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.

January 22, 2009

Extending the iPhone

Iphoneapps This week, Apple announced that 15,000 applications are available at its App Store and that they’ve been downloaded a total of 500 million times -- not bad for a service launched only last July. In this week's Brand Elastic, we look at some innovative ways brick-and-mortar brands are extending into the iPhone app arena.
Kraft’s iFood Assistant offers a wide range of simple recipes, and is one of the iPhone's 100 most popular paid apps. For a single payment of 99 cents, users can browse recipes by ingredients, meal type, or prep time. They can also register at KraftFoods.com to save recipes and build shopping lists.
When Target realized that most of the traffic to their mobile site was coming from iPhones, they created the Target Snow Globe to capture holiday sales. After shaking the iPhone like a regular snow globe and waiting for the digital snow to settle, users are shown a gift idea from the retailer that they can tap through and purchase from Target.
Audi was the first auto manufacturer to launch an iPhone app back in August ’08. The Audi A4 Challenge is a driving simulator that takes advantage of the iPhone’s accelerometer, and allows users to steer an A4 through a series of courses. The game links to a dedicated A4 iPhone microsite featuring content optimized for viewing on the iPhone.
Of course, brands looking to enter the App Store universe need to make sure they avoid the type of misstep that Chipotle made with their Mobile Ordering app. The app failed to deliver on its promise of fast food ordered directly from your phone, and was pulled within hours of appearing in the App Store.
Any other branded iPhone apps you’ve come across or would like to see? Let us know.

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?

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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