Coca-Cola Just Got Caught (Not) Juicing

Coca-Cola got caught (not) juicing ‘pomegranate juice’.

Apparently some of Coke’s self-labeled ‘pomegranate juices’ only have 0.2% of the juice and the Supreme Court seems to have gotten wise. When the nation’s highest court isn’t making watershed rulings on things like campaign finance laws or gay marriage, I guess it’s busy mediating semantic squabbles between beverage companies.

Pom is taking Coke to court over allegedly misleading labeling that slaps ‘pomegranate juice’ onto a product that has a laughable amount of that juice actually in it. And things are looking pretty good thus far for Pom. During the ever exciting oral arguments, the Justices looked to air on the side of common sense by calling out Coke’s argument that their customers weren’t “unintelligent�? enough to see for themselves what the actual juice content of their drinks are. If indeed the justices do side with Pom, this would possibly open the floodgates for similar lawsuits and more honest labeling.

But do I, or anyone else, really want to know what’s in supposedly healthy products? I only want the warm and fuzzy feeling inside that I’m doing something good for my body. And if it turns out that 99% of my ‘pomegranate juice’ is actually apple juice, I’d like to live my pseudo trendy healthy life in blissful ignorance, thanks. Isn’t the nutrition label’s font smaller for a reason?


McDonalds is Lovin’ It in China

I’m lovin’ it got a whole lotta love as an international branding campaign by McDonald’s Corporation. It was created by Heye & Partner, McDonald’s agency based in Unterhaching, Germany, a member of the DDB Worldwide. Well now, McDonalds is lovin’ in the China with concept eateries.

McDonalds has dished out some love in China with new décor in Guangzhou, China. Their ‘concept eatery’ looks much more upscale than anything on this side of the pacific, replete with hanging lights modeled after bamboo baskets. Coinciding with a fierce competition with Colonel Sanders for fast food supremacy in China as well as a 3% drop in sales last year, Ronald is trying on some new makeup; the tables are now circular so that watching others enjoy greasy goodness is much easier.

The geniuses at McDonald’s are obviously making this move to conform more to Chinese culture that dictates eating as a time of togetherness, not as a time to guilty wolf down 99 cent fries in your car in an effort to avoid the in-laws. This whole redesign also applies to a new spot that shows a young couple wistfully eating McDonald’s on a balcony and voyeuristically eyeing a guy with a sleek new sports car who is free of anything McDonald’s related. In line for a promotion, the youngster sees dollar signs and fast cars in his future, just like the man below. The underlying message of course being that someday you might earn enough to never have to eat another McDonald’s fry.

Sounds like a recipe for a new fast food nation.


Clorox Cleans Up With Ick Awards

Clorox is set to clean up with their Ick Awards.

The company famous for their bleach-whitening product has bottled up the “Ick Awards�?. The brand getting out its message with Chicago’s famed The Second City improv troupe to create a live-streamed, four-hour performance, – sketch comedy style. Rachel Dratch, formerly of SNL, and a Second City alumna, serves as host. The cast will comprise Second City actors. Second City Communications, which is the marketing arm of the group, partnered with Clorox to create the program.

I’m not sure how many people want to explicitly describe bathroom messes, but enough do to warrant Clorox taking public testimonials of disgusting and/or embarrassing cleaning situations and using them for sketch comedy. Recruiting improv pros from the Second City in Chicago, a series of videos showcase the “Ick Awards�?. As an incentive to publicly pronounce via Twitter stories like “the time my prom dress went into the bottom of the toilet after I used it�?, the Second City folks improvised expository sketches tailored to the stories sent in for all of YouTube to see.

It seems like the toiletries and cleaning industries are all embracing humor in place of circumspection when it comes to ad campaigns. Charmin has a similar twitter campaign, and the viral video for PooPouri made quite a splash. Clorox themselves has been in this rebranding groove for a while now with a set of “Ick-tionary�? TV spots released last year.

Appropriately enough, improv comedy can sometimes be a messy endeavor but I think that’s what gives it a certain frantic magic. Dratch, who is a comedy veteran compared to the fresh-faced performers, cracks up in multiple sketches but you can tell she’s having fun. And I guess that’s the bottom line of this campaign trend: expose and have fun with the gross bodily functions polite society tells us to ignore. Long live potty humor?


A Chicken Named Gloria Now Controls Burger King’s Chicken Fries

Burger King is sending a live chicken named Gloria on a nationwide tour to promote Chicken Fries.

This is totally creepy. In a new one-minute video, Burger King introduces their new mascot, a live chicken named Gloria. “Who better than a chicken to decide whether or not Chicken Fries return to the Burger King menu,” a man asks early in the video.

I don’t know about you, but I could come up with a few better ideas than having a creature with no self-awareness deciding whether or not humans are allowed to devour their species. At any rate, Burger King is taking Gloria the chicken on a tour around the nation, stopping at select locations. Once there, Gloria will peck into one of two bowls labeled “yes” and “no.”

