IAR Bits and Bytes

Icon of Dot-Com Branding Excesses is Revived

The Pets.com sock puppet, perhaps the best-known representative of the dot-com boom and bust, is getting another chance to act as corporate spokesperson — this time for a California-based car loan company.

1-800-Bar None, a credit marketing company out of Pleasanton, Calif., has licensed the trademark for the popular character, through a deal with Brian P. Hakan & Associates, a trademark licensing agency whose credits include the licensing program for the Taco Bell Chihuahua.

Ironically, 1-800-Bar None is using both the sock puppet’s brand equity — gained through the spending of millions on television spots — and its notoriety as the symbol of an industry gone bad. The company markets car loans for people who have had credit problems or who have no credit — drawing parallels between those customers’ financial woes and those of the sock puppet.

“Getting our message across cleverly and with a touch of humor will grab the attention of viewers and ultimately those viewers who are in need of a car,” said Jim Crouse, 1-800-Bar None’s chief executive officer. “We’re glad to be able to give the sock puppet a second chance, just as we already have for millions of auto consumers who have needed a second chance.”

In its heyday, the sock puppet was one of the best-known symbols of an Internet company, appearing in nine television commercials — including one during the Super Bowl. It also appeared as a 36-foot-tall balloon at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Dole Goes Online With Salad Loyalty Program

In another example of traditional marketers using the Web to run loyalty programs, Dole Fresh Vegetables, a division of Dole Food Company, is going online with its efforts to encourage repeat buying of its packaged salads.

The myGREEN$ program, designed and implemented by San Francisco-based Variocity, involves consumers receiving a unique code printed on inserts in 42 million packages of Dole Fresh Salad Blends. Purchasers then go to a specially designed Web site — www.dolemygreens.com — to redeem the code for $10 credit on partner Web sites. Those sites include Reflect.com, Crutchfield, Bluefly, Omaha Steaks, Wine.com, Shoes.com, eBags, AKAgourmet, Netflix, and Ice.com.

There’s also an instant-win component to the program, under which one person a day can win $100 in shopping credit.

Dole is no stranger to Internet-enabled loyalty programs. Last year, it ran a similar campaign for its Fruit Bowls brand, in an effort to reach young women and families.

MTV Networks Picks Partner for SMS in UK and Ireland

MTV Networks UK and Ireland has forged a partnership with mobile marketing firm 12snap — a wide-ranging deal that signals the music company’s growing embrace of wireless as a marketing medium.

The deal calls for 12snap’s media sales arm to help MTV monetize its permission-based database of mobile numbers, by renting the list to existing and future clients. 12snap will also act as creative consultants on MTV’s mobile marketing campaigns to promote new shows. The mobile marketing firm will also give MTV reduced rates for the sending of its campaigns.

“MTV are currently collecting key opt-in consumer profile information and seek to extend the value of their proposition to their customers by providing added value and targeted text messaging services,” said Matt Cotton, commercial director of 12snap UK. “This is an important definition and we will be as protective of the MTV brand as MTV is itself, giving careful consideration to the brands that wish to access the base.”

MTV executives called mobile marketing an “increasingly integral part” of its interactive advertising and marketing opportunities. The company has conducted award-winning mobile campaigns in the past, most notably in connection with its programs “Videoclash” and “Video Clash Live.”

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