Thursday, September 30, 2010

How Subway Built a $4B Brand, Five Bucks at a Time

Sept 26, 2010

Since joining Subway as CMO of its Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust in 2006, Tony Pace has been quick to make change, boosting advertising from 52 weeks a year from 33 weeks at the chain that is now America’s second largest, after McDonald’s. He’s created a new digital marketing team and developed branded entertainment opportunities on shows like The Biggest Loser and Chuck. It’s Pace’s first job as a marketer, but the agency veteran is no novice to the QSR business, with experience at McCann on accounts like Burger King, Outback Steakhouse and regional Popeye’s business, and at Young & Rubicam, KFC. Next week (Oct. 4), Subway kicks off a new promotion featuring front man Jared’s training for the ING New York City Marathon. Pace recently talked with Brandweek about Jared, other Subway “famous fans” and the phenomenal success of the chain’s $5 Footlong. Below are some excerpts.

Brandweek: Tell us about the success of $5 Footlong subs.
Tony Pace:
On an annualized sales basis, the $5 Footlong is over a $4 billion brand for us. It was started by a franchisee at a Florida restaurant, and as it got broader appeal, we tested it. We thought it was powerful, but with marketing behind it, it was unbelievable. It has had more than 90 percent awareness with people aged 12 to 64 since about three months into the program. It emphasizes great value on our menu, and that’s something we always needed to address. Right now we’re 130 weeks into the $5 Footlong, which was originally planned as a four-week promotion. We’ve had a lot of scattered pricing, and the $5 Footlong helped us go to tiered menu pricing.

BW: Subway has continued to grow through these tough times. As a private company, Subway doesn’t publicly share numbers, but can you give us an indication?
As recently as 2007, we were the fifth largest QSR [quick-service restaurant]. Now we’re the second largest. [Food service market researcher]  NPD Crest said QSR traffic has been flat for nearly the entire year. We’ve averaged 8 percent growth since March, and in the last three months, we’ve seen double-digit traffic growth. We have 23,000 restaurants in the U.S., and while that number has grown a little bit by adding 855 stores this year, most of our growth is on a same-store basis.

BW: What is your marketing emphasis at this time?
We look at it differently than our competitors. Given the size of our business, we need about 30 million customers a week. Using one message during one particular point of time is not the way we work. We’re selling breakfast, healthy sandwiches, indulgent sandwiches, $5 Footlong sandwiches. We use Jared in advertising, PR and social media, but he isn’t necessarily the focal point in every promotion. Some would say we run the risk of being too diffused in messaging. We look at marketing in layers that run in concert with one another. They obviously have different emphasis but build off the essence of Subway which is fresh and made to order right in front of you. 

BW: How is your new breakfast menu going?
Very well. It’s a legend in our category that it took McDonald’s three years to make any money in breakfast. Fortunately we’re getting there a lot faster than they did.

BW: You’ve recently upgraded your coffee to Seattle Best. Do you have any plans at the moment for espresso-based drinks?
Seattle Best is a good brand, and we needed a good coffee to launch breakfast. But I wouldn’t say espresso-based drinks are a near-term proposition for us although we’re always open to what makes long-term sense.

BW: Do you have any menu expansion details that can you share?
We have such a breadth of ingredients that we can expand the menu just by focusing on ingredients we already have. Right now we’re promoting Firey Footlongs. One of them is a turkey sub with melted cheese and jalapeno; that’s a variation on a theme, but it has a different flavor and taste profile than a standard turkey sub. There are more than 2 million combinations you can make, given the ingredients we have in the restaurant.

BW: Can you tell us a bit about Subway’s use of sports celebrities and its use of  branded entertainment?
We don’t use celebrities; we use people who are already fans of Subway who happen to be famous. Michael Phelps, when he’s not training, likes to order a meatball and jalapeno sub. Projects like (one-hour August special and Web series) Golf Therapy is terrific because NBC was part of that, and we were able to put a lot of our famous fans into the show. The integration of marketing into content is hard to do unless you have the assets to do it. We have both with media outlets and individual personalities. A big advantage with our famous fans is they’re always sending out messaging on our behalf to their fan base whether it’s about a new commercial, event marketing or other PR activities. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For Kraft and Frito-Lay, Suddenly, Greece Is the Word

Sept 26, 2010

Greasy food may be getting the cold shoulder from consumers, but Greek food is hot.

Hummus and Greek yogurt—once confined to niches—are going mainstream, thanks to Kraft and PepsiCo. Kraft, for instance, is rolling out its first Greek yogurt, under its Athenos brand, in California and Midwest grocery stores with a sampling effort. The food giant has significantly upped ad spending on Athenos this year, said brand manager Marshall Hyzdu. Hyzdu said the perceived health advantages of Mediterranean food is one reason, but he added that “taste preferences are evolving.”

Meanwhile, Sabra hummus started advertising on TV for the first time last year. Spots from Strawberry Frog showed adults enjoying the snack with a glass of wine. Sabra is partially owned by PepsiCo’s snack foods division, Frito-Lay, via a joint venture, and it’s also launching new products later this year, said brand manager Mina Penna.

The launches come after Fage, a New York-based marketer, pioneered the Greek yogurt category in 2007 with a print campaign from Ogilvy & Mather featuring the tagline, “Ridiculously thick yogurt.”

In tracked channels, Greek yogurt sales have more than doubled each of the past five years, per Kraft. The number of consumers eating yogurt grew by 60 percent over the past decade, and 1,500 percent for hummus-—a much smaller category—during that same time period, per the NPD Group, which tracks eating habits.

This explains why brands like Sabra are really starting to “dial up the marketing,” Penna said. So far, the outlay has been modest. The food industry spent $11 million advertising Mediterranean foods in all of last year  and $10 million through June of this year, per the Nielsen Co. 

The reason, industry observers say, is a combination of perceived health benefits (the so-called Seven Countries Study, which began in 1958, showed that people who ate a Mediterranean diet had the lowest instances of heart disease of the countries studied) and consumers’ demand for foods made with simpler and natural ingredients.

Marketers, of late, have either added new Mediterranean foods to their portfolios or at least played up their use of such ingredients, particularly olive oil. StarKist, for example, recently rolled out a yellowfin tuna pouch flavored with extra virgin olive oil. StarKist marketing director Jennifer Albert said research showed that 75 percent of consumers rate olive oil, a main staple in Mediterranean cuisine, as the healthiest cooking option. “So, as consumers are turning to [EVOO] as the oil of choice in cooking, StarKist is bringing all of its wonderful benefits—taste and health—to our product line,” she said.

