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.

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.”

March 09, 2009

Don’t Mess With Our Icons!

Barbie Judging from the drubbing experienced by Tropicana’s new packaging, Main Street has limited appetite for radical rebranding in an economic downturn. (Tropicana announced that within weeks it will be bringing back the familiar cartons showing a drinking straw emanating from an orange.)

Just when consumers seem to be clamoring for the comfortable brands of their youth, another American icon is getting a makeover. In honor of the 50th birthday of Barbie, Mattel is trying to breathe new life into the brand with the launch of – we kid you not – “Totally Stylin' Tattoos Barbie.”

Some blogging parents, along with industry brand-watchers, are questioning whether this is the right approach for a dose of fresh vitality. The LA Times quotes Lin Burress, editor of the parenting blog Telling It Like It Is: "It's just one more thing being added to the pile of junk, like push-up bras and Bratz dolls, being marketed to these ridiculously young kids. These so-called toys just create a sense of rebellion."

The Times reminds us that Barbie is no stranger to controversy: Butterfly Art Barbie (vintage 1999) had a butterfly tattoo on her stomach. Sales of the new doll are beating projections, say the toymaker. More here.

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?

November 28, 2008

National Geographic: The Store

NationalgeographicThose daring to shop this season who happen to be in London may enjoy visiting the new National Geographic store, the first of its kind. The 20,000-square-foot outlet seems the perfect extension of this venerable brand. Products range from locally sourced collectables to items designed for the "rigors of adventure and exploration." The Guardian reports that visitors can road-test products in special high-wind and temperature chambers.

The shop is dedicated to "stimulating, educating and inspiring visitors to celebrate global cultures." It will include a rotating series of curated exhibits, artwork from the magazine, and a café serving tapas and other slow food. More here.

Also featured is the Genographic Project, a program cosponsored by IBM which will collect and analyze 100,000 DNA samples from indigenous peoples around the world. You can pick up a kit at the shop for $100 and receive a confidential analysis on how your own genes reflect broader patterns in the population. Read more on the Genographic Project here.

November 12, 2008

A Little Bit of Luxe

SmartcarThose hooked on luxury brands who wish to make a gesture of frugality in a down economy have had their prayers answered. Hermès just unveiled its version of the Smart car, complete with leather accents and available in colors that include fuchsia and lime. The cars start at 38,000 euros (almost $50,000). More here.

Those with less pocket change who still wish to splurge on luxury brand extensions this holiday season have a few options. Famed Paris baker Lenôtre is offering bûches de Noël, traditional Christmas cakes, designed by Hubert de Givenchy. Last year’s was from Karl Lagerfeld.

A more playful option comes from Porsche, which has licensed its name for videogame steering wheels -– prices range from $150 to $400 for the Clubsport model. More here.

October 01, 2008

Fancy Footwork

Hennessy_sneakersFurther cementing the ties between the worlds of luxury spirits and hip-hop, Hennessy has announced a limited-edition sneaker branded after the cognac. Designed by Jhung Yuro, the Hennessy Celebration Hi-Top is slated for release December 1, retailing for $300. Each pair, the Luxist blog reports, comes in a lizard-skin-embossed box. More here.

Meanwhile, David Beckham is expanding his empire with a series of children’s books. Based on his successful David Beckham Academy which provides soccer training in Europe and the US, the stories are targeted at seven-year-olds and are meant to "bring children to reading through football." The first book is due out in June 2009. More here.

September 24, 2008

Consumer-Friendly Electronics

ToogoodJenny McCarthy and Philips have both just announced new brand extensions. One is launching a range of sex toys. The other a lifestyle brand and consumer-product line for children.

Hands up if you thought the former Playboy model was responsible for the "intimate massager."

Well, actually it's Philips, the world's largest lighting manufacturer and a major player in flat screens, ultrasound machines, and electric shavers who are entering the $390-million European sex-toy market. The massager will initially be sold in the UK, through pharmacy chain Boots and, according to the Associated Press, following which distribution throughout Europe is planned. The Telegraph reports that the diplomatically named Relationship Care products "target the hitherto neglected group of sex-toy users aged between 35 and 55."  More here.

Meanwhile, self-styled "celebrity warrior mom" Jenny McCarthy is attempting to extend her brand in the opposite direction. Building on her experiences in combating her son’s autism, McCarthy has begun work on Too Good, a lifestyle brand meant to bring to market "affordable, nontoxic and healthy products for children." More here.

August 13, 2008

You Want to Wear That Brand?

MonopolyWhen Adidas announced sneakers branded after classical pianist Lang Lang, we thought we seen it all. But now Reebok has partnered with Hasbro to come out with Monopoly footwear (priced at $40 for kids and $75 – 85 for grown-ups, the Boston Globe reports). "Monopoly has global recognition as one of the most iconic board games of all time, and Reebok is excited to be able to translate this fun into footwear," the Globe quotes Christian Stegmaier, Reebok's head of lifestyle product marketing. Is this an idea that preserves the fun of the original, or is it a risky move that might weaken an iconic brand?

Meanwhile, sometimes even jaded brand-extension watchers scratch their heads and say, "this is a pretty good idea." And so it goes with The Bugatti Collection – a line of apparel, accessories, and luggage. Now available on the Web, the collection seems to have preserved the quality and mystique of the fabled brand. The quilted jacked, available for US$ 600, is described as follows on the posh site: "The exquisite, country-style quilted jacket with black fabric on the outside and cashew-coloured lining is a must for every Bugatti aficionado. The cashew shade of the lining is picked up along the edges and in Ettore Bugatti’s initials embroidered on the left chest. The striking monogram is also stamped on the press studs, and the zipper echoes the design of the Bugatti radiator grill." View the site here.

August 08, 2008

Have Mouse, Will Travel

Adventuresbydisney_3Disney has just announced the addition of eight new destinations in its family-friendly tours, including an exotic African safari, an expedition to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, and an exploration of Alaska. Disney has been offering tours since 2005, which began with more stereotypically Disney-themed offerings, such as Cities of Knights and Lights (England and France) and Once Upon a Fairytale (Heidelberg and Munich). Says the company press release: "As Disney Cruise Line revolutionized -- and in some ways defined -- the family cruise vacation, Adventures by Disney is re-creating the way families think about vacationing together." Read this week's New York Times feature on Disney tours here.

In a separate development: with sales of CDs and DVDs moving at a snail’s pace, electronics retailer Best Buy has decided to move into the musical instrument business. The company plans on opening 85 music centers within its stores, each occupying 2,500 square feet and including everything from Gibson guitars to Roland keyboards as well as space for music lessons. Industry observers say the chain could become the second-largest player in the $8 billion musical-instrument market. 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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