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January 2010

Fashion marketers drool over Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland'

Posted on Fri Jan 29 2010

Would you take fashion tips from the Mad Hatter? The pale-faced, Bozo-haired Johnny Depp version of the classic character is already freaking people out (in a good way), and Disney Consumer Products saw licensing potential in Tim Burton's upcoming redo of Alice in Wonderland. Marketers jumped on board, with Stella McCartney designing an accessories line (lots of rabbits, hearts and spades), Alexander McQueen creating a couture dress, Zac Posen doing goth-inspired jewelry, and Urban Decay and OPI launching makeup and nail polish with names like Off with Her Head and Thanks So Muchness. On the literary side, Harper Collins is reissuing the classic Lewis Carroll novel with trippy new illustrations. The goods are all about fantasy and shocks of color and teacups and fever dreams. Judging from the trailer, so is the 3-D movie, which opens March 5. Can. Not. Wait.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Hollywood studios taking a shine to the billboards-to-bags idea

Posted on Fri Jan 29 2010

Terminator

My sleepy neighborhood farmer's market is about to get a visit from the Terminator. There won't be any explosions or gunfire, though—those organic blueberries are just too pricey to waste—and the robot assassin won't be there in the "flesh." It'll just be me toting a small piece of Warner Bros.' summer action hit, Terminator Salvation, in the form of a heavy-duty shopping bag made from the movie's billboard. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, instead of seeing this kind of vinyl end up in landfills (10,000 tons of it a year), a number of eco-conscious companies are now creating useful, one-of-a-kind products out of it. In Los Angeles, ad and marketing agency Midnight Oil Creative, its sibling production company LA Graphico and Billboard2Swag have collaborated to turn old movie billboards into wine bags, totes and eventually wallets, backpacks and other goodies. "For us, it's a sustainable calling card," says Brandon Gabriel, principal at Midnight Oil, "and for the studios, it's a continuous piece of marketing." The company counts Hollywood heavyweights like Disney, Fox and Sony among its clients, and discussions are taking place with all of them about recycling their outdoor ads. Each product will come with a tag that identifies its rom-com, thriller or family-flick origins. Midnight Oil is handing them out to vendors, clients and press. Though the decision to sell to the public hasn't been made yet, the items could become studio giveaways for contest winners and fans at conventions like Comic-Con. Stand back and watch the feeding frenzy over Avatar messenger bags.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Holiday Inn staffers now personally warming up your bed for you

Posted on Thu Jan 28 2010

Holiday-inn

If someone is warming up your bed, I hope for your sake that either a) it's someone with whom you've been previously acquainted, or b) it'll involve copious amounts of alcohol and protection. Holiday Inn may see it differently. In one of freakiest promotions I've ever heard of, the Holiday Inn's Kensington, London location has been offering a five-minute "human bed warming" service, where some hapless staffer climbs between your sheets to take the chill off them. (I'm guessing the guest is not actually in the bed at the same time, though the hotel chain's photo would suggest otherwise.) The marketer says it's like "having a giant hot water bottle" in your bed. It's also like having a stranger in your bed. Which is fine, if you're into that sort of thing. Just be careful!

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Naming experts split on whether 'iPad' is a terrible name or not

Posted on Thu Jan 28 2010

Ipad_hero

Apple's announcement of its long-awaited tablet computer yesterday was greeted by a round of quips about the name. iPad? Within minutes, the top trending topics on Twitter included "iTampon" and "iMaxiPad." Was this a blunder by this most revered of marketers? Naming gurus are split. Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding, thinks Apple stumbled. "I think they've created some challenges for themselves," he tells BrandFreak. "If you're trying to create a new category, it's really important that you create a name that's proprietary. iPad doesn't do that." Fair enough, but what about the iPhone, which was similarly generic? "The product rose to the occasion," says Davis. "This one was on the bubble and really needed some help." But Hayes Roth, CMO for Landor Associates, says iPad is a great name. "It's a very smart name," says Roth, adding that the tampon connotation hadn't occurred to him. Roth says Apple owns the "i" prefix and that walking away from that nomenclature wouldn't make much sense. So, how about the iSlate then? "To me, that has concerns," says Roth. "It's a cold, cold stone, and it also takes you back to Romans chiseling into stones." A pad, by contrast, has more modern, mobile connotations, Roth says. Meanwhile, Danny Altman, CEO of A Hundred Monkeys, took the surprising view that the name doesn't really matter. "Apple has been brilliant about focusing on the only brand that matters—the big one," he says. "It has a long history of making great products with undistinguished names."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Kimberly-Clark pitting 'overs' against 'unders' in toilet-paper war

Posted on Thu Jan 28 2010

We've all had arguments like this before: Should the toilet paper roll over or under? BrandFreak is a fan of the former, though Kimberly-Clark, one of the nation's largest TP makers, is helping Americans to decide once and for all. (Thank goodness!) K-C, which makes the Scott and Cottonelle brands, has launched a contest that encourages consumers to vote for "under" or "over" at CottonelleRollPoll.com. Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott are leading the charge. (Tori is "a firm believer in rolling over," while Dean is "an under kind of guy," according to K-C). You have till March 6 to vote, though we have some stats in the meantime (courtesy of K-C) that might surprise you. 1) Of 1,000 adults surveyed, one in five get annoyed when the TP is hanging the wrong way; 2) Men are more likely to notice and be pissed off (if it's not to their preferences, that is); 3) one in five admit to flipping the toilet paper if it's not to their liking, even in someone else's home. Another interesting tidbit: "Overs" are usually overachievers and super-organized; "unders" are laid-back. Those who don't care tend to "minimize conflict" and "value flexibility." OK, yes, we're in the overachiever group.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Who wouldn't want to explore the Bowling Capital of the World?

