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no kidding around

Will Sesame Street's Elmo Toy Biz Bear Brunt of Puppeteer’s Legal Problems?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 21, 2012 09:19 AM

In 1985, Elmo pushed aside Grover, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and even Ernie and Bert to make his way to the front of the pack on Sesame Street. And he’s been leading the way ever since, pulling in viewers for the show and big bucks for anybody who finds a way to sell an Elmo-related product.

But now the man who brought Elmo to life, Kevin Clash, will no longer be pulling the puppet onto his arm, thanks to allegations that Clash had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 15-year-old and possibly other young men. This came on top of allegations from another young man that have since been recanted. Whether it is true or not, damage has been done to the Elmo brand and Sesame wanted to control that as quickly as possible. Clash resigned from the show Tuesday and in what Children’s Television Workshop called “a sad day for Sesame Street.”

Elmo products, of course, have been a big staple of holiday wish lists for children for close to 30 years now and this season is no different. This year’s include the $39.99 LOL Elmo, which is a direct descendant of the Tickle Me Elmo doll that set sales records years ago, and Let’s Rock! Elmo, which sings and comes with a drum set and microphone. Hasbro, which is the main toy licensee for Sesame Street, put out a statement Tuesday that expressed confidence that Elmo will still be an important part of the show for years to come, the New York Times reports

“People are making the separation that this is about Kevin Clash, this is not about Elmo,” said Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of Time to Play magazine, according to the Times. “The more people make the separation, the less effect on sales.” Silver says Sesame Street-related toys bring in about $75 million annually and Elmo accounts for 50 to 75 percent of that.Continue reading...

nation brands

Canada Uses the Crowd to Bring In the Crowd

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 20, 2012 02:12 PM

The Canadian Tourism Commission must be sick of selling the same old images — charming as they are — of the cobblestone streets of Quebec City, Toronto’s CN Tower, Montreal’s cathedrals, Vancouver’s Lookout, people playing hockey or skiing, Mounties on horseback, and random creatures (moose! geese!) in the wild.

The CTC knew there was a lot more out there to sell but they didn’t have the resources to dig them all up and sift through every last thing so they got with the times and crowdsourced their efforts. And when Canada crowdsources, it doesn’t go halfway.

The CTC’s 35 Million Directors project last summer asked all of its residents to take pictures and video of the things they love about where they live and send them in. A wealth of new material, more than 8,000 entries, poured into the CTC’s offices and now the organization has debuted its first ad in the campaign, using material from its contributors.Continue reading...


China's Most Famous 'Diaosi' Loser Now a Brand Spokesman Favorite

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 20, 2012 01:25 PM

Six months after posting a low-budget, self-made, 12-minute video of himself, the US-born Mike Sui has been tapped by the NFL and Nike, Netease, Puma, Lenovo and, now, Nescafe, to give their respective brands a sense of humor and some attitude in China.

But the rise and popularity of the teacher turned actor and comedian — who's half-Chinese, half-American, and lovingly known as "diaosi Mike 隋" — also says something about a major change in how the nation's youth see themselves. That's right, China's Gen Y has become self aware.Continue reading...

celebrity brandmatch

UGG Keeps on Chugging with New Tom Brady Campaign

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 19, 2012 11:18 AM

A few years ago, UGG was stomping all over its competitors, but these days, the Australian company is just dancing as fast it can to keep consumers buying.

Yes, there are still queues at the UGG store in New York's Soho district, but that's mostly among tourists, which is why the brand is opening in the trendier Meatpacking district, joining Patagonia and Lululemon in cozying up to crowds at the Standard Hotel and upmarket retailers such as Jeffrey in a bid to woo higher-end shoppers.

The brand sparked a sheepskin boot craze more than a decade ago, and while it's trying to shore up its US business with a new commercial featuring brand ambassador Tom Brady ("Pink Slip," above) and a new store aimed at men, its popularity persists in markets such as the UK, where this month, the company is opening its seventh concept store and working hard to woo kids of all ages.Continue reading...

sip on this

Cheerwine: America's Local Soft Drink "Legend" With a Big Heart

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 13, 2012 06:17 PM

Cheerwine is the last soft drink brand in America still owned by its founding family after four generations. The bubbly, wild cherry-flavored soft drink has a cult following and a distribution deal with Pepsi Beverages to be available in all 50 states by their 100th anniversary in 2017.

It’s known as the “Nectar of the South” by loyal fans, including indie rockers, The Avett Brothers, who performed a charity concert in October called Legendary Giveback: Tour of Duty, to benefit three family aid organizations: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Operation Homefront and the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital, as part of an overall campaign called “Legend” created by NY-based agency Woods Witt Dealy & Sons. 

The marketing objective of “Legend” is to leverage an existing fan base and grow brand awareness from the regional to the national level. Fans unable to attend the sold-out concert in person were invited to go online and pledge their time to volunteer with any charity or community organization through Cheerwine's website or Facebook page in return for an access code to view a livestream of the concert. 

Nearly 28,000 entered a related sweepstakes offering a grand prize of a VIP trip to the concert and a meet-and-greet with the Avett Brothers, as well as other prizes including pairs of tickets, Giveback T-shirts, posters and Cheerwine coupons. In addition, the town that pledged the most hours (Bristol, Tennessee) was awarded Cheerwine merchandise and cash to host live Legendary Giveback viewing parties, and more than 2,000 people pledged to give back over 30,000 hours to their local community.Continue reading...

brand ambassadors

Kriss and Tell: Why Gun Brand Went All In With Paula Broadwell as Firearm Model

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 13, 2012 11:17 AM

"It's belittling her experience with firearms and her experience. She is a West Point grad."

So went part of a statement to brandchannel by Robert Farago, publisher of the popular gun blog The Truth About Guns. Farago was speaking of a new New York Times profile of Paula Broadwell — disgraced biographer and former mistress of former CIA Director David Petraeus —that referred to the author as "a model for a machine gun manufacturer." Farago further called ther Times assessment "condescending."

Watch the promotional video for Kriss, the "machine gun manufacturer" in question, featuring Broadwell and it's hard not to agree. Then again, Broadwell's own LinkedIn account lists her as a "demonstrator/model for Kriss." Broadwell's speaker bio for the "The PPL" — a media space attached to the Sept. 2012 Democratic National Convention — notes that she is "a sponsored 1/2 Ironman Triathlete and a female model/demonstrator for KRISS (.45 caliber machine gun manufacturer)." It's a detail that her Penguin publishing bio, however, lacks.

The Broadwell scandal comes as the Kriss brand is having its best year ever. After appearing in The Avengers, the Kriss Vector took other starring roles in the hands of athletic women like Kate Beckinsale in 2012 hits Total Recall and in Resident Evil: Retribution. (Milla Jovovich even shot a promotional video shooting a Kriss, not unlike Broadwell's promo.)

Now, Kriss is getting even more name recognition thanks to its attachment to the author who helped bring down, in the NYT's words, "the nation’s top spy."Continue reading...

no kidding around

Sesame Street Sees Elmo Puppeteer Accuser Recant [UDPATE]

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 12, 2012 03:19 PM

Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who not only performs as Elmo on Sesame Street but created the character's persona and inimitable voice, is taking a leave of absence in the wake of allegations he had a relationship with a 16-year-old boy. The accuser, now 23, says the relationship happened seven years ago when Clash was 45; Clash maintains that their relationship was consensual and occurred when his accuser was the legal age of consent.

UPDATE: Clash's accuser today recanted, as reported by the New York Times, which ran this quote from Clash: "I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further." The rest of our original post:

Clash issued a statement on Monday that was cited by CNN: "I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter. I had a relationship with the accuser. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation."

The unidentified accuser is being represented by a legal firm retained by one of the victims in former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky's criminal trial. The accusation is an unfortunate turn of events, one that Sesame Workshop (formerly the Children's Television Workshop) no doubt hopes won't tarnish its standing as one of the world's leading creators of children's entertainment, and a brand that relies on the trust of parents, educators and legislators, as the recent U.S. presidential election's roping-in of Big Bird by Mitt Romney as the symbol of PBS makes clear.Continue reading...

in the spotlight

Lance Armstrong Loses Seven Titles In One Blow

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 22, 2012 10:01 AM

It took years of work and sacrifice to win seven straight Tours de France, but it only took a minute for all seven to be taken off the record of the now-disgraced Lance Armstrong.

The announcement finally came Monday morning that cycling’s governing body, the International Cycling Union (which couldn't catch Armstrong red-handed through 218 tests) was erasing the famed rider’s slate since there was plenty of evidence that Armstrong himself hadn’t exactly been clean during his cycling days, and was banning him for life from competing in the sport.

The man who made the Nike anti-doping commercial above has denied it vehemently, of course, but his fellow riders have one by one decided to talk about what they saw him do and how they were, well, Strongarmed into cooperating, as the New York Times reported in a damning recap of their testimony.In the wake of the ICU decision, one of Armstrong's last remaining sponsors — Oakley — announced it's severing ties with the cyclist.Continue reading...

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