Taco Bell Gets Even Cheaper With $1 Cravings Menu

Taco Bell is getting even cheaper by rolling out the new $1 Cravings value menu.

Apparently, the “Why Pay More” menu just wasn’t cheap enough. As prices on Taco Bell’s previous value menu skyrocketed to (gasp) more than a whole dollar, it became clear to parent company Yum Brands that decisive action was needed.

The new $1 Cravings menu is taking over, with items such as the Beefy Cheesy Burrito and Beefy Nacho Loaded Griller on tap. Does it bother anyone else that they don’t just say “Beef”? Why does it have to be “Beefy”? It makes me feel like there’s something they’re not telling me.

At this point, Taco Bell is in the throes of a full-on branding identity crisis. In addition to the $1 Cravings launch, Taco Bell is also rolling out its “Cantina Power” menu. That line is positioned to appear fresh and healthy – basically the antithesis of the rest of Taco Bell’s offerings.

The company seems to be at war with itself regarding whether it wants to market to young professionals or stoners living in mom’s basement. Now that they have breakfast, I can’t even imagine how awkward things get at 6am. Maybe they could do separate drive-thru lanes – one for people on their way to work, one for those on their way to bed after a long night of video games.

At the end of the day, Taco Bell just needs to figure out what it wants to be. Consumers who would buy their higher-priced items don’t want to eat at the same restaurant as the guy who scraped coins out of the sofa to buy one taco. In other words, you can’t have your caramel apple empanada and eat it too.

Umm, not saying I would be seen at a Taco Bell, BTW.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts


Wheaties Gives Power to the People with NEXT Challenge

Mobile promotions are running riot and Wheaties is giving people the power in their NEXT Challenge.

Wheaties has always been the athlete’s cereal, with millions of would be healthy people using the image on the box as a guiding light. But now it looks like Wheaties is putting the power in the consumer’s hands with their new way of picking an athlete on the box. Basically users of this app called MapMyFitness have to register for the Wheaties NEXT Challenge, then pick a preferred athlete and compete with other users’ athletes. How exactly do they compete? The athlete whose users log the most workouts with the MapMyFitness app gets on the box. Workouts equal votes. When only half the country makes the effort and votes for a president, it’s doubly shocking to me that this process is actually gaining some momentum. 16 million people have registered so far and over 600,000 are doing some kind of workout. Go you chicken fat, go away!

With Old Navy giving sweet summer deals via their flip flop twitter campaign, this idea of targeting mobile users is gaining steam. But with Wheaties’ newest experiment, are you willing to sweat for your favorite athlete? If you’ve been inspired to get yourself in tip top shape by the Iphone spot “Strength” that has been playing during the World Cup every five seconds, MapMyFitness could give you someone to work for. Or maybe not.

The winning sports personality will appear on a box in early 2015.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA


Dannon Teams with NFL to Make Yogurt a Game Day Tradition

Dannon has teamed up with the NFL in an attempt to make yogurt an unlikely game day tradition.

By becoming the official yogurt sponsor of the NFL, Dannon looks to capitalize on Americans’ love of violent sports and fermented milk products. Go figure.

In danger of starting their 95th consecutive season without an official yogurt, the National Football League reached a deal with new sponsor Dannon. Finally, the NFL can shake the damaging stigma of being a yogurt-free league. Meanwhile, Dannon gets to try talking football fans into trading in the buffalo wings for yogurt cups.

Following their 2014 Super Bowl ad campaign that featured a “Full House” reunion, Dannon is taking things a step further. Dare I say that they are a adding a bit more culture? No longer is the brand content to sit on the sidelines as just another TV advertiser. Now, they’re buying themselves a spot in the starting lineup of official sponsors.

The obvious question I’m posing here is whether Dannon and the NFL are an appropriate fit from a cross-promotional standpoint. When was the last time you saw a football player eating yogurt? Wouldn’t a sports drink or pasta brand make more sense?

Maybe I’m just out of the loop here. I’ve never played a game of football in my life. It’s possible that football players are all huge yogurt-heads and no one ever told me. I do have my doubts, however. When I’m hungry, it takes a bit more than one tiny portion-controlled yogurt cup to fill me up. I have a sneaking suspicion football players feel similarly.

The only way I see this sponsorship paying off for Dannon is if they’re able to really capitalize on the connection between healthy eating and general fitness. It feels more like a risky Hail Mary than a safe screen pass to me. Regardless, pass my my Activia please. I need all the probiotics I can get these days.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA


Jimmy Kimmel Helps Old Navy Sell Flip-Flops

Old Navy has Jimmy Kimmel selling a new collection of summer flip-flops. He’s getting help from 36 vending machines and a hashtag.

The late-night host and his team of writers created a skit during “Jimmy Kimmel Live” scored big time during the airing and on YouTube for Old Navy’s “Tweet For Your Feet” campaign.

