Benjamin Moore: Missed Opportunity

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Benjamin Moore jumped into prankvertising with a great creative concept that garnered some decent momentum.  But sadly, the brand missed the opportunity to link the creative to the message (UltraSpec 500 goes on fast) and/or leave the viewer with an emotional connection to the Benjamin Moore brand.

It’s great to see some big brands jump in the game, but some old-school brand-building ground rules still apply:  don’t let your creative overwhelm the objective, whether it’s a product message or a brand equity build.   Benjamin Moore gave 100K viewers a great prank to share, but got little in return.  Trick, or treat?


© 2013 Free-Range Brands LLC All Rights Reserved

Adust yourself, Hanes

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While Hanes is still overtly targeting men with Michael Jordan and lingering on the age-old “we-removed-itchy-tags” functional message to support their comfort “leadership”, Saxx Underwear flips comfort on its head for the consumer living in 2013.  With an emotional appeal highly relevant to women, Saxx ladders male underwear discomfort up to the all too familiar social faux pas that all women can relate to.

Let’s see what else they do to bring this brand to life.  Great start.

I must also give a nod to one of my favs, Duluth Trading Co., with an equally emotional appeal in the complete opposite vein.

Storytelling at its best

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When viewers can see themselves in the story, there’s nothing more compelling.  This viral prank drove an old cult horror into present day by unveiling a modern day “Carrie” at a NYC coffee shop.  Right timing (pre-Halloween) +  everyday setting + unexpected surprise = over 36MM views in less than a week.

Hot Pockets’ Bold New Target, Occasion

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When most CPG companies would have focused on the functional “new and improved” premium ingredients, Nestle makes a bold move and goes directly for the emotional appeal to the largely ignored stoner cohort for the high-opportunity, late night munchie occasion.  Hot Pockets has steadily worked to create an authentic core of a hip, edgy brand, allowing it to navigate in territory a typical CPG brand would never touch.

Millennials grew up with Hot Pockets as an after-school snack, but Nestle now faces the challenge of keeping them in the franchise as they mature. Millennials are known for their sophisticated palates, ingredient awareness and general dislike of mass produced processed foods, so the likelihood that Hot Pockets are going to stay in the freezer of the grown-up Millennial are quite slim. Unless you’re talking late night. Now that’s a different story.

Having unapologetically honed in on its authentic core this past year with other popular, musical YouTube commercials featuring Snoop Dog and comedian Toby “Tobuscus” Turner, the brand now owns the emotional street cred to be a quintessential stoner snack.  And its functional offerings seal the deal: buttery, seasoned crispy crust, premium cuts of meat and real ooey gooey cheese.

Rather than get in a healthy snack fight – be who you are – the cheesy, meaty, fatty, funny, “I can’t believe I ate half the box of Hot Pockets last night” snack. It’s either that or a greasy burrito, so way to go Nestle.  Huge marketing props for being bold, courageous, authentic and right on target.

Smell ya Later, Febreze

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Air fresheners have been around for how many years now?  And not one major brand has nailed relevancy in product, concept, targeting, usage occasion, packaging, distribution, messaging and media choice like this one.   Shock value and humor aside, PooPourri understands the female consumer like these big brands don’t.

This is a perfect demonstration of why big brands have to get serious about the new world in which they’re living.  They can continue to stick to what’s worked in the past and will likely find themselves going right down the toilet.  Glade actually dipped its toes in the UK poo a few years back, but the ads were met with disdain.  Viewers reacted with shock and disgust at a little boy telling his mum that he needed to “do a poo.”

But rather than a mass media TV campaign trying to delicately get at the issue by couching it in mommy/child humor, PooPourri ravenously attacks the opportunity woman to woman.

images-4images-10Borrowing a play from Orbit, PooPourri’s lovely, brand-showcasing, British beauty directly addresses the viewers on matters unclean.  But instead of cleaning up a dirty mouth, PooPourri fills it with with anything but delicate innuendo or cute kiddie potty talk.

Direct and honest communication couched in blunt humor puts PooPourri squarely into the free-range arena – this brand is unapologetic.  It knows its world, knows its self and feels no shame.

Overnight, this brand staked its claim as the Queen of Poo and in one week, went from unknown to over 6 million views.

Like it or hate it, the big air freshening brands are going to feel this pinch.

Kit Kat Breaks Left

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Kit Kat goes Free RangeIn one swift, bold move, Kit Kat entered the Free Range arena in full throttle by branding the new Android phone, putting itself far outside its traditional marketing box.  Kit Kat put its toe in the free-range waters before, challenging Oreo to a public game of TicTacToe, (reinforcing its unique form, with Kit Kat being the “X”), and taking the chance of coming out the loser.

Rumored to have accepted the deal within an hour for no remuneration, Nestle’s chief marketer didn’t waver on the decision: “When you try to lead a new way of communicating and profiling a brand you always have a higher risk than doing something much more traditional. You can go round the swimming pool 10 times wondering if the water is cold or hot or you say: ‘Let’s jump'”.

Traditional CPG helicopter brand leaders would be quick to believe this would be a hasty, high-risk move for a brand as big as Kit Kat, and would likely advise a more controllable method of marketing.

Simon Myers, a partner at the consultancy Prophet, shares this perspective: “If your brand is hooked up with another, you inevitably become associated with that other brand, for good or ill. If that brand or business has some reputational issues that emerge, it would be naive to think as a brand owner that your good name, your brand equity, would not be affected.”

This thinking, while strategically sound, prudent and smart for the pre-digital age, is exactly what keeps our established brands from being truly relevant and inspiring to today’s consumers.  The evidence of Mr. Myers’ Prophecy-come-true can be found in commentary and posts along the lines of Nestle being “pure evil” and not a fit for Google, which would be enough to make most big brand leaders pull the plug or come out defending themselves. But Kit Kat stands strong and will likely set the stage for more to come as the brand finds its free-range footing.

What will make this a success for Kit Kat, is that the move reinforces something that is central to Kit Kat’s authenticity: its unique form. On the surface, this may be a surprise endorsement for Kit Kat, but with a powerful, completely unexpected way to reinforce its quality and form. Kit Kat 4.4 is highlighted as “Beautifully crafted for a multi-sensory experience … with adjustable orientation (portrait or landscape) … global coverage … only 10 millimeters thick … and available in 2MegaBite, 4MegaBite or ChunkyBite.”

By leveraging an authentic quality (vs. trying to be claim a quality that a brand does not have inherent rights to), the boundaries of where that brand can go are widely expanded.

The move establishes Kit Kat as relevant, humorous and bold, puts Kit Kat in a powerful position to move into the new age of consumer branding, one that takes chances, navigates by its authentic core, and embodies a high dose of emotional and relevant provocation.

© 2014 Free-Range Brands LLC All Rights Reserved

Let it Ride, Liquid Plumr

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With a view count climbing toward 1 million, Clorox remains fearless in the presence of youtube comments that would have most CPG giants running for cover.  FRBs don’t scare easy.

© 2014 Free-Range Brands LLC All Rights Reserved

Be Brave, Mercedes. It’s all good.

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Run-away BrandThe unauthorized student video spoof of a young Adolf Hitler being run over by a Mercedes Benz C-Class,  sparked Daimler’s discontent, despite its success.  The video has gone viral with over 700,000 hits and mostly positive reaction.  Brand issue or Brand opportunity?