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Ford cars still a friend to LGBT community March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cars & Motors, Gay Life, Marketing.
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Although Ford is spending less on gay marketing and to support gay groups, the cutbacks are due to the slowing economy and not because of any “settlement” with the American Family Association, as the group announced this week.

“I can tell you there was not a negotiated settlement to this boycott,” said Ford spokesman Jim Cain. The automaker still backs groups including Human Rights Campaign and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Read this artcle at > Portfolio.com


Marketing to real metrosexual men February 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Marketing, MetroSexual.
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29-02-08_metrosexual1.jpg  Despite the cliche that men are simpler to understand than women, they remain a surprisingly tricky proposition for marketers. They can be quite easy to reach when it comes to cars, power tools, junk food and gadgets; but persuading men to buy fashion, skincare products or low-calorie foods is a different matter.

Men are conspicuous under-consumers in a whole range of categories, leaving advertisers unhappy. An obvious question is: haven’t men changed? Aren’t they all metrosexual now, proudly wearing Armani underpants and slathering themselves in moisturiser? The answer lies somewhere between ‘a few of them’ and ‘well, no’.

29-02-08_metrosexual2.jpg  The term ‘metrosexual’ was coined by journalist Mark Simpson in 1994 and raised to marketing stardom by Marian Salzman, now director of strategic content at JWT. The media wholeheartedly adopted her interpretation of the metrosexual , churning out reams of copy about the straight guy who was ‘just gay enough’. Advertisers welcomed him with open arms, due to his taste for expensive skincare products, stylish clothes and minimalist home furnishings . His toned torso unfurled across billboards, most often in the shape of David Beckham.

29-02-98_metrosexual3.jpg  One small snag, though: in real life, he barely existed. In 2006, a study by ad agency Leo Burnett Worldwide estimated that only one-fifth of the male population could truly be placed in the ‘metrosexual’ bracket, while the others expressed no interest in joining them.

29-02-08_metrosexual4.jpg  When men were asked by a Harris poll to name their role models, the top 10 responses included Clint Eastwood , Sean Connery and John Wayne. Men admire toughness, authority, responsibility and what Ernest Hemingway described as ‘grace under pressure’ . They aspire to power, money and status. Silky smooth skin doesn’t come into it.

In terms of advertising, celebrities tend to dominate, as in the women’s market, but men are particularly attracted to authenticity and accomplishment. Sports heroes always go down well, hence Gillette’s latest campaign featuring Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Thierry Henry.

29-02-08_metrosexual5.jpg  Actors need to be older and a little rougher around the edges; more Daniel Craig than Orlando Bloom. These images are trafficked by men’s magazines , although they tend to be preaching to the converted . Product placement and sponsorship are far more effective ways of reaching shop-phobic males.

29-02-08_metrosexual6.jpg  That’s why the Bond movies have become male brand juggernauts. Nor do men shop as enthusiastically as metrosexuals are said to. They are reluctant shoppers, remaining loyal to a core selection of trusted brands. They tend to base their purchasing choices on timeless notions of authenticity, craftsmanship and performance . Few of them shop for pleasure, instead adopting a ‘search and destroy’ strategy. They go out looking for a raincoat and they come back with a raincoat.

29-02-08_metrosexual7.jpg  Mintel confirmed the patent lack of metrosexuality in the real world when it looked at the UK toiletries market in 2006. It concluded that men’s toiletries had failed to achieve the explosive growth anticipated since the late 80s, when Shulton launched its Insignia men’s range.

This was supposed to herald the emergence of the ‘new man’ , but the reality was that most were not ready to embrace a grooming regime featuring myriad products. Instead, it has been a much slower process, which, according to the report, has highlighted ‘that men will never adopt the levels of interest and investment in the toiletries industry that is fuelling the women’s beauty industry’.

That is not to say that the market is not growing. Mintel valued the men’s toiletries market at £751m in 2005, up by 28% since 2000. But skincare made up only 6% of the total, which was dominated by fragrances (44%). According to trend-tracking service WGSN, in 2006 the UK male grooming market was worth £818m, within which skincare was the fastestgrowing sector, up 14% to £68m. So men are definitely buying skin products, but on the face of the market, compared with women, they’re a mere freckle.

‘The fact is that men are wired differently,’ says Margaret Jobling, director of male grooming at Unilever. She joined the company in summer 2006; until then it had been organised into brands and categories, so nobody had sole responsibility for male-oriented products. Jobling’s role is to co-ordinate Unilever’s approach to the male market.

‘A lot of beauty marketing is about the power of attraction. But what do women look for in men? They look for financial stability, emotional strength, loyalty, security and, yes, a good sense of humour . Shiny hair and soft skin are a long way down the list,’ she says.

From her own research into the male market she discovered that male consumers are ploddingly practical. They must be lured with functionality and performance, rather than an esoteric ‘brand universe’ designed to make them buy into a better life. As a result, skincare brands tend to be packaged as tools.

