Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Advertiser vs. consumer

By Mrinal Khullar

This is a great clip that captures the issue we IMCers are battling regarding our approach to marketing communications. I think it accurately and hilariously depicts how out of touch with consumers mainstream advertising can be. It also points to the importance of having a dialogue with consumers versus a one-way relationship. Other than the humor, I think this clip truly emphasizes the importance of what we’re studying here at Medill. Understanding consumers as more than demographics or psychographic descriptions is critical to our process. Certainly, database information on purchase behavior is imperative to our understanding. But so is getting to know consumers as people first, consumers second.

Mrinal Khullar
is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School. She can be reached at

Friday, March 11, 2011

Marcom this week: From A to zinc – 3/11/11 edition

Coming together in crisis
Millions of people watched in disbelief this morning as footage of the devastation from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami aired. In the aftermath, the Internet served as an invaluable resource to provide victims and concerned parties with warnings and real-time updates. Google quickly responded by launching a Crisis Response page. The page serves as a one-stop resource for live updates on the situation, emergency phone numbers, advisories, and blackouts. Google is also connecting victims with their families using its People Finder tool. Millions of first-hand accounts of the destruction have been posted on Twitter (#japan, #tsunami, #prayforjapan), YouTube and Flickr, making the Japanese earthquake and tsunami one of the most documented natural disasters in history. You can also watch live updates of the destruction in Japan and updates as the Pacific-coast cities experience the tsunami. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and anyone else affected by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Charlie Sheen, media mogul?
The week’s new roundup would be amiss if we didn’t touch on Charlie Sheen’s media blitz. We all watched in awe as Sheen unraveled before our eyes (there has been no escape!). Although his mental state is far from 100%, Sheen is capitalizing on his own misfortune. This week he took the Internet, radio and television by storm. Sheen broke records when he opened a Twitter account, @charliesheen, which gained over one million followers in a day. SiriusXM Radio launched a dedicated channel, “Tiger Blood Radio,” to provide listeners with 24 hours of coverage surrounding the actor. Sheen even has his own UStream channel and each netcast totals over one million views. Now there are talks of a reality TV show, apparel sponsors, social media interns and a stand-up tour. In just two weeks Sheen transformed from a sitcom star to a media mogul, something that would take years (or even a lifetime) for other to accomplish. What’s next?

Starbucks New Look: 40 and fabulous
If you walked into your neighborhood Starbucks this week you probably noticed something a little different. Coinciding with its 40th anniversary, Starbucks rolled out the much-anticipated new logo—cups, sleeves and merchandise now all carry the new Siren. The campaign, seen in-store, online and on television, is aggressively focused on getting customers into the store. This week customers get a free petite treat with any coffee purchase. If you are into mobile, customers who check in at Starbucks on Foursquare between now and Saturday will randomly be awarded a $40 gift card. These promotions are enticing even to Starbucks haters!

Next week tune in for news from SXSW!

Marcom This Week: From A to Zinc is compiled by the Vitamin IMC editorial team. They can be reached at Miss your vitamins last week? Visit the “Marcom this Week” archive.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's time to move beyond stereotypes

By Diana Lopez Negrete

Kraft Foods recently debuted a series of television ads for its Athenos Hummus line that are not only sexist but also blatantly racist. However, according to a Chicago Tribune online poll, people are not offended by the ads. In fact, the Chicago Sun Times gave the ads a B+, saying that they are “creative” and “provocative.” To which I wonder, did someone receive a big box of Athenos Hummus to try?

I find this type of marketing to be not only irresponsible, but also dated. Relying on cultural stereotypes and sexism as sources of humor is offensive and, frankly, boring. Ads in this vein are not “provocative” or “creative,” but rather, unoriginal in developing ideas and provoking a media response. Not only that, they lack an ability to connect with the audience on a deeper level.

Call me crazy, but the "Yiayia on Fashion" ad really does not have me running to the store to purchase Athenos Hummus. In fact, it's trite and sexist. I certainly do not want my hummus purchase to remind me that my grandmother thinks I look like a "prostitute." Typically, when I host a party for my friends, money is not exchanged for sexual favors. Rather, we laugh and tell jokes over wine, cheese, and maybe some hummus. However, I might re-think that purchase at this point.

As for the "Yiayia on Parenting" ad (above), why is being called “wife” emasculating? Is it because a man’s place is in the office and a woman’s is in the home? What is this, 1955? Should I wear an apron to class as well? As more and more women choose having a career over staying home, someone has to raise the children, be it their father, a family member, or a nanny. If a man chooses to stay at home with his children, more power to him.

In 2011, it's sad to see that cultural and gender stereotypes continue to be perpetuated in ad campaigns. We live in an incredibly diverse world with so much rich material to draw from. Racism and sexism have been done. If I could insert an eye roll here, I would.

What Kraft should have done is eschew these stereotype-laden ads for something more creative. To those people who think they are “provocative” I must ask: why do you consider racism and sexism provocative? A little more creativity on Kraft's part would have gone a long way.

Diana Lopez Negrete is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School. She can be reached at

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Marcom this week: From A to zinc – 3/4/11 edition

Although Charlie Sheen’s rants made more than enough headlines this week, marketers managed to squeeze in a few of their own. From the announcement of Apple’s iPad 2 to the latest research on what consumers want from brands online, here is a look at what happened this week in the integrated marketing communications industry.

iPad 2 raises the bar for marketers
In case you missed it, Apple announced its next-generation iPad on Wednesday. The lighter, thinner, faster tablet arrives March 11 with a price tag of $499 for the 18GB Wi-Fi version. More important than its new software and front- and rear-facing cameras is the fact that the iPad 2 is driving the post-PC conversation forward at full speed. Just a day after Apple’s announcement, Gartner lowered its growth forecast for worldwide PC shipments in 2011. Looks like the iPad is well on its way to bridging the gap between laptops and tablets, which means it’s time for marketers – who haven’t done much to test the tablet waters – to take notice. Faster browsing means a host of new apps are probably already in development. However, if PC alternatives are the future, then how do marketers get on board in a meaningful way?

