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.
Oscar Mayer is holding a charity auction only the brand could pull off. The winning bidder gets the chance to stay in a "Wienie-Bago" RV attached to the Wienermobile. The specialized vehicles will be parked in a hotel parking lot in San Francisco for Super Bowl 50. The auction, which does not include tickets to the game, began Tuesday on eBay and the proceeds will go to Stop Hunger Now. The Kraft Heinz brand says there's enough room to sleep four, plus a small kitchen area stocked with Oscar Mayer products. We're guessing there will also be plenty of ketchup, courtesy of sibling brand Heinz, which is advertising during the game. As of this morning there were 14 bids, and the current bid is $1,178. But because Kraft-Heinz is not an official NFL sponsor, the program is noticeably devoid of NFL branding, with the eBay site only referring to a "Big Game in SF, Feb. 6-8." The RV is located 10 miles from the stadium, but the winning bidder will have use of the Wienermobile to cruise around town. The program is the brainchild of Oscar Mayer PR agency Olson
Of course, hotel rooms are costly and could be hard to come by. Those looking for other lodging for the Super Bowl should expect to pay at least twice the regular rate for hotel rooms in the San Francisco Bay area, according to data from travel technology company Switchfly. In the face of increased demand, NFL sponsor Marriott recently held a sweepstakes to give fans the chance to stay overnight inside the stadium. The winner of the "suite stadium" contest is Alaska resident Kristen Williams, who will host three guests in a stadium suite-turned-Courtyard-hotel room on the eve of the game for what Marriott is calling "a slumber party for the ages."
Here is some rare good news for the magazine industry: Readership actually increased in the past year among new-vehicle drivers, according to J.D. Power's 2016 U.S. Automotive Media and Marketing Report. New-vehicle drivers read an average of 7.9 magazines, up from 7.6 in the 2015 study. When it comes to TV, new-vehicle drivers most frequently watch news programming (46%), followed by sports (42%) and situational comedies (33%), according to the report, which is based on a nationwide survey of 27,308 principal drivers of recently purchased or leased new vehicles. The favorite regularly scheduled TV shows among new-vehicle drivers are "The Walking Dead," "NCIS," "The Voice" and "The Big Bang Theory."
Speaking of magazines, Meredith Corp. is bringing its EatingWell brand to frozen foods in the magazine's first licensing partnership, a pact with Bellisio Foods Inc. Single-serve entrees will be available in supermarkets beginning in the fall and the line may eventually include multi-serve meals, appetizers, sides, snacks, breakfast, dessert and breads, the publisher said. The foods are meant to meet the EatingWell brand's health parameters.
The magazine's editors will taste test the meals as part of the multi-year licensing partnership. "This agreement demonstrates the depth and appeal of our media brands, and, in particular, EatingWell's strong following in the rapidly growing healthy eating marketplace," Tom Witschi, president, Meredith Women's Lifestyle Group, said in a statement. Meredith Licensing also said it is launching Shape Active, an activewear collection for women, and that magazine title's first licensing agreement. It is the is the first licensing program for the Shape brand, which Meredith acquired in January 2015.
In case you missed it, Friday was national hot sauce day. To celebrate, GE and Thrillist announced a collaboration with High River Sauces on what could be one of the hottest hot sauces. The sauce, set for a spring release, is made with one of the hottest peppers on earth, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. And it will come in advanced packaging cooked up in GE's Global Research Centers' materials science labs. For GE, the sauce helps demonstrate the "Science of Hot" work its scientists do with materials that can withstand temperatures of nearly 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Thrillist.com will sell the limited run of 1,000 bottles.
Meanwhile, Burger King announced the latest version of its chicken fries Wednesday with the announcement of Jalapeño Chicken Fries, which will be a limited-time item priced at $2.89 for nine pieces. To cool things off, it also brought out two limited-time shakes with ties to other major brands: a Dr Pepper shake and an Oreo Irish Mint shake.
In response to all of the fast-food discounts these days, Steak 'n Shake is taking a different money-related promotional approach: a year-long price freeze. "Steak 'n Shake has an extremely strong value proposition that resonates with customers," Chairman and CEO Sardar Biglari said in a statement. Prices will be frozen at more than 500 U.S. restaurants. The company still plans on running its own promotions, such as its weekday half-price happier hours from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., Kids Eat Free on the weekend, and $3.99 All You Can Eat Pancakes at breakfast time.
In agency news, Zimmerman Advertising announced it is now agency of record for the Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill restaurant chain. Omnicom Group's Zimmerman said it will lead the casual dining chain's creative services, strategy, media planning & buying in traditional and digital, social media activation and production. The appointment comes after Zimmerman lost another casual dining client, Logan's Roadhouse, when Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners was appointed by that brand in the fall. And Northlich said it was selected as the agency of record for Frisch's Big Boy. Along with creative and strategic work, Northlich said it will also handle the restaurant chain's social media and PR.
What could be better than cats and dogs to attract interest and inspire love for brands? Maybe rescue cats and dogs. They're taking center stage in a couple of new household-products campaigns. Clorox Co.'s Fresh Step with Febreze rolled out a virtual-reality film at its Catdance Film Festival near the Sundance one for humans in Park City, Utah, to show what adoption looks like from the rescue cat's point of view. For its part, Bissell is employing 10 rescue puppies making a mess in a white room as part of its advertising in Animal Planet's Feb. 7 Puppy Bowl, previewed at PetHappens.com. Bissell products will, of course, clean up after the puppies are exhausted and take a nap.
For decades, Walmart has been blamed for putting small grocers out of business. Now, by closing stores, it's credited for keeping one open. The Cash Saver store in Winters, Tex., was set to close Jan. 15 when Walmart announced the day before it will close 269 stores nationwide, including a small Walmart Express store in the town. That led the Cash Saver to decide to stay open at the last minute. The Walmart stores, including the one in Winters, are set to close by Jan. 28.
Ford is trying to generate some buzz for its all-new F-Series Super Duty pickup by putting them through some "torture testing" in a series of videos. The series, called "We Own Work," will show how a select group of truck customers was given an inside look at how the truck was developed and tested.
Finally, in this week's executive news …
MillerCoors has promoted Ashley Selman to VP-Marketing for emerging and economy brands, which includes the Redd's brand as well as economy brands like Miller High Life and Keystone. Ms. Selman was recently senior marketing director at Tenth and Blake, which is the craft and import division at MillerCoors. The brewer has not yet named her replacement at Tenth and Blake.
Linda Lee, who has held marketing and management roles at snack and candy company Mondelez International, has left the company to join Ipsos InnoQuest as president of global solutions. Ipsos InnoQuest consults with clients on innovation, providing forecasting models and real-time simulators. Said Ms. Lee: "I am excited to have the opportunity to create new state-of-the-art innovation solutions at Ipsos that will address the client needs of tomorrow during this time of exponential change in all industries."
Contributing: Jessica Wohl, Jack Neff, E.J. Schultz