Personalize Your Water with MiO and Transform Plain H20 into a Flavorful Beverage

April 13, 2011

Another new product that may be included in the Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey: MiO water-enhancer, by Kraft Foods.

Personalization is a popular trend among consumers, so what could be better than instantly mixing your own drink just the way you like it? Last month, Kraft launched its new caffeine free, artificially sweetened water-enhancer, Mio, in six different flavors.

MiO in Italian means “mine.” In an interview with Packaging Digest, Bridget MacConnell, senior manager, corporate affairs at Kraft Foods, explained “[that’s] what makes MiO so special—it lets me make my drink my way.” MiO senior brand manager Lisa Laibe talked with the Chicago Tribune about the idea of personalization. “Consumers are really looking to have their personal tastes reflect in all things they’re doing and using. It’s particularly important for millennials, which Kraft pegs as those age 18 to 39.”

Found in supermarkets and sold in a convenient, portable pod container, MiO allows you to add a touch of Berry Pomegranate, Strawberry Watermelon, Fruit Punch, Mango Peach, Sweet Tea or Peach Tea to water for a new way to experience your favorite flavor. Each bottle contains about 24 servings at a price of around $3.99.

To launch MiO, Kraft hired a familiar face from YouTube to be the spokesman for the campaign: Brian Gallivan, more commonly known as “Sassy Gay Friend.” Gallivan stars in a number of viral videos encouraging young women to “FTS: Flip it, tip it and sip it.”

Aside from the YouTube promotion, MiO is advertising  on television, online and on Facebook. Free samples were sent out to 100,000 Facebook users in the weeks leading up to the launch as a giveaway promotion. Most of the consumer feedback was positive, and some fans even suggested new and creative ways to use MiO, like mixing it in ice cream, yogurt or soda.

With recent health news surfacing on the dangers of food colorings, MiO faces a challenge in connecting with health conscious consumers. Is MiO a beverage innovation, or a product launch with no real market? One thing is clear, MiO will be an interesting launch to watch in 2011.

Pop Up Good, Clean Fun With Orville Redenbacher’s Pop Up Bowl

March 31, 2011

A product launch that we’re watching: Orville Redenbacher’s New Microwave Popcorn Pop Up Bowl. By using innovative marketing strategies and creating a solution to a common snack-time problem, this product is a possible entry for this year’s Most Memorable New Product Launch.

Microwave popcorn lovers everywhere are familiar with the icky buttery hands that result from reaching into the bottom of a microwave popcorn bag. Orville Redenbacher has launched an innovative packaging solution to produce a clean and enjoyable popcorn eating experience: the Pop Up Bowl, now available at Walmart. “This is the biggest thing to happen to popcorn in 25 years,” says Jesse Spungin, general manager at Orville Redenbacher. The new packaging, available in Ultimate Butter, Smart Pop, Movie Theater Butter and Butter, makes sharing a popcorn bag easy without the hassle of rinsing out a bowl when you’re done. So what’s all the buzz about? The bag transforms into a bowl while in the microwave, so the only clean up required is tossing the empty bowl. In a society that relies on convenience and efficiency, a clean, fun and user-friendly package is the perfect improvement to everyone’s favorite snack.

The new packaging was launched towards the beginning of Orville Redenbacher’s Pop & Win Instant Win Game. Specially marked boxes of popcorn contain popcorn bags with heat activated game messages that announce whether or not the bag is a winner. Winning bags contain a code to be entered online to redeem prizes that range from HDTVs and Wii consoles to games and digital cameras to grand prizes like a $10,000 Game Room Bundle or a $10,000 Home Theater Makeover.

Before the Pop Up Bowl launch in February, bloggers and Blissdom 2011 social media conference attendees were sent samples of the product to generate internet buzz. A large portion of the reviewers are moms who shared the popcorn bowl with their families. The FoodYouLove Youtube channel features a video demonstrating the convenience of the Pop Up Bowl as opposed to traditional bags of popcorn. A SmartSource $1 off printable coupon is circulating online, and The Orville Redenbacher Facebook page is also marketing the new product, emphasizing the easy cleanup and share-ability of the packaging. 

So far, reviewers are raving about the Pop Up Bowl. It has already been featured on The View’s blog as one of this year’s hottest food trends. With a no mess, easy to use package and faster preparation time, it’s a wonder this hasn’t been thought of before. The Pop Up Bowl is sure to be a revolutionary product that pushes the snack food industry to reconsider packaging as vital to product differentiation. Environmentalists will approve of the waste saved from using napkins. Clean, convenient, easy to eat – what’s not to love?

In a world full of cords, Powermat offers space age freedom

April 13, 2010

Having more than one technology device means living in a world full of chargers and cords. Now, imagine a device that eliminates cord-dependency. That’s exactly what Powermat is – a wireless charging system that p0wers up three devices simultaneously, mess free. The Powermat sets itself apart with its slick design and adaptability to charge a diverse range of devices, like the iPhone, Blackberry and the Nintendo DS, to name a few. The launch story for this revolutionary product, which began in October, 2009, is clearly aimed at early adopters.

In the fall, Powermat launched an integrated marketing campaign incorporating television, radio, internet, out-of-home and social media around the slogan: “Lose the cords”.  Their television and radio commercial campaign named “What the bleep?” used humor to demonstrate the product benefits.  The spots portrayed astounded consumers who were unable to contain their amazement about the new product, by blurting out remarks that had to be “bleeped” by censors. On the internet, Powermat advertised heavily on technology Web sites such as Gizmodo, and even placed out-of-home ads on automatic doors in major airports to reach business travelers.  Lastly, Powermat used social media including Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.  Within these platforms, they showcased their ads and presented contests like “What the Bleep?” (where consumers submitted their ‘what the bleep’ moments for judging) and the Powermat slogan contest (where consumers submitted slogan ideas).

Since the launch in October, Powermat was named to TIME’s Top 20 Tech Buyers Guide 2009. Selling at $99.99, plus $40 per receiver, this product is an expensive commitment to convenience; but nevertheless sold more than 750,000 devices by the beginning of January 2010.  What will Powermat do next? How about furniture that charges? This innovative and unique furniture product should be on sale soon if Powermat meets its projections.  We’re interested to see the wide range of applications for this groundbreaking product – we’re also interested to see how long it takes to gain mass adoption. Could a cordless Star Trek world arrive at light speed?

If you would like help planning your next launch, contact us at or on Twitter @SchneiderPR.

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Honda Accord Crosstour Offers Versatility – Except When it Comes to Consumer Engagement

February 24, 2010

Honda recently launched its Accord Crosstour, a car with an innovative design that combines the versatile characteristics of an SUV (like all wheel drive) with sexier features generally found in a premium sedan or sports car (like a 271 horsepower, V6 engine). But based on online consumer chatter, people aren’t sure how to describe the Crosstour, and lots are calling it a design failure. Honda’s response to those critics? “………..” (virtual silence)

Because of the volatile economy, Honda completed a “tame” launch. Honda ran an ad during the Super Bowl and is also running ads during the Olympics. You can also find Crosstour advertising on YouTube, in movie theaters and in a variety of magazines such as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Men’s Health, Time, Forbes and The Economist. But one place where they deviated from the usual was in the launch of a Facebook fan page in the beginning of the campaign during the summer of 2009, which proved to be the match that set off a firestorm. Consumers and fans on the page spoke out against the car’s design, and according to a Columbus Dispatch article, they used terms like “epic fail,” “pig of a car,” “hideous” and the “Crossturd.” The article goes on to describe a “Crosstour Haters” group that sprung up right on Honda’s page. Honda’s marketing team attributed the feedback to unflattering photography, so they added new pictures and posted a response. “We scanned comments and found several key concerns that we addressed in a note on Facebook,” said Christina Ra, public relations manager for Honda. Speaking about their target “empty nester” consumer, Ra insisted, “We knew buyers wanted something that provided utility for their active lifestyles and newfound time and disposable income.”

Although Honda’s Facebook response seems like a mild mannered way to address the issue, a quick review of their Facebook fan page now shows a divide between Crosstour lovers and haters, who are posting dueling comments, so it seems Crosstour brand ambassadors have stepped forward and entered the fray to defend the design. On Twitter, it appears that Honda is only tweeting back to positive comments (Example: “Congrats! Honda Love prevails”), lumping legitimate critiques in with outright negativity over the look and feel of the new car. While ignoring the negativity and denying engagement looked like a faux pas early in the launch, it seems the momentum of their campaign and positive reviews from consumers have begun to stem the tide. Although Honda admittedly was surprised by the negative onslaught that occurred in social media, could it be that a complete refusal to engage in negativity was actually the right strategy? For more on this hotly debated topic, check out a recent Ad Age column by Jack Neff.

The Sprint Instinct: A for Effort

July 9, 2008

The new Sprint Instinct has launched, and to most consumers it will be seen as another iPhone copy-cat that has more cons than pros. Despite this, one thing is for sure – Sprint is certainly trying. This week Sprint launched the “Sell Out with Sprint” video campaign, which asks consumers to send in the “greatest product placement movie of all time.” The campaign is asking users to create home and post home videos to YouTube, using the Instinct as obvious product placement. The first 1,000 videos will receive $25 from Sprint.

According to the campaigns creative director, Christian Haas, the slogan “Sell Out with Sprint” is asking users to “Sell out Hollywood style, letting your integrity go, for cold hard cash.” The way I see it, this campaign is a low risk, high reward tactic. It gives Sprint a chance to reach out to consumers and offers them the chance to be creative. Sprint could have just continued running a series of ads featuring reasons why it is better than the iPhone, but there’s the who cares factor. Nobody will buy the Instinct over the iPhone, just because the internet might be a little faster or because it might be slightly more petite; the iPhone is the 800 pound guerilla that will not be taken down, especially now that it costs only $199.

“We needed to be able to talk about the features with a sense of humor because the iPhone is one of the most desired products that has come out in a long time,” Hass explained. “We needed a platform that we can talk about the features without being an infomercial.” Sprint might not be the best product available, but that’s not always what makes a product memorable. If this campaign can catch fire, and cause a stir in the media and online, it will give the Instinct a lift to possibly become a Most Memorable product for 2008.

The contest runs through August 1st, and the finalists will be voted on and picked by August 8th. After that, the public will pick a winner, and voting will end August 22nd.