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.
Marketers spend a lot of time talking about sustainability. But do consumers really care? Research commissioned by Unilever suggests yes. The study of 20,000 consumers in five countries found 33% choose brands they believe are doing social or environmental good, while 21% say they would actively choose brands that made their sustainability credentials clearer on their packaging or in marketing. More broadly, Unilever said that represents an untapped opportunity of around $1 trillion in sales for "sustainable goods." Unilever also said its own brands that have integrated sustainability into their "purpose and products" are growing 30% faster than the rest of the business. But people in developing markets appear to put a bit more weight on sustainability in purchasing, with 78% of U.S. and 53% of U.K. consumers saying they feel better about buying products that are sustainably produced, vs. 85 to 88% of consumers in India, Turkey and Brazil saying so.
Of course, consumers also care about price and value. So Unilever's recently acquired Dollar Shave Club has launched a new wave of 30-second TV and online ads from its in-house agency focused squarely on both. DSC co-founder and CEO Michael Dubin has survived the acquisition and continues to star in the online razor merchant's ads, such as this one, where he touts has blades as offering "a high-quality shave at an economical price."
When it come to video ads, emotion still works. That is the takeaway from Ace Metrix, which analyzed nearly 8,000 ads last year using a panel of at least 500 consumers that is demographically balanced to the U.S. census. "One of the ground truths proven by our data again and again is that emotionally evocative ads, whether heartwarming or inspirational or humorous, are the best at grabbing viewer attention, being persuasive, and influencing in-market behavior," said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. Below are the ads that the panel found to be the most inspirational, heartwarming, humorous, and creative in 2016.
Inspirational: Nike: "Unlimited Scout Bassett"
Heartwarming: Hershey's "Hello From Home: U.S. Olympic Wrestler Jordan Burroughs"
Humorous: Cheetos: "The Lie Detector"
Creative: Johnsonville: "Regular Speed Chase by Brett"
AirPods – those wireless Bluetooth earbuds Apple used to replace wired versions when it removed the headphone jack in iPhone7 – may be much maligned by critics. But they're highly sought after by thieves. So a seller on Etsy came up with the idea of a $4.99 translucent sticker to slap on the case that makes it look like dental floss, which isn't nearly as attractive to thieves.
The original faux floss label on Etsy was "Glides Oral O Pro-Health," which can be found on a variety of posts such as this one on Cnet in recent days. It looked a whole lot like Procter & Gamble Co.'s Glide Oral-B Pro-Health floss. By early Jan. 4, however, a day after P&G and its lawyers returned from New Year's break, the "Glides" product was replaced with a far more generic "Flossy." Responding to a query from Ad Age, Etsy seller RyanFlosss (Ryan Ma) said, "Yeah, unfortunately we were contacted by the legal counsel from Procter & Gamble in Canada, so we had to update our designs for Etsy." He forwarded as an attachment a notice from Etsy deactivating the original "Glides" item because of the trademark-infringement issue raised by P&G. A P&G spokesman declined to comment.
Burt's Bees, known for natural personal care products such as lip balm, is extending its decades-old brand into the food and beverage industry with a line of plant-based protein shake powders. "Entering the functional foods space is a natural extension for us," Burt's Bees General Manager Jim Geikie said in a statement. Actress Haylie Duff promoted the line with a New Year's resolution tweet on Jan. 1.
The Burt's Bees Plant-Based Protein Shakes line includes Daily Protein, Protein +Gut Health with Probiotics, and Protein +Healthy Radiance with Antioxidant Vitamins A, C & E varieties. Each has 15 grams of protein per serving, derived from pea, rice, flaxseed, sunflower seed and oats, the Clorox-owned brand said. The powders, meant to be mixed with water or non-dairy milk or added to a smoothie, is made with 70% organic ingredients and is free from GMOs, gluten, soy, dairy, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavors. The vanilla and chocolate-flavored powders, sweetened with honey, monk fruit extract and Stevia leaf extract, come in tubs priced at $29.99 to $39.99.
Popeyes has enlisted Jerry Rice to humorously "sell" some wacky products as it tries to deepen its ties to football and wing fans. The former NFL player is promoting "Wingovations" from Popeyes, such as a napkin shirt, biscuit-shaped cushion to use on hard bleachers and wing gloves to protect one's hands from messy dining. To be clear, such goods are not actually for sale from the fast-feeder. They are being presented in infomercial-style videos that star Mr. Rice and began running online Tuesday. The work from GSD&M is the next phase of the "Football is Better with Popeyes" social media campaign, which began in December.
Speaking of football and fried chicken, KFC on Wednesday introduced a click and play game on Instagram. In the "Kentucky Fried Football Frenzy," Instagram users choose plays from the captions, then see those plays pop up in Instagram's thumbnail grid. There are numerous animations and Instagram accounts that help keep the plays keep going, much like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" via Instagram images.
A few weeks ago, the Lowdown noted there was going to be a "Whopper Exchange" at Burger King the day after Christmas to let people swap gifts they didn't like for one of its signature burgers. Now there's a different exchange going on for people who want to get rid of any fast-food gift cards they received. Healthy food-focused chain Freshii said patrons who bring in fast-food gift cards (valued at $5 or more) on Jan. 9 can exchange them for an item from its menu such as soup, salad or a wrap. Freshii, in turn, plans to exchange the gift cards for cash using a third-party provider, and will donate the proceeds to WE Charity, its charitable partner.
Contributing: Jack Neff, Jessica Wohl, E.J. SchultzEtsy