Share ideas that inspire. FALLON PLANNERS (and co-conspirators) are freely invited to post trends, commentary, obscure ephemera and insightful rants regarding the experience of branding.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Trend: Don't Panic! Don't Panic! - Bird Flu and the new clam face of Panicing

So during a casual lunch with clients earlier this week a couple of them and one AD turn from discussing inclement weather to "So, where did you get your tamiflu from? Europe or Canida?... I got mine for $600, good deal eh?" and "And do you have 40 days water / food / theraputic dose tylenol etc for your family?"

It turns out that quite casually with genuinely no panic lots of people are gearing up big time to do the following things the very second their blackberry report the first human-to-human bird flu infection is reported:

1) Calmly, but immediately leave the meeting you are in, calling your travel agent / organizer for an immediate flight home if needed - this is a must, as obviously all the borders are closing soon.

2 a) Get your family to do the same ie. get them home immediately
2 b) Get your family to rendevous at you country bunker/cabin/falloutshelter etc (this for the more organised, diesel generator and fenced compound folks).

3) Lock yourselves in

4) Break open the stocks of water (dehydrate and you're dead with flu apparently), tamiflu, food etc.

5) Break out the guns (to shoot the mob on your front lawn before they can get in at your supplies.)

6) Wait at least 40 days for the incubation period to settle... listen to the news, don't let anyone close, and whatever you do stay away from hospitals at all cost.

Ok I exagerate a bit, but not much, and asking around since these guys are not alone.

Looney? Maybe (but then they'll be the ones shooting me on their lawn when/if it happens right!)

But the most interesting thing - extreme precautions and measures taken totally calmly - no sense of outward panic or fear in their discussion, just calm concidered plans.

So is "Calm-but-zealous-panic" the new face of over-reaction in middle-class circles? I don't remember hearing quite so many people doing stuff like this before, not doing so much, so calmly and basically with resignation.

Anyway I'm off to stock up on shed loads of vodka, chuppa-chups, and pies for my 40-day supplies (the vodka obviously being my bet for killing any pathogens in the vacinity)

Selected Links to scare yourself with:

Trend: User-Created: Revenge of Oops-a-Daisy REDUX

The saga of the lame Chevy Tahoe 'User Co-Created" stunt continues as ever-resourceful kids are now ripping their parody Chevy Tahoe ads and posting on YouTube. Here are some of the better parodies, including a faux-"urban" one.

Pot of Gold

First UFO's, then a silhouette of the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich, and now Leperchaun's in a tree. I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist posting this.

Trend: User-Created: Return of the Revenge of the Video Mash-Ups

Super Mario Matrix Reloaded
Matrix-inspired Neo-Mario vs 1000 Agent Luigis

also file under 8-Bit Nostalgia

Trend: User-Created: Oops-a-Daisy REDUX

To follow-up Magnus' previous post about a lame Chevy Tahoe "User Co-Created" stunt...they took it down. But here are the screengrabs that give you the gist of homie's corporate-sponsored edit.

Inbox of Immaturity

Last week Aki proposed that Inbox of Immaturity have an iconic image (or revolving one weekly) that highlights its immaturity. Because it was his idea, he gets the first one featured. Truly a feat and a feast for your eyes… or is it as the German in Three Amigos accused Ned Needlelender of – “trick photography”? In either case, back to your regularly scheduled link list...

5. The most amazing guy in the history of the world (besides Jack Bauer):
4. For the sports fans –hilarious comparison of Vince Young to Uncle Rico:
3. Pretty cool street drawings… too bad my buddies couldn’t get past his last name:
2. Goooooooooool! Thanks to Agenda for this find:
1. Yes, this is a real ninja… and tight song:

Industry: The argument for frequency

Like many of you, I once bought something from Bluefly. I am reminded of this by daily and sometimes twice or thrice daily emails from them, with a variety of different offers, announcements or other spammings.

