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Product Launch

Girls Are Scientists, Too: LEGO Responds to Customer Demands for Female Minifigures

lego 1_0Last week we told you about Disney coming to the hard-won, customer-fueled realization that girls like Star Wars, too, and that it might be a good idea to make Princess Leia toys (who knew??). Now, thanks to consumer demand, LEGO has come to a similar conclusion; the company has just announced the approval of the “Research Institute” set, which will feature a female astronomer, chemist, and a paleontologist.

A few months back, we covered the story of a little girl named Charlotte, who, dissatisfied with the limited selection of female minifigures and their stereotypical themes (beauty parlor, shopping, etc.), wrote a strongly-worded letter to LEGO, saying:

“My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I have LEGOs, but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. Today I went to a store and saw LEGOs in two sections…All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun OK?!?”

Little Charlotte, it seems, is nowhere near alone in her strong sentiment; Read more

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Disney to Make Princess Leia Toys Thanks to #WeWantLeia Hashtag

leiaBack in May, Disney announced it would be rolling out a new line of Star Wars themed toys, which will be available for purchase in Disney stores. As excited customers browsed through the soon-to-be-collectibles, they quickly noticed the lack of products featuring female characters — Sure, Luke and R2 and Han and Vader were all represented, but where was the no-nonsense heroine Princess Leia?

A mother shopping for her daughter asked Disney that exact question via Twitter, to which the brand responded:

Read more

The New York Times Has Answer for Lost Revenue in Newspapers: NYT Opinion App

NYT OpinionLove to complain? Love to gripe? Love to just get it all off your chest? Basically, are you from New York?

If so, there’s now an app for that too. Introducing The New York Times’ answer to lost revenue in this new economy where everyone reads news on this Interweb thingy: NYT OpinionSomeone in the NYT Company is doing their homework because this says to the publishing world, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em … and then editorialize it.”

They did and it’s working.

(NOTE: I am not from New York, but all my colleagues on PRNewser [including our fearless leader] are, so this will probably be my last post for that wise crack. Crap.) Read more

Adventures in Marketing: Dothraki Language Course Is a Real Thing

Living Language Dothraki_ A Conversational Language Course Based on the Hit Original HBO Series Game of Thrones(Paperback) Book | HBO ShopHave you ever wanted to ask out the Mother of Dragons herself, Daenerys Targaryen, but were held back only by the language barrier? Never fear: Language Dothraki: A Conversational Language Course Based on the Hit Original HBO Series Game of Thrones is here.

A mouthful of a name? Sure. But so are most of the names in the book series and show. The new guide to Dothraki, compiled by acclaimed language and culture consultant David J. Peterson, features over 500 words and phrases, some of which were made up exclusively for the course, and will cover everything from vocabulary and grammar to pronunciation and cultural notes.

Three versions of the system (the basic package, the expanded online course, and one with a companion mobile app) will be available for your educational needs on October 7th, but all three are currently available for pre-order — because the marketers are no dummies, and likely wanted to ensure the promo was announced while the current season of the show was going strong. Read more

Will You Be Pitching to Ezra Klein’s Vox?

It’s a worthy question, because despite former Washington Post writer Ezra Klein’s wonky history reporting on economics, his new venture Vox promises to cover “Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, food, sports, and everything else that matters.”

This promo video also serves as a look into the current state of reporting. When was the last time you saw a trailer for a news organization?

Klein’s challenge is to convince the public to pay attention to factual stories that don’t contain the latest form of visual distraction. As the founder himself puts it, he’s betting the bank that readers will eat their media veggies as long as the material isn’t presented in such an unappealing “this is good for you but we guarantee you will hate it” way.

We’re very interested in seeing where Vox goes with this concept, but for now the launch is a nice reminder of the inherent challenge of getting people to click and, referring to the “understand the news” tagline, truly absorb informative content.

Surely you understand.

Are You Drunk Enough to Join This ‘Niche Network?’

No, that’s not a trick question…or is it?

The almost-too-clever LIVR (as in “liver failure”) requires users to attach a breathalyzer to their smartphones—and only those with blood-alcohol levels above the legal limit may proceed.

Why would you want to join such a network? We’ll let its supposed creators (who do not in any way embody certain longstanding stereotypes) explain:

We can’t quite agree that “our best ideas are found at the bottom of a glass”, and we almost hope this app is a joke—the breathalyzer itself has us leaning toward “SXSW stunt pitch that worked.”

Read more

Are ‘Connected Appliances’ the Next Big Thing, or What?

One way to bring attention to your client’s burgeoning industry: sell it to Google. The company’s $3.2 billion purchase of “smart home” startup Nest was the best possible PR for the push to synchronize appliances, which has yet to catch on despite all the press because it sounds a little weird.

This morning, however, we found ourselves strangely compelled by this demonstration of the world’s first “connected washing machine” via Berg, a UK cloud service company.

Today the product scored a mention in The Guardian, and based on the headline/pitch we can see why…

Read more

Samsung Tones It Way Down for New Galaxy Launch

Samsung Galaxy S IV Debut 1

Call off the brass section

Last week we asked whether tech companies should stop scheduling big events for every upgrade and “new” product launch. The answer was a nearly universal “no”—and Samsung seems to have gotten the message.

The New York Times tells us to expect less “singing and dancing” and more fawning over gizmos as the company introduces the public to the Galaxy S5.

Read more

When Do Tech Updates and ‘Product’ Launches Deserve Their Own Press Events?

Good question.

You’ve probably already noticed that Facebook got plenty of media attention and a nice big stock bounce after timing the “Paper” announcement to coincide with its impressive Q4 earnings report. But as a certain friend of the site said, Zuckerberg could score headlines for installing new urinals in his office.

Facebook is not quite like any other brand, and of course events ultimately serve to impress multiple parties: journalists, stakeholders, advertisers and—indirectly—the general public.

The question: when is an announcement from an established tech company important enough to justify its own press event? Did Instagram Direct really deserve a “share a moment” night?

Google Glass Almost Looks Normal Now

We figured Google had to have plans to make Glass a little more palatable.

When The Simpsons makes you look bad you know it’s time to move, because someone wrote Sunday’s jokes months ago and they still felt fresh (especially after the terribly racist “Comic Book Guy Gets a Japanese Girlfriend” episode).

Here’s CNN‘s take on the newer, friendlier Glass:

Today the upgrade scored a New York Times writeup thanks to its new prescription partnership with insurer VSP and a designer interview in WWD (subscription req’d), but most bloggers just used the occasion to come up with new ways to make fun of the product.

Given that this is Google, we feel like one day Glass will become so well-integrated with our eyewear that it won’t be noticeable—and then we will feel stupid.

For now, we’ll just point and laugh.

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