TIME marketing

Watch These Little Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism

Because there are worse words than curse words

Think the F-word is a dirty word? These little girls can think of a few that are worse — like “pay inequality” or “rape and violence.”

But there’s a reason for their potty-mouthed exclamations — these young girls, dressed up in princess costumes, are cursing to protest inequalities that are even more shocking than curse words. The video was made by FCKH8.com, a for-profit company that produces clothing that advocates for social change. And while FCKH8 is famous for equality-themed T-shirts like “Some Chicks Marry Chicks” and “Straight Against Hate,” this particular video is meant to promote its feminist line, with T-shirts that say things like “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun – damental rights.”

You can watch the whole video here.

 

TIME behavior

Breaking Bad Action Figures? Really, Toys R Us?

No, you're not hallucinating, that really is a Walter White doll.
No, you're not hallucinating, that really is a Walter White doll.

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.

In a spectacularly bad bit of judgment, the big box store puts a meth manufacturer on its shelves.

Human history is often defined by its very worst pitch meetings. Take the one in 1812, when one of Napoleon’s generals told the Great Emperor, “I’ve got an idea. Let’s invade Russia—in the winter!” Or the one in 1985, when the anonymous product developer at Coca-Cola said, “How ’bout we take a product everyone loves, quit making it and replace it with a different formulation no one is asking for! What could go wrong?”

So too it must have gone in the executive suites of Toys R Us, when someone made the compelling case for stocking a brand-new line of action figures based on the wildly successful Breaking Bad series. After all, nothing quite says holiday shopping like a bendable, fully costumed figurine of Walter White—the murderous chemistry teacher turned crystal meth manufacturer—and Jesse Pinkman, his former student and current bag man. And you want accessories? We’ve got accessories—including a duffle bag stuffed with imaginary cash and a plastic bag of, yes, faux crystal meth for White. Pinkman comes with a gas mask, because the folks at Toys R Us are not the kind to forget about corporate responsibility. If your kids are going to grow up to run a meth lab, it’s never too early to teach them basic safety.

It might not surprise you to learn that Toys R Us has faced a teensy bit of blowback from this curious marketing decision. Florida mom Susan Schrivjer has posted a petition on Change.org that has just exceeded 2,000 signatures, demanding that the company pull the products. She also appeared on The Today Show to make her case more publicly.

“Anything to do with drugs is not doing the right thing,” she said. “I just think they need to look at their vision and values as they call them.”

The part that’s more surprising—but sadly only a little—is that even after being called on its appalling lack of judgment, Toys R Us has not responded with the quickest, loudest, most abject oops in corporate history. Instead, it is standing its ground. Why? Because the dolls are sold only in the “adult section” of the store, of course—the ones intended for shoppers 15 and up.

OK, let’s start with the fact that Toys R Us has an adult section at all—something I never knew and I suspect many other parents didn’t either. So what will they stock there next? A line of Toys R Us hard cider? Toys R Us adult literature? A Toys R Us edition of Fifty Shades of Gray—which is really OK because hey, it actually comes with a set of 50 gray crayons? If an adult section must exist at all, at what point does full disclosure require the company to rebrand itself “Toys as Well as Other Things Not Remotely Appropriate For Children But Don’t Worry Because We Keep Them in a Separate Section, R Us”?

More important, let’s look at above-15 as the dividing line for the adult section—a distinction that makes perfect sense because if there’s anything 15 year olds are known for, it’s their solid judgment, their awareness of consequences, their exceptional impulse control and their utter imperviousness to the siren song of drugs and alcohol. Oh, and they never, ever emulate bad role models they encounter on TV, in the movies or among their peers. What’s more, kids below the age of 15 never, ever run wild in a sensory theme park like a big box toy store, finding themselves in departments not meant for them and seeing products they shouldn’t see. Toys R Us, you’ve thought this one out to the last detail!

