Marketer's Brief: See Gatorade's Influence on NBA's G-League

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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 [email protected]

In February, Ad Age was the first to report that the NBA's minor D-League was rebranding as the G-League as part of Gatorade's new title sponsorship deal. This week, we got the first clue on how the new deal will alter the league's branding. A new ad, called "We Don't Go for Good, We Go for Great," marks the first marketing campaign in the minor league's 16-year history. Not surprisingly, Gatorade gets some nice play -- but the brand's exposure is more subtle than over-the-top. The G moniker appears a few times in the ad, but only as part of the G-League's new logo. The NBA did not use an outside agency, relying instead on its in-house NBA Entertainment division. The ad, which will get airplay on NBA TV's coverage of the NBA Summer League, features former NBA player Jerry Stackhouse, who was the G-League's 2017 coach of the year.

Alexa, get me a bigger CPG market share
Yesterday's Prime Day suggests packaged goods play a central role in products in Amazon's Alexa strategy. An analysis by Market Track shows that of 47 voice-activated "Alexa only" deals offered yesterday, 31, or nearly two-thirds, were for CPG products. Most of those were personal-care products such as conditioner, hand soap, lotion, skin care and sunscreen. Household products like air fresheners, toilet paper and laundry detergent also figured prominently. Market Track Marketing Director Ryne Misso found the CPG focus of the Alexa deals interesting, suggesting that "Echo and Alexa may play a role in Amazon's expansion into consumables and grocery categories."

Listen closely before you buy
The average discount on those Prime Day "Alexa-only" deals tallied by Market Track was 33%. Even so, buyers should probably look -- or listen -- closely to the prices they get. A Prime Day display ad served on (owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) pitched a 12-ounce bottle of Procter & Gamble Co.'s Pantene conditioner for $9.04. That's more than double what similar Pantene products sell for in offline stores, and more than $3 above what the same conditioner was selling for along with a similar-sized Pantene shampoo in a twin pack on

McDonald's finally answers William Shatner
National Ice Cream Day is July 16, but McDonald's celebrated early, firing off personalized compliments to more than 1,300 Twitter users Monday. There were similarities to the fast feeder's All Day Breakfast announcement in 2015, when McDonald's responded to fan and celebrity tweets, sometimes years old. The #SoftServed push included a response to a March 2016 tweet from William Shatner

Tweeters could also send a tweet with @mcdonalds and #SoftServed to prompt a reply in the push, which was run by PR agency Golin with lines written in partnership with Nerdist. In all, there were 1,226 requests for #SoftServed compliments, and 97% of the chatter around the campaign was positive or neutral in tone, McDonald's said. On Sunday, it's giving away free vanilla cones for those who use its app, and one patron may get a golden-hued Golden Arches cone, which wins free McDonald's soft serve for life (in the form of a $312 McDonald's Arch card and a check for $4,680). The push is not just about capitalizing on a highly unofficial ice cream holiday, which of course is also being celebrated by chains like Carvel. It's also another way for McDonald's to promote that its vanilla soft serve has been made without artificial flavors, colors or preservatives for some months now.

Theron's new film is on the rocks
If you see Charlize Theron sipping plenty of Stoli Vodka in the new movie "Atomic Blonde," it's because the brand signed a deal with Universal Pictures that covers product placement, TV ads, billboards, social media and a 1980's-themed, co-branded Pandora music station. The Cold War-era spy flick is set in Berlin. The vodka brand is pushing Stoli on ice as the prefered drink of Theron's character, agent Lorraine Broughton.

Shake Shack's international push continues
Shake Shack has come a long way from a single stand in NYC. The next international stop on its road to expansion is Hong Kong. Shake Shack plans to open its first location there in 2018, with licensee Maxim's Caterers Limited. Together, they plan to open 14 locations in Hong Kong and Macau through 2027. According to a Bloomberg interview with CEO Randy Garutti, the new restaurants set the stage for Shake Shack to eventually enter mainland China. About 90% to 95% of the chain's menu in Hong Kong and Macau will be the same as its U.S. lineup, though there may be more chicken items, Garutti told Bloomberg.

Number You Need to Know
3.3% -- The drop in beer volumes in the four weeks ending July 1, according to Nielsen figures cited by Beer Business Daily, prompting the publication to ask, "Is anybody drinking anymore?" Bud and Bud Light are "both on the brink of double digit declines for the four weeks," while Coors Light and Miller Lite fell 6.7% and 5.4% respectively, the publication reported. Not good.

Would You Buy This?

Lays Toasted Ravioli.
Lays Toasted Ravioli. Credit: Frito-Lay North America, Inc.

Lay's Toasted Ravioli was one of 10 finalist potato chip flavors submitted by consumers as part of the annual "Do Us a Flavor" contest.

Tweet of the Week

Michael Mendenhall is IBM's new CMO and chief communications officer for IBM Watson and IBM's cloud platform. He was formerly CMO of Flex. MillerCoors Chief Communications Officer Pete Marino has taken on the additional role of president of MillerCoors' Tenth and Blake craft and imports division.

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

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