I have gone through several stages with this. Interest, annoyance, anger, refusal to acknowledge, curiosity, acceptance.

Now, I have to admit with some chagrin, it works. When they tell me "private sale" I click, when they send me "Everything Prada 40% off" I'm browsing. Perhaps I'm particularly sad, but I'd like to aspire to being simply average. Even on the Internet, the classic annoy you to death strategy still works.

Trend: Manliness: Beardly

NY Times reports a full-on bushy beard trend/fad.

According to them, all the fashionistas, Williamsburg scenesters, and celebs like Hugo Weaving, Mel Gibson and George Clooney are hairing it up. Even the staff at Vice Magazine has gone wooly! So it must be the "next" thing if Vice is doing it. Sell your Gillette stock now while you can!

One interesting quote from the article..."Whenever a countercultural trend becomes a mainstream one, there is a natural tendency to look for deeper meaning. Do beards that call to mind Charles Manson suggest dissatisfaction with "the system"? Are broody beards, like the dark and somber mood of the fall fashion collections, physical manifestations of a melancholia in the air? Are they a reflection of the stylistic impact on mainstream fashion of the subculture of gay men known as bears, who embrace natural body hair? But such theories seem to have less relevance — and beards less shock value — than they once did."

Get more at:

Brands: Microsoft lags in trust study

In a new Forrester survey Microsoft is well behind the other CE brands in both trust and potential. I always knew they weren't trusted in the developer world but this is really surprising given that this is among average households. It really shows how vulnerable they are, especially to Apple.

Also what's with Bose????

Joystiq has more commentary, although clearly they're gaming focused.

Research: Prayer ineffective at healing

A $2.4 million study showed prayer did not affect the recovery of heart surgery patients. In fact people who knew they were being prayed for fared slightly worse.

Perhaps if they'd spent $2.4 million on real health care it might have been a bit more effective or maybe they prayed to the wrong deity. I doubt if there were any pastafarians praying.

Via Star News Online.

Industry: Google sells ad space on Google Local

Starting now, you can buy virtual outdoor boards on Google Maps. They'll display as pushpins with pop-up balloons to mark the site of your business. Apparently Barnes and Noble and Ralph Lauren have already signed on. This is the start of a new channel. Eventually the pushpins could be links to interactive video or any other type of content. Someone will exploit this in a really cool way, the race is on.

From Cnet.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Trend: User Created. Oops-a-daisy.

So Chevy is running a competition with The Apprentice. It allows you to make your own ad and upload it...

Seems not every contributor is a fan of the motor industry.

Now, heavens only knows how long this link will stay up before it vanishes down the memory hole. It's going to be interesting to see. Because this is one of the dilemmas I think brands still haven't really figured out. How much co-creation do you want? Do you risk allowing and propagating criticism? Or do you curtail and delete submissions you don't agree with, thereby negating the whole point of co-creation in the first place? Buggered if I know the answer.

Let's see what Chevy does, shall we?

Trend: User-Created: Characters Wanted

Have noticed USA Network has undertaken a new positioning around the idea of "Characters Welcome". All the shows are highlit less about "drama" or "funny" and more about the quirky character styles from Monk and Law+Order, to WWE to retread movies like American Pie and Bring It On that make the USA content interesting (and differentiated from the other commodity channels showing the same retread shows and movies) and ties them all together as a network idea. Good one.

Further, thoughout the network viewers are invited to "Show Us Your Character" and submit themselves by describing their own unique characters and becoming content on the network.

Check 'em out at

Trend: Shadow Economies: MMORPG Currency

Found this prediction/proposal from Make Magazine which chides Credit Carders for ignoring "the juiciest demographic of all, online gamers & 'in world makers'":

Very soon, credit card companies and game makers will reward their customers who spend money in the real world using private label "rewards" credit cards. They will use gifts of virtual currency such as Blizzard's World of Warcraft gold and Second Life's Linden dollars.

