September 11, 2018

The Week in BIG Ideas Volume 6



By Beverley Hammond

Founder & CEO


In marketing when a well-known brand name in one category is transferred to another category, it is called a Brand Extension, or Brand Stretching. Typically, this is done to leverage the halo of a brand’s equity with consumers (name recognition, awareness of and affinity for its values and its most popular attributes) in one product or service into a new revenue-generating product or service.

If done successfully, brands can quickly become highly competitive and even “own” new categories increasing their reach and revenue.

A few years ago, I spent a lot of time with a well-known Church & Dwight brand, Arm & Hammer, capitalizing on the consumers’ affinity for the cleaning and deodorizing power of the baking soda brand to attract that same audience (namely Moms) to new products, in the laundry and oral care categories. It was a strategy that worked well for Arm & Hammer.

This week the news seemed full of stories about brands extending into new categories.  Here are three of my faves!


BIG Idea #1: Instagram’s ‘Go-to-Market’ Strategy


Because, shopping.

The irony hits me while double screening - fast forwarding through a PVR’d television program so I don't have to watch the ads while at the same time scanning my Instagram feed for all of the beautifully curated sponsored product imagery served up to me – handbags, fashion, impeccably designed living rooms. Avoiding ads on one screen while seeking them out on another.

Not surprisingly, close to 70 per cent of Instagram users are women and while I am trying not to generalize here, for the most part, women like to shop. As it turns out, we’ve been shopping products from all over the world on Instagram for a few years now. I first realized Instagram was a shopping venue when my cousin showed me a beautiful hand-made lamp shade she first saw in an Instagram post and then purchased from an artisan in Shetland. Yes, Shetland. She did it the ‘old fashioned way’ – by using Instagram messaging to connect with the artist and then undertaking the transaction off the app.

The prevalence of this kind of activity hasn't gone unnoticed by our ever-watchful friends at Facebook (owners of Instagram) who moved from integrating sponsored posts into the Feed to adding tools so brands can tag products for purchase directly in their photos. In June, they announced a pilot that enables shopping not just in the Feed but in Stories, as well.

Today, more than 25 million businesses have Instagram accounts. Some reports suggest that only half of those even have their own website – presumably leveraging Instagram as proxy for a traditional online site. Two million of those businesses are advertising on the service. So, literally before our very eyes Instagram went from a photo and video-sharing social network to a massive e-commerce platform. Apparently, we are loving it.


This week, The Verge reported a rumour that the next wave of Instagram commerce takes the shopping experience to a whole new level through a market of sorts: IG Shopping - a stand-alone, dedicated shopping app where users can browse collections and buy them within the app. While the company wouldn't confirm the rumour, it has said “Instagram isn’t just a place of inspiration, it’s also a place of action, and we know that inspiration can come from anywhere.”

With two million sellers on Instagram today, a presumably easy path to purchase in the new app, and the beautifully curated posts we have come to expect, this could be more than the future of Instagram but indeed the future of e-commerce. Look out Amazon!



BIG Idea #2: Toy Story Too


For anybody who was paying attention last spring when Ynon Kreiz from YouTube’s (now Disney’s) Maker Studios and independent television production company, Endemol Group, was named CEO at Mattel  was a harbinger to the toy maker’s big announcement this week. Mattel is now in the movie business. Introducing Mattel Films.

Of course, this isn’t a new strategy in the industry – think Hasbro and the wildly successful Transformers movie franchise – but the hope is that this time with the brand extension to Mattel Films, the company will fare better than it did with its last effort in the space - Playground Productions, producer of the widely panned feature film based on Action Figure, Max Steel.

It seems Mattel is pulling out all the stops to make it so, by naming Producer Robbie Brenner as the Division head. Brenner is known for Academy Award nominees and winners like “The Dallas Buyers’ Club”, “The Fighter” and “Mirror Mirror”.

While we shouldn't expect to see Barbie illegally smuggling pharmaceuticals like Matthew McConaughey’s character in the powerful 2013 biography of Ron Woodroff, we can expect that the extension of the brand along with the hiring of top production talent will give the ailing toy maker an important platform to bring to life its iconic toy brands and at the same time breathe a little life into its balance sheet.


BIG Idea #3: In Pod (and Ellen) We Trust


The fourth annual Podcast Upfront (these are like traditional television upfronts but for audio storytelling) took place in New York this past week. This one-day summit brings producers and advertisers together to talk shop, analyze listenership data, and preview new programming in an ever-expanding category that attracted twice as much advertising spend in 2017 as it did in 2015 and is projected to double again by 2020. Between 2013 and 2017, listenership in the U.S. also doubled from 12 per cent of the population to 24 per cent.

Canadians are even bigger fans. According to a 2017 study by Audio Insights Inc. and Ulster Media for The Globe & Mail, over 40 per cent of Canadians listen to podcasts: 4 per cent listen daily; 15 per cent listen weekly; and 24 per cent listen monthly.

Enter Ellen. At this week’s Podcast Upfront, one of the fastest growing podcast networks Wondery announced the launch of a new show Ellen on the Go – a twice a week podcast highlighting the best moments of Ellen (The Ellen DeGeneres Show) in the week and produced by her TV production team.

Ellen started her career as a comedienne, moved into television and film and beyond, but has become larger than life. Today Ellen isn’t a personal brand, she is a lifestyle brand – everything from fashion to dog collars and toys to home goods and linens. With her foray into the world of podcasting, she joins the likes of Oprah and Snoop Dogg, among many others who have discovered this new creative platform and the growing ad dollars attached to it.

Of course, I found out about this announcement on one of my own favourite podcasts, AdAge AdLib.

Spoiler alert…as this nascent industry takes off, and we start to develop audio programming as a storytelling service for our clients, Republic is getting on board with our very own soon-to-be announced Podcast. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk put it best when he said, “audio and voice are by far the most natural interface for humans to interact. We like to speak and listen. There was roughly 1.5X more audio consumed than video according to Nielsen statistics on streaming in 2016. This is HUGE.” Well put.



If you’re enjoying this blog, please pass it on and feel free to share any ideas – your own or others – with me at, using the Subject Line: Here’s a BIG Idea!

Until next week, this was The Week in BIG Ideas!