Amazon stops sale of ‘Prime Bike’ and Uncle Ben’s becomes Ben’s Original: Wednesday Wake-Up Call
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Amazon’s exercise bike row
Amazon has told Echelon Fitness to stop selling an exercise bike that was promoted and branded as a product developed with Amazon Prime.
Shares of Peloton plunged yesterday after news that Amazon had developed an at-home exercise bike. Echelon listed the “EX-Prime Smart Connect Bike” on Amazon for $500, available only to Prime subscribers. But, as Bloomberg News reports, late Tuesday Amazon told Echelon to stop selling the bike and played down any connection. “This bike is not an Amazon product or related to Amazon Prime,” an Amazon spokeswoman wrote in an email. “Echelon does not have a formal partnership with Amazon. We are working with Echelon to clarify this in its communications, stop the sale of the product, and change the product branding.”
Late Tuesday, the bike was listed on Amazon’s website as “currently unavailable” and Echelon took down its original press release. Peloton, already spooked by Apple last week announcing its entry into the fitness market with Fitness+, saw its shares recover. But that’s not to say it shouldn’t be on its guard: business giants are clearly coming for its sector.
From Uncle Ben’s to Ben’s Original
Uncle Ben’s is changing its name to Ben’s Original from 2021, reports Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl, in an overhaul of the Mars Food brand that will also see it drop the image of a Black man from its packaging. As part of its efforts to be more inclusive, Mars also committed to community outreach programs, including a partnership with the National Urban League and a scholarship fund for aspiring Black chefs.
The change will be backed by a print ad running today in newspapers including the Wall Street Journal, which opens with the lines: “We’ve listened. We’ve learned. We’re changing.”
“We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the previous brand,” Fiona Dawson, global president or Mars Food, Multisales and Global Customers, noted in a statement.
Pumpkin spice up your life
Pumpkin spice is the flavor of fall, and every year marketers are finding new ways to incorporate it into their products. However, the latest taste combination might surprise you: Kraft is making pumpkin spice Mac & Cheese.
Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz reports that the ready-to-make boxed food is coming out in a pumpkin-spiced variety in Canada, where the brand is known as Kraft Dinner (KD). It’s not for sale though; it’s a limited edition promo you can get hold of by joining a waiting list at PumpkinSpiceKD.com. Winners get a box of KD with a pumpkin-spiced flavor booster to add to the cheese powder, along with cinnamon topping, as well as a personalized coffee shop-style white mug from which to consume their meal.
The product is being promoted via social, outdoor ads and influencer content. It dreamed up by agency Rethink, whose partner and creative director Mike Dubrick said that after they brought it to the client, “They laughed, then emphatically said yes.”
SXSW’s 2021 plans
Back in March, SXSW made headlines when it was one of the first big events to be canceled due to the pandemic, despite holding out until almost the last minute. Now, the music and tech festival has announced that it will take place in 2021, with a digital festival and plans for a physical event.
As Variety reports, the digital experience, featuring “conferences, keynotes and sessions, screenings, showcases and more,” will take place from March 16-20. There’s no date given for the physical event, but SXSW says it is working with the city of Austin and health authorities on the plans.
There’s more information on the SXSW website, but one date to note is that submissions for session proposals open Oct. 6.
P&G by the numbers: Procter & Gamble shared its diversity data yesterday, reports Ad Age’s Jack Neff, and for the first time included some ethnicity numbers. “Multicultural” employees make up 25 percent of overall P&G employment, 28 percent of management and 36 percent of representatives on the Glocal Leadership Council. The report shows diversity improvements on most fronts, but less so for employees of African descent.
Podcast of the Day: Kate Trumbull, VP of advertising and Hispanic marketing at Domino’s, discusses the company’s marketing changes during the pandemic with Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl in this week’s Marketer's Brief podcast including its attempts to sell chicken taco pizzas. Trumbull spoke at yesterday's Ad Age Next: Food and Beverage conference; if you missed any of it, you can catch up with the replay here.
Creativity of the Day: Mark Hamill and Sir Patrick Stewart have an epic Star Wars vs. Star Trek showdown in a new campaign for Uber Eats. The point? To highlight that with the food delivery service, conflicting meal orders can exist in a single universe. Check out their face-off in the spot, by agency Special Group, here.
That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call, thanks for reading and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter:@adage.
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