Now that Valentine’s Day has passed I can say it: Bah Humbug. (Sorry, wrong holiday, but Valentine’s Day is as much about romance as it is about heartbreak for many). Read more
Another week, another consumer uproar. Mattel teams up with tokidoki (cute name) to launch a collectible Barbie with pink hair, leopard-spotted leggings and a body full of tattoos. She’s a gorgeous, edgy cartoon.
Enter the complainers, who say that the doll sends the message to young girls and tweens that tattoos are okay and to them, that’s wrong. Well, look around; lots of people have tattoos. A Pew research study from 2006 found that 36 percent of adults 18 to 25 have at least one, so do 40% of adults ages 26-40. Body piercings are popular, too. That doesn’t make them bad people.
Mattel had to have anticipated this firestorm. An article in the UK Daily Mail helpfully outlines a history of tattoed Barbies that raised a ruckus with consumers. There was Butterfly Barbie in 1999 and Totally Stylin’ Tattoos in 2009, the tattoos were stick-on. The 1999 gal was pulled from the shelves after parents complained. Totally Stylin’ stayed on shelf, which is too bad because that name is just too awful. I’m not sure that I would have wanted to buy my daughter anything labeled “Totally Stylin.’”
This time around, Mattel isn’t budging. They issued a statement noting that the doll is aimed at collectors. Naturally, major media have joined in to fill in the blanks. Is a tattooed Barbie going to harm young girls? Doubtful.
Taken at face value, this new Barbie shouldn’t be raising the attention that it has. Barbie breaking boundaries is old news. Tattoos on Barbie is twenty year-old news. That a tattooed Barbie would raise the ire of some parents and be accepted by others is so predictable. There is nothing, absolutely nothing new.
But news it is, and the Mattel + tokidoki team is standing firm: this doll isn’t being marketed to kids. It was sold on the Barbiecollector.com site. The only puzzler is that the doll was released pre-holiday. I’m sure that a few of the complainers scratched Barbie off their holiday lists as a result of the so-called controversy. But there are lots of other gifts that could have worse impact on young kids: iphones for 10 year olds, say.
Oh, one more thing: her pet, a dog dressed up to look like a cactus, is called ‘Bastardino’ and her silver sparkly shoes are sky-high platforms. Total fun. Unfortunately, she’s sold out.
What do you think of the fuss around tokidoki Barbie?
The company launched a Facebook app for men, called “The Ten Man-ments,” is advertising during college football games, trying to capture the man who wants a diet drink but doesn’t want to really admit that to anyone. The tagline? “It’s not for women.”
Not surprisingly, the campaign has backfired. According to Wavemetrix, it’s generating lots of negative attention. Men say they’re okay with the positioning but agree it’s offensive and women have taken to the social media channels saying they’ll take their diet drink business elsewhere.
See the video here:
The Dr. Pepper people say that the campaign is supposed to be a joke. But no one seems to be getting it. What happened?
The difference between how Venus and Mars behave let marketers tell a compelling story.(rivets?). Conflict is at the heart of great storytelling. But brands can risk taking that conflict too far.
But what’s interesting here is how the Dr. Pepper marketing people covered their bases when talking about new soda to the press. They said that 40% of people who tried and approved of the diet drink in six test markets were women. So who is the brand really aimed at, anyway?
Well, everyone, it seems, and perhaps that’s the intention. A campaign that’s skewed to be provocative can benefit from a public relations campaign to tell the story to all possible audiences, with a wink and a nod to the targeted core. If Dr. Pepper 10 doesn’t go by the way of New Coke, I can see a phase two campaign where women bloggers are invited to an immersion in the 10-calorie Dr. Pepper experience, follow the “The Man-ments” for a month – and chart their experiences with it on their blogs. Maybe the brand sponsors a Top-Chef quick-fire that pits the guys against the gals to come up with the healthiest dish using the soda that will appeal to a duo of 10-calorie Dr. Pepper tasters (man and woman). You follow?
Oh, and for the record, I think the ad is funny. It shows men being so stupid that I, for one, can’t possibly take it seriously. Will that turn me into a Dr. Pepper 10 drinker? I don’t think so, the brand told me that it doesn’t want me, in no uncertain terms.