For brands, it’s all about being "liked"
Take note marketers: consumers want to hear from you when online – if you’re offering discounts. This is the latest finding of a new Ad Age/Ipsos Observer survey of digital-media habits. Facebook was a clear winner, with 41 percent of respondents preferring to receive communication from marketers via this platform. The runner up was Twitter, which received 18 percent of the vote. Coupons are the most sought-after item, with 65 percent of respondents hunting for online discounts. In fact, for most respondents, this was the reason why they “liked” a brand on Facebook. Not surprisingly, only 22 percent of respondents cared about customer news, a reminder that pushing self-promoting content won’t win a brand many friends.

Taco Bell: Where’s the beef?
This week, Taco Bell debuted a series of commercials in response to a lawsuit claiming its beef isn’t beefy enough. According to the ads, Taco Bell’s beef is comprised of 88 percent premium ground beef and 12 percent signature recipe. Viewers are encouraged to visit the fast-food chain’s website to view the entire ingredients list. Overall, the ads aren’t very interesting. We probably would’ve dismissed them with a shrug had it not been for the commercial’s inopportune airing on Sunday evening during a repeat of Fox’s new animated series, "Bob’s Burgers." Titled “Human Flesh,” the episode is about a misunderstanding surrounding the beef content of Bob’s Burgers signature hamburgers. (Sound familiar?) The first ad to air during the commercial break? Taco Bell, of course. Bad timing for the brand, and a big “oops” for Fox.

Marcom This Week: From A to Zinc is compiled by the Vitamin IMC editorial team. They can be reached at Miss your vitamins last week? Visit the “Marcom this Week” archive.

Friday, February 25, 2011 should not have approved this message

By Shakerra Grays

This billboard reads: “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”

Since seeing a tweet of this billboard the other day, I’ve found it hard to get it off my mind. I find the statement inflammatory, irresponsible, offensive and shortsighted. Upon researching this organization, I found that was created by The Radiance Foundation, a pro-life/pro-adoption organization founded, run, and supported by African Americans.

This billboard (which is one of many) does nothing to communicate the organization's mission or to move it forward. As a marketer I understand that need to get immediate attention and the inclination to use shock value to break through the advertising clutter. However, this is a cheap trick to get attention. Is it worth it? I don’t think so.

I clipped this directly from

VISION: We seek to eliminate the destruction of Life by focusing on solutions that empower women, men and children (born and unborn).

MISSION: educates the public about abortion’s impact on the African-American community via accurate and documented statistics, historical perspectives, thought-provoking videos, and personal testimonies. We strongly encourage adoption and provide connections to local resources. Through speaking events and media campaigns, we expose the distortion and destruction of Planned Parenthood and its abortion advocates.

Fine. Fair enough. Pro-lifers have a right to their opinion. I’m also quite aware of Margaret Sanger’s views, eugenics, and the shady history of Planned Parenthood’s agenda for poor women of color. It is not my intention to debate the morality of abortion here. I am purely interested in the message.

I question what black woman would see this billboard and know that this organization seeks to help her. The statement on this billboard makes the mother the villain. It perpetuates the idea that black mothers are irresponsible, negligent, or somehow unable to responsibly carry a child, much less raise one. This billboard is judgmental and hurtful., you missed the mark here. And I suspect that in the process, you’ve alienated the very population that you seek to educate. should be more thoughtful about the messages they send out and be clearer about who they are. If they continue with messages like these, they will degrade their cause, erode their credibility, and be seen as part of the very problem that they seek to solve.

Shakerra Grays is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School. Follow her tweets at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Marcom this week: From A to zinc – 2/25/11 edition

The Huffington Post: AOL’s big ad format will force a redesign
The Huffington Post’s cluttered, ad-laden pages may soon change. Following months of negotiations, signs of AOL’s takeover of The Huffington Post are starting to show. This week the website giant began to roll out a new ad format called “Project Devil,” which is a larger ad format that demands high rates but guarantees fewer ads per page. The program may require The Huffington Post to redesign in order to accommodate the format. AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong claims “Project Devil” is an effort to provide a better experience for users in the form of less ads. While fewer ads may be good for users, another reason for this big ad push is revenue. After another year of decreased revenue (down 25% from 2009 to $2.41 billion), this project seems to be another push by AOL to monetize its online businesses.

The Super Bowl’s social long tail
It is no secret that social media has changed the way consumers interact with advertisers. But in the case of Super Bowl advertisers, viewer engagement with brands is at an all-time high. Two weeks after The Big Game, advertisers continue to see returns on their investment. According to a study conducted by Visible Measures, Volkswagen’s “The Force” tops the list with 3.5 million views, followed by Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” with 11.7 million views. The study not only tracks YouTube views, but also how consumers are engaging with the brands, including sharing with friends, copying, reposting, commenting or rating it. This study shows that the brands are engaging consumers in conversation and interacting with them on an entirely new level. With its ads topping out at $3 million per 30-second spot, the Super Bowl may have found a new incentive to pull in advertisers.

Miracle Whip: Lovers or haters
In a campaign developed by mcgarrybowen, Miracle Whip is embracing the polarizing debate between “lovers" and “haters” of its sandwich spread. It asks the questions: “We’re not for everyone. Are you Miracle Whip?” The YouTube campaign features an interesting lineup of everyday people and celebrities, including Pauly D from "Jersey Shore," political commentator James Carville and comedian Amy Sedaris. Each of them takes a stance on his or her favorite sandwich spread. In the battle of Miracle Whip versus mayonnaise, which do you choose?

Marcom This Week: From A to Zinc is compiled by the Vitamin IMC editorial team. They can be reached at Miss your vitamins last week? Visit the “Marcom this Week” archive.

The efficiencies of a perfect pizza

By Kate Hellman

As an IMC’er, I try to stay abreast of technological trends and advances. IBM has developed a computer that detects nuances in language and meaning. Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland have succeeded in re-creating the conditions that developed shortly after the Big Bang. Google is developing a car that starts, steers, and stops on its own.

And yet none of these developments flabbergast me quite as much as recent technological developments in the greasy pizza industry. A few weekends ago on a frigid Chicago night, some friends and I ordered in Dominos. What I discovered on that night blew me away, admittedly more so than news of recreation of the Big Bang.