What the company’s consumer researchers probably know and if they don’t they ought to, is that the brain’s frontal lobes—where higher order executive functions live—aren’t even fully myelinated until we reach our late 20s, which is why young people can be so spectacularly reckless, why soldiers and political firebrands tend to be young and why judges, heads of state and clerical leaders tend to be old. The adult fan of Breaking Bad might actually enjoy the new toys as collectors items–something to be bought or given as a gift with a little twinkle of irony, a this-is-so-wrong-it’s-right sort of thing. But that kind of nuance isn’t remotely within a child’s visible spectrum.

Really, Toys R Us, there is absolutely no surviving this one. Back up the truck, pack up the toys and send them to a landfill. And if you’re even thinking about following this one up with a Boardwalk Empire board game complete with a Nucky Thompson plush toy, stop now. Or at the very least, invite me to the pitch meeting.

Read next: Toys R Us ‘Breaks Bad’ with New Crystal Meth Toys

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Internet

A Marketing Firm Could Be Looking at Your Selfies

Big brand advertisers want to find their logos in your pictures

That picture you posted on Instagram from the beach last week might have more useful data in it than you think.

Where are you? What do you have in your hand? Do you look happy or sad? What are you wearing? These are all questions that can help advertisers target their marketing to consumers, so a crop of new digital marketing companies has begun analyzing photos posted on Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest and other photo-sharing sites to look for these trends and insights.

Ditto Labs Inc. uses photo-scanning software to locate logos in these personal photos (is the subject wearing a North Face jacket? Or holding a can of Coca-Cola?) and look at the context in which these brands are being used.

For example, according to the Wall Street Journal, Kraft Food Groups Inc. pays Ditto Labs to find their logos on Instagram and Tumblr. Ditto Labs then analyzes trends like what people drink when they’re eating Kraft products and how happy they appear to be. They are then placed into categories like “foodie” and “sports fan” based on how they’re eating their Kraft food.

Digital marketing firms use personal photos in other ways, too; Piquora Inc. stores massive amounts of these images over a few months to look at trends over time.

This new brand of marketing research serves as a fresh reminder that the photos we put online are public, and once we click ‘post’ we lose control over who sees them and what they’re used for. “This is an area that could be ripe for commercial exploitation and predatory marketing,” Joni Lupovitz, vice president at children’s privacy advocacy group Common Sense Media, told the Journal. “Just because you happen to be in a certain place or captured an image, you might not understand that could be used to build a profile of you online.”

TIME Advertising

Get Ready to Cry at Another Cheerios Ad About Family

This one features two dads and their adopted daughter

The newest Cheerios ad is a serious tearjerker — but in a good way. This Canadian spot tells the story of two dads, Jonathan and Andre, and their adopted daughter, Raphaelle.

At first, Jonathan and Andre talk about how they fell in love, but Andre notes “I thought that it would never be possible to have a child, given that I’m gay.” After they got together, they describe when they first decided to adopt. “We couldn’t keep all this luck and love for ourselves,” he said. “We needed to share.”

Cheerios seems enamored with the idea of fatherhood recently, after its fast-paced #HowToDad ad aired in July:

This one seems to be a more socially conscious take on that theme, more in the vein of the heart-warming ad featuring an interracial family that aired during the Superbowl (to both widespread acclaim and racist comments.)

 

 

MONEY Scams

5 Ways You’re Being Duped by Food & Drink Labels

Whiskey barrels
William Baker—Alamy

Think that "natural" food you're buying is made without artificial ingredients? Think again.

You might think that labels describing products as “local,” “craft,” and “natural” indeed mean that they’re local, craft, and natural. To a disturbing degree these days, you’d be wrong. Here are five examples of how food and drink labels can be vague, meaningless, or downright fraudulent, and how consumers are being duped as a result.

Liquor That’s “Local” and “Craft”
In a story about the emerging small-batch craft liquor trend, the Denver Post recently asked an interesting question: “Ever wonder how a brand-new distiller is offering 8-year-old whiskey?”

The answer is that the new company is buying the hooch, typically from an industrial factory in another state like Kentucky or Indiana. The truth is that often, according to the Denver Post investigation, the packaging and marketing of supposedly hand-crafted, locally produced whiskeys, vodkas, and bourbons are the only things actually concocted by the company on the label. In related news, a class-action lawsuit in Iowa against the makers of Templeton Rye whiskey received approval to proceed this week; the suit alleges that consumers were tricked into believing the product was made in Iowa when in fact it was made in an Indiana factory.

