Retail: August 2011 Archives

Walgreen has New Store Brand Naming? Nice!

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Walgreens has a new store brand! And it's called "Nice!". They tell us that "The new brand will include more than 400 high quality grocery and household products at prices up to 30 percent below other national brands."

This means that this is the launch of a juggernaut. Expect to see the brand in early 2012. The company has big plans here, telling us the packaging is "easily recognizable" and "Nice!" products will push out current in store brands like Cafe W and Deerfield Farms.

This is a good move. Walgreens notes that AC Nielsen has seen store brands go from $64.9 billion in sales in 2005 to $88.5 billion in 2010.

Store brands, as anyone who reads this blog knows, are an interest of mine. Everyone from Walmart to 7-Eleven has them and they are now a sophisticated, mature part of the branding world.

Said one exec connected to the brand: "Of all the names (we considered), this was different, catchy and the exclamation point added an can play with the word nice.'' But many bloggers point out this is a risky move, despite Walgreen's claims that this could be a billion dollar brand name. Sure, launching a new brand is difficult, but sample products have already sold briskly.

But what I want to talk about is that exclamation mark! Do you see how an exclamation mark gets overused it gets to be annoying?! Imagine a store filled with products branded with exclamation marks! Might that not start to get kind of annoying?! An exclamation mark on a brand name adds "energy" but it can also be a mixed blessing. It works well on "Chips Ahoy!" cookies, but the point is that most of us would not know offhand if the exclamation mark was there if asked to guess.

Duets Blog has a whole list of exclamation mark brand names... and some include question marks, light bulbs and even an exclamation mark within a wolf head design interwoven with a serpent. The interesting thing here is that the USPTO does not see adding an exclamation point as enough of a move to avoid "mere descriptiveness" (America's Favorite Popcorn!).

So, the word "nice" is the ultimate descriptive word. The exclamation mark's design probably helps. But I'm fascinated because "nice" is such a vanilla term. Who wants to be known as a "nice guy" - since "nice guys finish last?"

Surely the addition of the exclamation point moves us from the traditional understanding of "nice" to the common use of "nice" as an exclamation of pleasure. Here we move from "It's a nice day outside" to "Free donuts in the cafeteria today? Nice!" In this case, it seems like the brand name's punctuation works... but this usage is very much of the minute. Will it last?

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I have been watching with interest the, er, situation that has been brewing between Abercrombie & Fitch and The Jersey Shore cast after Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino wore an
A & F shirt in one show.

A & F have apparently now asked the cast members not to wear its products - and offered a monetary incentive to boot. It seems that
A & F sees itself as an aspirational brand and the raunchy characters of Jersey Shore will be hurting its image. They issued the following appeal:

We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino's association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans.

We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael 'The Situation' Sorrentino and the producers of MTV's The Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.

Seems The Situation is "not brand appropriate."

However, the blogosphere is full of spite for this move, not least because A & F put out a shirt that read "The Fitchuation." Says The Situation, who is often seen wearing A & F underwear: "Abercrombie & Fitch, their most popular shirt, they told me, is 'Fitchuation.' I mean, where did they get that from? Obviously from myself."

The company's stocks fell a whopping 9% soon after it made its appeal, though industry watchers say this was due to bad sales and not bad brand name management. Says one blogger, "Of course the stock fell. When your target demographic is absolute shitheads, alienating the most prominent one on the planet is like McDonald's issuing a press release saying they hate fat people."

The venom on the blogosphere continues: "First off, Aspirational Abercrombie? Should I aspire to be a 14 year-old half-clothed anorexic model? Or should I aspire to be topless and wrapped around a guy with pecs bigger than my boobs? Perhaps I should just aspire to asphyxiate someone with my horribly cloying perfume."


The problem here is that when a brand tries to discourage a celebrity from using it in an entertainment medium, there is usually a bitter backlash from the legions of fans who see their hero get dissed. When Jay-Z was asked not to use Cristal by the champagne maker, he made sure to turn his back on the brand in his next video and opt for Ace of Spades, by competitor Armand de Brignac.

The New York Times sees this as a publicity stunt, noting that if A & F really wanted its brand name off the air they could have called a lawyer. And this move does come just as kids are shopping for clothes to wear back to school.

It still makes me wonder if A & F is for or against The Situation - if they think at one level they are making lemonade out of a six-pack of lemons.

Big name, elite brands like BMW, Rolex, and Armani are often used in movies and TV. The exposure is invaluable.

It is almost always a bad idea to try and disassociate yourself from a celebrity. It makes the brand look small minded and irrelevant, even to those people who do not buy it. A brand name's relevance can handle any Situation, I say.

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