Latest Jimi Hendrix experience now available in a children's book

By Robert Klara on Thu Dec 9 2010


The name Jimi Hendrix makes you think of a lot of things: Woodstock, tie-dye, his iconoclastic rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner"—and, of course, that neat little trick with the lighter fluid at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, when Hendrix burned up a perfectly nice Stratocaster. But one thing the legendary guitarist will probably not remind you of is ... a children's book.
  But why not? Just in time for the holiday shopping season, author Gary Golio has produced Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow, a 32-page kids' book that evokes the life of the young Hendrix back in 1956, when he was poor, living in a Seattle boarding house and trying to recreate a world "colored with sounds" (and on a ukulele, no less).
  Yeah, we know. A psychedelic rocker who died of a drug overdose is probably not on the A-list for some parents hoping to inspire their progeny. But Golio told NPR that the young Hendrix's story "reflects all the values we want to teach our children," such as persistence and having goals. Meanwhile, the book reflects one of marketing's most durable truisms: Celebs really never die; they just keep selling.

'Wimpy Kid' book series supported with not-so-wimpy marketing

By T.L. Stanley on Mon Aug 9 2010


If you thought wimpy kids were to be seen and not heard, then you're not yet aware of the latest juggernaut franchise dedicated to painful adolescence. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, the fifth book written by Jeff Kinney, will print a whopping 5 million copies, the largest batch so far in the bestselling Amulet Books series (35 million sold so far!). It launches Nov. 9, but there's a 52-city promotion kicking off this weekend that will encourage youngsters to pre-order their copies. They can also cool off with purple-colored ice cream treats from branded trucks making stops at boutique and big-box retailers. (The new book has purple as its cover theme.) The tour—which will also give away more than 25,000 books to nonprofit group First Book, which provides new books to low-income families—launches in New York on Sunday as part of Macy's Herald Square back-to-school summer blowout. All this happily (but not coincidentally) coincides with the DVD release of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid film, with TV media buys from Twentieth Century Fox giving it national exposure, which comes on the heels of The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary. A compilation, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Box of Books, goes on sale in September, and there's a second feature film in the works. The first grossed a respectable $60 million in the U.S. For being a pipsqueak, this kid is flexing some serious muscle.

Why are humans so immensely, insanely obsessed with Legos?

Posted on Thu Apr 22 2010


Chances are you've seen the lengths to which the human race is capable of going with a Lego brick. If not, here's a primer. Among the objects people have managed to render in Lego are the Titanic, Mount Rushmore, the Airbus A380, the Cathedral of Berlin and the entire city of Venice. Legoland, Calif., features an Obama inauguration in Lego, complete with a crowd in front of the Capitol. A vineyard in Surrey, England, contains an entire Lego house—human scale. And a 98-foot, 4-inch tower of Lego raised in Munich last year took the Guinness record for tallest freestanding Lego structure.
  Lots of people love their brands, but you just don't see people devoting their lives to stuff like mouthwash or potato chips the way people do with Lego. Now, thanks to Jonathan Bender, we know what makes them tick. Bender's just-released book, Lego: A Love Story, probes deep into the arcana of plastic bricks—also known as the domain of AFOL (the Adult Fans of Lego)—to explain why some people give over their basements to their Lego creations and what it takes to be chosen as a Master Builder for the Lego company (hint: you'd better know how to make more than a ski hut).
  Bender's first-person account makes for good reading, but what bears mentioning in all this is that a planet's worth of Lego nuts have furnished the Lego Corporation—which started out in Denmark as a wooden-toy maker in 1934—with the best marketing on earth: the kind customers do for you, for free.

—Posted by Robert Klara

Lessons in manhood from Neil Patrick Harris's sitcom character

Posted on Mon Nov 2 2009


Since Pepsi caved to criticism and pulled its "Amp Up Before You Score" iPhone app, where's a guy to turn for advice on stalking the fairer sex? Barney Stinson, the lovable cad of How I Met Your Mother fame, can fill those shoes. In a fortuitous bit of timing, Fox Licensing is launching the second book based on the womanizing yet somehow lovable character, played by Neil Patrick Harris, from the hit Monday-night CBS sitcom. Bro on the Go, a follow-up to the bestseller, The Bro Code, hits shelves Nov. 3 with advice both practical ("Lingering around the children's play area to scope out the hot young moms is a good idea in theory only") and philosophical ("A watched bikini top never malfunctions"). It's not all about the ladies, with Stinson covering a variety of topics and sharing "the reflective wisdom and inspirational nuggets mined through the daily grind of being awesome," says the book's press materials. The sequel, a rare literary brand extension for a scripted comedy, comes from show writer Matt Kuhn, who created the character and also writes Barney's Blog (where he compared being monogamous with male jean shorts on the so-wrong scale). Read up!

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Advertising on flies: Is it clever, creepy, cruel or all of the above?

Posted on Fri Oct 30 2009

Ever wish you could be fly on a wall and listen in on a competing agency's strategy meetings? I doubt you will ever again after seeing what Jung von Matt came up with for Eichborn, a publishing company out in Germany. The agency claims to be (and I'm sure it is) the first in the world to use flies as a method of advertising. It attached tiny banners to the flies with a short waxy string, which eventually disintegrates. The paper was designed to be nearly weightless so the insect can still fly but at lower heights and a slower speed. They're also forced to rest more, often on or near people. I don't know whether this marketing ploy is creepy or clever, but seeing the people's reaction shows it does work. I wonder which other companies would dare to try this—perhaps perfume manufacturers who want to attract people that stink, or maybe some advocacy group that wants to grab people's attention about pollution, famine and disease. PETA always has disturbing marketing but I doubt this would fly (pun intended) with them. Is it animal cruelty? Perhaps a fly toting a banner would be less likely to get swatted, though. Watching the insects zig zag like a drunken sailor, I sincerely hope this method of marketing does not catch on. What's next, the revival of the carrier pigeon business?