Critics say that most of the rapidly growing legions of new players in the craft liquor space are mere marketers, not manufacturers, and that they intentionally mislead buyers into thinking the booze is made in-house. Sometimes the language on labels is an indication—the words “produced by” rather than “distilled by” may be a giveaway that the brand doesn’t make its own product—while other times the labels are even more vague or simply false, and the hope is that no one really unearths the truth.

Thankfully, authentic craft liquor makers tend to be geeky types who dwell on every last detail of production and happily run through the process step by step on websites and tours. If you’re unsure about a brand and want to know more about how the product came to be, all you likely have to do is ask.

“Local” Farmers Markets
When you buy, say, kale at a farmers market, it’s reasonable to assume the kale is grown at the farm whose representatives are doing the selling. But perhaps you shouldn’t jump to such conclusions.

One apprentice who worked farmers’ markets for his employer in New England explained in a confession published by Modern Farmer that he was unknowingly selling kale that came from a farm in Georgia. The New England farm was also passing off Canadian asparagus and California salad greens as its own “local” produce at farmers markets. The confessor confronted his boss about the produce of questionable origins, and “he said that not all of it was coming from the farm, that some of it was coming from other farms, and I asked was it coming from local farms and he said some of it was not.”

Previous investigations, in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and Detroit, revealed pretty much the same: farmers passing off produce from somewhere far away as home grown and local.

“Natural” Foods
More and more, American consumers say that eating healthier diets is important to them. According to the 2014 Food & Health Survey, taste and price are be the two biggest reasons people purchase food and beverages (listed by 90% and 73% of consumers, respectively), but the healthfulness of what’s put inside one’s body is catching up as a key factor: 71% said it was very important, compared with 61% in 2012.

Quite naturally, many of these health-minded consumers are likely to be drawn to foods labeled as “natural.” There’s just one problem: The word means pretty much … nothing. Consumer Reports found that three out of five consumers check specifically for “natural” products, “despite there being no federal or third-party verified label for this term.” And this summer, the consumer advocacy group decided to do something about the fact that millions are seemingly being misled into believing the term “natural” only applies to foods that are made without pesticides, artificial ingredients, or genetically modified organisms.

“Due to overwhelming and ongoing consumer confusion around the natural food label, we are launching a new campaign to kill the natural label because our poll underscores that it is misleading, confusing, and deceptive,” Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., executive director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety & Sustainability Center, said in a statement in July. “We also don’t believe it is necessary to define natural when there is already another label—organic—that comes much closer to meeting consumer expectations and is accompanied by legal accountability.”

Any Kind of Fish You’re Buying
An alarming study released last year by the nonprofit group Oceana showed that the mislabeling of seafood sold in restaurants, sushi shops, and supermarkets happens all the time. In a study covering 21 states around the country, one-third of all samples were listed as the wrong kind of fish—the “snapper” turned out to be rockfish, for instance. Restaurants in northern California misidentified fish in a whopping 58% of the samples taken, while Pennsylvania was the worst state overall, with 56% of the seafood in grocery stores and restaurants turning out to be something other than what was listed on menus and pricing labels.

Meanwhile, a series of Boston Globe stories that predate the Oceana study also showed that restaurants and supermarkets routinely mislabel the seafood they sell. Investigators followed up that analysis with another study indicating that shoppers were regularly paying too much for seafood in supermarkets because the fish weight (and therefore, price) was inflated thanks to ice being factored in during the weighing process. In all likelihood, this means that some consumers have been charged excessively for seafood for two separate reasons—because of ice skewing the true amount they were paying for, and because they were duped into thinking they were getting a pricier kind of fish.

“Craft” Beer
Blue Moon, Shock Top, and Goose Island are beer brands that claim to be authentic craft beers, and many consumers assume that’s what they’re getting. Yet all three brands are owned by the world’s two biggest brewing companies—MillerCoors for the first two, and AnheuserBusch InBev in the case of Goose Island. In other words, these brews fall under the domain of the same companies manufacturing and marketing Coors Light and Budweiser, brands that are as mass-market and non-craft as you can get.

