Let us start off by saying that we often love the promotions and advertisements that JetBlue makes on behalf of their brand. Until the recent announcement (read yesterday’s Brands blog) of Virgin America’s new seat-to-seat offering where you can send a fellow flyer a libation, snack or meal along with a friendly text, JetBlue always seemed to us like a airline that was modern and fun from its snack choices including Terra Blue Chips to the individual television for every flyer. Even its website is humorous with a login section for True Blue members called “Hi” and an area to purchase tickets titled “Buy.”
What we are not so sure about, however, is how and why JetBlue decided to weigh in via Twitter and Facebook on NBA player Jason Collins’ coming out, according to an article on yesterday’s Ad Age. Jet Blue thanked Collins, 34, for his action and tweeted “today we are all on the same team.”
Few can argue that Collins’ personal revelation was a brave and courageous act. The Washington Wizard’s center is the first person in American team sports history to come out as homosexual while still an active, professional player. What we are unsure about is why Jet Blue, who does not sponsor Collins or has not had a prior, public stance supporting gay rights, has decided to contribute to this discussion? Is it a ploy by the airline to jump onto a social cause bandwagon or is it a genuine sentiment of good will toward Collins and the gay community?
Collins’ sports sponsor Nike appropriately commented on the Wizard’s action. Nike publicly acknowledged Collins’ courage and that they were proud to have him as a Nike athlete, according to Ad Age. They further added that the sneaker company believes in an even playing field where an athlete’s sexual orientation isn’t even a consideration. Absolut Vodka, which has previously championed causes such as legalizing gay marriage, also came out via Twitter in support of Collins. Both the sentiments of Nike and Absolut seem appropriate in light of their previous relationship with the athlete (Nike) and social cause (Absolut).
There has been discussion on social media whether JetBlue’s actions in this matter was well intentioned or not. Certainly the airline stands behind its decision to praise Collins digitally and stated it has the “utmost respect” for any individual that is true to his or herself. We’d like to give the brand here the benefit of the doubt and believe it just wants to praise the act of a courageous man. So let’s set cynicism aside temporarily and instead commend Jet Blue on lending support to a person who likely wrestled with this decision to speak candidly about his sexuality for quite sometime.
We wrote a blog piece last August entitled “The Rebranding of Hooters Breastaurant” and how the chain known for its owl logo (among other things) was looking to attract a younger and broader customer base including women as patrons rather than servers. We’ve now learned that a Texas based restaurant chain called Bikinis Bar and Grill has actually trademarked the term “breastaurant” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as their own, according to an article on ABCNews.com. What this technically means is that the company is the only one that can call itself legally by that term.
Bikinis has locations in Oklahoma, North Carolina and Texas. In addition, the company purchased an abandoned town in Bankersmith, Texas off a Craigslist ad and has plans to turn the area into a seasonal tourist destination. The town has been renamed Bikinis, Texas in honor of the chain.
Breastaurants are big (no pun intended) business in America reportedly bringing in $1 billion annually in revenues. Other restaurants formerly part of the “breastaurant” genre include CANZaciti Roadhouse with four New York locations, Hooters with 460 U.S. restaurants, Tilted Kilt with restaurants in 25 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces and the aptly titled Twin Peaks with the motto “Eats. Drinks. Scenic Views.” with 32 established locations and 10 scheduled to open soon.
Whether you call it ambush marketing, a smart advertising technique or a parasitic ploy, several big brands that are not official sponsors of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship are nonetheless profiting from it through referencing the series yet avoiding the use of trademarked terms, according to an article in USA Today. It is estimated that a 30 second spot during the finals costs a hefty $1.4 million and that a top tier major sponsorship for the entire series runs approximately $35 million for the series.
To sidestep these significant costs, Hormel has launched a YouTube video for a character “Sir Can A Lot” who runs around in the spot talking about the “madness of March” with a basketball strategically placed on a counter to Sir Can A Lot’s left. Pizza Hut is offering preregistered fans the chance to win a medium sized pizza with topping valued at $8 to those who predict which four teams will make it to the semi-finals. (Note they do not mention the term “final four.” ) Hooters is also using this marketing technique to offer downloadable coupons during the duration of the games called Hooters Hooky.
“We decided to be the official sponsor for the passion of watching college basketball,” said Hooters marketing chief Dave Henninger to USA Today.
If trademarks aren’t unlawfully infringed, it sounds like pretty intelligent marketing to us. What are your (original) thoughts?
With the recent arrest and murder allegations pending against South African athlete and double amputee Oscar Pistorius, it is fairly certain that sponsors are going to distance themselves from the 26 year-old track star. The first sponsor to sprint away from Pistorius is Nike, which just pulled its 2011 ad “I am the bullet in the chamber” on Valentine’s Day from the man known as the Blade Runner’s website. Pistorius has been called “Blade Runner” since he runs on J-shaped carbon fiber prosthetics.
Pistorius was charged with murdering his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day. He is currently in jail in Pretoria, South Africa awaiting a bail hearing scheduled for Feb. 19.
