Kraft testing a new Mac & Cheese product cooked up by CP+B

By Todd Wasserman on Wed Sep 1 2010

Kraft

The latest idea for Kraft's Macaroni & Cheese was literally cooked up by Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The agency, which won the account in March, came up with a new product—a frozen version of the staple in an aluminum tray that you can throw on the grill. "We wanted dads to use it," says Bill Wright, group creative director at CP+B, "and the only way was to be able to make it so you can throw it on the barbecue grill." Wright says the grill "lends a nice, smoky flavor" to the Mac & Cheese. Kraft is currently testing the product in "very, very small release." CP+B's other work for the brand has been no less quirky. Ads, which sport the tagline, "You know you love it," play up the guilty-pleasure factor. "The most fun you can have with your stove on," reads one outdoor ad. TV spots, meanwhile, show parents screwing their kids out of their Kraft dinners. Wright says the product intro shows how CP+B thinks beyond advertising. "I don't know if you usually get product ideas from your ad agency," he says. This isn't the first time CP+B has gotten into product creation. The agency is credited, for, among other things, dreaming up Chicken Fries, now a Burger King menu staple.

Dogfish Head honors Miles Davis with a new 'Bitches Brew' brew

Posted on Tue Jun 8 2010

Bitches-brew-250

Has it really been 40 years since Miles Davis released his groundbreaking jazz-rock album Bitches Brew? No doubt Sam Calagione, who is around 41, doesn't remember the release either, but Calagione's Dogfish Head craft beer is celebrating in grand style with a Bitches Brew brew. Rising to the occasion, Bitches Brew is "a bold, dark beer that's a fusion of three threads imperial stout and one thread honey beer with gesho root, a gustatory analog to Miles's masterpiece," according to Dogfish Head's blog, which goes on to note that it pairs well with a spicy curry or chili. Calagione goes on to confess that he got the album after college and listened to it while he was crafting Dogfish Head's business plan. Good thing he wasn't listening to Goat's Head Soup.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Puma and Droga5 promise a more playful breed of mobile phone

Posted on Thu Mar 25 2010

Puma

Fashion sure has evolved. It's not enough to wear the latest sneakers or sunglasses anymore. Cell phones have become a fashion statement, too. There's the Lamborghini phone, the Prada phone and now the Puma phone. The latter is expected to launch in 10 days, according to PumaPhone.com, which houses an interactive slideshow and informational videos on the device. Puma claims it has created the "first mobile phone dedicated to encouraging an active life outside of the phone." According to the apparel company, its phone will use the latest 3G cellular technology, but also have a "playful" side, featuring applications like "icon messaging, sarcastic calculator, scratching turntable [and] easy peasy video calls." Droga5, the agency behind the Puma-phone campaign, says more than 500,000 units have been pre-ordered. Doesn't seem like a bad start, considering the overly crowded mobile phone market.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Naming experts split on whether 'iPad' is a terrible name or not

Posted on Thu Jan 28 2010

Ipad_hero

Apple's announcement of its long-awaited tablet computer yesterday was greeted by a round of quips about the name. iPad? Within minutes, the top trending topics on Twitter included "iTampon" and "iMaxiPad." Was this a blunder by this most revered of marketers? Naming gurus are split. Phillip Davis, president of Tungsten Branding, thinks Apple stumbled. "I think they've created some challenges for themselves," he tells BrandFreak. "If you're trying to create a new category, it's really important that you create a name that's proprietary. iPad doesn't do that." Fair enough, but what about the iPhone, which was similarly generic? "The product rose to the occasion," says Davis. "This one was on the bubble and really needed some help." But Hayes Roth, CMO for Landor Associates, says iPad is a great name. "It's a very smart name," says Roth, adding that the tampon connotation hadn't occurred to him. Roth says Apple owns the "i" prefix and that walking away from that nomenclature wouldn't make much sense. So, how about the iSlate then? "To me, that has concerns," says Roth. "It's a cold, cold stone, and it also takes you back to Romans chiseling into stones." A pad, by contrast, has more modern, mobile connotations, Roth says. Meanwhile, Danny Altman, CEO of A Hundred Monkeys, took the surprising view that the name doesn't really matter. "Apple has been brilliant about focusing on the only brand that matters—the big one," he says. "It has a long history of making great products with undistinguished names."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

At this point, we'll watch any old video involving the Apple tablet

Posted on Wed Jan 27 2010

Given Apple's anal zeal for secrecy, it's pretty amazing that a commercial for its iSlate has already leaked out. And who would have thought that a French tech blogger would be the first to get a hold of it? It turns out Apple is using a catchy song that bemoans, "Someday I won't exist." Odd choice. Maybe Apple wants consumers to embrace existentialism? Apple is also reaching back to the '80s for that cool multicolor paint-splatter look best exemplified in the J. Geils Band's "Freeze Frame" video. OK, OK. This is obviously a fake. Nice try, Pierre. Now let's all wait a few hours to see what Apple's really going to come up with.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Peeps show gets a little sweeter with chocolate-covered chicks

