Sunday, April 28, 2024

Marketing News of the Week: Barbie, Starbucks, Tesla, and More

During the past week (okay, couple of weeks), there were news stories that reflected advertising, personal branding, brand identity, product packaging, and more.


Mattel's Barbie "Inspiring Women Series" pays tribute to courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before. To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May, Barbie is paying homage to trailblazing figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, a two-time World Champion and Olympic gold medalist from the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France - and the first Asian-American woman to win a gold medal in figure skating. The doll sparkles in a black leotard with gold accents, a reproduction of the costume she wore for her gold medal performance. Following her Olympic career, she became an author and advocate, serving as the founder of nonprofit Always Dream, which is aimed at increasing children's literacy.


While many online retailers improved their sales, Wayfair (the Boston-based online furniture and home furnishings seller) has announced that it will open its first physical store in suburban Chicago in May. According to CBS News, "Wayfair has struggled with a dwindling customer base as the pandemic wound down and people returned to the office and began spending less time at home." How will this dramatic change impact the Wayfair's brand identity?


According to the coffee brand's website section entitled, STORIES AND NEWS: "How much plastic can you remove from a cup while making sure it still feels sturdy in a customer’s hand? Turns out, 10 to 20 percent. In April, Starbucks is proud to announce the debut of a lineup of more sustainable cold cups in stores across the US and Canada. They're not only made with less plastic than previous cold cups, they are also projected to reduce emissions and conserve water in the production process, while streamlining the workflow for store partners (employees) by consolidating the lid combinations and simplifying storage. The new cups are part of Starbucks commitment to cut its carbon, water, and waste footprints in half by 2030. Also in that timeframe, Starbucks has committed to making sure all customer packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable. Based on analysis of life cycle assessments, producing the new cups is projected to save, annually, emissions equivalent to taking about 5,200 cars off the road, and conserve about 2,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water. The new cups will keep more than 13.5 million pounds of plastic from landfills each year. And they cost less to make." Will these changes make Starbucks customers love the brand more?


Due to the seafood restaurant chain's famous "endless shrimp promotion," the chain reported $11 million in losses and is currently considering filing for bankruptcy. "The "Endless Shrimp" promotion, a beloved tradition for over 18 years, reached a new level of permanence in June 2023 when the chain declared it would become a constant offering. Dubbed the "Ultimate Endless Shrimp," the updated promotion allowed customers to enjoy unlimited servings of shrimp for just $20, including the iconic Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Initially a periodic special, its immense popularity spurred the decision to make it a permanent feature on the menu. Despite its success in attracting large crowds, this deal has not translated into sustainable profits for the company."


Due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, athletes from Russia (and also their ally Belarus) will not be competing in the upcoming Paris Olympics under the Russian flag. Instead, they will compete as "individual neutral athletes" (INAs) without their flags, anthems, and emblems. In addition, Russian and Belarusian athletes must not have actively supported the war in Ukraine. The athletes must meet all anti-doping criteria, and only individual athletes can compete - no team sports.


Most television viewers are familiar with the show LAW & ORDER: SVU. Actress and advocate Mariska Hargitay recently paused filming in New York City to help a lost child, who recognized her due to her character on the show as a helpful police captain. Talk about the power of personal branding - and in this instance, for a fictional character!


San Francisco has filed a lawsuit against Oakland, its neighboring city across the bay, to stop the name change from "The Metropolitan Oakland International Airport" to "San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport." The Port of Oakland, who runs the Oakland Airport, believes that a rebrand would cost about $150,000.


San Francisco Mayor London Breed has announced that China will send giant pandas to live at San Francisco's zoo for the first time, "San Francisco is absolutely thrilled that we will be welcoming Giant Pandas to our San Francisco Zoo. It's an honor that our city has been chosen for the first time to be a long-term home for Giant Pandas." According to CNN, "Pandas have served as something of an unofficial barometer of China-US relations since 1972, when Beijing gifted a pair to the Smithsonian National Zoo, following US President Richard Nixon's historic ice-breaking trip to China. Fewer than 2,000 giant pandas remain in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which lists the species as vulnerable."


For most of its history, Tesla has survived without any traditional advertising. But last May, Elon Musk said he would "try out a little advertising and see how it goes." Mush has said that he hates advertising, but agreed to the move after investors called for it, with the plan to be more like Apple. The marketing team of 40 launched four months ago, and the decision to cut out the team came as a result of slumping sales. Will the end of Tesla's advertising efforts impact Tesla's brand?


The idea of having a quick train between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area has been discussed for decades, and finally, ground has been broken. The project is set to be completed for the Los Angeles Summer Olympics in July 2028. Just think of all the marketing for the train once it has been completed, as well as all the advertising and co-branding between LA-Las Vegas trips.


A new ad campaign called "Hungry Skies" will launch in 30 countries and run through the first quarter of 2025. The featured tagline is, "Maybe hungry flyers just need a Snickers." According to a company press release, "The campaign pokes fun at out-of-sorts passengers with spots featuring airborne agitations like in-seat yoga, repeatedly pressing the call button, and even sharing a seat with an emotional support snake."

According to Rankin Carroll, Chief Brand Officer of Mars Snacking, "For nearly 20 years, SNICKERS has been the satisfying solution for moments when hunger has us feeling out-of-sorts. With international tourism expected to grow 15% in 2024 and over 6 million people flying every day, this campaign captures those increasingly and absurdly relatable instances we've all encountered traveling and reminds hungry travelers to grab a SNICKERS, to help them as they navigate the turbulent skies of travel."

What other recent marketing buzz caught your attention? There's always something happening that impacts marketing, so tune in to #DebbieLaskeysBlog for the scoop!

Image Credits: Mattel, Oakland Airport, and Snickers.

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