Posts tagged with "Marketing"

As McDonald’s loses EU trademark, Burger King slyly advertises, ‘Like a Big Mac, but actually big.’

February 13, 2019

After McDonald’s lost its trademark for the Big Mac in the European Union on January 15, Burger King in Sweden revamped its menu in a snarky hat tip to the rival fast-food chain. Imitation, it turns out, is also the sincerest form of trolling, The Washington Post reported on February 11.

The trademark was ceded to Irish entrepreneur Pat McDonagh, whose fast-food chain, Supermac’s, won the landmark legal battle against McDonald’s. The Galway-based firm persuaded the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to cancel McDonald’s’ use of the “Big Mac” trademark, opening the way for Supermac to expand across Britain and continental Europe.

It also left the way clear for Burger King—maker of the grilled Whopper—to have some fun with its global competitor.

In early February, the Post reports, Swedish outposts of Burger King featured menus with names grounded in Big Mac comparisons, including: “The Kind of Like a Big Mac, but Juicier and Tastier” and “The Big Mac-ish but Flame-Grilled Of Course.

Other options were even more derogatory, the DC-based news outlet said—among them: “The Burger Big Mac Wished It Was” and “The Anything But a Big Mac.”

“It’s too much fun for us to stay away,” said Iwo Zakowski, CEO of Burger King’s Swedish operation, according to report by The Guardian.

Burger King’s marketing campaign was created by Stockholm-based ad agency INGO. The agency released a video of customers awkwardly navigating the newly renamed menu to announce the campaign.

And as for Supermac’s, “We’re delighted,” McDonagh told The Guardian, adding, “It’s a unique victory when you take on the Golden Arches and win.”

In a statement provided to The Washington Post, McDonald’s said it plans to appeal the EUIPO decision.

“We are disappointed in the EUIPO’s decision and believe this decision did not take into account the substantial evidence submitted by McDonald’s proving use of our BIG MAC mark throughout Europe. We intend to appeal the decision and are confident it will be overturned by the EUIPO Board of Appeals,” the statement said. “Notwithstanding today’s decision, McDonald’s owns full and enforceable trademark rights for the mark ‘BIG MAC’ throughout Europe.”

Research contact: taylor.telford@washpost.com

Ashton Kusher-backed Calm app is valued at $1B

February 7, 2019

Calm.com—the San Francisco-based startup that claims to have become the number-one app for sleep, meditation, and relaxation since it began doing business in 2017—has been valued at $1 billion in a funding round led by TPG Growth, the company announced on February 6.

According to Bloomberg, Calm raised $88 million in the round, which included existing investors Insight Venture Partners and Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, as well as Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency.

The funding makes San Francisco-based Calm a major player in the wellness industry—or, as the company says, the World’s First Mental Health Unicorn. (It joins the ranks of 312 other U.S. startups that have been valued at $1 billion or more and are known as “unicorns.”)

The Calm website says that the app “helps users cope with some of the most important mental health issues of the modern age-including anxiety, stress, and insomnia.”  Among its popular features are:

  • The Daily Calm, a ten-minute meditation guided by the company’s Head of Mindfulness Tamara Levitt;
  • Sleep Stories, soothing bedtime tales for adults read by celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, Stephen Fry, and Leona Lewis;
  • MasterClass: A series of audio classes taught by mindfulness experts; and
  • Music: Exclusive music to help users focus, relax, and sleep.

Companies such as mindfulness app Headspace and meditation wearable maker Muse have also raised money from VCs, although at lower valuations, Bloomberg reports.

“Our vision is to build one of the most valuable and meaningful brands of the 21st century,” co-founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer Michael Acton Smith said in a statement. His co-founder and co-CEO, Alex Tew, added that the company would prioritize spending on international growth and creating new content.

The app has been downloaded more than 40 million times, it said in a statement, and it has more than one million paying subscribers.

Research contact: @calm

Gwyneth Paltrow signs with Netflix for Goop original content

February 5, 2019

Goop—the lifestyle and wellness juggernaut founded a decade ago by actress, fashionista, and social influencer Gwyneth Paltrow—is expanding its original content with a new docuseries on Netflix; an exclusive podcast partnership with Delta Airlines; and a slew of programming centered around beauty, food, and books, Variety reported exclusively on February 4.

But can you be populist and inspirational while touting $995 wireless headphones and $2,780 handbags? The new sponsors seem to think so.

