Title:
Marketing method and device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A marketing device in the form of a container, which may be, for example, a bottle, contains a novelty item. The novelty item may be removed from the container by disengaging an engagement mechanism. The container containing a novelty item may be grouped with one or more like-shaped containers and marketed as a grouping such as, for example, a six-pack or case.



Inventors:
Lewis, Michael C. (East Brunswick, NJ, US)
Malcolm, Richard J. (New Providence, NJ, US)
Adkins, Mark A. (East Brunswick, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/371231
Publication Date:
08/28/2003
Filing Date:
02/24/2003
Assignee:
Team Beans, LLC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/445, 53/467, 206/457
International Classes:
B65D1/02; B65D23/00; B65D23/12; B65D77/28; (IPC1-7): B65D77/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FERNSTROM, KURT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FOLEY & LARDNER LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A marketing device comprising: a novelty container having a top portion and a bottom portion, wherein the top portion is adapted to be attached to the bottom portion by means of an engagement mechanism, and wherein the engagement mechanism is selected from the group consisting of a male threaded-female threaded engagement, a hinge-latch engagement, shrink wrap, a snap engagement, a pull-tab engagement, Velcro, and a combination of any one or more of these engagement mechanisms; and a novelty item housed in the novelty container, wherein at least a portion of the novelty item is adapted to be housed in the top or bottom portion of the novelty container, wherein the other of the top or bottom portion is adapted to house the remainder of the novelty item so that when the engagement mechanism is engaged, the novelty item will be housed in the novelty container, and wherein the top portion has an opening through which the novelty item can not readily fit.

2. The marketing device according to claim 1, further comprising: a removable protective device adapted to maintain the engagement mechanism in an engaged orientation.

3. The marketing device according to claim 2, wherein the protective device is selected from the group consisting of tape, plastic wrap, adhesive, and shrink wrap.

4. The marketing device according to claim 1, further comprising: a plurality of like-shaped containers, wherein the like-shaped containers are substantially identical in shape to the novelty container except that the top and bottom portions of the like-shaped containers are integrally formed without a like engagement mechanism.

5. The marketing device according to claim 4, wherein each of the like-shaped containers houses fluid.

6. The marketing device according to claim 4, further comprising: a holder adapted to fix the orientation of the novelty container and the like-shaped containers substantially.

7. The marketing device according to claim 6, wherein the holder is selected from the group consisting of a box, shrink wrap, and a plastic ring holder.

8. The marketing device according to claim 6, wherein the like-shaped containers house fluid.

9. A method of marketing a product, the method comprising the steps of: providing a novelty container having a top portion and a bottom portion; placing at least a portion of a novelty item in either the top or the bottom portion of the novelty container, wherein the top portion has an opening through which the novelty item can not readily fit; encasing the novelty item in the novelty container by engaging the top or the bottom portion of the novelty container housing the at least a portion of the novelty item with the other of the top and bottom portion; and engaging an engagement mechanism to fix the top portion of the novelty container to the bottom portion of the novelty container, wherein the engagement mechanism is selected from the group consisting of a male threaded-female threaded engagement, a hinge-latch engagement, shrink wrap, a snap engagement, a pull-tab engagement, Velcro, and a combination of any one or more of these engagement mechanisms.

10. The method of marketing a product according to claim 9, further comprising the step of: maintaining the engagement mechanism in an engaged orientation by using a removable protective device.

11. The method of marketing a product according to claim 10, wherein the protective device is selected from the group consisting of tape, plastic wrap, adhesive, and shrink wrap.

12. The method of marketing a product according to claim 9, further comprising the steps of: providing a plurality of like-shaped containers, wherein the like-shaped containers are substantially identical in shape to the novelty container except that the top and bottom portions of the like-shaped containers are integrally formed without a like engagement mechanism; and fixing substantially the orientation of the novelty container and the like-shaped containers with a holder.

13. The method of marketing a product according to claim 12, wherein the holder is selected from the group consisting of a box, shrink wrap, and a plastic ring holder.

14. The method of marketing a product according to claim 12, wherein the like-shaped containers house fluid.

15. A marketing device comprising: a novelty container having a top portion and a bottom portion, wherein the top portion is adapted to be attached to the bottom portion by means of an engagement mechanism; a plurality of like-shaped containers, wherein the like-shaped containers are substantially identical in shape to the novelty container except that the top and bottom portions of the like-shaped containers are integrally formed without a like engagement mechanism; and a novelty item housed in the novelty container, wherein the top portion has an opening through which the novelty item can not readily fit, wherein at least a portion of the novelty item is adapted to be housed in the top or bottom portion of the novelty container, and wherein the other of the top or bottom portion is adapted to house the remainder of the novelty item so that when the engagement mechanism is engaged, the novelty item will be housed in the novelty container.

