winter wake-up

Well, it’s winter in Dallas again and it is about 60 degrees. As I see all the photos from my friends in ski towns of freshly cut halfpipes and 6″ of fresh, I have to admit, I’m a little wistful of those days when frolicking in the snow was my m.o. Though wistful, that’s it, I’m happy to be here and watching all the on-snow action from my iPhone and not slopeside. With that said, I came across a fancy new app today for my friends in colder places.

The new app wakes you up earlier if it snows the night before. Touted and discussed on TechCrunch as a helper for allowing extra time to shovel out your car or do other various snow-related chores for those mornings when the white stuff falls, I couldn’t help but think, “What a great app for those in ski towns!” For those of us that have lived that life, it’s not about shoveling out your car or turning it on 20 minutes before you have to leave so it will warm up adequately (this you have to do daily), it’s about being at the lift line before it opens. Yes, I can appreciate the practicality of the app for those not used to the snow, but what I truly appreciate is the excitement this app will bring to not only skiers and riders, but also to kids hoping to get that one snow day a year to stay home from school and build snowmen or sled down the hill across the street. For some, this app will be a utilitarian, early wake-up call signaling extra work and effort to get the day started. But for those that love the snowy life, the app will be an exciting and welcome early wake-up call. It could also be a great cross-marketing opportunity for ski resorts to integrate snow reports into smartphone alarm clocks. Is the big wave alarm clock app next?

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farming pizza and fighting hunger

Social gaming is going good. Through its World Hunger Relief program called “Share a Slice of Hope”, Pizza Hut and Zynga have joined together this month to offer gamers “an exclusive limited edition item to place in a fun Zynga game” for a $5 donation to the World Food Program. Last year’s World Hunger Relief program raised nearly $2 million and provided nearly 8 million meals. With social gaming adding a new dimension to Pizza Hut’s cause marketing campaign this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if that limited edition Farmville food wagon can now (literally) feed a few more kids. Check out more on the Share a Slice of Hope campaign here and choose your Zynga reward here.

coming soon

Apologies for my late summer hiatus. More to come soon!

like it or not

SpongeBob, Bob Marley and Coca-Cola. One wouldn’t normally group these three items together. So, what do these three entities have in common?

All three are members of the illustrious club: The Top 25 Most-Liked Pages on Facebook (Summer 2011). Insidefacebook.com released the full list last week. See any surprises?

  1. Facebook
  2. Texas Hold ’em Poker (Zynga Poker Fans)
  3. Eminem
  4. YouTube
  5. Rhianna
  6. Lady Gaga
  7. Shakira
  8. Family Guy
  9. Justin Bieber
  10. Linkin Park
  11. Coca-Cola
  12. The Simpsons
  13. Katy Perry
  14. South Park
  15. Cristiano Rinaldo
  16. Harry Potter
  17. Lil Wayne
  18. Bob Marley
  19. Akon
  20. Megan Fox
  21. Disney
  22. Vin Diesel
  23. Beyonce
  24. MTV
  25. SpongeBob SquarePants

The number one spot has almost 49 million likes, and the 25 spot is liked by almost 28 million. Nearly half the list consists of musicians, with another handful being actors, athletes or TV personalities (hey, cartoons still count). Coca-Cola is the only CPG brand on the list. If it wasn’t evident before, it’s certainly clear now that celebrities know a thing or two about social media marketing.

teetering the product placement line

Brandchannel has been debating the product placement issues we’re seeing with recent magazine covers. And, there are rules – or, rather, “guidelines” – developed by the American Society of Magazine Editors for advertising in print magazines. One such guideline states:

The cover is the editor and publisher’s brand statement. Advertising on the cover increases the likelihood of editorial-advertising conflicts. The cover and spine should not be used to advertise products other than the magazine itself.

Thus, the page you see staring at you in the checkout line – begging you to pick it up, open it up, purchase it and read it – should entice you on content alone and shouldn’t be an advertisement for a product. However, the newest issue of GQ, featuring Hollywood it-girl, Mila Kunis, might be teetering on this line. Mila is seen sipping out of a clear, logo-less cup with a green straw. Anyone who’s been outside in the past 40 years would easily recognize this cup, and especially the straw, as coming from Starbucks (with the famous logo carefully eliminated). Is this advertising? Sort of. Is this something else? Arguably, this is better deemed product placement. But does it blatantly violate the ASME guidelines?

