brands under fire

Lego Breaks Shell Partnership, Pushed by Greenpeace Video Campaign

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 9, 2014 02:11 PM

Greenpeace has scored another major victory in its savvy social- and content-driven lobbying of brands.

Lego announced today it will not renew its marketing contract with Shell, ending a partnership that dates back to the 1960s.

The environmental activist group targeted the world’s largest toymaker with a petition and a brilliantly-executed campaign: a YouTube video of a pristine Arctic environment, constructed from 265 pounds of Lego bricks and characters, becoming slowly submerged in oil.

Titled "Everything is NOT Awesome" in reference to The Lego Movie's "Everything is Awesome" anthem, the video (which linked to a petition) has garnered nearly 6 million views to date.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Now the World's Largest Toy Company, LEGO Sees Success in Product Diversity

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 5, 2014 04:22 PM

Brick by brick, business deal by business deal, LEGO built itself into a toy-manufacturing juggernaut this year so much that it now has passed Mattel to be the world's toy sales leader.  

The rise became official in the first half of the year as LEGO rode the success of The LEGO Movie to $468 million in sales at the box office and all of the related merchandise sales. In the first six months, its revenue rose 11 percent, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Conversely, the broad portfolios of Mattel and Hasbro have hurt the brands' overall standing, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. The former has taken a hit with its Barbie products while Hasbro’s board games are sliding. LEGO, meanwhile, is devoted to pretty much one product with many variations on the theme.Continue reading...

campaigns

Goodbye, Kitty: Japan Sends Hello Kitty into Orbit to Boost Space Program

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 14, 2014 01:42 PM

NASA isn't the only space program in jeopardy. Japan, for one, is also trying to re-engage young minds with the fascinations of space using a tried and true method: Hello Kitty.

The iconic figure, which is celebrating its 40th birthday, has created billions of dollars in revenue for its owner, Sanrio, and Japan hopes that its internationally-recognized animated toy will drive the same kind of cultural interest for its space program. 

To get more private companies interested in using satellites, the government has invested $40 million toward the project, Reuters reports. The satellite carrying the 1.6-inch Hello Kitty figurine was fine-tuned over a couple of months of experimentation and is about the size of a garbage can.Continue reading...

brands under fire

LEGO Protests Go Global as Greenpeace Targets Shell Partnership

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 29, 2014 02:19 PM

As part of an ongoing effort by Greenpeace, more than 50 children protested today outside Shell’s London headquarters, building three massive LEGO Arctic animals while Greenpeace volunteers and parents looked on. The peaceful protest, which has spread to the US, is in response to LEGO's partnership with Shell on branded block sets that have been sold at gas stations in 33 countries—one of the largest promotional lines that LEGO has ever produced.

Since 2012, Shell's Arctic program has been under fire by environmental NGOs and regulators as its two drilling vessels, Noble Discoverer and Kulluk, both failed to meet pollution limits set by the US Clean Air Act. Nearly 700,000 people have signed a Greenpeace petition calling on the toy maker to end its deal with the oil brand. 

“Children are leading this playful protest because global warming, and what’s happening in the Arctic, is an enormous threat facing all children,” said Elena Polisano, Arctic campaigner at Greenpeace, in a press release. “LEGO is adored by kids, and it has a responsibility to look out for them. It’s unethical for LEGO to partner with any company that’s threatening kids’ future. LEGO’s endorsement of Shell is incredibly damaging because it helps Shell hide its role in the threat to the Arctic.”Continue reading...

what girls want

Barbie Settles Into the Corner Office (and LinkedIn) with Help from Female Entrepreneurs

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 1, 2014 02:22 PM

With already more than 150 careers under her tiny belt, Barbie, the iconic—and sometimes controversial—doll from Mattel, has officially become an entrepreneur as the doll's 2014 career of the year. The launch puts her in the company of a growing tide of female leaders, including the one-in-five that are leading startups. 

Like any smart entrepreneur, Barbie is already hard at work building her network on LinkedIn, where she's pitching her new business, "Dream Incubator," in which she acts "as a consultant, helping girls around the world play out their imagination, try on different careers, and explore the world around them."  

Her page features a lengthy resume, because after all, "when anything is possible, a girl is tempted to try everything she can," and includes insights from a group of female entrepreneurs, inlcuding the founders of One Kings Lane, Plum Alley, Girls Who Code and more, “who all have inspiring stories for girls today and are truly #unapologetic about living their dream.”Continue reading...

what girls want

Toy Brands Work with UK Politicians to Dispel Gender Bias

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 30, 2014 02:56 PM

For years, toy manufacturers have been padding their bottom lines with gender-specific play things, from action figures and race cars to princess gowns and kitchen sets. But now, UK politicians and activists hope to put an end to the pink-and-blue divide. 

Toy manufacturers and toy shops have met with the UK's women's minister Jenny Willott who encouraged the brands and shops to sell more toys to girls that don't rely on pink and princesses, and instead focus on branding chemistry and building sets for girls.  

The push by Willott is in reaction to less girls showing interest in STEM topics and related careers like engineering and science, which have long been dominated by males.

“Today was an important first step in looking at how well-made, well-marketed toys can encourage girls to take an interest in science and engineering— traditionally male-dominated territory,” said Willott, according to the Daily Mail. “Today we agreed to work together to look at customers' attitudes to toys and the choices they make in buying them.”Continue reading...

Sports Illustrated Throws Caution to the Wind for 50th Anniversary Barbie Issue

Posted by Dale Buss on February 12, 2014 04:04 PM

In a brand collaboration that could be described as the "Anti-Dove" campaign, Barbie and Sports Illustrated are getting together to celebrate the 50th anniversary edition of the magazine's swimsuit issue. And not surprisingly, social media has been atwitter over the implications.

The half-century edition of Sports Illlustrated's biggest issue of each year will hit newsstands and the internet next week, and it presents Barbie as a doll-size version of some of the magazine's supermodels, clad in a new version of the black-and-white swimsuit the Mattel doll wore when she was introduced in 1959.

It's a surprising partnership, to be sure, starting with the the fact that Barbie is aimed (mostly) at girls and Sports Illustrated is aimed (mostly) at men, which raises uncomfortable questions about why they're getting together. (Yes, Barbie is for adult collectors, too—that's why there will be a limited edition Sports Illustrated Barbie at Target).

The co-branded special issue is launching with a campaign called "Unapologetic", as both brands' owners clearly anticipated the hullaballoo that would ensue when two icons of hyperphotogenic femininity got together to get even more in the faces of their long-time foes.Continue reading...

brand extensions

Lego Movie Is a Success Before Film Even Hits Theaters, But Is There a TM Issue?

Posted by Abe Sauer on February 6, 2014 02:54 PM

"The first step to recover from your brickdiction is to admit you are powerless over bricks." That's the opening sentence from the book Brickdiction: A Seven Step Recovery Guide for People Addicted to LEGO®

Of course the irony about the book Brickdiction is that it's just a gag gift for that Lego lover you know, another brick in the expanding Legonomy that is about to go to a brand new level with Friday's release of The Lego Movie. With a staggering 98 percent "fresh" rating so far on film rating site Rotten Tomatoes, The Lego Movie is winning praise from critics across the board. (The one stick-in-the-mud is the NY Post.) The movie is so successful, in fact, that a sequel is already being built before the film's official release date.

With brands falling over each other to get a piece of the Legonomy, the question is not if The Lego Movie will be a success for the Lego franchise but how much of a success.Continue reading...

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