The company is inviting “Gloria enthusiasts” – a label which I would assume approximately zero people identify as – to come see Gloria in action, or to watch a live stream as she makes her choice. Who would ever do that?

Why on earth would you travel to a Burger King restaurant to watch a chicken peck a bowl? Why the heck would you watch a live stream online, either? Who is the target market here? Certainly not me.

Here’s another gripe: Why, as the ad claims, did Burger King executives have such a tough time deciding which locations will serve Chicken Fries? The company itself claims that Chicken Fries are wildly popular, so wouldn’t the obvious choice be to sell them at all locations? The logic gap there annoys me.

I’m having none of Gloria the chicken. I haven’t been to Burger King in a decade. I don’t plan on being seen at one — ever.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA


A Vuvuzela That Changes BeIN Sports Channels

BeIN Sports, a multi-sports channel, has developed vuvuzela that changes channels.

The vuvuzela is called the Game Changer. When blown, it switches the channel on your TV to its station.

But any sports fan will able to recognize the familiar droning pitch of the vuvuzela. First widely deployed at the 2010 World Cup, the elongated horns at a soccer match combine to create a sonic experience described by some as akin to a swarm of bees. More importantly for beIN though, ever since the World Cup vuvuzelas have become a symbol for soccer worldwide.

Using microchip technology, the TBWA\Chiat\Day New York designed vuvuzela essentially recognizes when it’s being blown then sends out an infrared signal to any nearby cable box, just like your regular remote, and up comes beIN.

The possibly annoying instrument aims to send a strong message to an American sports broadcast world that has largely ignored soccer. As beIN Creative Director Matt Ian put it: “We look at Game Changer as the way to guide our communications in fulfilling our mission, which is to give soccer the respect it deserves.�? Only about twenty souped-up vuvzelas have been made thus far but depending on the level of interest, further production could be on the horizon.

Whether or not these channel changing vuvuzelas become wildly popular, a message has already been sent; beIN soccer is coming to America and it isn’t coming quietly.


TD Bank is Banking on ‘Human Truths’ of Banking

TB Bank is banking on more consumer interest as they roll out the next iteration of their brand’s successful ‘Bank Human, Again’ marketing campaign.

Titled ‘Human Truths,’ the campaign features four new television commercial spots that bring to life the bank’s commitment to a legendary, human-centric customer experience. These spots will run in prime time throughout TD Bank’s Maine to Florida footprint.

Last year, a handful of spots showed average customers walking into a grey, lifeless bank all while being addressed by a disembodied, robotic voice. What TD offered as alternatives were things like no rope lines and, if you’ve been waiting to indulge your inner kleptomaniac, pens that don’t have those pesky chains binding them to the table.

Apparently last year’s efforts have paid off because the same formula is now being applied to a set of commercials featuring customers facing similarly terrible service, only with one major change: now there are actual human beings working in these monochrome institutions of rudeness. The enemy has become embodied! In one such ad, the sinister banker behind the glass of the just closed, nameless bank positively taunts the nice woman trying to get in. In fact, improvisational actors were used for these spots to add that little extra taste of bitter believability.

This rebrand that focuses on convenience comes on the heels of TD expanding more branches on the east coast the past couple of years. And the tone of consumer-centered service is pretty clearly in response to criticisms that have labeled financial institutions as blatantly disregarding the well being of those whom they lend to. Instead, TD is trying to emphasize “real human truths�? that can be found in their branches like free coin deposits. Tellers will even walk you to your car with an umbrella if it’s raining outside. No word yet on whether they’ll drive you home, though.


Wendy’s Ads Supports Foster-Care Adoption

Wendy’s has been quietly supporting foster-care adoption for more than 20 years. The company has now launched a national, multichannel campaign for the cause.

The year-long marketing program is an expansion of ongoing fundraising initiatives for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a nonprofit founded in 1992 by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, who was himself adopted as a child.

You probably know Wendy’s for their square shaped burgers and trademark redheaded logo but a new ad campaign has started for the unfortunately lesser-known Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption. The late Wendy’s founder, who was himself a product of adoption, had a fiery passion for helping children lost in the foster care system and it looks like the Foundation is going to be making a more public push this year.

The nonprofit has usually flown under the radar of the Wendy’s brand, but a new series of ads for the Foundation itself are slated to make their debut that correspond to a return of a popular fundraising campaign. The spots also include stories of children whom The Foundation has successfully placed into loving homes.

Wendy’s more public showcasing of charitable efforts is pretty much in line with about a yearlong trend. In 2013 the restaurant gave customers the option of purchasing a one-dollar key tag with all of the proceeds going to the Foundation. And I think because of the success of last year’s effort, which raised about $450K, the company is feeling a little more confident with merging their charitable wing with the huge platform of the fast food empire. Ending later in the year, Wendy’s revived key tag campaign has an ambitious goal of surpassing the million-dollar mark.

Whether the Foundation hits its target largely depends on the amount of public exposure, so this new slew of TV and radio spots are a step in the right direction. And contrary to Wendy’s treats, this campaign won’t make you feel frosty inside.


Show Cast Members Go Live on TV Land Commercials

Going back to the roots of commercials, TV Land is set to feature the return of “cast commercials�? in two of their upcoming broadcasts. TV show cast members are set to go live on TV Land commercials – once again.

Cast commercials, for those of you born after the Eisenhower administration, were a popular trend in the 50s/60s that featured advertisements between programs starring the actors from whatever you watching.

Often times the actors or actresses would continue playing their characters from said show and, before you knew it, you’d find yourself purchasing laundry detergent from Lucy Riccardo’s neighbor Ethel (In theory, anyway).

The format died out in the late 60s when the model of sponsorship for TV programs died out and networks took over selling air time, but TV Land, probably playing off their (ahem) older age demographic, is bringing the idea back.

Two of their original programs, Hot in Cleveland and The Soul Man, which this season will each feature a live episode, will also include nostalgia-inducing live commercials for the Toyota Highlander and Bush’s Grillin’ Beans.

While this means that Betty White & Co. will have their hands full, performing an entire live show complete with live commercials, TV Land hopes the results will be a challenging way to add even more energy to the live specials.

It’s a fun idea, one that seems well suited to TV Land’s style, but we’ll have to wait until June 19th to see it executed.

In the meantime we can settle for reruns of I Love Lucy, and wonder how Ethel ever got her whites so white.


Crabby “Grandpa Frank�? Back in Oscar Mayer Campaign

Oscar Mayer is throwing down the gauntlet in the deli meat debate with the return of crabby “Grandpa Frank�? in an effort to convince us that their packaged meats are fresher than anything behind a deli counter. Welcome back, Crabby Grandpa Frank.

The new spots hearken back to a commercial that aired last year which showed Frank giving unfiltered advice and stray observations to all those unlucky enough to cross his path. Bluntly remarking that a family friend has “had some work done�?, the 2013 Frank seemed a lot more vicious than his current form.

Nowadays the cantankerous old timer is standing in line at his nondescript supermarket’s deli hurling various zingers at the uninspired meats behind the glass: “The only thing that’s been here longer than us is that turkey�?.

This ad campaign is clearly more about the non-politically correct grandpa than the thing he’s buying. No packaged meat could be as memorable as Frank’s personality. And while level of his vitriol has subsided a bit from year ago, it looks like Oscar Mayer is going to be slowly releasing a series of spots with Frank in his usual form. A newly released commercial sees him berating a deli employee for just being “a guy who happens to be standing behind a deli�?.

Snarky older people have been popping up in ads a lot recently, with Betty White famously sassing some football players in a beloved Snickers commercial. But will Grandpa Frank’s resurrection be enough to help Oscar Mayer rise above playing second fiddle to traditional deli meats? With 70% of surveyed customers apparently not finding flavors they want in the deli case, I’m sure Frank would have a quick answer.


H&R Block Offers Free Money To Help Build Their Equity

Nothing helps build (brand) equity quite like free money, which is why H&R Block is offering free cash to customers to help build their brand.

At least that’s the hope of the tax preparation company as they introduce an experimental marketing program that literally puts cash in the hands of consumers. It’s smart, engaging and, well, costly.

New kiosks from the brand dispense up to $100 to participants willing to take a 2-minute quiz, part of which includes the opportunity to fantasize about the best way to spend a billion dollars. Sounds easy enough.

The kiosks build off H&R Block’s “Get Your Billion Back America�? ad campaign that draws attention to the more than one billion dollars Americans left on the table after doing their own taxes in 2013. Ketchum, M1 Interactive, Decibel Management and CGS Premiere created the kiosks, which include multiple touch screens, cameras, computers and ATM components.

Needless to say the free-money-dispensing-kiosks, which are currently set up in Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, and (for some reason) Kansas City, have had no trouble finding willing participants. The machines have been used by more than 600 individuals and have garnered earned media from the thousands of others who have seen the machines in action.

While it’s a fun, on-strategy execution, and one that participants undoubtedly enjoy, it lacks the originality to differentiate itself from other similar kiosks/machine installations such as Coca Cola’s Happiness Machine. Still there’s no doubt it’s getting the message across to the good people of Kansas, New York, California and Georgia, so who’s to say it can’t still be a slam-dunk for the brand?

No word yet on whether or not H&R Block intends to spread the machines to other cities across the U.S., but for now company is probably happy limiting the number of places it installs free money dispensers to the few geographically separated locations already selected.