Downy Launches New Unstopables: In-Wash Scent Boosters

September 19, 2011

Downy offers up another new home product we’ve got our eye on for the 2011 year.

Downy is giving consumers a boost to the senses with its new Downy Unstopables that deliver a fresh-out-of-the-laundry smell all day. When these scented beads are added to the wash, they dissolve and leave clothes with a long-lasting fresh scent, which Downy claims can last up to twelve weeks (perfect for students). Although Downy Unstopables make your clothes smell fresh, they still must be used with detergent and fabric softener, and so the product represents a new addition to one’s laundry care regimen.

Downy launched the new Unstopables with a commercial targeted toward moms. Comedian and actress Amy Sedaris is featured and provides a quick, quirky tutorial on how to use the new scented beads.  The character played by Sedaris is a retro chic housewife claiming to be a “laundry expert.” Downy also posted the new commercial on their YouTube channel, Facebook page and official website.

Supporting the ad campaign, Downy has been conducting a sampling promotion where consumers can sign up for on the Facebook page and receive one of 2 million free samples.  After signup, consumers are entered into a drawing for a $1,000 gift card toward all Downy products.

It’s undeniable that everyone loves the fresh-out-of-the laundry smell, but at a time when lots of consumers are cutting chemicals and scents out of their lives, it will be interesting to see how the product fares with its intended audience. Will the new Downy entrant be an Unstopable success?

New Balance Goes Minimalist With Minimus Launch

August 8, 2011


Here’s another product we’re keeping our eye on for the MMNPL.

New Balance is toeing the line on the minimalist running craze with its Spring 2011 release of its Minimus – a product that fits the trend but is steeped in consumer insights and research.

The New Balance Minimus, or NB Minimus for short, represents the company’s first venture into minimalist shoes, a rapidly growing market for the hardcore running community.

“NB Minimus is a barefoot-inspired line of shoes created specifically for runners seeking a truly minimalist experience,” said Katherine Petrecca, the manager for the new line. “We view these shoes very much as tools that encourage better running form, and help strengthen the legs and feet. As important, a great minimal shoe should deliver increased ground feel and control, which is what makes them so much fun to use.”

Nb other You don’t have to be a competitive runner to use a Minimus shoe, either. New Balance created three different shoes for different uses: Minimus Road, Minimus Trail and Minimus Wellness. The first two are self-explanatory while the Minimus Wellness is intended as a shoe that doesn’t have to be used just for exercise.

This isn’t the first line of shoes to hit the minimalist market. The Merrell Barefoot shoes, the Vibram Five Fingers and the Mizuno Universe Wave 3 racing flats all have a healthy following among runners. However, what sets the NB Minimus apart from its competitors is its reliance on incorporating feedback from real minimalist running enthusiasts into their designs.

A video on their website shows Team New Balance ultra-marathoner Anton Krupicka describing how he had begun cutting the soles off of his running shoes in frustration because he could not find a shoe with a small enough drop, and the other minimalist shoes available weren’t protective enough. This led to an “aha!” moment for New Balance’s designers: Send prototypes to real runners and encourage them to make modifications to the shoes and send them back. The result? A minimalist shoe made by runners, for runners.

The minimalist movement is all about providing the most natural running experience, and that means using a shoe that feels like it’s barely there. Its growth is thanks in large part to the research done by Dr. Daniel Lieberman at Harvard University, which found that the most experienced (read: best) runners avoid landing on their heels to minimize impact and maximize energy and endurance. It is also based on the ideas in Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run.

The NB Minimus design is ultralight (under 8.5 ounces) and incredibly low to the ground with just a 4 mm drop from the heel to the forefoot.

New Balance took all of the research and information they had gathered in developing the Minimus and created educational launch events which promised “There’s a better way to run. Learn to train more efficiently, to keep you on the road, to run longer, faster, and more comfortably than ever before.” These events were designed to advocate for minimalist running, teach proper form and to dispel some of the myths around the minimalist movement.

By integrating customers into the development of their product, and positioning themselves as an expert in the minimalist running category, New Balance has definitely created and launched a line of products designed to go the distance.

AXE Uses Social Media to Build Buzz

July 27, 2011

Some of the most memorable new product launches that we’re keeping an eye out for this season include beauty or grooming products, not just for women, but for the male consumer market as well.

With Summer upon us, it’s time for men to chop those shaggy locks for a short-cropped style that will keep them cool, like a military crew-cut, which has been making a pop culture comeback. The problem with a short buzz cut, as identified by Axe, is it exposes the scalp to the sun’s powerful UV rays. Earlier this month, Axe offered a solution for this summertime hair woe with the launch of its new Buzzed-Look Cream with SPF +15. The product is effective for crew cut styles – protecting the scalp from the sun, while keeping hair soft and touchable.

Axe targeted their product launch to those who best represent the classic military-style cut, by partnering with Wounded Warriors – a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded soldiers. Axe donated $50,000 to the organization in conjunction with the launch.

“Over 44,000 of our nation’s armed forces have been physically wounded during the current military conflicts and hundreds of thousands more are estimated to be recovering from the invisible wounds of war,” said Adam Silva, chief development officer of Wounded Warrior Project. “Axe Hair’s contribution will fund programs that nurture the mind, body and spirit and help returning warriors take on their next challenges here at home.”

The Launch event, hosted on June 11th at the Axe Lounge in Southampton, New York, was attended by Reality TV star Lo Bosworth, who helped shave the heads of bushy-haired guys.

One of those guys was NFL quarterback Sam Bradford, 2008 Heisman Trophy winner and number one draft pick of the 2011 season. As a spokesperson for Axe hair products, particularly the Buzzed Look Cream, Bradford had his trademark long, curly hair shaved off by an Axe stylist.

