KFC could bring some fried festivities to your town this season

By David Kiefaber on Fri Dec 10 2010


Not content with writing sandwich names on college girls' butts or dangling scholarship money in front of high-school tweeters, KFC is heading to the streets to promote its 12-piece Festive Feast meal. They've picked Dec. 21, the gloomiest day of the year, to distribute mini-buckets full of gift cards around whichever city deserves it the most—that will be determined by fans writing in to explain (in 300 words or less) why they deserve a visit from Colonel Santa. You might win your town $20,000 (that seems to be a magic number for KFC) in prizes. There's even a "So Good" Santa who will give out the prizes—he's a Colonel Sanders look-alike who will be dressed as Santa, so he'll wind up sorta looking like this. It's nice that KFC is putting so much effort into this marketing stunt, but they'll need to change up their requirements pretty soon. We can only petition our benevolent overlords for handouts so often before the novelty wears off.

Hollywood A-list actors can't hide their overseas ads any longer

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Dec 2 2010

Once upon a time, A-list American actors like George Clooney and Brad Pitt starred in ads that were intended to be seen only overseas, a practice that lined their pockets but didn't ding their personal brands at home. Over time, we all figured out how it worked. Conan O'Brien had some fun with the concept in a meta Super Bowl spot for Bud Light, and before that, Bill Murray gave us the Lost in Translation spin. Nowadays, anytime a celeb shills for a product, we're all likely to see video evidence of it immediately, even if we're not the target. Case in point: Julia Roberts plays a mute and radiant Venus in a new Italian commercial for A Modo Mio coffee. Since I don't speak Italian, I'm guessing from the context that she likes the brew enough to smile, laugh and wink in response to a taste test. For a reported $1.5 million payday, she's pretty convincing. It's no Alec Baldwin and mom strolling through Wegman's, but it'll do.

Starbucks celebrates season of sharing with big fake snowflakes

By David Kiefaber on Thu Dec 2 2010

Starbucks heralds the beginning of winter with this snowflake kite ad, complete with an indie-pop song by Matt Pond PA. The ad directs viewers to a 12 Days of Sharing site, which is basically an advent calendar of daily special offers. You can also watch a video by the Killers and prompt a 5-cent donation to the (Red) campaign. All of which is quite festive, and sweeps Starbucks' recent price rise under the rug. But no matter. It'll take more than a $2 tall coffee to scare the Starbucks faithful away.

Alec Baldwin does awkward yet charming TV spots for Wegmans

By T.L. Stanley on Wed Nov 24 2010

Many of us prefer to think of Alec Baldwin these days in his 30 Rock/Jack Donaghy context, unleashing a barrage of cutting quips that keep Liz Lemon and The Girlie Show gang on their toes. (And I mean this as opposed to, say, his stint as The Marrying Man.) But even a big TV star has to pay the bills (he's a divorced support-paying man now, after all), so Baldwin is shilling for the northeast-based grocery chain Wegmans. It seems his mom, Carol, is a fan, a fact that Baldwin mentioned during a David Letterman appearance not long ago. Wegmans picked up the reference and used it to recruit Baldwin and the family matriarch for a series of commercials that are pedestrian, kind of awkward and yet charming all at the same time. That's a good hat trick even for the Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming. See a second spot here.

McDonald's wants you to talk about the McRib more than eat it

By David Kiefaber on Wed Nov 24 2010


One drawback of being a global megabrand like McDonald's is that it's hard to get people excited about you. Consistency, it seems, breeds stagnation over time. That's why there's so much social-media focus on the McRib this time around—it stimulates conversation, so why not make that process easier for consumers? Whether or not they buy, or even like, the sandwich is irrelevant; it's less expensive than creating a new menu item, and it keeps McDonald's fresh in the minds of people who've already decided to eat out. The beauty of the McRib is that, whether people love it or think it's gross (and that's a fairly even split), it gets them talking. Plus, the McRib hasn't been on the menu since 1994, so there's an entire generation of fast-food junkies who've never had one, and some of them probably haven't even heard of it. Now, maybe if we eat enough McRibs, they'll bring back the Arch Deluxe.

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.

Junk-food benefit of the week: Sprite could help cancer patients

By David Kiefaber on Tue Nov 16 2010


Can Sprite cure cancer? Well, no. But according to new research, it can help cancer patients absorb drugs prescribed to them during treatment, depending on the acidity of the patient's stomach. Or it could make matters worse. Like many pieces of medical journalism, this article is woefully unclear. Either way, researchers at Eli Lilly mixed an oral cancer drug with Captisol (to improve the drugs' solubility) and flat Sprite in an artificial stomach, and found that the Sprite "regulated the acidity in the stomach so as to allow the body to absorb more of the cancer drug." Skeptics claim there are too many biological intangibles to suggest that Sprite actually helps cancer patients, plus it's only uncarbonated Sprite that works. Not exactly the best endorsement for a refreshing beverage, I would say. I don't see Sprite capitalizing on this anytime soon, which is for the best. Junk-food ads are bad enough—on the rare occasion that they make health claims, they get even worse. And I do not want Thirst the Creepy Action Figure claiming he can cure cancer.

Ah, what a lovely Coca-Cola holiday ad. Shame about the music

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Nov 11 2010

A few weeks ago, it was just a crappy song with no pictures. Now, Train's latest single—the one we told you about recently that was written for Coca-Cola's holiday campaign—is the soundtrack to a full-blown ad. With Santa! The spot, dubbed "Snow Globes," shown here, is everything you'd expect from a Christmas commercial, including a cute dog, a kissing couple and a family gathering. If it weren't for that inane ditty! Anyway, it's going global, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. The seasonal marketing effort came from Coke's international teams, Coca-Cola Germany and McCann, Madrid. And for Train fans out there, "Shake Up Happiness" is being released as a single, or you can get it as a "bonus" on the band's latest CD. I will plug my ears accordingly. Bah, humbug!

ConAgra Banquet pies are mother's little helper in new campaign

By Elaine Wong on Thu Oct 21 2010


Can a frozen pie really end sibling rivalry (if only for a few minutes)? Can it get a hungry child to do her homework? ConAgra claims so. The maker of Hunt's tomatoes and Reddi-wip has kicked off a new campaign for Banquet that touts the brand's ability to relate to moms' real-life dilemmas. (Talk about pulling one's hair out!) Ads show how Banquet makes life easier via its value proposition (under a buck for one pie) and convenience. Ads will run in publications like Family Circle, Woman's Day and People. And while we're not entirely convinced this is the modern-day miracle meal, anything that makes a mom's day go by easier is surely worth a shot. Second ad after the jump.

Continue reading "ConAgra Banquet pies are mother's little helper in new campaign" »

Want to get married at McDonald's? Soon, you could be in luck

By T.L. Stanley on Fri Oct 15 2010


You can set up a wedding registry at the 99 Cents Only store. So, why not complete the white-trash/recession-minded circle with a wedding at McDonald's? Too bad such a thing is not in the U.S. just yet, but the fast-food restaurant will start offering wedding packages in its Hong Kong locations early next year. Ronald McDonald might even show up! (Just don't ask him to officiate. He hasn't done the Internet preacher course yet.) Reps said they started the wedding program in response to "about 10 calls a month" from people who wanted to celebrate their nuptials under the Golden Arches. Not one to let a business opportunity pass, McDonald's is setting up packages that include "cakes" made of burgers or apple pies, and French fries to be used, Lady and the Tramp style, for the happy couple's kiss. McMazel tov!



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