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Marketers Brief: Colbert Pans Johnnie Walker's 'Jane Walker' Gender Play

Published on .

Welcome to the latest edition of Marketer's Brief, a quick take on marketing news, moves and trends from Ad Age's reporters and editors. Send tips/suggestions to eschultz@adage.com.

Kraft Heinz has a new breakfast item for lazy people (egg not included), Heineken re-ups with Major League Soccer and Walmart has introduced a new e-commerce play, for bedding. But first we check in on the reaction to a pro-female whisky marketing move that's turning heads this week.

'Taste buds have no gender'

Johnnie Walker is getting plenty of attention for its new female-friendly Jane Walker version, but not all of it is positive. Stephen Colbert poked fun at the special-edition offering last night, saying, "Female drinkers everywhere will say, 'Finally, a brand that is condescending to me.'"

Meanwhile, Elle noted that "in this post-Lady Doritos world, the move was unsurprisingly met with backlash on social media." Below, an example.

Johnnie Walker-owner Diageo is putting its money where its mouth is, with plans to donate $1 for every bottle of the Jane Walker edition to pro-women's causes up to a total of $250,000. Johnnie Walker VP Stephanie Jacoby explained to Elle that "this wasn't about making a whisky for women. We would never make anything that's 'for women's palates.' Taste buds have no gender." (The liquid inside is the regular Black Label blend.)

Rather, Johnnie Walker, in a press release, positioned the move as a symbol of the brand's "commitment to progress." It pointed out that "nearly 50 percent of the brand's 12 expert blenders are women, with female leadership across marketing and C-Level executives." Earlier this week, Diageo joined the "Free the Bid" movement in support of women ad directors.

Breakfast in a cup, anyone?

Kraft Heinz hopes shoppers will pay for a cup of convenience with Just Crack an Egg, a new brand of microwavable cups that feature its Ore-Ida potatoes, meat and cheese. As the name suggests, diners, that's right, just crack an egg into the cup, then stir and microwave to get breakfast. It's a somewhat similar approach to Tyson Foods' Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles, which came out last year and feature eggs, meat and cheese. Kraft hopes the freshness cue of adding one's own egg adds to the "eggsperience" (our wording). Just Crack an Egg features the Ore-Ida logo. Oscar Mayer meats and Kraft natural cheese shreds, two legacy Kraft brands, are included along with diced veggies but not mentioned by brand names. Kraft eggspects (sorry) to help lift the egg category, and its marketing includes 30- and 15-second spots from Taxi.

Rosé is in the bullseye

Yes Way Rosé is introducing its signature rosé, available at Target.
Yes Way Rosé is introducing its signature rosé, available at Target. Credit: Target

Is it rosé season already? It is at Target. The retailer just announced it will begin selling wine from Yes Way Rosé, which started as a lifestyle site five years ago and has grown to sell its own pink concoction, complete with what it says are notes of strawberry, peach and citrus. The beverage will be available at Target stores nationwide for $12.99 as of March 4.

Alexa, order me the best mass-marketed mascara

L'Oreal CEO Jean-Paul Agon seemed to hint at a surprise in a speech at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York last week. Bragging on the power of his company's "hero products," Agon said someone who told Amazon's digital assistant: "Alexa, order me the best mascara" would find a Lancome product in the cart. But L'Oreal, like other beauty players, tries to keep prestige brands like Lancome off Amazon. Asked later by an analyst whether he was signaling a policy change, Agon said: "Not yet. Not now. Probably Alexa will say L'Oreal Paris mascara." Sure enough, we tested it out and got L'Oreal Paris Original Voluminous Mascara in carbon black.

The king is dead, at least at Walmart

Walmart.com has launched its first digital-only bedding brand called Allswell as part of a broader effort to take its housewares upscale, and compete with tonier rivals and the bed-in-a-box crowd. It's taking gender equity in bedding to new levels: Allswell, from a female-led company of the same name, has done away with the "king mattress" in its product assortment in favor of the "Supreme Queen" priced at $1,035.

Would you buy this?

House Wine Rainbow Rosé Bubbles cans
House Wine Rainbow Rosé Bubbles cans Credit: House Wine

More rosé news: House Wine in May will begin selling limited-edition Rainbow Rosé Bubbles in cans, and make a $2 donation per case sold to the Human Rights Campaign.

Number of the Week

1 million pints: The amount of beer Heineken says has sold at Major League Soccer games per year since its MLS sponsorship began in 2014.

Tweet of Week

Moves

Ashley Zickefoose is joining Chuck E. Cheese's as chief marketing and concept officer, with responsibility for brand strategy, advertising, digital, innovation and the in-restaurant consumer experience. She joins March 5, and was most recently CMO of On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina. Michael Hartman had been the pizza and children's entertainment chain's CMO until late 2017.

Contributing: Jessica Wohl, Jack Neff, E.J. Schultz, Adrianne Pasquarelli

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