Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Mars Candybar

Mars has come out with a new candybar aimed at women called the "Fling", according to this article by All Things Considered on NPR.

The marketing includes "Pleasure yourself" postcards and refers to the 10 included candybars as "fingers".

At first I thought that the Fling's marketing (as depicted in this article) would not succeed; an initial marketing campaign with risque overtones might be one thing, but to make the connection explicit for the life of the product (on the packaging) seemed commercially risky, since the connection between sex and chocolate is flimsy. Then I realized that we've had cereals with monster (and leprechaun) themes stick around for over three (four) decades. No connection between fantastic creatures and cereal as far as I can see, and yet somehow it has worked.

The company is running an experiment in California for now, and it appears to be running well. That said, I am betting that the Fling will not be around for longer than 3 years -- not because of the content (they have a right to market however they want), but because it's not clear which void it's filling in the current marketplace. It appears that they're trying to create a market, something I'm not convinced will work too well in this case.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The factory warranty on your car is about to expire

A little while ago I posted on these calls and letters I've been getting about the factory warranty on my car being about to expire.

This company was
finally hit by the FTC।

Their tactics were aggressive: they called people indiscriminately and misled people on the phone. Nate Anderson writes:

They didn't bother targeting people who had recently purchased vehicles; in fact, they did no targeting at all... [One telemarketer's training manual states: ] "Transcontinental’s training manual states that if asked the question, "Who Are You?," telemarketers are to respond: "We are the Warranty Service Center. We provide warranty services for ______ (Ford, GMC, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, etc.) throughout the United States and Canada."

I thought for a while that they were legitimate, since I'd bought used 2005 car a few years ago, and it seemed feasible that there really was a warranty about to expire. Then I learned that everyone else, even people without cars, were getting these calls too.