*Burger King is bringing the U.S. its second annual Free Fryday on January 2. Yet again, each customer is entitled to a free small fries during the one-day promo, but this year the Free Fryday handle loses impact as the event actually falls on a Saturday. Hasbro’s Mr. Potato Head, the chain’s irrepressible spokespud, will continue promoting the QSR during the rest of January with national TV ads and toys included in Kids Club Meals. The toy prototypes include Smashed Potato, who ‘makes a funny sound,’ Gotta Get Em, a Mr. Potato Head who chases an order of fries around a Burger King sign, and Fry Fighter, who launches plastic fries into the air. The fry give-away marks the end of the U.S. Rugrats promotion, which saw four themed wristwatches sold for US$1.99 with Value and Kids Club Meals, 12 free Rugrats toys packaged with kids meals, and Rugrats-shaped Chicken Tenders.
*The Disney Channel’s seven-foot Bear is packing up his Big Blue House and taking it on a mall tour. Starting January 8, ‘On the Road with Bear in the Big Blue House’ will visit 10 major U.S. cities over 10 weeks. A live cast of characters from the Jim Henson Television preschool series will perform a series of 15-minute shows at each stop. The tour is co-sponsored by local cable affiliates, and will be supported by Disney Channel on-air and Web site promo spots, newspaper ads, in-mall signage and local radio spots.
*It was bound to happen sooner or later. Chaos! Comics published the world’s first comic book containing a paid product placement, however, neither Marvel nor D.C. is currently planning to open their books to similar placements. The November issue of Evil Ernie featured over 14 logos, posters and scenes from the gruesome movie Strangeland, which opened to a limited run in October.
*Columbia TriStar Home Video and the Harvey Entertainment Company are revving up for the launch of Baby Huey’s first direct-to-video live-action feature. Slated to hit stores March 2, Baby Huey’s Great Easter Adventure will be promoted by commercial spots on Nickelodeon, Fox Family Channel, Animal Planet, Nick at Nite and Cartoon Channel. Cross-trailering with Columbia TriStar home videos, in-pack colorforms featuring Harvey characters, 10-page spreads in Harvey, The Magazine for Kids and Baby Huey Easter chocolates distributed by Pangburn Candy in mid-February will round out the promo.
*Canadian tweens now have two new magazines to choose from, thanks to the recent launch of Youth Culture’s BANG and Sundial Media’s MaXMaG. Four-color freebie BANG-an offshoot of Youth Culture’s Watch magazine (which is now skewing upward to the over-14 bracket)-launched with 100,000 copies distributed through junior high schools across Canada. MaXMaG, which covers extreme sports, news, career ideas and tween fiction, kicked off with about 11,000 copies, also distributed nationally.
*’Best friends’ moms are usually sexy’ is one of the universal ‘truths’ featured in the ‘What’s True’ ad campaign recently launched by Levi Strauss & Co. Created by TBWA/Chiat/Day in an effort to reach youth ages 15 to 24, the estimated US$8 to 10 million campaign kicked off with wild postings and outdoor ads revealing one-line ‘truths’ written by the teens themselves, according to Levi’s . The second phase showed kids holding placards displaying more phrases, such as ‘conformity breeds mediocrity.’ The final phase features teens wearing Levi’s products and delivering more unscripted ‘truths’ on TV commercials airing on MTV, The WB, Fox, ESPN, ESPN2, Comedy Central and NBC.