“Nike extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to all families concerned following this tragic incident,” said Nike in a statement and reported by Ad Age. “As it is a police matter, Nike will not comment further at this time.” Time will tell whether Nike will pull further endorsements from the paralympic champion and whether other sponsors such as BP Global and Oakley will follow suit. The two companies have expressed “shock” upon learning of this news, but did not comment further, citing an ongoing police investigation.
There are now rumors swirling in the media about possible incidences of domestic violence at Pistorius’ home, one dating back to 2009 where Pistorius spent a night in jail for slamming a door on a woman, according to an article in Sports Illustrated. Charges were dropped and friends characterized the incident as an accident. There are now other reports of police being called to Pistorius’ home for domestic violence allegations, according to ESPN. And although South Africa is a country known for a high murder rate, Pistorius was also known for being a gun enthusiast and owner.
Domestic violence incidents alone were enough for Hertz rental cars to pull its sponsorship from OJ Simpson back in 1992. Simpson was charged with murdering his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in 1994. All endorsements thereafter were terminated.
Time will tell what will happen with Pistorius. An inspiration to many for his athletic abilities and being the first double amputee to ever compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics, this unfortunate chapter in the South African’s life may very well put an end to future financial gain from product endorsement. That is despite the outcome of this criminal investigation.
It’s that time of year when ad agencies see visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. No, it’s not Christmas. That’s already long past. It’s the beginning of the long awaited Superbowl seasons. Some of the nation’s best and biggest brands will be playing for keeps. And, I hear there’s also a game.
This year, 30 second blocs will be selling for as much as $4 million. That’s as much as $500K over last year’s top figure. The increase reflects an improvement in the ad economy as well as in the general economy as a whole. It also is some indication that the Superbowl is one of the only remaining television events that can draw and retain a major, national audience.
The price might also reflect an awareness that Superbowl advertisers reap all types of ancillary benefits. Ads will be shown on numerous news and entertainment shows and even promoted in print. They’ll be viewed untold times on YouTube. Superbowl ads are really premium content. And as we said before, there’s a game too.
M&M/Mars is well positioned to once again be one of the Superbowl’s winners. Coming off of a big year in 2012. M&M’s will be running numerous television spots as part of its “Better with M” although it won’t run it’s Superbowl ad until the game. It’s already on Twitter (#betterwithmms) and there’s even a cause related element:
Acornerstone of the campaign is a new cause-related marketing effort designed to make ‘America Better With M’ by funding the construction of Habitat for Humanity homes across the nation. As part of the initiative, M&M’S is also encouraging, as well as incentivizing fans to help ‘M-Prove America’ by volunteering at Habitat job sites nationwide.
PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1ypL6)
An interesting question regarding social media and the upcoming 2013 Super Bowl XLVII was posited in an article on the Fast Company website last Friday. With a 30 second spot running approximately $3.5 million, does it make sense anymore for a brand to conceal its advertising for that special day alone or should it “leak” via social media its commercials in advance? The question is being asked as a number of brands have already revealed their ad spots in advance of the Feb. 3 sports extravaganza.
A significant part of the fun on Super Bowl Sunday for viewers besides a good hero wedge or chili con carne is the halftime show and the creativity that goes into the commercials. Forget about what teams actually make it to New Orleans for XLVII or wanting to know who is performing in the halftime show, viewers very much look forward to the fun and creative commercials for the brands that can afford to pay for the astronomical time slots. Loren Angelo, brand marketing and general manager for Audi, told Fast Company that he believes that with only a one to two day window for digital conversation for Super Bowl commercials, the “reveal” is worth everything and allows brands an opportunity to have a “much longer conversation with consumers.”
What are your thoughts on the topic? Personally, we are also quite eager to find out whether Beyonce will be performing solo at the halftime show or will be reuniting with Destiny’s Child for the evening.
Nike has found a way to capitalize on the anger that many sports fans feel due to the failure thus far of unionized professional hockey players and the NHL to work out a collective bargaining agreement to get back on the ice with the launch of a YouTube video, according to an article on Mashable. The video piece has been viewed more than 500,000 since being uploaded on Dec. 19 with little possibility of slowing down while negotiations continue.
Fans on the Nike video entitled “Hockey is Ours” say they’ll get to play hockey no matter what: including using frozen hamburger patties for pucks, frozen lakes or ponds for a rink, or even moving to Russia if necessary. It’s a well done piece that harnesses the disappointment that many fans feel now that half the season has passed without an agreement. The 2012/2013 season was initially set to begin last Oct. 11.
While those who study brands that utilize social media well look forward to the coming year of digital ads that amuse and delight, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take just one final look at the top social media and brands clips of 2012 courtesy of Ad Age.
Those looking to achieve their New Years’ resolution of health and exercise goals will be quite inspired by Nike’s “Jogger” that features an overweight Ohio boy running alone down a road while trying to “find his greatness.” It poignantly shows that reaching one’s fitness goals is not reserved only for athletes and those in top performance shape. The second piece highlights Red Bull Stratos and its sponsorship of Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s unbelievable freefall from 120,000 feet. Both videos show the best that advertising can do when promoting a brand.