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.
Time flies: "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" came out only 14 years ago, and already the happy family has a daughter ready to go down the aisle for a sequel. The involvement of SCJohnson's Windex with the franchise has grown up a lot too. When Nia Vardalos wrote the first "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" she incorporated Windex as a personal-care cure-all for her movie-father Gus, drawing on real-life experience. When SCJohnson learned about the sequel, it put some planning behind an integration this time. Working with EnergyBBDO and others, it launched an integrated effort behind the sequel that includes TV, in-store, experiential and social programs, incorporating the sponsored hashtag #PutSomeWindexOnIt across all of its digital ads and properties as well. The effort has included a discounted movie-ticket promotion, promoted BuzzFeed content, a media junket with Ms. Vardalos and sponsorship of the "blue carpet" premiere for the film earlier this month in New York. "We've seen a lot of great traction," a spokeswoman said.
Starbucks had an extra bit of PR work to handle ahead of its annual meeting Wednesday when an anonymous group issued a seemingly real press release saying the March 23 event was being postponed. An email with the subject line "ALERT: Today's Starbucks shareholder meeting rescheduled due to 'business needs'" was sent to reporters hours before the meeting's start time from SBUXshareholder.com, not Starbucks itself (SBUX is the company's ticker symbol). The site www.SBUXshareholder.com shows a variety of missives against Starbucks that are largely focused on difficulty in scheduling. For example, one line reads: "With partners' schedules as with our beans, turning varied needs into a consistent outcome for the Starbucks corporations -- that's the magic of Starbucks." It was not immediately clear who had created the site or distributed the email, which was made to resemble a press release issued by distribution service Business Wire. Starbucks, however, quickly took to Twitter and posted updates on its own site to show that the meeting was going on as scheduled. To see what Starbucks actually discussed at the meeting, click here.
Starbucks 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders IS ON today. See you at McCaw Hall at 10:00 a.m. PT— Starbucks News (@Starbucksnews) March 23, 2016
Hello Products is putting its first major marketing push behind a major expansion of its toothpaste into kids' products in 18,000 stores, including Walmart, Kroger Co., Target and Rite Aid outlets. Two 15-second spots from agency Erwin Penland show parents' struggles to get kids to brush, overcome by toothpastes in bubblegum and blue raspberry flavors. Craig Dubitsky, the Hello founder and CEO, who has also been involved with the growth of the Method and Eos brands in years past, said the reason for going the TV route is simple, drawing on advice of a college professor: "When you have a winner, you want everyone to know about it." One retailer that's already been selling the product said after 19 weeks the kids' toothpastes had the highest repeat rate of any similar products in the category, even before the ads launched.
Here's a sure sign of spring, and that Facebook is changing the way marketers create ads. This new video from Clorox Co.'s Kingsford, designed for Facebook, has no dialog and pretty much checks all the boxes it needs to in terms of plot during the first three seconds thanks to a prominent branding element and rapidly melting snow. The whole idea is in keeping with the idea of silent movies becoming the future, or at least a future, of advertising. Folks who want to stick around and turn on the sound will get to see and hear steak sizzling. DDB San Francisco is the agency.
A spectre is haunting the bedding industry: The spectre of Casper, the bed-in-a-box startup that's shaking things up like so many other startups shaking up so many other industries. Now one of the incumbents, Tempur Sealy, has its own manifesto, a new digital campaign dubbed "My Happy Place,"" around the idea that "the bedroom is a manifestation of identity and style. It's also a place where you can have a mattress delivered in a box for prices ranging from $549 (twin) to $999 (king), shipping included."
Anheuser-Busch InBev is bringing another Mexican import to the states. The brewer will market Estrella Jalisco in New York, Illinois and several western states. The light-flavored pilsner from Guadalajara, Jalisco will be supported by a Spanish-language campaign called "This is Mexicanidad" that aims to "bring Mexican traditions to life by celebrating the customs of the Jalisco region," according to the brewer. The agency is JWT Mexico. Mexican imports are a new priority for A-B InBev, which in 2014 began importing another brew from south of the border called Montejo. The beer "didn't set the world on fire in its first full year," Beer Marketer's Insights noted in a report this week, although it stated that volume is still growing at a "solid 8% this year through February."
MillerCoors is out with a new campaign for Leinenkugel's that plugs the brew as a "German-style beer, crafted with the spirit of Wisconsin." One of the spots shows friends sitting around a campfire belting out a pretty unique cover of Boston's "More Than a Feeling." The campaign marks the debut work for the brand by Venables Bell & Partners, which won Leine's late last year. The new ads spell the end of the "Join Us Out Here" tagline.
One final beer note: Yuengling this week launched what it says is its largest marketing initiative in its nearly two century history. The campaign, called "Respect. It's Earned," is by Philadelphia and Boston-based agency Allen & Gerritsen and "celebrates the craftsmanship, tradition and perseverance of the family-owned and operated company," according to a statement. Ads will run in the 18 states where the brand is sold, including TV, print and digital. Yuengling will nearly double its media spend behind the campaign, the brand stated.
McDonald's is bringing its Monopoly promotion back to the U.S. after a one-year hiatus. The game is set to begin on March 29, much earlier than in 2014, when the contest kicked off on Sept. 30.
General Mills, Mars and ConAgra Foods are among the food companies proclaiming in recent days that they will call genetically modified organisms out on U.S. food labels, even as they argue GMOs are safe. The moves may seem proactive and in step with giving consumers more information about what they buy, but come after a federal GMO labeling law stalled in the Senate. Meanwhile, the first state deadline on the matter looms in July, when a Vermont GMO labeling law hits. Companies must change labels for certain foods sold in that small state or risk facing fines. So far, companies plan to make their changes nationally, rather than going through a cumbersome and costly process to create special labels for Vermont.
Campbell Soup in January spoke out about its desire for a federal GMO labeling standard rather than a patchwork of state regulations. General Mills, in a blog post on March 18, agreed that a national solution would be a better option. Mars said it would make the change to comply with Vermont's law, even though it "firmly" believes GMOs are safe. "With a multitude of other states currently considering different GMO labeling requirements, the need for a national, uniform approach in this area is as critical as ever, ConAgra said on March 22. "That's why we continue to urge Congress to pass a national solution as quickly as possible."
Finally, a couple of executive moves:
Pinnacle Foods -- whose brands include Duncan Hines, Vlasic, Wish-Bone and Birds Eye -- is on the hunt for a new CEO to replace Robert Gamgort, who is leaving to become CEO of Keurig Green Mountain.
Contributing: Jack Neff, E.J. Schultz, Jessica Wohl