A quick tour of the different MMORPG's reveals millions of players spending hours and hours each day, leveling their characters, as well as earning and spending some type of virtual currency (World of Warcraft currently has over 6 million players). While World of Warcraft doesn't allow their players to build gold with real dollars, there is of course an "underground" market that buys and sells WoW gold. Linden Lab's Second Life has a virtual currency, called Linden Dollars which unlike World of Warcraft "residents" can buy, sell and earn a living from Lindens - there's a growing population of residents who make their living in the real world entirely from the revenue they procure in Second Life.

At the time of this writing, there are 166,922 residents, spending over 135,984.00 in 24 hours and $6.5 million USD in transactions took place is about 20 days. In 2006, there's a good chance $100 million USD dollars worth of transactions will flow through the virtual world of Second Life. Linden recently rolled out their own exchange, Lindex, meaning - they're almost a bank now.

It's not a matter of if, just when - credit card companies, Pay Pal, Amazon, eBay and the individual "gaming" companies eventually bridge the real and virtual currencies with loyalty programs and private label credit cards - there's too much money out there to -not- to do this. This "demographic" is the battleground. The more you spend, the more you earn, sorta. Virtual $ isn't a crappy electronics doo-dad, it's just a number in a computer. Maybe you'll get some discounted airline tickets when you hit level 60 too, you deserve it! Earn your way to a new graphics card, why not.

With tens of thousands (and eventually millions) of "in world Makers" selling their virtual goods, routing the real money to and from a closely integrated bank / credit program seems to make sense. The virtual marketplace has happened, it just hasn't been installed everywhere yet. Maybe this will help a new generation of credit card owners manage their credit, it's hard to go $20k in debt in WoW, a lot easier in the real world...

Sure, there are complexities to any economy, real or virtual, and limits to how much currency would or could make an impact - but nimble MMO's with economies will figure this out. There's fraud and mischief that would develope, but that's true always. Spend in the real world, earn virtual currencies for the "games" you play, that part is simple. This can apply to Sony, Xbox, etc...Xbox 360 already has "gamer cards", ways to buy things too.

There's another component to a loyalty program for online gaming - avatars. If you "play" any of these MMORPG's a lot of emphasis on the appearance of your virtual identity, your avatar. In Second Life, it's impossible to fly/walk without seeing virtual clothing makers and avatar stores. You can (and will) spend countless hours dressing up and personalizing your digital doppelganger - even in Warcraft, your avatar is something you spend months and soon, years developing.

get more at Make:

Voicemail "texting" service...huh?

OK I've said it before but maybe I am dumb. I looked at this new service and I need someone to explain to me why this is a good idea. Social Voicemail is a service that allows you to call 1 number, leave a voicemail and the service will text your friends and get them to call up and listen to your voicemail. Why wouldn't you just text your friends? What kind of information is better as a mass voicemail than a mass text? I don't know. I give up.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Applicants Wanted: Junior Lucky Bastard

Until now, I had no idea my dream job existed. Traveling around the world for 55 days on someone else’s dime, who could argue with that?

Who's Really At The Top Of the Pyramid

I read about the government's nutrition website on the side panel of a multigrain Cheerios box and was intrigued. A chance to find out what I should be eating, what the new pyramid is all about, how to lead a healthier life, why not?

But it turns out that between me and a longer, happier life stands the GWOT (Global War On Terror), apparently.

MyPyramid Tracker will allow the USDA to instantly track the profitability of each bite of food taken by those Americans who sign up for the MyPyramid Tracker (an international version for American Exports is in the planning stages). The USDA will distribute the revenue and financial reporting information to the industry groups responsible for sponsoring the MyPyramid Tracker. Your part in helping the food industry track their product performance benefits American companies as they hone their focus on exactly which foods generate the most profit - which in turn benefits American consumers.