Amid the rapidly growing craft beer craze, it’s understandable that bigger companies would try to cash in on the trend by selling brews that appear to be made with personal care and “small batch” appeal. Just as understandably, the independent craft beer community, as embodied by the Colorado-based Brewers Association, has taken umbrage at the way that multinational corporations are trying to stealthily pass off mass-produced “crafty” beers as true craft product.

Related:
That Craft Beer You’re Drinking Isn’t Craft Beer. Do You Care?
The Demise of BK’s ‘Satisfries’ and the Sad History of ‘Healthy’ Fast Food

MONEY facebook

Why You’ll Never Leave Facebook for Ello

140930_INV_Ello
Berger & Föhr is a graphic design studio in Boulder, Colorado. Its partners, Todd Berger & Lucian Föhr are Co-founders of Ello. Ello

It’s hard to build a large network using a freemium strategy.

By no means was Facebook FACEBOOK INC. FB 0.7871% the first major social network, nor will it be the last. MySpace and Friendster predated Facebook, and Twitter came after it. There’s a new social network in town now positioning itself as the “anti-Facebook,” and its primary pitch is the notable absence of any ads. Should Facebook be afraid?

Say hello to Ello.

Why now?

Over the past few days, Ello’s popularity has soared, even though the service launched in private beta in March. One reason why some users are now flocking to Ello is that Facebook has recently begun to crack down more on enforcing its longtime “real name” policy. That’s created tension within specific communities, such as the LGBT community, that prefer not to use their real names for personal privacy and protection.

The service is currently invite-only, but requests for invites have skyrocketed in recent days, particularly as media attention escalates. The site was created by artists and designers, and offers a minimalist interface. The company’s “manifesto” outlines Ello’s philosophy quite clearly:

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

Interestingly enough, the language is very similar to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent letter on privacy, which was a clear shot at Google: “A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product.”

An ad-free social network sounds differentiated and idealistic, but should Mark Zuckerberg be losing sleep over Ello’s entry? Nope.

Ello’s monetization strategy is questionable

Fact: every company needs a viable monetization strategy. Most social networks and free Internet services to date have all relied on ad-based revenue. If Ello hopes to expand its service and grow its user base, the required funding will have to come from somewhere. Data centers and software engineers aren’t cheap.

Ello has raised $435,000 in venture capital funding from Vermont-based FreshTracks Capital. Ello’s founders still own over 80% of the company, so FreshTracks can’t quite call the shots yet. FreshTracks isn’t looking to make a quick buck, and has bought in to the value proposition that Ello is pitching to users. Namely, that Ello will not sell user data or insert ads.

Inevitably, Ello will need to make money somehow, in part to satisfy the return requirements of its venture capitalists, even if FreshTracks has a long time horizon and is willing to wait it out. It turns out that Ello hopes to use a strategy that’s been taking over mobile gaming: freemium.

Ello’s strategy will be to offer higher-value services and features that users will have to pay for. The basic service will be free, but the company will try to upsell and generate its revenue directly from users. This strategy is questionable at best, but it can theoretically succeed with a niche audience. Mainstream users are likely not willing to open up their wallets to use a social network.

Seemingly every year, speculation arises that Facebook is preparing to charge monthly fees, and every year these hoaxes get shot down. Facebook then added, “It’s free and always will be.” to its homepage back in 2011 just to put the matter to rest.

There’s even one that originated from The National Report circulating right now, claiming that Facebook is preparing to implement a $3 per month fee. The National Report may not have the same brand cachet of The Onion, but it’s similarly a satirical news site. The report quotes a likely fictional Facebook spokesman as saying, “There’s so many pictures of cats, and all of those costs add up, we just can’t foot the bill any longer.” That sounds legitimate.

It’s also worth noting that Facebook itself effectively has a freemium business in the form of its payments segment. This segment is mostly comprised of Facebook’s cut when developers sell digital goods, but also includes revenue from user paid services such as promoting personal posts, among others. Guess which business is doing better.