For example , the Swiss brand Task Essential includes in its range products such as Oxywater O2 Oxygen Spray and Stop Burning aftershave. Lab-Series Skincare for Men is another example. ‘High-tech , high performance, high results’ boasts its website, which assures the male consumer that its products are created by ‘an elite team of doctors, scientists and skincare specialists’.

Its products include Mega Foam Shave and Root Power Hair Tonic. Men appreciate humour, too. Skincare brand Nickel takes a jocular approach with products such as Smooth Operator shaving gel, Fire Insurance aftershave moisturiser, Silicon Valley antiwrinkle cream, and Morning After revitalising lotion. As Jobling observes, creating products for men is not the problem; finding the right language in which to communicate to them is the real challenge.

Then there’s the retail factor, men are notoriously timid about browsing for skincare products in public. That is why male-grooming websites such as Mankind.co.uk, launched in 2001, have proved such a happy hunting ground. At the Beauty and the Brand conference in London last year, Mankind founder Hilary Andrews said: ‘Men want a comfortable, fuss-free method of getting products, and the internet is the obvious choice.’ She added that on the high street, women buy 50% of grooming products for the men in their life, while 98% of the products on Mankind are sold directly to men.

Andrews also confirmed that men were interested in ‘problem solving’ . The most searched-for words on the site are a delightful litany of ‘acne’ , ‘hair loss’ , ‘blackheads’ , ‘oily skin’ and ‘dandruff’ . She added that products backed by scientific data sold better.

29-02-08_metrosexual8.jpg  The buying of clothes is another area where men are notoriously reluctant to hit the shops. Consumer research conducted by Mintel over the past few years has consistently identified the fact that many men are uninterested in fashion and shopping.

According to its Men’s Outerwear report from January 2007, men over the age of 25 ‘often dislike shopping to such an extent that their partners buy the majority of menswear for them’.

The key to luring men into stores seems to be a comforting retail environment. Forget blaring music, disco balls or floor-to-ceiling mirrors , it is impeccable service and a slight hint of retro eccentricity that will work more effectively.

Think of Paul Smith’s stores, which are dotted with toy cars, tin robots and other ephemera; or Dunhill, whose decor reflects its heritage as the purveyor of accessories to the first motorists . At the latter’s store in London, men can also have a traditional wet shave.

Redux Beverages parties Bi-Continental style July 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Advertising, Drinks & Beverages, Marketing.
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This weekend Redux will officially celebrate with a multi-layered “No Name” sponsorship of professional middle-weight boxing star, Winky Wright as he takes on opponent Bernard Hopkins in a heralded Las Vegas bout.

Redux Beverages’ world famous energy drink “No Name”, formally Cocaine Energy Drink, is about to party hard. After political threats from the FDA and several state attorneys general forced Redux to abandon marketing the Cocaine name domestically, Redux decided to allow its consumers to name the product individually, packaging features a white “billboard” and copy “Insert Name Here” that encourages the consumer to name it, write on it, brand it and own it.

This weekend Redux will officially celebrate with a multi-layered “No Name” sponsorship of professional middle-weight boxing star, Winky Wright as he takes on opponent Bernard Hopkins in a heralded Las Vegas bout.

In addition, Cocaine Energy Drink themed after-parties are planned on two continents.

State-side, the party, taking place at the Body English club in the Las Vegas Hard Rock Casino, will be a celebration of the energy drink’s triumphant return and new sponsorship with the Winky Wright camp. “We love Winky not only because he kicks ass, but also because he embodies the same spirit, drive, passion and lack of B.S. that Redux possesses. It’s an awesome partnership” said Redux founder Jamey Kirby. The Wright camp shares the enthusiasm, “We’re so happy to have Redux on board with us and look forward to a long working relationship” said Winky Wright. Redux can continue to use the Cocaine brand in this venue because the party is a closed promotional event.

The Second party, taking place at Club Lollypop in Tirana Albania, will mark the official launch of the Cocaine Energy Drink brand in Europe. Redux can keep using the Cocaine name in foreign lands as the politics there seem “a heck of a lot more democratic and open to free enterprise … ironically” said Redux founder Jamey Kirby. He went on to say, “We’re so fired up to take this brand oversees. We imagine we’ll see the same passion and love, same type of apostles and rabid user generated content that we see in the U.S. People love this stuff and love telling us so. We can’t wait to see how this is emulated over there.”

Dolls living the high life June 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business, Marketing.
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Since its US launch in June 2001, doll brand Bratz has run former doyenne Barbie off the scene. But as its success escalates, industry insiders wonder how much longer it can maintain this momentum.

MGA Entertainment, the company behind the brand, is setting up its own UK business in 2008 having severed its four-year partnership with Vivid Imaginations, which has held the UK licence for Bratz since 2004, it launched in the UK in 2003 under Bandai. Both parties say the split is amicable despite refusing to say whether the partnership came to a natural end, but rival Mattel says the move raises questions over the brand’s future.

According to the latest figures from consumer and retailer information provider National Purchase Diary (NPD), Bratz owns 55% of the £100m-a-year British fashion dolls market and Vivid says Bratz has remained the dominant leader in the industry for 27 consecutive months.