Due to commitments in support of the Global War On Terror (GWOT), the outsourcing organization responsible for developing MyPyramid Tracker is behind schedule on their cost-plus contract. There are no penalties or repercussions of any kind for this delay and at this point in time there is not an expected completion date. Please stay tuned for any updates, the next status report from the USDA's outsourcing partner is due December 31, 2005.

I'm guessing the gov't crunched some numbers to determine that more people are dying from terror than obesity.

Culture: Girls Weekend +1

Budget Travel asked women with whom they would most want to spend a girls-only weekend. Oprah (20.4%) won by a landslide. Numbers two and three were Jennifer Aniston(9.7%) and Rachel Ray (9.4%) . Nothing surprising among these top runners--all wholesome, hold their heads up through trial, do the right thing types. I can see how they would shake out in the lead.

What I was really interested in were 4-6:
Queen Latifah 7.8%
Susan Sarandan 6.8%
Angelina Jolie 6.3%

What do these three have in common? Maybe I'm missing something, but I wouldn't really want to vacation with any of these people (except Oprah, cause she'd pay for everything).

Trend: 8-Bit Nostalgia

Perhaps Donkey Kong and Pac Man are the Citizen Kane of our generation. I notice tons of 8-Bit Nostalgia from remakes and reissues of classic games to mash-up music players.

Super Mario Bros Sound Synthesizer

Make your own music with all the original sound samples.

YMCK hail from Japan and make fun music (think Stereolab meets Dangermouse) reminiscent of old 8-Bit Nintendo soundtracks.

Link to Video (@RocketBoom)
Magical 8-Bit Tour

Link to Sample Songs

And get your old-school game on with convenient Atari Flashback which packs multiple classics into one unit - and no more annoying cartridges to blow!

And view LIVE ACTION VERSION of MIKE TYSON PUNCH OUT (pre rapist jail sentence) here:

Trend: Burial with mobile phone

Apparently, it is becoming more common for people to ask to be buried with their phones. The trend started in South Africa and has spread, first as an urban myth, and then as a real practice. A case was discovered here in the US when a phone battery exploded during the cremation of a body.

Now services are springing up to accomodate this trend such as separate phone coffins and spare batteries in case you do lots of talking in the afterlife.

Via the BBC

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Trend: More Continuous Partial Attention

Funny viral vid introducing the Blackberry Helmet, for continuous protection while Blackberrying on the go.

Order yours here:

Advertising: Matt Groening's Apple ad

I just came across an Apple brochure Matt Groening illustrated in 1989 for students (and obviously "gen x-ers", I might add). As the Simpson's popularity was growing in it's early days, looks like Matt did some extra work to supplement the bank account. But I wonder how many college students actually had their own computers circa 1989?

Technology: Inclusively anti-social

Over the weekend I was lucky enough to attend the NCAA Regional finals here in Minneapolis. The games are televised and sometimes the tv time-0uts get a little long. Solution? Instead of talking with your family, just whip out the family-plan cell phones and play a game as this family of three in front of me did. It's rather an elegant solution - it's inclusive while still giving people their space. And while they couldn't do anything to whittle down their team's 10 pt. defecit, they could make a few easy buckets on their phone.

See also Sarah's earlier posting on Gadgets and Anti-social behavior.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Trend: Holiday Commercialism: Easter Santa

While Hasbro sees Easter as a selling season second only to Christmas, some religious groups object to the further commercialization of the holiday.

Encouraged by sales figures that show the second-biggest bump for game sales after Christmas is at Easter, Hasbro last year tested use of free-standing inserts themed to the holiday in the Midwest offering $1 to $3 off its classic games. The result, said Mark Stark, VP-marketing for Hasbro, was a several-fold increase in sales.