Still untitled, Goop’s streaming series will hit Netflix next fall, comprising 30-minute episodes hosted by the site’s editors, chief content officer Elise Loehnen and Paltrow. The team will talk to experts, doctors, and researchers to examine issues relating to physical and spiritual wellness.

We were speaking to the platform question, and where our people are. They’re watching Netflix. Some of the more strategic, bigger stories we want to tell require a TV budget. Obviously, there’s no better partner in that,” Loehnen told Variety of the deal.

Loehnen’s content team of about 20 will work on shaping the series with Netflix, which she said seeks to dial up the aesthetics and quality of storytelling surrounding issues like mental, physical and sexual health — and address larger thematic questions the Goop audience has about leading optimal lives. It doesn’t hurt that Paltrow knows her way around a Hollywood set. The actress has appeared in over 40 films, including Avengers: Endgame, coming in April.

“Gwyneth is a highly visual, tactile person. The quality of everything that we produce is very important to her,” Loehnen said. “She’s always looking for white space. Whether it’s developing physical products or thinking of content. With this show, I think she’s only really interested in opportunities where we can uniquely be ourselves and do things potentially disruptive.”

Goop’s eponymous podcast also has signed an exclusive distribution deal with Delta Airlines. The podcast is hosted by Paltrow and Loehnen, and was one of the iTunes store’s most-downloaded in 2018. Beginning in February, eight episodes will stream on 600 Delta planes and push the show’s reach to over 18 million listeners, the company said. The inaugural batch will include a one-on-one conversation between Paltrow and Oprah Winfrey.

In addition to Netflix and Delta, Goop is developing standalone podcasts with in-house beauty expert Jean Godfrey-June (whom, Loehnen said, is the most popular staffer at the company’s Santa Monica offices), a food program hosted by an award-winning chef, and a Goop book club featuring author interviews and reviews.

In light of the digital content ramp-up, Goop will pause production on its quarterly print magazine and resume publication after the Netflix series hits.

Research contact: @MattDonnelly

MLB uniforms and footwear will feature the Nike Swoosh starting in 2020

January 28, 2019

Major League Baseball, Nike and Fanatics have announced a new ten-year global partnership that makes Nike the official uniform and footwear supplier of MLB starting in the 2020 season.

The new cooperation among the three organizations will provide Major League Baseball players with on-field uniforms developed by Nike’s team of designers and will provide fans with the widest assortment of MLB fan gear ever, manufactured and distributed by Fanatics.

Starting in 2020, on-field uniforms will feature the Nike Swoosh, along with base-layer, game-day outerwear and all training apparel for the 30 MLB clubs.

Fanatics has been granted broad consumer product licensing rights to manage the manufacturing and distribution of the Nike MLB Authentic Collection, as well as Nike and Fanatics fan gear, sold through the retail community, including MLBShop.com, MLB clubs and brick & mortar stores.

Enhancing both assortment and speed-to-market of MLB products, Fanatics will use its vertical commerce model to create and distribute a wide range of MLB fan apparel sold at retail, including jerseys, Postseason apparel, and hot market gear that captures the latest events happening on the field.

“Nike’s global brand and reputation as a leader in marketing and driving innovation makes them an ideal partner,” said Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. “In addition, Fanatics is a valuable partner [that] has proven to serve our fans with speed, agility and quality service. We’re very excited about the possibilities this unique arrangement provides us over the next decade.”

In addition, Nike will continue as an official MLB sponsor, supporting league initiatives, grassroots marketing and fan events. Nike, as part of the new agreement, will partner with all 30 MLB Clubs and promote its brand and products across MLB media assets including MLB Network, MLB.com, and MLB Social.

Nike currently has endorsement relationships with over 500 MLB and Minor League players including Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, George Springer, José Ramirez, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Javier Báez and Nolan Arenado to name a few.

“We’re thrilled to bring more innovation and creativity to Major League Baseball and the incredible athletes who play the game,” said Tom Peddie, VP/GM of Nike North America. “This is an exciting time for baseball, and we look forward to partnering with MLB to grow the sport both across America as well as around the globe”

“Given the continued rise in real-time demand by both fans and retailers, this three-way partnership will ensure MLB fans always have access to the products they crave regardless how, where or when they want to shop,” said Fanatics Founder and Executive Chairman Michael Rubin. “This progressive approach around joining forces between an elite performance brand and the innovative vertical capabilities of Fanatics continues to be the future model for licensed sports merchandise.”

