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Adventures in Marketing

Mattel Shushes F-Bomb Barbie

Swearing-Barbie

NSFW or Home

Imagine that you are the dedicated parent of a sweet seven-year-old girl. Quite naturally, the girl can’t walk past a toy aisle without jonesin’ for a Barbie. While visions of brushing her fake locks of blond love dance in her head, you examine the price tags in disbelief.

Then you grab the new Talkin’ Barbie, much to your daughter’s delight. Good times.

Following the 38 minutes it takes to rescue Talkin’ Barbie from her plastic bondage, your daughter hits the button and you hear “What the F*ck!” Quite naturally, you rush to wash that sweet girl’s mouth out with soap … and then she tells you it was the doll.

This is (allegedly) a true story.

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Burger King Japan Brings Back the Strangely Popular Black Burger

BN-EM432_bkingj_D_20140911023522Well, if Dr. Seuss taught us anything, it’s that strangely-colored food just tastes better (and can be eaten on a on a train, in the rain, in a boat, with a goat…).

But it isn’t green eggs and ham that have won the hearts of Burger King Japan‘s customers — it’s a black burger, complete with black bun, black cheese and black sauce. And while we, personally, may think the sandwich more closely resembles industrial waste than a viable lunch option, we are in the minority.

The black burgers, now called The Kuro Pearl burger and Kuro Diamond burger (“kuro” meaning black), were first introduced for a limited time in 2012. They became so popular that they outsold all other new products the company offered that year. Due to high demand, the burgers were temporarily brought back again in 2013. Now, the burger chain is hoping for an equally-warm welcome the third time around. Read more

Q&A: What’s the Secret Sauce Behind Successful Content Marketing?

Content Marketing

One thing we can all agree on in the contentious world of content marketing: it’s important and it’s incredibly hard to predict.

We spoke with Skip Besthoff, CEO of content analytics software company InboundWriter, to learn more.

He tells us that it’s quite simple, really: as much as we’d like to think it’s all about the quality of the writing, topics and placement can determine whether a given piece will be successful ahead of time with a remarkable degree of accuracy.

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A Day in the Life of a Marketer: Long Hours, No Lunch, Dashed Dreams of Being an ‘Artist’

Oh good, it’s not just me.

According to a new survey conducted by AtTask in partnership with MarketingProfs, life is hard for modern day marketers and public relations professionals.

Here’s the breakdown: we work long hours (the survey found that nearly one in four of us works 10 or more on an average day); we’re slaves to our inbox (3 to 4 hours each day on email); we routinely skip lunch breaks (56 percent of us eat at our desks).

Despite all this, we still feel like we can’t get anything done. Case in point:

“An astounding 40 percent of marketers blame manual tasks, unexpected projects and rework as primary sources of lost productivity.”

Sadder still, one in three of us still dreams of a career in the arts while another 16 percent are scheming to transition into a more left-brained field like business, law or engineering.

Does this all sound like the conversation you just had with your next-door office mate?

It’s deja vu all over again.

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Durex on Rumored ‘Pumpkin Spice’ Condom: No Comment

Happy Monday! It’s now unofficially Fall, which means you’ll see the word “pumpkin” trotted out even more often than the phrase “Apple product launch” this month.

Brands like Starbucks do not seem to have heeded the “enough with the pumpkin stuff!” warning; as friend of the site Dave Armon of Critical Mention wrote in one of those rare comments worth reading:

“Like it or not, Starbucks is killing it with this story. We spotted 75 airings on U.S. TV and radio stations today, through 5:45 p.m. ET. Personally, I’ll wait until I can see my breath before ordering anything pumpkin flavored.”

This point goes a long way toward explaining why Durex and its PR AOR Virgo Health refused to give Quartz a definitive answer on the most absurd trend to emerge from Twitter this weekend:

If it’s real, the client wins. If it’s fake, the client still wins. Why stop the world from wondering?

For the record, we’re leaning strongly toward fake and 100% unearned.

UPDATE: Yes, everyone was right. Durex’s statement to BuzzFeed:

“We can’t claim this one, but we do love it when people spice it up in the bedroom.”

See why they waited, though?

The Power of Packaging: Same Old Miller Lite ‘Tastes Better’ in Retro Cans

newmillerlitecan_fullsize_story1One way to revive sales of a product is to revamp the recipe, improve the taste, and bump up the quality. But why go to all that trouble when you can just change up the packaging and sell the same old swill in a shiny new — or in this case, old — can…and watch your profits climb?

