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PR Industry Trends

Consumers are tired of the nutrition science yo-yo

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IMG_5666Let’s be clear. I am not giving up bacon. Why would I eliminate such crispy, crumbly, savory goodness from my diet? And I’m not alone in my defiance.

If you’ve been in a coma (or an Empire binge-watching marathon) this week, then let me quickly catch you up on a new study that instantly achieved global attention in both traditional and social media. On Monday, October 26th, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared red meat to be “probably carcinogenic to humans” and processed meat to be most definitely “carcinogenic to humans.” The story was covered from the U.S. and Europe to Asia and Australia with the most creative (and inflammatory) headlines. My personal favorite might be: “If bacon causes cancer, what does it mean for meat lovers who want to live?”

Fueled by traditional coverage around the world, you can see the intensity of social media activity by color shading

Fueled by traditional coverage around the world, you can see the intensity of social media activity by color shading

But this is where it gets interesting.…

The Booze Bin

The Buzz on Beer Growth

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Football season is upon us and I am inevitably thinking about beer.  Beer & football go together like peanut butter & jelly, like Cheech & Chong.  Football means big business for beer brands, and PR professionals should have brews on their minds as well. Take advantage of halftime to “tap” into these three beer trends that have the marketplace buzzing this season.

football

Craft Beer Finds Its Footing

Craft beer consumption is on the rise.  More and more often, we are seeing Americans opt out of Megabrews in favor of local or domestic craft brews. According to Beverage Information & Insights Group, domestic craft beer sales were up over 15% in 2014, despite that fact that overall beer volume sales actually fell half of a percent from 2013 to 2014. When we’re talking about 2.8 billion cases of beer sold in the US last year, half of a percent accounts for way more beer than you might think. Megabreweries are noticing this shift in consumer purchases. In response to dropping market share, Anheuser Busch (AB InBev) recently announced a deal to acquire MillerCoors for over $104 billion dollars. If…

Product Marketing

Smothered in Pumpkin Spice

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Ah, fall. There’s a crisp chill in the air and, what’s that? Oh yes, the smell of pumpkin. Pumpkin spice, to be exact, likely drifting towards you from the nearest Starbucks location or perhaps the girl in UGG boots, a North Face and leggings standing next to you.

In any case, we’re excited, right? I am. Bring on the pumpkin! I found myself walking through the grocery store a few weeks back, pumpkin pie spice and a can of pumpkin puree in my cart, when I came to a halt. Before me I found a girl squatting to take a snapchat of a nearby display: pumpkin spiced dog treats. My jaw hit the floor. For two reasons:

  • My dog tried to eat a thumbtack recently. Is she really going to thank me for fall-flavored treats? Which leads me to…
  • Are other dog parents buying these for their pets? Is my dog going to have FOMO if I don’t buy her these? I just can’t afford to put her through another round of therapy after she didn’t get the Sexy Beast dog perfume she asked for at Christmas last year
  • Jokes aside, these treats do exist (so does unisex…

    Wine, Food & Nutrition

    Reap the Harvest & Get Cozy in the Kitchen

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    Autumn is a time of harvest, reflection, change and gratitude. The season comes quickly and marks a pivotal shift of energy which is visually obvious at every turn, as we notice all of the efforts of the growing season come into fruition. The land becomes abundant with ripened fruits, like figs, apples and pears. Grapes in the wine producing regions get picked for the new wine production. Fall represents remarkable results of spring and summer growth and evidence of Mother Nature’s fierce activity all around. Farmer’s markets begin to overload racks of brussel sprouts, rosettes of cabbage, and piles of fragrant onions. It’s the end of the growing season, so naturally we grieve and begin to decompress. We may have to clean the cobwebs from the corners and put the garden beds to rest, as we say goodbye to summer once again. We begin to consume more food to prepare our bodies for winter, as we let go of things that no longer serve us and ground ourselves to earth, much like how the trees drop leaves and refocus their energy to their roots.

    The cooler breezes that first sneak upon us are gentle reminders to ease off the cooling…

    PR Industry Trends

    Memories that Made the Mouth Water and Inspired a Career

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    The food world mourned the passing yesterday of famed Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme. Even if you don’t recognize his name, you’ve probably enjoyed the abenefits of his influence at some point, as he is noted for having made Cajun cuisine, especially blackened redfish, famous and popular across the country in the early 1980s. Today, spicy pan-seared “blackened” proteins of every kind dot the menus of mainstream chains from BJ’s Brewhouse to California Pizza Kitchen.

    Thinking about this bit of history reminded me of how I first became fascinated by the world of chefs and cookery – maybe some of you reading this have similar experiences. Around the same time that Prudhomme was serving plates of the real deal to folks lucky enough to be in New Orleans, I was a tween learning about crawfish and andouille sausage by watching “Louisiana Cookin’” with chef Justin Wilson on PBS on Sunday afternoons. There was no Food Network and the culture of celebrity chefs hadn’t really arisen yet, so educational TV programming about cooking tended to be what we today derisively call “dump and stir” demonstrations on unrealistic-looking kitchen sets in studios. Except for the…

    Wine, Food & Nutrition

    Will Burger King’s Black-Bun #HalloweenWhopper Be a Bonanza or Bust?

