car talk

Toyota's Rolling Aquarium Featured at Biggest SEMA Customization Show

Posted by Dale Buss on November 6, 2013 07:27 PM

An under-appreciated aspect of the car business these days is the continued boom in customizing. Between the strong recovery of "stock" car sales in the US market and hand-wringing about Millennials taking the zing out of car ownership, it's possible to lose track of the fact that, for many Americans, customizing—or "tuning"—their rides remains a driving passion.

That fact is being restored this week at the 47th annual Specialty Equipment Market Association show and convention in Las Vegas, which show organizers have said promises to be their biggest ever. It's only open to people in the auto business, not the public—but if the customizing crowd and original-equipment auto brands didn't know there was a still-growing crowd of enthusiasts to buy the wares they're displaying, they wouldn't bother.

So Ford, for instance, is crowing about seeing its Mustang and F-Series named "Hottest Car" and "Hottest Truck" of the show. More Mustangs and F-Series are on display on the show floor than any other car or truck, the company said, leading to the award—and testifying to the popularity and appeal of each vehicle. And indeed, F-Series trucks remain America's most popular vehicle, and Ford is expected to launch a new 50th-anniversary version of the iconic Mustang sports car next year.Continue reading...

Kraft Cuts Mac-and-Cheese Dyes, Putting It On Trend with 'Natural' in CPGs

Posted by Dale Buss on November 6, 2013 05:42 PM

Kraft's Macaroni & Cheese long ago was identified by critics as a paragon of junk food wrapped in the guise of a comfort food. Sure, it was the favorite, filling and inexpensive lunch of many Americans—but it was rife with fat, sodium and artificial dyes.

Well, now Kraft can feel a bit better about its iconic mac-and-cheese offerings for at least a couple of reasons, one of its own doing and the other an outside endorsement. And considering both of them, Kraft now is sitting closer to the edge of a new dynamic in the CPG business in which brands let "natural" products speak for themselves.

Turns out that Kraft Mac & Cheese, apple slices and Nestle bottled water, a combination offered by Arby's, was deemed the healthiest lunch for kids by researchers in an update of a Yale study of childhood obesity. There's some confusion, MarketingDaily said, about whether such a combination actually is offered at any Arby's. But in any event, Mac & Cheese came out looking pretty good. (The worst combination meal, meanwhile, was a McDouble with french fries and Hi-C Orange Lavaburst from McDonald's.)Continue reading...

brandcameo

Brandcameo: Seth MacFarlane's "Ted" Finds a Friend in Bud

Posted by Andrew Chan on July 2, 2012 12:14 PM

Fans of Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy may be disappointed to find out that the characters from his hit animated FOX series don't show up in Ted, MacFarlane's big screen directorial debut and the new #1 movie at the box office. After all, Ted the foul-mouthed bear busts into their animated game in a bit of cross-marketing synergy.

But there's plenty of promotional love to go around. Some brands are generic, such as the grocery store where Ted tries his paw at a real job; some are inferred, such as the Teddy Ruxpin talking teddy bear that inspired the title character (and was childhood best friend of John Bennett, the social misfit played by Mark Wahlberg), or the Boston car rental agency that employs Wahlberg and his co-worker played by Patrick Warburton is inspired by Enterprise.

The biggest overt product placement, however, is for beer — copious amounts of beer, with Bud Light and Budweiser bottles littering the screen of our dissolute hero and his raunchy plush pal (until Mila Kunis enters the picture). Front Row Marketing Services estimates the value of the product placement on-screen time for Budweiser at $778,325 and Bud Light at $229,670 for Ted's opening weekend.

The movie's Facebook page also puts Bud in a Teddy Bear's Picnic scene, below:

In one cross-promotional deal that straddles in-film product placement and offline marketing, Universal Pictures teamed with Axe for a campaign. In one commercial, Ted takes a date to a fancy restaurant and, er, gets busy under the table. (Watch the NSFW campaign here.)

Another star of the movie is its setting, Boston, where MacFarlane and Wahlberg both grew up. The Ted filmmakers received $9 million in state funds to shoot the film locally, from local landmarks such as Fenway Park to spots that locals only might recognize, as the Boston Globe notes:

The climax at Fenway was just one of the many sequences filmed in key Boston locations. Norah Jones’ concert takes place at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River, home of the Boston Pops’ July 4th extravaganzas; John and Ted get high and run into Donny for the first time at the beautifully manicured Boston Public Garden, home of the famous swan boats; and John tells Ted that Ted has to move out while standing amidst the great tanks in the New England Aquarium.

