, you have to have a hard sell."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Hit or miss, movie adaptations of video games are here to stay

Posted on Thu Feb 26 2009

Has Hollywood learned nothing from Uwe Boll, the Ed Wood of Germany? Boll, who just received a special Razzie Award for a lifetime of schlock, has built his career on film adaptations of video games. At present, he's creating BloodRayne 3 (vampires fighting Nazis!), having not been discouraged by a sub-$4 million worldwide gross and straight-to-DVD release for chapters 1 and 2.
  Tomorrow, the latest video game to become a movie will open, as Twentieth Century Fox launches Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. It's the built-in awareness that make these properties attractive to film studios that need a ready marketing hook and established group of fans. Sometimes it works (Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat), and often it doesn't. Remember Wing Commander and Postal? Don't feel bad, nobody does.
  Street Fighter, which follows a successful '94 version starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, could get killed this weekend by Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, but there are several more projects in this vein in the works, like Clock Tower 3. The new news is that they've started to attract higher-profile filmmakers, including Pirates of the Caribbean's Gore Verbinski, who's directing Bioshock, and action master Jerry Bruckheimer, who's producing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
  Not sure why, but there seems to be little interest in adaptations of Wii Fit games. Tennis, anyone?

—Posted by T.L. Stanley


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