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...

brand extensions

Smell Ball! New York Yankees Scents a Branding Opportunity

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 13, 2012 11:08 AM

The Yankees have had some odd brand extensions before: How about some Yankees Sod and Grass Seed at Home Depot for your own Field of Dreams? Or a Yankees Halloween lawn ornament? Or maybe you need a few $545 New York Yankees stained-glass hanging billiards light?

For the fan that wants to actually smell like a Yankee, though, they are finally in luck. The team has approved an official fragrance, and plans to unveil two different perfumes later this month, very simply entitled “New York Yankees” (for him) and “New York Yankees For Her,” according to ESPN.

Fox Sports points out that the team may have been inspired by the success of shortstop Derek Jeter’s Driven from Avon, which went on sale in November 2006. It’s done so well that Avon introduced Driven Black, which is “a mysterious blend of exotic saffron, blood orange and precious woods.” Who could ask for anything more?Continue reading...

brand extensions

Amazon Eyes Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores. But Will They Deliver?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 7, 2012 03:51 PM

Most retailers are trying to find a way to get more consumers to go online. The reasons are simple: less overhead, fewer employees with health insurance, and a much higher profit margin.

But Amazon isn’t like other retailers. The word on the street in its home base of Seattle is that Amazon is thinking about opening its first-ever brick-and-mortar location, according to the Good E-Reader blog. “Amazon sources close to the situation” tell the site that the company is aiming to open the store in the next few months. 

“This project is a test to gauge the market and see if a chain of stores would be profitable,” Good E-Reader reports. “They intend on going with the small boutique route with the main emphasis on books from their growing line of Amazon Exclusives and selling their e-readers and tablets.” At least they'll have a well-honed delivery system.Continue reading...

web watch

HuffPo TV: Arianna Huffington Looks to Boost Engagement with Video

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 3, 2012 02:11 PM

The Huffington Post is expanding its brand on video. The HuffPost Streaming Network will launch this summer with 12 hours of original video five days a week. With the goal of being "CNN meets YouTube" and a “never-ending talkshow,” HuffPo cofounder Roy Sekof will oversee the new video network , to which AOL is committing at least 100 employees exclusively, with current editors and reporters expected to contribute as well.

AOL paid $315 million to acquire Huffington Post in a deal that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong calls "the Super Bowl bet we made on Arianna." Now it's ponying up at least $10 million to take the HuffPo brand into video. With a goal of producing up to 16 hours of video programming daily next year, it's a clear play for increased ad inventory and stickier content.Continue reading...

ad watch

Does Virgin Bingo's New Ad Push Branson's Elastic Brand Too Far?

Posted by Barry Silverstein on January 25, 2012 01:57 PM

There really seems to be no end to the far-flung Virgin brand empire. Richard Branson, the entrepreneurial and brash personification of the brand, is always pushing his way into new and often unrelated business ventures. Just weeks ago, Virgin Money took over Northern Rock's 75 bank branches in the UK, acquiring four million customers in the bargain.

It isn't Virgin's only foray into the world of money; in fact, you might say its Virgin Games division revolves around cash (or is a license to print money). The business unit includes Virgin Casino, Virgin Mobile Casino, Virgin Poker, and Virgin Bingo, which offers cash prizes worth thousands of pounds in progressive jackpots. And it's Virgin Bingo's latest ad campaign that may have a Brit or two raising an eyebrow — and asking how far the elastic brand that is Virgin can stretch.Continue reading...

brand extensions

Fujifilm’s Picture-Perfect Brand Extension: Anti-Aging Skin Cream

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 25, 2012 12:01 PM

You may not have heard of Astalift, but you will soon. The line of skin creams, which promises to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, is expanding from Asia to Europe. Its claims may not be unique, but the brand behind it is: Fujifilm.

Cosmetics, specifically anti-aging creams made from the same antioxidation technology used in preventing photos from fading, are the backbone of a brand extension which has kept Fujifilm alive in Asia, where Astalift has been available in Japan and China for the past couple of years, in a rapidly changing world where its core product, photography and film, shifted 180 degrees, leaving one major brand, the newly bankrupt Kodak, in its digital dust.

Applying its patented chemicals in new ways, with Astalift Fujifilm claims that Pico-Collagen penetrates the skin through cell gaps, working from the inside-out to restore suppleness and elasticity, and has built its Fujifilm Beauty brand around that claim, first in Asia and now coming to Europe. Using collagen in cosmetics is relatively new, but its use in preventing photographic images fading is tried and true.Continue reading...

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