Daily Buzz 11-23-10

Dick’s Embraces Christmas

  • Over the weekend, “Christmas” won yet another battle in the War on Christmas. Dick’s Sporting Goods became the latest to throw in the towel on “Holiday,” in the face of a boycott by the American Family Association. Retailers across the country have been embracing “Christmas,” as opposed to “Holiday,” under pressure from consumers, media and groups such as the AFA and the Catholic League.
  • The boycott, announced last Thursday, asked the AFA’s 2.3 million supporters to shun Dick’s Sporting Goods for its use of “Holiday” rather than “Christmas.”
  • “In our research of the Top 100 retailers in America, Dick’s advertising is likely the most ‘anti-Christmas’ of all,” read the alert sent out to AFA supporters. “Sure, Dick’s wants you to buy their products, but no retailer in the nation has appeared to go out of its way to snub ‘Christmas’ more than Dick’s.”
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods responded swiftly, with Vice Chairman Bill Columbo telling the AFA that changes were already under way in the retailer’s marketing prior to the boycott. “We have made significant changes from past years, when ‘holiday’ was the dominant theme of our advertising,” Mr. Columbo said, according to a statement from the group. (www.adage.com)

Cisco Goes Interactive for Umi

  • Cisco Systems has a new machine it thinks belongs on every kitchen table or home office. To get consumers excited about it, though, the technology company will have to do a lot more than run new TV ads featuring quirky actress Ellen Page.
  • So while Cisco is unveiling a round of ads that, like those in the past, show Ms. Page encountering new Cisco products that help people see each other via screen, this time she’ll be doing it for gear that helps the average Joe rather than the folks at the corporate office. To familiarize them with the new service, called Umi, Cisco will launch a series of interactive commercials aimed at users of DirecTV, Cablevision and Verizon’s Fios that gives them a sense of how it works and directs them to a nearby store for a live demonstration. (www.adage.com)

Steak ‘n Shake Seeks New Creative Agency

  • Regional restaurant chain Steak ‘n Shake is conducting an agency review, according to executives familiar with the matter. The pitch marks the fourth restaurant brand to seek new creative in recent months, including the sibling chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, drive-in Sonic and Arby’s.
  • Steak ‘n Shake’s decision to look for a new advertising partner comes nearly two years after the chain’s 18-year relationship with Indianapolis-based Young & Laramore ended. The now-defunct independent Varnson Group worked with Steak ‘n Shake briefly in 2009 following Young & Laramore, but there is believed to be no current incumbent. Representatives for Steak ‘n Shake and its parent company, Biglari Holdings, did not return calls by press time. (www.adage.com)

Oprah’s Audience Meets the New VW Beetle

  • Volkswagen of America continues to look for the biggest media environments in which to introduce new models, choosing today’s Oprah Winfrey telecast to show the world the 2012 New Beetle—and promise each audience member one of the vehicles when they are available starting next fall.
  • Today’s episode marked the second installment of Winfrey’s “Ultimate Favorite Things” program, and the talk show diva drove her audience into hysteria when she rode onto the set in a red Beetle, chauffeured by Santa Claus. “It’s not what you think,” Oprah gently broke the news to her audience. “I wanted to give everyone one of these, but VW said, ‘Sorry, Oprah. We can’t give you this Beetle.’”
  • Oprah then shocked her audience and sent them through the roof when she announced that VW had agreed to give each one of them a “brand new, totally redesigned 2012 Beetle.” Audience members each received keys to the 2012 version of the car, with only the outline of the model shown to audience members and on air. (www.brandweek.com)

Sarah Jessica Parker Touts B&N’s NookColor

  • Barnes & Noble has enlisted iconic Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker to read all about its NookColor eReader in launch spots that break nationwide today.
  • She voices the push from New York ad shop Merkley + Partners.
  • “At Barnes & Noble, we’ve taken all we know about reading and put it here,” says the actress in the first commercial as visuals take viewers zooming through a B&N store to focus on the new eReader with a full-color screen.
  • That spot, “Love of Reading,” then shifts to a montage of lifestyle images. Women are seen using the Nook “anytime, anywhere,” such as in the kitchen, at the hair salon and reading kids bedtime stories. (www.brandweek.com)

Coca-Cola Kicks Off Black Friday Campaign

  • The location world is bigger than just Foursquare and Facebook. And on Black Friday, Coca-Cola is kicking off a campaign with up-and-coming location-based gaming app SCVNGR.
  • SCVNGR is a smartphone app that lets users earn points and rewards by completing challenges in the real world.
  • Coke is using the system in 10 malls nationwide, where visitors will be greeted with signs inviting them to play SCVNGR as part of the brand’s “Secret Formula Challenges” initiative. Folks can earn points toward rewards by accomplishing tasks like taking photos of Coke cans. Prizes range from bottle openers to gift cards. (www.brandweek.com)