Source: SEC filings

While Ello is unlikely to begin selling virtual tractors, it’s debatable whether or not it can build a large-scale social network using a freemium monetization strategy. It could work on a niche scale though.

Hating ads is not enough

Having a philosophical disdain for ads is misplaced and perhaps naive. Hating ads assumes that users derive absolutely no value from them, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. A small percentage of people do end up clicking relevant ads that appeal to them, and they end up purchasing something that they value. For the rest of us, the ads are a more viable way to fund the underlying free service.

Facebook expects to spend $2 billion to $2.5 billion on capital expenditures this year to build network infrastructure, construct data centers, and purchase servers. Without the backend infrastructure, the service would suffer terribly. If Ello’s user base begins to explode, and it lacks the funds to beef up its infrastructure, the service will suffer and users will return to the familiar Facebook.

Then there’s the basic tenet that social networks derive all of their value from network effects. Let’s say you loathe Facebook’s ads, which can admittedly be obnoxious at times, and are looking for an alternative place to post about what you ate for lunch.

If you choose a network where none of your friends or family have joined, no one will ever know what you ate for lunch. Your contacts have to hate ads just as much as you do, and that’s a tall order to fill in this day and age where netizens have developed a practiced apathy for ads in exchange for free services.

Facebook has nothing to worry about.

MONEY Odd Spending

12 Things Made for Kids That Are Now Being Marketed to Adults

Who says kids should get to have all the fun? Not the forces behind a wide range of seemingly juvenile foods, products, and places that are increasingly being sold to adults—plenty of whom are happy to play along.

It’s hard to remember a time when video games and comic books were enjoyed almost exclusively by people under the age of 18. But that was the case a mere couple of decades ago, before both began featuring violence, profanity, sex, and other material not appropriate for young children. Along the same lines, in recent times many other things long associated with kids are now being marketed to adult consumers. Here are a dozen examples:

Gummy Vitamins. A string of studies indicating that vitamins appear to be largely a waste of money has resulted in flat sales for the once sizzling vitamin market. It looks like consumers are getting the messages spread by researchers in the field, who point out that while vitamin supplements are correlated with better health, there is little proof of causality because the people taking vitamins tend to healthier and take better care of themselves in the first place. But if consumers are dubious about the benefits of boring old-fashioned vitamins, they appear less skeptical about vitamins “disguised as candy,” a.k.a. gummy vitamins. Once popular only with children, colorful, chewable, sweet-tasting vitamins are now ubiquitous in stores’ adult vitamin sections, and makers of such adult vitamins say that the category has been enjoying “explosive growth” of late.

Walt Disney World. In some ways, Disney World has always been marketed to adults—who often say they enjoy “feeling like a kid” while touring the theme parks sans children. Some even wish Disney would host child-free days when adults could hit the rides without having to deal with the young whippersnappers clogging up the parks. While that’s highly unlikely to ever take place, Disney has taken several steps over the years to appeal to adult-only clientele, including the introduction of booze for sale at the Magic Kingdom, as well as special events like $35 “After Hours” party with alcohol and tasting menus, and, most recently, a $79 “Food & Wine Late Night” at EPCOT.

Pop Tarts. While interest in breakfast cereal has collapsed in recent years, sales of another kid favorite at the breakfast table, Pop Tarts, have risen each and every year for more than three decades straight. The Wall Street Journal noted that while Pop Tarts are most popular with teens and younger children, “adults reach for them as a retro snack.” It’s not just nostalgia that’s drawing adults to Pop Tarts, but that, “Shoppers increasingly want quick breakfasts they can eat with one hand on the go.” Over the years, Pop Tarts and its imitators have periodically tried out products more directly marketed to adults and foodies, such as “Toaster Pastries” in flavors like Cherry Pomegranate from Nature’s Path.

