This week, marketers tapped into consumers' fondness for '80s action movie stars, along with Instagrammable — and yucky-looking — seasonal beverages and cause-driven marketing, albeit for a product that comes with a hefty price tag:
Dolph Lundgren whips Volvo construction vehicles into shape
The rundown: Empowering workout montages set to popular music have become a Hollywood cliché, helped in great part by the "Rocky" franchise. That might be why Volvo tapped '80s action icon Dolph Lundgren, who earned notoriety for playing the Russian brute Ivan Drago in the boxing series' fourth installment, for the latest ad campaign promoting its line of construction equipment.
In the 90-second launch spot, Lundgren, who's now 60 but looks no less buff, plays a tough military drill instructor who whips a line of excavators into shape. The vehicles use their mechanical appendages to do rough iterations on push-ups, chin-ups and curls, along with things like dragging concrete across a quarry at the command of the actor — all set to the tune of Technotronic's "Pump Up the Jam."
On top of the lead creative, Volvo released a mini-documentary taking viewers behind-the-scenes of how the stunt-laden spot was made. Lundgren has upcoming roles in "Creed II," an extension of the "Rocky" franchise where he will reprise the Drago character, and "Aquaman."
The results: '80s action stars have returned to the advertising limelight in recent years as consumers' nostalgia for the era has grown (even if they were too young to remember it, or weren't even born). Volvo has helped lead this charge, drawing buzz four years ago with an "Epic Split" spot starring Lundgren's beefcake peer, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Like the current "Pump it Up" effort, "Epic Split" didn't promote consumer vehicles, but rather Volvo's line of trucks — which didn't stop it from racking up tens of millions of views and even some serious awards at Cannes Lions.
The current effort attests to how clever ad creative and pop culture references can give marketing around dry material like construction equipment a humorous kick. It's also a fairly novel way to show off the excavators' capabilities, with the "workout" routines apparently having been done by operators in real-life, with some tweaks made by engineers to the vehicle designs.
"This job was probably the most unusual role I've ever taken on," Lundgren, who is an engineer himself, said in a statement. "It was fascinating to see Volvo's excavators and its skilled operators performing all the various physical exercises — with absolutely no movie stunts involved."
Starbucks brews photogenic Frappuccino for Halloween
The rundown: No stranger to over-the-top concoctions, Starbucks released its latest seasonal beverage on Thursday. The spooky Witch's Brew Frappuccino comes just a week out from Halloween, and looks as festive — and gross — as one might expect a witch's potion to appear.
Starbucks said the limited-edition blend is layered with purple "toad's breath" that tastes like orange crème, a green swirl of chia seed "bat warts," whipped cream "swamp fog" and a dusting of green "lizard scale" powder. Sugary frozen-drink enthusiasts can snag the beverage, which runs around $5 and up to 480 calories, for a few days only at stores in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and some places in the Caribbean.
The Seattle-based coffee giant announced the Halloween drink with promotional emails to rewards members and a tweet that read, "Take a sip, lift the curse," alongside a GIF and hashtag #WitchsBrewFrappuccino.
The results: Limited-edition drink runs are nothing new for Starbucks, especially those that appear designed more for Instagram fame than their flavor. The beverages' bright colors are begging to be photographed, but like the famous Unicorn Frappuccino from last year, Starbucks is aiming to win over younger consumers with Halloween photo fodder before peppermint mochas hit the menu in a few short weeks.
By giving its seasonal star, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, a break with a limited-edition wacky brew, Starbucks is cashing in on the $9 billion Americans are forecast to collectively spend this Halloween. Spooky drinks for the October holiday are now somewhat of a tradition for the coffee chain, with the Franken Frappuccino in 2014, followed by two years of Dracula references and a Zombie Frappuccino in 2017 that was met with generally positive reviews.
While customers who try the Witch's Brew might not buy it more than once during its short run in stores, the effort is a fun way to spark some Halloween spirit while doubling as a strategy to get people in the door. At press time, the tweet announcement was shared more than 1,600 times, and the GIF garnered 412,000 views.
Opening Ceremony discovers the touch, the feel, the power of the white cotton t-shirt
The rundown: Cotton Incorporated and fashion brand Opening Ceremony have come together for "The Most Powerful Tee," a campaign that celebrates the infinitely versatile white T-shirt, which they've anointed "the world's most iconic article of clothing."
"Long before there were tweets, cotton tee shirts were the canvas of self-expression," said Kim Kitchings, senior vice president, Consumer Marketing at Cotton Incorporated, in a statement.
To celebrate self-expression, the Most Powerful Tee features Opening Ceremony branding on the back and a blank box on the front, which buyers can fill in with an included marker.
Ad agency DDB created a minute-long video that features a variety of diverse models wearing the t-shirt and making their own statements, including Aweng Chuol, a South Sudanese model and daughter of a child soldier (whose shirt reads "No more child soldiers"), Yvesmark Chery, a Haitian-American model with vitiligo ("God doesn't blink"), and Oslo, a transgender and non-binary model ("Trans-Former"), among others.
The results: The partnership between Cotton Inc. and Opening Ceremony is well-timed and well-aimed at the brand's millennial and Gen Z audience. Selling a t-shirt that explicitly asks customers to fill-in-the-blank with their own cause is a savvy way for Opening Ceremony to stand up for a variety of purposes, by proxy, and be in line with younger consumers that want brands to stand for something.
The inclusivity of the campaign is also in line with what younger consumers are looking for in brands. Younger audiences favor ads that highlight diversity, according to a Barkley and Futurecast survey, and 65% of people ages 18 to 34 were more likely to shop at retailers that offer a more robust selection of multicultural products, according to The Harris Poll.
The campaign's diverse cast — which features a model with a skin disease, a trans model, a Special Olympian and others — tells consumers that Opening Ceremony is for everyone ... or at least everyone that can spend $85 on a T-shirt.