When you order a Domino’s pizza online, you can now track it in real-time. Want to know if your pizza is still being prepped, or whether it’s in the oven yet? Pizza Tracker has the answers for you. There’s really nothing quite as satisfying as watching a terrible TV show while simultaneously checking on your pizza every 45 seconds on your computer. Now that’s what I call synergy.

Similarly, Papa John’s (which happens to be my all-time favorite pizza, this coming from a native New Yorker) has stepped up its game in the ever-exciting online world of pizza creation. On, you can personalize your pizza exactly how you want it. Thin or thick crust? Jalapenos or anchovies, three-cheese blend or banana peppers? And do you want those toppings on the left or right side of the pizza? Watch as animations of each topping you select fall onto your virtual pizza like delicious confetti. You can even choose to have your pizza cut in squares. I chose this option last weekend, and was disgruntled to discover that my pizza came sliced normally—not exactly a tragedy, but I was pretty excited about the squares. Of course, if Papa offers all of these options, he should deliver (literally). The risk of disappointing customers given such an array of options must be managed.

The best of all of these websites is Chicago’s own Homemade Pizza Co., where you can even specify a whole wheat crust. The website is as chic and good-looking as the pizzas themselves.

These developments have several critical marketing implications, and apply to far more categories than just pizza. If a brand has a marketing objective to lower costs, driving customers to websites that grant them as much (or more) control over the desired product as they have by phone can significantly decrease calls and other expensive methods of interaction.

That’s great news for companies and stores like Domino’s and Papa John’s, which have only a few employees working at a time. An effective website frees employees from being tied up on the phone and enables them to focus on the product; this is pivotal during busy times, such as Superbowl night for pizza chains. Customers, meanwhile, are more satisfied with the product, given their increased control over everything from amounts of cheese to shapes of slices. In fact, they may even discover options that they didn’t know existed. It’s a win-win for all.

Most importantly, all three pizza websites appear to reflect serious collaboration between IT and marketing. On each page and at each step, brand character is clearly evident. The Domino’s site emphasizes its high-quality ingredients, in line with its recent TV campaign. Papa John’s site makes abundantly clear that it’s the perfect pizza for football games (this aligns with the company’s sponsorship of the NFL). Homemade Pizza Co. has a sleek, earthy-feeling website design for its upscale, health-conscious customers.

In an age of technology with seemingly limitless possibility, collaborations like this, especially in consumer-centric organizations, will move from “strategy” to what Harvard Professor Michael Porter calls “operational effectiveness.” That is, in-house silos will be broken down and collaborations between marketing and IT (and other groups) will become more commonplace. Porter argues that operational effectiveness is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for organizational success. Companies that are not operationally effective make themselves vulnerable, even if they have sound strategy.

That anyone can create their vision for a perfect pizza and have it delivered to their door in 30 minutes proves the pronounced benefits of convergence of marketing communication and IT activities. Companies should take a hint from the Papa and learn that in order to be operationally effective and thus stand a chance of surviving intense competition, these collaborations become as necessary as practices like quality management and benchmarking. Companies with good strategies but that lack partnership among marketing and other groups threaten their own viability. In other words, there’s no other way to go but forward—or, as we like to call it at Medill, towards Integrated Marketing Communications.

Kate Hellman is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School and can be reached at

Friday, February 18, 2011

Marcom this week: From A to zinc – 2/18/11 edition

From Pepsi’s controversial new can to a positive outlook on marketing jobs in 2011, here is a look at what made headlines this week in the integrated marketing communications industry.

Diet Pepsi Slims Down for Fashion Week
Diet Pepsi’s new “skinny” can got some rough reviews when it debuted at New York Fashion Week this week. According to PepsiCo Inc., the “tall, sassier” version of its traditional can celebrates beautiful, confident women. Pepsi, what are you trying to say? Beautiful, confident women don’t come in “traditional” sizes?

Before we hate on Pepsi, let’s look at this from another perspective. Yes, Pepsi’s positioning of the new can is a surefire way to draw negative attention. However, this new attribute does have its benefits. Skinny cans are more ladylike than wide-mouth traditional cans and add a bit of glam to the otherwise mundane activity of drinking a diet cola. We may not love the messaging, but we’re up for throwing a case of these cute cans in our fridge. We’re betting others will too, which begs the question: will this negative publicity hurt or help the brand?

Marketing Jobs on the Rise
Good news for integrated marketing grad students: marketing jobs are on the rise. According to a survey conducted by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association, CMOs plan to hire 50 percent more marketing pros in 2011. Gains in revenue and profits are fueling the new hires, with 69 percent of respondents saying they are more optimistic about the U.S. economy, up from 26 percent the previous quarter.

Couple this news with information about the hottest hiring sectors and you should be heading down a bright career path. As CNBC reported earlier this year, industries promising the most growth include IT, healthcare, transportation and financial services. In fact, according to, 24 percent of hiring managers report plans to hire full-time workers in 2011, up from 20 percent in 2010 and 14 percent in 2009.

Harley Debuts First Crowdsourced Ad
It’s arguable that Harley Davidson has created one of the strongest brand communities of the last century. Now, the motorcycle manufacturer has turned the creative reins over to its customers, asking them to help develop an ad campaign around Harley’s new HD1 program, which allows customers to go online and design their own bike. “No Cages” is the first crowdsourced spot to air. Inspired by Kentuckian Whit Hiler and produced by Boulder, Colo.-based Victors & Spoils, the TV ad pays homage to the freedom felt by Harley riders and owners. So which brand will jump on the crowdsourcing bandwagon next? In addition, while it seems like crowdsourcing and ad agencies are playing nicely, is this technique a threat to creative agencies?

Marcom This Week: From A to Zinc is compiled by the Vitamin IMC editorial team. They can be reached at Miss your vitamins last week? Visit the “Marcom this Week” archive.

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 Brand Bowl Showdown: Groupon vs. LivingSocial

By Carrie Griffith

The battle between the online deal websites Groupon and LivingSocial was one of the most anticipated Super Bowl commercial match-ups this year. Both start-ups used controversial humor in pre-game and Super Bowl spots to get the word out about their daily deal sites. In the aftermath of eyebrow raises and social controversy, did the humor pay off?

