.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Monday, September 19, 2005

Steal This Brand -- Part Two

(This is a follow-up to my 08-26-2005 post)

LEFT: Minor Threat's album cover
RIGHT: NIKE's skatboarding poster

What drives some big companies to do dumb things? Perhaps it's the result of being enormously self focused. They can't conceive of anyone having a problem with their actions. NIKE is a good example. Last July, they blatantly appropriated the cover art from punk band Minor Threat's self-titled debut record and repurposed it for a poster and ad promoting NIKE's skateboarding shoes and an upcoming tour. All without asking the band or the record label (Dischord Records) for permission. As you might imagine, everyone was outraged.

NIKE pulled the posters and posted a letter of apology on its Web site. Here are some excerpts:

"Nike Skateboarding's "Major Threat" Tour poster was designed, executed and promoted by skateboarders, for skateboarders. All of Nike employees responsible for the creation of the tour flyer are fans of both Minor Threat and Dischord Records and have nothing but respect for both."

"Minor Threat's music and iconographic album cover have been an inspiration to countless skateboarders since the album came out in 1984. And for members of the Nike Skateboarding staff, this is no different. Because of the album's strong imagery and because our East Coast tour ends in Washington, DC, we felt that it was a perfect fit. This was a poor judgment call and should not have been executed without consulting Minor Threat and Dischord Records."

"Every effort has been made to remove and dispose of all flyers (both print and digital). Again, Nike Skateboarding sincerely apologizes to Minor Threat and Dischord Records."

So basically, as one who purports to understand the ethos of the underground
skateboarding world, NIKE was just paying homage to it, not stealing from it.

In August, Dischord stated "The members of Minor Threat continue to work on a creative resolution to this matter and will have more to say when an agreement [with NIKE] is finalized. And according to the September issue of Business 2.0, "Dischord now says it's considering legal action."

You have to ask yourself, what was NIKE thinking?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Brick by brick, LEGO is coming back

The LEGO Group has found a way back from their staggering $328 million annual loss in 2004 (see my July 23, 2005 post -- "Navel gazing at LEGO"). They have seen the future, and it is mass customization. They call it the LEGO Factory. LEGO fans can now download LEGO Digital Designer software, a free desktop application that allows them to create their own LEGO designs. They can then upload their design to the LEGO Factory website and order a custom LEGO kit to build it.

Is the LEGO Factory enough to turn the company around? An article in the September 2005 issue of FAST COMPANY quoted Michael McNally, Lego's senior brand-relations manager as saying, "It's something that has huge potential for the company, and strategically, we're looking to see where it hits and how deeply." Sounds good. But it also sounds like a logistical nightmare. Time will tell.

P.S. Want to see how LEGOs are made? Click here for a neat interactive flash movie.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

MoonPie goes for a bigger bite of the market

In 1917, the Chattanooga Bakery Co. introduced a new graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow snack, dubbed the MoonPie. The South hasn’t been the same since. Even today, the great duo — RC Cola and MoonPie — still reign supreme in rural towns throughout the Southeast. (Read a review of the MoonPie.)

Now MoonPie has set its sights on a much broader market with the national launch of a new product. Actually, it’s not that new. It’s just a smaller version of the MoonPie they now bake. They named it the Mini MoonPie and hired Big River Advertising of Richmond, Va., to launch a campaign. According to Brandweek,the first assignment is a TV campaign now in test markets in Charlotte, NC, and Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala. Titled “A Little Moon Pie Can Change the World,” the spots show real people going about their stress-filled, hectic, over-committed lives. Amid all the noise, the ad points to the innocence of kids and the simple enjoyment of things like MoonPie. MoonPie represents an “authentic” solution: a bite from their past.

MoonPie Web site has a more focused message for the Mini MoonPie:

“Finally, a MoonPie for the kids! The Mini MoonPie is perfect for the lunch-box, for after-school snacking or for a mild case of on-the-go munchies. It's little, but it's packed with that same delicious MoonPie taste of it ancestors.”
I’ve never thought of a cookie as having ancestors. Can you picture two MoonPies stuck together?…well, you get the idea. I suppose if Krispy-Kreme, another Southern staple, can make it big (even though things suck for them now) so can a Mini MoonPie. Make it BIG, that is.

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