It’s precisely this branding move that’s had Miller Lite patting itself on the back — the beer had been sold in blue cans since 2001, but as a promotional tie-in with “Anchorman 2” at the tail end of last year, the brand brought back its retro white labeling from the 80′s. As soon as the throwback cans hit store shelves, sales increased across the US.

Were people nostalgic for their drinking days of yore? Did the white can simply make Miller stand out in a sea of blue-labelled light beers? Maybe it was some combination of the two. One thing, though, is for certain: the label change caused a measurable shift in consumer opinion and demand.

“A lot of people said, ‘I think the beer even tastes better,’” Ryan Reis, senior director for Miller’s family of brands, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

That’s right — consumers even felt the resurrected can made Miller Lite, which hasn’t actually changed in the least, taste better. The power of packaging, people: don’t ever doubt it. Read more

Barbie Plays Dress Up for Latin America

barbies

They are the world.

Since Barbie hit the shelves in 1959, Mattel has been diligent in discovering news ways to make money from its greatest creation. Barbie has grown an extended family from different parts of the world or has entered the corporate world to capitalize on any array of wardrobe accouterments.

According to her official websiteBarbara Millicent Roberts has had close to 150 careers, represented more than 40 different nationalities and collaborated with more than 75 fashion designers. With one Barbie sold every 3 seconds somewhere in the world, she remains the world’s most popular doll and a powerhouse brand among girls of all ages.

Only one small problem: On the way to global domination, Barbie forgot that a new outfit doesn’t automatically mean a new culture … and then Mattel (may have) offended parts Latin America with a few tactful stereotypes.

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Bad PR: Malaysia Airlines ‘Ultimate Bucket List’ Competition

Malaysia_Airlines_B777-200ER

Straight from the files of What Were You Thinking? comes a “Bucket List”-themed contest from Malaysia Airlines that ranks as the second worst decision recently made by the beleaguered travel brand (the first was to retain its name in the “rebranding” campaign that started Friday with the elimination of 6,000 jobs).

As reported by Time, potential customers in Australia and New Zealand were recently invited to share their “bucket lists” (i.e., lists of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying) for a chance to win a free ticket.

We don’t even need to tell you why this idea was one of the worst possible choices for the company.

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A Pumpkin Spice-Flavored Summer? The Too-Early Trend Making Us Crazy

spotthespicechallengeJPEG

As has been made abundantly clear in previous posts about the pumpkin spice marketing craze, this PRNewser writer loves Fall. Like, really, really loves it. As a New Englander, there’s nothing more magical to me than a crisp October morning kissed by the scent of fresh apples, piles of leaves, and — yes — my mug of pumpkin spice tea. I’m a sucker for the Autumnal marketing madness and I’m not sorry. But though I may be a full-fledged Fall-ophile (is that a thing? I’m making it a thing), even I know there’s a time for nutmeg and Jack-O-Lanterns, and it is not — I repeat, NOT while the beaches are still crowded and kids are enjoying their last days of summer vacation.

We’ve been griping about the holiday creep for years when it comes to Christmas decorations lining store shelves before Halloween, and now, it seems, those pesky marketers have figured if they’re going to bulldoze Halloween for Christmas, why not just move the whole calender up a couple months and bulldoze summer with way-too-early Fall? I mean, the logic is undeniable.

We’ve been seeing Halloween candy in stores for a couple of weeks now; the seasonal Sam Adams currently being sold is Octoberfest; Starbucks is releasing its Pumpkin Spice Latte on August 25 (if you have a super secret passcode), and Twitter has even been aflutter over the potential introduction of Pumpkin Spice Oreos.

All way before we’ve even had our Labor Day barbeques. Read more

Cinnabon Doesn’t Need Advertising; Good Marketing and Branding Are Enough

Cinnabon-Reaches-1000th-Bakery-Milestone

Today’s conventional wisdom would suggest that aggressively expanding a brand solely focused on a singular sugary baked good is folly. Cinnabon isn’t quite the ill-fated Crumbs, despite some similarities, and President Kat Cole has been aiming high:

  • “We’re building the world’s greatest brand,” she told Nation’s Restaurant News.
  • “Eventually it will end up in the bucket with brands like Oreo and Hershey,” she told Forbes.

Indeed 2013 was a busy (and profitable) year for Cinnabon; the chain added 110 new locations, bringing its total now up to nearly 1,200 and saw $1 billion in retail product sales from all divisions worldwide, including franchising, consumer package goods and food-service licensed products.

It also spent only $33,000 in advertising.

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