KFC offers $20,000 in college money to best high-school tweeter

By David Kiefaber on Thu Nov 18 2010


I've never considered KFC an institution that values learning (they're barely an institution that values food), but they must think differently. After all, they're offering a $20,000 Colonel's Scholars scholarship to the high-school senior who tweets the most compelling case for deserving it. The 140-character limit includes the #KFCScholar hashtag, by the way. The winner, who must be a high-school senior with a minimum 2.75 GPA, will get up to $5,000 a year to put toward an accredited public university in their home state. That more or less amounts to free college, unless the winner lives in California. KFC isn't the first organization to give away college money through Twitter—CollegeScholarships.org introduced a tweet-based award last year—but it's hard to measure creativity, need and drive (KFC's three required elements) in 140 characters. In fact, one could surmise that winning the scholarship would have more to do with dumb luck than actual merit. Still, if you're going to enter this contest, telling them how much you love their food probably won't help you. You'll be better off telling them how good you'll look in those Double Down sweatpants.

'Playboy' holding Willy-Wonka-esque contest with golden tickets

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Nov 16 2010


There may just be an R-rated Superbad-meets-Willy-Wonka movie in here somewhere. Playboy top dog Hugh Hefner has announced a contest that will give out 10 "golden tickets" to readers of the venerable magazine. Those who root out those pieces of paper, stuffed into newsstand copies around the country, will win a VIP trip to the infamous Playboy Mansion for a Midsummer Night's Dream party next August (which is more like late summer, but let's not nitpick). Should we expect fans to go on massive buying and hoarding sprees, like they did for those Wonka chocolate bars? Hef, who's riding herd over a financially ailing empire, can dream. Playboy.com, which is tracking the sweepstakes, says no one found any tickets over the weekend, but the pub just went on sale Friday. There's still plenty of time for people to paw through their copies and start planning their grotto-centric vacations. Hef has never opened up the Los Angeles manse to readers before, though the stunt will only admit a handful of (potential) riffraff. They'll hardly stand out at all.

Smirnoff jumps into reality television with a traveling DJ contest

By David Kiley on Thu Oct 7 2010


Reality TV is hitting the rocks. More precisely, Smirnoff is sponsoring a new show airing on African American entertainment channel Centric, and rebroadcast on BET, called Master of the Mix. The obvious product tie-in with vodka will pit DJ against DJ in cities throughout the world in the quest to crown "The Hottest DJ in the World."
  The show, produced by GTM and Ben Silverman's Electus studio, is hosted by Just Blaze and Kid Capri. The competition kicks off at the DJ's "base camp" for the show, a luxurious home in the Hollywood Hills, and quickly moves to Nevada, where the DJs spin at The People's Challenge, a massive vodka-tasting event for Smirnoff at the Tao nightclub in Las Vegas. From there, the show follows the DJs from city to city—and party to party—including Miami, Los Angeles, New York and London, where contestants will put their skills to the test in a series of challenges.

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Detroit's Victorious Secrets named FreeCreditScore's new band

By David Kiefaber on Thu Aug 12 2010

As Experian's FreeCreditReport.com becomes FreeCreditScore.com, the company decided to pick a new band for its ads, too. But don't worry, the new guys are just as annoying as the old guys were. Detroit pop-rock outfit the Victorious Secrets, who attended the Be Sharps school of band naming, were voted the new FreeCreditScore house band after an online contest. Company spokesman Chris Moloney thinks the new group will catch on, boldly asserting that "America will embrace them just as the voters have." If they don't, it won't be for lack of effort. The Secrets will star in a $10-15 million ad campaign, with a series of TV spots from The Martin Agency (like this one posted here) set to debut during the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. I can see the wisdom in strapping a new band to a new marketing effort for a new site, and as much as I may pick on the Victorious Secrets, their music is harmless and tuneful enough to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers. Plus, musicians have to eat and pay rent, too. So as far as literal rebrandings go, no one can accuse Experian of doing things by halves.

