Lowdown: 100 Days To Rio, Old and New Drinks, and More

Brands Prepare for Their Olympics Moments by Picking Teams and Updating Packaging

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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.

Hershey's Kisses Olympics Packaging
Hershey's Kisses Olympics Packaging Credit: The Hershey Company

We're 100 days from the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Games, giving sponsors (along with Team USA) an early chance to tout Olympics-themed marketing. Hershey announced it will change the silver lettering on its milk chocolate bars to red, white and blue. It's the first lettering change on that package in 122 years. Other products including Reese's peanut butter cups and Hershey's Kisses, are also getting Olympics-themed packaging, which will be on sale nationally starting May 6.

Mallory Weggemann, Jordan Burroughs and Shannon Miller at Chocolate World in Times Square
Mallory Weggemann, Jordan Burroughs and Shannon Miller at Chocolate World in Times Square Credit: The Hershey Company

Hershey's push kicked off in the company's Times Square shop with gold medal gymnast and Hershey brand ambassador Shannon Miller. She was joined by two of Hershey's newest athlete partners, gold medal wrestler Jordan Burroughs and Paralympic gold-medalist swimmer Mallory Weggemann, who will both appear in Hershey marketing. The company is also sponsoring David Nolan, a native of Hershey, Pa. who is trying to swim his way into his first Olympic games.

Lineup of barkThins products
Lineup of barkThins products Credit: Hershey

Olympics marketing isn't the only news from Hershey this week. The sweets seller also announced its latest acquisition: Ripple Brand Collective LLC, maker of barkThins dark chocolate snacks. The products debuted in 2013 and use fair-trade chocolate and non-GMO ingredients. BarkThins is expected to ring up $65 million to $75 million in sales this year. At least one analyst wonders why Hershey decided to buy a chocolate maker rather than trying to create a competing product on its own. "We might have preferred that the company at least try to create its own version before choosing the M&A route," Ken Goldman from J.P. Morgan, wrote in a note to clients.

Back to the Olympics, Budweiser, the official beer sponsor of Team USA, announced six athletes as part of "Team Budweiser." They are: Perry Baker, who plays for the U.S. National Rugby Team; Amanda Bingson, 2014 U.S. Outdoor Hammer Throw champion and current U.S. record holder in that event; Richard Browne, 2012 Paralympic Silver Medalist in the Men's T44 100-Meter Dash; Trey Hardee, 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist in the Decathlon; Becky Sauerbrunn, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist in Women's Soccer, 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Gold Medalist and Team USA Co-Captain; and Melissa Stockwell, who competed as a swimmer in the 2008 Paralympic games and aims to compete in the Paratriathalon in Rio. "We handpicked these athletes because of their inspiring stories, courage and belief that they can achieve something incredible for their country," Ricardo Marques, VP, Budweiser, said in a statement. Budweiser said artist Malika Favre will design a 225-foot tall mural featuring the athletes in Manhattan. Limited-edition patriotic packaging is set to be released in June, plus and a national TV spot featuring a number of athletes will debut in June and air during the the Rio 2016 Olympics broadcast.

Kind, which is not an official sponsor of Team USA, said it is working with American soccer player Carli Lloyd who will help the company promote its line of breakfast bars. According to the company, Ms. Lloyd is a fan of its products and keeps two bars in her bag at all times.

McDonald's announced Olympics plans in March, which include sending 100 kids to Rio to be part of the opening ceremony. Now, it says kids from 21 markets are set to participate, up from 18. On Wednesday, it was one of the companies that joined in the countdown on Twitter.

Hi-C Ecto Cooler
Hi-C Ecto Cooler Credit: Coca-Cola

The Olympics aren't the only big thing returning to screens this summer. Anyone old enough to remember the first Ghostbusters movies might also remember Hi-C Ecto Cooler, which was launched in 1987 as a tie-in to the 1980s movie franchise. It was discontinued in 2001. But Coke is bringing it back for a limited time with the release of the new Ghostbusters movie, which hits theaters in July. Ecto-Cooler will be sold beginning in late May. "Hi-C Ecto Cooler fueled a pop culture phenomenon that is well remembered and beloved by fans to this day," Charles Torrey, VP of Minute Maid/Hi-C Brands for Coca-Cola North America said in a statement. "Sony Pictures was extremely enthusiastic about bringing it back for this special occasion, and the timing of the upcoming Ghostbusters film made this the exact right time."

For those who would rather chew on flavors from their childhood, Kellogg's is going to sell frosted Pop-Tarts inspired by A&W Root Beer and Crush Orange starting in May. Both flavors are linked to soft drinks from Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

In other drink news, the makers of Arizona tea are building a brewery in New Jersey with plans to expand further into alcoholic beverages. "I think a lot of our growth in the future is going to be tied to alcoholic beverages," Don Vultaggio, chairman and co-founder of Arizona Beverages USA, said this week at an industry conference in Chicago called Beverage Forum. The brewery will be part of a plant in Edison, N.J., Mr. Vultaggio said in an interview. He suggested products made at the brewery will include hard sodas and flavored malt beverages, although they won't necessarily use the Arizona brand name. Mr. Vultaggio is already in the booze business via Hornell Brewing Company, which he co-founded in 1971. Hornell in 2011 introduced Arnold Palmer Hard, a malt beverage that uses Arizona brand tea and lemonade and contains 5% alcohol of volume.

RB (the company perhaps better known as Reckitt Benckiser) is joining Save the Children to find a solution to air pollution in, of all places, Cannes. RB marketing and R&D teams are coming to Lions Health at the International Festival of Creativity on June 18-19 to work with ad and marketing agencies "plus some of the world's brightest entrepreneurial minds," according to the festival, for a hackathon to develop "innovative solutions to combat the devastating effects of air pollution exposure among children." Those on hand will include RB's Sharon James, senior VP-R&D; and Robert Funari, exec-VP category development.

Finally, a move from the marketer side to the agency side:

Brad Casper, former president of Henkel U.S. and the Phoenix Suns, and before that an executive with Church & Dwight Co. and Procter & Gamble Co., is getting into the agency business. He's been named executive chairman of Owens Harkey Advertising in Phoenix. Most recently he was CEO of private-equity-backed Dogswell, marketer of premium natural pet food.

Contributing: Jessica Wohl, E.J. Schultz, Jack Neff

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