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brands under fire

Penn State Nittany Lions Fans Hide Their Pride

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 24, 2011 11:06 AM

With the winter holidays coming fast, Penn State fans can usually expect to get a random new piece of gear with a Nittany Lions logo on it (a 32-quarter inflatable beach cooler, maybe?) or at least a new PSU sweatshirt or T-shirt.

However, thanks to the heinous child-molestation charges against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, people are keeping their PSU merchandise in their bureaus these days and sales of PSU-related sports gear is down 40%, according to CNN.com. It's a sad Penn State of affairs, indeed, for the once-proud Lions and Penn supporters.Continue reading...

ad watch

Forget Old Spice Guy - Meet Old Spice Schlub

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 22, 2011 11:25 AM

In branding's equivalent of the post-Johnny Carson era on TV, P&G's Old Spice brand (and its agency, W+K) keeps grappling with the post-Old Spice Guy/Isaiah Mustafa era. Following its sea captain character in September, here's its latest 'dude' for its U.S. marketing — a schlub who channels his inner hunk with the help of Old Spice body wash.

brand mascots

The Original Lady in Red, Betty Crocker, Goes Digital on her 90th Birthday

Posted by Dale Buss on November 21, 2011 11:01 AM

Yes, she's had a few cosmetic makeovers through the decades, to make sure she doesn't look school-marmish or like June Cleaver on the cake-mix boxes. But now that she's just turned 90 years old, Betty Crocker is undergoing one of the biggest changes ever: She's going digital. And that may be the best way for General Mills' baking-brand spokeswoman (a persona created in 1921 to answer home bakers' questions) to make it comfortably into the next century.

Betty's birthday celebration has been at the center of a new campaign by the brand that has included new cupcake recipes (Red Velvet Triple Stack and Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Caramel varieties sound particularly enticing), a promotional trip to the birthday "bash" at Betty Crocker Kitchens in Minneapolis attended by a 24-year-old Arizonan who won a contest, and a new version of the iconic Betty Crocker "Big Red" cookbook. Betty was already on Twitter and Facebook, but now she's got a new online destination that includes 1,500 recipes, 1,100 all-new photographs, an expanded store, and access to 85 videos and 400 additional recipes.Continue reading...

brand mascots

Kellogg Backs Off in Toucan Trademark Tussle with Nonprofit

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 16, 2011 11:31 AM

Feathers ruffled, Kellogg had contacted the tiny nonprofit Maya Archaeology Initiative back in August to tell it to stop using its toucan logo because it supposedly too closely resembled Toucan Sam of Froot Loops cereal fame. As the president of the nonprofit, Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli, commented, “This is a bit like the Washington Redskins claiming trademark infringement against the National Congress of American Indians."

Kellogg has apparently unruffled its feathers as the two sides resolved the trademark flap “amicably,” according to the Detroit Free Press. In fact, the little bit of stress for the people involved in MAI may have paid off big-time for the organization.

"After conversations with MAI to better understand how they intend to use this design, we worked with them to identify an approach to revise their trademark application that will enable them to continue using their logo for their not-for-profit fundraising efforts," stated Kris Charles, Kellogg's vice president for global communications and philanthropy, in an email to the Battle Creek Enquirer.

What's more, Kellogg “is contributing $100,000 to help launch one of the MAI's priority projects to improve the lives of the Maya people in Central America,” the Free Press reports, and the company “will also be featuring major Mayan accomplishments and a link to MAI's website on Kellogg's Froot Loops cereal boxes next year.”Continue reading...

brand mascots

Angry Birds Flips the Bird to Hockey Fans

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 14, 2011 04:06 PM

The Angry Birds game may have hit half a billion downloads recently, but the characters have yet to have their own animated show or appear in advertisements or actually represent anything other than the nice slingshotted birds they are.

But that’s all about to change. In the last month came the news of an Angry Birds TV channel and an Angry Birds movie in the works. And now a real, live, skating Angry Bird – with a stick. More precisely, a Hockey Bird. 

Toni Kysenius at Rovio Entertainment, the Finnish-based developer of the game, has created the new bird to be the mascot of next year’s Hockey World Championships in Finland and Sweden, according to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s website.Continue reading...


Like Halloween Candy, Are Brands Scaring Up Too Much of a Good Thing?

Posted by Dale Buss on October 31, 2011 02:02 PM

Brand mascots are perennial Halloween costume favorites (count the number of Angry Birds you spot trick or treating this year!). But just when you thought there coudn't possibly be another way for commercial culture to tap into Halloween, major brands are haunting the occasion with spooktacular tie-ins, including the annual Halloween Google Doodle on the Google homepage today.

OnStar, Kraft, Progressive Insurance, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and Honda are among the legions of brands with Halloween promotions this year. It adds up to a phantasmagoric overload that makes it really difficult for any single brand, promotion or Halloween-themed marketing campaign to stand out from the rest, especially with so many Halloween messages in commercials and TV programming. But it's all in good fun, and hasn't stopped an array of brand marketers from joining the fun.Continue reading...

brand mascots

Progressive Launches "Dress Like Flo" Halloween How-To Tips

Posted by Abe Sauer on October 25, 2011 07:03 PM

Sure, there'll be plenty of Nicki Minaj, Angry Birds and Black Swan costumes floating around this Halloween. Brands with strong, identifiable and popular spokespeople also will find themselves, as ever, the subject for costumes. Last year we ran not one, but two lists of branded Halloween costumes.

One of the more popular is sure to be Progressive Insurance spokesgal Flo, so to jump out ahead of those looking for DIY costume ideas based on Progressive insurance's Flo spokeswoman, the brand has put together a comprehensive guide on how to "Dress Like Fo."Continue reading...

logo no-no

Forget Texas - Don’t Mess With the Fighting Irish

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 20, 2011 12:31 PM

That little leprechaun mascot of the University of Notre Dame may seem cute, but he means business when it comes to his trademark. 

Chapman High School, located in a small town in northeastern Kansas, was destroyed in a 2008 tornado and re-opened earlier this year. Now it has to give up its Fighting Irish mascot because the Catholic University in Notre Dame, Indiana, thought the logo and mascot too closely resembled its own, according to the Kansas City Star

“Chapman school superintendent Lacee Sell said Notre Dame told school officials that the leprechaun is a federally registered trademark the district is not allowed to use,” the paper reports, and a school district attorney “suggested” that the high school not try to make a stand. So if you’ve got any ideas for a mascot and logo for Chapman, the school is having a contest now to find a new one.

The high school doesn’t need to give up the name “Fighting Irish,” the Star notes, which is good because the Irish theme has been part of Chapman for some time, with a four-leaf clover prominently displayed on its website, which coincidentally is chapmanirish.net. Still, "Fighting Irish" has an even longer history at UND.

“I think we’ll get something bigger and better, and it’ll be all ours,” said Betty Ryan, a teacher at Chapman, to the Star. “We’ll always be the Fighting Irish, whether we can say it or not.”

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