Posts tagged with "Marketing"

Sports Illustrated’s ‘brand and intellectual property’ are sold for $110 million by Meredith

May 29, 2019

The brand and intellectual property of Sports Illustrated magazine have been sold by Des Moines-based Meredith—which also owns such major media properties as People, Real Simple, Parents, Instyle, Entertainment This Week, and Eating Well—to the New York City-based marketing company Authentic Brands Group for $110 million.

Meredith announced the sale on Tuesday, May 28. In an unusual arrangement, Meredith will continue to publish the Sports Illustrated magazine and website, CNN reported.

The structure of the deal suggests that the Sports Illustrated brand is much more valuable than the storied magazine.

Authentic Brands—which owns the brands of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, will assume the marketing, business development and licensing of Sports Illustrated’s intellectual property, the news outlet said.

Jamie Salter, CEO of Authentic Brands Group, said in a statement that Sports Illustrated’s “trusted name and fiercely devoted following set the stage for the brand to become a leader in lifestyle and entertainment.”

According to the companies, potential new business opportunities include events, conferences, gambling and gaming products; as well as video and television, CNN said.

Meredith, which is paying Authentic Brands Group an undisclosed fee to publish the Sports Illustrated magazine and website, said it would maintain the publication’s editorial independence.

Research contact: @MeredithCorp

‘Stranger Things’ have happened: Inside New Coke’s limited-edition comeback

May 22, 2019

The much-ballyhooed New Coke brand only was around for 79 days in 1985. Chances are it won’t last nearly as long in 2019—but for much different reasons, the Atlanta-based company says.

That’s right, the ill-fated brand considered by many to be one of the biggest-ever marketing mishaps is making a brief comeback this summer for a (very) limited promotional run through a first-of-its-kind partnership between Coca-Cola and Netflix’s popular series, Stranger Things. Fans of the series  will travel back to “the summer that changed everything” – 1985 – when season 3 of the show hits the streaming platform on July 4.

And beyond appearing prominently on-screen throughout the season, New Coke will be available in the “real world” beginning Thursday, May 23, at 5 p.m. (ET), when Coca-Cola will release a limited number of 12-oz. cans of New Coke–yes, the same recipe from 1985 –as part of a bundle when shoppers buy at least two limited-edition Stranger Things Coca-Cola or Coke Zero Sugar 8-oz. glass bottles at

The idea for the 2019 limited run of New Coke started when Netflix contacted Coca-Cola’s North America marketing team last year with news that the next season of Stranger Things would take place in the summer of 1985, and that they wanted to authentically incorporate New Coke into the storyline.

“When Netflix told us Season 3 was going to be set in the summer of 1985 –with the tagline that ‘one summer could change everything’– that rang so true for us,” said Oana Vlad, director of Coca-Cola Trademark, Coca-Cola North America. “The summer of 1985 did in fact change everything for us with the introduction of New Coke, which was also arguably one of the biggest pop culture moments of that year.”

Coca-Cola invited Netflix to visit the Coca-Cola archives in Atlanta to study New Coke packaging, memorabilia, advertising and more, in order to ensure that the Stranger Things script accurately reflected historical events—and that all props and visuals stayed true to the time period.

As Vlad and her colleagues started to see how prominently the brand would feature in the Stranger Things narrative, they decided to go “all in” and resurrect the dormant drink.

“Ultimately, we looked around the room and said, ‘Why wouldn’t we do this?’” Vlad recalled. “No one would have ever thought we’d produce New Coke again after what happened in 1985, but we all agreed that if we wanted to partner with Netflix and Stranger Things in a truly culturally relevant way that would resonate with our fans – and theirs – then we had to make the New Coke story come to life.”

For the Coca-Cola North America design team, the journey back to 1985 meant exploring the archives for vintage New Coke cans and other analog documentation.

“There were no Adobe Illustrator files back then – and not as much printing standardization – so we had to start the design process from scratch,” recalls Elyse Larouere, senior designer, Coca-Cola Trademark.

Larouere and her team took steps to preserve the original New Coke aesthetic, meticulously recreating the logo and mimicking the slightly different Coke red used more than three decades ago.

“We wanted to honor both our heritage and the Duffer Brothers’ commitment to authenticity,” she added. “Stranger Things fans love the nostalgic vibe of the show, so to be able to bring New Coke back to life in a physical way takes the experience to another level. We hope people who remember New Coke can relive those memories, and those like me who weren’t alive in 1985 can appreciate the fact that a show that honors cultural icons of the time is honoring this one.”

