7-Eleven debuts unlimited Big Gulps and IHOP adds urban chain: Marketer’s Brief
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7-Eleven has a new tool to entice soda addicts—unlimited Big Gulps. The chain today is rolling out a new program allowing customers to buy a $129 stainless-steel Tervis tumbler that gives them unlimited refills throughout 2020 covering coffee, Slurpees or Big Gulps. Buyers must choose which option they want, and it’s an extremely limited offer: Only 50 of each of three designs are being sold.
Sure, $129 is a lot to spend on a cup. But if one visits 7-Eleven daily for coffee, Slurpees or Big Gulps, the per-drink price is about 35 cents for all of 2020. (Starbucks, meanwhile, charges $40 for a special 16-ounce tumbler that gives buyers a free grande brewed coffee or hot tea each day in January.) At 7-Eleven, the coffee and Slurpee cups hold 20 ounces, while the Big Gulp design holds 30 ounces. The limited supplies seem designed to build the hype, much like Olive Garden does with its annual Pasta Pass or KFC’s seasoned tickets for wings.
IHOP is testing Flip’d by IHOP, an "on-the-go" take on breakfast. The idea is to offer faster service than IHOP, but a wider variety of breakfast items than at fast feeders. IHOP says the concept addresses growing demand in busy cities. Its first Flip’d is set to open in April in Atlanta and it’s already thinking about expanding into New York, Washington, Denver and San Francisco in 2020. The menu will include pancake bowls, sandwiches, oatmeal and salad. Not sure we need to see people walking down a crowded city street trying to balance a cup of coffee and a bowl of pancakes, syrup, eggs and bacon, but IHOP apparently sees an opportunity. Customers will order from a digital kiosk or at a counter, rather than speaking with a waiter at a table. Food can be ordered online for pickup or delivery, and catering is available.
Want some vitamin C with that buzz?
MillerCoors this week revealed more details on its new hard seltzer brand, Vizzy, which is set to hit the market next year. The brewer, which is playing catch-up in a sector dominated by White Claw and Truly, is trying to differentiate its drink by using acerola cherry, a “superfruit” high in the antioxidant vitamin C, as one ingredient. Vizzy, which will hit stores in March, offers four flavors: Black Cherry Lime, Blueberry Pomegranate, Strawberry Kiwi and Pineapple Mango, each with 100 calories, 1 gram of sugar and 5 percent alcohol by volume. Vizzy will be backed with national TV ads, digital, social and out-of-home advertising.
AT&T’s 5G branding gets called out, again
AT&T’s “5G Evolution” marketing message should be discontinued, according to the National Advertising Division (NAD) the industry’s self-regulating body.
The fifth generation of mobile technology, or 5G, brings speeds that are 100 times faster than its 4G predecessor. Last January, AT&T began marketing “5G Evolution” across all media channels. It also switched the “4G” symbol that is digitally displayed on its customer’s smartphones to “5Ge,” which critics say is a misleading suggestion that its phones are 5G ready. AT&T says its “5Ge” symbol stands for being “the first step to 5G.” Rivals and industry leaders, however, don’t agree, saying the branding is confusing customers, hurting the sales of new handsets and overall is negatively impacting what 5G is actually capable of.
T-Mobile challenged AT&T’s marketing with the NAD and this week the division recommended that AT&T discontinue its “5G Evolution” marketing message, perhaps a victory for the T-Mobile after becoming the first carrier to roll out 5G nationwide last week. Still, AT&T doesn’t have to comply as NAD suggestions are just that. AT&T said it would appeal the decision with the National Advertising Review Board.
Round-up for Ronald
As fewer people use cash for transactions, there’s less spare change handy to plunk into donation bins, such as those Ronald McDonald House Charities boxes at McDonald’s. Consumer donations to the charity, which helps families stay near hospitals when their children are receiving treatment, dropped by 15 percent in 2018. So McDonald’s is using technology to help boost participation. It will now ask customers if they want to round up their total when paying. After a test, the “Round-up for RMHC” technology is rolling out to all 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants nationwide. People who order at kiosks will see a “Round-Up for RMHC” button at checkout, and those who go to a counter can let the cashier know they want to round up.
Cheerios’ hearty concept
Cheerios has long promoted itself as a cereal for heart health, even making claims that it later abandoned. Now, it’s trying a new approach to associate itself with heart health, replacing some of the O-shaped pieces in boxes of Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios with heart-shaped ones. Plans include a new commercial, set to debut later in December, featuring Honey Nut Cheerios’ Buzz the bee announcing the limited-edition Cheerios.
Queer eye for ASMR
The sensory phenomenon known as autonomous sensory meridian response, commonly called ASMR, has emerged as a popular marketing tactic in recent years, with brands such as Dove chocolate, Michelob Ultra and Bacardi using it in ads. Now Sodastream is out with a video making fun of the tactic that features “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness.
Would you buy this?
There are plenty of branded ugly Christmas sweaters out this year. Even Red Lobster has one with a spot to hold its biscuits. The limited-edition Popeyes chicken sandwich sweater released today costs $44.95.
Number of the week
59: percent of Gen Zers who expect to see gender-neutral options on forms, such as Mattel’s new Creatable World inclusive dolls, according to a recent Pinterest trend report
Tweet of the week
Comings and goings
Marianne Radley, Pizza Hut’s chief brand officer since February 2018, has left the No. 2 U.S. pizza chain. The Yum Brands chain has been struggling, including a 3 percent drop in U.S. same-store sales in the third quarter. U.S. same-store sales are flat so far this year, after rising 2 percent in 2018, the first annual sales gain at longstanding U.S. locations since 2015. Pizza Hut said news on Radley’s replacement would come in the future.
Contributing: Jessica Wohl, Adrianne Pasquarelli, George P. Slefo, E.J.Schultz