Ted cajoles Lori to meet John at Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe, also in the Back Bay, just down Columbus Avenue from the site where the Union United Methodist Church, a cornerstone of Boston’s African-American community, also plays a key role. John takes Lori to Sorellina restaurant for their anniversary dinner, and their disastrous double date with Ted and Tami-Lynn blows up at the Gaslight Brasserie. As well, John and Ted wait in a line of costumed fans at the Somerville Theatre for the opening night of Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace.

The Globe notes the cameos by the Boston Red Sox and the Stanley Cup (while doubting that anyone would rush to visit Boston after seeing Ted):

“Ted” accounted for roughly a quarter of the $37.9 million in film credits issued in 2011. A Department of Revenue study last year showed that, as an economic development program, the credits have been a dud, costing $142,000 for every Massachusetts job created. But there’s also a fuzzier argument: Boosters assert, almost as an article of faith, that simply showcasing the Commonwealth in movies like “Grown Ups,” “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” and “Grown Ups 2” has got to be worth something.

"One of the filmmakers’ goals was to find an iconic location to shoot the final moments of the film’s climactic chase sequence through Boston. To their excitement, the Boston Red Sox organization agreed to allow them to film in Fenway Park, the venerable baseball stadium that opened in 1912. However, the giant lighting tower that Ted and Donny climb was reproduced on a stage. During one of the nights lensing at Fenway, the production was graced with the presence of the Stanley Cup, the ice hockey trophy then recently won by the Boston Bruins."

Besides a cameo by Norah Jones, there's an appearance by a childhood hero — Sam J. Jones, the actor who played Flash Gordon — at a party:

Other pop culture references and brands sprinkled throughout the film include "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (whose show Ted appeared on after he became a star); SpongeBob SquarePants; a Tintin comic book; Rolling Stone magazine; Cabbage Patch Kids; and clips from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "Bridget Jones's Diary."

For more on product placement in #1 movies, visit the Brandcameo product placement database.

brand news

In the News: Amazon, Hermes, SpongeBob and more

Posted by Dale Buss on May 3, 2012 08:55 AM

In the News

Abbott Laboratories looks to consumer for growth.

Amazon looks to produce its own TV programming.

BMW reports higher profits and more investments in future.

Best Buy sees departure of global CMO.

Caribou launches sparkling teas.

Chesapeake Energy goes on damage control after CEO apologizes for personal financial arrangements.

GM says profit strained by European losses.Continue reading...

branding together

Is Men's Health Nuts to Team with Planters?

Posted by Dale Buss on April 17, 2012 04:08 PM

Ever heard of Beer Nuts? The brand of bar peanuts, redolent as it is of junk foods and calorie-laden alcoholic concoctions, is typical of male consumption of nuts.

But now Kraft has another approach in mind. Leveraging the increasingly understood association between nuts and health in a new way, the Planters brand has signed a deal to co-brand a nutritious nut mix with Men's Health magazine, as we noted here yesterday.

Planters Nut-rition Men's Health Recommended Mix has rolled out with an advertising campaign on the back cover of the May issue of the magazine and a TV spot (watch it below) that's now running on ESPN and other US cable networks.Continue reading...

no kidding around

SpongeBob Joins Supposed Attention Sappers Hall of Fame

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 16, 2011 03:26 PM

This week we learned that Brits have a soft spot for Scooby Doo, naming the voracious mutt the healthiest cartoon for kids because he's always on the run (from ghosts and to hamburgers, but still...)

Now it's SpongeBob SquarePants' turn in the docket. The Nickelodeon staple has stuck around for a lot longer than most cartoons ever do. Its pilot episode hit television screens in May of 1999 and the franchise is stronger than ever. But even though it’s been around for (seemingly) forever, it’s now being accused of shortening the attention spans of the kids that are watching it.

Now, a University of Virginia study “claims to have found evidence that the TV show moves too fast for little kids, and thus erodes their ability to pay attention,” Bloomberg reports. This complaint, by, has been floating around about children’s television since at least the late ‘70s.Continue reading...

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