“We’re always looking for ways to balance our year so we’re not completely dependent on the fourth quarter,” Mr. Stark said. Moms apparently said they were game to buy games at Easter, according to Hasbro marketing research, so now roughly 15% of the games division’s budget will focus on getting them to do just that. Hasbro spent roughly $108 million in measured media on its toys and games in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence. At least 85% of that is focused around the 12 weeks leading up to Christmas

Some aren’t so happy to see the Hasbro push, though. Janice Crouse, senior fellow for conservative public policy organization Concerned Women for America, said she is “appalled at the idea of Easter baskets as a marketing tool” and the attempt to use Christianity for marketing purposes. “The Bunny is to Easter as Santa is to Christmas, and it’s very definitely getting worse,” she said. Sadly, Ms. Crouse said, secular marketers aren’t the only ones to cash in on the commercialization of the holiday.

Alison Mark, features editor for toy industry publisher TD, said religious toys in general are growing, including items such as plush Baby Jesus and Noah toys from marketer Holy Folks and ABC Bible Stacking Blocks from Alphabet Alley.

Alex McFarland, director of apologetics (what the hell is that?) for Christian ministry Focus on the Family, acknowledged the rise of marketing around Easter and praised it, so long as efforts don’t overlook the real reason for candy and toys being given.

“Evangelical families are very loyal and Easter is a very important event in the Church calendar so [marketers shouldn’t] be afraid to acknowledge it,” he said, whether through the sales of products sold along with a white chocolate cross or mention of “Happy Easter” in their ad copy. The payoff, he said, is big in that “it could pay a lot of dividends in terms of customer loyalty” among members of America’s 500,000-plus churches.

Hasbro spokeswoman Pat Riso said the initiative to drive Easter sales is less a religious push than acknowledgement of the “secular celebration of spring and the Easter Bunny.”'

Celebrate the occasion at AdAge:

AKI COMMENT: Nice one in the Haddon Sundbloom/Coca-Cola tradition of extending products past their traditional usage seasons...but let's be clear, this is no Chrismahanukwanzakah!

Check out this old book, Consumer Rites, which documents the 18th+19th century secular colonization of our religious holidays.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Site Metrics: Blog Narcissism

As Minister of Bloggery, I'm finding myself inordinately concerned with looking at ourselves in the mirror of stats.

One absurd example is BlogShares ( which is steadily projecting our fantasy stock "value" on the increase, now at .84 per share, up from .29 in Feb.

While I admit this "value" means absolutely nothing in the real world, having such a valuation makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

BlogShares seems to value sites on their increases in INCOMING LINKS and OUTGOING LINKS-value is community - and association with other highly-valued communities boosts your own value. This is sort of like high-school cafeteria stock value - being friendly is worth something, but being friendly with the top dawgs makes you more valuable.

Since Feb when we were first listed we had 5 incoming links...about six weeks later we have 17 incomings.

BlogShares does present some interesting models for dimensional Blog value and reach. And in this age of overrated blog buyouts by big media conglomerates, increasingly something like this will be necessary to validate a blog's advertising worthiness or buyout potential.

Lynx/Axe Effect, side effects

A funny article in the Guardian about the effect of Lynx on teachers of 13 year olds in the UK. Apparently they've been complaining in droves about the overuse of the product that forces them to open windows in their classrooms in order to breathe.

BBH ought to create a "use it sparingly" campaign.

Trend: Office Spouses

Watching CNN this a.m. - caught a story about the phenomenon of "office spouses" or "office wife" or "office hubby".

This is not to be confused with dating or trysting with folks at the office, that is one thing...this is more about the intimacy that evolves between co-workers (many with real spouses outside the office) that evolves into a 9-to-5 personal relationship of open confession, personal advising, even highly-charged sexual innuendo. But the line is somehow never really crossed (nor is it expected).

In a survey by Vault Inc., a career research and consulting company, workplace "spousing" has surged in the last year. 32% of office workers said they have an office "spouse," with many having more than one.

Obviously some jobs increasingly require us to spend more time with workmates than time spent with real spouses. Cross-country flights, late-nite deck-writing, phone calls and emails and text messaging have bridged us towards multiple relationships that we depend on for emotional support.

