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May 2010

New marketing spin for washing machines: They're cat-friendly!

Posted on Fri May 28 2010


Straight from Sydney, Australia (and via Reuters, no less), came Thursday's news that a kitten named Kimba had miraculously survived an entire cold-wash cycle in the washing machine of one Rogers family. The cat, a gray Persian, had apparently fallen asleep on a load of dirty clothes, then got shut in the machine for a wash (one that included a high-speed spin cycle) by her unwitting owner, Brendon Rogers, who told the wire service that his cat looked "like a drowned rat" when she emerged.
  The report didn't happen to mention the brand of the washing machine, but it got us thinking: Could this be an untapped branding opportunity? A quick peek at YouTube reveals a stunning variety of home videos that involve cats and washing machines—including "Alex in Washer," "Wishy Washy Cat" and the unforgettable "Chuck's Spin Cycle." Most of the models appear to be Whirlpools and Maytags, but a few boutique brands make appearances, too. (Granted, many of these videos simply show felines pawing at the glass while the clothes curl on the other side, but a good many show them inside the machines.)
  So, how about it, Kenmore or LG? We can see the tagline now: "Tough on dirt. Easy on kitties."

—Posted by Robert Klara

Ann Taylor learning Photoshop from the people at Ralph Lauren

Posted on Fri May 28 2010


Did the fashion world learn nothing from the Ralph Lauren Photoshop controversy of last fall? That would be the heinous print ad where the model's head was actually wider than her hips and she was unrecognizable as a female form. Short answer: Nope. Pictures of models in Ann Taylor's new summer outfits on the marketer's Web site look like they've been stretched through a funhouse mirror. Major distortion! Just eyeballing it, I'd say the models' waists must be about 18 inches, and total body weight couldn't top 100 pounds. And these chicks look about Na'vi size—roughly 8 feet tall. Really, Ann Taylor? The feminist blog Jezebel busted you on this Photoshop-of-horrors, and you apologized, but those images are still on the site. Deplorable, and just plain dumb, especially since your sweet spot has always been adult, mostly professional women. You know, the ones with real bodies and middle-aged curves. You might want to think you cater to the young and hip (and/or size 00), but that's not the reality. Neither are these pictures.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Kraft flavored mayo works wonders on any fixer-upper sandwich

Posted on Fri May 28 2010

Kraft is bolstering its flavored mayonnaise with a dash of star power, courtesy of HGTV Design Star's Candice Olson, Genevieve Gorder and Vern Yip. Wel, OK, "star power" is pushing it, but they're nevertheless the new faces of Kraft's Sandwich Shop brand, making over humdrum sandwiches in TV spots from mcgarrybowen patterned after reality shows. There's also a range of print material, including one ad that goes so far as to "deconstruct" the sandwich. For those of you trying to pinpoint the exact spot at which post-modernism died, look no further. The campaign is geared toward bored middle-aged women who look to makeover shows for inspiration, hence Kraft's repetition of phrases like "go bold by stepping outside the flavor norm," which I can just hear Vern Yip saying with complete sincerity. Not for nothing, but mayonnaise hasn't inspired much except possibly heart disease, and there's a real difference between dramatically altering your appearance or living space and eating a BLT that tastes slightly different than before. It may still work, especially considering the amount of money Kraft is putting behind it, but it's definitely a stretch.

—Posted by David Kiefaber

Singing cookies give way to dancing humans in Chips Ahoy! ads

Posted on Fri May 28 2010

What is it about Chips Ahoy! that makes kids start dance, dance, dancing when they see them? Kraft calls it the "little happy cookie dance," referring to what happens when fans of the chocolate-chip cookies see Mom take them out of the cupboard. Now, the food giant has set aside its Cookie Guys—those larger-than-life, clay-animated cookie characters that advertised the brand for eight years—in favor of a campaign showing real people dancing while eating the cookies. The spot here, by Draftfcb, New York, also introduces a new tagline: "There's a lotta joy in Chips Ahoy!" It's set to the tune of the 1979 R&B hit "Bustin' Loose" by Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers. BrandFreak will admit the ads are catchy, but sure does miss those good ol' Cookie Guys. Their sense of humor—despite the threat of always being eaten—extends even to the microwave, as evidenced in this "Big Meltdown" spot.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Soap fans getting majorly melodramatic over demise of SoapNet

Posted on Fri May 28 2010


Erica Kane's airplane just took a nosedive on ABC's once-great, now-middling soap All My Children, but that's nothing compared to what's about to happen to the network's sister cable channel, SoapNet. It's going bye-bye. For good. And excuse the well-worn expression, but hell hath no fury like a soap fan scored. First, a bit of background: Parent company Disney just announced it will take over SoapNet's space on the TV dial with a 24-hour preschool channel. Instead of reruns of General Hospital and One Life to Live, viewers will be "treated" to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jungle Junction when the network transforms into Disney Junior in 2012. (Maybe it really is the apocalypse?) The bottom line for business, obviously, is that soaps are aging and dying (as are their fans—sorry!), and there's much more upside to a cable net dedicated to tots and their tchotchke-demanding ways. Inculcate them early, and they'll be Disnified for life, or so the thinking goes. Soaps, on the other hand, don't sell a lot of swag, even if you count the Erica Kane Barbie doll (yes, there is one). SoapNet, for its part, is trying to be upbeat about it all, with a chatty glass-half-full feature on its homepage. "You get 18 more months of SoapNet," it says, towing the company line. Fans, meanwhile, are having none of it. "I am totally disgusted and appalled by this decision," says one. "This bites," says another. Diehards are threatening to boycott Disney and/or start some viral campaign to keep the network. I hate to tell them they're probably swimming upstream, but go ahead and vent, fanatics. It might be more satisfying than counting the Lost rip-offs in All My Children.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

