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.
The Lowdown: Mtn Dew Pitch Black Returns
Bringing back old sodas has emerged as a popular marketing tool for beverage marketers looking to gain some attention on social media. The latest re-introduction comes from Mtn Dew, which this week announced the return of Mtn Dew Pitch Black, a darkly colored line extension that was originally sold for a limited time in 2004 and briefly came back in 2005, 2006 and 2011. The 2015 comeback is in response to "overwhelming demand," according to Mtn Dew. But fans must enter a sweepstakes to get it. Entries are being collected on Dew's Facebook page on which fans must "tell Dew why they want a case of Mtn Dew Pitch Black in the comments of the sweepstakes post using #WeWantPitchBlack and #Sweeps."
The brand plans to give away a case to 1,050 people. Other old sodas getting new attention are Crystal Pepsi, for which PepsiCo recently hinted at a possible comeback, as well as Coke-owned Surge, which returned with sales on Amazon last year and recently began popping up in stores.
In other limited-edition news, Skyy Vodka has come out with a "sweater bottle" as part of a holiday campaign. The bottles are wrapped in blue and white Fair Isle knit sweaters and will be sold for a limited time at liquor stores in November and December nationwide for a suggested retail price of $18.99 for 750 ml. To promote the bottles, Skyy has lined up a knitting-needle armed crew led by artist Magda Sayeg that will create large-scale pieces inspired by the bottle live at Chelsea Market in New York.
Meanwhile, Diageo-owned Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky is putting its own spin on those yule log TV broadcasts that show a crackling fireplace. According to the brand, WPIX in New York pioneered the approach in 1966 as a "holiday gift to New York City residents who did not have fireplaces." This year -- in celebration of the 49th anniversary of the broadcast -- Lagavulin is asking " titans of the TV and video streaming industries to replace their traditional Yule Log with this version (below) from 10-11 p.m. each night throughout the holiday season, the preferred hour of after-dinner Scotch whisky enjoyment, perfect for slowly sipping and responsibly savoring Lagavulin." The 45-minute video stars actor, humorist and woodworker Nick Offerman, who basically just sits by the fire and sips Scotch.
Budweiser has its own version of the Yule Log, featuring a dalmatian and Clydesdale.
USA Swimming now has an official nut. Blue Diamond almonds signed up as the official snack nut for the sport's national governing body, which selects athletes for the Olympic Games and other international competitions. Blue Diamond, the leading almond marketer and processor, can use USA Swimming marks, sample its almonds at USA Swimming events, advertise in the group's Splash magazine and will be the first featured sponsor in a digital web series set to air in 2016. USA Swimming's other corporate partners include AT&T, BMW, CeraVe, Marriott, Mutual of Omaha, OMEGA and Phillips 66. The Blue Diamond deal is believed to be the first time USA Swimming has an official snack nut.
MikMak, a mobile video shopping network that allows instant ordering of beauty and other items priced below $100, has won at least one pilot with L'Oreal USA following an American Idol-style presentation and vote by 450 marketers at the company's Inspiration Day Nov. 17. Founded by former Gap digital executive Rachel Tipograph, Mikmak beat out Maven, a platform for women to get online information, services and video appointments with health providers, and Cast Beauty, which is developing a mobile app that uses weather data to provide personalized skin and hair-care recommendations. Rachel Weiss, VP-digital innovation and entrepreneurship for L'Oreal, got several calls from brands inquiring about pilots after the presentation, so there may be more than one for Mikmak. And she hopes Maven and Cast Beauty will also do pilots.
The U.S. razor business, led by Procter & Gamble Co.'s Gillette, has already been plenty shaken up by the likes of venture-funded Dollar Shave Club selling low-cost blades online for as little as $1 a week. Now comes another competitor at the opposite end of the spectrum -- Zafirro, which sells fancy razors with ultra-sharp sapphire-coated blades that can last a year, with a suggested retail price of $299. But you can get one for a mere $179 on Kickstarter for the next 33 days, or until the remaining 850 razors on offer are gone. The brand has already blown through its $250,000 funding goal to ramp up production, and the hype could be immense once it does. The Washington Post in 2011 listed Zafirro as one of the greatest uses of technology over the past couple of years.
Hot dog lovers might say the Wiener Rover is actually the best use of technology. Oscar Mayer introduced the remote-controlled vehicle over the summer and this week made it available to the general public. The new version for sale is called the Mini Wiener Rover and is described as "a smaller, remote-controlled Wiener Rover that transports one to two hot dogs, and makes a perfect gift for hot dog lovers across the country." The concept is by 360i. The rover is being sold in limited quantities through Twitter's "Buy Now" button for $25.
Follow us to get the hottest #CyberMonday gift, the Mini #WIENERROVER. 20 on sale today, sale times vary. pic.twitter.com/7994vnuzdI— Oscar Mayer (@oscarmayer) November 30, 2015
Finally, Food Lion, a Delhaize chain with more than 1,100 grocery stores, hired Doner as its agency of record, succeeding Mullen. "Doner has tremendous experience in the retail sector and we believe has a unique opportunity to help us continue to elevate the Food Lion brand and further enhance the emotional connection with our customer," Food Lion President Meg Ham said in a statement. Consulting firm Hasan + Co. managed the review process, which began in June. The retailer said new creative and advertising could roll out as early as the first quarter of 2016.
Contributing: E.J. Schultz, Jack Neff, Jessica Wohl