From rainforest deforestation to mountainous Tibet, Groupon’s three 30-second spots seemed to have questionable (not to mention controversial) starts. Although the introductions seemed inappropriate, they stayed true to Groupon’s brand personality, known for its quirky lead-ins to deal descriptions. Groupon’s spots also gave non-users a good idea of how the daily deal service works. In the pre-game spot, Cuba Gooding Jr. says: “…since 100 of us bought on, we’re each getting an $86 whale-watching cruise for just $49.”

Groupon definitely flexed its new funding muscles—$377 million to be exact— and spent $3 million to produce and air its three Super Bowl spots. For its first offline advertising effort, the start-up partnered with big-name agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky. In addition to Gooding, the spots featured stars such as Elizabeth Hurley and Timothy Hutton.

Living Social
From golf to go-karts to facials, LivingSocial’s pre-game spot depicted the wide range of deals that consumers can find on the website. In the campaign created by The Martin Agency, one man describes how his life has changed through his addiction to the online daily deals website. The man starts out macho and bearded, but through LivingSocial’s daily deals, ends up dressed as a woman. In the wake of social media backlash, it is obvious that LivingSocial made a big mistake in its choice of humor. Stuart Elliot, writer for The New York Time’s Media Decoder, said it best: “Yes, in 2011, advertisers still believe that transsexuals or cross-dressing is something to laugh at.”

The last time these two start-ups faced off, LivingSocial walked away victorious with the title of “Biggest Daily Deal” by selling over 13 million in the $10 flash deal. In fact, LivingSocial used some of the earning from this deal to fund their Super Bowl pre-game debut.

Who do you think won the offline match-up? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tobaccowala kicks off 2011 IMC Professional Speakers Series

By Courtney Uchytil

Rishad Tobaccowala is a marketing innovator, business leader, the chief strategy and innovation officer of Vivaki, and CEO of Denuo. And this Monday, Rishad will be the kick-off lecturer for the IMC Professional Speakers Series for the Northwestern Medill community.

In anticipation of the event, Rishad was kind enough to give us a little insight into his thoughts on social media, the blogosphere and Twitter

As a guest speaker for the Integrated Marketing Communications program, what does IMC mean to you? And how to you see IMC fitting into the marketing world?

RT: IMC to me is the future of how marketing will be done. In a digital age the old silos of marketing, from promotion to PR to advertising, etc., are collapsing and what matters is planning/measuring across all connection points of paid, owned and earned media driven by consumer insight and business metrics. I see IMC as ideal for this hybrid/mongrel marketing world, which combines data and insight, science and art.

I believe the biggest thing IMC should plan and plot about is how to measure and plan across paid, owned and earned media. Today database marketing and understanding a person’s media usage and the context in which it is used is critical and will remain critical. But over time instead of marketing types (above line or below line) or forms (analog or digital) it will be about paid, owned and earned connections.

How effective are blogs and other social media as a form of word of mouth?

Hugely effective especially when used in combination. Blogs are where your content is written and stored and discussed, while social media like Twitter and Facebook are where they are promoted and to a certain extent discussed.
As you know I have a blog, which I promote on Twitter (@rishadt) which is connected to my Facebook page and LinkedIn page. If I post a blog there is little traffic until I tweet about it. If people like it they retweet. So for instance, when I blogged about the four trends of 2011, I tweeted it to my 3,800 followers. Now at any time only a fraction will see my message and a fraction will click on the link. But because those that did liked it, they tweeted and retweeted it and so within a week I had nearly 10,000 visitors. Social media is the new discovery engine.

In one interview you referred to Twitter as a “great discovery engine.” How do you see the role of Twitter evolving over time?

As noted I believe social media (not just Twitter, but Twitter is the most effective in promoting discovery) is a discovery engine. I see Twitter evolving in the following ways:

A) It becomes a place where you discover things in real time.

B) It becomes a place where you search for things and perspectives (which is why Twitter made $140 million in advertising because brands are now promoting tweets, promoting their accounts and promoting trends). It is an addition to Google.

C) It is where you eventually will have curators. For instance, I make lists of people who are very good at pointing things in art or film, and I look at these lists almost like a magazine article by a critic pointing me to important things.

Faculty and students, make sure to RSVP to the event to reserve your spot and to hear more of what Rishad has to say. The lecture starts at 4p.m. in the MTC Forum, Monday, February 7.

Courtney Uchytil is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School and can be reached at

Marcom this week: From A to zinc – 2/4/11 edition

Despite Blizzard 2011 wreaking havoc on one in three Americans this week, the marketing industry managed to squeak in a few of its own headlines. Put aside the snow shovel and check out what you may have missed while digging out from the storm.

Print media on track to rise again?
The week was chock full of big announcements from leading print publishers. Just when we thought print was a dying media, it appears some pubs may be on their way back to the top. Leading the pack was, which reached 1 billion page views in January, according to Omniture. This is a first for People, and for all magazine websites.

People wasn’t the only Time Inc. publication making waves this week. In fact, the publisher claimed four of the top five magazines most followed on Twitter. According to Folio, People, Time, InStyle and Women’s Wear Daily topped the list. Entertainment Weekly came in fifth.

Perhaps the most anticipated news came from News Corp., which announced its iPad-only newspaper, The Daily. As Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman and CEO, said, “iPad demands that we rethink our craft.” Developed in partnership with Apple, the made-for-tablet pub will cost users $40 a year.

With advertising revenues decline, the Web is where publishers are hoping to cash in. However, billions of page views and highly followed Twitter handles don’t generate cash on their own. In addition, while The Daily may set the tone for the future of the news business model, we’re left wondering who its audience is. We applaud these media companies for their efforts, but hope their strategies are fully baked.

Gap names new CMO
Change is on the horizon for Gap, which ushered in a new CMO this week: Seth Farbman. No doubt the past few months have been rough for the retailer. As Vitamin IMC previously reported, Gap’s new logo was a major flop and the brand took a hit when its “Made in USA” charitable tote bags turned out to be a product of China.

With Farbman, who is currently worldwide managing director for Ogilvy & Mather, at the helm, Gap hopes to set itself on a course to better performance in North America. Ogilvy also is stepping in as Gap’s worldwide agency of record, replacing Laird & Partners. While the retailer denies these changes are a result of the logo fiasco, we find this hard to believe. Here’s to hoping 2011 brings the brand better luck than last year.