And having such a support system could lead to better performance reviews and advancement, the survey said. Sounds like a win-win!

I promptly ran searches on Google and BlogPulse to get more testimony on Office Spousing, and a fair amount is there.

Funnier, still, is being able to follow the trail of the CNN reporters who clearly stalked blogs for prospects and pitched them to go on-camera for the story.

In the end, this is prob not a "new" trend, but it is insightful reality, and it now has a name so when we do web searches we can have the same term to reference (ain't that the hardest friggin' thing about "trends"?!?), and some "legitimacy" cuz major media is reporting on it.

see the CNN story here:

Friday, March 24, 2006

Trend: The End of Handwriting

The decline of handwriting and the rise of e-mail and text messaging has been highlighted in a new BBC Daily Life survey of media consumption in the digital age.

It suggests that half of written communication is by e-mail, 29% by text message and just 13% by pen and paper.

Among the over-65s, pen and paper remained popular at 39%.

But among the 15-to-24s only 5% of their communications were by pen and paper.

Industry: Ad Agency Deathwatch: "No Confidence"

US Marketers Declare Loss of Confidence in TV Ads

Growing doubts among America's top marketers as to the effectiveness of TV advertising were revealed at the TV Ad Forum in New York this week.

Held under the aegis of the US Association of National Advertisers, attendees were briefed on the ANA's poll of 133 major advertisers with an aggregated advertising budget of around $20 billion (€16.54bn; £11.44bn). The results were not music to the ears of the main TV networks.

Quizzed by Forrester Research (on the ANA's behalf) about their attitudes toward TV advertising and how new technologies such as digital video recorders and VOD will impact on their TV ad budgets, 78% said they have less confidence today in the effectiveness of TV advertising than they did two years ago.

Moreover, some 70% of advertisers believe DVRs and VOD will reduce or destroy the effectiveness of traditional 30-second commercials. Instead, they seek alternatives such as branded entertainment within TV programs (61%), TV program sponsorships (55%), interactive advertising during TV programs (48%), online video ads (45%) and product placement (44%).

80% of the marketers interviewed also intend to spend a higher proportion of their advertising budgets on web advertising, and 68% responded in similar vein about search engine marketing.

In an address to delegates, Forrester vp Josh Bernoff revealed that current DVR penetration in the US stands at 10%. Not only is he "very confident" about that figure, it is poised for significant growth as cable and satellite operators promote the use of set-top boxes and reduce the prices.

Bernoff estimates that by 2010, 43 million households - forty percent of all US homes - will have DVRs. He described advertisers and agencies as "hard-nosed and focused on data", opining that while the advance of DVRs doesn't spell the end of 30-second TV spots, it will drive change.

However, there appears to be a dichotomy between what marketers say in an interview and their knee-jerk reactions, an anomaly highlighted by on-the-spot research conducted by Bernoff during his presentation.

Using an instant electronic polling system, he asked his audience what they believed might be the most promising video advertising vehicle of the future.

Interactive TV topped the poll with 31%, with regular TV as runner-up at 22%. In third place with 21% was internet video, followed by cable VOD with 16%.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff

Inbox of Immaturity

Sorry I missed last week. I was too busy being immature and getting shnockered (I learned that word here in MN) in Boston for St. Patty’s day. You know what they say, don’t blog about it, be about it. So I did. And now, amidst the emails and pages of posts talking smack about NCAA ball, (which is amazing considering 75% of us went to the same university and our team is still in the tourney), here are the links that have interrupted the “hating” and made us laugh… or in some cases led to more shit talking (see number 4).