Happy Meals. McDonald’s briefly tried to market a “Go Active Happy Meal” for adults a decade ago, with a salad and an exercise booklet instead of chicken nuggets and a plastic toy. It obviously didn’t catch on—very few healthy fast food items are successful—but this fall, the Happy Meal for Adults concept is back, bizarrely, in the world of high fashion. Nordstrom is selling a series of pop culture-themed items from Moschino, including an iPhone case that looks like a McDonald’s French fry container ($85) and a Happy Meal lookalike shoulder bag that retails for over $1,000.

Backpacks. In what could be considered a sign that adults really don’t want to grow up, backpack sales are up dramatically among consumers ages 18 and up—including a 48% rise in backpack purchases by female adults over a recent time span. Valentino, Alexander McQueen, and Fendi are among the many fashion designers to feature posh leather and camouflage versions of the bag normally associated with high school and college kids, only theirs sometimes cost $2,000.

Lunchables. OK, so neither Kraft nor its Oscar Mayer brand actually markets Lunchables to adults. But the Adult Lunch Combos look eerily like Lunchables only without Oreos or Capri Sun, and everyone is referring to the new protein-packed prepared lunches as “Lunchables for Adults” even though the real name is the Portable Protein Pack.

Obstacle Courses. Kids have playgrounds in town parks and schools. What do adults have to help keep them in shape while also having fun? The gym doesn’t qualify because, for most people, working out is work, not fun. The exception is when the workout allows adults to swing, jump, get dirty, and challenge themselves on courses made specifically for them, like those on the popular TV show “American Ninja Warrior” and on Tough Mudder and other extreme obstacle course races. This fall, Las Vegas is even hosting an “Adult-Themed” course where the obstacles have names like the Dominatrix Dungeon and the Blue Balls Dash.

Sugary Cereals. A big reason that cereal sales have dropped is that fewer kids are eating them for breakfast. Yet as parents try to sub in healthier fare as a replacement for kid-favorite sugary cereals, the cereal giants appear to be having some success reaching a different audience—the parents themselves. Baby Boomers and Gen X, who grew up craving the sugar rush provided by a bowl of neon-colored goodies on Saturday mornings, are now being fed heaping doses of nostalgia, in the form of cartoon-character cereals brought back from the dead and other adult-focused marketing efforts. The fastest-growing consumers of Trix and Lucky Charms are, in fact, older adults.

Legos. “The Lego Movie” was certainly clever and entertaining enough to warrant an adult audience, especially among those who grew up building with the bricks. Lately, Lego has been making another appeal to adults. Several Legoland Discovery Centers—which normally attract families with children under the age of 10 or 12—have been offering special Adult Nights, where all visitors must be 18 or over.

Fruit Roll-Ups. Many adults would probably be embarrassed if they were caught eating Fruit Roll-Ups, delicious though they may be. How can you avoid being kidded about your preference for what is a quintessential kid snack? Easy. Call them something more adult-sounding, such as Fruit Strips or Fruit Leather.

Hot Pockets. Last year, Nestle attempted to broaden the Hot Pocket demographic—typically, teen boys and slacker college kids who don’t want to cook or even order pizza—by introducing gourmet versions featuring angus beef, hickory ham to appeal to adult foodies.

Halloween. October 31 used to be about children trick-or-treating door to door in their neighborhoods. Now it’s the centerpiece of a whole Halloween season where the kids are invited to enjoy only some—but by no means all—of the fun. A year ago, adults spent roughly $1.2 billion on costumes, compared to $1 billion spent on costumes for kids. Roughly 7 out of 10 college-aged adults plan on dressing up for Halloween, which explains the sales success of oddly “sexy” costumes of pizza slices or corn fields. Or sexy nuns. Adults also tend to spend more on their costumes than they do on Halloween outfits for kids. So that explains why companies are marketing the holiday to adults more and more. Still, it’s hard to come up with a good explanation for the existence of the Sexy Pizza Costume.

MONEY Food & Drink

Nostalgia SURGE! Cult Favorite Foods & Drinks Back from the Dead

Twinkies Chocodile
Hostess

Fueled by nostalgia—and often, outcries on social media—the snacks, sodas, and beers you haven't been able to buy for years are making big comebacks.

