Women Let their Menstruation Flag Fly in New Ads

Umm, it’s okay to talk about menstruation now.  In fact, it’s hip and awesome.

Recently, two longform ad spots that have focused on menstruation have gone viral….not that viral…you know what I mean.  The tampon subscription service HelloFlo is getting lots of love for its hilarious longform “Camp Gyno” spot, and Bodyform completely destroys male squeamishness in its ad responding to a sarcastic Facebook post.

In “Camp Gyno”, a girl at summer camp who is the first to get her period becomes a Queen Bee of menstruation…that is, until someone discovers HelloFlo’s subscription service, and her reign of terror ends.  (There is something so terribly funny about watching a pre-teen girl terrorize other girls with menstruation tips.)

Meanwhile, Bodyform absolutely kills it with a response to a sarcastic Facebook post.  The post, by a male who apparently never wants to get laid again, whines that Bodyform deceived him all this time with its ads in saying that menstruation was fun and refreshing.  A cold and intense Bodyform CEO gives a chilling “you know the truth, now we’ll have to kill you” response, which must make the original poster feel about two inches small.  (Go with that metaphor where your mind takes you.)

We’ve come a long way since those awkward 80’s douche commercials featuring seaside talks between mothers and daughters.  Back then, finding a male willing to talk about menstruation was such a rarity that it made great comedy.  Now, males have got to accept that women’s bodies do things…intense things.

That, and they should apparently get used to being targeted by body-grooming products of their own, now, too.


Hot Pockets Faces Mid-life Crisis

You know that feeling you get when you meet someone and they’re clearly acting like someone they’re not? You’re kind of just irritated and want to avoid seeing them again. Well, that’s the kind of feeling I get with Hot Pockets’ new re-branding campaign. Come on, Hot Pockets. I mean really, come on. When you now say that your meat is “premium”, that your cheese is “real”, and that your dough is “baked fresh daily”, you’re either taking humor advertising too far or you’re simply underestimating Millennials’ basic ability to reason. 1+1=2. Mix yellow and blue paint to make green. There are 12 inches in a foot. Hot Pockets are not good for you.

Just try watching the company’s new promo video without cringing like you just saw a guy still “bro-ing out” at a 30s+ cocktail party. I dare you to accept the believability of scenes from their new innovation kitchen (definitely not just a stage set-up for the promo) where it looks like chefs are preparing for the last Thanksgiving ever. I challenge you to take the dialogue between new Hot Pockets spokesman Jeff Mauro and Chef Vendôme (aka “The Big Sauce Boss”) at face-value (note that historically, having a chef with an “ô” in their name instead of just a regular “o” ensures a higher quality product). It’s baffling that Hot Pockets wants you to take a bite of their ambiguous goo-filled croissant you just microwaved for two minutes and think, “mmm, compliments to the chef!”

Sorry, Hot Pockets. Putting a wooden cutting board under your product doesn’t make it fresh. After 30 years as the go-to, lazy snack/dinner/“I hate myself”-meal, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just say your product is high-quality. 60 percent of Hot Pockets’ consumers are young adult males, so the company is probably worried that those guys will eventually get married and their wives will make them stop eating foods that burn the insides of their body with hot lava-like “cheese” (and help them avoid becoming this guy). Hot Pockets’ marketing director Daniel Jhung says that two-thirds of young males the company surveyed in New York City before re-branding “consider themselves foodies”, and the brand is trying to play to that change. God help the delusional “foodie” who still buys Hot Pockets. The equivalent would be the indie music snob whose guilty pleasure is Miley Cyrus.

Hot Pockets, we all love you. You’re the goofy, joke of a food that has been around for a while and whose ridiculous-ness is endearing. Was it not just last year that you told us to “Pocket Like It’s Hot”? Was it not you that helped define comedian Jim Gaffigan’s career? It’s sad to see you like this. Besides the continued use of this guy as your mascot, you’re living a lie – just like Jeff Mauro pretending that he is endorsing this product based on his sandwich expertise. Admittedly, you’re in a hard place. Millennials do want higher-quality foods, but you may be reaching a little too high here. We all know Hot Pockets are not fresh, oven-baked pizzas.

Nevertheless, a 30th birthday is a birthday, even if it is marred by the makeover of a mid-life crisis. Here’s to remembering your roots:


Crocs, Inc.: Selling Ugly for Billions

Crocs are ugly. Soooo ugly. They are the quintessential, ugly, embarrassing “dad shoes” that make teenage daughters cringe and shadow their face with their hand, except this time everyone is cringing. It wouldn’t be surprising if years later we discover that Crocs was just a secret ploy by UGG to take the negative attention off of their brand. Why else would these clog-monsters be created?

Well, ugly is ugly, but as much as people claim to hate Crocs the company is squeaking its bulgy, awkward feet up in the market. Even with their signature bloated, plastic sock with holes raking-in 47 percent of revenue, the company is apparently becoming just as embarrassed as we are by their trademark footwear that they’re putting it in the back of their stores to make way for new styles and ramping-up product development. The result so far has been optimistic: $1.12 billion in sales last year and trading around $16 a share (up from a disastrous mark of less than $1 a share in 2008).

Part of the recent success is because to the brand’s expansion in the Asian market (41 percent of its 2012 sales was in the Asian pacific), specifically China, where the company estimates to generate over $100 million in revenue this year. Its other big Asian market is Japan and with 60 stores already opened in Thailand the company is setting sights high there as well. Unfortunately consumers in Asian markets are none-the-wiser to the American hatred of Crocs. More unfortunate is that they can’t develop the aesthetic realization on their own.

Without the benefit of a blank slate in the US, Crocs is trying to pull their colorful, goofy clogs up from holding the company underwater (albeit they are waterproof) and kick them off – that is, separate the brand name “Crocs” from the ugly shoe that everyone refers to as Crocs. In a bold yet necessary move for growth, the company is pushing its symbol of outdoor comfort and assured bachelorism to the backburner (can it just be pushed onto a burner instead?). For investors the question now is not of fashion but of whether or not to buy shares. For the company, the question now is not whether or not consumers will continue to think their signature model is ugly (they will), it’s whether or not they’ll think the new stuff is ugly too.

PS.  Have you seen these heinous Crocs loafers?



British GDP Tied to Royal Baby Craze?

Hear that joyful and oddly dignified sound?  That’s the cash register of British marketers cashing in on the royal baby craze sweeping England.  And it’s not just royal-themed maternity and baby wear, either.  Krispy Kreme is selling “bite and reveal” doughnuts with pink and blue centers.  Marriott’s Grosvenor Hotel is charging $3500 a night for a luxury apartment designed by nursery outfitter Dragons of Wall Street.  And the legit bookmaker Paddy Power sent four terrifying-looking crowned babies to locales throughout London to make its presence known in the hot-and-heavy royal-name betting (“Diana” is the odds-on favorite, but does that include if it’s a boy? That would make life interesting).


It’s no coincidence that the royal family is nicknamed “the firm” in England.  All other sectors of the British economy may be mired in a depression, but any product that can successfully tie itself to Great Britain’s obsession with the impending arrival can write its own ticket.  You would think the British had never seen a baby before.  Heck, tradition even allows marketers to poke fun with royal-themed barf bags for morning sickness, and those are selling well.  The British economy, stuck at 0.3 percent growth, could suffer a post-partum depression after the summer birth.

But the marketing gain of William and Kate comes with a cache loss for Prince Harry, who will be bumped to number four in the pecking order of royal secession.  Let’s hope he doesn’t get any Shakespearean ideas.

Now if only we could goose our economy with the recent birth of the first offspring for our own royal couple.  Do you think compass makers owe a debt of gratitude to Kim and Kayne?



“Shitstorm” Hits the German Dictionary

There is something awesome about a profane and pirated English word becoming an official part of the German lexicon.  Duden, the German equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary, has included into its newest edition the word “shitstorm”, after its use was popularized by German politicians and commentators during the recent Euro crisis. It is now officially part of the German Dictionary.


After seeing the balance sheets of some of the member countries of the Eurozone, you might understand why the Germans would start muttering such a word under their breaths.  But actually, the English-appropriated word isn’t just pronounced differently, it also has a slightly different meaning.  Rather than referring to a situation that is untenably bad, the Germans use “shitstorm” to mean widespread and voracious outrage primarily found on online social media platforms.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel even felt comfortable letting the word fly at a press conference to describe online backlash to her Euro crisis management.

This just adds to the awesomeness of the German language.  On the one hand, it’s home to awesomely-long words, like “Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitaenswitwe”, which literally means “widow of a Danube steamboat company captain”.   On the other, the Germans have gotten looser about copping English words whenever convenient, regardless of whether the usage translates correctly.  A great example is “a handy”, the popular phrase for a cell phone in Germany.  The phrase has a different NSFW meaning here.

Of course, we would never get fixated on a German word the same way.  Nope, not us.


Ben and Jerry Crowdsources Flavors in Hip Cities by Howard Davidson

Ben and Jerry continues its tasty marketing reign of excellence with a new campaign that allows customers in target cities to crowdsource its newest limited-edition flavors.  In 360i’s first campaign for the ice cream company, the new flavors for each city will be determined by crowd behavior as much as voting on microsites.  As part of the “City Churned” campaign, New Yorkers taking cabs uptown will be voting for Peppermint while downtown cab fares will count as votes for Fairtrade Vanilla.  In Washington D.C., Red Line and Orange Line ridership and jogging lanes will count as votes for either Cherries or Fairtrade Bananas.  Seattlites will choose flavors by coffee sleeves, of course.  And Portland’s flavor decision between Marshmallows and Graham Crackers will be determined by facial hair styles…which seems somehow unsanitary.

There may be some risk, as you might have a few irate New Yorkers who will resent the brand for having them vote for Peppermint when really they’re just trying to take a cab home and they’ve always hated Peppermint.  (Think of how you’d feel if you were told you were voting for your least favorite food flavor.)  But really, it’s just another nice move by an ice cream company that can do no wrong when it comes to its branding.

Think about it.  Ben and Jerry’s shot to fame with a hippie ethos, yet its reputation survived being sold to mega-food corporation Unilever in 2000.  Many foodies may think of Unilever as the evil empire, yet a Google search of “Ben and Jerry’s” and “fake” will only turn up hilarious lists of fake flavors.  That’s because the company and its founders have been making all the right moves, from being risqué with a flavor name to capitalize on a SNL skit to mixing it up with the Occupy movement.  It appears as though 360i will be continuing the good work of the marketers that came before them, who turned a funky Vermont ice cream company into a golden goose.



The Cronut Consumes New York


It’s like a social virus.  It’s spread by a bite and fueled by frenzy.  It’s not a zombie plague, although if someone announces a warehouse-full giveaway of the stuff, you would see similar hysteria.

No, New Yorkers are going crazy over the “cronut”, a delectable hybrid of the flaky croissant and the sticky-sweet doughnut.  It’s only available at one Manhattan bakery, and New Yorkers are lining up  at dawn for just a shot at buying it.  Construction workers are getting up early to scalp the product and knock-offs like the “doissant” are already appearing in bakeries in Washington D.C. and Melbourne, Australia.  The pastries are even being resold on craigslist, which somehow seems just the wrong forum for retailing fresh foodstuffs.

Doughnuts are great, as everyone knows, but it seems unlikely that the cronut is that much better to justify lines of New Yorkers giving up several hours daily to wait for it as if it were the next iPhone.  No, somehow, this pastry has randomly morphed into a form of social currency, much like tulips with the Dutch or Beanie Babies with 90’s Middle America.  In a recent queue, one man was waiting in line to get a cronut to use as a peace offering to his girlfriend and another was hoping to bring cronuts to a meeting to impress clients.  Some say the cronut’s popularity is just clever marketing, benefiting from an excellent hybrid name, while others say it’s riding the hybrid food wave, which began ingloriously with the tofurky.  But really, lightning sometimes just strikes.

I hope this baker knows what he has on his hands.  It appears so, as he’s already trademarked the cronut brand.  All he has to do is ride the wave just right to license his product and introduce the cronut to the rest of America before the craze collapses on itself, and then he won’t have to roll out dough anymore, because he’ll be rolling in it.


Burberry’s Kiss and Sell

Unfortunately, Soulja Boy’s follow-up single “Kiss Me Thru The Phone” is actually possible (the unfortunate part being the mention of Soulja Boy), thanks to a collaboration between Google and Burberry. “Burberry Kisses” is an app/advertising campaign that allows users to take a picture of, or, on your phone and pad, actually kiss the screen to capture an image of your kiss to send via e-mail.

The campaign is part of Google’s Art, Copy & Code project, which seeks to “re-imagine” advertising through brand partnership by focusing on new and creative ways to advertise digitally.  It’s certainly a touching idea. And it’s really hoping to catch-on with millennial consumers. Millennials are entering their peak spending years and now outnumber baby boomers, yet much is still unknown about them as consumers, except one thing. A report by The Boston Consulting Group confirms that millenials are tech-savvy, “digital natives”.

So, Google has started several experimental campaigns via Art, Copy & Code that focus on technological interactivity. One allows your sneakers to post updates on your phone. Another is a partnership with Volkswagen that connects your phone with your car to automatically post updates and interact with online friends while you’re driving. Both campaigns focus on connecting people to objects to social media.

This latest Burberry collaboration can be taken as a beginning step to indulge millennial consumers (usually “misunderstood” by companies and advertisers) and make sense of how to get the most out of a changing digital advertising landscape. As much as millenials are already attached to their phones, Burberry Kisses hopes to play-to that connection by adding the natural interface of lips-to-screen. Cute technology, but not game-changing.

The real trick to the campaign, though, is in triggering subliminal feelings of love for Burberry every time users “kiss” their app page. Next up: Burberry Snuggle?  I’m done with cute for awhile.