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    halloween-whopper

    The “Burger Wars” continue. Starting today, McDonald’s is offering all-day breakfast in a move to boost stagnant sales.

    Not to be outdone, Burger King began offering a new Halloween Whopper on September 28 with a black bun infused with A1 steak sauce.

    It’s the boldest move from Burger King since it stunned rival McDonald’s with its proposal to create a McWhooper – a mashup of the Whopper and the Big Mac – to commemorate Peace Day on September 21. McDonald’s passed on the idea.

    It’s commonly said that we eat with our eyes. So does Burger King’s black-bun burger have some customers seeing red … or in some cases, green? Numerous media outlets are reporting that the new burger has an unusual side effect – green poop.

    Not surprising, social media’s reaction to the Halloween Whopper has run the gamut from curiosity to delight to dismay. But one thing is certain, Burger King’s new marketing campaign is garnering buzz.

    This black burger isn’t completely out of left field for Burger King. It’s similar to a burger it offers in Japan. However, the Japanese burger

    PR Industry Trends

    What Booze Brands Can Learn From Donald Trump

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    TheDon

    I don’t like taking a public stance. It’s not that I’m lacking opinions – I’m full of them. It’s because I could alienate people and I like to avoid that risk.

    Many alcohol beverage brands are also driven by this fear. It’s equivalent to a brand identifying their target audience as “men and women over the age of 21.” They want to cast their nets far and wide to capture anyone and everyone that might possibly buy their product.

    Yet in doing so, they often appeal to no one. It’s like a generic online dating profile. How am I supposed to know how to feel about a person who doesn’t express clear interests, goals, likes or dislikes? Where is the point of connection?

    As a marketer, I challenge brands that want to be universally appealing to ask themselves one question: “How am I to build a meaningful dialogue with consumers when my brand personality is watered down and, frankly, boring?”

    Put a stake in the ground

    In the political arena, Donald Trump is a prime example of expressing a strong point of view – he is the frontrunner in the…

    Branding

    Jurassic Soup: Dormitory Cooking Hack Grows Up and Chomps Into Our Kitchens

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    When Chris Pratt ran with velociraptors and fought colossal dino-beasts on the cineplex screen this summer, moviegoers munched popcorn nostalgically and 2cheered “rah!” in celebration at the revival of a beloved movie franchise. Now, as summer begins to wane, we see in the pages of food industry news that a well-known single-cup coffee brewing machine and a renowned canned soup company have joined forces to launch a “brewed on demand” soup cup that sorta reminds me of the dorm room cooking hacks in which nearly anything, but especially ramen noodles, could be “cooked” in a standard drip coffee pot, for lack of real kitchen equipment.

    Everything old is new again.

     

    1But as the protagonists of the original movie franchise-starter Jurassic Park debated:

    John Hammond: “I don’t think you’re giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody’s ever done before…”

    Dr. Ian Malcolm: “Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

    What is this genetically modified brewing beast that wrought noodle soup whence the nozzle…

    Digital Marketing

    Social Responsibility for Future Generations

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    We are paying a very high price for our kids losing touch with the real world. Listen, I’m on my iPhone too much, but that doesn’t mean it’s a behavior that should be passed down to the next generation.  As a brand, you want to drive consumers offline – in store, of course. What if you could do more? What if you could encourage them to rethink their behaviors for them and their family?

    Nature Valley Granola Bars are trying to do just that with their new “Rediscover Nature” campaign which seeks to put childhood back outdoors. So they produced a spot where they asked three generations the same question – What did you like to do for fun as a kid?

    Depressing, right? Well it is a bit dramatic, but it drives home the issue. There was also a social extension that asked fans to submit their best #RediscoverNature photos to spread the message.

    These days, maybe consumers are owed more from brands. Some could argue it is a brand’s responsibility to not just sell a product, but better society — like re-selling playtime in the front yard. Kudos to Nature Valley for strategically tapping into a trend…

    Branding

    License to Brew: 3 Ways Beer Partnerships Improve Brand Awareness

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    According to Global License, food and beverage licensing grew 9.5 percent representing $8.04 billion in licensed merchandise in 2010. It remains to be a growth segment today and increasingly you see it in brand extensions in the craft beer industry.

    From Fulton Brewery and New Belgium Brewing to Brewery Ommegang and 21st Amendment Brewery, a number of breweries are partnering with big brands like Wheaties, HBO, Ben & Jerry’s, and Count Chocula to create craft beers to reach broader audiences.

    Here are three ways your brand can improve consumer brand awareness with a strategic beer partnership:

    Hefewheaties

    1.      Get creative and forge authentic partnerships.

    Just listen to these creative beer descriptions: 21st Amendment’s homage to Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts with its release of Toaster Pastry, an India-style Red Ale, New Belgium’s Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream inspired Salted Caramel Brownie and Fulton’s Wheaties and Hefewizten beer, HefeWheaties.

    Although not technically a licensing deal, the Wheaties brand extension didn’t come out of nowhere. The idea for the limited-edition HefeWheaties came about because Fulton has close ties to General Mills, which owns Wheaties. It also doesn’t hurt that the two Minneapolis companies use…