The world is a canvas in paint company Dulux's vibrant new ads

Posted on Thu May 27 2010

Paint marketers have it rough, as BrandFreak pointed out recently, because it's difficult to show people just how vibrant or rich or textured their products are from within the confines of a TV commercial (even with the help of animated paint-chip animals). That's where YouTube can be mighty handy. Dulux, for a European campaign, shot in-progress footage of its "Let's Colour" project and posted it on the video site. There's much more to come, like a documentary and other entertainment-based content. It helps, too, that this work, shown in time-lapse photography in the two-minute clip here, changed entire neighborhoods from dirty, drab and graffiti-pocked to bright, clean and tag-free. The community painting events happened over the last four months in the U.K., France, India and Brazil, with 500 volunteers using about 1,800 gallons of Dulux decorative paint. Ad agency Euro RSCG London handled the campaign, which includes a making-of film, Web site, Twitter, Facebook and Orkut. The company also gets points for the gritty 'hood makeovers and for resisting the temptation to go with some sappy soundtrack like "Color My World" or "True Colors."

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Mitchum deodorant looks for America's hardest-working person

Posted on Thu May 27 2010

Dude, you think you work hard? Well, think again. Mitchum, the antiperspirant/deodorant brand owned by Revlon, last week kicked off a contest to find the "The Hardest Working Person in America." It's asking the nation's workaholics to upload video nominations of themselves to the brand's YouTube page, where friends, family and the rest of the sweaty masses can vote. (Contestants can also campaign for themselves via social media.) TV spots, now airing, show some of the country's hardest workers. One is a police officer who goes home to take care of his wife and four kids. Another is a coach who can't stand the thought of "free time." Mitchum is awarding two prizes: One for the hardest-working person, and another for "most captivating video." The former gets $100,000. The latter gets $5,000. In other words, only the winner gets to take a nice long holiday.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

DQ's Oreo Blizzard now available in shocking, tasty cookie form

Posted on Thu May 27 2010


There's a giant Oreo Blizzard truck making its way around the country, and if you're lucky enough to spot it, it might give you a yummy Kraft- and Dairy Queen-inspired treat. To celebrate the Blizzard's 25th birthday (it is, after all, one of DQ's most requested treats), Kraft and the soft-serve and fast-food chain have teamed up to introduce a limited-edition Oreo Blizzard Cookie. It's a "combination of smooth Blizzard-flavored crème blended with crunchy Oreo cookie pieces" all sandwiched "between two dark chocolate Oreo wafers," according to Kraft. The mobile truck (which is shaped like a giant Oreo Blizzard cup) is distributing mini versions of the cookie, but for those of you who can't wait (hey, the truck is only making 25 stops), the new treats are available at Walmart and Target for $3.29. DQ will also begin selling mini Oreo Blizzards in August.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Wise looking for NYC's best dancer in Big City Boogie promotion

Posted on Thu May 27 2010


Dipsy Doodles, baseball and dance contests go together like, well, nothing I've ever heard of before. But just go with it, people. Wise, a marketer known for its chips, popcorn, puffed cheese thingies and other salty snacks, just launched a summer-long contest to name New York City's best dancer ($10,000 to the fleet-footed winner). In this era of Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Dance Your Ass Off and the upcoming, awkwardly titled Got to Dance (with Paula Abdul!), an urban dance-inspired promotion doesn't seem too unique. The surprise here is the name, Big City Boogie, which sounds more like something that would've caused grandpa to get jiggy back in the day. Wise, via agency Source Communications, will show up in a branded vehicle at lots of New York street fairs and outdoor events over the next few months, dragging a portable dance floor and street teams to capture contestants' moves on video. (Anyone can upload their "talent" to bigcityboogie.com.) Online voters will pick finalists, who'll compete for cash at the Mets-Phillies game in Queens on Aug. 14. Dance-cam alert! Social-media and viral campaigns, along with a Fuse TV partnership, radio, TV and outdoor ads support the promo. Now, if they could just find a logical connection between Bravos and break dancing.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Skky happy to put a cocktail in your hand for 'Sex and the City 2'

Posted on Wed May 26 2010


As Sex and the City 2 hits U.S. movie theaters on Thursday, women across the country will be organizing ladies' nights to mark the occasion. (I know, because my girlfriends are among them.) As is the case with other potential high-grossing films, marketers like Skyy Vodka are jumping at the opportunity for tie-ins. The spirits brand partnered with T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants to offer patrons Sex and the City-themed cocktails. With names like Park Avenue Princess and Glamour Gal, the pink-hued drinks are sure to cater to the female demographic. Or so Skyy Vodka thinks. You won't see Carrie Bradshaw sipping a beer or Jack and Coke, but I know plenty of women who do. Marketers may risk turning off some women with "girlie" stereotypes. But then again, Sex and the City is as girlie as it gets. So, pink drinks with glamorous names are a perfect fit.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina



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