Thursday, March 26, 2009

Change In Media Focus Increases Sales

Asics, traditionally a print advertiser in the US, has had a taste of TV and can't seem to get enough of it.

The brand tried TV for the first time last year, spending about $5 million of its $27.6 million U.S. media budget on TV advertising. The spend came primarily at the expense of magazines, which have traditionally dominated Asics' budget. Magazine spending fell $2 million, to $21.7 million, despite a $3 million spending increase overall, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

The trial has seemingly paid off for the brand, with Asics' sales rose 11% last year, according to SportsOneSource. Considering the major push by traditionally strong running-focussed brands such as Nike and new-comers Body Armour during the Olympic year that was 2008, Asics' gain appears even more impressive.

A spokesperson for the brand has said the they will continue to invest in TV this year, although primarily concentrating on the major US cable networks.

Via - AdAge

More Hybrids To Hit Showroom Floors

Hyundai has revealed the first pictures of an innovative plug-in hybrid concept car which the manufacturer intends on debuting at the Seoul Auto Show next week.

Called the BLUE-WILL, the Korean concept will be powered by an all-aluminium 1,6 litre petrol engine mated with a 100kW electric motor powered by lithium-ion cells. So far, it's pretty much the same concept as that of the Prius. However the BLUE-WILL designers has also included a panoramic roof, with the glass area integrates dye-sensitized solar cells which will be able to generate power for the batteries from the sun without impeding visibility.

It also looks a hundred times better than the Prius, although that couldn't have been too much of a challenge for the Hyundai designers.

Via - PSFK

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Online Gardening With Honda

To support the Honda's UK launch of the green-friendly Honda Insight, the company is launching a gardening-themed online campaign called 'Good to Grow', which invites users to care for five real plants for the chance to win £10,000. The campaign aims to highlight the Insight's eco driver assist system, which features a dashboard display with five "plants" that grow the more efficiently you drive.

As of April 2, competitors will be encouraged to look after five real plants from bulb to full bloom, though they will not actually have the plants in their personal care because they will be based in a remote location. As such, competitors will have to complete daily challenges to ensure the plants are nurtured. A live greenhouse webcam will keep entrants updated on how their plants are developing.

The person with the first five plants to bloom fully will win a £10,000 prize to split equally between an environmentally-friendly holiday and a registered charity of their choice.

Via - Honda

Again, With Feeling

The latest innovation in an attempt to make movies and TV more stimulating is an interesting one. According to PSFK, researchers at Phillips Electronics just debuted a jacket lined with 64 vibration motors in an attempt to arouse emotional responses resulting from physical sensations.Each motor can be independently controlled, and the actuators are divided into 16 different arrays, with each four-motor array controlled by a dedicated processor. All the actuators are linked to each other on a serial bus and they are distributed through the jacket's arms and torso.

The Philips researchers claim that the purpose of this exercise is not necessarily to reproduce physical sensations from a film. They are more interested in determining what sort of emotional responses touch can elicit from a viewer. They call this "emotional immersion".

The possibilities and potential applications for the product, if it ever sees the light of day in terms of mass manufacturing, can have great implications for brands who are always seeking new ways of engaging consumers.

Via - PSFK

Smooth Orginals

As part of Stella Artois' campaign promoting a new 4% strength beer, the brand has created a series of short films satirising contemporary and popular US TV shows and movies.

The Stella Artois 4% Smooth Originals website features titles such as "8 Kilometres", "Dial Hard" and "24 Hours", bringing to viewers the "true original" stories, before they were tainted by Hollywood. Nice supporting elements such as the original movie posters and other downloads are also available on the site.

Each spot directs users to the Stella Artois website where they can watch extended versions of the clips. Contagious Magazine also reports that the campaign will extend to takeovers of popular web portals such as MSN and GQ.

The campaign illustrates how content can be best used to attract consumers to interact with your brand - and how entertainment and a sense of value-add for the end user is so much more important than taking your brand too seriously.

Via: Contagious Magazine

Monday, March 23, 2009

Are Pricing-Strategies Here To Stay?

BusinessWeek has an interesting article addressing what many brands must be worrying about over the past few months - whether the recent panicked pricing strategy would eventually mean that low prices are here to stay. A shift in attitudes about consumption and frugality for many consumers - if sustained - could mean brands' loss of pricing power endures long after the recession ends.

There are some faint glimmers of hope at the end of the tunnel, it would seem. Brands can eventually expect the same level of pricing power as experienced previously, but need to do far more work to keep brands more relevant than before. With margins cut thin by increased competition - both on the Internet and globally - retailers should expect to woo customers through service and time savings. Even when the economy rebounds, services will almost certainly become increasingly important in a range of industries as big-ticket goods - that once offered healthy margins - become commoditised.

