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Ronald McDonald is back in da house


Not sure if you’ve noticed…but oddly enough, McDonald’s has been popping up in the news a lot lately.

It’s as though their PR and marketing teams are trying to change the greater audience’s perspective of the world’s largest hamburger fast food chain.

Nation’s Restaurant News were the first to report that

The red-headed clown, McDonald’s mascot for decades, will star in several new commercials advertising Happy Meals, encouraging children to visit the HappyMeal.com website, where they can upload pictures of themselves to be integrated into Ronald McDonald videos, a McDonald’s Corp. representative said Friday.

It will be interesting to see if McDonald’s can bring the children of this great tech age, to love the mascot that we all grew up with.

Further, as quoted in the WSJ:

The idea to instill demand directly in children, who will then pressure their parents, clearly works, Mr. Hanft [chief executive of marketing firm Hanft Projects] said. “But the problem with creating these little armies of kids is that you turn the parents against the brand,” he added.

On Tuesday, NYC Councilman Leroy Comrie announced:

his plan to introduce legislation that would ban toys from being included in unhealthy meals at fast food restaurants.

His proposed bill

would prohibit restaurants from distributing toys or other knickknacks geared toward children in meals that have more than 500 calories, 600 milligrams of sodium and 35 percent of calories from fat, excluding nuts, seeds and nut butters.

According to data compiled by Comrie’s office, McDonald’s Happy Meal contains 1,090 calories, Burger King’s Kid’s Meal contains 1,460 calories, Wendy’s kid’s portion meal contains 1,080 calories and KFC’s Kid Meal contains 680 calories.

If you recall my previous post No More Happy Meal toys for you (children in San Fran), in November of last year, San Francisco was the first US city to ban restaurants giving free toys with meals.

But not to end on a completely sour note for Ronald…the company formally announced its plan to hire 50,000 new US workers on April 19th.

McDonald’s said the hiring blitz would increase its U.S. workforce by 7.7 percent to 700,000 — which is no different from prior summer staff increases.

So what have we learned from all of this?  Just like any business in the marketplace, every company (established or not) has to revamp its marketing once-in-a-while (Ronald), and spend money (hire people), in order to compete and stay top-of-mind.

(Note: I tried to find a copy of the commercial online to no avail…so instead I leave you with one from the 80’s).

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Filed under: Business, Food, Marketing, , , , , , ,

Are we too dependent on the Internet?


If you have never heard of the company Epsilon, I’m sure you’re well-aware of it now.  Over the weekend, the e-mail marketing company…

  • We are the world’s largest permission-based email marketing provider, sending over 40 billion emails annually
  • We work with over 2,500 clients, including 7 of the Fortune 10 who trust Epsilon to build and host their customer databases

…experienced a massive data breach.

I don’t know about you, but I received at least 5 different emails, from various companies that have my email address on file, alerting me of said breach.  But…not to worry, only my email address has been compromised, or so they say.

What I want to know is…why are all of these prominent companies working with just one email marketing company?  In a worst-case scenario situation, coincidentally oddly similar to this one… wouldn’t it be wiser to not hold so many ‘eggs in one basket”?  So that if a breach were to occur, the accounts would be limited in number…rather than the  possibly millions affected.  Also, most curious, how did this happen?

I’m all for eco-friendly…but maybe it’s time we revert back to pen and paper.

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Tech, , ,

Bringing an April fool’s joke to life


First, a brief history…namely because I was interested in learning the origins of April Fool’s Day.

The modern custom may have originated in France when the Gregorian calendar, which moved New Year’s Day from March 25 to January 1, was adopted in 1582. Those who continued to celebrate the end of New Year Week on April 1 were referred to as fools.         – Encyclopedia Britannica

Fantastic.  Now that we’re all caught up…

One of my favorite April Fool’s jokes of 2011 was Gmail Motion – ‘control Gmail with your body’.

Gmail Motion (click image to enlarge)

In response, a couple of people at MxR lab, within the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, decided to bring Gmail Motion to life.  Check it out!


 

 

Filed under: Business, Random, Tech, , ,

Track your fish


I don’t know about you, but when I go to the supermarket, I get overwhelmed with all of the labels associated with fish – organic, wild-caught, farmed. I’ve even seen salmon that says that it’s dyed pink or red.  Um…really??

Well, get ready for something creative and new, brought to you by the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, who debuted their new seafood brand Gulf Wild at the International Boston Seafood Show last weekend.

Key to the Gulf Wild program is a fish-tracking component that allows the buyer to “find my fish.” Each Gulf Wild fish is marked with a sequentially numbered gill tag just minutes after it is brought on board. When the catch reaches shore, the tag number is electronically recorded with the unique credentials of its fish. The information is made public via myGulfWild.com, where wholesalers, retailers and consumers can enter their tag number and confirm the species, where it was caught and information about the vessel and its captain.

Amazing, huh?

Also:

In addition, as a way to address concerns stemming from the oil spill, an independent international testing lab will routinely sample Gulf Wild seafood for oil-based contaminants.

The people have spoken…their concerns over the oil spill, coupled with an increased media focus on green/sustainability…have been heard.

Filed under: Animals, Business, Food, Green, Health, Marketing, ,

Apparel industry leaders team up, for green’s sake


Have you ever really looked at your clothes and wondered how they were made? And then go a step further… and wonder how the creation of your favorite article of clothing affected the environment?  Isn’t it strange that there aren’t any regulations on how clothes are made?  Especially since most of the apparel industry is produced globally…

Well, that’s about to change.

