Polarbear Flocke Is a Brand!

February 10, 2008 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Marketing | Leave a comment
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They’re just doing what was obvious! Nuremberg Zoo has just released the logo and style guide for the newly registered brand and trademark “Eisbär Flocke” (English: “Icebear Polarbear Flake”). Flocke is the next hand-raised polar bear cub in Germany, born on 11 December 2007 in Nuremberg, about a year after Cute Knut, the first Cub of Hearts, was born in Berlin.

Flocke Style Guide

Knut was rejected by his mother – Flocke wasn’t but it was anticipated that her mother Vera might kill her as she began acting strangely after another polar bear in the Zoo, Vilma, had just eaten her twin cubs. Another happy-sad little story – and enough to earn both Knut and Flocke their own Wikipedia page in English, complete with a bit of romantic speculation:

There is speculation that Flocke may in years hence become the mate of Knut, another polar bear cub taken from its mother, in 2007.

Knut was already dubbed Knut the business bear, in recognition of the amount of Knut-themed merchandise spawned by the Knut craze. Nuremberg Zoo probably just thought that they might as well reap the benefits if they couldn’t avoid the Flocke frenzy anyway – and they have gone to great lengths…

To begin with, Flocke has her own bilingual website and URL: www.eisbaerflocke.nuernberg.de for German, and www.polarbear.nuernberg.de for English audiences – and she was already covered by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton himself. The zoo didn’t go as far as to give the page a blog appeal, but they have some chronology going, in the news section and also in the impressive video section – 58 videos to date, often several a day! In comparison to Knut, Flocke looks a bit like a sheep and she also seems to cry more (but maybe it’s only the mass of videos and hence the sheer amount of cub wailing that leads me to this idea).

Yet what impresses me most is the 13-pages style guide which can be downloaded as a PDF (currently only available in German). Of course they have to have one if they want to take their merchandise approach seriously (and registering a brand sounds pretty serious) – flipping through the style guide nonetheless has a bit of an aftertaste. Nuremberg is also the homebase of the German toy fair Spielwarenmesse, and the zoo got their logo and licensing model ready just days before it started (7.-12. February). According to a press release prior to the revelation of the logo, the city of Nuremberg is intending to sell licenses to manufacturers of:

* Pendants, key rings, pins
* Bags, rucksacks, umbrellas
* Cups, mugs, drinking bottles
* Bed linen
* Photographic competition, cultural events, further education
* CDs, DVDs
* Pens, postcards, posters, pictures, calendars, stickers, books
* Clothing (T-shirts, sweat-shirts, shirts etc.), peaked caps, scarves, rain capes, children’s bibs
* Soft toys, snow globes, glove puppets, toys (wood, rubber), jigsaw puzzles, board games, hopper balls, inflatable toys
* Sweets

But lets also say something nice about the project. Companies applying for a license need to meet three criteria – products must be sustainable, of good quality and be environmentally friendly. The returns will go entirely to the Zoo, and the city council has announced to take strict measures against product piracy. About 400 license applications have already been submitted. Some of the first licensees are Steiff plush toys, Laken drinking bottles and Ministeck – a nerdy game that allows you to make pixelesque pictures from plastic pieces. Makes sense – kids who play Ministick certainly have a better carbon footprint than those WiiPS2XBOX low attention span hyperactives:-)

Boof – You’re Branded – And Arrested!

December 4, 2007 at 6:01 am | Posted in Marketing | 1 Comment
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The BBC reports that Metropolitan police is working on ways to exploit branding on clothes to track people on CCTV:

Police believe that tracking suspects by their distinctive clothes will help cut down on the manual scanning of hundreds of hours of video footage.

The technology is already used to automatically identify company logos in TV broadcasts of sporting events. […]

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s iPM programme [DCI Neville] said, “Many of these young criminals in particular wear distinctive track-suits and coats with logos and sporting emblems and we’re going to use that facility to search, link and identify criminals.”

For a brief moment, the ideology of branding is coming to the surface. Your brands show where you belong – and might make you a suspect. And the middle-classes who wear neither Everlast nor Louis Vuitton are the only ones to walk past unknown.