Brand differentiation and profit margins will revolve more tightly around intangibles, not just the physical product.'s recent strong financial performance stems from bargain prices and their innovative customer reviews - both helping to unlock better margins for the online retailer.

Perhaps the recession has just served a timely reminder to us on some of the fundamentals of brand building and brand management. It has always been and always will be about how our brand makes the consumer feel. Pricing strategies are mainly a lazy and short-sighted view on meeting sales targets and will never be sustainable.

Via: BusinessWeek

2010 Hybrid MR2

Toyota's iconic MR2 sports car is set for a comeback. The difference this time, is that it's said to be a hybrid coupe, as opposed to the previous roadster incarnation.

According to Toyota, the new coupe will be a rear-wheel driven performance hybrid specially developed from the Prius' powertrain. Claims of 0 - 100km/h dash of around 7 seconds has also been mentioned. To make it even more enticing, the price point set for the car when it is eventually released in the UK will be around £20000.

With around 10 new family-orientated hybrid models set for launch by Toyota over the next year, the sporty MR2 will be a welcome addition for the Japanese brand in 2010.

Via: Auto Express

Ride Free And Build Your Community

Harley Davidson's latest TVC introduces the company's latest "Ride Free" guarantee. The Guarantee is said to be ideal for riders looking to join the “hog family” and experience the freedom Harley-Davidson promises, but who are also worried about the current financial situation.

For those purchasing a Harley Davidson right now, the company will offer a 100% trade in value over the next 12 months, meaning that consumers will not lose out on any money if he/she decides to upgrade and stay within the Harley Davidson family.

The idea of “Ride Free” cleverly introduces the idea of trading up within the brand from day one, giving riders the opportunity to test drive their new bike for a year before moving on to higher-end models.

Below is the TVC:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Coke's Still Number 1

CoreBrand's Brand Power Index research for 2008 has concluded that Coca-Cola still remains the most powerful brand today, with Johnson and Johnson following in the number 2 spot. Worryingly for brands today, the remaining top 10 in the index remained basically unchanged. Only the Kellogg's company - in 10th place- posted any marked increase, jumping from 21st spot in 2005.

Of the top 100 brands, some of the biggest sliders are Starbucks, Pepsi and Microsoft. Microsoft has slipped from 26th position in 2005 to 54th spot in 2008. However, the tech giants can still take heart as they are still 37 spots above Apple.

Jim Gregory, CoreBrand's CEO, attributes the fall of Starbuck's as a natural evolution of a brand that has grown to fast and become too diversified in the process. It'd be interesting to see whether the brand rebounds quickly or continues it's downward decline over the course of 2009.

The other expected big losers resulting from the survey are the American automakers. GM has dropped 11 spots and now ranks at 41, triggered by a massive drop in the favourability score index.

The CoreBrand's Brand Power index ranks 100 corporate brands in terms of market reputation and awareness. The annual ranking is conducted by surveying 400 corporate executives across 1,200 companies and 49 industries, with financial performance, perception of management and investment potential taken into account.

Via: AdAge

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Puma L.I.F.T

While most sneakers are made by compression molding EVA and gluing multiple pieces together, Puma's new range of sneakers, called the L.I.F.T. Racer not only uses the injection molding process to reduce the amount of excess materials, it also eliminates the need for glue by stitching its mesh on to complete the upper, creating an all around lighter and greener sneaker.

Puma has launched a fantastic TV spot to heighten awareness for the revolutionary new range:

Below is the print work supporting the TV element:

Via: Notcot

Friday, March 13, 2009

Banks' TV Ads Drive People To Invest

Not that US banks hold any authority in the world at the moment, but an interesting research has shown that U.S. banks seeing the highest returns on their advertising investment between 200 and 2008 and are not necessarily those spending the most but instead have the heaviest TV budgets.

A new report from financial-services research firm Aite Group - which examined ad-spending trends and return on advertising performance of 32 of the largest 50 U.S. retail banks from 2006 through 2008 - found that top 25% highest-performing banks are those with TV-heavy buys.

Ron Shevlin, senior analyst at Aite Group and author of the report said banks in the top performing quadrant - which include big names such as Citibank and Wachovia, as well as smaller companies Huntington, BB&T and Hudson Bank - did best in driving deposit, loan and IRA account growth.