“New Coke taught us that our fans are extremely passionate about our brand and great taste,” Vlad said. “That passion has helped propel Coke to the iconic brand it is today and encourages us to continue to do big things to connect with our fans. It’s not about a ‘mistake’… it’s what we learned and the incredible cultural resonance of Coca-Cola.”

Research contact: @CocaCola

Amazon posts a $7,250 ‘tiny-home kit’ that can be assembled in just eight hours

May 17, 2019

Talk about downsizing! Today, tiny homes—small structures between 180 square feet and 500 square feet in size—have become a housing solution for people who cannot (or don’t want to) pay high rents or mortgage costs, would prefer not to spend their time cleaning large interiors, or would like to take their dwellings with them to their travel destinations. But they also are increasingly in demand by wealthy buyers who want to customize their properties with a yoga studio, a pool house, or a home office, according to a report by Business Insider

And that’s the industry niche being occupied by Allwood, a family company based in  Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The company is marketing a variety of tiny house kits—from 73 square feet to 227 square feet, and in a price range from about $3,000 to $10,000.

They are sold as DIY kits that can be assembled in your backyard (or even on a rooftop). In fact, the site says, the Allwood Claudia—“a high-quality cottage-style wood cabin kit made of solid Nordic spruce”with windows on three walls and 209 square feet of inside floor space—takes just about eight hours to two adults to assemble. Do-it-yourself step-by-step instructions come with the kit. Only minimal tools are needed.

Capitalizing on the trend, Amazon is even selling a $7,250 kit for a tiny studio from the company called the Allwood Solvalla that has a total of 172 square feet of floor space (86 square  of it, covered) and that sells for $7,250 with free shipping. “Ideal home office or guest house,” the description says—but no working bathroom or kitchen is included. Allwood makes other models that include these amenities.

While tiny homes are often mobile, Allwood’s studio is meant to stay firmly rooted outdoors. It can also be taken apart and reassembled in new locations.

What’s more, Business Insider points out, “Those who want to transform it into a fully functioning home or guest house will need to install their own electricity and air conditioning, which could increase the cost by thousands of dollars. Buyers will also need to purchase shingles and a foundation, which cost an extra $320, according to the company.”

After launching the model in 2018, Allwood said its goal was to sell 250 kits by the end of the year. Thus far, the studio has only two customer reviews on Amazon — one praising the price point and another considering it a rip-off.

It all depends on your perspective. If you have the money, it could even be a children’s playhouse.

Research contact: @businessinsider

Edgewell to ‘shave off’ industry disruptor and competitor Harry’s in $1.37B acquisition

May 10, 2019

The dream of many entrepreneurs is to launch a great idea—and then get bought out for millions of dollars. That’s just what happened to Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider, who founded New York City-based Harry’s in 2013 because “they were tired of overpaying for overdesigned razors, and of standing around waiting for the person in the drugstore to unlock the cases so they could actually buy them.”

Now, they offer a starter set—a weighted rubberized handle, a five-blade razor cartridge, foaming shave gel, and a travel blade cover—for just $8. Customers can choose to continue buying with a subscription service that will send customized refills every two, three, or five months.

Not only have Katz-Mayfield and Raider disrupted the entire shaving industry—until that time, dominated by just two brands (Gillette and Schick)—but now, they’re joining forces with one of them, The New York Times reports.

Edgewell Personal Care—the company that owns the Schick and Wilkinson razor brands (as well as Hawaiian Tropic)—announced on May 9 that it plans to buy Harry’s for about $1.37 billion in stock and cash. And the founders, Katz-Mayfield and Raider, will stay on to run Edgewell’s operations in the United States.

It is the one of the largest recent examples an established business buying a younger, nimbler competitor born of the Internet and predicated on reaching consumers in new ways, the Times reports. That has included deals like Unilever buying Dollar Shave Club, the other shaving start-up sensation, for $1 billion three years ago; as well as Walmart acquiring the online men’s wear purveyor Bonobos for about $310 million.

In the men’s shaving market, the combined Edgewell and Harry’s will remain a distant second to Procter & Gamble’s Gillette brand, which commanded 47.3% of the American market last year, according to data from Euromonitor. Edgewell’s top brands held about 13.6% of the market, while Harry’s had about 2.6 percent.

But executives from Edgewell and Harry’s said in an interview with The New York Times that they saw a chance to form a big, new consumer products company infused with both global reach and new ways of marketing to customers.

“We’ve had an interesting product portfolio, but we’ve lacked a way to communicate with the consumer,” Rod Little, Edgewell’s chief executive, said.

Talks between the two companies began in earnest shortly after Little was appointed to his post in March, the executives said. The Harry’s management team had considered alternatives, like an initial public offering, but combining with an established brand ultimately made the most sense.

“This got us where we wanted to go more quickly than some alternative route,” Katz-Mayfield said.

Under the terms of the deal, which was approved by both boards on May 8, 79% of Edgewell’s offer—just over $1 billion—would be in cash. The remainder would be in stock, giving Harry’s investors a roughly 11% stake in the combined company.

Katz-Mayfield and Raider will become co-presidents of Edgewell’s American operations, giving them a bigger perch and more brands to oversee and overhaul.  Little will remain chief executive of the combined business.

The deal is expected to close by March 31, 2020.

Research contact: @harry’s

Cold comfort: Mosaic launches a line of healthy, home-delivered frozen meals

May 3, 2019

The newest niche in home meal kit deliveries is healthful, frozen cuisine— prepared fresh, with clean ingredients by Mosaic Foods, a startup launching in select market on May 2.

 “Frozen foods is a $53 billion market that has remained unchanged for decades,” said Mosaic Co-founder and CEO Matt Davis, in a company press release. “The potential of the category is huge, and the benefits—from convenience to the reduction of food waste—are numerous. We’re launching Mosaic to elevate the category and create healthy, delicious and convenient frozen meals for consumers.”

Despite the lack of great options, frozen meals are still a significant part of the American diet. The average American consumes 72 frozen meals per year, and sales from frozen meals continue to grow steadily, the company says.

“Traditional frozen meal options are bland, filled with preservatives and artificial ingredients, and not made with the same care as our best fresh meal options,” said Mosaic Co-founder Sam McIntire. “We want to make something different by investing in great recipes and real cooking. The goal is to offer healthy, delicious meals ready in just a few minutes.”

Mosaic’s initial product line is a collection of six, globally inspired vegetarian bowls. Each bowl is made with fresh, unique ingredients such as purple cauliflower, wheat berries, and forbidden rice. These ingredients are then cooked with techniques not used in the frozen industry today, including roasting, grilling and sauteing. Each bowl comes with a separately packaged savory sauce, such as basil pesto, lemony-sweet miso, and coconut-peanut, and a flavorful garnish, such as feta crumbles, crushed almonds, and toasted pine nuts.

The full product line includes the Tuscan Pesto Bowl, the Greek Jackfruit Bowl, the Peanut Tofu Bowl, the Miso Tempeh Bowl, the Harvest Beet Bowl, and the Smoky Southwest Bowl.

Customers can order meals for delivery at Subscription delivery will begin in the Northeast, and will expand to new regions throughout the year. Details including pricing structure, regional availability, and shipping options can be found online.

Research contact: @MosaicFoods

Child’s play: Building Braille proficiency with customized LEGO bricks

May 2, 2019

The LEGO Foundation and LEGO Group have announced the launch of a pioneering project that will help blind and visually impaired children to learn Braille in a playful and engaging way using Braille-customized LEGO bricks. The project, LEGO Braille Bricks, was launched on April 24 at the Sustainable Brands Conference in Paris, France.

The concept behind LEGO Braille Bricks was first proposed to the LEGO Foundation in 2011 by the Danish Association of the Blind and again in 2017 by the Brazilian-based Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind. It has since been further shaped in close collaboration among blind associations from Denmark, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Norway—and the first prototypes are now in those same countries for concept testing.

“With thousands of audiobooks and computer programs now available, fewer kids are learning to read Braille,” said Philippe Chazal, Treasurer of the European Blind Union, in a formal release.“This is particularly critical when we know that Braille users often are more independent, [and] have a higher level of education and better employment opportunities. We strongly believe LEGO Braille Bricks can help boost the level of interest in learning Braille, so we’re thrilled that the LEGO Foundation is making it possible to further this concept and bring it to children around the world.”

LEGO Braille Bricks will be molded with the same number of studs used for individual letters and numbers in the Braille alphabet, while remaining fully compatible with the LEGO System in Play.

To ensure that the tool is inclusive—enabling sighted teachers, students, and family members to interact on equal terms—each brick will also feature a printed letter or character.

The need is well-established: The World Health Organization estimates  that, on a global level, 19 million children are vision-impaired. Of these, about 1.4 million children have irreversible blindness.

The product currently is being tested in several languages—Danish, Norwegian, English, and Portuguese—while German, Spanish and French will be tested in Q3 2019.

