Pizza Hut Bites A Slice of Dominos

Pizza Hut is determined to take a tasty bite out of Domino’s Pizza’s market share.

A subsidiary of the sweet Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM), Pizza Hut is known for delivering more pizza, pasta and wings than any other restaurant in the world. Well now, the famous company is on a mission to increase it’s online presence by 20%.

Instead of relying on bread and butter TV ads to reach customers, the chain will soon be delivering some mouth watering social content. The company is looking to create a more intimate and responsive relationship with its customers that isn’t as possible with TV ads’ comparatively glacial feedback pace. Betting against prolonged product engagement via television, these online outlets are more conducive to “more frequent, shorter bursts” whereby consumer response is instantaneous. This dramatic shift isn’t totally out of left field, given that more than 40% of Pizza Hut sales are now made through online means.

The decision also comes fresh off the heels of a relatively successful string of PR stunts, all of which managed to grab headlines and attention. One such stunt, just in time for Valentines Day, saw the pizza parlor open an account on the dating website OK Cupid. Essentially, the pizza people binge on to get over a tough breakup could actually cause it! But before you get on one knee and ask that special slice to be your one and only, know that you’re not alone. According to Pizza Hut’s PR team, online hopefuls from Twitter spill their cheesy guts out with proposals every day.

The company really hopes to take a solid bite out of it’s long time rival, Dominos.


Coca-Cola & Riedel Release Luxurious Glass

Partnering with Coca-Cola, renowned Austrian glassmaker Riedel has designed a luxurious drinking glass meant for the more refined tastes of a true Coca-Cola connoisseur. Apparently modeled after the shape of the original Coke glass, the glassware giant promises to accentuate and enhance all of the classic soda’s familiar flavors.

Conjuring up a veritable olfactory and gustatory dream sequence, Riedel’s CEO Georg Riedel envisions the drinking experience as being akin to a fine wine or sophisticated ale: “This glass starts with the introduction of the aromas, beautiful lemon, citrus, lime character, malt characteristics, the mouth feel, the effervescence”

Of course there are skeptics who scoff, from a scientific basis, at the idea of a glass in any way contributing to flavor. Are Riedel’s purported methods and theories of taste genuine or is it all just trickery used to create a luxurious experience?

In any case, Coca-Cola has no real financial incentive to make this kind of a brand move from populous to luxury. They’ve pretty much had a vice grip on competitors like Pepsi and the widespread appeal of their soft drink does not hurt profits. Given this dominance, it’s clear Coke can afford to have some fun and Riedel is obviously reveling in the exposure.

A single glass runs at $20 with a double pack costing $30. But, can this ridiculously fancy glass make Coke taste better?


Toyota & Google Unveil Totally Virtual Showroom

Clambering to keep up with the technology laden Generation Y, Toyota, partnered with Google, has unveiled an entirely virtual showroom.

Ironically advertised as a more social way to buy cars, the showroom can be accessed from a Google+ hangout, which then allows up to five people to pick features: “ like wheels and sunroof, or colors for the exterior and the interior of the car.” If the user likes what he or she sees, they can even take the fake car on a fake test drive against a fake backdrop of their choosing. Acknowledging that millennials: “think about cars in a dramatically different way”, this radically new sales interface shows Toyota might be flexible in adjusting the time honored and profit maximizing face to face standard.

Announced at South By Southwest, the venue certainly suggests that the automakers are aware of an imminent threat posed by younger consumers, who buy virtually everything from the Internet. Well, almost everything.

Very few people from any generation enjoy going through the hassle of buying a car from the lot, as haggling, stressful paperwork and waiting around are inevitable. But if these timeless headaches mildly annoyed older generations, there are strong signs that Generation Y is prepared to dig a kind of nuclear option and forego the automotive experience altogether. The percentage of seventeen year olds with licenses is half of what it was in 1983, and there’s no sign of that gap closing.

Sometimes referred to by industry insiders as Generation N (N meaning ‘neutral about buying cars’), this Toyota virtual showroom is a genuine attempt to entice a young millennial demographic that just hasn’t been buying what they’ve been selling.


MoMa’s Twitter Helps People Talk About Art

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) and digital shop Possible have created a Twitter account called ART140 (@artoneforty) that helps people talk about art.

MoMa’s Twitter page is a cocktail party online with 1.6 million aficionados, geeks, newbs and common folks tweeting[WA1] . The goal is to create a new channel conducive to free flowing conversation while generating interest in their pieces. The page was which was launched at SXSW this month and created a huge buzz.

The clever Twitter page has people choosing a specific piece of art and then explaining what it means to them, in 140 characters or less via the hashtag #art140. ART140 will be a social experiment aimed at finding out what art means to the masses. The museum is working with Possible to reveal how the meaning of art may differ by age, gender, geography or other life experiences.

MoMa’s digital media marketing manager, Victor Samra, has assured users that their comments will not be censored in any way, so anyone can post.

MoMa is hoping to use the feedback from this experiment to gain some insight on what they should display in their upcoming exhibits. The museum hopes to “break down the wall” that often separates the masses from fine art appreciation.

But oh if those walls in NYC could talk…


On-Call IV Doctors Deliver Hangover Remedy

It’s no secret that hangovers are a major drag on your functionality – in fact, recent studies have estimated that excessive drinking costs the U.S. economy as much as $220 billion per year in lost productivity. Meet the On-Call IV Doctors. They deliver the ultimate hangover remedy.

Aside from a smattering of old wives’ remedies, nobody has been able to conjure up a surefire cure for the morning-after blues – until now. An intrepid New York City startup called The I.V. Doctor has developed a potent blend of IV fluids that can eradicate all hangover symptoms in just 45 minutes. As if that doesn’t sound magical enough, the doctors are housecall-only, which means it is literally easier than trudging down your corner bodega to score a packet of aspirin.

And lest you worry about some stranger showing up at your apartment and sticking a needle in your arm, all of the employees are fully licensed urologists. The fluids themselves are similar to what you’d find in any hospital drip: the standard package features whopping doses of sodium chloride, potassium, and lactate, as well as anti-nausea and pain relief meds. For an extra fee, customers can top off their drip with a boost of B12 vitamins.

The housecall service – which will run you between $199 and $249 – has become wildly popular among hard-partying bankers and other wealthy professional types who’d like to have their Grey Goose and chug it too. In fact, the service has become so popular that an on-site hangover clinic is slated to open on the Upper West Side in May.

Cheers to an IV Doc who can come to Arlington, MA sometime soon.


Alexander Hamilton was never president, Groupon

“Happy President’s Day to Alexander Hamilton!” is what Groupon said in a nutshell when they offered a promotional $10 off of local deals $40 or higher. Before you Wikipedia it, Alexander Hamilton was never president.

Groupon’s press release begs to differ: “The $10 bill, as everyone knows,” it ironically begins, “features President Alexander Hamilton – undeniably one of our greatest presidents and most widely recognized for establishing the country’s financial system.”

Way to be American, Groupon. On the bright side, at least you didn’t get the date wrong for Independence Day (June 4th, duh!). You would think someone at Groupon paid enough attention in history class to realize the error.

Yet we know you know that you know Alexander Hamilton was never president, Groupon.

This “President” Hamilton thing is all a big marketing ploy. No correction has been issued, and Groupon’s responses to the buzz have all been vague and unapologetic. Well, the joke’s on you, Groupon, because your promotional deal is being talked about all over the…oh…right. I guess it worked.

So, it is a scheme – and not just a marketing one – because there are definitely a number of people who think Mr. Hamilton was a U.S. President. Oh well.


Brand Police Use Duct Tape at 2014 Olympics

Brand police are in full force at the 2014 Olympics with duct tape. They are using opaque tape to cover up logos of non-endorsed brands in compliance with Olympics’ Rule 40, which prevents non-official Olympic sponsors from advertising or marketing their products or services before and during the Olympics.

Associated Press staffer Mark Davies tweeted an image of a journalist having his computer logo taped over by an Olympics staffer. The laptop clearly wasn’t of the Samsung brand, which is an official sponsor of the Olympics. “Olympic workers are swooping on reporters sitting in competition venues with Apple laptops, and hastily taping over the iconic logo with duct tape,” he wrote. “In fact, any laptop that isn’t made by official sponsor Samsung is likely to face an Olympic cover-up.” Davies also witnessed a Mercedes with its logo covered up since the official automotive sponsor of the games is Volkswagen.

Ambush marketing is a big concern for the International Olympics Committee. Police (sans duct tape) and roaming the streets to stop counterfeiters from selling fake goods and making sure fans’ social posts aren’t commercial.

B.C’s Better Business Bureau says a recent search came up with nearly 6,000 Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic items for sale on eBay that include some obvious frauds.

Items for sale included sweaters, jackets, mitts and a Sochi 2014 Olympic torch selling for $7,000. The BBB says many of these items were authentic, but some were not.

It says it’s difficult to guarantee that items online from third parties are actually official, so is issuing a warning about scammers trying to cash in on Olympic fever.

How come no one came up with Olympic-branded duct tape?


Food Brands Push Energy

Food marketers are applying a lot of power to push energy. The marketing of cereal, snacks, shakes and even dog food is pushing energy as a selling point big time.

PepsiCo-owned Quaker is among the most aggressive brands trying to capitalize the appeal of newfound energy. Their new campaign includes a TV ad showing people nodding off on buses, at work and at home, and encourages people to fight the “human energy crisis” with the “good energy of Quaker” and its array of oatmeal-based products, from bars to hot cereal. The ads are by the Chicago office of BBDO, which is coincidentally known as Energy BBDO.

“What makes a modern mom different their parents’ generation is they embrace the chaos,” said Quaker Chief Marketing Officer Justin Lambeth. “They are not looking for the escape moment,” he added, but want a good energy source to get them through the day.

The campaign includes a microsite that tallies the nation’s energy level in real time by tirelessly scouring Twitter for terms like tired, awake, alert and exhausted.

Quaker reportedly has the energy to publish a quarterly “Human Energy Index” with Mashable that summarizes findings from the site. The publication will even show stats state by state. Louisiana is noted as the most exhausted state, followed by Mississippi, Hawaii, Alabama and Delaware.


Crest Rolls Out Chocolate Toothpaste

To the delight of children everywhere, Crest has decided to roll out chocolate toothpaste. The new Mint Chocolate Trek flavor is part of Crest’s tasty Crest Be line of new tantalizing flavors. Come on. Why wouldn’t you want to brush your teeth with dessert?

Procter & Gamble has had a bumpy ride over the past few years. Persistently sluggish growth in the world’s developed economies has squeezed middle-class budgets, and P&G’s bottom line has suffered accordingly. Now, the hygiene giant plans to strike back by unleashing a new product line of “adventurous” products, including one that is sure to delight hygiene-averse children all around the world: mint chocolate-flavored toothpaste.

The new toothpaste, which is adventurously titled “Be Adventurous, Mint Chocolate Trek,” is aimed at reinvigorating the middle-class consumer base that used to comprise the reliable core of Procter & Gamble’s sales. But lest you think that P&G is betting the farm on one cocoa-infused novelty toothpaste, Mint Chocolate Trek is just one in a long list of innovative new products.

These include new tooth-whitening strips, diapers, shampoos, and other radically-named toothpastes (Vanilla Mint Spark, Be Inspired, Be Dynamic, etc.) that seem designed to force competitors to step up their game. Being minty fresh, it seems, is no longer a remarkable distinction for a toothpaste.

So far, P&G’s ambitious strategies have helped it weather the storms of low demand: overall sales increased by 3 percent in the last quarter. As for Mint Chocolate Trek, it is slated to start hitting stores sometime next month.


Balance Bar “Anti-Resolutions” Campaign Is Delicious

Balance Bar “Anti-Resolutions” campaign is delicious! Balance Bar, the nutrition bar stalwart, has gone and done something quite unusual for a health-conscious company: they’ve launched an “Anti-Resolutions Pledge” ad campaign.

The company, which was bought out by NBTY last year, is trying this unorthodox strategy at a time when traditional weight-loss companies are struggling. The rise of online-based health and dieting advice has hit long-standing titans like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, as many consumers (unsurprisingly) opt for free weight-loss aids over traditional subscription-based programs.

The central wager of the “Anti-Resolution” campaign is that dieters too often set overly ambitious goals for the new year, only to become overwhelmed and quit as soon as the pressure mounts. Balance Bar is instead advocating for a smaller, humbler, day-by-day approach to dieting which focuses on small lifestyle changes and, among other things, eating Balance Bars. People who sign the Pledge are supposed to make one small change per month, the theory being that this is a more manageable and durable strategy for weight loss. For Balance Bar, it’s a win-win: even if consumers fail to maintain their twelve small lifestyle changes, they’ll at least scarf down a few boxes worth of Balance Bars along the way.