Well, if you can't sell Whoppers, why not try bed linens? In a new promotion, Burger King is peddling pillow cases at BKPillow.com that tout the chain's new breakfast menu and use images of offerings like the Ciabatta Club Sandwich. BK posted a nearly 4 percent decline in North American sales in fiscal 2010 and is having a tougher time than its fast-food competitors in the recession. (The company is in the process of being sold to a hedge fund backed by Brazilian investors.) Already this week, BK has sold 749 of the pillowcases at $5.99 a shot on eBay. While we consider this the stuff of nightmares, for those of you not totally creeped out by the "Wake up with the King" ads, you can cuddle up to the King's face featured on the pillow's opposite side.
So, now that the World Cup is over, let's flashback to the beginning, when we were all mesmerized by Nike's awesome "Write the Future" ad from Wieden + Kennedy. The three-minute creative epoch, which canonized some of soccer's biggest names, explored the fine line between footballer glory and failure. So, on which side of that line did these highly paid guys land? Mostly failure. After England crashed out against Germany, lethargic striker Wayne Rooney didn't retreat to a dingy caravan; he flew to his $7.5 million seaside mansion in Barbados. Far from the debonair, tuxedo-clad Ping Pong player who trounces Roger Federer in the commercial, he's just been voted the ugliest footballer on the planet. As for Portugal's reigning stud, Cristiano Ronaldo, he's had to settle for a mini-me rather than a towering statue in the center of Lisbon after his side was defeated by Spain. Ronaldo, who's been exploring his feminine side through tweets about his new son born of a surrogate mother, has also been spotted poolside in New York with dainty, lacquered toenails. Italy's Fabio Cannavaro returned home to a barrage of rotten vegetables, not TV-show serenades, after the previous World Cup holders couldn't even advance out of the group stage. Ditto for Franck Ribéry, whom Nike used to taunt Rooney as a replacement ad pin-up in the spot, after France's shambolic performance caused them to also exit at the group stage. As for Brazil's Ronaldinho, he never even got to South Africa, let alone inspire a craze for "Samba-robics" modeled after his own victory dance. In the view of some observers, Nike's roster of superstars are so incapable of writing their own future, they're firmly in the grip of a brand curse.
Pizza Hut's Irish stores have generated a lot of international media for a World Cup promotion on Facebook intended to give away a free pizza to Gaelic consumers every time a goal was scored against France. The chain sought to satisfy fans' appetite for retribution after French player Thierry Henry's unpunished handball in a World Cup qualifier last year denied Ireland entry to soccer's biggest tournament. France, of course, had a disastrous turn in the South African games, culminating in a 2-1 defeat today to the host country (following a goalless draw with Uruguay and a 2-0 defeat to Mexico). But while Irish football fans should be enjoying a dish called revenge with extra cheese and pepperoni, they're turning their wrath towards Pizza Hut instead. It's not clear if the 350-pie limit has been reached or if the site is malfunctioning, but free pizzas appear not to be available to the hungry fans demanding them.
Just as Twitter-fueled extramarital rumors about France's first couple have died down comes a new assault on the country's height-challenged leader, Nicolas Sarkozy. Sixt, one of Europe's largest car-rental companies, is running an ad (shown here) urging consumers to rent a small Citroen C3 hatchback, with the tagline: "Be like Madame Bruni, take a small French model." The photogenic couple—former model Carla Bruni is 5 inches taller than her husband and prefers flats to his heels—have been featured before in ads and have sued over the unauthorized use of their images. Not that the French president hasn't drawn attention for his own fast-and-loose portrayal of truth in (political) advertising: He's known to use a foot stool behind speech podiums, and last year he was accused of positioning short people around him as he visited an auto-parts factory in Normandy.
It's not bad enough that fast food is blamed for everything from obesity to heart disease and hypertension. Now we find out it might be messing with our minds as well. New research from scientists in Canada suggests that people who are shown fast-food logos become increasingly impatient and are less inclined to save money, preferring immediate gratification over greater future return. The Toronto University study (PDF link here) looked at the behavior of 57 volunteers, some of whom were shown logos from fast-food chains like McDonald's and KFC. In one test, the speed at which participants read a passage was measured before and after looking at the logos, with readers speeding up after an eyeful of the Golden Arches. Another experiment asked participants if they wanted a small amount of cash immediately or a larger sum in a week's time. Those who saw the logos opted for the smaller amount served up immediately. If the mere sight of a logo creates such results, I'm not sure I even want to know what effect all those new espresso-based drinks at McDonald's are having on customer behavior.
Hollywood continues to invade your local Walmart. The chain, which has whipped up special in-store boutiques for Twilight DVD releases, is now doing something similar with DreamWorks Animation. Ahead of next Friday's theatrical release of How to Train Your Dragon—an animated 3-D tale about a teenage Viking dragon-fighter—Walmart is setting aside big areas in its stores for a Viking Ship display and more than 100 licensed products. Months ago, manufacturers like Kraft, Kellogg, Pepsi and Spin Master began working directly with Walmart and DreamWorks to create custom products tied to the movie. The "dragon-ized" products your young Viking will be demanding include foam swords and helmets, apparel, skateboards, hooded towels, sunglasses and snacks. There's virtually no escaping the hype about this movie: Walmart has developed a How to Train Your Dragon activity book that will be distributed at 1,000 McDonald's sites within Walmart stores. And you New York City hipsters without a Walmart, don't be so smug: A 40-foot Viking ship is coming your way, with a two-day docking in the center of Times Square and an appearance by Ugly Betty's America Ferrera, who is one of the voices in the film.
So much for "animal, mineral, vegetable" and license-plate games. This June, just in time for summer vacations, today's generation of incessant young Web surfers will get to enjoy the auto industry's first rear-seat Internet-connected entertainment system. Leave it to the folks at iconic family-wagon maker Volvo to launch the RSEi-500 touch-screen computer with broadband, WiFi and a 500-gigabyte hard drive. Otherwise fidgety passengers can surf the Web and distract themselves with video and music. You can also connect to your home computer and transfer video, audio and other content. Volvo further promises special apps to "personalize" the car to your lifestyle. I'm still trying to get my head around the notion of having Internet connectivity at 70 mph. Volvo explains it through the use of Sprint 4G with its new Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot technology. The RSEi-500 was unveiled today at the Chicago Auto Show, becoming the first harbinger of what could become a standard vehicle feature.
Now, consumers can flaunt their Chanel fake tatts alongside their faux designer handbags. This spring, Chanel is selling "Les Trompe L'Oeil de Chanel" Temporary Skin Art, a sort of pricey update of the rub-on tattoos you got with your bubble gum when you were a kid. The "limited edition" of 55 designs goes on sale in the middle of this month for $75 a pop. Already, fashionistas are heralding this kind of body art, or "beauty branding," as the next big thing. Belgian makeup artist Peter Philips, global creative director for Chanel makeup, drew the designs for Chanel's spring/summer collection runway show in October, where Karl Lagerfeld's Parisian models improbably romped in piles of hay as they showed off his pricey designs. Just as implausible may have once been the thought that tattoos—the stuff of Hells Angels, convicts and street gangs—should cross over to haute couture. But according to Selfridges beauty director David Walker-Smith: "Chanel tattoos will be on every beauty queen's lust list. Body art is a big trend for 2010, and we predict a waiting-list frenzy."
Uh-oh. Chris Brown's anger-management issues have gotten him into trouble again. Rihanna's bruiser of an ex had a Twitter meltdown over the weekend, launching into a profane series of rants after going into a Connecticut Walmart and not seeing his new CD, Graffiti, on the shelves. He raged against retailers like Walmart and the music industry for not stocking the CD. Turns out the store had sold out of the album, with Walmart saying all of its stores have carried it since its release earlier this month. Brown has since shut down his Twitter account—probably a good move for media targets given to compulsive public outbursts.
In this new spot for Honda U.K., Wieden + Kennedy London details the breadth of the automaker's engineering expertise, ranging from ATVs and marine engines to motorcycles and the humanoid robot Asimo—and to cars, of course, particularly Honda's British-produced Civic model. The 60-second ad "Everything" breaks on Thursday in U.K. cinemas that are premiering James Cameron's Avatar. The agency considered doing a 3-D shoot similar to that used in the blockbuster film. But it wouldn't have worked for the spot's film technique, which is jaw-dropping even by the standards of complexity in the agency's previous Honda commercials like "Cog." (Another collaboration, "Grrr," was named Commercial of the Decade by AdweekMedia.) The fluid series of fractured visuals, music and sound design required 972 edits over 17 video layers, essentially making each section an edit in itself. The soundtrack, "Atlas" by Battles, was rearranged to fit the picture and reflect the editing style used for the ad.