The final LEGO Braille Bricks kit is expected to launch in 2020 and will be distributed free-of-charge to select institutions through participating partner networks in the markets where testing is being carried out with partners. It will contain approximately 250 LEGO Braille Bricks covering the full alphabet, numbers 0-9, select math symbols, and inspiration for teaching and interactive games.

Research contact: @LEGO_Group

Cold workouts are cool now

April 29, 2019

Looking for a way to beat the heat this summer—and get in shape at the same time? Sure, you could dive into a pool or run up the stairs at your air-conditioned office. But those are so yesterday. Instead, you might want to think about patronizing a place that claims to be “the world’s first cool-temperature fitness studio.”

Opened in May 2018 in Manhattan’s Flatiron Chelsea neighborhood, Brrrn offers core and cardio workouts to a “chill” crowd of enthusiasts. Sessions are held for 50 minutes in a 50 ̊ (F) studio. Thus the “brrr.”

The new, nippy workout is based on the theory of “mild cold stress,” which posits that, when the temperature is low, your body relies on its own metabolism—by “brrrning” calories and fat—to get back up to 98.6 ̊ F.

To test it out, Founders Jimmy Martin and Johnny Adamic  pulled rowing machines into fridges at Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn and set up sessions at an ice factory in Martin’s Pennsylvania hometown. They eventually won investor backing to finance their first location in New York City.

Jason Kelly, a Bloomberg reporter, decided to test the theory out last summer. “I was intrigued by studies saying cold-temperature workouts are less fatiguing,” he commented, adding, “And on a steamy … day, the thought of walking into a chilly room sounded refreshing.”

Still, he commented, “When I arrive, 55 ̊ feels colder than I expect. The door to the actual studio resembles a walk-in freezer.”

The company’s website describes its ethos as its “Coldture” and promises to “give heat the cold shoulder.” The workouts, too, come in three “degrees”: First degree is a low-impact, yoga-inspired class that’s held at 60 ̊. Second degree classes are held at 55 ̊. Third degree, the most intense, drops the temperature to 45 ̊  and uses battle ropes and dumbbells as well as sandbells.

Kelly chose the middle option, which offers “total body conditioning” and still felt himself sweating buckets in the cool air by the end of the session.

Still, he asked himself when it was over, Is a cold studio enough, in a city with more boutique fitness concepts than cupcake stores, to build the kind of loyal mega-success achieved by those brands? Surprisingly, the answer was “yes.”

“One area where Brrrn has an edge,” Kelly said, “is enthusiasm, from both its instructors and founders. And the workout, even without the cold, is different in a good way. My inner quads and lower glutes were sore for days afterward, and the attention to largely unused muscles evoked the best barre workouts.”

And the science? “I want to believe it,” he says, “ If dropping the temperature a few degrees can make a workout more effective and addictive, all the better. But check back with me in winter.”

Each class costs $34.

Research contact:

CVS Health and SmileDirectClub team up to provide in-store ‘SmileShops’ nationwide

April 26, 2019

Now, you can give more than “lip service” to dental health—even if you cannot afford expensive orthodontics. CVS Health and SmileDirectClub announced plans on April 25 to expand access to affordable, convenient orthodontic clear aligner therapy through the addition of in-store SmileShops to hundreds of CVS locations nationwide this year.

After a successful pilot, CVS Pharmacy is more than doubling the SmileShops’ current physical footprint and consumer access to this teledentistry innovation. The two companies say that the collaboration reinforces SmileDirectClub’s mission to democratize access to a straighter smile through an affordable and convenient direct-to-consumer platform.

Additionally, by early summer, SmileDirectClub will be added as an in-network health care option for Aetna Dental members.

“CVS Health and SmileDirectClub are aligned in the mission to put the customer at the center of their care by providing easier access to more affordable, more convenient health solutions with proven outcomes,” said Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy and executive vice president of CVS Health. “SmileShops at CVS Pharmacy support our dedication to enhancing the customer experience with innovative and convenient health and beauty solutions.”

Today SmileDirectClub SmileShops already are open in 13 CVS Pharmacy locations in eight states, with planned expansion to over a thousand locations over the next several years. SmileDirectClub SmileShops at CVS Pharmacy feature SmileGuides to assist with getting customers started on their new smile journey, including a free 3D digital image of their teeth, teeth whitening kits, and information on the convenience and affordability of clear aligner therapy.