According to the ASME’s guidelines on product placement,

Publishers should not accept payment from advertisers to place or promote products in editorial content.

Editors should not create content, place content near advertisements, promote products or cover a public figure associated with an advertised product in exchange for advertising.

A fashion spread, including a cover shot, is editorial. Many fashion spreads have featured iconic bags or accessories (think Hermes Birkin bag or Ray-Ban Wayfarer – these are easily identifiable sans logo to the fashion savvy reader) and these are usually given/loaned to the editorial staff to dress the model. So, is Starbucks the newest fashion accessory? Perhaps. And, if Starbucks didn’t “pay” GQ for this placement, then it would seem this placement of the cup in the cover shot doesn’t violate the guidelines. Maybe Mila just stopped by the coffee giant on her way to the shoot in need of a quick mid-afternoon pick-me-up. I guess we’ll never know. I think this is definitely product placement, but according to the guidelines, there’s nothing wrong with that so long as the publishers did not accept payment from the advertiser.

Want to see more starlets with their frappes? All you have to do is google Starbucks & Hollywood and you’ll get Nicky Hilton, Britney Spears, Jessica Alba, Hilary Duff, and Eva Longoria within the first handful of images.

Get an interesting take on Starbucks’ bundle of IP here.

snowboard slopestyle in 2014

It’s official, snowboard slopestyle has been added to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. From IOC President Jacques Rogge:

We are very pleased with the addition of ski and snowboard slopestyle and snowboard special slalom in the Olympic Winter Games programme. Such events provide great entertainment for the spectators and add further youthful appeal to our already action-packed lineup of Olympic winter sports. We look forward to welcoming all the athletes to Sochi in 2014.

Start practicing those double corked 1260s. More coverage at Transworld.

imported from the burbs?

For anyone who watched this year’s Super Bowl, you couldn’t help but be mesmerized by Chrysler’s new “Imported from Detroit” campaign, featuring Eminem, for the Chrysler 200.  Now, consumers see the tagline on all Chrysler ads. However, Chrylser has yet to secure trademark protection for the phrase, and on Tuesday, Chrysler lost its motion in federal court to bar use of the phrase by clothier Pure Detroit on t-shirts. The federal judge denied Chrysler’s motion for an injunction because he ruled that the automaker failed to show irreparable harm or that the automaker was likely to win in its suit against the clothier.

Chrysler sued Pure Detroit in March after the clothier began selling t-shirts with the phrase “Imported from Detroit.” Pure Detroit counter-sued, arguing that the phrase can’t be trademarked by Chrylser because it is geographically misdescriptive (phrases that indicate a product is from one geographic area when the product is actually from another are barred as trademarks). Pure Detroit argued that this was the case because Chrysler is based in Auburn Hills and the Chrysler 200 is assembled in Sterling Heights – not Detroit proper.

While the automaker filed three trademark applications with regard to use of the phrase, Pure Detroit has filed three letters of protest. This recent decision is certainly a ding in Chrysler’s quest for protection of the phrase, but it’s not over yet as the US Patent & Trademark Office has yet to render its decision on the phrase.

Seems like a fairly easy case to me. First, the mark is not geographically deceptively misdescriptive – I think a suburb of Detroit can still be considered Detroit for geographical purposes (Sterling Heights is about 27 miles north of downtown Detroit and Auburn Hills is 33 miles north of downtown). If you meet someone from Auburn Hills outside of Michigan and ask him where he is from, chances are he says “Detroit”.  Second, did anyone use the phrase “Imported from Detroit” before the Super Bowl ad campaign this year? Unlikely. Is Chrysler the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase now? Likely. I guess the only real point of contention here is when we look at the goods sold – Chrylser uses the phrase to sell cars; Pure Detroit uses the phrase to sell clothes. But, Chrysler has sold t-shirts as well. Is that enough to meet the likelihood of confusion requirement? I’m not sure. In this case it seems to me like Pure Detroit is simply trying to capitalize on Chrysler’s advertising agency’s winning tagline. Now we know trademark law isn’t intended to protect against this kind of behavior (simple stealing of phrases); it is intended to protect against consumer confusion. But here, I think one could certainly argue that Pure Detroit is capitalizing on Chryler’s image and misleading customers into thinking that the t-shirts have something to do with Chrysler. If that’s the case, trademark law exists to stop Pure Detroit.

More coverage at Autoweek & USA Today.