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GNC Flexes For A Female Market

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on November 10, 2009 05:15 PM

General Nutrition Centers (GNC) has always sold mainstream nutrition products. But the retail chain is better known for its protein-packing, body-shaping supplements, a mostly masculine domain.

Now, a new GNC ad campaign promises something for the ladies: a product line called WELLbeING, whose names all begin with the verb “be”: be-Refreshed, be-Wholesome, be-Hot. They may sound like daily-affirmation reminders rather than actual supplements, yet GNC is banking on them to tap a market currently serviced by Bath & Body Works and the Body Shop – part of the category I call “mall stores my wife shops at while I kill time at Game Stop.”Continue reading...


For Retailers Hoping For A Turnaround, Christmas Ads Come Early

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on November 10, 2009 08:59 AM

Have you noticed a lot of holiday advertising already? Retail brands are spending more than last year on advertising, but it’s not because they expect consumers to gift each other like it’s December 2007.

The reality is, the consumer-spending pie is still smaller than pre-recession levels, and retailers are recognizing that it will take a “spend money to make money” approach to grab every coveted slice.Continue reading...

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start your engines

Hummer Brand Has Different Meanings For Owners And Pedestrians

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on November 2, 2009 06:26 PM

Pitying the Hummer owner who must endure gas-price increases is like feeling sorry for the McMansion resident with skyrocketing property taxes. But as Rob Walker notes in the New York Times, gas-guzzler drivers are people, too.

And if you’re one of these people – as Walker cites in a new report by the Journal of Consumer Research that explores “consumer moralism” – you’re probably justifying your Hummer purchase as a (manly) display of your “American exceptionalism, rugged individualism, love of the frontier, community and freedom.” Even if your heaviest cargo is the weekly haul from Costco.Continue reading...

branded beauty

Avon's Brand Evangelists Make Up For Losses

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on October 30, 2009 05:30 PM

Though the Avon Products brand has some challenges ahead, the chief Avon lady, CEO Andrea Jung, is singing a happy tune: despite sales declines in North America and China, the company’s third-quarter earnings beat estimates.

Avon came out on top by staying in tune with the makeup of the marketplace. It’s been focusing its appeal to the cash-strapped by promoting lower-priced products, and will be heavily targeting Latin America, where, the company says, people spend a high proportion of their income on beauty products.

Avon plans to lower its advertising budget, a strategy unlike the very expensive one undertaken by a well-known search-engine brand, but will hire more sales reps (while cutting 1,200 other jobs by 2013). It sounds like a plan that puts the focus on one-on-one customer interaction, which was what build the brand, rather than a broader blanketing of media messages. Reese Witherspoon remains the celebrity face of the brand.Continue reading...


MiGi Girls' Momologie Site Bombards Moms With Partner Links

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on October 29, 2009 10:16 AM

High-income moms saddened by the crumbling of Cookie magazine can rejoice: the duo known as the MiGi Girls, two veterans of the Martha Stewart brand who became mini-Marthas themselves on television and online, have launched their latest venture, Momologie, which targets mothers, but more specifically mothers who like to shop. A lot.

Like Ms. Stewart, Michele Adams and Gia Russo have branded themselves as lifestyle gurus, and it’s a lifestyle that stresses simplicity and, well, “style.” Min Online notes that “moms are the current stars of the Internet.” Team MiGi is well positioned to capitalize on this growing market.

The site is boosted by a daily newsletter, plus the obligatory Facebook and Twitter accounts. As for the content, it seems that most pages cannot be published without a link to another site, usually a retailer, likely a partner of some kind. But unlike the service magazines that would pepper a winter-clothing article with brand names and price tags, Momologie (which sounds a lot like Anthropologie, another high-end lifestyle brand) simply lists some suggestions in general terms – “shrunken blazer” or “knit hat” – but those words link out to Ann Taylor or Delia’s. (A small ShopStyle widget runs at the bottom of the page.) It’s smart Web-copy presentation, while offering plenty of brand-partnership opportunities.Continue reading...

when brands collide

MySpace To Facebook: Thanks For The Add!

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on October 27, 2009 07:26 PM

While it’s not Coke and Pespi sharing high-fructose corn syrup, a potential content-sharing plan between social-spacers Facebook and MySpace represents a major marriage of two brands that have caused many heated user rivalries.

This announcement comes a few days after MySpace chief Owen Van Atta, a former Facebook executive, stressed that his current employer, now refocusing on entertainment content rather than full-scale social networking, is “fundamentally different” than his former company. The partnership, still in its planning stages, theoretically would allow Facebook users to connect to and share content from their MySpace accounts, content that will likely increase thanks to recent updates to its music features.Continue reading...


Microsoft Discovers “Family Guy” Is Vulgar, Water Is Wet

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on October 27, 2009 05:29 PM

Microsoft thought it would be a good idea to promote Windows 7 to the kids by sponsoring the upcoming Fox special "Family Guy Presents: Seth and Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show," starring “Family Guy” creator Seth McFarlane.

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the animated hit is aware that its shotgun-comedy strategy is “Who can we offend next?” But as Variety reported, Microsoft executives were taken aback when watching the October 16 taping of the episode that included the planned Windows 7 pitch:

For most of the special, however, MacFarlane and Borstein made typical "Family Guy"-style jokes, including riffs on deaf people, the Holocaust, feminine hygiene and incest.

Such material was apparently a bit much for Microsoft.

Microsoft, which will think twice next time before asking an intern what the cool kids like, decided to abandon its marketing plan, which included promoting the brand throughout the November 8 show so it could run commercial-free.Continue reading...

truth in packaging

FDA Questions Wisdom Of “Smart Choices”

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on October 26, 2009 05:59 PM

Maybe eating those Cocoa Puffs isn’t so smart after all.

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration announced it’s taking a closer look at the Smart Choices program, which qualifies products based on a set of nutritional data. Today, the food industry group behind the program – which includes major brands and brand families from Unilever to ConAgra – announced it will no longer encourage the use of its logo, featuring a green checkmark, on food packaging. (The logo will still be in use voluntarily, however, by brands including Kraft Foods.)

Last month, the New York Times revealed that the 500 "Smart Choices" included mayonnaise, Fudgsicle bars, and enough sugary cereals to power an elementary school playground. Nutritionists were outraged. Consumers, having to decipher yet another piece of information on a food package, were likely confused (which was, arguably, the program's intention).Continue reading...

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