7. More friends, who don’t understand what I do (or do they?)… “You should do ads like this, Seth” -
6. A little old, but you gotta love how he gives props to his own song and spends that house $ -
5. From our very own, Aki Systems: a disco dancing instructional -
4. One I sent around early in the week: “peep these cool jeans and badass site.” I won’t tell you the rxn -
3. Momma Gaffney, getting into the St. Patty’s Day spirit: Let me get sensitive on you -
2. A shout out to an old Gtown balla, Gerald Riley: None of the players have nicknames though -
1. Watch out for the whistle, woowhoo -

Prediction: Seamless second lives

Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad Is Good For You, predicts that you will someday be able to move your Neopet into Warcraft, or walk the red light district in GTA with your Sim.

The reason, all these MMORPG will be based on the same underlying technological standards. He likens it to the world of computer operating systems where an initial diversity of standards slowly shrank down to a very few (and if you count the web, one).

The benefit of course is that all of Meg's Neopet training would not be wasted and her pet's formidable intelligence could be carried over to Second Life.

If this is true then the sad people like Eric up in interactive who are completely addicted to Warcraft could end up being the tycoons and rulers of the new metaverse. We'd all better get playing now.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Trend: Complexity in Entertainment

Ad Age has a very interesting POV written by Joseph Frydl, a planner at Ogilvy. His thesis, the popular entertainment of today is far more complex than that of years gone by. he compares Starsky and Hutch plots to those of 24 and says there is a thread of popular culture that demands more thought.

I have to say, I had not thought about it before like this but I completely agree. Gaming has undergone the same transition from button mashing games which could be learned instantly to deep, complex games which take ages to master. I'd argue the same thing is evident in music where popular music is much more complex and simple melodies are rarer.

Check it out, it's a good read.

Viral: Consumer Product Manuals

Via Cnet comes a story about a girl - Bowiechick - who filmed a video for YouTube about her breakup. The cool thing was that she shot it using her web cam and the built-in software that let her put cool effects on her face as she was talking. The clip generated so much buzz about the features she released another video to explain.

As Cnet says, "Marketing experts pay heed: a video clip produced by a teenage girl has become a mini-blockbuster on a popular video upload site while also helping to introduce Logitech Web cameras to a legion of young people."

First of all I bought this camera for a bunch of my family and I didn't know this stuff and second, it's so much cooler than anything Logitech ever told me about it.

Trend: Big Companies Buy Smaller Values Brands

Colgate on Tuesday became the second multinational corporation in a week to buy a small company with a social responsibility message. It bought 84% of Tom's of Maine, the all-natural personal care brand based in Kennebunk, Maine, for $100 million. All-natural personal care products represent a $3 billion market that's growing 15% per year, according to Colgate.

Friday, French cosmetics giant L'Oreal bought London-based retailer The Body Shop, a personal care chain known for its avoidance of animal testing and its support for human and animal rights causes.

Consumers have shown they are willing to pay a premium for "natural" products from values-oriented companies that make them feel good, and big marketers want a piece of the profitable trend.

What they're buying:

Tom's of Maine. The top-selling natural oral-care brand also sells such products as lemongrass soap and calendula shaving creams made with natural and biodegradable ingredients. Maintaining those standards was key to getting a deal done, said founder Tom Chappell in a phone interview.

One such standard was keeping the company in Maine. "Staying here is smart from Colgate's perspective" said Kate Chappell, who founded Tom's with her husband in 1970. "They are respecting the fact that we have a unique approach to creating efficacy with natural ingredients and a total values approach to doing business."

The Body Shop. L'Oreal CEO Lindsay Owen-Jones said in a statement that L'Oreal paid $1.1 billion for the 2,085-store chain for its "distinct culture and values" and growth potential. Founded by Anita Roddick in 1970, it was a pioneer in environmentally friendly packaging and animal testing standards.

Ben & Jerry's. Unilever (UL) bought the flavorful ice-cream brand in 2000 for $326 million, and it has lost some of its social edge since. But last year new president Walt Freese promised to up the social message. He started with the company?s first TV ad campaign in a decade. Rather than touting its Chunky Monkey or Chubby Hubby flavors, the ads promoted family farms, a dairy source for Ben & Jerry?s ice creams.

get more at: