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license to thrill

The Seinfeld Soup Nazi No More, NYC's SoupMan Expands Brand

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 19, 2012 10:09 AM

The guy who inspired the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld way back when has certainly made his fame continue to work for him. His company, SoupMan, Inc. is not expanding beyond the product he is best known for (and we don’t mean unpredictable anger).

According to a company press release, the SoupMan name is about to be spilled over a wide variety of products in “categories that include kitchen accessories, foods, souvenirs, apparel, condiments, kitchen appliances, tabletop, and more.” Get ready for SoupMan magnets, ladles, and, for the kiddies, stuffed animals.

"The SoupMan name and logo has become iconic and, as such, we are thrilled to be a part of the brand building with strategic licensees as well as direct-to retail-opportunities," said Rob Stone, a partner at the brand-development firm Excel Corp. who will be leading the charge for SoupMan. Continue reading...

sip on this

Starbucks Grinds Out New Territory with Its Own Single-Cup Coffee Maker

Posted by Dale Buss on March 9, 2012 12:33 PM

Talk about vertical integration! Starbucks is taking the concept to new heights — er, depths — with its announcement of the imminent introduction of its own machine to make single cups of coffee.

The product, named Verismo, will be launched soon and sold at some Starbucks stores as well as specialty retail locations right away and then more heavily marketed and sold in the fall. The machine was developed with Krueger, a German-based company, and it "combines Starbucks signature Espresso Roast and drink recipes with precise Swiss engineering and a patent-pending high pressure extraction capability," Starbucks said in a press release.

The move is yet another bid by Starbucks to broaden and deepen its franchise over the last couple of years. The company also today, in Amsterdam, was scheduled to open its first "concept shop" laboratory meant to imbue its retail outlets with more "local flavor." Inspired by concept stores in its hometown of Seattle, the new Amsterdam store features in-house-baked cookies, for instance, and will test other ideas. It's housed in an old bank vault in the city's historic Rembrandt square.Continue reading...

brand extensions

Virgin Mobile Taps Young Richard Branson for Self-Mocking US Pitch

Posted by Barry Silverstein on March 7, 2012 12:04 PM

If nothing else, it has to be a lot of fun being associated with businesses owned by Virgin. Behind them all, whether it's Virgin Bingo or Virgin Hotels or another of the myriad Virgin-branded businesses, you can always bank (literally) on the sometimes loony but always shrewd iconic entrepreneur, Richard Branson, Virgin's brander-in-chief. Don't think of them as brand extensions so much as Branson extensions — reflections of the Virgin founder's personality, passions and interests.

You can pretty much depend on Branson's trademark wit and showmanship in the promotion of a Virgin brand. The latest campaign from Virgin Mobile USA is testament to that, going so far as to depict what it must have been like "growing up Branson."Continue reading...

brand extensions

LivingSocial is Now in the Credit Card Business

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 2, 2012 03:04 PM

In a bid to pull ahead of Groupon and other daily deals sites, LivingSocial is expanding its brand.

According to a report by Reuters, LivingSocial will launch its first credit card in the next few months, with no annual fee, offered with Chase and Visa to all U.S. subscribers in an effort to draw repeat customers for its merchant partners.

"Small and medium-sized local businesses will never be able to have their own credit card or loyalty program. We will be able to bring them the benefits of that," the company's CFO, John Bax, told Reuters.

Merchants will be offered short-term funding similar to other co-branded credit card and loyalty programs including deferred interest payments and rewards for spending. With ten purchases monthly, cardholders earn ten ‘Deal Bucks’ credits extensible to all LivingSocial daily deals and special offers such as discounted travel packages.

The move is designed to increase its utility to its subscribers — and counter critics who accuse the daily deal industry of advertising big ticket discounts and not cultivating loyalty or enough repeat business.Continue reading...

brand extensions

Even Hotels Wants You to Check Out Even Healthier

Posted by Barry Silverstein on February 29, 2012 12:04 PM

While some hotels may be considered trendy, you wouldn't think a major global hotel chain would watch lifestyle trends so carefully that it would launch brands around them.

But InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) is different. Back in 2004, IHG introduced Hotel Indigo, widely regarded as the first of the boutique hotel brands that started a trend among large hoteliers. In 2007, IHG started refurbishing its somewhat dowdy Holiday Inn brand and gave franchisees until the end of 2010 to "contemporize" or risk losing rights to use the iconic name. Today, most Holiday Inns have been updated to reflect a whole new look. Holiday Inn Express, which pioneered the limited-service hotel segment in 1990, is one of the fastest growing hotel brands.

Now IHG is bringing a new hotel brand to the chain's biggest U.S. cities, bucking the trend of major chains making investments in Asia and Europe while avoiding a soft and saturated North American market. The just-announced brand, called EVEN Hotels, is all about lifestyle — a healthy one.Continue reading...

kiddie brands

Lego Hits Brick Wall With Lego Friends for Girls

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 22, 2012 10:17 AM

For generations, Lego has been considered a pretty unisex toy. You could build anything with those colorful little plastic blocks, but that was before big-time partnerships and licensing ever became truly part of the marketing equation.

When you walk into a toy store and look at the Lego shelves, it’s not too hard to find Lego products aligned with things that are traditionally marketed to boys, and lately they've been co-branded: Lego Harry Pottery, Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, Lego Alien Conquest, etc. The strategy helped Lego engineer a massive brand turnaround, making about $1 billion last year in the U.S. alone. The next step, naturally? Creating Lego lines aimed at girls.

Having dipped a toe in the water with pink boxes containing brightly colored bricks and flowers, Lego went all out with the launch of Lego Friends, a line expressly targeted to girls, that launched in December. Not everyone, however, is convinced that gender-specific Lego is the way to go.Continue reading...

personal brands

Should Oprah Winfrey Regret Striking Out on Her OWN?

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 14, 2012 02:04 PM

Oprah Winfrey made a major faux pas during Sunday's Grammy Award broadcast on Sunday night by tweeting: “Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Neilsen box,” as OWN debuted the latest episode of Winfrey's flagship series, Oprah’s Next Chapter.

Not only did Oprah violate Nielsen rules, (and misspell its name as "Neilsen"), she surprised and offended many. In fact, social media experts like Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, Gary Vaynerchuk and New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter all questioned if the tweet really came from Oprah.

Indeed it did. She also defended the action after a Twitter follower called the request "desperate" by responding: "'desperate' not ever part of my vocab." Is this what Brand Oprah has come to?Continue reading...

branded entertainment

Hasbro Transforms Into Movie Studio

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 14, 2012 01:01 PM

When you Google "Hasbro," the company is identified as “Hasbro Toys, Games, Action Figures and More.” While the first three have dominated the company’s business for most of its 89 years, it’s that last part that is getting a lot of the company’s attention these days.

The “and more” has taken the form of TV and film productions related to Hasbro products. Thanks to the success of the Transformers films, which have grossed $2.6 billion worldwide and are based on the toys that were strewn across the playrooms of little boys in the mid-’80s, Hasbro has begun delving deeper into the worlds of television and film production, according to the New York Times.

Helping to build Hasbro’s confidence in this area is the success of its G.I. Joe movie, which grossed $302 million worldwide. Now a sequel to that film is coming out this summer as well as an action-adventure film based on the Hasbro game Battleship, which was promoted with a Super Bowl commercial (at top).Continue reading...

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