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September 2010

Buzz Lightyear, Alice in Wonderland lead 2010 Halloween outfits

By Elena Malykhina on Thu Sep 30 2010


The spookiest day of year, Halloween, is only a month away, which means costume shopping is in full swing. While traditional costumes are still a popular choice, Hollywood-inspired characters are expected to make an appearance at parties everywhere, according to the 2010 Top Costumes survey, released this week by the National Retail Federation. Buzz Lightyear, Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland made the list, while the unbranded witch, vampire, pirate, nurse and wench, respectively, are the top five picks for adults. That's not surprising, since classic costumes are always easier and cheaper to obtain. In fact, the NRF said that while more people than ever plan to dress up for Halloween, they'll be looking for ways to save money in doing so. The leading costumes for kids are generic princess, Spider-Man, witch, pirate and Disney princess. "Aiming to attract shoppers of all ages, retailers have already begun stocking their shelves with a wide variety of costumes," per the NRF. And let's not forget our furry friends. You'll see plenty of pets dressed as pumpkins, devils, witches and hot dogs. I've already seen several retailers capitalizing on that four-legged demo.

Oh, Betty Crocker Warm Delights, why must you tease me so?

By Elaine Wong on Thu Sep 30 2010

We can all relate to those moments of impatience when we're waiting for our favorite baked treat to warm up. That's the thinking in some new ads for General Mills's Betty Crocker Warm Delights brand, showing three women making faces on the other side of a microwave window. ("Just add water and microwave," the product's instructions say.) The ads (each woman has her own spot, in addition to the combo spot shown here), by McCann Erickson in New York, mark the brand's first return to TV advertising in more than a year. They're part of the Betty Crocker baked goods brand's strategy to tap into the recession-driven comfort and indulgent foods trend. It's also accompanied by a Facebook sampling push, as well as an interactive game that encourages "me time!" Now, that's exactly what BrandFreak needs. Wait, there's another story to cover?

Don't use Hunt's tomatoes? George Duran will chop you down

By Elaine Wong on Thu Sep 30 2010

Does it really matter what brand of canned tomatoes you use? Hunt's obviously thinks so. The ConAgra Foods brand this week broke a new series of spots as part of its ongoing "Crash Kitchen Tour" campaign by SapientNitro, featuring George Duran. This time, the celebrity chef stops by a Long Island firehouse and shows the chief how to make "real" lasagna. He whips out a can of Hunt's Flash Steam canned tomatoes after first chopping the chief's can with an ax. A second spot, "Supermarket," sees Duran serving up generous portions of food cooked with Hunt's tomatoes to shoppers. "Oh, my goodness!" one delighted sampler exclaims. The effort is intended to help the brand "break through in a category where folks are complacent with their choice," says Hunt's senior brand manager Colleen Bailey. Duran, apparently, is also scheduled to "crash" a December episode of TLC's Cake Boss. We wouldn't be surprised it he came up with a tomato-based cake recipe.

Ads position Goldman Sachs as good friend to the ordinary man

By David Kiefaber on Thu Sep 30 2010


What Wall Street has done to this country in the name of profit is evil enough without Goldman Sachs trying to ease public acrimony by launching a feel-good ad campaign about themselves. Their theory is that no one likes them anymore because no one really understands what they do, so they want to fix that. The first print ad (full image after the jump) is an exhibition of shamelessness that Kroger Babb would cluck his tongue at. Set against a backdrop of politically expedient wind turbines, the ad suggests Goldman Sachs provides startup capital for honest, hard-working people who want to make the world a better place. Other ads will focus on what the company does for a variety of clients, including corporations, institutions and smiling rubes like us. It's quite a different show than they put on 10 years ago, when they were a plucky investment bank, and it doesn't shed any light on their trading and principal investment strategies, either. So, this whole thing amounts to the company giving itself the Momcorp treatment. Whatever keeps them ahead of the law, I guess, but it's going to take a long, long time for this to gain any traction. To quote one of the many critical commenters, "[Goldman Sachs] advises its clients to buy financial instruments while betting against them with its own money. I don't really need to know more than that."

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Frightful changes are in store for Chipotle's Halloween giveaway

By Todd Wasserman on Wed Sep 29 2010


Fans of Halloween promotions and bad puns will be saddened to hear that this year, Chipotle is overhauling its long-running "Boo-rito" giveaway. Under the promo, as many college students know, you get a free burrito if you show up at a Chipotle location dressed as one. But Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle's CMO, told attendees at an Advertising Week session on Wednesday that Boo-rito will look different this year. For one thing, you now have to dress up like a processed food item (a Twinkie, for example) to claim the prize. For another, you have to pony up $2 as well. The cash goes to fund a Jamie Oliver charity (Crumpacker didn't specify which one). The nominal charge and the more challenging costume will no doubt result in fewer freeloaders this year. Crumpacker said the promo costs Chipotle about $3 million. We say: Boo!

