Thursday, April 18, 2024

Marketing News of the Week: Brand Identity, Billboard Ads, and More

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


On April 11th, the Port of Oakland announced that the official name of the Oakland, California, airport has been changed from "The Metropolitan Oakland International Airport" to "San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport." The airport code OAK and the visual brand would not change, however, San Francisco's International Airport (SFO) issued a press release indicating that it had "serious concerns" over the namechange. According to SFO Director Ivar Satero, "SFO has used San Francisco Airport or San Francisco International Airport since 1927, and there is potential for customer confusion resulting from the renaming."

The reason for the namechange, according to the Port of Oakland, was because "Market research and interviews with airline partners have shown that routes have not performed as well as they should have due to the lack of geographic awareness, making all carriers reluctant to sustain and add new routes in Oakland."

However, this may not be a done deal because the San Francisco City Attorney has threatened to sue Oakland for trademark infringement.


Have you ever smelled a billboard? McDonald's has created a scented billboard in the Netherlands. It installed a tray of French Fries into the billboard and then used ventilators to suck and diffuse the scent. The billboard is also placed within 2,000 feet of a McDonald's restaurant so customers can follow the scent. According to the company's chief marketing officer, "Smell has been proven to be more effective at sparking clear and emotional memories than images."


Has a Starbucks barista ever made your drink incorrectly? Is it because the coffee store is too noisy? If you answered yes, then Starbucks leadership hears you. As the company further expands around the globe, new and renovated stores will include baffles on the ceiling that help reduce background noise and reverberations. According to the company, "The baffles, which are a ceiling treatment that helps to absorb sound, will also help baristas at the register and customers who could miss their name being called in a noisy store."


The airline's new baggage fee will now depend on the day of departure or dates that the airline determines to be peak or off-peak. Peak dates will include half of the year including the busy summer travel season as well as the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods, mid-February, and most of April for Spring Break and Easter. According to the airline, "The cost of transporting bags has gone up significantly due to increased wages and higher fuel costs, and we remain unprofitable since Covid."

On a side note, Disneyland theme parks change their pricing due to the date, and airlines charge different rates for passengers based on the date of purchase and/or travel.


Plans are in the works to replace the gas-powered cars at Disneyland's Autopia ride. According to the company, "Since opening the park in 1955, Autopia has remained a guest-favorite most popular with young kids experiencing driving for the first time. As the industry moves toward alternative fuel sources, we have developed a roadmap to electrify this attraction."


On April 4th, the bargain store announced that it would close its 371 stores across the USA. According to KTLA, "The company, which employs around 14,000 people, cited financial challenges it says were brought forth by the pandemic, inflation, and changing consumer shopping habits. The company will liquidate all of its merchandise."


The third oldest hotel on the Las Vegas Strip closed for business after nearly 67 years. The hotel will be demolished starting in October 2024 so that the city can build a new baseball stadium for the Oakland A's Major League Baseball team that will adopt Las Vegas and begin playing there in the spring of 2028.


On a related note, the A's announced that it would move to a new stadium at the end of the current 2024 baseball season while waiting for the new Las Vegas stadium to open. The choices were to remain in Oakland, move to Salt Lake City, or move to Sacramento. While the two choices other than Oakland were not Major League Baseball size stadiums, the attendance figures at the Oakland stadium were so dismally small that the team really had no choice but to leave. For die-hard fans, a trip to Sacramento (and Sutter Health Park) is not impossible.


According to Retail Dive, "Dove has pledged to NOT use artificial intelligence to represent women in its advertising and communications as part of its long-running Real Beauty platform. Dove is looking to differentiate from beauty competitors by committing to not use AI-generated models in lieu of real women in its advertising. The Unilever mainstay believes AI could amplify the Internet's already negative impact on confidence, with nine in 10 women and girls surveyed saying that they have been exposed to harmful beauty content online. The brand is also enlisting the help of celebrity ambassadors including Reba McEntire, Drew Barrymore, Beanie Feldstein, and Marsai Martin to raise awareness."

According to Alessandro Manfredi, Dove's chief marketing officer, "At Dove, we seek a future in which women get to decide and declare what real beauty looks like — not algorithms. As we navigate the opportunities and challenges that come with new and emerging technology, we remain committed to protect, celebrate, and champion Real Beauty. Pledging to never use AI in our communications is just one step. We will not stop until beauty is a source of happiness, not anxiety, for every woman and girl."