Love doesn’t conquer all, but money does
When offered a choice between great sex every week for five years and free chocolate every week for five years, U.S. women pick sex 73 percent of the time. Throw a one-lump sum of $1,000 into the mix, and the majority of women (91 percent) choose the cash over weekly chocolate. These findings from the latest Saatchi Wellness and Time Inc. annual tracking study shed light on a growing trend: the “Me-Covery.” That is, women increasing spending on beauty and health products and services.

This shift is evident in the growing percentage of women who are spending money on anti-aging products and salon services – both were up nearly 20 percent in 2010. It appears women are loosening their purse strings and putting aside recessionary spending habits, which should bode well for marketers of health and beauty products.

Marcom this week: From A to zinc is compiled by the Vitamin IMC editorial team. They can be reached at Miss your vitamins last week? Visit the “Marcom this Week” from January 28.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Call in the experts, Taco Bell

By Katie Lombardi

Thank you for suing us.

You just read the first line in Taco Bell’s rebuttal to a class action lawsuit that claims the fast food chain doesn’t use real beef in its tacos and burritos. Last Friday, Taco Bell hit the public with a massive ad campaign to make it clear to the people who are suing them: "Not only is your claim a lie, but guess what? We are going to sue you!"

Public relations professionals know that in most cases it’s better to respond than to say nothing at all. Taco Bell’s tongue-in-cheek ad will certainly grab the attention of consumers but will it convince them that the Bell's seasoned beef is really 88% beef and 12% secret recipe?

I am not convinced. However, I don’t typically eat at Taco Bell so the lawsuit and its allegations aren’t changing my behavior. Taco Bell probably shouldn’t worry about consumers like me anyway. But for those customers who are actually raising an eyebrow at the idea that its meat filling is a mixture of oats, ground meat, and whatever else is thrown in there, it’s time to call in an expert. Edelman just released the results from its 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer, which show Americans don’t want to hear from “a guy like me” (think Jarred from Subway). They want to hear from a trusted expert. Americans want a response from the CEO of a company or someone who has substantial credentials and authority.

My advice to Taco Bell: Hire a team of food scientists to test and confirm that your beef is really beef. And if you can’t back up your claim then it’s time to be more transparent with the public. It’s difficult to sound believable when you’re the second guy to scream foul. It’s turning into a “he said, she said” game and for people who do care, Taco Bell should do more than just run a snarky ad campaign.

But again I have to ask, do people really care and why? You’re eating Taco Bell, not buying organic groceries at Whole Foods. Are you really that surprised?

Katie Lombardi is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School and can be reached at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Artists marketing outside of the entertainment machine

By Chris Millichap

When I was 13 years old I had a dial-up modem, a Compaq desktop, and a copy of Napster. In the eyes of the record labels, I was public enemy #1. Labels hated me for making fewer trips to Best Buy, and major artists like Dr Dre and Metallica hated me for taking money out of their pockets.

That was 1999. Fast forward to 2011. Download speeds are faster, technology is better, and the 25-year-old version of me can now access an entire band’s discography on my cell phone while waiting for a bus in the same amount of time it took me in ‘99 to download the mp3 for Smashmouth’s “All Star” (a track I am not necessarily proud of owning).

More than a decade later and the record labels and movie studios still feel their worst enemy is the pirating consumer. But they may have a bigger issue on their hands: content producers jumping ship.

When it comes down to it, record labels and movie studios are nothing more than a means for distribution and marketing. But in the age of digital downloads and Facebook friends, the entertainment marketing techniques of old have been proven obsolete.

In 2000, while Metallica and those sub-par rockers from the Great North, Nickelback, were complaining about losing money on illegal downloads, other bands who never dreamed of a record contract were seeing unparalleled success. Dispatch, an independent jam band from Vermont, had failed to find much of an audience outside of Northeast college campuses. But thanks to Napster, word-of-mouth peer-to-peer downloads spread their music and opened up doors for nationwide tours. The band broke up in 2002, but held a reunion show in 2007 that managed to sell out Madison Square Garden… three nights in a row. All of this without a single track on Top 40 radio. They announced a tour this June that has already sold-out shows at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Boston’s TD Garden, and Chicago’s Millennium Park. All from fans who received a presale code when they spread the word about the show on their Twitter feeds and Facebook updates. In addition to the presale code, they were also given free access to the band’s entire discography.

While a small band finding success on the Internet doesn’t turn many heads at the labels, the story is different when a major established act follows suit. In October of 2007, Radiohead ended their relationship with record giant EMI to release their new album In Rainbows independently online, allowing fans to pay whatever price they wanted for the material. Their reasoning: the record label was no longer necessary. While labels felt the distribution would prove a massive disaster, the album actually came out as number one in both UK and US Billboard charts upon release.

Much the same is beginning to be seen in movies. Director Kevin Smith (best known for his cult classics Mallrats, Clerks, and Dogma) made waves at Sundance Film Festival last week when he announced he would not be selling distribution rites for his newest release, Red State, to a movie studio. His rationale: he has more Twitter fans, podcast listeners, and social network friends than any studio in Hollywood – why would he pay someone else for marketing when he can do it better himself? Instead of a wide-release, Smith is taking his movie on a road show this March, hitting venues across the country. The event kicks off at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall March 5.

So while EMI and 20th Century Fox hire copyright lawyers to chase down every kid with a computer and WiFi, they may be missing the bigger threat to their future revenues. As social media influence increases, the strength of entertainment giants as an integral part of the process is subsiding quickly. In the near future we may see the end of labels and studios, not from lost profits on illegal pirating, but the departure of artists altogether. Because it does not matter how big your company is, you can’t market what you don’t own.

Chris Millichap is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School and can be reached via Twitter @ChrisMillichap.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Marcom this week: From A to zinc – 1/27/11 edition

From social networks' expanded ad offerings to celebrity endorsement ads for the Super Bowl, here is a look at what made headlines this week in the integrated marketing communications industry.