Ben & Jerry's agrees to stop labeling its ice cream as 'all natural'

By David Kiefaber on Wed Sep 29 2010


Ben & Jerry's is no longer promoting its ice cream as "all natural," thanks to some meddling by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who told the company last month that "all-natural" food doesn't contain alkalized cocoa, corn syrup, hydrogenated oil or similar ickies. How they came to this decision is uncertain, as the FDA hasn't made any real effort to define "natural," but Ben & Jerry's agreed to remove the "all-natural" label anyway. I personally don't care what's in Americone Dream as long as the taste doesn't change, and I'm probably better off not knowing (which is also how I feel about most cajun food). I suppose it is weird to claim you have all-natural flavors when there's no real consensus on what those are, but I can't see people caring too much. The suburban eco-hippies who flock to Ben & Jerry's have been projecting their beliefs on the company for too long to stop now. Via Consumerist.

Domino's testing breakfast pizza on (who else?) college students

By T.L. Stanley on Wed Sep 29 2010


Pizza for breakfast has always been good in a greasy, morning-after kind of way. But Domino's, the folks who brought us the Oreo-cookie pizza a few years back, is aiming at (no surprise here) the college crowd with an a.m. version of its p.m. staple. The breakfast pizza, now sold at one franchise near the University of Dayton in Ohio, consists of cheese and eggs on a pizza crust, plus toppings like sausage, jalapenos, ham, bacon and onions. Kind of like a flat omelet with a lot more carbs. It costs $7.99 at the restaurant, which is supposedly the only 24-hour Domino's in the country. (It also serves coffee and orange juice for the early risers and all-nighters.) The marketer is keeping an eye on sales to see if the product could expand to other locations. I wonder if this was an exhaustively researched offering or an opportunistic one, predicated on the reality that students will eat almost anything. I guess we'll find out over time, if Domino's has to admit one day that the breakfast pizza sucked.

Homemade iPad video allows the device to be fun, not just cool

By David Kiefaber on Tue Sep 28 2010

Apple's marketing concept for the iPad thus far has relied on two concepts: a) that a simple demonstration of the product will sell it, given Apple's strong brand presence, and b) that a high-pitched audio frequency can drive college students and yuppies insane with capitalistic desire. Well, that second bit is pure speculation, but it's true that Apple is relying on faith in its product lineup as a whole to sell this new addition to it. God knows, selling iPads on their own merits ("It's a big iPhone that doesn't make calls, and none of the apps carry over!") would be an uphill challenge. But videos like the one above demonstrate a different side to the iPad, one that suggests Apple products are as fun as they are cool. It's an angle that Apple should foster. Its "Mac v. PC" series, while popular, became insipid enough to trigger a backlash, so its aren't-we-clever promotional attitude has clearly run its course. And it can't coast on reputation forever, cult of personality or not. So, the idea that its products are fun and inspire, as well as facilitate, creativity—touched on in past campaigns, but always trumped by the "cool" factor—might be a good approach to keep them distinct from competitors who mostly focus on productivity.

Anheuser-Busch decides it will just give Budweiser away for free

By Rebecca Cullers on Tue Sep 28 2010


Flagging sales have caused Budweiser to declare Wednesday as "Budweiser National Happy Hour." Bud will hand out free samples from six ounces all the way up to 12, where the law allows, in "trendy bars and eateries." The goal is to appeal to the under-30 set who, according to Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Co., have adopted craft beer the way Gen X adopted wine. Bud's ranking among national product brands (not just beer) has dropped from 16th in 2003 to 220th in 2010, and Budweiser unit sales were down 9 percent last year. At the same time, craft-beer sales rose 9 percent in the first half of 2010, and craft brews nearly doubled their market share in 2009 (from 4 percent to 7 percent). Of course, free beer is only Bud's latest strategy. I think Anheuser-Busch will see a lot more success in continuing to buy small craft brews and distribute them without any Budweiser mention. Shock Top and Hop Hound, two of A-B's suds, are rebranded craft brews. Even if it's free, the only way you'll get die-hard craft fanatics like me to try Bud again is to change the recipe.

Ready to star in Disney's upcoming family-memories campaign?

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Sep 28 2010

Starring in an upcoming ad campaign for Disney theme parks? You and me! Well, maybe you, but probably not me, since I can't be dragged kicking and screaming to Disneyland even though I live less than 30 miles away. Happiest place on Earth? Not on Christmas Day! I still break out in a cold sweat thinking about that jam-packed peoplepalooza from a few years back. Never. Again. But back to the marketing. Under the tagline, "Let the memories begin," Disney will project images of your family, shot at the parks by Disney photographers or gathered via social media, onto the sides of iconic buildings like Cinderella's Castle and the It's a Small World ride. The campaign, kicking off in January, will also fan out to TV, print and online, says the Los Angeles Times. So, when torturing your friends with your vacation antics just isn't enough, there's this option. I predict a massive turnout because no one would want to see a larger-than-life snap of you than, well, you.



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