Monthly Archives: November 2012

Online Shopping for Environmental Products



There was been a great deal written about the growth of environmentally-friendly and organic products. Consumers are becoming more environmentally-aware and are concerned with the impact on their health as well as the Earth. Companies are responding to these needs by disclosing information about their sustainability programs, product ingredients, and carbon footprints. And, jumping feet-first into the environmental market for consumers who want to buy green products is Amazon’s recent entry via its new Web site –

Vine represents another targeted foray for Amazon as the company continues to expand into specific market segments. The company bought Quidsi several years ago to run Web sites focused on separate target markets including for baby items, for pets, for toys, for household cleaning products, for home products, and more. (To help shoppers quickly view and relate these specific topics, viewing one of the sites brings up a top-level tab for the sister sites.)

Vine sells products ranging from cleaning supplies, beauty products, clothing, baby products, groceries, pet supplies, and more. In order for products to be included on Vine, they must fit into one of these categories: remove toxins, energy-efficient, natural, organic, renewable energy, reusable, made of sustainable materials, or water-efficient. Vine also has sections of the site stocked with fair-trade products that are made within 100 miles of the consumer’s home.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Bring up the site – Note the listings at top of site for the sister sites owned by Amazon.
  2. Also bring up Amazon’s primary Web site and scroll to the bottom of the page. Note the various other sites such as fabric, audible, MyHabit, and more.
  3. Discuss how Amazon is expanding from its primary one-size-fits-all site ( into sites targeted at specific markets.
  4. What are the synergies for Amazon? What are the concerns and risks?

Source:  New York Times, 9/26/12

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Ads Worth Spreading



Advertising surrounds us. It is on billboards, radio, television, buses, buildings, clothing, video, movies, Internet, and more. No matter how much we might want to get away from advertising, we cannot. But maybe, just maybe, sometimes there are advertisements worth viewing and spreading. Maybe there are ads that expand how we think and believe. Maybe there are ads with valuable messages. What are these ads, and who puts them together?

Thus began TED’s “Ads Worth Spreading” initiative designed to spark conversations about creating not only effective advertising, but also great content. The goal of the initiative is to promote the types of advertising and videos that people actually want to find and view. TED put together six teams with the goal of seeking out compelling ads. Each team examined ads according to key themes. The teams found that ads must be driven by ideas, and they must be integrated into social media marketing; today’s ads are posted on YouTube, tweeted, shared on Facebook, and live far beyond the initial 30 second viewing.

View the winning ads and judge if you think the winning messages are compelling.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the purpose of advertising as part of marketing campaigns.
  2. What makes ads memorable? What are the goals of advertisements? Should goals always be profit-oriented?
  3. Download the full report from TED:
  4. Show the videos:
  5. Divide students into groups. Have each group analyze one of the winning advertisements with respect to the following: target market, message, value, why the ad is worth spreading.
  6. Have each group report on their findings.
  7. Assign each group another product (not part of the winning group) and have them find an ad for the product online. What could be done to take an existing ad and turn it into a winner?


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‘Uncle Drew’ Keeps Pepsi Young





The youth of the world always think they are better than the old folks. After all, they are young, fast, quick, smart, savvy, and well… young. So, what happens when young basketball players take on the old folks in a pick-up game on local courts in New Jersey and Los Angeles? It starts as expected with the old guys getting ‘schooled’ by the youngsters. But something happened midway in the game when old guys brought their game to an entirely new level of play – totally dominating the younger players who can only stare in open-mouthed disbelief at the old players.



Who are these guys? Well, the old players aren’t really old – in fact, they are two of the top professional basketball players in the nation. With a little help from Hollywood makeup artists, star players Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) and  Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) try to get the old team back together on a road trip. The first Uncle Drew video has more than 17 million views, and the second video quickly amassed more than 5 million views in the first few days.

The videos are a big hit for Pepsi Max and illustrate the product’s tag line of “a zero-calorie cola in disguise.” As a product in the mature stage of its product life cycle, Pepsi brings an “A-game” to the courts. A lesson to marketers: things are not always what they first appear to be.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

1.      Start with a discussion about product life cycle.
2.      Have students identify products that fit into each of the product life cycle stages: introduction, growth, maturity, decline.
3.      Discuss how products can maintain market share in the maturity stage. What tactics work best? What happens in the competitive space?
4.      Then show Pepsi’s Uncle Drew videos (Note: While many students will seen these videos already, but they have not connected the use of the videos to the PLC stages.) How do these videos fit the techniques needed for products in a mature industry?
5.      Divide students into groups: Similar to the Uncle Drew videos, have each group develop a tactic that could be used for a product in each of the product life cycle stages.

Source:, 11/6/12

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