Social networks expand ad offerings
Facebook made a move this week to provide more social context for advertisements through Sponsored Stories. The Sponsored Stories format ditches the days of stock promotional copy and serves ads based on user interactions with a brand. The ads leverage the power a personal network has on purchase decisions by pulling content from a user’s feed to display on their friend’s page. Research shows that contextually targeted ads are more relevant to users, which increases ad effectiveness. Sounds like it will be a win-win for Facebook’s advertisers and users.

LinkedIn also beefed up its display ad offering, announcing many new features, including expanded targeting that enables advertisers to serve ads based on age, location, job title, and seniority. The expanded features were launched in an effort to improve LinkedIn's ad effectiveness and increase its share of revenue from display advertising.

With rumors swirling around impending initial public offerings, both social networking giants are finding more and more ways to monetize their sites. What do you think will be next?

Edelman Trust Barometer®: Trust across all U.S. institutions declines
According to the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer survey, the U.S. is the only country to see trust in business and government decline. This statistic is not surprising following years of financial crisis and corporate scandal. To build trust, President and CEO Richard Edelman recommends corporations adopt a new trust architecture built on profits with a purpose, transparency in reporting, and multi-channel/multi-communicator engagement.

Super Bowl update: Celebrity endorsements all the rage

The Super Bowl is synonymous with attention-getting, low-relevance advertisemenSuperBowl 2011ts. A couple of weeks ago Vitamin IMC reported that the 2010 Celebrity Advertisements study found that celebrity ads performed below (or on par) with other advertisements. Despite these findings, advertisers continue to sign on hot (and expensive) celebrity personalities to push their product during the big game. A few noteworthy pairings include Kim Kardashian for Sketchers and Justin Bieber for Best Buy. And don’t forget about the yet-to-be-revealed mystery celeb for GoDaddy.

Marcom this week: From A to zinc is compiled by the Vitamin IMC editorial team. They can be reached at Miss your vitamins last week? Visit January 21's “Marcom This Week.”

Friday, January 21, 2011

LivingSocial’s $10 Amazon deal: Who’s the real winner?

By Lauren Elizabeth Chapman

On Wednesday morning, LivingSocial released its biggest daily deal to date: a $20 Amazon gift card at a cost of only $10 to LivingSocial members. With almost 1.4 million purchases made in 24 hours across 170 markets in the U.S., the deal topped the chart for most buzz, in addition to setting the record for most purchased coupon on a daily deal site. What’s the thinking behind such a bold marketing play by both LivingSocial and Am

From the start, LivingSocial has struggled to gain as much popularity and to distinguish itself from its main rival Groupon, as well as the other online group deal sites that have sprung up in the past year. Most likely, the Amazon deal was meant to compete with Groupon’s biggest deal to date, the $50 Gap deal offered for $25 in August 2010 that had almost a half million purchases.
It may have come as a surprise to many, but the partnership between LivingSocial and Amazon on this deal is not shocking. In December 2010, Amazon invested $175 million in LivingSocial, which is expected to report over $500 million in revenues this year. It makes sense that out of all online retailers, Amazon would be LivingSocial’s go-to option, as Amazon has a vested interest in LivingSocial’s success.

The more important question is which company will be taking a bigger financial hit from the discount? The deal suggests that LivingSocial purchased the gift cards directly from Amazon, rather than Amazon selling the discount through the LivingSocial site (which is how deals are typically handled). So, is LivingSocial eating the discount as a marketing expense in hopes that it will regain the sales over time from new member subscriptions? Or was Amazon willing to sell the gift cards at a discount knowing that the expense would be recouped through LivingSocial purchases on its site, which would most likely be more than $20?

With this deal, I think LivingSocial was extremely successful in its attempt to get its name more widely known and to compete with Groupon on a higher level. Not only did LivingSocial triple Groupon’s previous one-day purchase record, it also created tremendous online buzz. Members jumped on Facebook and Twitter after making their purchases to post the deal in hopes that three friends would buy–making their deal free. Now that it’s added thousands of subscribers, LivingSocial could do even more to distinguish itself by using the idea of me + 3 = free to entice purchases. Though after Wednesday’s frenzy, LivingSocial is definitely one step closer to catching up or even taking the lead in the online daily deal space.

Tell us: Did you purchase the Amazon deal Wednesday? Are daily deal sites good for consumers as well as the companies that promote their deals on the sites? And how will Google change the game once it launches Google Offers?

Lauren Elizabeth Chapman is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School and can be reached at

Marcom this week: From A to zinc – 1/21/11 edition

From the New York Times’ paywall announcement to Steve Jobs’ medical leave of absence, here is a look at what made headlines this week in the integrated marketing communications industry.

New York Times Wil
l Charge
Nonsubscribers for Access

Beginning by the end of this month, the New York Times will charge nonsubscribers less than $20 a month for full access to its Web content. The yet-to-be-announced price will strategically fall below the paper’s $19.99 a month subscription rate on Amazon’s Kindle. Users will be able to read a certain number of articles free each month; to read more, the reader must pay a flat fee for unlimited access. The paywall will provide the paper with a needed revenue stream in the face of dropping ad sales; however, yet to be determined is whether this fee will chase away readers. Signs seem to point to no, as the pay structure should have little effect on light readers, and loyal readers will most likely hand over the money to ensure uninterrupted access.

The New York Times is not the first paper to initiate a paywall, nor will it be the last. Which media outlets do you think will be next?

Can Apple Survive Without Jobs?
It was a week of highs and lows for Apple. On Monday, the company’s CEO Steve Jobs announced his third medical leave of absence. The following day, Apple announced it sold 7.33 million iPads during the first quarter of its 2011 fiscal year, bringing total sales to nearly 15 million. This is an impressive feat considering the tablet category did not yet exist a year ago. However, Apple’s string of hits, including the iTouch, iPhone and MacBook Air, are a reminder of the important role Apple's CEO plays in the company’s innovation process. In the near term, Jobs’ absence should not hinder Apple’s success. However, with the rapid pace of new product introductions, it is imperative the company keep its innovation process moving ahead at full speed.