Vivid marketing director Emma Sherski says the brand’s success has been driven largely by new product development. “MGA continues to deliver fresh, innovative dolls that appeal to girls above the age of seven,” she adds.

The dolls would perhaps never have materialised had MGA chief executive Isaac Larian not taken his 11-year-old daughter into the office. Although Larian thought the prototype doll unsightly, he was swayed by her approval and pressed ahead with production. Yet, industry buyers were unimpressed with the first samples in 2001 and Toys R Us cancelled initial orders due to poor sales.

Despite this, Larian borrowed money for extra advertising and by Christmas 2001 sales had taken off. Since then more than 150 million Bratz dolls have been sold around the globe and now generate annual sales of £1.26bn, although MGA refuses to disclose profits from the brand.

And the brand’s portfolio of products has grown inexorably. In the past year alone fashion line Bratz Couture has been rolled out, a hand-held games console called Miuchiz launched to take on established brands such as Nintendo in targeting young girls, and a live-action Hollywood film will hit cinema screens later this year. It also launched the Bratz Diamond products including a DVD, playset, video games and dolls packaged with a real diamond.

Ronnie Dungan, editor of Toy News, says Bratz has stolen a big chunk of market share from rival Barbie since its launch. “I can’t however confirm who is actually the market leader,” he says. “There are two sets of figures provided by both brands claiming it is them, but the leading position is just too close to call.”

He does acknowledge that Bratz has expanded on Barbie’s target market by enlarging its age group to include girls aged between seven and 12. “Bratz has found the winning formula and is pushing the right buttons. It is expanding as a franchise but that is the norm. Children are no longer just impressed by toys, they want the whole package, the mobile technology and online social networks, it has to be much more than just a doll.”

Anna Eggleton, senior consultant at The Value Engineers, says the Bratz success rests on a variety of factors including a strong “collecting appeal” for youngsters, affordable prices and functionality with items such as make-up, combs and lip balm. “The dolls also allow girls to emulate adults, and hold a strong appeal to the Hello magazine generation of mothers,” she adds.

Although Bratz leads the UK doll market with 55%, this has fallen from 65% last September, according to NPD figures. Sherski claims the decrease can be seen across the whole toy market and is only a blip, but other industry insiders are not so sure. Vivid invested heavily in the marketing of Bratz, increasing TV advertising spend by 50% year on year since its UK launch in 2004.

But whatever the marketing investment, Eggleton warns the brand’s solid link to fashion trends may be its ultimate downfall. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Bratz has already peaked, as the toy market is very fickle. There is a certain type of fashion around at the moment that is associated with the brand and I don’t think it has had a good idea in the past eight months. The only way it can keep expanding at this rate is by extending its franchise – and there are only so many options it can explore.”

Barbie’s UK general manager, Jean-Christopher Peant, admits Bratz identified a gap in the market and “used it in an exceptional manner”, but he says its reign in the toy market is nearing an end. “A few years ago it was incredibly popular in Europe but now it has only a small market share, a trend I think will continue in the UK.”

According to NPD, Bratz holds 4.1% of the value market share in France and less than 3% in Germany. Peant also believes MGA’s move to the UK will prove to be challenging and it will take time for the company to adapt.

Certainly, MGA has much to preoccupy it, not least a legal battle between Mattel and MGA after Mattel filed a lawsuit in 2005 claiming Carter Bryant, the doll designer of Bratz, sold the range to MGA while employed by the Barbie owner. MGA counterattacked with allegations of “serial copycatting” by Mattel when it launched new lines.

In spite of this contention, Bratz has achieved success on the back of urban fashion and sassy characters. But fashion is notoriously fickle.

Facts and figures > Bratz
1994 > Brand first launched in June 2001
2002 > Dolls named Girl Toy of the Year in the UK. As well as the dolls, the Bratz-branded products include playsets, vehicles and accessories, Lil Bratz, the Bratz Babyz, plush Petz toys and a series of video games
2006 > MGA Entertainment withdrew the Kiana doll after Barbie-owner Mattel claimed it owned the trademark to the name “Kianna” with its Teen Trends doll line. The two companies are now entangled in a legal battle More than 150 million dolls have been sold and generate an annual profit of £1.26bn.

European online adspend reaches €8bn June 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Advertising, Marketing.
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IAB Europe has announced that European online adspend reached €8bn  during 2006. The UK accounted for the largest slice of online spend, taking 39% of total spend.

The research, which covers 13 countries, shows that the UK is leading the way in online advertising with Germany in second place with a 22% share. France is in third place with a 15% share and The Netherlands accounts for just 7%. Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Greece, Slovenia and Croatia account for the remaining 12%.

It also shows that search dominates spend across Europe and it accounted for 45% of all spend online last year. Display advertising accounted for 31%, classified for 22% and just 1.6% on e-mail marketing.

IAB Europe president Alain Heureux says: “These figures demonstrate without any doubt the significance of the European online advertising industry”.

The body announced the results of its first pan-European online advertising spend report at its “Interact” congress on digital marketing in Brussels today.