The number of new Mediterranean food products being introduced—hummus and yogurt, specifically—spiked from 2006 to 2008, per research by Datamonitor, which tracks new products. That number has trailed off a bit in the last two years (63 and 44 in 2008, versus 42 and 16 in 2009 for the former and latter, respectively). Nonetheless, there’s still plenty of  opportunity for growth, said Mintel’s Lynn Dornblaser.

The food analyst said she has seen even specialty and gourmet food stores like Trader Joe’s join the trend. The latter recently began selling a Mediterranean pasta salad kit with Gemelli pasta, feta cheese, vegetables and garbanzo beans. Aldi, meanwhile, has a Mediterranean olive and cheese dip. “I do see Mediterranean being used as a descriptor more,” she said. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Campbell Gets 'Happy' in $100 Mil. Push

Sept 7, 2010

Campbell Soup Co. this week kicked off the first umbrella campaign for all of its U.S. soups. This time around, ads don't challenge rivals like Progresso, but rather show how consumers from all walks of life turn to Campbell’s soups to reach a “happier place.”

The effort, which spans television, print, radio, online and in-store media, is part of the soup maker’s strategy to reposition its products in the simple meals category. The first spot denotes that eating Campbell’s contributes to a healthier lifestyle, since the soups offer “good nutrition, energy [and] farm-grown ingredients,” Tim Allen, who lends his voice, says.

Tuesday's page takeovers on major web portals--namely AOL, Yahoo and the campaign’s new tagline: “It’s amazing what soup can do.”

According to the soup giant, the campaign is different from past efforts in that it highlights the breadth and versatility of Campbell’s entire portfolio. While past ads focused on bestsellers like chicken noodle and tomato soups, the new spots feature products like Healthy Request, Select Harvest, Chunky, and even its microwavable cups and bowls.

The campaign introduces consumers to the different ways they can cook with or serve Campbell’s soups, as well as the “unexpected ingredients that go into [them],” said Campbell rep John Faulkner. It was a natural evolution for the brand, since the health/ nutrition message behind many of its core products had begun to intersect over the years, Faulkner said. For example, Campbell further cut the amount of sodium in its condensed soups this year.

The ads also feature a broader demographic--from kids to young adults to seniors. The goal, Faulkner said, was to “show that soup has appeal to lots of different folks; we want consumers to see themselves in these spots."

Campbell will air a total of 15 spots--focusing on its different soup offerings--through March. It's running print ads in popular cooking, shelter, sports and women’s magazines. The New York offices of BBDO and Young & Rubicam, the two lead agencies working on the account, handled creative duties for the campaign.

Campbell is spending more than $100 million on the new effort, which is significantly more than what it had spent on individual campaigns in the past. According to the Nielsen Co., the company spent $236 million advertising its U.S. soup business last year, excluding online, and $97 million through June of this year.

The company is banking on the effort to help boost sales, which dropped five percent in the fourth quarter, per an earnings report last week. “You look back five years or more and Campbell was the dominant player in the soup category, but that isn’t the case anymore,” said Lynn Dornblaser, an analyst with Mintel, referring to the brand's biggest rival, General Mills’ Progresso, and private label.

Since Campbell has tweaked its portfolio over the years consumers might not be aware of all the changes and new products. "[Therefore,] the campaign really hammers home to consumers just how much variety Campbell has,” Dornblaser said.

John Grubb, managing partner at Boulder-headquartered Sterling-Rice Group, said the most recent round of soup wars might have turned some consumers off to the category. But this (less aggressive) approach is a good way for them to tune back in. 

Jell-O Jiggles for Giggles

Sept 3, 2010
- T.L. Stanley

It may not seem like there's a lot to laugh about given the state of current affairs, but Kraft learned otherwise during a 23-city tour that brought out thousands of people for a national giggle contest.

The stunt for Jell-O, dubbed "Give it a Giggle," sent a truck tricked out as a recording studio to Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere, recording consumers' best crack-up efforts. For inspiration, the trucks played webisodes starring Bill Cosby, iconic comedian and former Jell-O spokesman, who's working with the brand again. The video shorts put Cosby in his favorite milieu -- in front of an audience of kids who, in fact, say the darnest things.

"We were looking for people with giggles that are contagious," said Cindy Chen, Jell-O's director of marketing. "We want that giggle to bring out other people's giggles."

Of the thousands of snorts and titters recorded so far, Kraft executives and the brand's ad and PR agencies winnowed that number to 10. Online voting for the favorite giggle begins Sept. 21. The top three finalists will go to Cosby, who'll make the final selection. The winning chuckle will be included in a national TV commercial, scheduled to air later this year. Cosby will help create the spot, Chang said.

The event is part of the most aggressive Jell-O marketing push in years. It launched in May and has rolled out over the summer with three rotating TV spots from Draft FCB, Chicago, including one with "Jell-O ambassadors" doling out the treat to folks on the street. There's also print, in-store, outdoor and digital efforts, along with a tweaked logo that now includes a smiley face. The Jell-O Facebook page banked 100,000 fans in its first week, and now has more than 122,000 "friends."

Jell-O is the latest brand to jump on the "happy marketing" bandwagon, where relentless optimism seems to be working with consumers in categories from food to soda to office supplies. (Parodies are rampant, but backlash seems to be minimal). The "Hello Jell-O" campaign features a "happy appy," where consumers can "help spread the happy" by sharing playful moments through the brand's Facebook page.

Cosby hit the talk show circuit and waded into social media this summer, touting Jell-O and his renewed relationship with the brand. Cosby also promoted the 10-minute OBKB webisodes that aired on UStream. He described them on "The Today Show" as being about "children, laughter and joy."

The giggle tour, handled by the Kraft's agency, Hunter, New York, generated reams of local media coverage in the cities where it landed. "Hello Jell-O," which has a carefree, summery feel, is expected to be a longterm campaign, with no end date set.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vortex Bottle, Taste Tests On Tap From MillerCoors

March 28, 2010

MillerCoors, coming off a year where overall unit sales slipped 1.7 percent, is introducing a slew of new advertising and product innovations to take on foe Anheuser-Busch.