There’s no mystery as to why malls play old Christmas songs, why retro products and brands pop up regularly in the marketplace, and why advertisers are constantly trying to evoke memories of our youth. But if anyone had any doubts, the results of a study published over the summer by the Journal of Consumer Research show that we’re more likely to spend money when we’re in a nostalgic mood.

Consumers are also, we know, more prone to buying stuff when it hasn’t been available in quite some time, and when we get the idea it may disappear again because it’s a limited-time offer. The periodic resurfacing of the McDonald’s McRib is a great example of how this strategy can work over and over to successfully drum up sales—for a product that, remember, was discontinued from the regular menu because not enough people liked it.

These varied forces have combined to fuel a surge in sales for products ranging from cheap old-school beer (featuring retro bottles, cans, and logos) to re-releases of old-school sneakers, Nike Air Jordans in particular. And these forces are also fueling a surge in discontinued food and drink products being brought back from the dead, including, well, SURGE.

The highly caffeinated citrus soda brand was brought back by Coca-Cola this week due to popular demand. The masses spoke in the form of a Facebook page with more than 140,000 Likes that demanded its return to the marketplace. And then they took action by buying up the first batch in its entirety within hours of it going on sale at Amazon.com.

Here are a few other food and drink products that disappeared for a while, only to resurface to the rejoicing of more than a few cult fans.

Hostess Chocodiles
At one point, sellers on eBay were asking as much as $90 a box for these chocolate-covered Twinkie treats, and buyers paid $17 for a single Chocodile. That was back during the dark days, when Chocodiles weren’t available in the vast majority of the country. In July Hostess announced it was bringing the Chocodile back nationally, by way of some hyperbolic statements from the company’s CEO. “In the past Chocodiles seemed to be shrouded as much in mystery as in chocolate, inspiring an obsession among fans that was truly the stuff of legends,” said William Toler, president and CEO of Hostess Brands. “Now, fanatics will once again be able to satisfy their cravings and a new generation will be able to experience the magic for the first time.”

BK Chicken Fries
Over the summer, around the same time Burger King was dramatically scaling back availability of Satisfries, its low-calorie French fry, the fast food giant brought back decidedly less healthy Chicken Fries to the menu for a limited time. The breaded-and-fried chicken strips were on the menu from 2005 until they were discontinued in 2012. But after online petitions and Tumblr pages pleaded for their return, BK relented. “On peak days we’ve seen one tweet every forty seconds about Chicken Fries, many of them directly petitioning, begging, for us to bring them back,” Eric Hirschhorn, Burger King’s Chief Marketing Officer North America, said in a statement. “When you have guests who are this passionate about a product, you have to give them what they want.”

Ballantine IPA
The hipster cult status of PBR has caused the Pabst Brewing Company to take a hard look at the beer brands it owns and see if should start brewing any of its discontinued old-school beers—which, perhaps, might also gain a following with hipsters. That’s essentially why Pabst relaunched Schlitz in 2008, and then reintroduced Schlitz vintage “Tall Boy” can a few years later. And it’s why the company is bringing back Ballantine IPA, the 136-year-old brew produced for decades in Newark, N.J., credited as America’s first IPA. It helps that the craft beer revolution has made hoppy IPAs extremely popular.

General Mills Monster Cereals
For most of the year, shoppers can’t find Boo Berry, Count Chocula, and Franken Berry in the cereal aisles of any supermarkets. But then sometime in late summer, their dormancy period ends like that of a pumpkin spice latte, and they’re suddenly available again just in time for the ramp-up to Halloween. This year, the cereals feature new designs from DC Comics artists, being sold side by side next to cereal boxes with retro characters and logos from the 1970s and ’80s. Count Chocula and Franken Berry are also being sold in select stores in Canada this season, which is unusual. “No more trips across the U.S. border to stock up!,” a General Mills post promised.

Last year, General Mills made monster cereal fans extra happy by bringing back two rare products, Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy, which hadn’t been sold in more than two decades. Alas, it looks like the two cult favorites are not returning to stores this season, prompting fans to voice their disappointment with comments on the company blog.

Something tells us we’ll be seeing both Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy again in the future. In today’s nostalgia-ridden world, no brands really die, not even when they feature monster characters that are undead.

TIME NFL

Vikings Owner Says ‘We Made a Mistake’ With Adrian Peterson

Minnesota Viking v Tennessee Titans
Running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on Aug. 28, 2014 in Nashville. Ronald C. Modra—Sports Imagery/Getty Images

As Nike drops its endorsement deal with the star

Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said Wednesday that the team had “made a mistake” in its initial decision to allow Adrian Peterson back onto the field as the star running back was being investigated for allegedly abusing his four-year-old son. The team said Peterson is now banned from all team activities until his legal problems are resolved, the Associated Press reports.

“We made a mistake and we need to get this right,” Wilf said. “It is important to always listen to our fans and the community and our sponsors. Our goal is always to make the decision we feel is right for the Minnesota Vikings … We want to be sure we get this right.”

The reversal came as a growing number of sponsors severed ties with Peterson, with Nike joining the pack in dropping its endorsement contract with Peterson on Wednesday.

“NIKE in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and has shared our concerns with the NFL,” the company told ESPN.

[AP]

TIME marketing

Why (Most) Sponsors Aren’t Pulling Out of the NFL

Ray Rice
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice pauses as he speaks during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, in Owings Mills, Md. Patrick Semansky—AP

Radisson suspended their Vikings sponsorships, but they may be the only brand to go that far

When Vikings general manager Rick Spielman announced yesterday, in front of a backdrop splashed with the Radisson logo, that Adrian Peterson would play Sunday despite serious allegations of child abuse, the hotel chain suspended its sponsorship of the NFL team.

But it appears that Radisson’s withdrawal has not opened the floodgates for other sponsors to drop their NFL contracts. Covergirl announced late Monday night that it would not stop being the “Official Beauty Sponsor of the NFL,” despite a viral meme that showed a Covergirl model sporting a black eye while wearing a Ravens jersey. “In light of recent events, we have encouraged the NFL to take swift action on their path forward to address the issue of domestic violence,” Covergirl said in a statement.

Anheuser-Busch, official beer sponsor of the NFL, released a statement Tuesday condemning the response to the abuse scandals, but did not pull their sponsorship. “We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” they said. “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code.”

But despite the finger-wagging, PR experts say it’s unlikely that major NFL sponsors like Verizon and PepsiCo would pull their sponsorship in light of the recent abuse scandals. “You didn’t see people immediately jumping ship—they’ve made multimillion investments in this,” says Joe Favorito, a sports media consultant who teaches strategic communications at Columbia University and once served as head of PR for the New York Knicks. “I don’t think that the massive brands that are tied to the NFL are in the blind on anything.”

“Everybody these days wants immediate results and immediate reactions,” he says. “Most brands will take their time, especially since most of them have very positive and lucrative experiences with the NFL, and then will act accordingly.” He noted that FedEx hasn’t pulled their sponsorship of the Redskins despite the controversy over their name, and Under Armor is still sponsoring the Ravens despite Ray Rice’s abuse scandal.

So why was Radisson the only brand to suspend their sponsorship? Ray Katz, executive VP for sports marketing at Source Communications and adjunct professor of sports marketing at Columbia University says he suspects Radisson probably had a pretty minor contract compared to the big deals like Verizon and Gatorade, whose sponsorships are more “organic” because they tie in more naturally with sports broadcasts.

“Radisson is not and has not been a very broad corporate sponsor,” Katz says. “To me, this is essentially an excuse to get out of that sponsorship. The benefit of taking an alleged moral high ground is a way bigger benefit than the sponsorship.” Katz serves on the board of Sherwood Trading Group, which helps companies get out of corporate sponsorships, and is not in any way affiliated with Radisson.

Katz also noted that Nike and Castrol have not yet pulled their sponsorship of Adrian Peterson, and the accused child abuser was spotted wearing Nike on Tuesday morning.

“Why should the Vikings cut somebody based on allegations?” Katz said. “The Bears or the Packers will pick him up. The NFL didn’t say Adrian Peterson couldn’t play football.”

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser