In case you missed it, McDonald’s lost it’s Big Mac trademark protection in the EU. The ruling was based on the EUIPO’s ruling that McDonald’s had not demonstrate genuine use of the trademark within the EU. That itself can be a great discussion when you cover brands and brand protection in class. However, Burger King in Sweden decided to take advantage of the situation by releasing a menu of “not Big Macs”. Burger King has a history of edgy marketing campaigns and it looks like the most recent is poking fun at their competitor’s recent misfortune.
Cadbury has announced a campaign promoting the release of their white chocolate cream egg. The campaign encourages fans to search for hidden Cadbury eggs in other brands’ TV, print, and outdoor ads. Fans who find those eggs are supposed to take a photo of the egg and upload it to the campaign website. The website will then unwrap the egg and reveal whether the user is a winner or not. Winners can receive prizes ranging from a free white chocolate cream egg up to 10,000 British pounds (the campaign is running in Britain). Looks like a good way to bolster earned media, cross-promote other brands, and generate awareness and excitement for the new product. Visit Cadbury’s campaign site to learn more.
United Airlines revealed the newest addition to their fleet – the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. While it’s not the largest passenger plane (the 747-400 holds 416 passengers versus 318 on the 787-10) it is the largest Dreamliner in Boeing’s product line and United is expanding consumer seating choices with the new plane. Consumers are used to the standard economy, business, and first class cabins. Years ago United added their “Economy Plus” seating which provides slightly more legroom for their frequent fliers or those willing to pay extra. Now United has added a fifth class titled “Premium Plus”. They have also upgraded their business class seats to a new “Polaris” design that includes a large entertainment display and lie-flat seats. As a side note, United is trying to build a sub-brand around Polaris with themed amenities, Polaris airport lounges, and premium service. You can read more about the new plane in this USA Today article.
Offering more seat choices to customers and upgrading amenities on the plane shows how much United is investing in trying to provide a differentiated customer experience in a highly commoditized market. You might consider having a discussion about the target market for this new plane, how United could determine if adding a fifth class of seats is a good or bad idea (remember they take up more space than a standard economy seat), and whether the experience actually affects purchase behavior or if that will be driven entirely on price.
We often see examples of how the internet and advances in marketing technology enable mass personalization of marketing messages. 3D printing is a disruptive technology which promises to bring the same capability to product design. Gillette announced a pilot program wherein they will allow customers to create a customized razor handle which will be 3D printed in Gillette’s Boston headquarters. Customers can expect a two to three week turnaround time to receive their custom razor. Customers can choose from 48 designs and 7 color options when designing their razor. You can read more about it in this Business Wire article. The article has a quote from Formlabs (the company providing the 3D printing technology) talking about the potential for mass customization with 3D printers.
Talk with your students about the pros and cons of this approach. What challenges does mass customization represent? Will this be successful for Gillette? Is it possible that this technology might one day put Amazon out of business? If people can print items in their homes, do they still need retail?
I’m a huge proponent of self-driving cars. While my in-laws find the concept of a computer driving us around terrifying, I find it liberating. After all, nearly all commercial aircraft are flown by computer (and in some cases they land and take off by computer as well). The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration found that an excess of 94% of all traffic accidents are primarily caused by human error. This topic in itself can lead to a rich class discussion.
Google, Apple, Uber, and other tech companies have led the charge in this space but traditional automobile manufacturers are starting to make progress with their roadmaps as well. This article talks about BMW’s current design concept for a self-driving electric car. What I particularly liked was the content talking about how they’re changing the design of the interior of the car since it no longer needs to be centered around a driver forced to look forward. Ask your students what the ideal self-driving car would look like on the inside. Does it look like the interior of a private plane or is it more utilitarian? Is it a portable living room with a large TV that can be watched by all occupants? As we move from human-driven to hybrid-driven and eventually to computer-only driven cars, what does that do to the product design? How does the adoption curve affect marketing strategies for this new category of cars?