consumer products

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.

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.”

April 10, 2009

Photo Finish

Polaroid Will another of America’s iconic brands bite the dust, or live on through the miracles of brand extension?

Polaroid, which filed for Chapter 11 in 2001, has enjoyed a second lease on life through a variety of licensing deals, including Polaroid-branded digital cameras, flat-panel televisions, and DVD players.

Petters Group acquired the brand in 2005 for some $450 million. But another Chapter 11 followed in late 2008, amid accusations that CEO Tom Petters was running a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

The outcome of an auction currently underway for the Polaroid brand is as yet uncertain. This week, a federal bankruptcy judge threw out a bid for $56.3 million from a joint venture of liquidation specialists Hilco Consumer Capital and Gordon Brothers Brands. The other suitor is New York-based Patriarch Partners, which owns a stake in Arizona Iced Tea and in Rand McNally.

February 26, 2009

The Last Laugh

Bk_snacks Brand marketers, in their ivory towers, may get a chuckle out of seemingly eyebrow-raising brand extensions. But the brand owners may be getting the last laugh, all the way to the bank.

Case in point: Burger King apparel (such as BK boxer shorts), which was singled out in TippingSprung’s 2008 Brand Extension Survey as a questionable fit.

The folks at Broad Street Licensing Group who have been spearheading an extension program for Burger King naturally have a different take on the situation. First, Burger King apparel is just one piece in a larger program, which includes some innovative extensions like BK-branded salty snacks (which won an award for best brand extension in License! magazine), barbecue sauce, and frozen appetizers.

Bill Cross, VP of food licensing at Broad Street, thinks that non-food extensions like Burger King boxer shorts get a bad rap for no good reason: brand owners are often overly concerned about issues ranging from product liability and dilution of brand equity to cannibalization (forgive the metaphor) of core products. In reality, he says, many of these products are simply “fun” and have little risk of impacting brand equity. These non-food applications are often “of the moment” – a moment which, quite often, is a very profitable one.

February 12, 2009

No License, No Cry

Bobmarley Breakin' news from Jamaica is that private-equity group Hilco has paid the family of Bob Marley the cool sum of $20 million for a 50% equity stake in House of Marley, LLC, a new joint-venture that plans to license the image and brands of the singer, who died in 1981. Products in the pipe – sorry, pipeline – include shoes, food, collectibles, luggage, musical instruments, and stationery. Look for Marley Lager and Marley Organic Coffee coming your way in the not-too-distant future.

According to The Deal, Hilco believes the House of Marley can license a billion dollars a year worth of merchandise. Respect. But first they will have to crack down on the $600 million of pirated Marley goods they reckon are sold each year. Hilco promises to spend whatever it takes to stop counterfeiters, which has, of course, prompted a predictable backlash from Marley fans (see Gawker's post: Bob Marley Now Owned by Wall Street). Sell-out or sweet music? What do you think?

January 16, 2009

CES Spotting: Lego camera and Swiss Army laser pointer

Lego-digital-camera Some interesting brand extensions to report from the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, where we saw an unlikely entry into the crowded digital-camera category. Lego announced it will launch a line of branded tech products this summer, including digital cameras, video cameras, and MP3 players. The new line will let fans "express themselves through photos, videos and music, while displaying their enthusiasm for one of the world's all-time favorite toys," says Jill Wilfert, VP licensing for Lego Group.

CandyEarphones And if you’re looking for headphones for your Lego MP3 player, you may want to try Candeez earphones which, for $4, will allow you to walk around looking like you have a pair of Tootsie Rolls or Jolly Ranchers in your ears. 
Swissarmy Finally, from the literal cutting edge of technology comes the Victorinox Presentation Pro, a Swiss Army Knife that comes with built-in USB thumb-drive, laser pointer, biometric fingerprint scanner, and Bluetooth remote that connects to your laptop so you can change slides in your presentation.

Your thoughts on these new extensions, or any others we may have missed at CES?

January 07, 2009

Hard Rock Theme Park Shuttered

Hardrock The Hard Rock theme park lived an intense, all-too-brief existence like one of its idols. It opened in Myrtle Beach this year, only to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by year-end. Hard Rock International was apparently guaranteed an annual minimum of $2.5 million for its name; the park covered 55 acres and was built for $400 million. More coverage here. Visit the theme park’s site, while it lasts, at

* * *

Burgerkingcologne Burger King men’s apparel was one of the extensions which raised eyebrows in TippingSprung’s fifth-annual survey. Just after the survey results were released, another questionable Burger King extension made headlines, in case you missed it: Burger King cologne (titled "Flame"). The $3.99 stocking-stuffer, available over the holidays exclusively in New York City at novelty shop Ricky’s, sold out in the first three days. More here.

December 28, 2008

The Results Are In...

2008survey What do Burger King underwear, Kellogg's hip-hop street wear and Allstate Green insurance have in common? They all were voted among the worst brand extensions of 2008. Earlier this month, TippingSprung polled 689 Brandweek readers and other marketing professionals, online, about this year's flurry of brand extensions. Among others voted thumbs-down: Coca-Cola's RPet clothing at Wal-Mart, Playboy energy drink and Disney Sleeping Beauty executive fountain pens priced at up to $1,200, particularly ill-timed in this economy.

Accentuating the positive, Campbell's V8 Soup was selected the top beverage extension. Nearly 77 percent of marketers said it was a good idea. Coppertone sunglasses and Mr. Clean performance car washes were named the best brand extensions, according to 31.2 percent and 25.7 percent of respondents, respectively.

For Ken Hein’s full coverage in Brandweek, click here. To receive a full survey report (available in the first half of January 2009), email us.

This is TippingSprung's fifth annual brand-extension survey conducted with Brandweek. Past winners include Iams pet health insurance and Huggies Little Swimmers sunscreen; past losers include Precious Moments coffins, Hooters airlines, Cheetos lip balm and Salvador Dalí deodorant (yes, these are/were all real products). Feel free to write us for past results as well.

December 12, 2008

Softwear from Microsoft

Microsoft_softwearNow that we have rapper T-shirts from Kellogg’s, limited-edition sneakers from Hennessy, and boxer shorts from Burger King, it should come as no great surprise that Microsoft is getting into the clothing business.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Adage reports, is helping Microsoft design a line of "urban geek" T-shirts, slated to hit shelves this holiday season.

The line, which recalls features like the old MS-DOS font, “taps the nostalgia of when PCs were just starting to change our lives," Adage quotes Microsoft. The program ties into Crispin's "I’m a PC" campaign. The rapper Common contributed some of the featured designs. Read more here.

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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