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.
Wearable technology is hot. So are canines, relatively, with dog food sales up a well-better-than-CPG-average of 4.6% last year to nearly $20 billion, per Euromonitor. So why not combine the two? Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s Hill's Science Diet is entering the "wearables space" through an alliance with tech firm AGL. They have a wearable sensor for dogs that's "sophisticated enough to distinguish the acts of scratching and shaking from running," said Colgate Senior VP-Investor Relations Bina Thompson in an earnings call earlier this month. Can your smartwatch do that? The product is meant for dogs who need veterinary monitoring for dermatological conditions, arthritis or obesity.
More from the well-pushed envelope of CPG technology comes from Church & Dwight Co.'s First Response. Remember when you had to look at the stick you'd just peed on to find out if you were pregnant? No more. Now, you can just look at your smartphone. To be clear here, and avoid damaging your phone and voiding the warranty, you still need the stick. But the Bluetooth pregnancy kit will send the result to an app on your phone. The app will also provide lots of useful pregnancy information and advice for the months ahead, said Church & Dwight CEO Matthew Farrell in an investor presentation earlier this month. We see no sign that the app syncs with social-media accounts, but there's always 2.0 for that.
Big food is old food, and for some companies that's cause for celebration in 2016. This year marks major milestones for two of the packaged-food companies that presented at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference on Tuesday. The companies are taking different approaches to their party planning. General Mills is celebrating its 150th anniversary publicly, including adding the number to the image on its Twitter handle and sharing highlights from its archives.
Hormel Foods, however, doesn't have any big plans to celebrate its 125th year with consumers. Internally, it has been marking the moment. For example, it reunited CEO Jeff Ettinger with the two men who preceded him in the role. A brief video shared at CAGNY showed the three men sitting down and discussing the company's history and future. For now, at least, the company has no plans to share those moments with the broader public. "We're not going to run an advertising campaign around that aspect by itself. But clearly, where it can be advantaged in the communities where we work and with our team, it's certainly an important milestone," Mr. Ettinger told Ad Age. Tyson Foods, which has another 19 years to go until it reaches the century mark, isn't waiting to celebrate. After absorbing Hillshire Brands, the company is preparing a new heritage campaign. Tyson will air a commercial that starts with black-and-white photos from its history, and progresses to the current day. The tagline: "Keep it real. Keep it Tyson."
On Wednesday, another longtime big food company, Campbell Soup Co., aimed to show how it has moved well beyond its iconic soup. After a series of acquisitions and other new product introductions, soup accounted for 34% of sales in 2015, down from 40% in 2011. "Listen, if you apply the Andy Warhol filter to our company, if you view us strictly through the lens of the iconic can, then you're completely missing the big picture," CEO Denise Morrison said.
Chrysler picked President's Day to launch a new campaign called "Premium to the People" starring a couple of fictional presidents. Appearing in new ads are Martin Sheen, who played President Josiah Bartlett in the TV series "The West Wing," and Bill Pullman, who portrayed President Thomas J. Whitmore in the "Independence Day" movie. The actors play former presidents in the ads for the Chrysler 200 and Chrysler 300. In one spot, called "Swerve," the two men discuss how primary season means it's time to "pander to all the nuts on the political fringe." The campaign is by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland. The shop's New York office is behind another election-themed campaign for Bud Light, which launched during the Super Bowl. Mr. Pullman's appearance in the Chrysler campaign comes in advance of the June 24 release of "Independence Day: Resurgence."
Diageo has marketed Red Stripe as a "Jamaican lager-style" beer even though the brew has been made in the U.S. for the past few years -- at least the version sold to U.S. consumers. But Heineken, which takes control of Red Stripe starting on March 1, is planning for the repatriation of Red Stripe back to the island nation. "Heineken is the leader in upscale beer and cider because our products are rooted in traditions that translate to exceptional taste," Ronald den Elzen, President-CEO of Heineken USA said in a statement. "We love the Jamaican culture and want to reinvigorate the brand and the iconic stubby bottle by bringing the production of Red Stripe back to Jamaica where it came to life nearly 90 years ago."
Heineken in October announced an acquisition of Diageo's 57.87% stake in Desnoes & Geddes Limited, the Jamaican maker of the Red Stripe and Dragon brands. Diageo in 2011 said it was moving Red Stripe production to the states in order to "enable greater investment in the brand in the U.S." But the move provided an opening for a San Diego law firm, which in August filed a suit in federal court against Diageo alleging deceptive practices. Anheuser-Busch InBev recently settled a similar lawsuit involving Beck's beer in which plaintiffs alleged the brewer falsely marketed the U.S.-made beer as a German import.
Finally, Monster Energy has inked another sports marketing deal. The energy drink brand -- which has long been associated with extreme sports like Supercross and BMX -- is adding arm wrestling to its repertoire. The World Armwrestling League today announced that it was forming an alliance with Monster that includes the title sponsorship "for the complete WAL series, from local qualifying events throughout North America, seven countries across Europe and on to the championships aired in primetime on ESPN2." The deal was brokered by New York City-based sports agency Equity Sports Partners.
Contributing: E.J. Schultz, Jack Neff, Jessica Wohl
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