Posted on Tue Oct 6 2009

NewPeeps

Before rapper Nas turned it into an affectionate street-slang term for close friends and family, the word peeps—or rather, Peeps, with a capital "p"—referred to the iconic Easter-basket stuffer that roosted in the lush green, cellophane grass. They're still around, of course. And if we're going to show these peeps some respect, their full name is Marshmallow Peeps. Quite possibly the most confounding packaged food outside of Twinkies, Marshmallow Peeps have been made by the Just Born Candy Co. of Bethlehem, Pa., since 1953. Even if you don't care for the taste of these gritty, spongy, chick-shaped confections, they're worth studying if you're a brand manager. Over the course of nearly six decades, they've have tottered their way to legendary status without the help of celebrity spokesmen, glossy ads or pricey TV spots. By the time of their 50th anniversary in 2003, some 1.2 billion Peeps were being consumed worldwide annually. As marketers, however, the Just Born people were not just born yesterday. This Easter, the Peeps coop will get a little bigger with the addition of Chocolate Covered Peeps (both the milk and dark varieties). The cocoa chicks will "please loyal fans and entice newcomers," the company promises. Not all Peep fans will chirp about this move, however. After all, the sugar-grit feel on your tongue is an essential part of Peepdom. But gauging consumer reaction will be easy, at least. Peeps have inspired more than 155 Web sites and groups on every social-media outlet. Sorta redefines Twitter, doesn't it?

—Posted by Robert Klara

Energy drinks are fine, but you could really use energy lip balm

Posted on Fri Aug 21 2009

As sales of energy drinks have started to become more sluggish, a number of other energy categories have popped up. Energy shots in smaller portions have been doing very well of late, and there's also been the launch of energy vodkas, energy candies and now even an energy lip balm. Burner Balm today announced the launch of Energy-X. The balm claims to be healthier because it has zero calories and no added sugar or artificial sweeteners like energy drinks or energy bars have. Energy-X also claims to be more effective than regular lip balms because it can be "absorbed faster into the bloodstream and starts working immediately," per the company. It makes one wonder how long it will be before Mandy Moore's favorite product, the Red Bull Energy Douche, hits the market. Moore and FunnyOrDie.com even have a tagline ready to go: "It gives your vagina wings." Red Bull could use some new innovation these days.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

Kanye West launching the best energy drink in recorded history

Posted on Thu Apr 9 2009

Kanye-west

Kanye West is not a shy man. The self-proclaimed genius started off as an in-demand record producer. He then took matters into his own hands and became a hip-hop star in his own right. He even took down 50 Cent when both artists released their albums in the same week, and has been quoted saying he thinks it's ridiculous that comedian Bob Newhart has more Grammys than him. Kanye has since expanded his empire by creating his own travel agency at KanyeTravel.com. It was summarily voted the worst line extension of 2008. Undeterred, West is now launching an energy drink in conjunction with Guru Beverage Co. He says in a statement: "I express myself through music, fashion, art and design, and that's why I am excited to collaborate with Guru; because the brand values what I value and I can put what inspires me into this product." He joins fellow hip-hop stars Ice-T, who launched Royal Ice Malt Liquor, and the slightly more successful Crunk energy drink from Lil' Jon.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

Segway realizing most people are lazy and just want to sit down

Posted on Tue Apr 7 2009

Segwaypuma copy

The Segway scooter was a cool idea, but it's big downside was that people had to actually stand up on it—something fewer Americans are willing and/or able to do nowadays. This prototype of a new Segway vehicle, then, is much more promising. It's the P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility) prototype, and it's designed to provide efficient urban transport for people who don't want their utter laziness compromised. (General Motors is also involved in the P.U.M.A., but that doesn't necessarily mean it's doomed.) If Segway can convince people that these things are actually safe to drive, the company could reclaim its once-shining reputation as an innovator in transportation. At least until Kevin James takes the P.U.M.A. for a spin.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

UPDATE: The only people who'd be understandably miffed about P.U.M.A. at this early stage are the folks at Puma, the athletic footwear company. "It's an acronym, so they're probably protected," says Antonio Bertone, CMO at Puma, who adds that he's gotten "about 7,000" e-mails about the new Segway vehicle. Bertone didn't know how seriously Puma's management will take P.U.M.A., but he did point out an interesting overlap: Michael Taylor, Segway's director of product marketing, used to work at Puma. Taylor could not be reached for comment. —Todd Wasserman 

Beer and sausage: good on their own, so much better together

Posted on Tue Apr 7 2009

Beer-brats

Mmm. Beer sausage. Apparently the only thing better than eating some sausage and then swigging a beer is putting the beer inside the sausage. At least, this is the premise behind Hillshire Farms' new Miller High Life Beer Brats. The product, announced on Monday, "contains the delicious flavor of brats cooked in beer ... prepared in only a fraction of the time," according to the company's press release, titled "B.Y.O.B." ("Bring your own brat"). The beer brat and the new hot-and-spicy Italian-style sausage will be featured in a new TV commercial in May, and at GoMeat.com, which offers recipes from Mama's kitchen and $5 off DVD coupons. They will also be featured as part of the Char-Broil Tour. The company will also be hitting sports festivals and events through November with cooking tips and free samples. The sausages better be careful in Milwaukee, though, where there is a history of violence directed at spicy meats.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein


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