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Brands Embrace Earth Day 2021

The world’s first Earth Day events started in 1970; it was the 51st anniversary this year on April 22nd. Supporting environmental protection activities, Earth Day includes numerous events held around the globe. Last year more than 100 million people participated in what has been called one of the largest mass mobilizations ever! The climate demands our attention.

Many companies are using creative ways to get our focus on Mother Earth this year. Restaurant Panera is recognizing the growing use of biking during the pandemic and how Panera fits in by copying its signature bread bowl shape into a bicycle basket. The bike is olive green and the basket is bread-brown, making it easy to cart around foods and goods. Panera was the first chain to label its food to show carbon footprint as well as nutrition and calorie counts. According to the company “if every Panera customer ordered a Cool Food item on April 22 it would – compared to the average American diet – reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking more than 1,100 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.”

Another Earth Day event was burger chain Carl’s Jr. teaming up with Beyond Meat at one of Carl’s Jr. Los Angeles restaurant. It gave away free plant-based burgers and offered faux meat sandwiches for $5 via an email promotion. Carl’s Jr. already carries a Beyond Meat burger patty and has sold more than 12 million Beyond Meat burgers. The event was intended to draw in younger, flexitarian-diet customers. According to a University of Michigan research study, Beyond Meats “products need 46% less energy, generate 90% less greenhouse gas emissions than a standard beef patty, and have 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use.”

How will you embrace the environment?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Quiz students on their knowledge of Earth Day: https://www.earthday.org/
  2. View video from the first Earth Day from CBS News: https://youtu.be/WbwC281uzUs
  3. Additional videos on YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkWeBkq4KGaN7N8PMWgfOLw
  4. Discuss the promotions being done by companies such as Panera and Carl’s Jr.,
  5. Panera video: https://youtu.be/uqcWXh2WqOc
  6. Beyond Meat’s site: https://www.beyondmeat.com/whats-new/go-beyond-this-earth-day/
  7. Students could also quickly research Earth Day news stories on their laptops and phones.
  8. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop an Earth Day advertisement for a product of their choice.
  9. What are the key messages?

Source:  Ad Week

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Subway Wins Big on Product Placement

If a brand wants to get a customer’s attention, marketers know that there is no substitute for showing the customer how a product fits into real lives in the real world. And to show a lot of prospective consumers this at one time, brands need to show them the product on a large scale such as in a television show or a movie. This can be globally, not just in the U.S.

Take Subway’s experience in South Korea. South Korea prevents TV stations from inserting commercial breaks into programs. This limitation has caused many companies to get very creative in how they showcase their wares. As a result, Subway has placed its products, stores, and logos in at least 17 different shows. And, when the shows eventually get released on Netflix, millions more viewers will see Subway product placements.

A U.S. show, Cobra Kai, began on YouTube but moved to Netflix distribution last summer. The product placements in that show reached consumers who don’t usually watch network TV, but will stream shows, where advertising is either scarce or expensive. Top product placements on Cobra Kai were Coors, Mercedes Benz, and Dell.

Product placement has grown to more than $10 billion a year in the U.S. as brands search for new ways to reach consumers. Streaming is now estimated to account for nearly 25% of total TV viewing. While there are times that the product is very noticeable (such as BMW cars in James Bond movies), there are many times when products are used subtly (but still get our attention).Companies that are able to get their products shown on the big screen – or even a small screen – bring their products to the attention of millions of viewers, all of whom have opted-in to watching a show or movie.

What products catch your eye?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss product placement as a promotional tactic.
  2. Show BEN website: https://ben.productplacement.com/
  3. Ask students to name their three TV shows and/or movies that they recently viewed.
  4. Next, ask them to name at least three products that they can recall seeing in the show. Were those products there by accident?
  5. Show a video clip of one of the TV shows or movies. Most clips can easily be found on www.hulu.com, www.youtube.com, and other sites.
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team choose two products they would like to have placed in a TV show.
  7. How would these products be incorporated? What is the desired result?

Source:  AdWeek; Media Daily News; New York Times

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A Modern Potato Head Family

When is the last time you played with Mr. Potato Head toys? Well, it is still around but Hasbro is officially renaming the toy line “Potato Head” without the Mr. and Mrs. labels. The intent of the rebranding is to allow kids to show the many different faces of family, gender, and inclusion – and of course all in its beloved potato format!

Hasbro is not actually getting rid of Mr. Potato Head, who along with Mrs. Potato Head will retain their honorary family titles. However, the company will repackage the toys into a “Create Your Potato Head Family” set with two large and one small potato bodies, along with 42 different accessories in new colors and more inclusive messaging. The change is viewed as part of a larger movement towards greater diversity and inclusion for children and families.

Hasbro is far from alone in revising its toy lines. In 2019, Mattel launched customizable, gender-neutral dolls called “Creatable World” to allow kids to create their own characters. Mattel also has new more diverse Barbie dolls as well, reflecting the changes in society and women’s roles. And, American Girl dolls now has an American Boy to round out its collection.

Let’s play!

 Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Divide students into groups. Have each group 10 of their all-time favorite toys.
  2. Build the list of toys on the board and challenge students to examine the list.
  3. Are these toys gender-neutral, or are they directed at boys or girls only?
  4. Show the Potato Head site and video: https://corporate.hasbro.com/en-us/articles/create_your_potato_head_family_launching_this_fall
  5. Discuss with students how toys can reflect society and cultures.
  6. Show American Girl dolls: https://www.americangirl.com/shop/c/boy-dolls
  7. Show Barbie dolls: https://barbie.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ba/barbie-dolls
  8. What other toys could use this approach?

Sources: AdWeek; New York Times; other news sources

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