Research contact: @MLB

As spending on consumer drug advertising skyrockets, experts advise ‘healthy skepticism’

January 24, 2019

If you spend any time watching television, you are bound to see “real people” who appear to be healthy and happy bicycling down the road, hugging a grandchild, walking on the beach, or working in the garden. They mention the consonant-heavy name of a pharmaceutical drug you could use. “Ask your doctor, “an announcer suggests, after spouting the product’s benefits—and speed-talking her way through a scary list of side effects.

And it’s not just one ad; it’s several per prime-time show: A recently televised sporting event, for example, featured one ad for a drug to help you fall asleep, followed by another to keep you awake, according to an editorial in JAMA  that was written by Howard Bauchner, M.D., and Phil B. Fontanarosa, M.D., (who are, respectively, the editor and executive editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association).

Indeed, according to a Dartmouth College study, over a 20-year period, from 1997 through 2016, drug marketing increased dramatically—from $17.7 billion to $29.9 billion; while regulation did not.

“Because the goal of medical marketing is to shape our perceptions of the benefits and harms of drugs, treatments, and even of diseases, themselves, it can have a very significant impact on healthcare and can even hamper efforts to control unsustainable healthcare spending,” says Dartmouth Institute Professor for Health Policy and Clinical Practice Steven Woloshin, MD, who co-authored the paper with his wife and longtime research partner, the late Professor Lisa Schwartz, MD. (Dr. Schwartz passed away in November 2018).

In their review of spending, Schwartz and Woloshin found that the most rapid increase was in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising, which increased from $2.1 billion (11.9% of total spending) in 1997 to $9.6 billion (32% of total spending) in 2016. 

Over the same time period, the total amount consumers spent out-of-pocket on their prescription medication also skyrocketed to $328.6 billion from $116.5 billion (after industry rebates and discounts), the study found.

Why the explosion in drug ads over the past 20 years? The study notes that in 1997 the Food and Drug Administration began allowing drugs ads to mention side effects with voice-overs, instead of scrolling through a visual list on the screen, which takes more time. Shorter ads can allow for more ads, says Dr. Woloshin.

Another possible explanation is that at the same time that drug companies are spending more on drug ads directed at consumers, they’re also spending more marketing the new drugs to physicians, says Adriane Fugh-Berman, M.D., an associate professor in the department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University who has studied drug advertising. That can increase “irrational prescribing and overuse of medication,” Dr. Fugh-Berman recently told Consumer Reports.

Perhaps the most important reason for the increase: “The ads work,” Woloshin says. “They increase patient requests and prescriptions for advertised drugs, even when there are lower-cost alternatives.”

Indeed, Consumer Reports notes, numerous studies suggest that drug ads increase healthcare costs by promoting higher-cost medications when lower-cost, older ones might work as well.

In recent years, the consumer-oriented news outlet reports, many TV drug ads have focused on expensive drugs used to treat relatively uncommon, and hard to treat, conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, rare cancers, and seizures, according to figures from Kantar Media for the year ending in October 2018.

What’s an inundated consumer to do? The magazine warns, those sorts of pricey meds may not be covered by your insurance, especially if you get insurance through your employer. A 2017 survey of employers by the Pharmacy Benefits Management Institute found that when it came to high-cost medications, most of the insurers required a person to try other medications first, required a person to obtain approval from the insurer for expensive medications before filling a prescription, or limited the amount of the drug a person could obtain. Fully 75% of employer plans simply did not cover certain drugs, including high-cost drugs, according to the survey.

There are alternatives, Consumer Reports advises: For complicated medical conditions, which may necessitate higher-cost medications, work with your physician and insurance plan to find covered treatments. Also check NeedyMeds for the drug you’re being prescribed to see what Patient Assistance Programs, manufacturer coupons, or other discounts might be available.

Research contact: steven.woloshin@dartmouth.edu

Netflix hikes prices on subscription plans

January 15, 2019

As the old saying goes, “You pays your money and you takes your choice”—and that’s certainly true for Netflix.

The Los Gatos, California-based streaming video service has just raised prices for all of its subscription plans—a move that will enable the company to continue its aggressive spending on content in the face of stepped-up competition from rivals, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Netflix will increase the price of its most popular plan by 18%—to $13 a month from $11. That plan allows users to stream from two screens at the same time. The most basic plan, which allows a single stream in standard definition, will go up one dollar, or 13%, to $9 a month.

“We change pricing from time to time as we continue investing in great entertainment and improving the overall Netflix experience for the benefit of our members,” a Netflix spokesperson told the Journal.

The new rates will go into effect immediately for new customers and be applied to the accounts of existing customers in the next few months, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Netflix last raised prices in October 2017, when the standard plan increased $1, to $11 a month; and the premium plan went up $2,  to $14.

The increase in monthly subscriber fees comes as Netflix continues to spend heavily to woo talent to its streaming service. Already, it has cut long-term deals costing hundreds of millions of dollars with powerful Hollywood producers—among them, Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy.

Indeed, the Journal reports, industry analysts expect Netflix this year will spend $12 billion on licensing and creating content, more than double what it spent just two years ago.

Research contact: joe.flint@wsj.com

A brush with greatness? 1 million people have joined this ‘no-frills’ electric toothbrush startup

January 11, 2019

Step away from the sink. It turns out that most of us stubbornly persist in brushing our teeth the wrong way—without the optimal instruments.

In fact, according to Simon Enever, an industrial engineer who designed the new Quip system along with his friend Bill May, “Years of toothbrush ‘innovation’ [have] barely improved the humble toothbrush and, instead, [have] only served to overshadow the far more damaging, habitual problems that still persist.

“Brushing too hard, not brushing long enough, not brushing twice a day, not replacing your brush, and not going to the dentist are issues that are ignored–yet have far greater impact on oral health than a ‘Bluetooth Ultra Sonic’ toothbrush alone could ever have,” he says, “We set out to address that.”

The two designers spent a year gathering insights from dentists. Enever says he was shocked to learn that the average person brushes his or her teeth for only one minute instead of the recommended two; and that most people wait around nine months to change their worn out electric toothbrush heads, rather than the dentist recommended three months.

Now, CNN Business reports, Quip has 1 million customers to whom it delivers dental education, a streamlined routine, automated upkeep, and $5 rewards for dental visits.

And the price is right. The starter kit costs $25 for a plastic model and $40 for a metal version. For a $5 fee, subscribers are sent a new brush head every three months

For $65 a year, a customer can purchase a prepaid plan that covers a starter set—electric toothbrush, multi-use cover/mount, and a larger toothpaste—and then continue to receive a fresh brush head, an AAA battery, and a large toothpaste every three months.

According to CNN, the battery-operated Quip uses sonic vibrations (where the motor vibrates the bristles back and forth) instead of rotations, providing “a higher level of cleaning.”

Each brushing is automatically programmed to last two-minutes and consists of 30-second intervals so that users can cover each zone in the mouth. Quip is meant to be portable and has a holder that can be attached to the wall with a suction cup.

The first shipment went out in November 2015 and the rest is history.

Research contact: @quip

Home free: Amazon sends gratis samples to its most gung-ho shoppers

January 9, 2019

Axios reported on January 8 that online retail giant Amazon has a “stealth pilot” in progress—testing whether consumer brands such as Maybelline and Folgers can pique consumer interest by sending out free samples.

The brands pay Amazon to ship out their complimentary goodies, based on what the popular website already knows its frequent customers are most likely to buy.

Everyone likes a freebie—and by using samples as “targeted ads,” Amazon is playing on its major strength as a trusted delivery service of everyday goods, Axios said. What’s more, this is a new gambit that Amazon is betting its biggest competitors—Google and Facebook— cannot duplicate.

Indeed, the Seattle-based tech giant has the purchasing data and logistics infrastructure to offer samples of actual products, whereas Facebook and Google currently can only offer display ads or search ads, respectively, for certain kinds of consumer packaged goods brands.

To date, Amazon, itself, has made most of its roughly $5 billion in ad revenue through its own display ads. But the company now says that marrying old-school samples with its customer data will provide brands “a higher likelihood of conversion than display ads,” according to a summer job posting.

With 100 million subscribers to its Prime services alone, Amazon certainly has the numbers and the established long-term relationships with customers who purchase goods regularly, to make this strategy work, Axios pointed out.

“Having this huge installed base of users, or really Prime subscribers, and putting something in the box that people will have a high proclivity for liking — that seems like a brilliant Amazon strategy,” Rich Greenfield, a managing director and media analyst at BTIG Research, told the news outlet.

Samples of new products are sent to customers selected using machine learning based on Amazon’s data about consumer habits, according to recent job postings and details listed on its site.

Right now, Amazon is keeping the pilot project under wraps among its other advertisers, but its legal terms for advertisers include details about how its sample program functions. “No later than the date specified by Amazon, Advertiser will deliver to Amazon at the location(s) designated by Amazon and at Advertiser’s expense, all Samples to be delivered or distributed by Amazon,” the terms say.

Most analysts are bullish on the program, Axios reports. However, there could be privacy concerns.

“Amazon sent me a random coffee sample!” said one Twitter user in August. “Is it because I have like 15 [different] types of coffee in my cart?” A package pictured in the tweet included both Amazon and Folgers branding, and a link to a website devoted to the new coffee offering.

On its website, Amazon promises that privacy conscious consumers will have the option to opt out. But will confidentiality win out over avid consumption? Stay tuned.

Research contact: @rebeccazisser

NFL selects Caesars Entertainment as first-ever casino sponsor

January 7, 2019

National Football League announced on January 3 that Caesars Entertainment has been selected to be its first-ever Official Casino Sponsor.

Beginning with the upcoming 2019 NFL playoffs, the multi-year sponsorship will enable Caesars to offer unique experiences to NFL fans through its casino properties, celebrity chefs, premier music artists, and a wide range of entertainment elements. What it will not include is sports gambling.

Seven NFL Clubs already have relationships with Caesars Entertainment, including the Atlanta FalconsBaltimore RavensChicago BearsIndianapolis ColtsNew Orleans SaintsOakland Raiders, and Philadelphia Eagles. These partnerships along with the new league deal are for the casino category only—and do not include sports betting, daily fantasy, or hotels/resorts.

Caesars will have the exclusive right to use NFL trademarks in the United States and the United Kingdom to promote its casino properties and activate at key NFL events—including the Super Bowl and NFL Draft. Caesars, alongside other properties on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, will host elements of the 2020 Draft in coordination with the City of Las Vegas to help create this historic event.

“We couldn’t be more excited to work with one of the world’s largest gaming and entertainment companies,” said Renie Anderson, SVP of NFL Partnerships, Sponsorship and Consumer Products. “Combining the NFL with Caesars’ expertise in world-class entertainment will provide our fans unique experiences both here in the United States and abroad.”

“All of us at Caesars Entertainment are thrilled to be the first-ever casino partner of the NFL, the most prominent sports league in North America,” said Mark Frissora CEO of Caesars Entertainment. “Combining the league’s 180 million fans with our 55 million Total Rewards loyalty program members will expose millions of people to the exclusive and exciting year-round opportunities at our properties.”

Research contact: @NFL

For ‘the morning after,’ Pedialyte offers Sparkling Rush powder packs

December 31, 2018

If the “merry” and the “happy” have skedaddled from your holiday season as a result of one too many glasses of eggnog or champagne—or a case of the flu—Pedialyte says it has just the solution (literally) in a new drink for the adult market.

The company, a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories, has launched Sparkling Rush, which it describes as “advanced rehydration with a fizz, with an optimal balance of electrolytes and carbohydrate to prevent mild to moderate dehydration.” Free of artificial colors, the clear rehydration drink comes in grape and cherry effervescent flavors—stored for on-the-go use in convenient powder packs that can be poured into a glass of water and activated in ten seconds.

“The holiday season is unfortunately rife with dehydration pitfalls,” Pedialyte says in a December 19 release. “With flu season in full effect, air travel to visit loved ones, and even those late nights out with friends, you’ve got a recipe for your body to lose more water than it takes in—causing dehydration. Losing water also means losing electrolytes—essential minerals like sodium and potassium that are responsible for maintaining proper fluid levels in your body, balancing your blood’s pH levels, and firing signals to your nerves and muscles. Dehydration can bring on a headache, fatigue, even dizziness, which is no way to celebrate.”

And a glass of tap water won’t do the job nearly as fast, because it won’t provide enough of the electrolytes that your body is missing. What’s more, the company claims, while some people turn to sports drinks for those essential minerals, “the leading ones aren’t optimized for rehydration like Pedialyte. They are higher in sugar and lower in sodium, and may actually make dehydration worse.”

Specifically, the company asserts, “Each Pedialyte product has at least 1,030 milligrams of sodium and no more than 25 grams of sugar per liter; while leading sports drinks contain an average of 460 milligrams of sodium and 58 grams of sugar per liter.

The new product is available at Target and Meijer grocery stores nationwide, as well as online at Amazon

Research contact: @AbbottNews