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For the last 40 years, famous brander Al Ries has been pounding the idea that line extensions are a bad idea. Tell him you use Arm & Hammer toothpaste, and he’ll give you a dirty look hot enough to ignite your Ralph Lauren Polo curtains.

And we believe him. We’ve seen lots of crashes from poorly-executed line extensions. (And please don’t take away the cases and cases of Pepsi Max we got on sale at Costco). But Disney making eggs? Poor old Walt is probably turning in his liquid-nitrogen-filled cryonic chamber.

Then again, we kind of like the mouse-shaped eggs sunny-side up. It’ll go great with our Acura orange juice.

by Mike Randall Brand Futurist The Republik Captain Strategic Ops


Hostess Twinkies are becoming the latest product remade and repackaged into 100-calorie snack packs, a product some analysts say could do well given that more people are packing their own lunches in the slumping economy.

“It’s no secret people want to have their cake and eat it, too. Long known for its loyal following of sweet toothed stoners and slacking college students, Hostess is making a pitch for the health-conscious and the monetarily-strapped with its new 100-calorie Twinkie packs. Will it be successful? It’s unlikely finicky salad eaters will be turning over their leaves in favor of a snack typically associated with an inactive lifestyle, but traditional lunch toters just might put down that bag of chocolate chip cookies for an old favorite. It just better taste like that old favorite when it hits their slimmed down lips.”

by Mike Randall Brand Futurist The Republik Captain Strategic Ops

Photo Credit: via ZEN CUPCAKE


Name your price: that’s what the band Radiohead offered fans when they released their latest album online. Consumers got to decide how much they would pay for the album. An ingenious bit of PR that paid off big for the band in terms of advertising. Now a wine company has followed suit all in the name of marketing.

Read more about this!

“The marketing industry has been talking about performance-based compensation for years now. When The Republik signed performance-based contracts with its clients 6 years ago, we thought we were on the cutting edge. When Radiohead did it, I felt it was a fantastic PR stunt that would garner them press that would far outweigh their losses at the ticket office. Now other products with significant overhead jump on the same bandwagon and put their entire existence in the hands of the consumers willingness to pay. I wish I had thought of it first.”

by Robert Shaw West Brand Futurist The Republik Companies Chairman/CEO

Photo Credit: © BLANKbottle


Japanese brand Onitsuka Tiger introduced this year a sneaker vending machine in the UK. Although the idea is not new, Japan has had ’em for a while now, the debut marks the UK’s first sneaker vending machine. More here and here.

“Hmmm, wonder what’s next? Vending machines for cars? Spouses? Pets…?”

by David Smith The Republik

Photo Credit: © Onitsuka Tiger


From time-to-time this blog will include change ideas on marketing. After all, The Republik is an advertising agency and marketing is the thing we know best. Today’s topic — “Pull Advertising” is an introduction to a novel marketing approach you’ll hear us referring to quite a bit. So without further ado, here it is.

We believe an agency’s job is to deliver big business-building ideas to its clients — not just advertising. In fact, some of the most powerful and effective ideas we’ve developed and implemented don’t resemble anything within the traditional definition of advertising at all. For one of our fashion clients, we created a shoebox that could be used as a closet organizer, gift box or photo storage.

As silly as it may sound, customers started buying nicole shoes, just so they could get a cool shoebox. Today, nicole is selling the boxes on their website — separate from their shoes.

Triumph, makers of the “World’s Toughest Boats” had an awareness problem. Instead of buying expensive traditional media, we produced a relatively inexpensive video. In the video, we challenged the world’s biggest redneck to break the boat. We seeded links to it on fishing and boating sites and blogs. The result? Millions of people from around the world downloaded the spot, it appeared on CMT’s “Country Fried Videos”, was the subject of a New York Times article and boosted Triumph’s sales in a down market. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone interested in a fishing boat that doesn’t know about Triumph.

The executions mentioned above are just two examples of “pull” ideas. The objective is to create ideas so compelling, informative or entertaining, selected consumer groups find them so “attractive” they go out of their ways to find or participate in them. This is diametrically opposed to the old school way of marketing where “target” consumers are identified and media is purchased to “push” interruptive messaging on them.

So far, it’s been our experience that pull ideas, when executed well and delivered through the right communication channels, are much less expensive and much more powerful and effective than “push” ones. Pull ideas not only attract people to buy more of a brand’s products or services, they also create a long-term bonds with them. Not surprising when you consider the fact that traditional advertising is geared around disruption — breaking up a TV or radio show with commercial pods, interrupting articles in magazines with print ads, disturbing the enjoyment of a web page with pop-ups and banners, etc., etc.

Our philosophy is and always has been, advertising at its worst is just another form of pollution that’s tolerated because people understand it’s paying for their entertainment. At it’s best, it can be better than the programming or medium in which it appears.

So why aren’t more agencies producing “pull” ideas? The simplest answer is they can’t. To create “pull” ideas and make a profit, they would have to fundamentally change their compensation models to ones based on idea generation and performance — instead of mark-ups and commissions.

by David Smith The Republik