• Prego Revamps Campaign, Doubles Spending
    Campbell's will double its spending behind Prego pasta sauce this year and is launching a new TV campaign today that has more of a focus on "taste differential." The series of five television advertisements will feature celebrities and fictional characters--such as Popeye's Olive Oyl--tinkering with their Prego sauce. They all reach the conclusion that they don't need to add anything. After getting hammered earlier this decade when Atkins dieters shunned pasta, sales of pasta sauce are simmering. Prego sales fell for three consecutive years before edging up last year by 1.4% to $250.4 million, according to Information Resources Inc. ...
  • Viagra Ads Make Point Without Making Sense
    A new campaign for Viagra airing in Canada features middle-aged men and women speaking in a made-up language except for one word: Viagra. "Viagra spanglecheff?" says a man to a friend at a bowling alley in one execution. "Spanglecheff?" his friend asks. "Minky Viagra noni noni boo-boo plats!" the first man replies, with a grin that suggests he is not talking about the drug's side effects. The ads end with the slogan, "The International Language of Viagra." Maxine Thomas, an executive at Taxi, the agency in Toronto that produced the campaign, said the ads take advantage of ...
  • Led By Net, Agency Revs Rise 8.8% In U.S.
    Showing its hottest growth in marketing services, thanks to digital, revenue for U.S. marketing-communications agencies jumped 8.8% to $28.2 billion in 2006, according to the 63rd annual Advertising Age Agency Report. Agency revenue from traditional advertising and media rose just 4.2% to $13.1 billion, the weakest growth since 2003, the first full year of the ad recovery. In 2006, U.S. agencies collectively generated less than half of their revenue--46.4%--from traditional advertising and media planning/buying, with the rest coming from a range of marketing services, including digital/interactive, direct marketing, sales promotion, health care and PR. U.S. interactive-agency revenue rocketed 23.1%, ...
  • KFC, Taco Bell Proclaim They Are Trans-Fat-Free
    KFC and sister brand Taco Bell announced today that all of its U.S. restaurants have stopped using artery-clogging trans fat. KFC said in October that it was switching to a new soybean oil; all single-brand Taco Bells have been converted to a canola oil. Multibrand locations will issue the soybean oil, the fast-food chain says. KFC is unveiling TV advertising today to promote its switch. Stores will put up signs touting the conversion, and its chicken buckets will be stamped with a banner proclaiming that its chicken has zero grams of trans fat per serving within a week or ...
  • Companies Creating Communities With Core Customers
    Leading consumer brands are seeking to deepen their relationships with core customers by creating communities that ideally lead to higher sales. Retailers, in particular, are augmenting events at their traditional bricks-and-mortar stores with online efforts aimed at striking up a "conversation" with customers. Twice a week, 30 or more people gather at the Nike store in Portland, Oregon, and go for an evening run. Afterward, the members of the Niketown running club chat in the store over refreshments. At the Whole Foods supermarket in Seattle, shoppers take part in a "singles" night the first Friday of every ...
  • Amazon Offers Shipping Expertise To Small Companies
    Amazon.com is opening up a program that allows independent sellers who list their goods on its site to use its network of more than 20 distribution centers worldwide. Now vendors that list their items elsewhere--on their own site, through Google, or even on rival eBay--can use the service. The program is part of a broader set of tools called Amazon Web Services, an effort by the e-commerce pioneer to rent out complicated parts of its infrastructure to smaller companies that will pay for the privilege of lightening their workload. It's aimed at small retailers that have filled up the ...
  • Motorola Beset By Post-Razr Blues
    After Razr, Motorola fell behind on developing a phone with the next generation of technology--a mistake especially hazardous in cellphones, where it can take two to three years to develop a new line. As a result, profit margins narrowed, the company swung to a loss, key executives left, the stock price dropped and activist investor Carl Icahn began campaigning for a board seat. Meanwhile, Motorola faced corporate infighting during the transition to a new CEO--Ed Zander--from outside the industry, which interrupted new-product development. Zander struggled to bring his Silicon Valley ways to the cellphone world. On one occasion, ...
  • Microsoft Results Strong Response To Vista
    Microsoft yesterday announced a 65% surge in quarterly earnings--exceeding Wall Street's expectations and indicating that consumer response to the January launch of Windows Vista and Office 2007 has been enthusiastic. For its fiscal third quarter ended March 31, the software giant reported net income of $4.9 billion, or 50 cents a share, on sales of $14.4 billion. "The PC market was stronger than we thought," says Charly Tracy, Microsoft's director of investor relations. Beset by a series of delays, Vista's release came at least two years later than originally projected. It arrived amid concerns about its complexity and the ...
  • Barbie Goes Interactive As Global Sales Rise
    Hoping that blending girls' love of music, fashion and the Internet will keep 10-year-old girls interested in Barbie, Mattel yesterday unwrapped Barbie Girls--a multipronged brand that features a free Web site: BarbieGirls.com. It will allow children to create their own virtual characters, design their own room and try on clothes at a cyber mall. BarbieGirls.com targets the 7-to-12 age group, the same age range Barbie.com attracts. But BarbieGirls.com provides a much more interactive experience than Barbie.com, where play is limited to online games and other content. This summer, Mattel will introduce a Barbie-inspired handheld MP3 music device ...
  • Chocolate Lovers Rebel Against Proposed Changes
    Chocolate purists have undertaken a grassroots letter-writing campaign to the Food and Drug Administration protesting a proposed change to food standard definitions that would let manufacturers use vegetable fat instead of cocoa butter in the production of chocolate products. The change is proposed in an appendix to a 35-page petition signed by a diverse set of culinary groups--juice producers, meat canners and the chocolate lobby. More than 225 comments to the petition by chocolate lovers have been processed so far by the agency, and bloggers are pressing for more. If the change is approved, products would still ...
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