Brand Baby 6: Building blocks of the future

According to a recent article I read, boys are driven by accomplishment and reward. As a mother of three boys under 6, I regularly pay 25 cents to motivate them to accomplish any number of menial tasks: putting on shoes, tidying up, etc. Now that my eldest two boys have reached four and six this need for motivations and incentive is becoming increasingly evident. I believe their brand du jour, LEGO, is perfectly placed to deliver on this. LEGO stands for fun, imagination, creativity, and learning. Speaking as a parent of boys, it seems they consistently deliver on what kids enjoy. Their traditional product of bricks and blocks taps boys’ seemingly inherent and basic need to build, either solo or as a team. My boys take great pride in their constructions whether following by the box instructions or embarking on a free-style version. Partnering with the most in-vogue kids’ brands of today, LEGO knows how to continually connect with its consumers. The brand has steadily moved beyond building blocks to position itself as an experiential brand, the most obvious incarnation being their amusement parks. However their co-branding opportunities also point to this shift as my boys construct, animate and develop accompanying stories focused around their creations, seemingly absorbing the brand in every sense. More recently, LEGO have done it again with their interactive games. They’ve tapped precisely into what makes boys tick: achievement and reward. A coyote could walk into our family room, devour their Starbursts and my boys would be oblivious until they had mastered their obsession – Lego Star Wars. As they reach the next level they...

Brand Baby 5: Never fly with young kids or babies

The show biz saying goes never work with animals or kids. A similar adage could be applied to flying and kids. As part of our relocation package we’re fortunate to get annual business class flights back to the UK for all the family. This has turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. During every one of the flights we’ve taken so far our fellow passengers have made negative comments about our travelling in business with our three young boys. They range from the passive, said by a fellow passenger to their travelling companion in a slightly too loud whisper - “if they’re near me I’m asking to be moved” through to the personal and aggressive. One female passenger accused us of being inept parents when our then three year old laughed loudly at a film. Perhaps muzzling or sedating him would have been preferable for her? These experiences made us feel like social pariahs just because we’re travelling with kids. The knock on effect is the memory of them has transformed flying from a pleasurable experience into an anxious one.  We plan meticulously, booking flights that fit with the boys sleeping schedules, preferably at night, deciding who sits next to whom, the order we go and off in, and our hand luggage has swelled threefold as we pack every trick in the book designed to distract or occupy the kids  – iPods, ipads, pretzels, colouring books and Ring Pops spill out of our bags at security. For our annual transatlantic flight we’ve always plumped for Virgin’s Upper Class specifically because of its reputation for being family...

Brand Baby 4: Apple a day keeps mommy’s psychotherapist at bay

Deeply asleep.  My eyelids are pried open. Two huge blue eyes meet my hazy gaze. They belong to my cherubic two-year old son.  I glance at the clock, and groan - 4.50am. IPAD, IPAD he says persistently.  Until a few weeks ago he could barely say his brother’s names, yet the clarity of his articulation when it comes to brand names, and the range of names he knows would make a speech therapist stutter. Without flinching I drag the IPAD from its residence under the bed. He deftly strokes the screen, whispering in delight – IPAD.  He’s totally absorbed by its’ apps.  As a child it must feel good to be in control.  Especially as a two-year-old, when most of your day is determined by others. I stop intellectualising and enjoy the opportunity to eek out sleep. Later in the day, my six-year old returns home from school.  A blood-curdling yell reverberates around the house.  “That’s MY toy”.  “ It’s mine now or I’ll break it” replies his four-year-old brother.  I intervene - trying by-the-book parenting tactics; counting to three, time out, reminding them of their reward chart, and that screeching at one another isn’t exactly good social protocol.  Nothing works.  Now it’s getting bloody – they’re pulling at each other’s hair and punching - hard.  I take the desperate tactic that never fails to work - “Anyone like some time on the IPAD”?  Suddenly they are best of friends plotting a “strategy” for their shared game of Angry Birds. I’m relieved to make dinner without acting as a referee. On occasion, when the IPAD is being charged, the...