They call themselves the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and include

…leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic experts, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency…

from companies like:

Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke University, Environmental Defense Fund, Esprit, Esquel, Gap Inc., H&M, HanesBrands, Intradeco, JC Penney, Lenzing, Levi Strauss & Co., Li & Fung, Marks & Spencer, Mountain Equipment Co-op, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto Group, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verité, VF Corp, and Walmart.

The new Coalition formally debuted today, and announced that their goal is

…to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built on an industry-wide index for businesses to use to measure and evaluate apparel and footwear product sustainability performance.

The NYTimes article explains this in layman terms:

The coalition’s tool is meant to be a database of scores assigned to all the players in the life cycle of a garment — cotton growers, synthetic fabric makers, dye suppliers, textile mill owners, as well as packagers, shippers, retailers and consumers — based on a variety of social and environmental measures like water and land use, energy efficiency, waste production, chemical use, greenhouse gases and labor practices.

Jeffrey Swartz, CEO of Timberland explains how this relates to the consumer,

“…This will ultimately put the power in the hands of the consumers, because the apparel industry is saying out loud, ‘We’re going to find a way to disclose to you what’s behind this purchase decision — beyond color, size and fit.’ ”

From a supply chain with no regulation, to allowing the consumer to have all of this information disclosed…is pretty awesome.

Similarly to learning how my favorite  restaurant in NYC was graded, I’m a tad nervous to learn the truth about the clothing supply chain… only because I know that what we’ll learn won’t be pretty.

Filed under: Business, Green, World, , , , , , , , , ,

Is Rolls-Royce going to steal Tesla’s thunder?


On March 1, of this year, Rolls Royce is planning to debut their electric prototype at the Geneva Motor Show.

If you’ve been keeping up with the electric vehicle (EV) news, you know that currently there is only one high-end EV on the market – the Tesla Roadster.

A bit about Tesla, in their own words:

TESLA MOTORS was founded in 2003 by a group of intrepid Silicon Valley engineers who set out to prove that electric vehicles could be awesome.

THE TESLA ROADSTER hit the streets in early 2008 as a car with no equal. Two years later, over 1,500 Roadsters drive emissions-free in more than 30 countries.

I guess this was inevitable…there has been virtually no competition in the high-end EV market, until now.

Rolls-Royce said the prototype, dubbed the 102EX and based on its top-end “Phantom” model, will be put through various tests throughout 2011.

Stay tuned…

Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos is scheduled to hold a press briefing in Singapore later on Monday.

Something tells me that if Rolls-Royce does in fact put an EV on the market…it’s going to be in a league of its own, the “higher high-end”.  A regular, bad-for-the-environment Phantom costs around $380K, while the Roadster costs a mere $100K.

I say “mere” in jest, as both are a tad out of my league.  Personally, I’m looking forward to the Nissan Leaf (check out my previous posting – http://bit.ly/fsrMp0).

If you’d like to join the discussion on luxury EVs, Rolls-Royce has started a blog – www.electricluxury.com.

Filed under: Automobiles, Business, Green, World, , , , , , , , ,

Jimmy Fallon, putting QR codes on the (USA) map


I first started reading about QR codes in early 2008.  Turns out they were invented by a Japanese company named Denso Wave in 1994. So even though I thought I was in the loop, I apparently had arrived late to the party by about 14 years..

So what are QR codes?  Well QR stands for “Quick Response”, as the intended use was to decode information quickly.  How is this relevant to you?  In order to scan the code, you need to download a (free) QR reader app to your phone.  Immediately after you scan the code, you are linked to whatever is embedded in the code.

Around the same time I first read about QR codes, Polo Ralph Lauren launched their mobile initiative, and introduced us to QR codes by putting them in their print advertising.  While it was a great initiative, I think America wasn’t ready for that type of technology.

I was in Japan in January, and literally saw QR codes EVERYWHERE – from descriptions on plaques of holy shrines, to bus passes, to random advertising on the streets.  Japan is overflowing with QR codes.  America, not so much. But on February 16th, Jimmy Fallon brought QR codes front and center.

Fallon had Tyler, The Creator and Hodgy Beats of Odd Future on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday. Before the performance, Fallon held up an LP-size QR code that, when viewed with the proper app, led viewers to oddfuture.com, which features a video of Tyler The Creator’s “Yonkers.”

I hope that Jimmy Fallon’s awesome initiative brings America up-to-speed on QR codes and other new technology.

As a test, I have created my own QR code (see below).  Go ahead people, download the app, join the movement.

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Social Media, Tech, World, , , , , , , , , ,

Morgan Spurlock, redefining product placement at TED2011


Morgan Spurlock, of Super Size Me fame, will be talking about branding at this year’s TED Conference in Long Beach, CA.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with TED (stands for Technology, Entertainment & Design):

The annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Edinburgh, bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

In an interesting move, one that exemplifies branding in a whole new way, Spurlock has decided to sell the naming rights to his talk.

“If you are the highest bidder, then during my talk I will make reference to your company, reflect positively on your placement and share the process of how you got involved.”

When I checked his eBay listing the other day, the bid stood at around $525.  Surprisingly, the highest bid is now $2,550.

I admire the clever, out-of-the box thinking, but think that just name dropping is not enough.  People remember things better when the read rather than hear…Spurlock should also wear a t-shirt with the winning bidders’ logo/name.  Just a thought.

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Social Media, Tech, , , , , , ,

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