A member of SmileDirectClub’s digital network of 240+ state licensed dentists and orthodontists will approve and manage a custom clear aligner treatment plan. Upon the treating doctor’s and the customer’s approval of the treatment plan, aligners are sent directly to the customer’s door. Through SmileDirectClub’s proprietary teledentistry platform, customers are able to check in with their doctor every 90 days and more frequently if necessary.

SmileDirectClub’s clear aligner therapy works best for people 12 or older with all adult teeth and mild to moderate crowding or spacing issues. Customers can simply walk-in to a SmileDirectClub SmileShop at CVS Pharmacy or they can schedule a visit at

Research contact: @CVSHealth

Driving ambition: Elon Musk claims Tesla will have 1 million robotaxis on roads by 2020

April 24, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said this week that the company would have 1 million robotaxis on the roads by next year, according to a report by NBC News.

“I feel very confident predicting autonomous robotaxis for Tesla next year,” Musk said on stage at the Tesla Autonomy Investor Day in Palo Alto, California. They won’t be “in all jurisdictions, because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere, but I am confident we will have at least regulatory approval somewhere, literally next year,” he said.

However, he noted that the autonomous cars might have nobody in them; they might be part of a pilot test. He also warned investors, “Sometimes I am not on time, but I get it done.”

Musk based his optimism on the amount of data his company has been able to gather from Tesla vehicles already on the road today, which it then uses to improve its software.

All Tesla electric cars being produced today have the hardware on board that’s required for full self-driving, Musk said, promising that, “all you need to do is improve the software.”

Musk also predicted that in two years, Tesla will be making cars with no steering wheels or pedals.

In the past, NBC News reports, Elon Musk’s forecasts for Tesla have missed the mark. Tesla was two years late with the launch of the Model X, its first all-electric SUV. And it was two years late in delivering semi-autonomous features to eager drivers.

When Tesla began to discuss its ambitions in self-driving technology in 2016, Musk said they would conduct a hands-free trip across the U.S. by late 2017. They have yet to complete that mission.

Currently, Tesla offers Autopilot — an advanced driver assistance system — as a standard feature in its cars. According to the company’s website, Autopilot can automatically hold a car in its lane and accelerate or brake automatically, for example, in response to pedestrians or other cars in its way. Tesla can improve Autopilot with new features (or bug fixes) over time via over-the-air updates, as well.

In addition, Tesla sells a Full Self-Driving (FSD), package for its vehicles for $5,000 or more if the software is installed after the vehicle is initially purchased, the network news outlet reports.

FSD features today include Summon, which lets a driver call their Tesla to roll out from a parking spot to where they are standing (with no driver on board). And FSD lets drivers  Navigate on Autopilot, automatically driving a car from a highway on-ramp to an off-ramp, making necessary lane changes along the way.

Later this year, Tesla’s website says, cars with FSD should be able to read and respond properly to traffic lights and stop signs, and drive automatically on city streets.

However, Tesla still cautions its drivers, “Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” In other words, keep your eyes on the road.

Research contact: @Tesla

Greet (and eat) the ‘croiffle’ at one of Godiva’s 2,000 new cafes

April 18, 2019

For nearly 100 years, Godiva has made life sweeter and more pleasurable for chocoholics worldwide. But until April 17, the Belgian confectioner offered only its beloved premium-quality boxed chocolates, chocolate-covered strawberries, ice cream, and drip coffee at its 800 boutique stores across 105 nations.

Starting with a Manhattan location this week, Godiva has announced that it is rolling out 2,000 cafes through 2025, at which the company will offer a menu of fanciful food items, including the “croiffle”— a croissant and waffle hybrid that’s stuffed with fillings like cheese or chocolate and pressed on a waffle iron, The Chicago Tribune reports. Other items include an expanded list of coffees and a new collection of teas; as well as grab-and-go items such as sandwiches and yogurt parfaits. And of course chocolates.

The cafes mark Godiva’s first foray into prepared meals, the Tribune notes. It’s all part of an ambitious growth plan spearheaded by CEO Annie Young-Scrivner, who took over Godiva’s helm in 2017 after serving as a top executive at Starbucks. Her goal: to increase its revenue fivefold by 2025, the news outlet says.

The company, which is privately owned by Turkish Yildiz Holding, doesn’t report sales or profits—but according to reports, Godiva was about a $1 billion business in 2017. It expects 40% of its total sales to come from the cafes in the future.

“We really have a stronghold on formal gifting but we want to expand to everyday consumption,” Young-Scrivner said in a phone interview.

A few of the current boutiques will be converted into cafes, but Godiva is looking beyond malls and will also have stand-alone storefronts and airport locations.

Research contact: @GODIVA