I am enthralled by the trend of finding abandoned, unloved and seemingly hopeless spaces and turning them into something remarkable. New York City’s High Line is one example. Read more
It’s Working Mother, all over again. As a freelance journalist, I was a contributing editor to Working Mother magazine and I loved every minute of it. I was working with smart women, writing stories about issues that impacted me personally. Over the past month, I’ve had an opportunity to dive back into the conversation about the “so-called” tug between being a working mom and one who stays at home. It’s a timeless story that marketers can mine, but with trepidation, because the tension has yet to abate. Please check out my new post in The Culture Mom blog and let me know what your story is.
Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business list includes a slideshow featuring its 10 most creative women in business. I love exploring mini-resumes of the successful (the rich, the best dressed). It’s even more fun for me if they’re anointed as “Most Creative,” especially if they’re marketers. Jessica Buttimer’s bio captured my attention, not only because of what she’s done, which was to bring green cleaners improbably to Clorox , but because of what she’s charged with doing now: keeping the so-ugly-it’s-cute shoe hot.
Here is her bio, from the site:
Since introducing the first new brand for Clorox in 20 years with Green Works, Buttimer has launched into new territory: footwear. As the new vice president of marketing for Deckers Outdoor Corp, Buttimer will oversee branding initiatives for companies like Teva and UGG Australia. Simple Shoes, another under the Deckers’ umbrella, launched a Green Bomb U.S. Campus Tour on Earth Day in New York City. The initiative will travel to four college campuses through the end of May, and students can donate used, non-sustainable shoes for an eco-friendly pair by the brand. The donated shoes will go to local charities.
I was intrigued by the plug in this 100-word bio for the Simple Shoes Green Bomb campaign. Little and local, it sounds homey, and perfectly aligned with the brand. The idea is, well, simple: College kids trade in old shoes for a new pair of Simple Shoes, their old pairs are donated to the needy. College kids have no cash, lots of beat up shoes and are green-minded and action-oriented. Plus, you can never have too many clunky shoes in your closet if you’re a college kid.
I’d love to know how well the campaign is working and how many shoes have been collected so far. The brand’s Facebook page isn’t all that helpful. Even though the giveaway is happening right now at NYU (through May 28), there isn’t a call to action on the Twitter feed designed for the campaign.
Great campaigns work in the follow-through and follow-up. If I were a college kid, I’d want to get involved. It’s the right thing to do, I’d get to replenish my shoe wardrobe and it makes for a very good brand story. So Simple Shoes — I’d love to hear you tell it!
What do you think? What’s your story?
Driving through Central Park this weekend, I saw four tourists walking single file along the car-clogged road that connects West 96th Street to the Upper East Side. They were hiking on the edge of the street. Central Park was hidden from them – and from traffic — by a high wall.
With the beautiful park only steps away, I figured those folks got some pretty bad advice for how to cross the park. They looked hot and unhappy. They probably were hot and unhappy. That dirty trek may well be what they will remember most about their trip to New York.
Which got me thinking about how to frame a marketing campaign to appeal to the tourists for your brand. You know, the ones who think they might like you but are just checking you out? What does a tourist need to really fall in love with you?
- Great maps. They need to understand your brand’s layout.
- Local cell phone coverage. They need to be able to call for help at any time.
- An up-to-date guidebook. To show them what’s new and improved!
- A good concierge. A local guide, who can tailor advice to their wants and needs.
- A big spectacle. They need to be wowed.
- An opportunity to discover something on their own, because that’s what they’re going to remember the most.
When building a marketing campaign, I’d say that 1-4 are the cost of entry. Brands need to be clear about who they are, be easy to get access to, feel like a personal friend, be fresh and relevant. But what is often overlooked is that element of wow and, even more difficult, personal discovery that feels unique to them.
Whether it’s a special offer for Facebook fans only, a free you-name-it (coffee, flower bouquet, waltz-lessons on 42nd Street) when you least expect it, a billboard in Times Square with your photo on it, what can you create for your brand tourists to discover that’s so unexpected, they’ll think they discovered it themselves?
What’s your story?