Posted on Wed Jan 27 2010

Bowling

An appendix item in the Textbook of Branding is the practice of christening a destination as the [fill in the blank] Capital of the World. This age-old tactic, perfected by tourism bureaus everywhere, wouldn't seem of much use to major brands—until you consider the cross-pollination possibilities. Case in point: Battle Creek, Mich., lays claim to being the Cereal Capital of the World because it's home to Kellogg's. But Kellogg's benefits nicely from this regional branding because it can siphon visitors over to its Cereal City USA interactive museum (which of course will tell you everything you want to know about Froot Loops and Special K). Avon, Ohio, happens to be the Duct Tape Capital of the World because it's home to Henkel Consumer Adhesives, maker of the Duck brand, which sponsors the Duct Tape Festival each year (and on Father's Day, no less.) Hartford, Conn., the Insurance Capital of the World, doesn't exactly draw millions of visitors to office towers of Aetna and Travelers, but it can use any boost it can get.
  Which brings us to Arlington, Texas. Just last month, the city proclaimed itself to be the Bowling Capital of the World. Is there some kind of bowling-industry link to Arlington? Well, you could say that.

Continue reading "Who wouldn't want to explore the Bowling Capital of the World?" »

Ryan Leslie upstaged by Lexus GX SUV in upcoming campaign

Posted on Wed Jan 27 2010

R&B crooner Ryan Leslie figured he'd be the star of an upcoming commercial for Lexus, since he and the marketer made an multi-layered endorsement and promotional deal that spans TV and digital media. He got schooled, though, when he showed up on set. As he says in this making-of video, the redesigned Lexus GX SUV is the real spotlight hog. He's simply "the co-star." That's probably OK, since the new ad, launching Feb. 1 during the BET Honors, could put the Universal Motown artist in front of lots of potential new fans. And Leslie, in turn, will evangelize for the brand through his very active online social network. (His music videos are heavy draws on YouTube, and he's a relentless Tweeter). The partnership with Lexus will include downloads, original content and sweepstakes. Leslie is performing during the BET Honors, which will kick off Black History Month, and at Lexus Listening Lounges around the country. The spot, dubbed "The Rushers," is a cliffhanger with a noir overlay. See a preview here. But where's his music? Maybe it'll show up in future installments.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

At this point, we'll watch any old video involving the Apple tablet

Posted on Wed Jan 27 2010

Given Apple's anal zeal for secrecy, it's pretty amazing that a commercial for its iSlate has already leaked out. And who would have thought that a French tech blogger would be the first to get a hold of it? It turns out Apple is using a catchy song that bemoans, "Someday I won't exist." Odd choice. Maybe Apple wants consumers to embrace existentialism? Apple is also reaching back to the '80s for that cool multicolor paint-splatter look best exemplified in the J. Geils Band's "Freeze Frame" video. OK, OK. This is obviously a fake. Nice try, Pierre. Now let's all wait a few hours to see what Apple's really going to come up with.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

AMC spoofs Weatherproof's Obama ad to trumpet 'Breaking Bad'

Posted on Wed Jan 27 2010

Amc

Why, they're practically mirror images, these two billboards, except one features a marketer playing fast and loose with likeness rights and the other focuses on a character skirting the rules in a much bigger way. AMC, home to the groundbreaking series Breaking Bad, couldn't resist a parody to promote the upcoming launch of the third season on March 21. The cable network chose to copy the maligned Weatherproof ad that used President Obama's image without his permission. The two sat side by side in New York's Times Square for at least a day. AMC's near-exact replica puts Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, a two-time Emmy-winner in the role, in his meth-making accoutrement under the headline, "You got no proof." (He sure is defiant, that high school teacher turned drug kingpin, even though his criminal enterprise is starting to fray at the seams.) The Weatherproof billboard, already scheduled for removal, is due to come down today. The brilliant Breaking Bad ad will stay up for about a month.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Brands set for product-placement close-ups in midseason shows

Posted on Tue Jan 26 2010

Glenn Close, the gang from Lost, Jerry Seinfeld, Peter Krause, Simon Cowell, Craig T. Nelson. So many popular stars on midseason TV shows. And side by side with those luminaries? Virgin America, Waste Management Inc., 7-Eleven, Hooters, Churchill Downs and White Castle, all with high-profile product placements they didn't have to pay a dime for. Virgin America stars in Fly Girls, which follows five of the marketer's hot flight attendants in a Gossip-Girl-meets-The-Hills docu-style series on the CW. (The airline's top marketer is a co-executive producer.) Along with the girls' catfights and dating drama, expect to catch a glimpse of the finer features of the Richard Branson-backed airline, like its free wi-fi and celebrity parties. The screen time will be golden for Virgin, which is expanding its operations in the U.S. over the next several years. Undercover Boss (see video above), premiering on CBS after the Super Bowl, will expose a bit of the underbelly of Southern companies like Waste Management, White Castle and the others, but only to right wrongs and celebrate working stiffs. Timely! None of the marketers have creative control over the programming, but they'll probably be happy with their close-ups anyway since it'll be their warts-and-all, not their competitors. And the price sure was right.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley


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