Being both a marketing student at university and an avid fan of the Gruen Transfer, I was perplexed when Kraft decided to name their new Vegemite spread thing “iSnack2.0”. It seemed to be an extremely ill-informed and just lazy attempt at labelling a product- to basically ride on the coattails of the ubiquitous nature of all things “i(insert product here)” related. However, it is now evident that this was all just a step in their master plan. For despite what the spokespeople say, this WAS a publicity stunt. How do I know this? Because of New Coke.
In the mid 80’s, Coke was fighting a losing battle with Pepsi for the no. 1 position in the unbelievably lucrative softdrink market. Through a series of blind taste tests (where the participant either wears a blindfold or drinks from identical, unmarked cups) they determined that a majority of respondents preferred the sweet flavour of Pepsi over Coke. To combat this, the company decided to create a new version of Coke, one much more similar in taste to Pepsi. As it fared much better in testing, they decided to go all out in marketing the product, and replaced all existing old stock with the new one. It was initially a massive success, but much like Hulk with Eric Bana, negative word-of-mouth spread about it and revenue plummeted.
But wait! Just as public dissatisfaction was at an all-time high, Coca-Cola bravely announced the return of “Classic Coke”. It was a triumphant return, with sales immediately placing firmly as the no. 1 softdrink in the marketplace. For people remembered what it was they liked about the original Coke, and hence bought it in droves.
How is the iSnack situation similar? Well, the almost universal cold reception of the name must have surely been anticipated by the marketing management, just like the backlash against New Coke would have been. For this reason, I believe both to be just large, expensive stunts; stunts that I marvel at. For as the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity.
Now onto a random tangent.
I am a lover of sports movies. For me (and numerous friends), Remember the Titans is a perfect example of what a sports movie can be- a true story about an underdog, excellent sporting scenes, and Denzel Washington in his glorious prime. However, I have a bone to pick, pardon the pun, with the creators of the Air Bud franchise. Let’s go through the five movies that have been made revolving around the famous golden retriever:
- Air Bud- The original, in which it is discovered Buddy has an uncanny ability to play basketball, and leads his owner’s school basketball team to a championship victory.
- Air Bud: Golden Receiver- Where it is discovered Buddy has an uncanny ability to play American football, and leads his owner’s school football team to a championship.
- Air Bud: World Pup- Where it is discovered Buddy has an uncanny ability to play soccer, and leads his owner’s school soccer team to the state championship.
- Air Bud: Seventh Innings Fetch- Where it is discovered Buddy has an uncanny ability to play baseball, though in this film he is deservedly called up to the Major League.
- Air Bud: Spikes Back- Where it is discovered Buddy has an uncanny ability to play volleyball… do I really need to explain what happens?
Obviously this is just an example of terribly repetitive and lazy scriptwriting, but even so, what the hell! I could maybe comprehend a dog being a great footballer, given their exceptional acceleration and evasiveness, but basketball? We’re meant to believe that not only does he have the cognitive ability to grasp the fundamental objectives of basketball, but also the physical attributes needed to accomplish these? He stands 2 feet tall! And how would you expect him to grasp the concept of foot faults in volleyball, or slide tackles in soccer? HE’S A DOG!
Yeah. That’s all.