Marketer's Brief: Creepy or Cool? Walmart Wants to Stock Your Fridge in Person

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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]

A rival ice cream brand has spoofed Halo Top's creepy ad, PepsiCo's CEO broke her silence on the Kendall Jenner ad and restaurant chain Freshii is feeling the blues. Find out more in our latest Marketer's Brief. But first, we look at how Walmart wants to get into your kitchen when you are not there.

The future could mean delivery straight into your fridge,
The future could mean delivery straight into your fridge, Credit: Walmart

Walmart rooting around in your kitchen: Not creepy at all
Walmart recently joined smart home products maker August to pilot test delivery of groceries through a service that lets the delivery people come into your home to stock your fridge, under remote video surveillance if you wish, using a temporary four-digit passcode. And this is not seen as creepy at all, as Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart Ecommerce, put it at an Advertising Week panel on Wednesday. In fact, Walmart has gotten more than 1,000 volunteers for a pilot test with 50-100 homes in the San Francisco area, Lore says. "I think the world is changing," he says. "Who would think a decade ago people would be renting out their homes to strangers or getting into cars with strangers?" This is how it works:

Indra Nooyi.
Indra Nooyi. Credit: PepsiCo

PepsiCo CEO watched Kendall Jenner ad 'again and again and again'
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi—who has managed to avoid talking about the marketer's Kendall Jenner ad since it flopped last spring—finally broke her silence last week. "I've thought about it a lot because I looked at the ad again and again and again trying to figure out what went wrong—because it was a peace march not a protest march," she told Fortune, as part of a wide-ranging interview. "This has pained me a lot because this company is known for diversity, and the fact that everybody who produced the commercial and approved the commercial did not link it to Black Lives Matter made me scratch my head. I had not seen that scene. And I take everything personally. The minute I saw people upset, I pulled it."

Freshii's flop highlights fast casual growing pains
Restaurant chain Freshii laid out a mix of bad news this week including a pullback in new store openings, getting out of Target and seeing franchisees slowing down the rollout of new locations. The "Revision of Outlook," as the weak report was headlined by the 12-year-old company, came soon after a big win, getting some of its food on Air Canada flights. A more appropriate headline? One from Jefferies analyst Andy Barish: "In the Penalty Box as Hockey Stick Growth Takes Hard Check." The Toronto-based chain, which has used non traditional marketing including letters to the McDonald's CEO, now expects to open 90 to 95 stores a year, down from a prior target of 150 to 160. As for those once-hailed Target locations, which replaced in-store counters from restaurants such as Pizza Hut, Freshii and Target realized what shoppers already knew: "The sales levels of these locations did not support a continued investment of resources by both parties." Freshii, which went public at C$11.50 per share on Jan. 31, fell to C$5.75 per share Tuesday.

Chipotle recruits top chef for Tasty
Meanwhile, struggling Chipotle Mexican Grill said Richard Blais, a chef and restaurateur known for winning "Top Chef All-Stars," will lead and overhaul its Tasty Made burger concept. There's still just one Tasty Made, in Ohio, and Blais will work on perfecting the chain's limited menu and expanding options, Chipotle said. As for its main chain, Chipotle is busy promoting its long-awaited-but-not-loved-by-many-on-social-media queso. Efforts to that end include an Instagram "Queso Cup" campaign from Day One Agency. Queso is wiping out the rest of the chain's Instagram feed for five days with games and prizes of free queso.

Halo Top's weird ad gets Enlightened
Marketer's Brief readers might recall an ad that ice cream maker Halo Top rolled out this month in which a woman is told by a robot that she's all alone, and is force-fed ice cream. Rival brand Enlightened is out with an online video response. At first, Enlightened mimics the spooky ad, then tries to focus on the fun of lots of people eating ice cream with the hashtag #LightenUp. Enlightened said it came up with the concept and Robotic Raptor handled production.

Would You Buy This?

Credit: McDonalds

McDonald's introduced Buttermilk Crispy Tenders and a new sweet and tangy "signature sauce." The tenders are $3.79-$3.99 for four.

Number You Need to Know
62.4 percent —The share of global households buying Colgate oral care products, according to Colgate-Palmolive Chief Marketing Officer Mukul Deoras. Indeed, Colgate is found in more households than any other in the world. Kantar Worldpanel confirms this, though Coke still gets the designation of "Most Chosen Brand" thanks to greater purchase frequency. But, hey, it's all symbiotic, since those Coke drinkers really need to brush their teeth.

Tweet of Week

Magazine publisher Meredith Corp. named Alysia Borsa to the newly expanded role of chief marketing and data officer. Nancy Weber, who as CMO was in charge of branding and marketing partnerships, is going to lead strategic marketing and communications, Meredith said in a statement. Borsa joined Meredith in 2011 and was most recently executive VP and chief data and insights officer.

After 35 years with the brand, Kohl's CEO, Chairman and President Kevin Mansell is retiring in May. He will be succeeded by Michelle Gass, who joined four years ago from Starbucks and has been serving as chief merchandising and customer officer, in charge of marketing and ecommerce. Her ecommerce background may serve her well as Kohl's brands itself for the digital age, recently brokering a partnership to house Amazon areas within its stores and accept Amazon returns.

Flowers Foods named Debo Mukherjee as CMO, effective Oct. 2. It's a newly-created role at the baked goods company, whose brands include Wonder, Tastykake and Dave's Killer Bread. Mukherjee was most recently founder and owner of Intacta Consulting Group and previously held marketing roles at companies including Mars Inc., Unilever, H.J. Heinz and Hershey, Flowers said.

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

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