Brand Baby 3: If only Target did day camp.

This summer marked our first foray into day camp.  Coming from the UK, where the concept of camp doesn’t widely exist, I initially felt guilty about filling up my kids’ summer holiday with more routine.  But, then I remembered last summer.  June 2010 and freshly off the plane, I knew no one and had the kids solo 24/7 for three months.  By Labor Day I was ready to outsource them to a chimney sweep or rug weaver.  So this year the idea of camp was much more appealing. We spent lots of time researching different camps.  Analysis over, we settled on a camp in Armonk, NY.  It promised to be action-packed with tennis, swimming, water slides – a kid’s fantasy, especially for those coming from the UK where any summer activity involves an interval of huddling miserably under an umbrella.  But, to my  disappointment my 6-year-old found camp to be overwhelmingly tiring and didn’t enjoy being with relative strangers.  Drying his tears each morning and wrestling with my conscience I wondered how great it would be if Target offered camp. For my boys, despite endless complaints about going to any other shop, a trip to Target is always met with an enthusiastic response.  They love Target! The red Bull’s-eye logo, (my two-year-old can spot it on the side of a truck at 90 mph on I-684) and the big  red balls outside the store which they energetically climb every time we go.  They love that Target is that rare place that sells so much stuff for a dollar.  However, the overriding reason they love Target?  Lots and lots and...
A dinner party, a focus group

A dinner party, a focus group

As far as I know, modern rules of etiquette still dictate that mobile phones, tablets, etc. should not be used at the dinner table. But more and more I’m finding that when the conversation becomes truly engaging, someone always reaches for an electronic device to look up the meaning of a word or history of something referenced or even find a YouTube video to illustrate a point. While Emily Post, Letitia Baldridge and my grandmother would likely be upset and I do believe it’s impolite to answer a call or text at the dinner table, I also now think that using an electronic device as a reference tool helps to keep conversation flowing and even makes it more fascinating. The other night was no exception to this. We were still in Marblehead and crew and friends had joined us for dinner. The party around the table ranged in age from 19 to 51. Well ranged is possibly the wrong word. It was more that we had two groups of dinner guests that hovered mostly around each of these end points. As is common after a day of racing, the conversation began with a debriefing of the events, who did what right and what wrong and the status of protests. With the wine flowing and the food flavourful and plentiful, the discussion somehow comfortably transitioned into social media and our varying attitudes toward it. I think one of the early twentysomethings created a segue when he mentioned he had tweeted about his boat’s performance and his “Captain,” a gentleman just teetering over 50, in turn made a follow up comment...

Brand Baby 2: Captain America runs on Dunkin’

The staff at the Mount Kisco branch of Dunkin’ Donuts could have done with a company sponsoring earplugs rather than promoting superhero donuts during a visit with my three boys. They couldn’t hide their ecstasy as they saw Captain America in Dunkin’s window. I’m not sure what was more exhilarating - the impression Captain America visits Dunkin’, he makes his own donuts or the anticipation of frosted sprinkles. To my embarrassment, full throttle, glass shattering screaming continued whilst in line – “Captain America, Captain America” - the shouting got shriller and shriller. It seems 2011 is the summer for superheroes as the Marvel series gains new cinematic life through the likes of Thor and Captain America. Today superheroes, like other brands, have evolved beyond being characters defined by generic category attributes of goodness over evil to carefully positioned portfolios with each character representing a distinct brand of superheroism. The Marvel Series trailer ably demonstrated how to advertise an endorsed brand strategy. Each superhero with its’ unique brand identity is tightly controlled and stretched across seemingly infinite product categories. Characters greet us in everything from tableware to shams, from candy to shoes, from dress up outfits, from masks to room accessories and personal care. Advances in cinematic technology have potential to bring to life product placements in new ways and facilitate further brand stretch opportunities. If the forthcoming aroma cinema was in time for Captain America one can imagine branded aftershave to appeal to those with greater purchasing power. Product placements in Captain America and Thor also point to these brands developing their reach as they seek partners who speak...
Page 6 of 7« First...34567