Venture looks to make a legitimate buck off Bob Marley's image

Posted on Wed Feb 11 2009

Bob-marley copy

Hilco Consumer Capital will invest $20 million in a joint licensing venture with Bob Marley's relatives called House of Marley. Under the deal, the reggae singer/songwriter's image, trademarks and themes, which have been appropriated by all sorts of people over the years, will be extended to official lines of apparel, food and other items. A Jamaican beer called Marley Lager, for instance, will feature the singer's likeness on bottles. Even video games are in the works. The House of Marley will offer licensees the rights to sell products under the Bob Marley, Tuff Gong, Catch A Fire and One Love brands. Headphones, snowboards, posters and screensavers are some of the other categories Hilco suggests as a good fit for the Rastafarian icon, who died in 1981. May we also humbly suggest ... swim trunks?

—Posted by Becky Ebenkamp

Kellogg achieves the impossible: getting lazy stoners motivated

Posted on Tue Feb 10 2009

In dropping Michael Phelps as a spokesman, Kellogg has incurred the wrath of an unlikely bunch: stoners. The Marijuana Policy Project issued a statement on Monday accusing the cereal maker of hypocrisy. MPP executive director Rob Kampia said in a statement: "Kellogg's had no problem signing Phelps when he had a conviction for drunk driving, an illegal act that could have killed someone. To drop him for choosing to relax with a substance that's safer than beer is an outrage."
  The group, which allegedly has 26,000 members, warned that its supporters will no longer purchase any Kellogg products. "Our members are angrier than I've ever seen them," says Kampia. Presumably that's because they can no longer satisfy their munchies fix with Rice Krispies Treats, Cheez-Its, Pop Tarts, Eggo waffles or those cookies with the trippy little elves.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

US Airways, Michael Phelps: some watery lessons in crisis PR

Posted on Tue Feb 3 2009

Usairways-phelps

What do Michael Phelps and US Airways flight 1549 have in common? They're both recent cases of post-crisis brand management—the freshwater variety—that could have been handled a wee bit better.
  Flight 1549 ditched in the Hudson on Jan. 15 after taking a few too many goose feathers to the intake compressors. Phelps is the swimmer who can hold his breath just long enough to take a big gulp of bong air, according to that incriminating photo that hit the Web this week. OK, so, two brands, two big problems. Let's see how they both followed (or not) the two golden rules of crisis PR: 1) Admit wrongdoing with no excuses, and 2) Make serious amends—fast.
  Case 1: US Airways did issue solemn press releases (ones that, mysteriously, only referred to the "accident" and never once mentioned the words "water" or "river," but never mind). When it came time to making nice-nice to the passengers, though, the offer of first-class standby status, good until March 2010, seemed (how to put this?) somewhat low-tariff. As one survivor told the New York Post: "You're going to crash me into the water … and all I get is an upgrade?"
  Case 2: In a public statement, Phelps admitted that his November inhalation of loco weed represented "bad judgment." But then he used his age as an excuse: "I'm 23 years old" and acted "in a youthful and inappropriate way," he carped. (No doubt, dude—but you've got $100 million in endorsements at stake.)
  Fortunately for Phelps, there's still a little time. "I would like to see him tell his fans, many of whom are children, that he made a big mistake—and he should mean it," veteran PR man Sam Chapman tells BrandFreak. "The key to successful crisis communications is being authentic."
  Put that in your pipe and ... y'know.

—Posted by Robert Klara


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