So long Lowdown, hello Marketer's Brief. Welcome to the first edition of our revamped weekly marketing news column. Like the name suggests, we promise to be brief and hopefully useful, with some added regular features like Tweet of the Week, Number You Need to Know and a quick look at new products called Would You Buy This? This is still the place to catch up on all the latest executive comings and goings. You can always find those at the end in our Moves section. Tips or suggestions? Send to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the spirit of brevity, let's get to it …
An enterprising teenager might have unlocked the secret to reaching elusive young consumers: high school yearbook ads. Seventeen-year-old Hannah Hightman is getting loads of local media attention in the Sacramento area for spearheading a move to get portraits of the Geico Gecko and KFC's Colonel Sanders included alongside student pics in this year's edition of Stockton's Bear Creek High School yearbook. She also got permission to sprinkle in photos of celebrities from Lady Gaga to Donald Trump, according to Sacramento's ABC10. "She hit the jackpot when Kentucky Fried Chicken agreed to include the Colonel and pay for his picture, complete with a pose in the yearbook wearing a Bear Creek lapel pin," the TV station reported. The cash helped pay for yearbook production. KFC agency Wieden & Kennedy provided an assist, the shop confirmed to Ad Age. "We were impressed by the idea and her tenacity, and were happy to help her make it happen," said Eric Baldwin, the agency's executive creative director in Portland. Her own high school actually passed on the idea, so she took it to Bear Creek, where her mom teaches, according to the reports.
Dove's Men + Care brand goes out on a limb
Unilever is taking the "Airbnb of marketing" metaphor both literally and to new heights. To promote its Dove Men + Care Elements line of grooming product with such earthy scents as sage and sandalwood, the brand gave away July stays at a Chattanooga, Tenn., treehouse designed by Pete Nelson of "Treehouse Masters." Now it's taking names for a waitlist to book the space, at the foot of Mount Lookout, in August. After that, the treehouse will be available via the real Airbnb.
Self-driving cars stuck in the slow lane
McKinsey is pumping the brakes on the self-driving car hype. Citing "daunting software issues," a new report from the consultancy predicts that fully autonomous vehicles are still more than 10 years from reality. The cars must mimic human decision-making on the road, for example, requiring a complicated combination of "if-then rules" and artificial intelligence. It is "an extremely difficult task that will require significant development, testing, and validation," the report says. The timeline matters for marketers because self-driving cars have the potential to drastically alter how cars are advertised, as Ad Age explained last year.
Soup's on -- and online
Campbell Soup Co., like other packaged food marketers, knows it needs to step up its ecommerce game. So the soup maker on Wednesday announced a $10 million investment in and strategic partnership with Chef'd, an ecommerce "meal marketplace" Campbell believes can help grow its own online capabilities. Campbell becomes Chef'd's largest strategic investor, gets a seat on its board, and can learn from the startup's insights and data on the category. Chef'd, which launched in April 2015 and distributes various meal kits, will also help Campbell run its Campbell's Kitchen site. "In the future, shopping for and preparing meals will be flexible, fully automated and even anticipatory," Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison said in a statement. The deal is part of the Series B round of funding for Chef'd, which also includes past investor Fresh Direct.
Talbots enters eighth decade
Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, Talbots is no spring chicken, but to convince consumers it's still hip, the womenswear chain known for dressing more than one Hamptons matriarch will unveil a new campaign this fall. In this troubled apparel environment where most retailers have seen sales slip, the Hingham-Mass.-based brand, which declined to provide any sales figures, is tapping MullenLowe for the new effort, aimed at future customers (and loyalists, of course).
Number you need to know
$18 billion -- the amount of tech project spending CMOs will oversee in 2018, according to Forrester's new forecast of C-suite tech purchasing patterns. (To see how spending will change for each C-suite role, hover over each column below.)
Source: Forrester forecast: C-Suite Tech Purchasing Patterns, 2017.
Would you buy this?
Dunkin' Donuts is giving S'Mores flavored coffees a shot this summer, combining graham cracker, toasted marshmallow and chocolate flavors, available in hot and iced versions. Meanwhile, Skittles and Starburst are coming out with new spicy varieties branded "Sweet Heat" that were plugged at this week's National Confectioners Association's Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago.
Tweet of the week
Figured it was only a matter of time before McDonalds moved into the "bag of ice" space pic.twitter.com/AS9sF0jlbX— Mark Leibovich (@MarkLeibovich) May 24, 2017
Diageo's former CMO and chief innovation officer Peter McDonough has landed a spot on the board of directors of The Pi Group, a consumer goods talent advisory group. Tony Vernon, the former Kraft CEO who led the company following its split from Mondelēz and into its merger with H.J. Heinz, is dipping his toe back into food leadership, taking a seat on the board at spice marketer McCormick & Co. Inc.
Contributing: E.J. Schultz, Jack Neff, Jessica Wohl, Adrianne Pasquarelli
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Talbots has seen sales slip. The story has been updated to reflect that the retailers sales performance is unknown because it does not make sales figures public.