Despite “Golden Voice,” Kraft Ad Is Flat

The much-anticipated Kraft Macaroni & Cheese commercial featuring Ted Williams – the homeless man with the golden voice – debuted this week. Unfortunately, amidst all the hype and fanfare the TV ad fell flat. Yes, Williams’ voice added some punch to what would otherwise have been a traditional mac ‘n cheese ad. And, yes, the commercial has become a viral sensation, garnering more than 700,000 views and snagging the No. 6 spot on the Viral Video Chart. But despite a captive audience, the ad did nothing to position Kraft as a forward-thinking brand. Rather, the spot, created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky, reinforces age-old stereotypes of wives cooking in the kitchen and insensitive husbands coming home with last-minute dinner guests. We learn from the ad that Kraft’s Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese is a quick dinner solution, but the brand clearly missed an opportunity to tell us something more.

Marcom this week: From A to zinc is compiled by the Vitamin IMC editorial team. They can be reached at Miss your vitamins last week? Visit January 14's “Marcom This Week.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Heineken, give yourself a good name

By Kate Hellman

While participating in a panel at the Albert Lasker event hosted by Medill last October, Susan Credle, creative director at Leo Burnett USA, made a comment that really stuck with me. She said that a product or brand is not the only thing we serve when we advertise: “I think we have to serve the community…the world…[and] the people. Which is that we are inviting them to public spaces not unlike architecture.”

It’s true that great ads enhance public space. They make you stop, think, and look, like good art. Other ads seem to have mindboggling disregard for the notion of advertising as a public space.

That is why the Heineken TV ad “The Tiger” leaves me feeling violated in my own living room. The ad shows a man at a wedding reception. He spots an attractive woman, and we assume he will go straight for her. Instead, he charms her by asking an elderly woman sitting next to her to dance (after leaving her with a Heineken, of course). Now, if this ad had been muted, I too would have been charmed off my feet. After all, what woman doesn’t appreciate an attractive gentleman? But then, the ad turns itself on its head. The voiceover says, “There are two types of tigers. One that goes straight for the prey and one that makes the prey surrender to him.”

I hope I speak for women and men alike in that calling a woman “prey” is not just demeaning; it’s sick. As a noun prey means "an animal taken by a predator as food" and conjures the image of a helpless animal being attacked and mauled to death. In a world where women are brutally raped and killed every single day, making a woman analogous to prey is beyond appalling.

The last shot of the ad displays the campaign’s theme, “Give Yourself a Good Name.” Well, Heineken, here is my suggestion to you: Take a cue from the classy man in your ad and give your own brand a good name. Simply substituting the word “lady” for “prey” would accomplish this nicely by bringing women back to human status.

Your ad is shown in public space, where women exist as 50 percent of the population and also happen to be some of your most loyal customers. I would really love to be able to drink a frosty Heineken tall boy without envisioning myself dead in a forest with flies buzzing around me.

Note: Very recently, Heineken changed the word “prey” to “prize.” While not quite as tasteless as referring to her as prey, it still leaves her as a possession to be conquered.

Kate Hellman is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School and can be reached at

Friday, January 14, 2011

Marcom this week: From A to zinc – 1/14/11 edition

From the downfall of celebrity endorsements to eco-friendly TV ads, here is a look at what made headlines this week in the integrated marketing communications industry.

Celebrity Ads Miss the Mark

New research from Ace Metrix may finally dispel the myth that celebrity ad endorsements enhance persuasion and improve advertising effectiveness. According to the
2010 Celebrity Advertisements study, in 2009 celebrity ads either performed below average or merely equaled it. On average, celebrity ads resulted in a -1.4 percent lift, while non-celebrity ads generated an 8 percent lift. Those topping the list of worse ads included Tiger Woods for Nike in “Did You Learn Anything?”and Lance Armstrong for Radio Shack in “No Emoticons.”

Why the lack of love for these hot shots? Participants reported that many celebrity ads lacked information and relevancy. It is not surprising consumers do not appreciate celebrities pushing messages at them. Today, consumers control the flow of information. They pull what they need from a variety of sources – most importantly, their social networks. Celebrities are not part of these networks, so push as they might, it is unlikely consumers will budge.

In fairness, 12 percent of celebrity ads did achieve a 10 percent or greater lift. These included spots from Progressive featuring Oprah Winfrey and Snickers featuring Betty White and Aretha Franklin.

CBS Gives “Green”
Advertisers Stamp of Approval
Beginning next week, CBS will include an EcoAd visual “digital” leaf on TV commercials for green advertisers. These advertisers are participating in the network’s sustainable media program, managed by EcoMedia. By purchasing these value-add spots, a portion of the advertisers’ dollars go toward urban reforestation projects, solar installations and affordable housing projects in cities nationwide. Sponsors include Chevrolet, Safeway, O Organics and Boston Scientific, among others.

EcoMedia launched in 2002; however, this is the first time we've heard about the EcoAd program. With EcoAd sponsors set to receive primetime attention, we are curious to see how CBS grows this program.

Working Out with “The Captain”

According to Captain Morgan, pirates are famous for three things: looting, pillaging and developing high-intensity, low-impact resistance training programs. What better way to market the latter of these skills than with a workout video? This three-minute web video produced by Pereira & O’Dell features The Captain in an infomercial about his life-changing workout routine. You do not want to miss the testimonials.

Captain Morgan was not the only adult-beverage company hitting the web with a film short this week. Heineken debuted a 90-second video entitled
“The Entrance.” Produced by Weiden & Kennedy, the spot features a man with perfect party-entrance timing. Both brands pumped significant marketing dollars into the production of these web-only videos, strengthening the argument that marketers are placing greater importance on the web.

Marcom This Week: From A to Zinc is compiled by the Vitamin IMC editorial team. They can be reached at Miss your vitamins last week? View January 7th's “Marcom This Week."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Noodles in Nigeria: Adapting to cultural change

By Lenny Layman

“Did you know that
IndoMie (an Indonesian brand) instant noodles are a big hit in Nigeria?” said Eugene, between mouthfuls of rice.

“Really? But why?” I asked.

“Well, the company’s really smart,” he replied. “It marketed the noodles to kids at first. The product’s novelty and great taste attracted an immediate following. The kids then pressured their moms to buy the noodles for them. Even the men now love noodles ‘cause they’re much faster to prepare than their normal meal.”

It was my last night in Singapore, my native country, and I was in the company of old school friends. The next morning, I would be returning to the United States, where I’ve lived for the past eight years. As I looked around at my friends—a mixed lot in terms of ethnicity, nationality, marital status and the industries we work in—I reflected on the rapid changes in Singapore I’ve observed every year during my return visits.

