-- Starbucks sbux has had enough complaints about coffee spurting from the sip holes in its lids to do something about it.
Last week, it began quietly rolling out "splash sticks" — plastic plugs for sip holes with tops in the shape of the Starbucks siren.
Extra impetus for the splash sticks came from Starbucks' new MyStarbucksIdea.com social-networking site — where Starbucks lovers and haters can rant or rave.
More than 200,000 votes for product or store ideas have been cast on the site since it launched March 19, says Chris Bruzzo, chief technology officer at Starbucks.
Bruzzo hopes the site "fosters authenticity, transparency and encourages our customers to be part of shaping the future of Starbucks."
Splash sticks should be at Starbucks nationally this week. MyStarbucksIdea.com suggests that customers save and reuse their splash sticks "to help minimize waste."
Wearing o' the green is no longer just for St. Patrick's Day, as some marketers push green clothing (as in eco-friendly).
Last week, Banana Republic gps rolled out a Green Collection that includes apparel in bamboo, organic linen and soy/silk knit fabrics. Also last week, Coca-Cola ko said it will sell T-shirts partly made from recycled plastic bottles at 500 Wal-Mart wmt stores and on Walmart.com. With sayings such as "Make your Plastic Fantastic" and "Rehash your Trash," the $7.50 T's will promote bottle recycling, Coke spokeswoman Kirsten Witt says.
Meanwhile, car company Saab sells "ethically sewn" clothes on SaabExpressions.com. Garments such as a cardigan of "certificated organic cotton" don't have obvious logos, only a label inside saying Saab Reflective. And there's no wasteful plastic on the $178 cardigan; the buttons are made from corozo nuts.
Kraft Singles kft on Saturday will sponsor the Grilled Cheese Invitational sandwich challenge at Los Angeles' Griffith Park. About 150 entrants will square off before an expected 2,000 spectators. It's the cheesy cook-off's sixth year, but the first with Kraft as sponsor. Founder Tim Walker "reached out to us and said, 'We're both talking about the same thing; how can we get together and spread the word on grilled cheese?' " Kraft spokesman Basil Maglaris says. "We couldn't pass up this opportunity."
The contest has four sandwich categories: Missionary Position (white bread, standard butter and American or cheddar cheese); Kama Sutra (60% cheese, but including other ingredients, such as meat); Spoons (any bread, cheese and butter); and Honey Pot (sweet and dessert-like).
Attendees sample and rate the rivals for trophies. Details at GrilledCheeseInvitational.com.
Kraft also is trying to promote its health and environmental sides with a total revamp of its 50 salad dressings. Old and new flavors have been reformulated to eliminate artificial preservatives. For eco-conscious consumers, new thinner bottles use 19% less plastic and are shaped so that 18% more bottles can fit into a truckload.
Promoting the changes will be TV, print and outdoor ads themed "Pure Kraft." Notable among the outdoor ads: a 35-foot bottle above the entrance of New York City's Penn Station pouring dressing into a 30-foot-wide salad bowl. In May, Northfield. Ill.-based Kraft will plant lettuce in garden plots it will build in malls and neighborhoods around Chicago, with large dressing bottles that appear to be pouring into the planters.
Run, Fido, run.
Fetch! Pet Care, which offers professional pet sitting and dog walking, has added a fitness service: personal training sessions for pets with heart-healthy activities designed for the specific pet's age, ability and temperament.
If owners act fast, perhaps they can whip pets into shape before Pet Fashion Week, the high-end show for dog and cat products in New York City in August.
Bullish on cola.
Faced with slower sales volume, Red Bull is trying to jolt its brand with new Red Bull Cola. Red Bull has fallen behind Monster Energy at the top, with a 24.6% volume share, vs. Monster's 27.6%.
The all-natural cola, with ingredients such as kola nut, lemon juice, licorice and caramel-sugar syrup, will roll out first in Las Vegas in June.
Carbonated drink sales fell 2.3% in 2007 vs. 2006, says Beverage Digest, but Red Bull thinks its name and the natural formula will beat the odds. The cola category offers "great opportunities for innovation," says spokeswoman Patrice Radden. At $1.49 per 12-ounce can, it'll cost more than a typical can of cola but have more caffeine: 45 milligrams vs. 34 milligrams. Regular Red Bull packs 80 milligrams in its 8.3-ounce can.
Rolling in dough — nuts.
Does your stomach typically feel like it has a big hole in it on April 15? Dunkin' Donuts will fill that hole for you. Buy any coffee on Tax Day — Tuesday — and the doughnut is free.
"We know Americans work hard for their money," says Frances Allen, the chain's brand marketing officer. "This is our small way of showing our appreciation."
Who is the young man and his group in the Free Credit Report commercials? In one ad, they are in a junky car, and in the other, they are singing pirates in a seafood restaurant.
—Bob Barnard, Liberty, Ind.
Eric Violette is the lead "singer" in three commercials (in a third, he sings about his "dream girl's" bad credit). Violette and his buddies do songs about how it has affected their lives. Violette, a French Canadian, sings and plays guitar in real life and has a following on the Web. Because he speaks little English, however, he lip-syncs the song in the ad, which is performed by a studio artist. The songs were written by David Muhlenfeld. The "band" in the ads, by The Martin Agency, is a group of actors. The group of commercials, which began airing in October, are part of the third national ad campaign for FreeCreditReport.com, which was launched in 1999 by credit-rating giant Experian.
Who is the singer and what is the name of the song on the Apple thin laptop ad?
— Tim Bohan, Albuquerque
Apple aapl and its agency TBWA/Media Arts Lab, Los Angeles, found an artist and song on the cusp of being popular, and the song has broken through loud and clear thanks to the ad. In this case, Yael Naim's New Soul single is the track for Apple's ad for its super-thin laptop, MacBook Air. The Paris-born singer, 30, was raised in Israel, and on her self-titled album released last month, she sings in English, French and Hebrew. Since the ad began in mid-January, more than 780,000 downloads of New Soul have sold, according to Atlantic Records. It reached the Top 10 on iTunes, and as of Friday was No. 29 on Apple's music site. Naim's ad hit follows a similar boost for Feist's 1234 after it was featured in ads last fall for a new iPod Nano.
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By Laura Petrecca, Theresa Howard, Bruce Horovitz