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Marketer's Brief: This Porn Ad Is Safe for Work (Barely)

Published on .

Welcome to the latest edition of Marketer's Brief, a quick take on marketing news, moves and trends from Ad Age's reporters and editors. Send tips/suggestions to eschultz@adage.com.

Students are heading back to campus and Brazzers wants to put free porn on the syllabus. Find out about that, plus a potential slowdown in pumpkin spice sales, in this week's somewhat steamy edition of Marketer's Brief.

The anecdote to stressed college life: Free porn?
Seemingly the last thing the internet needs is another commercial for porn, but now it's got a "safe-for-work" one. Brazzers, which bills itself as "the industry's leading premium porn brand," is offering American university students of legal age a free four-month membership, and Trendzz, which bills itself as the "safe-for-work" voice of adult entertainment has created a "safe-for-work" spot to promote it. "We know that university life is by no means easy, and we're empathetic," says Brazzers Marketing Director Gary Ticher in a statement. "We've decided to offer the best porn on the market as a study accessory to help students relax, sleep better and focus harder in class."

Can dog food keep the pumpkin spice trend kicking?
America might have finally reached peak pumpkin with nowhere to head but down. Sales of pumpkin-flavored items reached a record $414 million this year, according to Nielsen. "However, while sales are still climbing, there are signs that the pumpkin spice consumer craze may be leveling off with slower percentage of growth happening year over year," Nielsen adds. The 6% increase in sales over 2016 through the 52 weeks ending July 29, is slower than the 10% increase in the same period a year earlier. Products in decline include pumpkin pie filling (-6%); pumpkin flavored creams (-6%); pumpkin baked bread (-7%); and pumpkin flavored yogurt (-10%), according to Nielsen. But new products like pumpkin dog food are keeping the pumpkin trend alive.

Monster
Monster Credit: Ubisoft

'Assassin's Creed' strikes Monster deal
The romance between video games and energy drinks is alive and well. The latest to hook up are game developer Ubisoft and Monster Energy Drink to promote the forthcoming "Assassin's Creed Origins" game. Such promotions have been brewing as early as 2012, but this particular one will be both Monster and Ubisoft's first global campaign, Jeff Dandurand, director of promotions at Ubisoft, says. Consumers who purchase Assassin's Creed Origins co-branded Monster Energy drinks get codes that can be entered during game play to win customized consoles and in-game items. No money is being exchanged between the two partners. Ubisoft is increasing its marketing reach, while Monster connects with an important segment of its audience, Dandurand says. "Monster sees gaming as part of its consumer DNA—a lot of their consumers spend time playing video games," he says. The Assassin's Creed franchise has sold more than 100 million copies since it first launched 11 years ago. In 2016, Ubisoft hooked up with 20th Century Fox to release an Assassin's Creed movie, which generated $241 million worldwide, per Box Office Mojo.

Energizer lithium keeps going, EcoAdvanced not so much
Energizer Holdings is pulling the plug on EcoAdvanced batteries in the U.S. to focus on its better-selling Ultimate Lithium line, CEO Alan Hoskins told investors earlier this month. "We are shifting our efforts around EcoAdvanced to international markets where it has resonated well with consumers." U.S. shoppers were less impressed with the 3% recycled content in EcoAdvanced, and the move will free up more space for Ultimate Lithium, which has driven years of surprising growth for Energizer. Regardless of anything marketers do, of course, the whole category is due for a boom this quarter, sadly because of the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

Home Depot returns for 'GameDay'
What tailgating persona are you? Home Depot wants to know, or at least wants its potential customers to find out. As part of the home improvement retailer's 15-year-old sponsorship of ESPN's "College GameDay" show, the brand will offer more digital content, including a quiz to find out if you're a "Grill Master" or "Entertainer," and an online trivia game. The company is also marketing in-store events themed to the college football crowd.

Number You Need to Know
$2 billion: The amount of pet product sales Amazon recorded last year, up 40% from, 2015, according to a new report from Packaged Facts that shows the category as among the fastest-growing online.

Would You Buy This?
Nestle Japan is out with cough-drop flavored KitKats. Yep, you heard that right. (That's soccer commentator Yasutaro Matsuki on the box.)

Tweet of Week:

Moves
Esurance has switched up its marketing team. Earlier this year, the Allstate-owned insurer consolidated its marketing department with sales and service by naming Mark Pitchford, a five-year veteran of the brand, chief sales and marketing officer. Pitchford had been chief customer advocate. Alan Gellman, who had been Esurance's CMO since 2014, left the company and recently joined Credible, a financial firm. Dale Hopkins was named president and chief executive of New York-based In Demand, a distributor of pay-per-view programming. She had previously worked at GSN (Game Show Network) where she held positions including chief marketing officer, before joining In Demand, which is owned by Comcast, Charter and Cox Communications.

Contributing: E.J. Schultz, George Slefo, Jack Neff, Adrianne Pasquarelli

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