MillerCoors execs met with wholesalers last week in Las Vegas to show off some of the new campaigns and products. Chief among the new innovations is something called Miller Vortex, a bottle with specially designed interior grooves that “create a vortex as you’re pouring the beer,” according to a rep, who explained that the brand’s goal is to “create buzz and excitement and give consumers another reason to choose Miller.” The Vortex bottle, which begins hitting shelves this month, will be supported by advertising from DraftFCB.

Another new entry on the product front is Miller Home Draft. Reminiscent of a beer ball, it aims to provide tap-beer taste at home. Also making its debut is a 16 oz. Coors Aluminum Pint (like the Vortex bottle, it will be backed by advertising via DraftFCB) and a Coors Light Cold Activated Window 12-pack. The signature silver cans feature a mountain range rendered in a special thermochromatic ink that turns blue when the cans chill to optimal imbibing temperature.

In addition to the new product entries, MillerCoors is planning to launch an on-premise program called “Bet on Taste” that will let consumers compare Miller Lite to other beers, Pepsi-Challenge style. 

On the advertising front, the brewer plans to continue Miller Lite’s “Taste Greatness” campaign with new ads that continue to celebrate macho Miller Lite drinkers (in an earlier ad, one man is dumbstruck when asked to choose between saving his girlfriend or a Miller Lite if both were hanging off a cliff). A new ad in the series, called “Wedding Registry,” will cover similar thematic ground, going so far as to feature an online store where men can register their weddings—and to receive Miller Lite gifts, of course. Another new ad plays on the phenomenon of man-purses.

For MGD 64, a product that made IRI’s list of the top launches of 2009 with $52.8 million in sales (excluding Walmart), the brewer will launch what it terms an “aggressive” campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi  that will compare the beer to A-B’s Michelob Ultra—rather than A-B’s 55-calorie Select 55—with the new tagline, “Have your beer and enjoy it too.”

Finally, MillerCoors will introduce a new campaign for Keystone Light featuring an “always smooth” spokesman named Keith Stone. New ads from Saatchi featuring the cool, laid-back rep will run nationally—a first for the brand.

The flurry of activity comes after sales of Coors Light rose 0.7 percent, Miller Lite’s fell 6.6 percent, High Life’s rose 3.9 percent and Miller Genuine Draft’s fell 18 percent in units in 2009, per Beer Marketer’s Insights. Sales for Keystone and Blue Moon rose 14.3 percent and 7 percent, respectively, for the period. 

Coors Intros Aluminum Pint

Aug 31, 2010
- Brandweek Staff

Coors, which has goosed sales over the last few years with various packaging gimmicks, is introducing a new one: Coors Light Silver Bullet Aluminum Pint.

The 16 oz. product, which showcases a picture of the brand's Rocky Mountain imagery on the can when it hits the proper temperature, makes its official debut on Sept. 1.

Coors will back the launch with a cause marketing pitch dubbed "Pass the Pint for Charity,"  benefiting the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater new Orleans and Acadiana. As part of that push, consumers who visit the Coors Light Facebook page can digitally "pass" a Coors Light Silver Bullet Aluminum Pint to a friend. Famed quarterback Ron Jaworski is starring in that effort.

The latest packaging comes after numerous product intros over the past few years, including a Cold-Activated bottle in 2007 that displayed the Rocky Mountain imagery when the bottle was stored at the right temperature. Coors sibling, Miller Lite, also introduced a "Vortex Bottle" this spring that creates a convex pattern when beer is poured.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What Do Consumers Think? Don’t Even Bother Asking

May 3, 2010
- Ron Sellers

Why do we consistently ask consumers for answers they can’t give us?

Marketing research is the art and science of exploration. Simply put, we ask people questions and they give us answers. Sounds easy enough—until you consider the inherent problem. Can you, marketer or brand manager, reasonably answer every question you’re asked? Can you really say whether, for example, Apple’s new advertising will make people more likely to buy a Mac? Or whether a brand’s new spokesperson really makes that brand more memorable to the public? Unfortunately, you probably cannot give accurate answers to those questions.

And neither can consumers. The truth is that everyday people don’t watch an ad and consciously think, “Gee, that Hyundai ad really positioned the brand as more upscale in my mind. I have more positive feelings about Hyundai now.” But wait, you’ll say, advertising’s effect on consumers is supposed to operate on an indirect or subconscious level. Indeed it is—which is all the more reason why it often makes no sense to ask them for their conscious impressions.

I was struck by a story that appeared in these pages back in February. It reported the results of a Harris Poll that asked consumers whether they’d be more or less likely to purchase a brand if it were an Olympics sponsor. I thought: If only finding out were as easy as asking. The problem is that most consumers don’t consciously react to a sponsorship deal by intentionally buying an Omega watch instead of a Timex just because the Swiss brand underwrites the games. Yes, sponsorships can help position the Omega brand in consumers’ minds, bring tremendous visibility and provide a platform for the brand message, all of which (hopefully) will foster increased sales. But consumers don’t directly perceive all of these steps, so whatever answer they give to this question is nothing more than guesswork. (In fairness, the Brandweek story did note that “respondents may underestimate the effect Olympics-related marketing has on them.”)

A separate story that appeared late last year featured the results of another Harris Poll that asked: “When they endorse a product in an ad, which type of celebrity do you find most persuasive: business leaders, athletes, TV/movie stars, singers/musicians or former political figures?” How is a consumer really supposed to answer that question? If the business leader is Steve Jobs and the athlete is Peyton Manning that would probably be one answer; if it were Lloyd Blankfein and Tiger Woods, it would be quite another.

The bottom line is that many marketing research questions might be great for party games, but they produce far less useful material for business. Part of the problem lies with the disparities inherent in how consumers view themselves. Take the crowd favorite: “Would you rather marry an ugly rich person or a good-looking poor person?” Invariably, in a group of friends, someone will flippantly provide an off-the-cuff answer, gleefully claiming he’d go for the looker—only to later fall in love with a plain-Jane with a trust fund. Well, it’s the same with consumers. Sure, they’ll give you an answer (because you asked), but that doesn’t mean it is a true reflection of their perceptions and behavior.

In at least a third of the advertising-related focus groups I’ve moderated, the client has insisted we ask a question such as: “What would be the best media to advertise our product?” The inevitable answer is television. But that’s just because TV is what people tend to envision when they think of advertising. It’s not because consumers actually have deep insight that a TV buy would suit the marketplace goals of the brand in question.

Another question clients often demand we ask consumers: “Will this advertising make you more likely to buy our product?” The answer we typically get is, “Do you really think I’m stupid enough to switch banks because Chase has a great ad and my bank doesn’t?” Sometimes, consumers will tell us flat-out that advertising has no effect on what they buy. If only they realized how much it really does.

