Britain is on pins and needles as the mid-July due date for William and Kate's first child nears. And oh, baby, are marketers cashing in on the excitement.
Marriott, Harrods, John Lewis and Krispy Kreme are delivering themed pastries, china and "nursery nights" to an eagerly expectant public, and stores are brimming with royal-baby tchotchkes.
Krispy Kreme is selling "bite and reveal" doughnuts with pink or blue centers. You don't find out which color you've got until you tuck in, but according to a Krispy Kreme poll, more pink centers than blue have been reported.
Naturally, betting firms are in on the action, too. Bookmaker Paddy Power is encouraging people to bet on every detail from the arrival date to the name and even the age of his or her first nightclub visit. The most popular picks are for a brown-haired girl named Alexandra whose first boyfriend will be called Robert. These bets are expected to bring in around $450,000, and Paddy Power has dispatched a team of oversize "royal babies"--adults dressed as infants wearing masks and crowns--in London to promote its services.
High-street stores are full of baby clothes bearing messages like "Born to Rule" and "Prince Charming," and the upscale Harrods is selling royal-baby bone china, celebrating what it says "has never been a more exciting time to be a loyal royal subject." Department store John Lewis is hawking nursery-themed gingerbread boxes of cookies and royal-baby glass beads for charm bracelets. Even Bloomsbury has published a kids' book: "Shhh! Don't Wake the Royal Baby."
Marriott's luxury Grosvenor House hotel is charging $3,500 for a night in its "Suite Dreams" apartment designed by famed nursery outfitter Dragons of Wall Street. The suite features hand-crafted furniture and toys and state-of-the-art baby gear, as well as a concierge to organize babysitters, extra nappies and organic food fit for a (future) king or queen.
Credit for the first marketing campaign around the impending birth goes to upmarket maternity brand Seraphine, which claims to have provided more than a dozen dresses for the duchess. Ads by JWT are plastered on buses in central London and ask the obvious: "Is it a girl? Is it a boy?"
Despite all the anticipation, marketing around the royal family is subject to restrictions. The Committee for Advertising Practice has issued guidelines for marketers, reminding them that royal family members cannot be shown or mentioned in ads, and that "ads shouldn't go as far as claiming or implying that a particular product is endorsed by the royal family or that a product is affiliated to royal events when it is not."
Unfortunately for Twitter and Facebook, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are not allowed to reveal birthday details via social media. In keeping with tradition, the news will be announced on an easel attached to the railings outside Buckingham Palace.