Basically Old Navy was giving away super cheap flip flops to the first 9,000 tweeters to participate in their en masse Twitter firestorm. For all those in the lucky 9,000, one dollar flip flops could be retrieved from a glorified vending machine by using the hashtag #flipflophooray. And if one thing has always screamed quality, it’s vending machines. Jimmy Kimmel and Amy Poehler have also been flashing their mugs all over Old Navy lately, with Kimmel’s sidekick Guillermo partaking in some admittedly funny beach hijinks while wearing a stack of sandals.

With this two pronged strategy, I can only assume Old Navy is looking to appeal to the cheap hipsters while simultaneously pushing its more, uh, mature customers into the digital age. And believe it or not, but the strategy has payed off in huge dividends. Ivan Wicksteed from Old Navy is claiming that the sales figures brought in by the Twitter sale are rivaled only by black Friday numbers. This style of sale may be the big new promotional strategy, so look out for more players to try and get in on Old Navy’s action. For all you consumers though, if you can pry your eyes away from the beautiful and not so beautiful beach bodies this summer, Old Navy may have some flimsy sandals coming your way…


Molson Beer Fridge Returns to Canada

Molson Canadian Beer Company’s custom fridge filled with the Canadian beer has returned to Canada.

The swanky fThe Molson beer fridge spent years traveling the globe. It went from downtown London to the depths of the jungle. ridge only opens for people with Canadian passports. On Canada Day – July 1 – Molson put a fresh twist on the successful marketing campaign, bringing it home to Canada and giving it a new unlocking gimmick.

Seeing as the vast majority of people in Canada logically possess Canadian passports, Molson has now decided to test Canadians’ level of patriotism. The fridge requires the thirsty individuals looking to unlock “the magic inside” to sing an accurate – or at least semi-accurate – rendition of “O Canada.” The Rethink agency says we’ll see more of the red refrigerators in the months to come. The Molson campaign, which has the tagline “I am Canadian,” will continue its tour, quenching the thirst of the parched throngs of Europe, and perhaps beyond.

Molson continues to show that there’s still mileage in the fridge campaign. With the nationalistic pride of the ads, it’s no surprise that Molson Canadian continues to be one of the top-selling beers in Canada.

Despite the company’s merger with Coors, the Molson brand continues to resonate with Canadian consumers. Fun, patriotic marketing campaigns like the Molson fridge deserve much of the credit.

I’ll be curious to see what Molson does with the fridge next. Perhaps it could travel America, requiring customers to name five active hockey players to open. Maybe the fridge will lead them through some sort of quiz regarding the basic rules of curling.

One thing that is clear – the Molson fridge campaign still has plenty of gas in the tank.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA


Nestea Takes a ‘Plunge’ Reviving TV Ad

Nestea returns to American televisions after being gone for two decades with their revived “Take the Nestea Plunge” campaign.

Originally run from the Seventies through the Nineties, Publicis Hawkeye is bringing back to life Nestea’s original campaign, which is tied to a new reformulation that has reduced the beverage’s calories and improved its taste.

The main objective of the revived campaign is to regain shares lost by Nestea in recent years and the “Nestea Plunge into Summer” sweepstakes will surely help with that. Other companies such as Arizona have been seeing growth as consumers switch from soda to iced tea, which is perceived to be healthier.

The Nestea brand suffered because Nestlé and Coca-Cola disbanded their joint venture, Beverage Partners Worldwide, within the U.S. as of 2012. The Nestea brand was “marginalized” because it “hadn’t been actively communicated in a decade,” but now under the Nestlé Waters North America brand and leadership, there is renewed focus on rebuilding its sales and share. I guess

Rick Tanner, VP of marketing for Nestlé Waters, said that research shows that the “Take the Nestea Plunge” resonates with younger consumers and that many older customers still remember the campaign. The Nestea brand still has a 95 percent awareness among American consumers as well.

The “new” campaign includes a new TV ad and social media campaign with the hashtag ‘#NesteaPlunge’ for users to post their own pictures and videos.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA


Kashi Has Crumbled in Court

Kashi, the all natural food company known for dreaming of a world where everyone embraces natural health, has crumbled in court.

The semantic battle of the century over the words ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’ is raging on like never before. Kellogg, who owns Kashi, took a pretty big hit by trying to pass off some synthetic compounds that do actually appear in nature as ‘natural’ on some food labels. Is something still ‘natural’ if it’s made in a factory? Apparently not, because Kellogg now has to pay five million dollars and take ‘all natural’ and ‘nothing artificial’ off of said labels. Just like Coca-Cola is being sued for having an infinitesimal amount of actual pomegranate juice in their Minute Made bottles, big food companies are constantly getting caught with their pants down whilst attempting to ride the wave of cash driven by a ravenous health food craze.

