Barbie and Ken – the couple that accessorizes together, stays together


It’s official – Barbie and Ken are back together!

(Cue: Falling balloons and champagne corks popping).

I had no idea America’s favorite plastic couple had previously split. But this report on CNN/Money says the pair went their separate ways in 2004. Maybe I was too caught up in life back then to have caught the news. Or maybe Ken and Barbie’s PR firm worked diligently to keep the news under wrap then.

All kidding aside, this “announcement” today, on Valentine’s Day, is a brilliant move by Mattel. Barbie Inc. has been battling Bratz dolls for some time, and Barbie had been on the decline until recently. So, while this announcement is a gimmick, it also could build great buzz for the brand. Certainly, a couple that has had a rocky relationship reflects reality more readily than a picture-perfect relationship like Barbie and Ken previously had.

As the saying goes, “Any publicity is good publicity.” That’s not always true, but in this case, it works.

By the way: Happy birthday to Jason’s Marketing Primer! I launched this blog one year ago today. I plan for 2011 to be an even more prolific year than 2010!

You can buy publicity like that


A restaurant that hadn’t advertised with my newspaper in a long time recently began advertising again through a coupon campaign. Two of the coupons promised a free buffet if you bought a 99 cent soft drink.

Not surprisingly, the campaign seems to be a hit. I redeemed one of the coupons Monday, and the cashier said people had lined up outside the restaurant on Sunday with those coupons.

Obviously the restaurant is losing money. You may ask how can the restaurant lose money this way? The restaurant is basically treating its losses on the food inventory as a promotional expense to draw new customers in.

One downside of dropping prices is you attract disloyal customers. You may be drawing new people into your store/restaurant hoping to enlarge your client base, but not all of them will return at future dates. These disloyal customers will run to your cheaper competitors when your price discount ends. Also, if you drop prices too often or too dramatically, you run a large risk of customers always expecting you to offer very low prices. That can be death on some brands.

This restaurant’s gamble on price discounting illustrates the difficulty in setting prices, whether you’re selling a meal or an automobile.

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