Bobcats “McHAPPY” With New Partnership

  • Bobcats Sports & Entertainment (BSE) President and Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield announced today the organization has entered into a new marketing partnership with McDonald’s. Previously, McDonald’s was a presenting partner of the team’s appearance in the 2010 NBA Playoffs.
  • “McDonald’s is obviously one of the world’s most recognized brands, but what struck us the most during our talks with them was their commitment to the community and to making the Carolinas a better place,” said Whitfield. “As we began to share ideas on how to do that we realized just how much we had in common, and the foundation for a full-fledged partnership developed from there.”
  • The partnership includes a $1 donation to the Ronald McDonald House for every game ticket sold to select home games in November, January and February through the McHappy Day and Share Your Heart programs. Other elements of the partnership include customized tray liners promoting the Share Your Heart programs, radio spots and an in-game radio feature, digital presence at bobcats.com and timewarnercablearena.com, on-court promotions throughout the season, and discount offers included in will call envelopes at Time Warner Cable Arena. (www.sponsorship.com)


BionicCigs.com Sponsors Professional Off-road Racing

  • Rapid Fire Marketing, www.BionicCigs.com has become a primary sponsor for Professional Off-Road Racing to receive maximum marketing exposure for BionicCigs.com through the 2011 season. Professional Off-Road Racing has become the fastest growing extreme sport in the nation and reaches the desired demographics of the 18 to 49 year-old male dominated market.
  • The BionicCigs.com sponsorship will be featured at all Lucas Oil Off-Road short course races (www.LucasOilOffroad.com), which is seen by approximately 50,000 individuals per race weekend and provides television coverage on CBS Sports, Speed Channel, Versus and Mav TV. The Company feels this is one of the best forms of marketing available to reach potential customers and make BionicCigs.com a household name. The sponsorship will also be reaching additional venues, such as desert grand prixs, stadium series and Monster Jam events when available. The BionicCigs.com sponsorship is expected to reach in excess of 1,000,000 viewers throughout the 2011 season. (www.sponsorship.com)

Coors Light Continues Support Of Bayou Classic

  • Coors Light reminds Bayou Classic fans that drunk driving is completely preventable. On Nov. 27, more than 60,000 college football fans are expected to pack New Orleans’ Louisiana Superdome for the 37th Annual State Farm Bayou Classic that pits the Grambling State Tigers against its long-time rival, the Southern University Jaguars.
  • MillerCoors is partnering with TEAM Coalition, an alliance of professional and collegiate sports, concessionaires, and the beer industry, among others, to host a designated driver booth at the State Farm Bayou Classic Fan Festival in the Superdome’s Champions Square. Fans that pledge to be responsible will receive a free souvenir commemorative picture of themselves. In addition, MillerCoors will sponsor public service announcements about responsible alcohol consumption throughout the game.
  • Additionally, Coors Light will present a $10,000 scholarship check to both Grambling State and Southern universities’ representatives during the game.
  • “At the Bayou Classic, we will help provide safe and alternative transportation through initiatives such as issuing cab vouchers at festivities leading up to the game and by hosting a designated driver booth,” said Gene Giron, manager of alcohol responsibility for MillerCoors. “While fans enjoy the game, MillerCoors reminds them to plan ahead for a safe ride home and never drive drunk.” (www.sponsorship.com)

Audi Returns As Title Sponsor For The Birds Of Prey Men’s Alpine World Cup Ski Race

  • Audi of America announced today that it will return as the official automotive sponsor of the Audi Birds of Prey Men’s Alpine World Cup ski race taking place Dec. 3 through 5, 2010, at Beaver Creek in Vail, CO. As a returning sponsor, Audi will continue to support U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s (USSA) talented athletes while supplying Audi vehicle transportation in the United States and Europe for all USSA teams including Alpine, Cross Country, Freestyle, Nordic Combined, and Ski Jumping.
  • As the only men’s World Cup stop in America, the Audi Birds of Prey is now one of the world’s premier ski events featuring an international roster of top athletes for three days of racing including Downhill, Super G and Giant Slalom.
  • The sponsorship of the U.S. Ski Team is part of Audi’s global commitment to professional skiing and aligns with the brands dedication to high performance and unparalleled technology. As part of Audi’s continued commitment to world cup skiing, Audi will also be a sponsor of the Women’s Alpine World Cup, 2010 Aspen Winternational, Nov. 27 through 28, 2010; and Denver FIS Big Air, Ski Big Air, Jan. 26 through 27, 2011. (www.sponsorship.com)

Tire Brands Don’t Tread Lightly When It Comes To Sponsorship

As befitting their product positioning, tire manufacturers refuse to loosen their grip on sponsorship. As has been the case for several years, a growing number of tire companies are moving beyond supplier deals with auto racing entities in favor of ties to other sports and additional types of properties. This year has been extremely active, with companies both large and small significantly expanding their sponsorship line-ups. (www.sponsorship.com)

