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.
Let's kick off this edition of The Lowdown with some sweets news. Hershey Co. announced a five-year pact with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The chocolate maker will be an official sponsor of Team USA through 2020, backing U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams through the Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 Games. The partnership includes the Hershey corporate brand and some of its famous product brands, including Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's Kisses and Twizzlers. It will also include some of its newer names: Brookside Dark Chocolate and Krave Premium Jerky.
"Both Hershey and Team USA share a unique, irreplaceable place in the hearts, lives and memories of many Americans; we want our country and athletes to know that Hershey is here to help bring moments of goodness and patriotic pride throughout the games and beyond," Mary-Ann Somers, VP, North American Confection, said in a statement.
Hershey said its sponsorship gives it exclusive sponsorship and promotional rights from the USOC, which it will be able to utilize in areas such as advertising, on packaging and in merchandising.
Meanwhile, at this week's National Association of Convenience Stores show, Hershey rival Mars announced plans that suggest snacking is about to get a little louder. It announced Snickers Crisper, along with goodnessknows snack squares and other products set to hit stores in the coming months.
Snickers Crisper -- crisped rice and peanuts topped with caramel and coated in milk chocolate -- and the M&M's crispy candies launched in January answer "consumers' desire for new textures, which has created a Crispy Crunchy Segment within the chocolate category," Tim LeBel, VP-sales for Mars Chocolate North America, said in a statement.
Also on the sweeter side, Dairy Queen's 75th anniversary marketing push will have a new element starting Oct. 19: a giveaway promotion on Twitter. Also, DQ, with soft serve that's best known as a summertime treat, has decided to do TV advertising year-round rather than focusing on warmer weather months, "so that the brand is constantly top of mind," said Barry Westrum, DQ's executive vice president of marketing. Mr. Westrum says this year's launch of DQ Bakes! -- hot desserts, sandwiches and snack melts -- is the chain's biggest launch ever. It already included the brand's biggest TV push, which showed fans of the new food items and even Lionel Richie.
This year's fan push builds on the "Fan Food, Not Fast Food" effort that began in 2013 with agency of record Barkley. Now, DQ is set to start a social effort featuring random acts of "fandom." Starting Oct. 19, fans can tweet what they're fans of and DQ, in partnership with Diet Coke, might respond. For example, a classic car buff got a restored 1978 Trans Am.
DQ has already doubled its lunchtime traffic in the two and a half years since it launched a $5 meal, and now it is hoping to capture some more afternoon snackers with the wider variety of food. "There's no question that older brands like ourselves have to keep reinventing ourselves with younger consumers," Mr. Westrum said, adding that the DQ Bakes products skew toward millennials and millennial parents. "We're seeing transaction gains across all dayparts."
If all that talk of candy and other desserts makes you thirsty, you might want to know that Dewar's Scotch whisky is the latest brand to give virtual reality marketing a shot. The Bacardi Limited-owned brand this week launched a new campaign that includes a 360-degree video that shows how its newest product, Dewar's Scratched Cask, is made. Brand ambassador Gabriel Cardella takes viewers to Scotland and gives an in-depth look at the process, including showing how barrels are charred and lightly scratched. Dewar's is offering customized virtual reality viewers at select retailers, and will also
ship them directly to consumers. A digital campaign supporting the effort includes YouTube360, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter.
In other beverage news, the U.S. Forest Service faces a new lawsuit from groups that say Nestlé bottling water from the San Bernardino National Forest is illegal. The Story of Stuff Project, the Courage Campaign Institute, and the Center for Biological Diversity sued the forest service, which they say allows Nestlé to bottle millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino National Forest with a permit that expired 27 years ago. The groups want the court to immediately shut down Nestlé's four-mile pipeline that sends water from San Bernardino National Forest's Strawberry Creek to bottling operations in Ontario, Calif., and also want the forest service to conduct a full permitting process including environmental reviews.
"We Californians have dramatically reduced our water use over the past year in the face of an historic drought, but Nestlé has refused to step up and do its part," Michael O'Heaney, executive director of the Story of Stuff Project, said in a statement. "Until the impact of Nestlé's operation is properly reviewed, the Forest Service must turn off the spigot."
Nestlé said it was learning of the lawsuit, which was not served to Nestlé Waters, so it was not in a position to respond. At press time, Ad Age had not yet heard back from the forest service.
Speaking of trees -- well, vines -- Burger King is out to show that it serves fresh produce. In a recent promotion in France, the fast-food chain handed out about 100,000 fresh tomatoes outside its restaurants. And if patrons brought them back, it served them a Whopper Jr.
Richard Davies, chief marketing and insights officer of Newell Rubbermaid, is expanding his domain after a management shakeup at the marketer of such brands as Sharpie, Graco. Goody, and Irwin tools. He's being promoted to chief development officer as of January, succeeding Mark Tarchetti, who's leaving Newell to pursue other interests, the company said. In addition to his current oversight of marketing and market research, Mr. Davies will add oversight of design, and product development.
Simultaneously, Chief Operating Officer Bill Burke is leaving to pursue "leadership opportunities outside the company," Newell said. His duties will be assumed by Joe Arcuri, now president of the Home Solutions Group, early next year. In the new role of chief commercial officer, Mr. Arcuri will oversee sector presidents, sales and e-commerce.
The moves balance out the influence of Procter & Gamble Co. and Unilever alums at Newell. Mr. Davies was a longtime Unilever executive before joining Newell in 2013, and Mr. Arcuri was a longtime P&G executive before joining Newell last year. Both will report to CEO Mike Polk, an alum both of Unilever and P&G.
Another former marketing executive is expanding his duties at Walmart, but not headed back into marketing. Steve Bratspies has been named chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., taking over the merchandising role -- but not the marketing oversight -- that Duncan Mac Naughton had before he left his post as exec VP-merchandising and marketing last November.
Mr. Bratspies worked in marketing at PepsiCo's Frito-Lay in 2005 when he followed fellow Frito alum Stephen Quinn, now CMO of Walmart U.S., to the giant retailer's Arkansas headquarters. He's worked in merchandising posts since 2009.
Adam Tabachnikoff joins The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf as senior VP-global brand strategy. Tabachnikoff is in charge of all areas of global marketing, including new product innovation, merchandising, advertising, local store marketing, web and digital services, loyalty platforms, and internal and external communications, the private coffee chain said. He was most recently VP-marketing activation and product innovation at Church's Chicken. He will report to CEO John Fuller.
Contributing: Jessica Wohl, Jack Neff, E.J. Schultz