—Posted by Phil Mathew

What do naming gurus think of Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader?

Posted on Wed Oct 21 2009


Barnes & Noble finally unveiled its e-reader this week, and while techies will no doubt pore over the specs, branding types will be more interested in the name. Nook? My first connection was the Nook Gase in a bookcase from Dr. Seuss. Others pointed out that if you say "Nook e-reader" quickly, it sounds like "nookie reader." Danny Altman, creative director of the naming firm A Hundred Monkeys, admits Nook does sound a bit dirty, but he thinks it's a good name overall. "We think it's the top of all e-reader names out there so far," he said. He points out that a reading nook "is a place where you can be in your own little world." John Hoeppner, president of NameQuest, also liked the name, calling it a "short, easy-to-spell, one-syllable word that will be memorable to consumers," though he noted it may have more appeal to consumers over 30, as younger ones may snicker at the "nookie" connotation. Tom Sepanski, director of naming at Landor Associates, also said Nook is a winner. "With Nook, it appears B&N is trying to improve on the Kindle blueprint," he said. "Both names quickly associate with a love of reading and feel friendly, warm and true to their respective brands. Where Kindle is about trying something new, Nook is more familiar and comfortable." Athel Foden, president of Brighter Naming, said Nook is a great name. "Soon there will be a lot of e-readers, and who will everyone remember? Kindle and Nook!" And what about the name Kindle? Altman is lukewarm on it. In a blog post in August, he said the name "conveys some lovely ideas about maybe little children or starting a fire, but in a very odd package. Perhaps there's a disconnect between the warmth of the name and the cold, hard, ugly plastic of the device." But he likes it better than some other e-reader names. The Ectaco jetBook "sounds like it would be at home at an ATV rally," he writes, and the iRex iLiad  "sounds like ancient Greece with dinosaurs. It's right up there with my wife's Helen of Troy Cool Shot 1600 electric hair dryer." Best of all is the Foxit eSlick, which, Altman wrote, "is available wherever condoms are sold."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Classic literature getting repackaged to appeal to 'Twilight' fans

Posted on Mon Aug 31 2009


Take a classic piece of literature, add some monsters and create an everything-old-is-new-again phenomenon. It worked for the Jane Austen-meets-horror-flick mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and will surely spawn another hit with the upcoming release of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. So, why not use a hunky modern vampire to sell Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights? The novel, cited in the Twilight series as the favorite read of undead heartthrob Edward Cullen and his human soulmate Bella Swan, has gotten a sleek new cover and tagline, "Love never dies," in the U.K. "Love the Twilight books? Then you'll adore Wuthering Heights, one of the greatest love stories ever told," says the synopsis at retailer Waterstone, where the tragic novel has sold 10,000 copies, doubling the usual Penguin Classic sales and becoming the year's best-selling classic. It's a brilliant bit of coattail marketing, not to mention deft repackaging. But the 1847 story ain't no Twilight. Feedback has harped on the "bitterness and pain" in the classic, with tweens finding out there's no happily ever after for Cathy and Heathcliff. Love bites, indeed.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Another Idiot Uses Jackson's Death to Peddle His Book

Posted on Tue Jul 7 2009

Idot's Guide to Wills If Joe Jackson can use his son Michael's death as a platform to pimp his new business venture, that makes it kind of tough -- but still justified -- to wag the finger at others doing the same. This one caught my eye today, sent via news release, which launched with the statement: "The unfolding of Michael Jackson's will and estate, and the confusion surrounding it, is a stark reminder of the importance of providing a plan for those we leave behind."

Yes, it's a shill for The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wills and Estates from Penguin Group and its author, Stephen Maples, who is "available to comment on the process Michael Jackson's family or others will have to contend with" when a loved one unexpectedly kicks.

Not to assume that the fourth edition of this tome doesn't contain lots of useful tidbits about taxes and trusts, but come on, people. Looks like somebody needs to pick up a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Etiquette.

—Posted by T. L. Stanley

Wal-Mart in a teenage-girl-like frenzy over 'Twilight' retail deal

Posted on Tue Feb 17 2009

Twilight copy

Wal-Mart, prepare for a fang-girl onslaught.
  The retailer has sealed a deal with Summit Entertainment to be the home of all things Twilight: the upcoming DVD, the posters of dreamy vamp Robert Pattinson, the goth-inspired jewelry and clothes, the best-selling teen-targeted book series and other tchotchkes. Wal-Mart plans dedicated Twilight stores-within-stores, and has set up a Web site to take pre-orders on the DVD (check out the countdown clock ticking down to March 21) and let fans chat and see behind-the-scenes footage of the film.
  Stephenie Meyer's four Twilight books have collectively sold more than 40 million copies. The movie was a sleeper hit last fall for new Hollywood mini-studio Summit. Its $70 million opening weekend was the highest ever recorded for a female director (Catherine Hardwicke), and the regular-girl-falls-for-smoking-hot-vampire tale has collected a staggering $357 million worldwide. A sequel, based on the second book, New Moon, will hit multiplexes in the fall. In the meantime, Wal-Mart stands to benefit from all that hormone-charged energy. It has to go somewhere.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley



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