“I’m always changing up my style – my ritual is to grow my hair and to cut it off at the end of each season. This time I’m doing it the right way by working with Axe Hair who’s giving me a new buzz look,” he said.

Axe used Facebook as the central platform for their social media push. A landing page is dedicated to the product, presenting the slogan “Protected scalp for you, feels good for her.” The page includes a video of an Axe street team promoting the product in New York City, offering free buzz cuts and product samples. A Q&A forum features celebrity hairstylist Amy Komorowski answering questions about buzzed hairstyles.

The Buzzed Look Cream is Axe’s first and only product with SPF, but without any print or television ad support to date, it will be interesting to see how well the product fares in the competitive market of summer hair product introductions.

HGTV Home™ by Sherwin-Williams Takes the Pain Out of Painting

June 22, 2011


What do you get when you combine HGTV’s design expertise and Sherwin-Williams’ high-quality product guarantee? HGTV Home™ by Sherwin-Williams, which hits shelves June 1.

With eight unique color collections, and tools such as paint brushes, rollers, tape, gloves, and drop cloths, Sherwin-Williams has compiled the perfect ingredients for a stress-free, foolproof interior painting experience, complete with the pre-selected complementary color combinations. The Sherwin-Williams website provides access to in-depth descriptions of each collection, with photos and descriptions to help you decide which collection best fits your personal taste. The collections have clever names such as Rustic Refined and Global Spice, and within each is a 20-color array of both soft and bold tones, all of which fluidly coordinate with one another.

“HGTV provides consumers a wealth of resources as they seek design inspiration for their homes,” said Ron Feinbaum, senior vice president and general manager of consumer products for HGTV.

The stunning rooms featured in the website’s photos, combined with the knowledge of how easily attainable such results will be with the HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams products, inspires both those who love to paint and even those who don’t. Because who doesn’t want a hassle-free beautiful home?

Sherwin-Williams has been promoting HGTV Home collection through two TV ads and one print ad, featured in magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Southern Living. The ads feature scenes made entirely out of the HGTV Home collections’ paint swatches, which emphasizes the variety and versatility of the colors. The print ad features a champagne bottle chilling in a can of HGTV paint. In the TV ads, a stork delivers a HGTV-branded paint can to a Sherwin-Williams store, focusing on the partnership. In the second, and more elaborate ad, full rivers, cliffs, and even a squirrel are erected from paint swatches as a sailboat glides swiftly along – demonstrating the defining message, “See colors flow naturally.”

There is no doubting HGTV Home™ by Sherwin-Williams has made the usually painstaking act of interior decorating seem less intimidating, but will it be enough to get consumers attention during a popular season for DIY projects? We’ll have to wait for the paint to dry on this one.


Tide Redefines Laundry Detergent Packaging with New Pods

June 2, 2011

Procter & Gamble Co. is launching its biggest laundry detergent innovation in decades: Tide Pods. These highly concentrated tablets – two times more concentrated than the regular Tide liquid – have three chambers of detergent inside a plastic film that dissolves in cold water. The tablets contain only ten percent water, and can be used in regular and high-efficiency machines.

Even though the U.S. market has traditionally resisted using laundry tablets, Proctor & Gamble is backing Tide Pods with a $150 million marketing campaign. “We want marketing that’s as innovative as the product technology,” said Alex Keith, VP of North American laundry in an interview with Ad Age. “The powder-based tablets we launched last time came right as the market was making an inflection point toward liquid detergents.” Tide’s goal is to shift the work of pre-treating, soaking, and other laundry-related tasks to the detergent. The test results so far have been compelling; with 97 percent of test consumers agreeing that the new formula “provides excellent results with minimal time and effort.”

The media is already buzzing about the test launch that is scheduled for July, with the full line hitting shelves early next year. Originally planned for September, the Launch was pushed back due to high retail distribution demand. Procter & Gamble took a risk letting their competitors know about Tide Pods five months before it is available, but the brand is confident its patents will protect the product. “I don’t imagine that this is going to be able to be copied in any way that it will become a threat,” P&G Chief Executive Robert McDonald was reported as saying by Fox Business News.

Tide Pods follows in the footsteps of Tide Stain Release single-dose gel packets, launched in 2009, which have become the Stain Release line’s most popular product. Can a pod-ful of innovation and a $150 million marketing load change consumer thinking and habits? One thing is for sure: It will all come out in the wash.

Talbots Aims to Turn Classic into Trendy with Revamped Clothing Line

April 29, 2010

For nearly five decades, Talbots, a leading international specialty retailer, cataloger and e-tailer of women’s apparel, shoes and accessories, has been recognized by their classic, conservative and slightly dowdy clothing. In the fall, Ms. Proper gets a makeover to Ms. Posh as the image evolves from outdated and drab to modern, stylish and made for all body types and tastes.

The fall 2010 collection from Talbots, tailored towards women who want classic items with more modern silhouettes, will launch with a new, invigorated repertoire of brightly colored prints, tailored pants and coats, and an impressive array of accessories including handbags, “to-die-for” shoes, and jewelry. The upcoming launch aims to draw a more fashion-forward customer base of women age 35-plus, while retaining appeal to Talbot’s loyal, conservatively dressed shopper base.

After a difficult financial period lasting several seasons, Talbots is making a formidable return to the fashion world. With the help of a merger with BPW Acquisition Corp, a successful month-long pants promotion last fall, and the help of First Lady Michelle Obama (who donned the brand’s floral dresses on two separate occasions), Talbots new fashion relevance is proving it’s not “your mom’s” Talbot’s. But the question is: Will you make it your own?

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