For the first time, the room behind the iconic balcony will open to the public because the Palace's East Wing is set to be available to tour this summer during July and August. While tourists will not be able to stand on the balcony itself, they will be able to see the Centre Room, which leads onto the balcony. According to Town and Country, "It was Prince Albert who suggested to architect Edware Blore that a balcony be added when Buckingham Palace's East Wing was created. Queen Victoria then became the first royal to step onto it during the Great Exhibition in 1851, starting the tradition of balcony appearances...Royals have waved from the Palace balcony over the decades for weddings, jubilees, and perhaps, the most memorable, during VE Day in 1945. Balcony appearances have come to be symbolic of the royal family's connection with the public."


Meghan Markle, also known as the Duchess of Sussex, has returned to social media and launched an Instagram account under the name "American Riviera Orchard." The logo features gold font on a beige background and features a crest with the letters "ARO" on top and "Montecito" beneath the script of the name. A website has also been reserved ( The trademark application indicates that the brand could sell cookbooks, fruit preserves, jewelry, fragrances, pet accessories, and more.


Will LA Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani's personal brand be tarnished by the theft of $16 million by his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara? Will the LA Dodgers brand be tarnished? Time will tell.


A study in the journal NATURE wrote that clocks may have to skip a second, called a "negative leap second" in the year 2029, due to a faster spinning Earth. According to ABC News, "For the first time in history, world timekeepers may have to consider subtracting a second from our clocks because the planet is rotating a tad faster than it used to." Every four years, leap year presents marketing opportunities, so think of the marketing opportunities that this situation will present!


According to CNN, "GE once did almost everything for the typical American family – from providing much of the television they watched, to the light bulbs and appliances they depended upon, the electricity needed to power those household staples, even the subprime mortgage that allowed many of them to buy their homes. No longer. With Tuesday's split into two companies (on April 2nd), the break up of the once mighty industrial icon is complete. The company was founded by Thomas Edison in 1892 and built into the world’s largest and most valuable company by the once legendary, but now oft-criticized CEO Jack Welch...In November 2021, GE announced plans to split into three separate companies – GE Healthcare, which was spun-off last year, GE Aerospace, which builds jet engines, and GE Vernova, which is comprised of its energy generation business."


Eight decades after their wartime efforts, real-life Rosie the Riveters received the nation's highest civilian honor from Congress - the Congressional Gold Medal. 27 Rosies traveled from across the nation to attend the ceremony on April 10th. Nearly 30 women in their 90's and up to 106 traveled to DC to receive the honor.

Many Rosies consider their World War II work not only a contribution to the war effort, but an experience of growing their confidence and independence.

While Rosie the Riveter has not been given federal holiday status, Congress has passed resolutions in recent years designating March 21st as national Rosie the Riveter Day.


Track and field gold medalists in this summer's Paris Olympics will receive $50,000 in prize money from the sport's governing body, marking the first time that an international federation has paid athletes for Olympic success. According to The Athletic, "World Athletics, the international governing body overseeing track and field, said on April 10th, that a $2.4 million pot will be distributed across the 48 track and field events, with the money coming from the International Olympic Committee's revenue share allocation. Individual winners will receive the full $50,000 while top relay teams will split the prize money among members. World Athletics plans to expand the prize pool to include Olympic silver and bronze medalists at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles...Many countries, including the United States, pay Olympic medalists. At the Tokyo Games, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee gave gold medalists $37,500, silver medalists $22,500 and bronze medalists $15,000. Seven of Team USA’s 39 golds in 2020 came from track and field events."

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said, "While it is impossible to put a marketable value on winning an Olympic medal, or on the commitment and focus it takes to even represent your country at an Olympic Games, I think it is important we start somewhere and make sure some of the revenues generated by our athletes at the Olympic Games are directly returned to those who make the Games the global spectacle that it is."


On April 10th, O.J. Simpson died of cancer. While he was a football star who made a fortune in movies, television, and advertising, he will forever be remembered from the Trial of the Century. He was acquitted of killing his former wife and her friend in a 1995 trial that mesmerized the nation. In 1997, a civil case by the victims' families found him liable for the death of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages. He paid little of the debt and moved to Florida. However, in 2007, he was arrested in Las Vegas when he and other men entered a hotel room and took sports memorabilia that he claimed had been stolen from him. After a trial, a jury found him guilty of 12 charges including armed robbery and kidnapping, and he was sentenced to 9-to-33 years in Nevada state prison. He served nine years and was released in 2017.


Have you been watching NBC stations? If yes, have you noticed the NBC peacock logo combined with the Olympic rings? NBC wants to make sure all viewers are looking forward to the Games of 33rd Olympiad or Paris 2024 - and know where to watch it.


And, last but not least, did you see the eclipse on April 7th? Some brands made news with their promotions including Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Vermont Teddy Bear, Doritos, and the Empire State Building.

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: Empire State Building and Vermont Teddy Bear.

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