While consumers can give you direct feedback on what message they received from an ad (what they remembered about it, whether they liked it, etc.), they simply cannot tell you—much less as a response to one question—whether your new ad (or new brand strategy, packaging, logo or tagline) will make them more likely to buy your product.

Some marketers understand this. The best way to approach the issue is to ask consumers how they perceive brands, what emotional value those brands hold for them, whether they understood the intended message of the advertising and what perceptual impact a prospective logo or tagline carries. The value, in other words, lies in the interpretation of consumers’ responses far more than from the raw responses themselves. Smart marketers know the danger of relying on the responses given to the broad, blunt and, indeed, unanswerable questions I mention above.

But since so many marketers are fond of stuffing their research with questions like these, here’s a final one: If consumers don’t even know all the reasons for their own behavior, why do we continue to treat them as if they do, ask them questions they cannot hope to answer accurately and rely on the results for critical decisions?

Ron Sellers has spent 23 years conducting branding and advertising research. Reach him at 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Brand Icons 'Guest Star' in Xerox Campaign

Sept 2, 2010

Xerox is prepping a new campaign, via Y&R, New York, as part of an effort to position itself as more than just a printer and copier maker. The effort spans TV, print, out-of-home and digital, and is one of the largest brand initiatives in decades for Xerox.

The move follows the company’s acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services in February, making it a bigger player in the information technology space. Valued at $6 billion, the deal nearly tripled Xerox’s services business, said chief marketing officer Christa Carone.

Dubbed “Ready for real business,” the campaign launches next Tuesday. Notable in the ads is Xerox’s use of well known brand mascots: Procter & Gamble’s Mr. Clean, Target’s Bullseye dog and the Marriott Hotels & Resorts’ bellman, to name a few. All of the icons featured in the ads are current Xerox clients, Carone said.

The ads are meant to show how Xerox enables each of these businesses to succeed, illustrated by the various tasks each of the brand mascots juggles. A print ad featuring Mr. Clean, for instance, has him wiping a table while attempting to copy a pile of documents. The copy reads: “We focus on digitizing P&G’s documents worldwide. So they don’t have to."

So what's the underlying message? “When you’ve got Xerox working behind the scenes, you have the freedom to focus on your core and real business,” Carone said.

Tony Granger, global chief creative officer at WPP-owned Y&R, said the mascots function as a sort of customer testimonial, albeit with a unique spin. “At the end of the day, Xerox is about helping customers be successful, and using their customers’ brand icons was a fun way of saying that,” he said.

Xerox is not a huge advertiser. (It notched just $8 million in ad expenditures in 2009, and $5 million through the first six months of this year, excluding online, per the Nielsen Co.) Carone, however, said the new campaign is in the “multimillion-dollar" range.

The effort also encompasses digital and interactive components, such as a multimedia site,, and motion-sensor and touch-screen activated billboards. Other agencies that worked on the campaign are VML and MEC for digital and media buying duties, respectively.

Global UPS Push Is All About Logistics

Sept 13, 2010

UPS today (Monday) launched its first global campaign, dubbed “We [Heart] Logistics,” which touts the many worldwide services the brand offers.

The campaign, a first by UPS' new agency Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, has kicked off in the U.S., China and the U.K., and will debut in Mexico next week. It follows a move by the package delivery company to build a bigger global presence and to promote its services.

“We [Heart] Logistics," UPS’ biggest ad push in three years, centers on the power of logistics and how it helps large and small businesses succeed in a global marketplace. The effort includes TV, print, social and digital media channels, as well as outdoor executions. There is also a microsite,, which houses customer testimonials.

The headline on a full-page print ad running in the Tuesday and Thursday editions of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reads: "Why Logistics Is the Most Powerful Force in Business Today. (And Why You Should Understand It.)" Meanwhile, a 60-second introduces business owners to the same idea. “Logistics make the world work better,” one UPS worker says. A woman’s voice—in the form of a song—explains to businesses just how that has come to be.

Maureen Healy, vp of advertising, brand and customer communications at UPS, said the initiative stemmed from the observation that UPS, despite its large-scale brand reach, didn't have a global brand campaign until now. And many businesses don't know that corporate acquisitions over the last 10 years have grown UPS' service offerings. “We’ve developed a broad portfolio that we think is unmatched in the industry,” Healy said.

In the past, the package delivery company typically ran different campaigns in the U.S. and overseas. The most recent one, “Whiteboard,” featured The Martin Agency’s Andy Azula, the creative director that worked on the account, explaining the company’s products and services on a whiteboard. That campaign aired in the U.S., while “Deliver More,” which touted the company’s international offerings, simultaneously ran overseas.

“We’re at a point in our history where we want to relaunch with a global brand campaign and a global brand idea,” Healy said, adding that “logistics” is a term that's globally understood by business owners.

The campaign comes at a time when many businesses are emerging from an economic downturn. Thus, the ads focus on efficiency and how partnering with UPS enables businesses to run more productively, said Betsy Wilson, the company’s global advertising director. (The company spent $85 million on advertising last year, and $37 million through the first six months of this year, excluding online, per the Nielsen Co.)

UPS isn’t the only advertiser tapping into such insight. Earlier this month, Xerox launched a campaign that centers on how its business services enable clients like Procter & Gamble, Target and Marriott Hotels, among others, run more efficiently.

Benjamin Jones, svp of creative for Digitas’ B2B unit, said the UPS campaign illustrates the "challenges of trying to do mass b2b" advertising. Companies with complex supply chains may already be well aware of what logistics consists of, while smaller businesses may still be grappling with the idea, Jones said. But overall, he said, "the light, playful tone with the complex global message is a good evolution for UPS." 

Bounce Lets Moms Do the Talking

Sept 20, 2010

Procter & Gamble is tapping into the power of consumer testimonials to promote one of its newest products, Bounce Dryer Bar.

The packaged goods giant is kicking off an effort next month, consisting of a series of print advertorials and Web videos running in Meredith Corp.'s Better Homes and Gardens and Better, a nationally syndicated lifestyle TV show. The goal is to drive trial and usage of Bounce Dryer Bar—which lasts 2-4 months and replaces the need for dryer sheets—via word-of-mouth and consumer recommendations, P&G said. (Bounce Dryer Bar launched last year.)