The Skoda Cake Commercial – that’s viral marketing…

June 9, 2007 at 11:02 pm | Posted in Marketing, Viral | Leave a comment
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…when you cooperate to spread a marketing message, for instance the one that the new Skoda Fabia is “Full of Lovely Stuff”. The subtitle to this message reads: “They really made this cake!” The unearthing of Julia Andrew’s My Favourite Things rounds off the whole thing – I hate to find myself so susceptible to mainstream messages, and in particular to those obvious messages that ‘no living soul’ is supposed to be able to dislike, such as:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

(It’s in this disdain that my colleague Greg is right about accusing me for romanticizing old people, e.g. The Zimmers)

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

The oldest meme on the web: The Hitler Cat

May 21, 2007 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Blogging, Internet, Lolcats, Marketing, Meme, Viral | 4 Comments
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Just because Jetsam brought up the subject of cats that look like Hitler: Here it is once more (for the first time on this blog) – the essence of a Kitler, a cat that looks like Hitler:

Kitler Hitler Cat

More Kitlers on www.catsthatlooklikehitler.com – although the site’s rather an example of why web 2.0 can only go wrong if it’s done with a web 1.0 mindset: The supposed top ten kitlers hardly look like Hitler at all, but they owners probably were the most relentless ones when it came to hitting the ‘vote’ button.

And this my own post contains a deliberate lie: The Kitler is definitely not the oldest meme or virus on the web. The oldest in the cat department is the Bonsai kitten (btw, what’s the thing with cats and the web anyway?***), and the oldest meme on the web that I know is the good old “End of the Internet”. Does anybody know anything older than that?

***) Check this out! The tags most closely related to ‘meme’ on wordpress are:
* Blogging
* Humor
* Life
* Cats
* Entertainment
* LOLCats
* Personal
* Thoughts
* humour
* Blog


The folks over at Tchibo are looking at this blog

May 9, 2007 at 7:42 am | Posted in Marketing, Viral, Web 2.0 | 9 Comments
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More specifically at a recent post about their Picasso package on special offer. How do I know? The blog stats told me: I had a total of 14 visitors come in via http://forum.tchibo-intranet.de/topic.asp?whichpage=3&ARCHIVE=&TOPIC_ID=5696 – you won’t be able to access this site, because it’s on their intranet and not accessible from the outside. Which means that somebody from Tchibo found and posted a link to this site in their forums. So let’s see what is going to happen now:

a) NOTHING: If the folks at Tchibo are all cool and down with the web 2.0 , they won’t do anything but secretly laugh up their sleeve for having made it onto the blogosphere. I didn’t exactly praise them for selling off one of the 20th century’s most influential artists as a bargain, but it’s the attention that counts anyway (AND they got a direct link to their sales pages, even if the turnover might be minimal).

b) SOMETHING: If they’re just as anxious as that program director from the European Graduate School (who felt the need to admonish me for “not having done my homework” a while ago when I wrote what I thought about their program) they’ll come up with SOME attempt to control their product communication, even though that’s entirely futile. One can’t have viral marketing without the loss of control, and if that’s what they want, then they should probably switch to the Tupperware marketing concept. Buy only from a selected dealer at your own home.

P.S.: Tchibo is a German coffee chain, but their biggest source of revenue isn’t coffee, but the gifts and household articles which they sell in their shops and online. Once a week, they introduce a new range of themed products, with about four themes on sale at a time – a concept that works pretty well in the themed world of consumer capitalism. I admit that I bought a bag of green plastic crystals from them just a little while ago, because I thought the crystals looked like Superman’s Kryptonite (and who wouldn’t want to have a pocket full of Kryptonite):

Pocket full of kryponite

Blog banners: One signature could end the Iraq war

April 29, 2007 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Blogging, Guantanamo, Marketing, News, Politics, Viral, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment
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Barack Obama’s website has now gone Web 2.0, offering the source code for banners of the “One signature could end this war” campaign to users to put on their blog.

These are the three banner options – I put the third one into a text widget to add it to my sidebar:

The source code can be grabbed here.

This is just one of several ways in which Obama’s team is trying to stimulate people to spread the word: Their campaign also includes printable flyers which people can download and assistance in writing letters to the editor. All options.

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