'Runway' winner Christian Siriano now making cleaning sponges

Posted on Fri Jun 25 2010


Who says the winners of Project Runway don't go on to have illustrious careers? Case in point is Christian Siriano, the spike-haired twiggy boy who singularly launched the "fierce" craze and then proceeded to drive it into the ground by season's end. He's now designing household cleaning products! In collaboration with 3M's O-Cel-O, he's giving "a fierce makeover" to the everyday scrub sponge (the marketers' description, obviously not mine). There's a "Clean With Style" contest attached, in which consumers can win a trip to New York's Fashion Week in spring 2011 to hang with Siriano backstage and ostensibly quiz him on his foray into absorbent products. This is Siriano's third high-profile design project following a line of aggressive stilettos at Payless and a gift card at Starbucks (which, by the way, had a lovely charitable overlay that put ill youngsters in designer duds). At least his heart's in the right place. Not sure where his brand-building chops are, though.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Semifinalists crank it up in search for next FreeCreditScore band

Posted on Tue Jun 8 2010


It's no secret that Experian is saying goodbye to its FreeCreditReport.com band. The credit bureau is searching for a replacement band as it reinvents itself as FreeCreditScore.com. The band search was announced last month, and this week 12 semifinalists have been chosen from live performances held in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Visitors to FreeCreditScoreBand.com are asked to vote for four finalists. The company is accepting online video submissions through June 16—it has collected 31 so far—and bands from that pool can be voted into the final round, too. Then things will really get competitive, as Experian dangles a $10,000 prize and the opportunity to become the next face of FreeCreditScore.com, among other rewards. Based on the feedback we received to a story I wrote on Brandweek.com, consumers aren't exactly thrilled about the departure of the old band. Those guys have apparently made a long-lasting impression, and Experian must now face a bunch of unhappy groupies.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

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

Nerf fans offered an unlikely path to glory via advertising contest

Posted on Tue May 18 2010


Not only is Hasbro honoring tradition by letting users provide content for its Nerf brand, they're honoring tradition by acting like they were the first people to think of it. Nerf Battle of the Ads gives Nerf fans a chance to "show off their creativity, athleticism and teamwork" by making their own ads and uploading them to the contest's special website. In their breathless enthusiasm, they stop just short of calling their fan base lifelong virgins by noting that "Nerf fans are not only very passionate, but incredibly creative when it comes to showing off their growing collections, product reviews and battle styles." An unintentional slight, of course, but the Internet has attached red flags to phrases like "very passionate." Also, "battle styles." Still, Hasbro's contest looks fun—they supply background music, special effects and official Nerf logos to participants—and the winner gets $10,000 whether the ad airs on TV or not. And most important, it's not nearly as degrading as writing songs about a cheeseburger.

—Posted by David Kiefaber

Two colors, a visual hint and a cryptic clue. Now guess the brand

Posted on Thu Mar 4 2010


We come across brand logos every day—in stores, in advertising, on the products we use. But would you be able to recognize a brand simply by its colors? That's the point of The Brand Quiz, created by brand asset management firm VYRE Unify. The quiz asks you to guess 21 different brands. But here's the catch: You only get to see its colors along with a couple of cryptic clues. There are no logos or brand names provided. I scored best when I encountered colors that I see in logos on a daily basis, like Starbucks, for instance. Now it's your turn. Take the quiz and see if you're a brand guru.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Whatever happened to the farm boy from the Rosetta Stone ad?

Posted on Thu Jan 14 2010


Rosetta Stone, which sells foreign-language learning software online, is asking you to continue the story. What story? You know, the one from the print ad with the "hard working farm boy" who plans to impress the Italian supermodel by learning—you guessed it—Italiano. (Ian Frazier wrote a pretty funny piece about it in The New Yorker.) The company has launched a contest asking consumers to help write "the next chapter in the farm boy's story." The contest materials say: "Maybe he married the Italian supermodel. Or opened a gelato stand in Venice. … [Or] got homesick and brought his love of language back to the farm. It's all up to you and your imagination." The creatively inclined have until Jan. 29 to submit their "perfect ending" (in photo, text or video form). Visitors to the site will vote for their favorite, and the top five vote-getters will get a year's subscription to the Rosetta Stone Totale comprehensive online language-learning service.

—Posted by Elaine Wong



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