Holly Resnick and Marni Renison, two of the “it moms” featured on Better TV, are the stars of the advertorials, which run in the October and November issues of Better Homes and Gardens. Next month’s issue shows the two moms together with their kids, alongside testimonials from actual consumers. The advertorials highlight Bounce Dryer Bar’s timesaving and convenience benefits.

Web videos, also anchored by Resnick and Renison, explain how Bounce can help make consumers’ lives easier. One back-to-school segment, for instance, has the two women offering tips on how to “start the school year off on the right foot.”

Janette Theis, North American brand manager for Bounce, said the effort is part of Bounce’s strategy to drive sales via word-of-mouth and mommy influencer marketing. In June, the fabric care brand conducted a survey in which 244 Better Homes and Gardens readers were given product samples and asked to provide feedback. Bounce has incorporated the research findings into the current ad effort.

“We got some great results about how the Bounce Dryer Bar makes life simpler,” Theis said. Bounce’s marketing, as a whole, is driven in huge part by customer testimonials, particularly women making recommendations to other women, said Theis. Bounce's current ad campaign, for example, shows Rachel, a real mom from Colorado, talking about her laundry care challenges.

P&G spent $11.2 million advertising its Bounce Dryer Bar in 2009, and $6.8 million through June of this year, per Kantar Media, WPP’s ad tracking unit. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

BMW vs. Audi: The Best Media Plan on Four Wheels?

Optimedia CEO Antony Young Analyzes the Media Strategies Behind Two Leading Luxury Auto Brands

Antony Young
Antony Young

One of my first memories of the advertising industry was walking past an ad agency in my hometown and noticing a row of European cars parked outside. I recall thinking at the time: "Hey, I'm not exactly sure what this company does, but I wouldn't mind getting a job there!" This month, we test drove the media strategies for BMW and Audi.

The automotive category is consistently among the biggest, most competitive and innovative media spenders. While automotive manufacturers typically focus on model-led advertising, both BMW and Audi put a much stronger emphasis on their brands. This is reflected in the allocation of media spending this year, when each spent between 50% and 55% of its media budget on brand or range ads for multiple models.


Creative executions

In 2010 BMW embarked on one of its biggest branding campaigns to date. A new theme, "The Joy of Driving," was integrated into every television, digital and print ad as well as event and team sponsorships. The theme shifted the focus from the car to the car owner. The "ultimate driving machine" slogan still appears in the ads, but the shift in emphasis was apparent with copy in one of its print ads that read "At BMW we don't make cars, we make Joy."

Audi takes on BMW and Lexus

Audi has pushed two significant platforms so far this year. The first continued its tongue-in-cheek series of comparative ads. One commercial, for example, portrays Audi as a better alternative to a Lexus, Mercedes and even a Ferrari. A second spot directly targeting BMW, titled "BMW Can Relate to the Runners Up," shows several competitive scenarios after which the winners boast and the "runners-up" have to sit there and watch. That ad highlights that Audi has defeated BMW in Car and Driver magazine's model comparisons for the past three years.

The second platform sought to establish Audi's sustainability credentials, launching its A3 TDI diesel technology through a spot called "Green Police."


5 stars Outstanding
4 stars Highly effective
3 stars Good
2 stars Disappointing
1 star A disaster

Video strategy (broadcast, online, mobile)

BMW 3 1/2 stars
Audi 5 stars

Both automotive brands developed comprehensive broadcast, online and mobile video programs.

Audi's broadcast and online video placements centered heavily on major sports events -- which meant Audi outspent BMW on network television. Audi launched its "Green Police" commercial in this year's Super Bowl. The spot itself garnered a lot of buzz, getting more than 2.2 million views to date on YouTube. But the commercial was also teased with a series of Green Police mock PSA videos on a YouTube Green Police channel. One spot advocated avoiding "napkin abuse" to save a billion pounds of napkins from landfills each year.

Audi immediately followed with a substantial presence during NBC's Winter Olympics coverage. In addition to the standard commercial buys, Audi -- a U.S. ski team sponsor -- produced a documentary about the U.S. Ski Team called "Truth in Motion" that aired on NBC prior to the Games on Jan. 30. Audi also promoted the team through webisodes distributed on sites such as Facebook and and in Audi's monthly newsletter.

Other video buys this year included March Madness and the FIFA World Cup. Finally, for this year's involvement with the American LeMans car race, Audi worked with Speed network to produce real-time streaming of the race on SkyGrid, an app that aggregates real-time news for Apple's iPad.

BMW's 2010 Joy campaign kicked off in the Winter Olympics. Spots included 60-second executions showing how BMW brings drivers "Joy" in driving and in fuel efficiency. BMW integrated the message in the Games by sponsoring NBC's "Olympic Moments of Joy" segments. On the digital side, BMW executed "Joy" with homepage takeovers on NBC-owned sites that connected BMW branded "Golden Moments of Joy" videos and the "Golden Moments of Joy" section on NBC's Olympic iPhone app and the site also featured "Joy" infused banners and pre-roll video.

While Audi's television buy was more centered in network TV, BMW ran a much heavier skew on local broadcast and cable. In contrast to Audi's sport-skewed schedule, BMW bought around news -- FOX News, CNN, CNBC and MSNBC -- and general entertainment on networks such as TNT, TBS and USA.

Online and Social

BMW 4 stars
Audi 3 stars

Both companies have a significant online display presence, but BMW out voiced Audi in this category in terms of sheer impressions with nearly four times the load. They also had a higher ratio of rich media content. Over a third of BMW's impressions served over the past year were rich media display placements versus less than 5% for Audi.

The company's YouTube page has been branded the new BMW TV. It features a collection of BMW television ads, branded short-form videos and racing and driving footage of all of the company's models. The featured video shows the travels of 12 Canadian BMW enthusiasts who were given the chance to drive their favorite BMW models on the high speed motorways across Europe.

Audi took a big position in Yahoo during the FIFA World Cup and was the exclusive sponsor for Yahoo's coverage of the entire month long sporting event.

Both ran schedules on endemic automotive sites such as, AutoWeek, Auto Trends, Car and Driver and AutoTrader.

Audi's Facebook page currently features an online petition to bring Audi's TT RS model into the U.S market. Its YouTube page has several driving videos of Audi models and some of the company's most recent commercials.

