Friday, May 31, 2024

Marketing News of the Month: Apes, Sam Ash, Red Lobster and More

During the month of May, there were many news stories that reflected advertising, brand identity, brand names, product launches, line extensions, product pricing, personal branding, sponsorships, and more.


The expensive jewelry brand made a mistake and listed gold-and-diamond earrings for 237 pesos ($14 USD) instead of the correct price of 237,000 pesos ($14,000 USD). A doctor in Mexico, who was doing his medical residency, ordered two sets. After months of back and forth between the customer and the company, the customer received the earrings for the advertised price. According to Jesus Montano, the spokesperson for Mexico's Consumer Protection Agency known as Profeco, "Companies have to respect the published price. If there's a mistake, it's not the consumer's fault." The customer gave one set of the earrings to his mother.


56 years after actor Charlton Heston appeared in the first Planet of the Apes film, the latest installment arrived with a refreshed story. With "apes" riding horses at the film's premier in Los Angeles on May 2nd, this latest story is full of everything that fans expect from the franchise: angry leaders, friendship, visual effects, and more. According to Wikipedia, "In June 2022, it was reported that Disney and 20th Century planned for Kingdom to be the first of a new trilogy of Planet of the Apes films. Director Wes Ball confirmed this in December 2023, explaining that the film had been conceived as the beginning of a trilogy that fit into the legacy of the previous three films."


The 100-year-old family-owned musical instrument retailer filed for bankruptcy and will close all of its 42 stores in the United States. The Covid pandemic accelerated a long-term shift toward online shopping for musical instruments. According to a message on the store's website, "It is with a heavy heart that we announce that effective May 2nd, all Sam Ash Music Store locations will begin store closing sales. This unfortunate news also presents a fantastic opportunity for great deals across our premium selection of musical instruments and pro sound equipment. We will also be offering specials on during this time. Thank you for allowing us to serve musicians like you for 100 years."


In February 2025, the Boy Scouts of America will officially become Scouting America. The new name displays a clear emphasis on inclusion. How will this name change impact the world of scouting for boys and girls? Only time will tell.


Beginning May 21st, McDonald's released its newest McFlurry flavor for a limited time, the Grandma McFlurry, a sweet treat that mixes syrup, vanilla ice cream, and crunchy candy pieces. According to McDonald's, it's "like grandma's favorite treat that she hid in her purse. Grandmas have always held a special place in our hearts, and today, they're having a major moment influencing culture - inspiring trends in fashion, decor, and now, even food with our newest McFlurry." 


Flying has gone to the dogs, at least on Bark Air. According to NPR, "Flying with your dog in first class may sound like a far-fetched dream for many pet lovers. But a new boutique airline aims to make the "white paw experience" a reality. BARK Air describes itself as the world's first air travel experience designed specifically for dogs first, and their human companions second. BARK Air has taken the white glove experience typical of a human's first-class experience and redirected all that pampering to pooches – from booking to arrival, to in-flight services and disembarkation, dogs will truly be the VIPs and treated to a positively luxurious, curated experience."


During May, the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the 40,000 threshold for the first time. According to CNN, "The Dow Jones Industrial Average is, at best, an imperfect barometer of stock market activity among a narrow band of very large US companies. It's clunky, and too limited in scope for any Wall Street pros to pay serious attention to it. Nevertheless, the Dow persists...There's nothing magical about the Dow. It's just an index that tracks the stock market activity of 30 large US companies from Amazon to McDonald's to the Walt Disney Company. But it is very old, and that's partly why it sticks around."


Red Lobster has filed for bankruptcy. According to CNN, "Endless crab and endless shrimp deals alone didn't doom Red Lobster — they were just two missteps in a long spiral for a chain that was once an industry pioneer." In a message to the restaurant's guests, "You may be aware that Red Lobster filed for Chapter 11 protection. For more than five decades, Red Lobster has been a part of your family's life...And that's why we filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy does not mean that we are going out of business. If fact, it means just the opposite. It is a legal process that allows us to make changes to our business and our cost structure so that Red Lobster can continue as a stronger company going forward...Together, we have a lot worth rooting for. We've made delicious, high-quality seafood accessible for generations. Many of you tried lobster for the first time at our restaurant. We've brought you Lobsterfest and Crabfest over the years. And, of course, no meal is complete without Cheddar Bay Biscuits. We are here and ready to continue making memories with you. Join us. Dine with us. Root for us. Together, we can write a new chapter."


Williams-Sonoma has been ordered to pay almost $3.2 million (USD) for violating the Federal Trade Commission's "Made in USA" order. According to the FTC, "Home products and kitchen wares company Williams-Sonoma, Inc. has agreed to stop making false, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims that all of its Goldtouch Bakeware products, its Rejuvenation-branded products, and Pottery Barn Teen and Pottery Barn Kids-branded upholstered furniture products are all or virtually all made in the United States." According to Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, "Many of us want to buy products that are made in the USA, and we trust companies like Williams-Sonoma to tell us the truth. When a company falls short, we will hold it accountable."


Melinda Gates announced her resignation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, officially ending one of the world's leading philanthropic partnerships, which she co-founded in 2000 with her ex-husband, Bill Gates. Melinda Gates said that she plans to continue her philanthropic work independently and will focus on issues affecting women and girls in the United States and around the world.


ESPN reported this news: "The most prolific scorer in NCAA Division I history and the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft will continue her association with Nike by signing a $28 million contract that spans eight years and includes a signature shoe. Clark's initial name, image and likeness deal, signed in 2022, expired at the end of the 2023-24 college season. The new deal is the richest sponsorship contract for a women's basketball player."


On June 1st, the citizens of Mexico will go to the polls to elect a new president. According to The Hill, "The race's front-runner is former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum. She faces a pair of rivals: Xóchitl Gálvez from the conservative National Action Party and Jorge Máynez from the minor Citizens’ Movement. Either Sheinbaum or Gálvez would be the country’s first female president, and Sheinbaum its first Jewish head of state...In addition, all 628 seats in Mexico's Senate and Chamber of Deputies will be up for election, adding weight to the election's importance. About 100 million people are expected to go to the polls nationwide."


Taylor Swift fans have caused a spike in summer air travel to Europe. With costs of her concerts cheaper in European cities, many American fans have decided that the costs for airfare, hotels, and food are less expensive than the ticket costs for her American concerts.


Uber announced that it will now let customers book a shuttle to the airport, which is much different than a local trip around town.


Netflix is rebuilding the cable bundle but without news, since it is too polarizing. And in addition, Netflix announced that it will air NFL games on Christmas Day in a major expansion into live sports.

And in case you missed this news from late-April:


On April 25th, the city became the first city in the world to charge an entry fee for day-trippers. Anyone visiting Venice as a tourist for the day - except those who live in the local region - must pay the five Euro fee ($5.40 USD) if they arrive between 8am and 4pm. Tourists who stay overnight will not have to pay since an overnight tax is already added to their hotel bills. According to Ruggero Tallon, a protestor, "We have 49,000 inhabitants, and there are more beds for tourists than residents." And according to Elena Gastaldell, president of Aric (the Italian recreational and cultural association), "The ticket will not impose limits on tourist access to Venice as no maximum number of visitors has been established, but it will further transform the city into an amusement park."

On a related note, the Swiss city of Lauterbrunnen is home to less than 800 residents and, as a result of being overwhelmed by tourists, is considering charging visitors for entry.

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: Twentieth Century Studios, Sam Ash, Bark Air, and Red Lobster.

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