Below you will find this week’s Sunday Musings, the top stories in branding and digital marketing that caught our eye. I have to say that this is one of those weeks where branding and dry humor met face to face multiple times. Hopefully you enjoy the ride!
#1 – “The Twinkie Returns, With Less Baggage” – via WSJ.com
Premise: Hostess products will be returning to the store this coming week, including Twinkies and CupCakes. The new company will look much different than it has in the past. While there are less brands under the Hostess umbrella – some brands were sold to other companies – there is a clear shift in structure and strategy. Hostess once employed 19,000 professionals. That number is now 1,800. They will also be spending money on innovation and marketing, something that the old Hostess company did very little of.
Thoughts: After parent company Hostess went bankrupt in November of 2012, we now have the resurgence of Twinkies (and other iconic brands) coming to your store shelf! If you get a chance, watch the video on the second tab on the link, there is an interesting four minute clip there that covers off on much of the write-up. It will be intriguing to see how the branding and marketing efforts are deployed. The new tagline being used is “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever”. That certainly is pretty loaded, but could also lead to some entertaining advertising.
#2 – “Vine adds new channels, capture tools and revining” – via AndroidCentral.com
Premise: Vine continues to quickly evolve, with the Android version receiving another update this week. The added features include front-facing camera support and a viewfinder grid. You will now also have the ability to revine (i.e. retweet) another person’s video to share with your own followers. There are also more channels to browse and submit your videos to.
Thoughts: All of the updates listed above help the user experience. However, the one that caught my attention the most is the new widget that the app has made available. This allows you to go right into record mode from your phone or tablet, vs. having to load up the app and wait for the recorder to sync.
Have you caved yet and tried Vine (or Instagram video)? What do you think so far?
#3 – “Zynga’s real-money gambling said to be coming to Facebook” – via cNet.com
Premise: Zynga, the struggling online gaming company/community is looking to boost its bottom line by launching games with real-money gambling. The first country that this is likely to hit is the UK, with Zynga also continuing to push for acceptance in the US. Based on this story, the forthcoming ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino games will be hitting Facebook in the UK and will be available on desktops first, and then mobile devices.
Thoughts: There are a few bits of information here that are of interest. First, I’ve noticed the PlusPoker and PlusCasino links on the Zynga.com homepage. However, they bring you to a “Learn More” page for the time being (unless you are in the UK). I imagine this is purposefully done in order to start building awareness of the (potentially) forthcoming games. Second, it seems as if Zynga will now partner with Facebook to bring these games to a broader audience. It has been reported in the past that the two companies were looking to separate themselves, but this initiative would obviously pull them back together a bit.
#4 – “Thirsty for the Hoff? He’s Back, and Singing About Iced Coffee, for Cumberland Farms” – via AdWeek.com
Premise: David Hasselhoff is back making another breathtaking online video/commercial. Cumberland Farms, a convenience store chain here on the East Coast, has partnered with the Hoff to make another video that mimics many of his old antics from prior winning videos.
Thoughts: Here is a quick lesson – any time David Hasselhoff is in the news and makes an ad or video, you will likely find it here shortly thereafter. The Hoff has done a great job of branding himself over and over from his acting career, singing career (?), and debacle on a bathroom floor with a cheeseburger. Yet, the Hoff always comes out on top. In fact, here is my gift to you:
From Cumberland Farms’ perspective, what do you have to lose here? They are well behind other convenience stores in this area (Wawa, Quick Chek, etc.). You never know when something like this will create a little extra buzz for you and drive some foot traffic your way.
#5 – “Brutally Honest Branding: Newcastle Brown Ale (Brand Case Study)” – via ContentEqualsMoney.com
Premise: Newcastle has become the fastest growing brand on Facebook, a 1,114% increase in Likes due to a partnership with Droga5, their new creative agency. At the same time, sales for Newcastle Brown Ale have increased 9%. The new branding efforts for the brand have taken a straightforward communication approach and thrown in some very dry humor. The beer brand has really taken off since launching their “No Bollocks” campaign, with a large focused effort on their Facebook and YouTube pages.
Thoughts: Newcastle Brown Ale seemingly came back from the dead and out of nowhere with this new marketing approach. The one-liners that they post are filled with dry humor. While there are a handful that I really like, I think my favorite is in regards to their online videos, where they say “The more you watch these videos the less we need to pay to run them on TV”. That’s awesome. Kudos to the Newcastle team for having the gusto to go with this type of program and the agency for its success. With increased sales approaching double digit percentages, it is hard to argue against the results.
Those are the top stories this week in branding and digital marketing. What caught your eye this week?