The Lowdown is Ad Age's weekly look at news nuggets from across the world of marketing, including trends, campaign tidbits, executive comings and goings and more.
The next "Star Wars" flick is still more than eight weeks away, but the brand hype has begun. Duracell is out with a 60-second ad tied to the Dec. 16 release of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" and a tie in to a charitable sponsorship of Children's Miracle Network. The ad from Anomaly for the battery brand, sold earlier this year by Procter & Gamble Co. to Berkshire Hathaway, shows a small detachment of child space rebels spreading cheer to a girl in a hospital. It backs a program through which Duracell will donate $100,000 and a million batteries for toys at 147 hospitals nationwide. "Star Wars toys are going to be the most iconic and culturally relevant toys of the year, so we are thrilled to be partnering with them," said Duracell Marketing Director Ramon Velutini. After visiting CMN hospitals, he said, "We saw firsthand the importance of imaginative play and the positive impact it can have on children." The campaign will run throughout the holidays across TV and online, with a Children's Miracle Network voiceover. Other marketers planning "Rogue One" integrations include General Mills, Gillette, Nissan and Verizon.
For the second time this year, Axe has featured a winner of "RuPaul's Drag Race," this time featuring Alaska, winner of season 2 of the Logo network series, in an ad that ran during an Oct. 13 airing of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars. Alaska makes an appearance starting at second :14 of a revised 30-second version of the brand's "Find Your Magic" anthem ad from 72andSunny, which originally broke in January and ran on the Super Bowl, as part of what the brand says is its "inclusive take on masculinity." Axe also featured the winner of recently concluded season eight of the series, Christopher Caldwell, a.k.a. Bob the Drag Queen, immediately after his coronation in May.
Tecate's beer wall ad -- which debuted during the first presidential debate -- has an approval rating that would make Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton jealous. The spot, which will air again tonight during coverage of the third and final debate, makes light of Mr. Trump's proposal to build a wall along the Mexican border. Despite the partisan overtones, the ad is playing well across America. It has been viewed 50 million times, including TV and digital, attaining an 86% positive sentiment score, according to Heineken USA. "Everyone got the idea that it is a Mexican brand that brews on the border and they are just going back to their roots," said Heineken USA Chief Marketing Officer Nuno Teles.
More from the beer beat: What happens when a big brewer acquires a craft beer brand? You see more deals like the one MillerCoors just inked with the Atlanta Braves. The brewer this week announced that its newly acquired Terrapin brand will be the flagship craft beer at SunTrust Park, the new Braves stadium opening next year. MillerCoors took a majority interest in Athens, Ga.-based Terrapin Beer Company earlier this year. Craft brands typically don't have the budgets to ink big sports sponsorship deals. But under MillerCoors, Terrapin is going big with the Braves. The deal includes a taproom and microbrewery called Terrapin Taproom that will operate from a mixed use development called The Battery that is adjacent to SunTrust Park.
From beer to pizza: In its first big push as the official pizza partner of the NCAA, Pizza Hut has a job for the ultimate NCAA sports fan. Pizza Hut is scouting for a fan to attend as many Division I NCAA championships as he or she can during the 2016-17 season. The winner, along with all expenses paid, will bring home $50,000 for the mid-November through early July gig. It's "a dream job for a college sports fan," said David Daniels, VP-media and advertising, Pizza Hut.
Of course, March Madness viewing parties are a key time for pizza sales. But the Pizza Hut All-American will also get to some of the more obscure title games, perhaps including fencing and bowling. "These don't get in the limelight very often," Mr. Daniels said.
Pizza Hut has plans to promote itself at roughly 90 NCAA championships this school year, but will not be activating at the national championship for football, given the FBS is managed separately. Still, Pizza Hut can call itself the official pizza of college football as part of its multi-year deal. It is a return of sorts for Pizza Hut, which was the NCAA's official pizza partner during the 1990s. More recently, rival Domino's held that spot from 2011 to 2013.
In other restaurant news, Red Robin, known to many for its bottomless fries, is placing a marketing bet on another side item: the onion ring. The chain's new "Let's Burger" campaign is its first big work under Senior VP-Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Muhtar, who joined at the end of 2015. "'Let's Burger' is a departure from Red Robin's previous advertising approach and is intended to be more inclusive for all targets -- men, moms, millennials and multicultural," Mr. Muhtar said. The campaign includes a satirical spin on burger-related news called The Onion Ring, the chain's first association with The Onion and its Onion Labs division. Deb Maltzman, creative director and copywriter at Red Robin's agency of record, KBS, said the agency and the marketer were trying to do content in a way that stood out from what competition is doing. The Onion Ring microsite includes original content. The campaign is set to run at least through the end of the 2016.
On to a healthier topic: Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is running a new campaign called "Fearless Nation" that tackles overall fitness issues like flossing and getting enough sleep. It includes seven digital videos and is part of the the "Live Fearless" effort the Chicago-based health insurer developed three years ago. "We wanted to create something that takes the idea of being healthy and makes it fun so people would engage with it," said Cynthia Rolfe, VP-marketing and brand at Blue Cross. The organization worked with McGarryBowen on the new push. "We wanted to go beyond the 'take the stairs' messages we've seen a million times," said Mike Wegener, creative director at McGarryBowen, noting that staging real-life stunts allowed the brand to capture "watchable stories that also happen to be educational."
Financial custodian Apex Clearing Corp. is advertising its first work from Finsbury, which the Dallas-based firm began working with over a month ago. The digital, cheeky campaign features a personal ad designed to attract hedge funds who are no longer working with prime brokers like Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan. "Dumped by your mortgage broker?" the ad reads, before listing the assets of Apex's recently launched prime brokerage offering. This is the four-year-old Apex's first time advertising.
Lastly, some hiring news:
In time for toy season, GoldieBlox is ramping up its personnel starting with the hire of Kenny Davis as chief marketing officer. The toymaker promotes STEM skills -- science, technology, engineering and maths -- for girls. Mr. Davis joins the four-year-old toy brand from Hasbro. He plans to use his 20-year knowledge of the industry on new intellectual property products like TV shows, video games and toys. GoldieBlox has also hired Jenna Boyd from Nickelodeon as chief content officer and Jennifer Rahardjanoto from Mattel as creative director. GoldieBlox is planning a new book series with Random House and recently launched a coding app.
Contributing: Jack Neff, Adrianne Pasquarelli, E.J. Schultz, Jessica Wohl