To generate buzz for its Green Police Super Bowl spot, Audi hosted the "Audi Efficiency Challenge" during Super Bowl weekend. The challenge pitched influential journalists against NFL players, including Chad Henne of the Miami Dolphins and Osi Umenyiora of the New York Giants, in a race to determine who could achieve the best fuel-efficiency in the Audi Q7 TDI clean diesel SUV while driving from Audi headquarters in Herndon, Va., to Miami. Each participant's progress was tracked on Facebook and Twitter.


BMW 4 1/2 stars

Audi 4 stars

Mobile apps have become a new plaything for marketers and, you would have to believe, a worthwhile channel to engage a significant number of the right target customers. Kudos to both BMW and Audi for maintaining a rich depth of related apps and podcasts on the iPhone, iTouch and iPad platforms. They produce a variety of podcasts, video content, brand experiences and related news content for their enthusiasts. I feel BMW has a slightly richer level of content through BMW magazine's iPad apps and BMW TV podcasts. The BMW Z4 features a 360 degree view of the new Z4 roadster, which does a nice job for the brand. I also liked its Motorsport Le Mans 2010 app which was populated with some rich content.

Audi's A4 Driving Challenge driving simulation, one of its most popular gaming apps, had good graphics but, I have to admit, leaves me a little dizzy.

While video and interactive experiences are the vogue, I would have liked to have seen some quality audio. I'm sure many drivers who are able to connect their iPods to their cars' audio systems would be open to listening to some content that adds to their driving experience.


BMW 4 stars
Audi 3 stars

To promote the Joy launch, BMW ran a series of spreads in January issues of Conde Nast titles such as Bon Appétit, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Vanity Fair, W, Wired and The New Yorker. A notable print execution of the campaign was a custom four-page spread in Vanity Fair's March Hollywood issue featuring vintage images of Elvis and his BMW 507 under the title "Joy is Timeless."

Much of Audi's print focus has been centered around its Sportscar Experience Driving School. Audi tends to focus on endemic automobile and racing publications.

Film sponsorship and product placement


Audi 4 stars

Audi activated a marketing promotion around "Iron Man 2" that included prominent product placements for the R8 Spyder and the A8 sedan. Related marketing efforts included "Iron Man" themed spots in movie theaters, on late night TV and a presence on and An episode of "Entertainment Tonight" integrated the R8 Spyder by featuring Robert Downey Jr. and director Jon Favreau discussing the vehicle as well as host Mark Steines covering it in a segment. Audi also sponsored the re-launch of, which showcased the car via a digital comic book.

Audi's social media aspect of its "Iron Man" marketing came about in the "Tony Stark Innovation Challenge" contest, which promoted the movie's theme of technology as a force for good. Consumers were challenged to submit two-minute videos containing ideas for inventions that promoted cleaner living to and then promote the videos on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace in order to garner comments, discussion and consumer ratings.

"Iron Man 2" was not the only movie with an Audi. Tina Fey and Steve Carrell's characters stole the R8 Coupe from Mark Wahlberg in "Date Night," while Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz drove the S5 Cabriolet in "Knight and Day."


BMW 4 stars

Audi 4 1/2 stars

These are two premiere marketers in an incredibly competitive category. Both scored superbly on my ratings. The emphasis on engagement over impressions was a notable feature of both marketers' media strategies. BMW is doing a lot of things right with its brand in media, particularly in online and mobile. But Audi nudged ahead on the basis of a very dynamic television and video strategy that helped elevate and create distinctiveness for its brand.

There's a lot that goes into driving sales beyond just advertising, but a 27.1% year to date increase in Audi's sales is hard to argue against.

Research and data compiled by Nora Scullin at Optimedia.

A Good Housekeeping Seal for the Twitter Age

Sept 19, 2010

Aiming to be a sort of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the social media age, a startup called TwitterMoms is working with Procter & Gamble and Quickie Manufacturing to get its ratings on their products in stores. In a modern twist, the ratings and reviews will be accessible instantly via QR codes printed on product packaging.

Megan Calhoun, founder of TwitterMoms—which boasts 30,000 “influential” mommy bloggers—said the organization introduced the initiative to provide a one-stop, reliable source of product information for moms. (The average member has more than 1,000 followers on Twitter, claims TwitterMoms.)

“The way product reviews were done before, there was no credibility, no easy way to access [all that was being said] about a product—to the point where the [Federal Trade Commission] stepped in,” Calhoun said, referring to the FTC’s stringent rules governing blogger-marketer relationships.

For marketers, the benefits are twofold: They get customer feedback on products and marketing strategies, and they’re able to escape some of the finger-pointing that comes from sending bloggers new products, often in hopes of getting gushy reviews.

In the case of TwitterMoms, women are given product samples to try and evaluate at home, and then asked to offer honest and practical feedback for both marketers and their peers. Panels usually consist of 25 to 30 “experts,” and the groups are drawn from a subset of 1,200 TwitterMoms members. (The goal is to capture a subgroup that’s best representative of its community, Calhoun said.)

The organization then works with the advertiser to come up with a set of criteria for evaluating the product. If the product “meets or exceeds” all guidelines 85 percent or more of the time, the marketer is awarded a “Moms Like This” seal of approval.

Companies pay TwitterMoms to assemble the groups and for the rights to run the ratings information. TwitterMoms, in turn, pays panelists for their contributions. The setup is designed this way so that the women aren’t taking money from the companies they’re reviewing.

Augie DeLuca, chief marketing officer for Quickie, said the primary appeal was the opportunity to gain “unbiased and objective feedback” from bloggers. The Cinnaminson, N.J.–based company next month will launch its first product carrying TwitterMoms’ seal of approval: an improved version of its Microfiber Twist Mop.

Following a six-week evaluation process by moms, Quickie garnered insights on how to improve the “efficacy and efficiency” of its mop. Research showed that 96 percent of the moms who tried it would “recommend it to their peers,” the company found.

DeLuca contrasted TwitterMoms’ review system with the “clinical” procedures often used by third-party experts and in-house teams to test new products. As Quickie’s mop was tested in consumers’ own homes, the company was able to learn how its product “stacked up versus what [the women testers] had been using before, and is it as good as we feel it is?” DeLuca said.

P&G, meanwhile, used a different approach. It turned to TwitterMoms as a way to evaluate the relevance of a campaign it had been running for its Dawn liquid dish soap. (Ads from The Kaplan Thaler Group tout one drop of Dawn as having the cleaning power of two drops of an unnamed rival.)

Panelists were given an unbranded bottle of dish detergent and then asked to clean the grease from a hamburger and cookie recipe, respectively, after first allowing the utensils and trays to soak.

Letting consumers experience “the torture test situation” (grease) enabled P&G to gather genuine feedback, said P&G rep Susan Baba. “Panelists on the experiment were asked questions such as, ‘If it costs between this and this amount, would you consider it to be [a] good value?’” she added, explaining how the marketer determined the merits of its own value claim.

P&G hasn’t included the ratings on its products yet, but it has the rights to do so.

Stacy DeBroff, CEO of Mom Central, a social media consulting firm that specializes in helping companies market to moms, said the initiative is a good attempt at creating an unbiased, peer-to-peer community of product insights, but she contends it’s likely to work best only in theory. Bloggers, in general, are a highly opinionated—and biased group—and they may hold preferences for certain brands or categories of products, she said.

Regarding QR codes, DeBroff said “the mommy market isn’t there yet.”

Meanwhile, TwitterMoms is up against the Good Housekeeping seal, which has been around since 1909 (the Hearst publication also introduced a Green seal last year for eco-friendly products). To get the seal, products are tested at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute and are backed by a limited two-year warranty. Thousands of products currently carry the designation.

Asked whether the program could compete with Good Housekeeping’s or others, Phil Lempert, an industry analyst who calls himself the Supermarket Guru, said likely not. “Overall, I don’t think it’ll be significant,” he said, adding that mommy bloggers are likely to continue writing reviews on their own—aside from these new platforms. What the program does offer, he contends, is a “valuable tool” for companies to tap into social media interactions. “It’s better than a focus group.” 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quaker Oats Preps 'Amazing' Plan

Aug 24, 2010

Consumers these days just don't have a lot of time on their hands. PepsiCo-owned Quaker Oats, however, hopes to be able to get them to stop and think—even if it's just for a moment—about the benefits of eating breakfast. Preferably, a Quaker breakfast.

Toward that end, a new campaign tagged, "Does your breakfast make you amazing?" launches next week. The effort is part of PepsiCo's push to grow sales of its Quaker business, which has faced private label pressure, but more importantly, a general category decline. (Agencies Juniper Park and OMD handle.)

The initiative also coincides with the launch of new products—including hot cereals and customizable, kid-friendly creations—to make oatmeal top of mind for many breakfast-skipping consumers. Per Quaker's research, an overwhelming majority of Americans say eating breakfast is important, but fewer than half of them actually do so. The company has also teamed up with Bob Harper, co-host of NBC's The Biggest Loser, to remind on-the-go consumers why they shouldn't skip the most important meal of the day.

Quaker CMO Kirsten Lynch (pictured above) spoke with Brandweek about the new effort:

Brandweek: Quaker Oats is launching a new campaign next week. Tell us about it.
Kirsten Lynch: The new campaign is all about stopping consumers and provoking them with one simple question: "Does your breakfast make you amazing?" It includes TV and print ads, as well as a whole online component and a consumer engagement program.

How did Quaker come up with the idea for it?
We've done research, and over 90 percent of consumers believe that breakfast is important. We see breakfast growing slightly, but over half of Americans still are not eating breakfast on a regular basis. . . . So, the idea is to really stop consumers with a thought-provoking question: "Does your breakfast make you amazing?" And to get them to think about how crucial eating breakfast is. And also that not all breakfasts are created equal, and Quaker is a great choice for breakfast.

Why are so many Americans not eating breakfast?
People are leading hectic lives. Look at what is going on with the economy. There's a lot of pressure on people and [eating breakfast] is about time and [it's also about] making it a priority.

Give us a snapshot of some of the creative elements.
We've got a great print campaign that shows the amazing potential of people every day when they have breakfast. We have a TV campaign that will launch that has an equity component of showing again the amazing potential of people when they eat breakfast. It also highlights the new [product news] on the business. We've got a couple of elements that are really critical here: We've got our core product news that we are sharing. [Its instant oatmeal is now made with larger, whole grain oats, has a heartier texture, and three varieties have 25 percent less sugar and all natural flavors.] And we've also got some new news to back it up: Mix-Up Creations Instant Oatmeal, which is oatmeal for kids and taps into the insight that kids love to make oatmeal themselves and customize it the way they want. And then Hearty Medleys Instant Multigrain Hot Cereal is another one of our innovations that completely transforms oatmeal. It has a whole grain texture, real fruits and nuts and is targeted towards adults and boomers.

Any social media in this launch?
We're driving our consumers to Facebook as part of a consumer engagement program, where we really start to transform how we interact with them. So, [we're moving] from just communicating in a one-way dialogue with advertisements and print in traditional media to [creating] an experience that is relevant to their lives, and provides them with content and a dialogue to help them realize their full potential and be amazing. We've partnered with Bob Harper as our coach to help with that and really create that personal connection with our consumers.

Why do you think this campaign is particularly timely now?
Now, more than ever, what consumers are looking for are realness and authenticity. And so, because we embody realness and authenticity and we're a trusted brand, now is a great time for Quaker to really be able to step it up and play a leadership role. It's about what we've [always] had, but it's also about what is going on in the cultural context and what consumers are really looking for in brands. And by that, I don't just mean products that stand for realness and authenticity.

What's going on in the category? Consumers, for one, are trading down to private label. Is that a big threat?
The hot cereal category, in particular, has been flat in the past three years, and then declining in the most recent. We used to believe that private label was a source of the decline, but actually, everyone is declining. The whole category is declining. This is really a category relevance [issue], and our job as the category leader is to step it up and figure out how to reinvigorate it. It gets back to this idea of, "Does your breakfast make you amazing?" and to get consumers to stop and think about what they had for breakfast and how that sets them up for their day. . . . So, it's not about a share game between us and private label. It's about taking a category leadership role.

This campaign really reminds us of Quaker Oats' big "Go humans go" ad effort last year. How does it build on that?
It's a nice evolution of where we were in 2009. With "Go humans go," we were really trying to elevate the role that the oat played and I would say that we are doing the same thing here. It's a very logical evolution and progression for us. 

Starbucks Adds a Few Doses of Flavor to Perk Up Its Packaged-Coffee Sales

Armed With a Buzzy Campaign, Giant Taps Retail Market With Natural Fusions

NEW YORK ( -- Coffee purists might turn up their noses at flavored coffee beans, but Starbucks' packaged-coffee division expects the category will be its next avenue of growth.

FEVER FOR THE FLAVOR: The primary target for the Natural Fusions line will be Starbucks customers who are going elsewhere for flavored coffees.
FEVER FOR THE FLAVOR: The primary target for the Natural Fusions line will be Starbucks customers who are going elsewhere for flavored coffees.