Of course the fact that Kellogg agreed to this settlement in no way means that they think they were in the wrong: “We will comply with the terms of the settlement agreement by the end of the year and will continue to ensure our foods meet our high quality…” You get the idea. I mean, just because you agree to change your company’s labels and pay millions of dollars in no way implies guilt, right? Kellogg is just another helpless corporation being slashed at by the nosey health foods crowd. It’s like I’ve always said, what’s so great about really being all natural anyway? I want to wear my green halo and unwittingly consume things like synthetic pyridoxine hydrochloride without a bunch of court cases bringing me down.

Either way, I suppose I’ll live to snack another day.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA


Fiat’s ‘Endless Fun’ Series Defies Description

Fiat’s new series of spots titled “Endless Fun” defy description. I swear.

Descending into the fiery depths of laziness, ridiculousness and internet trend exploitation, the new ads for Fiat are just GIFs of stupid things happening in and around the new 500s. One such sequence involves a Marilyn Monroe-esque encounter with wind and a cat chasing a car on a TV screen. Not to disparage the 500, but I’m sure Fiat’s founders might have had a different vision for the future marketing of their autos. The ads, in addition to making no real sense, seem to be rubbing that fact in our faces with a guy in a horse mask looking at the camera and the words “deal with it” flashing across the screen in reference to an online meme whose popularity has long since peaked.

Chrysler’s CMO Oliver Francois is at the helm of this push to make the pint sized Fiats more palatable to the supersize me, SUV laden U.S. Public. And Mr Francois has zeroed in on some pretty nifty buzzwords to justify their new strategy, calling it: “Crazy weird. Crazy fun.” Well, maybe just that first word. Did I mention these spots are dirt cheap to produce?

The real driving force behind the GIF commercials soon becomes clear as soon as cost is brought up.

After all, GIFs are just a fast sequence of photos. Bottom line is that these is a trendy, eye catching and cheap line of commercials, but my real question is: Are the people who are going to be in on the internet references really old enough to buy a Fiat? Or even a pack of cigarettes?

And don’t even get me started on the twerking.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA


UPS Is Changing Its Course

Spurred by the various wunderkinds of digital entrepreneurship, UPS is now changing its course.

Once known for their signature brown truck, the company’s new coat of brand paint looks more sleek and tries to be hip. And from what I can tell, the new marketing strategy isn’t even about shipping; it’s about being cool. Take the slogan: it went from “What can brown do for you?” to “We [heart] logistics”. Hotshot millenials don’t want to think about a clunky old truck slogging through the mud delivering their products at any speed. It’s all about a beautiful, seamless masterpiece of international commercial movement, or as Ad director Betsy Wilson described: “a ballet of infinite complexity played across skies, oceans and borders”. Yeah, ok.

Technology rules us all in some way, and what some are calling the “post adolescent CEOs” want to hear about how cutting edge their technology is, not just its quality.

The ‘selfie’ ridden millennial generation has even seeped its way into the visual of UPS’ ads. Check out and compare the 1992 images to today’s. The older one shows a decked out UPS truck, while the other shows YOU, a customer. This pretty radical rebranding also falls in line with a recently planned reach into Asia for UPS, which would make their ballet even more expansive and intricate.

A lot of companies look like they’re getting off their ‘you kids get off my lawn’ syndrome and starting to listen to the preferences of millennials. I guess the more money these whippersnappers get, the more brands will be made in their likeness.

You win, hipsters.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA


Alcohoot App Helps You Be A Smarter Drinker

Alcohoot is a new app that can test your BAC. Allegedly, the app tracks your body’s reaction to alcohol and helps you become a umm, smarter drinker.

The smart app is a smartphone-powered breathalyzer, that’s supposed to help you gauge your BAC and put a stop to further consumption before things get out of control. The $119 device, which boasts “police-grade accuracy” and plugs into your handset’s headphone jack, is available for party animals.

Drunken people don’t typically make the most responsible decisions. So that’s where Alcohoot comes to the table. You gotta see how a woman in the app’s commercial first encounters Alcohoot. If you ask me, the ad has about as much reality to it as a good old WWE match; users just can’t believe how much they’ve had to drink!

To all those with a DUI adorning their record, using the device might trigger some troubling flashbacks. A bulky mouthpiece is attached to the top of an iPhone while the tester blows into it and hopes for the best. There is something to be said for knowing when you’re over the edge but do you really want to fork over a hundred bucks to be labeled the buzz kill of the group? Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that if Alcohoot got into the wrong hands, it could be used as a kind of competition to see which frat brother could get the most dangerous.

But according to the big wigs at Alcohoot, the gears are already in motion to distribute this breathalyzer nationwide. And if this thing is able to net the younger demo with its technology and novelty, more power to them, because that age is where the risks are.

I just have one quick question. Could there be a way for the app to prevent a user from engaging in other embarrassing things while intoxicated? Like if I blow a .10 could it block all outgoing texts? Or can this app double as a CPAP machine for sleep apnea?

But in the meantime, let’s all be irresponsible responsibly.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA