Friday, January 27, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: Lunar New Year and Much, Much More

This week, there were many marketing-related news stories.

Gung hay fat choy, or translated into Cantonese: “Wishing you great happiness and prosperity.” The year of the rabbit began this week. However, on the eve of the annual celebration, tragedy struck Southern California. A gunman killed 10, with another victim later dying – in what would become the worst mass shooting in Los Angeles County, according to LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Monterey Park community and said, “We will always, as a compassionate nation, mourn for the loss and pray for those who survive and are recovering. But we must also require that leaders in our nation who have the ability and the power and the responsibility to do something, that they act.”

Then more death and tragedy struck a suburb of San Jose and San Francisco, Half Moon Bay. Naturally, some celebrations were canceled as a result.

However, many brands had created Lunar New Year-themed/Chinese New Year-themed products long before these events became the dominant news stories. Mattel partnered with Chinese couturier Guo Pei to create a special 2023 Lunar New Year Barbie doll. Coach unveiled a 2023 Lunar New Year series of purses featuring a rabbit, carriage, and hearts. Fossil created a Lunar New Year watch. And Estee Lauder unveiled a lipstick featuring a rabbit. Let’s not forget that the US Postal Office always unveils a stamp to commemorate the Lunar New Year – of course, with the cost now 63 cents to mail a first-class letter, email may be the best option for communication.

While many networks have disappeared despite adding a plus sign to their name, this week saw the launch of another. According to PC Magazine, "Formerly known as EPIX, MGM+ is a revamped, Amazon-owned video streaming service with a classic cinematic brand. When you hear the big, golden lion roar, you know a good movie is about to start. The service’s rich film library does justice to this pedigree, with old classics alongside modern hits and original shows. After a seven-day free trial, MGM+ costs $5.99 per month or $50 per year. Few streaming services offer such an affordable and straightforward way to watch so many great movies. Its strength is its library.”

This week, M&M’s posted this news on Twitter:

“America, let's talk. In the last year, we've made some changes to our beloved spokescandies. We weren't sure if anyone would even notice. And we definitely didn't think it would break the internet. But now we get it - even a candy's shoes can be polarizing. Which was the last thing M&M's wanted since we're all about bringing people together.

Therefore, we have decided to take an indefinite pause from the spokescandies. In their place, we are proud to introduce a spokesperson America can agree on: the beloved Maya Rudolph. We are confident Ms. Rudolph will champion the power of fun to create a world where everyone feels they belong.”

According to the Chief Marketing Officer for Mars Wrigley North America, “Ms. Rudolph, the new chief of fun and our spokesperson, will appear in a campaign ad that will debut during the Super Bowl LVII broadcast on February 12. The original colorful cast of M&Ms spokescandies are, at present, pursuing personal passions.”

How can candy be divisive? Without a doubt, this has to be a marketing first!

Promoted as Amazon’s philanthropic arm, AmazonSmile launched in 2013 and was a way for users to donate a portion of their sales toward their favorite charities. The appealing tagline read: “You shop. Amazon gives. Support your favorite charity every time you shop.”

According to CNN, “Amazon will shut down its SMILE charity donation program on February 20, 2023, as the company cuts costs and rethinks its strategy…AmazonSmile donated a small percentage of sales made on eligible purchases to a charity that shoppers chose. In total, $500 million has been donated since the 2013 launch, with an average donation of less than $230 per charity.”

However, I personally donated that amount to my favorite charity, Best Friends Animal Society, so as a typical Amazon shopper, I wonder, did Amazon mean, “less than $230 per shopper?” Otherwise, that statement was incorrect.

It turns out that museums now wish to re-brand ancient Egyptian remains. According to CNN, “There are among the most popular exhibits in museums worldwide, with a name so resonant, that blockbuster films have been built on it. But some museums in Britain are now using words other than “mummy” to describe their displays of ancient Egyptian human remains. Instead, they are adopting terms such as “mummified person” or the individual’s name to emphasize that they were one living people.”

Who says words and language don’t have power?

This week, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it is considering a major shift in its COVID-19 vaccine strategy. The goal will be to simplify vaccination against COVID and adopt a similar approach to the flu vaccine, with annual updates to match whatever strain of the virus is circulating. Does this mean, goodbye to quarterly or more frequent booster shots? We shall see.

Tech folks always remind us to back up our computers, update our software and operating systems, and update our passwords. It’s better to be hyper aware than lose our data or be the victim of a breach.

The big game is less than three weeks away, and many brands are already announcing their plans for their 30-second ads that cost an estimated $7 million. FOX Sports predicts that brands will spend a record-breaking $450 million on 2023 Super Bowl ads.

In addition to the introduction of M&M’s new spokesperson Maya Rudolph in its ad, some of the other advertisers will include Molson Coors, Avocados from Mexico, Procter & Gamble’s Downy, Hellmann’s, Pringles, Kia,, Doritos, FanDuel, TurboTax, and Tillamook County Creamery Association.

Also, as the week came to an end, we remembered Kobe Bryant, who passed away three years ago this week. And lastly, I celebrate my dad, who would have been 89 years young this week.

Image Credits: Mattel, Amazon, Fossil, Coach, MGM+, and Estee Lauder.

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