The coffee giant, looking to grab back flavored-coffee fans forced to seek out other brands, is rolling out caramel, vanilla and cinnamon coffee beans to retailers and supporting it with one of the most extensive campaigns it's ever done for its packaged-coffee division. It's an interesting move for the company, which has shunned flavored coffee beans in its own retail stores.

The line, dubbed Natural Fusions, may be somewhat of a departure, but so was Via. "Flavored coffee isn't the first thing you think of when you think of Starbucks, but they've shown they're willing to explore other platforms," said R.J. Hottovy, an analyst with Morningstar. "We've seen Via exceed expectations in the last year. So, it's a measured gamble for the company at this point."

Michele Waits, director-packaged coffee at Starbucks, said that after three years in development, Natural Fusions, created in partnership with Kraft, does live up to Starbucks' standards. It is more "coffee forward" she said, when compared to other flavored coffees on the market. The $377 million category is dominated by players including Dunkin' Donuts, Millstone and Godiva.

The impetus for the launch was two-fold. The company discovered that 60% of its bagged coffee customers were buying flavored coffee, albeit from competitors, because Starbucks didn't have an offering. And it was looking for ways to grow, beyond just line extensions and additional distribution.

"Starbucks really invented the premium-coffee category within grocery. Over the past couple of years, we've been building more and more distribution. We've got close to 90% reach now," Ms. Waits explained. "We were forced to regroup in '08 and '09 and figure out how we were going to grow beyond just extensions and new distribution. It's analogous to the door growth at our retail stores."

Ms. Waits said the primary target for the new products will be those Starbucks customers who are going elsewhere for flavored coffees. The secondary target will be flavored-coffee users who are not purchasing Starbucks. "Originally, we thought the more fertile ground would be the Starbucks user who hasn't bought flavored before. But those people are hard to convert," she said.

Ms. Waits says that during consumer testing, 75% of consumers said they intended to buy the product, which is above the norm for new-product testing. In terms of demographics, the group interested in the products tends to skew female, with the sweet spot being women aged 45-plus. That was pretty much what Starbucks expected. What was unexpected was that the products were still viewed as a morning coffee, rather than an afternoon treat.

"It's a variety play for [consumers]," Ms. Waits said. "It's still primarily a morning coffee. It's just going to be an addition to the repertoire."

The products won't be available in Starbucks' own retail stores just yet, but executives don't rule that out as a possibility. The packaged-goods division will be targeting loyalists and consumers who visit Starbucks' stores, however, through the Starbucks Rewards program.

Mr. Hottovy says he believes Starbucks could move Natural Fusions into its own stores, depending on how it performs at grocery in the coming months. "It could develop into a nice revenue stream for the company," he said.

"They've learned their lessons over the last decade about not getting too far out of the coffee-purist space. We won't see another venture in entertainment. But [we will see] reasonable extensions of current products," he added.
No TV is planned as of yet.

In addition to direct marketing, the campaign, which is rolling out now, will include print, digital, newspaper inserts, in-store marketing and sampling. Ms. Waits declined to comment on spending behind the effort. Starbucks spent $33 million on measured media last year, according to Ad Age's Leading National Advertisers report. Creative depicts a romance between the flavor -- a vanilla bean, cinnamon stick and cubes of caramel -- and the coffee bean. BBDO, New York is Starbucks' creative agency.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Walmart's Merchandising Shift Has Five Brands Dancing in Aisles

Change in Project Impact Strategy Is Paying Off for These Household Favorites

NEW YORK ( -- Walmart's much-talked-about Project Impact isn't dead, but the merchandising strategy that knocked thousands of items off the retailer's shelves and cleared the aisles of promotional merchandise over recent years is finished.
That, combined with moves to give regional and store managers more power over what their stores carry and how merchandise gets displayed, stands to have a major impact on a host of marketers over the next year. The brands and players at right are among the immediately identifiable winners, though many of the category resets that will add back thousands of items to Walmart's shelves won't take place until early next year.
While much discussion around Bentonville and nationwide among Walmart suppliers has written off Project Impact as a goner, the reality is less dramatic, more like an amputation. The program to reinvigorate growth at Walmart always focused on 10 words. Seven remain operative. Three -- referring to the "Win, Play, Show" merchandising and assortment strategy -- have been tossed out of the lexicon, according to several people familiar with the matter.
The first four of the remaining ones: "Save Money. Live Better" refer to the slogan adopted in 2007 from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., along with the redesign of the chain logo.
The next three words: "Fast, Friendly, Clean" remain in the Impact dictionary as well. Those refer to efforts to improve the store environment and shopping experience and fall into the area new Walmart U.S. CEO William Simon formerly ran and which appears to have gained considerably more power in the new order. What's gone are "Win, Play, Show," in which Walmart reduced assortments widely and often let price leadership over competitors narrow or disappear entirely in the "Play" and "Show" categories. Reversal of that, along with return of merchandise to aisles, or so-called "Action Alley," is having the biggest, well, impact on brands. Among the beneficiaries so far, according to people familiar with the matter:


This brand, along with Glad, got eradicated from the food-bag aisle after a Walmart category review last year. Starting in April, it got a small amount of space back, and more recently it's fully regained its shelf space.


P&G Chairman-CEO Bob McDonald on an earnings conference call last month lavishly praised the shift to Mr. Simon at Walmart, and later noted that Pampers would be among the brands likely to benefit from "some of the changes in the retail environment we've talked about." Since Pampers isn't distributed at Costco or big dollar chains Dollar General and Family Dollar, Walmart takes on added importance for the brand. It's one reason P&G is widely believed to "over-index" at Walmart, and why it should broadly benefit from increased display space at the giant retailer.


This detergent brand had been booted from retailers in the recent years and hanging on to distribution in only around 10% of Walmart stores. Timing proved fortuitous, as Wisk was planning a formula upgrade and major marketing push for August just as Walmart was relaxing its assortment stance. The result is full national distribution for Wisk.


Timing is everything, and the decision to open up "Action Alleys" again in many stores just in time for back-to-school season put this staple of the season in high-traffic areas. As many store managers and marketers were scrambling to find merchandise to put into the expanded displays, Elmer's was ready, saving what had been feared would be a down quarter because of diminished display space.


A reset of the snack section recently has brought the item-count for this General Mills brand from an Impact-reduced three up to eight.