Sadly, it's predictable. A company reacting to the defacement of its brand almost always goes down the wrong road. Rather than enter into a conversation (or better yet, simply ignore these small stunts) with those defacing its brand, it calls in the lawyers. That's what Abercrombie & Fitch did after we called their attention to the existence of some Nazi-esque posters branded with the Abercrombie & Fitch logo but, in reality, were just social commentary. Now, like PUMA, Abercrombie & Fitch would like this to all go away but all they've done is fan the flames.
sfist has a lengthy interview with Chris, the creator of the A&F parody and, much to A&F's chagrin, even more Nazi-esque images from the parody. In the interview, Chris, while having nothing against Abercrombie & Fitch, says he is irked by "groupthink" which he likens to a "mindless conformity - that people are willing to adopt a logo." Going further, he adds, "the mechanics of wearing an Abercrombie and Fitch shirt are identical to wearing a Nazi armband."
While we're positive Abercrombie & Fitch-wearing teens have not joined a cult in preparation for world war III, the parody does raise intriguing questions about the power of a brand and how much importance it should have in one's life. It's not over for A&B either. Chris has plans to post A&B parody poster in the future.
The Meat and Livestock group in Australia is running a campaign, called The Feel Good Campaign, promoting the benefits of red meat. In one commercial, the rock group is reveled to be something other than one might expect. Their performance, apparently, powered by the consumption of meat. Thanks to Rick.
No sooner do Hailey and Hilary Duff (what's with parent's obsessive need to make their kid's names rhyme or begin with the same letter?) become the new talking heads for Hersey's Ice Breakers mint do we receive some anti-PR from competing mint company, Momints. Positioning themselves as the intelligent choice to the bobble-headed Ice Breakers, the press release reads, "Not every company wants bubble-headed celebrity siblings who feign disputes over whether a product is liquid or ice a la Hershey's Ice breakers with the Simpson sisters, and now Hilary and Haylie Duff. Momints, America's original and boldest liquid filled breath mint, has just announced a search for a brainy spokesperson who's able to identify the contents of Momints. Momints' manufacturer, Westfield, NJ-based Yosha! Enterprises, invites these intellectually gifted consumers to apply at www.momints.com The release goes on to skewer its larger competitor and clarify its position as the company that started this whole liquid filled breath mint thing. "Siblings worldwide are in unanimous agreement that Momints is liquid, according to e-mails and letters received by Yosha! Enterprises, the manufacturer of Momints, the original liquid filled breath mint that was introduced to the American market in March 2003.
While a Johnny-come-lately Goliath liquid mint brand features a series of confused celebrity siblings who are unable to discern liquid from ice, Momints, the original liquid mint - and strongest on the market - has continually attracted intellectually gifted and sophisticated consumers who can differentiate solid bodies from liquid ones. The winning spokesperson, who will receive a lifetime supply of Momints, will embody the bold innovation and sophistication of the Momints brand."
We love a good underdog story.
In another example of a company attempting to compete with a competitors superior business model, Blockbuster has been caught with its pants down regarding its new "No More Late Fees" ad campaign. Unbeknownst to most, the video rental company's largest campaign to date amounts to a lie. New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey filed a lawsuit last Friday claiming Blockbuster did not disclose the reality of its new program.
While it's all in the fine print, Blockbuster's program does not do away with late fees. It simply recategorizes them into a "sale" on the eighth day. If, after 30 days, the video is returned, the charge is credited but then the company imposes the well known, "we'll do anything for a buck" trick and charges a restocking fee. Even if all is disclosed, this has to be one of the sleeziest marketing stunts in recent memory. "Blockbuster boldly announced its 'No More Late Fees' policy, but has not told customers about the big fees they are charged if they keep videos or games for more than a week after they are due," Harvey said. "Blockbuster's ads are fraudulent and deceptive. They lead people to believe that an overdue rental will cost them absolutely nothing when, in fact, customers are being ambushed with (a) late fees in some stores, (b) so-called 'restock fees,' and (c) credit card or membership account charges equal to the purchase price of the video."
Blockbuster, of course, in a desperate attempt to cover its ass, issued a statement claiming they were very thorough in explaining to customers how the program works. Even if Blockbuster bought all the time on the Super Bowl to announce this service, it's still a lie. The company not done away with late fees. It's just converted them into something else using deception and creative accounting. NetFlix all the way, baby.
Last week, actor Russell Crowe struck out against George Clooney, Robert DiNiro and Harrison Ford who have used their fame to sell products in commercials. Crowe crowed, "Its kind of sacrilegious, a contradiction of the contract with your audience. DeNiro advertising American Express gee whiz." This week, Clooney shot back at Crowe saying, jokingly, referring to Crowe's band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, "Im glad he set us straight. Because Harrison, Bob and I were putting a band together called Grunting for 30 Feet, and that would also fall under the heading of 'bad use of celebrity.' Thanks for the heads up." Glad we've cleared that mess up.
Wal-mart TV Network operator Premiere Retail Networks EVP Mark Mitchell says, "Attention deficit used to be a disorder. Now, I think it's the new order for consumers." His company works with agencies to create fact-filled ten second spots and urges agencies to steer clear of the usual tease and reveal format of most :30's. His company has worked with CoverGirl, Doritos and Kellog's to create informative spots that actually contain information a consumer can act on. Perhaps he should consider advising clients and agencies on :30's as well.
Hilary Duff and her sister Haylie are the latest duo in the Hersey's Ice Breakers Liquid Ice campaign. The pair, who claim never to disagree in real life and who replace Jessica and Ashlee Simpson in the campaign, can't seem to agree on the product's liquid versus ice qualities. The campaign includes a website where visitors can answer stupid questions like, "What weighs more - a pound of ice or a pound of water?" and other noggin stretching gems.
"We agree on absolutely everything, especially the importance of fresh breath," said Hilary. "So when she thought that Ice Breakers Liquid Ice was liquid and I thought it was ice, well I knew she had to be right ... and she knew I had to be right!" Haylie said, "One thing we're both right about: Ice Breakers Liquid Ice totally rocks!" Like, OMG!!!!!!!
At last week's ANA/AICP Battle of the Brands, an Amercan Idol-esque style competition, Seattle's Rainier Brewing Company bested larger opponents and took home the Grand Prize for its Remember Rainier campaign for Rainier Beer. The first-ever collaboration between the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), the Battle of the Brands was designed to reward marketers and their creative colleagues for the successful use of entertainment properties in their brand marketing programs. The audience of national marketers and entertainment executives used hand-held devices to vote for the winners. Facing off against teams from Burger King, Sega, and ESPN, Rainier Brewing, a division of Pabst Brewing Company, took home not only the grand prize but top honors in three of the four categories: Strategy, Production Ingenuity, and Business Performance. The fourth category, Creativity, was won by Burger King for its Subservient Chicken campaign.
The four brand contestants were the finalists culled from all the entries to the Battle of the Brands competition, sponsored by ANA and AICP. Each of the finalists was invited to field a team to present its campaign and demonstrate how brand and entertainment are integrated within it. A panel of judges commented on the presentations and the winner was the team that accumulated the most points.
Sounding a bit like a voice mail you might find on Paris Hilton's hacked Sidekick, the new Brawny man, cooing longingly into the camera, is featured in a new series of online viral videos on the Georgia-Pacific paper towel maker's Innocent Escapes.
Clad in his signature lumberjack plaid shirt, the hunky Brawny man has invented a new form of sociopathic humor with his gooey cam love which, we suppose, in some way, is enticing to the female gender. We don't see it.
Apart from the oddity most viral campaigns must clothe themselves in to cut through the millions of other online distractions, it's encouraging to see consumer packaged goods companies endorse the medium. The New York Times explores the trend highlighting other online involvement campaigns from Frito-Lay, which promoted Doritos with a text messaging campaign.
With what some might call questionable moral alignment, the state of Maine is planning to market prison-made children's clothing under the tentative name, Harbor Blues.
Modeled after the Oregon-based prison-made jeans company Prison Blues, inmates at the Downeast Correctional Facility have been busy making 4,000 jackets with plans to make 2,000 more. Moral issues aside, the program puts inmates to work for pay, gives them something to pass the time and provides valuable, real-world skills which can be used upon release. Doubtless, they will sell out immediately.