• Rock 'N' Roll Brands Take Center Stage
    Amid plunging record sales and Internet file sharing, rock stars are eagerly plastering their names everywhere. Their "brands" are now found in TV commercials, tour sponsorships, and merchandise as diverse as cars, private-label wines and celebrity cruises. Some rockers, like Bruce Springsteen, still refuse to form corporate partnerships. But others say partnerships and branding have to be part of their musical portfolios, especially for little-known bands. The rock band Kiss has been among the most prolific merchandisers, selling products ranging from condoms to the "Kiss Kasket," a limited-edition coffin. Its latest offerings include musical toothbrushes and window blinds. ...
  • Cross-Breeding Products New Frontier
    Marketers' "don't-overextend" mind-set has so dominated companies' approach to developing new products that it has led them to ignore a critical alternative: cross-breeding. Instead of using features from many but similar product categories, cross-breeding uses only two dissimilar and even highly remote product categories to spark the conception of a truly new product. Classic examples of hybrid products include the sofa-bed, fax-phone, and fridge-freezer. What is new, however, is forming hybrids by using products from dissimilar or even highly remote product categories. For example, DeLonghi SpA and Kenwood produce a stylish two-slice toaster with built-in FM radio. LG Electronicshas ...
  • Entrepreneur Raises $200 Million For Electric Car Venture
    Former SAP executive Shai Agassi has raised $200 million to fund a company named Better Place that he hopes will jump-start mass adoption of electric vehicles. Agassi's company plans to operate much like a mobile-phone service provider by selling or leasing electric cars to consumers in packages that include monthly service fees. It will also operate networks of charging locations and service stations that replace batteries for people who are on the road. Networking software developed by Agassi's programmers will coordinate the whole system, which is called a "smart grid." The plan is to set up service stations that ...
  • United Artist's Promotion: $869.98 DVD Collection
    United Artists--the legendary but faded film label that Tom Cruise took over last year--is selling a giant 90-title DVD set as part of an unusual marketing campaign aimed at restoring its brand to prominence. Encased in frosted glass and weighing nearly 30 pounds, the set carries a suggested retail price of $869.98. UA's 18-month marketing effort will culminate in 2009, coinciding with the 90th anniversary of the studio's founding. The campaign will include a $20 million media blitz with print, radio and online components, a promotional partnership with Panasonic and a "United Artists Film Festival" that will visit 20 ...
  • New Study Says Successful Ads Tell Stories
    Advertisements that tell a branding story work better than ads that focus on product positioning, according to an intensive three-year study conducted by Advertising Research Foundation and American Association of Advertising Agencies. The report contends that, in many ways, advertising is stuck in the 20th century, which was dominated by a one-way transactional focus. Today, consumers interact with ads to "co-create" meaning that is powered by emotion and rich narrative. For the study--titled "On the Road to a New Effectiveness Model"--33 ads across 12 categories from brands like Budweiser, Campbell's Soup and MasterCard were analyzed by 14 leading ...
  • Macy's, Hilfiger Sign Exclusive Apparel Deal
    Macy's will be the exclusive retailer of Tommy Hilfiger sportswear in the U.S. beginning next fall. Macy's stores already sell Hilfiger men's, women's, accessories and home products, but the new arrangement means Hilfiger will phase out its sportswear distribution to other department stores. The deal also calls for a major ad campaign, marketing initiatives and the development of new products exclusively for Macy's. Tommy Hilfiger will continue to operate its own freestanding stores and sell online at tommy.com. All product distributed through Hilfiger's licensees--including home, footwear, accessories, watches and fragrances--will continue to be sold on a nonexclusive basis ...
  • Big Brewers Get Crafty About Their Beers
    Retail sales of craft beers made by major brewing companies or their affiliates grew at nearly three times the rate of independent craft brews through the first eight months of this year, according to market-research firm Nielsen Co. The big brewers' brands--including such top sellers as Molson Coors's Blue Moon and Miller's Henry Weinhard's Private Reserve--account for 25% of the category, an increase of four percentage points from a year earlier. The major brewers generally avoid using the parent company's name on the labels for their craft beers. Anheuser-Busch, for example, lists Green Valley Brewing Co. as the maker ...
  • Microsoft Rides High On Vista, Office, 'Halo'
    Microsoft's usually sluggish stock rose 11% in after-hours trading yesterday after the company surprised analysts by boosting its annual sales forecast by $2 billion. Microsoft attribute the outcome to strong sales of products, including Windows Vista, Office 2007, computer server software and the "Halo 3" video game. The company continues to experience growing pains in its online division, however, posting a larger operating loss in that area as it continues to build the costly infrastructure it believes it needs to compete with Google and Yahoo. Microsoft overall saw its profits rise 23%, to $4.29 billion. Companywide revenues hit ...
  • Fox Scores With Taco Bell
    In the bottom of the sixth inning of the World Series broadcast Wednesday night, Fox cut to the Boston Red Sox bench. It captured players Royce Clayton, who was wired, and Coco Crisp engaging in 40 seconds of taped, cheerful gab about how to get a free crunchy seasoned beef tacos promised in a "Steal A Base, Steal A Taco" promotion for Taco Bell. Earlier, game announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver had also touted the promotion. Last night during Game 2, Jacoby Ellsbury's fourth-inning steal started the taco giveaway. Clayton, wired again, chatted up the taco deal, and ...
  • Feds Recruit For Government Jobs On Campus
    Sending mass e-mails to students, holding career fairs, taking them on tours of nearby federal agencies and hiring grad students as part-time staffers could increase interest in working for Uncle Sam, according to a two-year research project on how to market the government on college campuses. The project found that the more students know about the government, the more they like it, says Max Stier, president of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, the chief sponsor of the project. The partnership will release a report this morning as part of the kickoff to a national campaign--called "Making ...
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