Cupcake Bakeries Take A Bite Out Of Sponsorship

America’s growing love of cupcakes is resulting in new opportunities for sponsorship. Although market data on the young category is difficult to come by, it is not hard to see growth as bakeries specializing in cupcakes pop up in cities across the U.S. (Another barometer: the large number of cupcake-centric reality television shows currently airing, including Cupcake Girls, Cupcake Wars and DC Cupcakes.) (www.sponsorship.com)

Jon Miller Declines ESPN’s Radio Offer

  • Jon Miller, whose contract as the voice of ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” was not renewed earlier this month, has declined ESPN’s offer to continue to call baseball on ESPN Radio.
  • “ESPN offered a very nice, comprehensive package of radio games, including in-season and postseason,” said Ron Shapiro, Miller’s agent. But Miller chose to focus on calling San Francisco Giants games.
  • “He’s got a nice package of about 110 games,” Shapiro said, “and that’s really fine for now.”
  • Miller could find national work with Fox or the MLB Network on the West Coast, if he chose to look. (www.nytimes.com)

ESPN Touts Branded Holiday Gifts

  • A number of indoor and outdoor games from ESPN Consumer Products are available now at retail in time for the holidays.
  • ESPN-branded product highlights include indoor table games, featuring tennis, billiards, hockey and foosball; toys for younger athletes from Moose Mountain; vintage-inspired lifestyle apparel line; sports story DVDs; and holiday ornaments from Hallmark.
  • In addition, several lines are rolling out based on ESPN’s X Games brand, including bikes, skateboards and protective gear; bedding and room décor; backpacks; and electronic accessories, including a digital camera. (www.licmagazine.com)

Kia Parks Store Online At EBay Motors

  • Contemporary wisdom says the Internet is good for researching and configuring a new vehicle and even finding the dealership that has the car you want. But the actual final negotiating has to involve pressing the flesh under brick and mortar. That model is changing and Kia is hoping to be in the lead by signing a deal it believes will move negotiations into a less painful digital realm, where conversations between dealers and consumers can happen under the aegis of a Kia “store” on eBay Motors.
  • The company’s deal with eBay Motors comprises a nationwide, online, new-car shopping experience where people can research, find and purchase a new Kia from among its 300-plus dealers who can list their new-vehicle inventory at Kia.Ebay.com. The online channel launched new car sales this year and says the program derives from a California-based promotion with GM last year.
  • It gives Kia a virtual storefront at www.Kia.eBay.com, and lets people make offers through an eBay “Best Offer” option.”
  • Nicolas Franchet, senior director of U.S. vehicles for eBay Motors, says the site gets 14 million visitors each month. He says the site enables people to use a variety of communications with dealers, from submitting queries or lead forms to offers on specific cars on their lots. (www.mediapost.com)

Purdue Differentiates Self In New Effort

  • Colleges and universities have a hard time distinguishing themselves in marketing. They all have the same general premise: continue your education in a bucolic setting among a diverse student body. This fall, however, Purdue University is trying something different, playing off its Boilermaker mascot with a campaign called “Makers, All.”
  • “[Other] institutions have not done a good job of differentiating themselves. We’ve seen tons of commercials with smiling students, a clock tower and a landmark,” Teri Thompson, Purdue’s vice president of marketing, tells Marketing Daily. “When I heard ‘Makers, All,’ I thought it did a beautiful job of marrying the athletic brand with our educational brand.” (www.mediapost.com)

TIAA-CREF Reaches College Target Via Yahoo Sports

  • TIAA-CREF is teaming with Yahoo once again for a digital campaign targeting higher education employees through Yahoo Sports’ popular college sports destination: Rivals.com.
  • Since higher education employees likely have a strong allegiance and interest in their college/university sports programs, TIAA-CREF turned to Yahoo to create a campaign that engages this demographic through the NCAA Football section of its sports site.
  • This follows Yahoo’s March Madness Rivals.com campaign for TIAA-CREF, which was the financial service company’s first online effort. It included display ads on the Yahoo Sports front page and the NCAA Tournament home page. Yahoo and Rivals NCAAB generated 124 million page views during March Madness, according to comScore.
  • “We saw numbers for the Yahoo campaign that were 20 to 30% higher than what we originally expected based on similar initiatives,” says Kevin Seaman, senior marketing manager at TIAA-CREF. “This online campaign drove phone inquiries to the call center, brought existing customers online to sign in to their accounts and prospects online to create an account or call for an advice session.” (www.mediapost.com)


Tostitos Establishes $500,000 Scholarship Fund to Support Latino Students

  • The Tostitos announced the creation of the Tostitos Cesar Chavez Latino Scholarship Fund to benefit Latino students in the state of Arizona. Administered in partnership with the Cesar Chavez Foundation, the Fund will provide $500,000 over the next five years to qualified Latino students in Arizona in an effort to promote academic success.
  • As part of the Fund, 11 scholarships will be awarded annually by Tostitos and the Cesar Chavez Foundation. Scholarships will be granted based on academic excellence, leadership in extra-curricular activities, commitment to volunteer service in the community and financial need. (www.popsop.com)
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