While other banks succeeded in ramping different traditional metrics of advertising return, such as awareness, he said those ad dollars were ultimately lost because they did not result in new deposits, loan or IRA growth.quick

So could TV ads have contributed to the current financial melt-down? I'm not sure if there'll ever be conclusive proof on that issue but despite all the hype on new media and the death of TV ads, it's nice to know that it's still effective.

Via: AdAge

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bentley's Job-Saving Innovation

Having highly specialised and skilled workers is beneficial to companies for so many reasons. In the midst of the current economic downturn, luxury car company Bentley has found a new, meaningful and profitable way to keep their staff busy.

The company's factory in Crewe employs a team of skilled woodworkers to make the gleaming walnut Bentley dashboard and wood trim. Now Bentley are redeploying 140 members to use off-cuts from walnut wood to make cabinets, tables and other furniture to make unique and bespoke furniture for the factory's reception area.

The UK Daily Telegraph claims that the company also plans to use the furniture in Bentley showrooms and could even come out with a line for the public if there is enough demand - but will probably cost more than most people's houses.

Via: Daily Telegraph

Monday, March 9, 2009

Depression & Insanity Has Certainly Set In

The world is certainly a depressing place to be right now. With people questioning fundamentally everything that has come before the economic meltdown, brands have enjoyed far less success with the declining sales.

But not everyone is suffering. Certainly not if you are in the business of manufacturing or distributing firearms. And not if you're a pharmaceutical company making anti-depressants and sleeping pills.

According to AdAge, despite the weakest holiday season on record in the US, outdoor-products retailer Cabela's turned in strong fourth-quarter sales, largely as a result of an increase in firearm and ammunition sales. Smith & Wesson is reporting pistol sales up 40%, and Sturm, Ruger & Co. reported an 81% increase in firearm revenue.

People seem to be losing sleep too. Research from IMS Health indicates that prescriptions for major sleeping-pill brands rose 7% last year, while antidepressant-brand prescriptions jumped 15%.

Brands are in place to make people feel better. It's just rather ironic that the types of brands that are encouraging for many consumers are some of the most depressing ones too.

Car Design = Rocket Science

BMW has a well-entrenched positioning as the manufacturer of sporty cars featuring cutting edge technology. A far less known fact is the philosophy of BMW EfficientDynamics which the designers at BMW has been striving towards for many decades.

The premise of the philosophy is really to produce cars that uses less fuel without compromising on the athleticism of the cars. The natural by-product when the philosophy is brought to life is the reduction in harmful emissions released by each car and therefore sustaining the environment.

To prove how serious the company is on their quest to produce cars that uses less fuel, while at the same time providing more performance, the company intends on collaborating with NASA in order to further entrench BMW EfficientDynamics in the design process.

BMW engineers are attempting to adapt the thermo electric system currently used on space ships to function in their cars. The highly complicated system used by NASA transforms heat emitted from plutonium into electricity. BMW wants to bring this system down to earth by reclaiming the thermal energy released in engine combustion process.

According to an engineer on the project, “a motor with an output of 200kW generally creates 400kW thermal energy as a waste by-product. Using that equation, a BMW sedan like the 530i could reduce its fuel consumption by as much as 13 percent, simply by equipping it with a thermoelectric generator.”

Via: Reuters

Get Free Product By Purchasing Competitors' Offering?

Pepsi's Mountain Dew soft drink has had a fantastic following over the past few years, especially in the US. The brand has managed to connect with young consumers through innovative product placements and new media-based campaigns. According to Advertising Age, the brand currently enjoys around 80% market share of the citrus carbonated soft-drink category in the US.

Coca-Cola isn't sitting back, however. In an unprecedented campaign to induce trial of Coca-Cola's own offering, called Vault, Coca-Cola has launched an aggressive campaign known as "Don't Dew It".

An interesting element in the campaign is the "Vault Taste Challenge". During the promotional period, Mountain Dew purchasers with a Vault coupon are offered a Vault, absolutely free of charge.

With the current economic climate, coupon-redemption rates are on the rise, jumping 10% in the fourth quarter after years of declines. Experts estimate redemption of the Vault coupons could reach as high as 40%.

Via: AdAge

The Green Barons

The richest and some of the savviest investors in the world have identified exactly what's going to make them their billions lost over the recent sub-prime crisis back, and it's little surprise that it's green technology.

The Times of London recently published a list of the top ten green investors, all of whom, no doubt, are hoping to fund alternative energy startups and eco-solutions that might one day remake the market. Below are the top ten:

Even though many investors have had their confidence dented over the past couple of months, I'd personally still not bet against them on this issue.

Via: The Times