September 05, 2009

Microwave Fries from Burger King

Burger_king_fries Burger King has just announced an agreement with ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, who will introduce a retail line of microwaveable Burger King french fries. Dubbed King Krinkz, the fries are slated to hit shelves at Wal-Mart this fall. They are to be followed by King Kolossalz (extra-large fries) and King Wedgez (seasoned potato wedges). The box is meant to evoke Burger King’s “frypod” container.

The brand extension “gives Burger King Corp. the ability to take our ‘have it your way’ brand promise beyond our restaurants and engage customers in a new way,” said John Schaufelberger, senior VP at Burger King.

The deal was brokered by Broadstreet Licensing Group, and complements a broad array of brand extensions that include snack chips, greeting cards, and apparel.

In a related fast-food vein, Panda Express is now selling its orange and kung-pao sauces at its retail outlets. FYI, McDonald’s has been selling ketchup at retail in Germany under its own name for some time.

August 18, 2009

Travel Extensions, Upmarket and Down

Mobiltravel The Mobil Travel Guide will be rebranded with the Forbes name, effective October 1, the Associated Press reports. Started in 1958, the Mobil series includes 45 books.  The move will certainly add more luxe to a respected name in travel. More here.

Those looking for a more down-to-earth vacation might consider a Samuel Adams Hopfenpflücken Adventure. “This once-in-a-lifetime trip will have you joining Boston Beer Company brewers and execs on a trip to Bavaria, Germany — the birthplace of beer,” says the promotional copy from travel agents at Abercrombie & Kent. What might appear to be a glorified keg run will set you back $2,980.00 (the morning of day 8 is your last chance for a “final beer before your flight home”). More here.

August 07, 2009

Tru Blood, The Beverage

Trueblood Perhaps the last entertainment vehicle you’d imagine extending into retail beverages would be vampire-themed True Blood. That’s not stopping Omni Consumer Products – who achieved a modicum of fame by bringing the world Sex Panther Cologne, based on the movie Anchorman. Coming to your grocer’s in time for Halloween is a carbonated drink called Tru Blood, whose name derives from an elixir drunk on the show when human blood isn’t readily available.

Cleverly labeled with blood type (O positive) and flavor (blood orange), and beautifully packaged in shades of crimson, the drink is meant to be more than a novelty. A New York magazine taste-test gave it a thumbs-up: “Compared to most soft drinks, it's refreshing and not too sweet. It also foams just like real blood.” At $4 for a four-pack, we’ll see whether the public’s thirst will accept no substitutes.

July 24, 2009

Annals of Questionable Brand Extension

Twentiethcenturyfox And you thought that using sheep and cows as billboards was a bit over-the-top.

The latest chapter in the annals of strange brand extension comes from this year’s valedictorian address at Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles. The Wall Street Journal reports that Ms. Kenya Mejia used her speech as a chance to proclaim her love for a classmate, intoning “I love you, Jake Minor!” The line was a play on the recently released comedy “I love you, Beth Cooper,” wherein a character uses a commencement address for a similar stunt.

The Journal reports that this is only half of the story – the other being a check made out to Ms. Mejia by Twentieth Century Fox consultants for $1,800 for the “viral-marketing” plug. More here. Was Ms. Mejia right to take this branding assignment?

July 09, 2009

Academic Brand Extensions

Un_university The United Nations recently launched what they claim to be the world’s first tuition-free online university. Dubbed University of the People, the site aims to bring education to the masses. Shai Reshef, head of the venture, has ambitions of giving free textbooks, e-learning, and peer-to-peer teaching to hundreds of millions of people with no access to conventional teaching methods. According to the UN, students will be placed in classes of 20, after which they can log on to a weekly lecture, discuss it with their peers, and take tests online. Volunteer professors, graduate students, and students in other classes offer additional training. Visit the University of the People here.

Jackwelch Those with perhaps a less overtly altruistic bent might consider another educational brand extension – the Jack Welch online MBA. The Jack Welch Management Institute is slated to begin classes this autumn, with an MBA running a mere $20,000 (versus some $100,000 the old-fashioned way). "We think it will make the MBA more accessible to those who are hungry to play," Businessweek quotes Welch as saying. "And they can keep their job while doing it." More here.

June 17, 2009

Popup Extensions: Angels and Demons

Popupstores Two leading brands have chosen the popup-store concept to extend themselves, with decidedly different flavors. Axe is taking over a Hamptons, NY nightclub; its brand will be splashed liberally over the premises, with Axe products on sale in the restrooms. The extension is nothing if not logical. Michael Heller, a marketer quoted in the New York Times, observed, “Axe is all about the mating game, and the best place for a mating game is at a nightclub.” According to the Times, Axe is paying a promotion fee and is not participating in the revenues from the club. More here.

Those looking for a more, um, wholesome brand extension need look no further than Martha Stewart’s Popup Wedding Chapel. The last week of June, brides in New York City can get hitched cost-effectively at a Martha-Stewart-branded venue. “For $500, couples will get a gorgeous chapel and ceremony with champagne toast,” says the promotion. More here.

June 01, 2009

Aesthetic Extensions

Lego Lego keeps coming up with clever extensions. Hard on the heels of the Lego camera (covered in a prior post on this blog) comes the Lego Architecture series, featuring all the Lego you’ll need to recreate a Frank Lloyd Wright home or a scale model of the Guggenheim Museum. Rather than a gimmick, the product seems to be truly educational and fun. “Lego Architecture works to inspire future architects, engineers, and designers as well as architecture fans around the world with the Lego brick as a medium,” says the manufacturer.

Meanwhile, you could have visited the actual Guggenheim Museum to attend the world premier of another brand extension. French parfumier Christophe Laudamiel, creator of products for brands like Clinique and Ralph Lauren, commissioned an opera punctuated by 23 scents. The work, entitled Green Aria, will introduce olfactory stimuli to “tell the story of an epic struggle between nature and industry." Laudamiel is both innovative creator and smart businessman, the Wall Street Journal reports. The opera serves to drum up some publicity for his larger business of marketing a "new scent technology to hotels, movie theaters, videogame makers and other entertainment companies that want to pack a bigger sensory punch.” More here.

May 18, 2009

LoJack Now Finds Missing People

Lojack The company whose name became a byword in locating stolen vehicles is now extending into finding people. This February LoJack launched SafetyNet, a service for “tracking and rescuing people at risk of wandering,” including those with Alzheimer’s and autism.

“This offering is a natural extension of LoJack’s family of products and services and takes our solutions beyond ‘getting the bad guys’ off the streets to now protecting those afflicted with cognitive disorders by helping return them safely to their loved ones and caregivers,” said Ronald Walters, LoJack’s CEO.

LoJack SafetyNet consists of a “personal locator beacon” worn by the client, a search-and-rescue receiver for law enforcement, a database about the clients to assist in search and rescue, 24x7 emergency caregiver support and training for law-enforcement and public-safety agencies. LoJack plans to roll out the solution to 200 agencies over the next 12 months. Read more here.

Is this a logical extension for LoJack, or an extension where the brand has little to add? Your thoughts?

May 12, 2009

$6 Million Man Touts $200 Hearing Aid

Leemajors The Web site says it all: “The Lee Majors Rechargeable Bionic Hearing Aid combines digital hearing aid technology with the ultra convenience of a rechargeable battery, so you can enjoy noticeable, digital quality hearing improvement without the hassles of traditional battery-operated hearing aids.”

The hearing aid is available for a one-month trial for $14.95; if you choose to keep it, it’s yours for an additional “three easy payments” of $66.65 (plus $7.95 shipping and handling).

A good or bad brand extension? On the one hand, it is an appropriate use of the word “bionic” (enhancing biological functions through technology); on the other, the device had better give bat-like hearing to humans to merit the moniker of Lee Majors. For the official site, click here.

April 21, 2009

Coming Soon: PlayStation Food

Playstation Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) recently named Target Entertainment Group as licensing agent for PlayStation software IP across Europe and Asia. Target Entertainment plans on developing a wide range of consumer products, including PlayStation apparel and accessories, stationery and gifts, housewares and – yes – food.

Stephanie Freeman, licensing manager at SCEE, said, “Many of Sony Computer Entertainment’s ’s first party software titles and characters are now recognized by millions of people around the world – from the legendary Ratchet and Clank through to the iconic Sackboy from LittleBigPlanet. We really want our consumers to have the ability to interact with our brands and characters in ways other than just on screen.”

About This Blog

Brand extensions are all around us — clothing from the Sierra Club, furniture polish from Steinway and, yes, even the kitchen sink from Jacuzzi. TippingSprung, a New York-based brand-extension consultancy, publishes an annual survey on brand extensions with Brandweek. If you spot a noteworthy extension for the blog or survey, email us.

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