Monday, August 11, 2008

Megabrands make a soggy market

In Advertising Age, Al Ries recently commented on the pitfalls of Megabranding. Megabranding, you ask? What’s that? Remember when a name was attached to a single product? Megabranding expands products in two directions:

One, we get more varieties of the basic item. The first person to point this out to me and the larger public was Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and Public Enemy #1 to the Food Industry. Oreos come in the following (not exhaustive) variety: Double Stuf, Mint chocolate covered Oreos, Fudge Covered Oreos, Springtime Oreos, Reduced Fat Oreos, White Fudge Covered Oreos, Halloween Oreos (Orange Colored 'Stuf') Holiday Red Creme Oreos, Oreo Magic Dunkers, Oreo Big Stuff, Giant and Mini Oreos and, the most necessary of all, Chocolate Cream Oreos.

Two, is the name gets attached to other products (Ries calls this “line extension.”) So, while there’s Oreo ice cream, megabranding would give you oreo candies, even (Marion, cover your ears), perhaps, Oreo breakfast cereals. We already have: Oreo Pie Crust, Oreo ice cream and ice cream bars, Oreo Chocolate Cones (for ice cream), Frozen Oreo Cookies n' Cream Cones Oreo Granola Bars, Cookies 'N' Creme Flavor Hershey's Nuggets chocolate candy), Pillsbury Oreo bars Deluxe, bar mix (, Oreo Brownies, Oreo Snack Packs, Oreo Crunchies, Oreo snack cake mix, Ready-to-Spread Oreo Frosting, Oreo Twist, and the ultimate, Oreo Cake. I'm sure I've missed a few...

Megabranding seems extremely problematic at a time when people are having to make more constrained choices about how they fill up their grocery carts. Choice is not always a good thing, especially when it’s essentially a choice of the same item in only slightly different iterations. Then there’s “overbranding,” where a product logo begins to appear on way too many unrelated items. The New York Times recently profiled Under Armour, an extremely successful athletic wear company whose tiny logo has become ubiquitous to pro football and military personnel. Now, however, the Times wonders, as the brand expands to sports shoes and a women’s line, can Under Armour become a megabrand? It's certainly already on its way.

While sports-minded young men have propelled the brand into popularity, the tiny logo has gotten bigger to stretch across the abdomens of non-athletic middle aged men across American suburbs. It’s on water bottles, umbrellas, bags, hats, and sunglasses. Watching my daughter’s soccer game, I always see more Under Armour in the stands than on the field. I'm not begrudging people's fantasies (after all, the ads are a textbook example of marketing masculinity), but wasn't the original point about a functional piece of attire? How far will it go before Under Armour is unable to wick away the saturation?

Personally, I've decided that my limit is when the Oreo Bagel shows up on the breakfast table and Under Armour puts out a line of energy drinks.


Franklin said...

Maybe I'm crazy but I think an Oreo Bagel sounds better than the Oreo cereal they've already got out. Did you hear about the Domino's Oreo Pizza that came out a while ago. I thought that was a bit much too.

By the way, have you ever heard of 6 Hour Power? I work for them... they make energy drinks that increase concentration and performance without the dreaded crash some other energy drinks have. They have zero calories, are sugar free, and come in 5 different flavors. I think they make a great 'pick me up'. Check them out at

If you'd like more info or have any questions feel free to contact me back. I'd like to hear your thoughts on 6 Hour Power energy shots!

didi said...

I think more agree for some predection.