For most of the ‘80s and ‘90s, American and Japanese culture dominated Singapore’s retail environment. Today, Chinese and South Korean influences permeate mainstream
tastes in food, entertainment and consumer electronics. The expatriate community has also broadened beyond Americans, British and Australians to include Mainland Chinese, Indians and even Russians.

Big changes. My advice to those marketing products in Asia:

  • Identify commonalities in target audience to achieve effective segmentation.
    Consumers are inundated by choice in a region heavily courted by global brands and local variants. To rise above the noise, effective segmentation based on a sophisticated understanding of audience behaviors, values and attitudes, alongside demographic attributes, becomes key. I’ve seen too many ads that still “push” product features. Few “pull” the consumer in like this ad by the late filmmaker and former creative director at Leo Burnett Malaysia, Yasmin Ahmad.

  • Adapt concepts to resonate with target segments.
    At my first job at an ad agency, each launch campaign was executed in multiple languages: English, Mandarin and Malay. Concepts were adapted, translated and tested to ensure cultural relevance. Imagery was carefully chosen so as to not offend.
  • Connect with customers where they are most comfortable.
    Asia is a region of diversity beyond language and culture. The rate of adoption of new media channels and technology varies too. While the Internet and self-service kiosks are popular transaction mediums, the older generation still prefers lining up at post offices and banks. From a media standpoint, the environment is littered as much by electronic billboards, similar to New York City’s Times Square, as by flyers and pamphlets painstakingly distributed by hourly paid workers.
Right: An underground train station becomes a canvas for the latest Hollywood offering.

So what does this all mean for a marketer? Understanding consumers remains a priority. However, with changes in the population, it’s even more important that marketers themselves evolve. It may be advantageous to learn Mandarin to embrace the tide of change that is China. As a parallel, I’ve noted how my Chinese friends, whose work has taken them to Indonesia, have adopted Bahasa.

If an Indonesian brand could successfully penetrate a West African country, odd pairings in other parts of the world certainly stand a fair chance. Marketers simply need to listen, communicate and interact with consumers.

Lenny M. Layman is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School and can be reached at

Friday, January 7, 2011

Can Starbucks' "Siren" hold her own?

By Hillary Grey

In March, the Starbucks mermaid, or Siren, will get a new look. To mark its 40-year anniversary, Starbucks will update its logo by removing the words “Starbucks Coffee” and featuring the all-green Siren.

In light of the recent fallout from the Gap logo fiasco, tweaking the current logo is a better choice than a complete redesign, especially considering Starbucks’ incredible following. But the real questions are: can Starbucks sustain its brand image without any mention of coffee in the logo and is the Siren as well known as McDonald’s golden arches or Nike’s swoosh?

My thoughts: yes and yes. Starbucks is a global phenomenon with more than 16,700 stores in 50 different countries. Loyal customers will continue their morning, afternoon or evening ritual of a Starbucks fix regardless of what the cup says, and new customers will quickly catch on when they see their peers holding cups branded with the updated logo.

The logo change signifies that the company is updating aspects of its business model. By removing the words “Starbucks Coffee” from its logo, Starbucks will have more freedom to feature new food groups. To that end, in the social media world, rumors are starting about the possibility of offering a full breakfast or serving alcohol at night in select locations.

Come March, Starbucks management will see if customers like the change, but I’d bet that double caramel non-fat tall lattes are here to stay.

Hillary Grey is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School and can be reached at

Marcom this week: From A to zinc – 1/7/11 edition

From Oprah Winfrey’s successful cable network launch to cash inflows and employee outflows at top social networking companies, here’s a look at what made headlines this week in the integrated marketing communications industry.

OWN Debuts with Strong Numbers
Early results show Oprah Winfrey’s new cable network – OWN – enjoyed a successful launch on New Year’s Day. For its Saturday premiere, OWN was the No. 3 cable network among women ages 25 to 54 during the 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. hours, averaging 1.2 million viewers per time slot. Sunday proved tougher, with the network attracting 968,000 viewers for the launch of “Ask Oprah’s All Stars” and only 602,000 viewers for “Master Class.” Although Oprah has a solid track record and loyal following, extending her personal brand to include a cable network isn’t without risk. However, backed by the world’s leading tastemaker, along with the many stars she has helped make famous, we don’t think the network is in bad shape. With the launch complete, we’re anxious to see the full programming schedule – and what product integration opportunities it will afford marketers.

Social Networking Site Shakeups

2011 is ushering in big changes at top social networking companies, including Facebook, Myspace and LinkedIn.

In an effort to stay private longer, Facebook struck a deal with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Digital Sky Technologies, among others, to raise $500 million. The agreement values Facebook at $50 billion. The deal also puts Facebook over the critical 500-shareholder limit set by the Securities and Exchange Commission, meaning it will be forced to begin disclosing financial information or host an initial public offering by April 2012.

In other IPO news, LinkedIn plans to go public this year, according to sources close to the matter. In fact, the social network is expected to deliver a prospectus as soon as this quarter. The company’s estimated value is $2.2 billion.

Unfortunately for Myspace, its future doesn’t look as bright. It’s rumored the social network will soon announce massive layoffs, which could lead to reductions in staff by as much as 50 percent. This news follows the company’s 30 percent reduction in staff that occurred last summer. Myspace recently redesigned its site, but it continues to lose market share, dropping to 4.75 percent after losing nearly 7 percent over the past year.

LEGO® Makes it “Click”

Thanks to this latest film short from LEGO, this week we enjoyed a momentary return to the innocent and imaginative days of childhood. Entitled “Brick Thief,” the video promotes LEGO’s idea hive, Click, which provides an online forum for sharing stories, videos and photos that depict moments of inspiration. “Brick Thief” is a sequel to “Cl!ck” and features the same oddly spectacled and mustachioed Imagineer hard at work in his lab on his latest LEGO creation. We bet you’ll be scrambling to dig out your LEGO Pirate’s Fort set before it's over.

Marcom This Week: From A to Zinc is compiled by the Vitamin IMC editorial team. They can be reached at Miss your vitamins last week? View Jan. 1's “Marcom This Week."