16. The marketing device according to claim 15, wherein the engagement mechanism is selected from the group consisting of a male threaded-female threaded engagement, a hinge-latch engagement, shrink wrap, a snap engagement, a pull-tab engagement, Velcro, and a combination of any one or more of these engagement mechanisms.

17. The marketing device according to claim 15, further comprising: a removable protective device adapted to maintain the engagement mechanism in an engaged orientation.

18. The marketing device according to claim 17, wherein the protective device is selected from the group consisting of tape, plastic wrap, adhesive, and shrink wrap.

19. The marketing device according to claim 15, wherein each of the like-shaped containers houses fluid.

20. The marketing device according to claim 15, further comprising: a holder adapted to fix the orientation of the novelty container and the like-shaped containers substantially.

21. The marketing device according to claim 20, wherein the holder is selected from the group consisting of a box, shrink wrap, and a plastic ring holder.

22. A marketing device comprising: a novelty container having a window therein, wherein the window is adapted to be closed by a cover via an engagement mechanism; a plurality of like-shaped containers, wherein the like-shaped containers are substantially identical in shape to the novelty container except the like-shaped containers lack a corresponding window and cover; and a novelty item housed in the novelty container, wherein the container has an opening through which the novelty item can not readily fit.

23. The marketing device according to claim 22, wherein the engagement mechanism is selected from the group consisting of a male threaded-female threaded engagement, a hinge-latch engagement, shrink wrap, a snap engagement, a pull-tab engagement, Velcro, and a combination of any one or more of these engagement mechanisms.

24. The marketing device according to claim 22, further comprising: a removable protective device adapted to maintain the engagement mechanism in an engaged orientation.

25. The marketing device according to claim 24, wherein the protective device is selected from the group consisting of tape, plastic wrap, adhesive, and shrink wrap.

26. The marketing device according to claim 22, wherein each of the like-shaped containers houses fluid.

27. The marketing device according to claim 22, further comprising: a holder adapted to fix the orientation of the novelty container and the like-shaped containers substantially.

28. The marketing device according to claim 27, wherein the holder is selected from the group consisting of a box, shrink wrap, and a plastic ring holder.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/358,311, filed on Feb. 22, 2002, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Description of the Related Art

[0003] Historically, vendors have frequently tried various ploys to entice a consumer to buy their products. For example, many have used neon signs, billboards, celebrity endorsements, etc. In the beverage industry, these efforts have often involved enhancing the nature of the product (e.g., diet beverages), providing bulk discounts (e.g., selling by the case, i.e., a twenty-four pack), and/or providing goods in conjunction with the beverage by advertising on the beverage container (e.g., “this can is may be redeemed for a $5 discount on the cost of admission to a local theme park”). Another example is detailed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,911,320, 5,056,681, and 5,439,103 which describe what on the outside appear to be beverage cans but which in actuality contain a prize which is dispensed when the cans are opened; the marketing ploy being a chance to win a prize.

[0004] Unfortunately, these marketing approaches have various proven shortcomings. For example, first, with respect to attempts to enhance the product or provide bulk discounts, it is difficult to gain an advantage over competitors as such competitors can also enhance their products and/or provide bulk discounts. Second, with respect to beverage can advertising, consumers are often unmoved by the advertisement as they recognize that they are unlikely to enjoy the benefits of the advertisement (i.e., they are unlikely to travel to a promoted theme park). Third, with respect to the prize dispensers, the public is often unmoved by such gimmicks due to the unlikelihood of winning a prize.

[0005] Accordingly, what is needed is a marketing device and method which is adapted to entice consumers into making a purchase and which addresses one or more of the aforementioned shortcomings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The invention herein contains multiple embodiments including one embodiment of a marketing device which includes a novelty container and a novelty item housed in the novelty container. In this embodiment, the novelty container has a top portion and a bottom portion, wherein the top portion is adapted to be attached to the bottom portion by means of an engagement mechanism. The engagement mechanism is selected from the group consisting of a male threaded-female threaded engagement, a hinge-latch engagement, shrink wrap, a snap engagement, a pull-tab engagement, Velcro, and a combination of any one or more of these engagement mechanisms. At least a portion of the novelty item is adapted to be housed in the top or bottom portion of the novelty container whereas the other of the top or bottom portion is adapted to house the remainder of the novelty item so that when the engagement mechanism is engaged, the novelty item will be housed in the novelty container. In addition, the top portion has an opening through which the novelty item can not readily fit.

[0007] In a further embodiment of the marketing device, the device may include a removable protective device adapted to maintain the engagement mechanism in an engaged orientation. Further, the protective device may be selected from the group consisting of tape, plastic wrap, adhesive, and shrink wrap.

[0008] In another further embodiment of the marketing device, the device may include a plurality of like-shaped containers. The like-shaped containers may be substantially identical in shape to the novelty container except that the top and bottom portions of the like-shaped containers may be integrally formed without a like engagement mechanism. In addition, each of the like-shaped containers may house fluid such as, for example, a beverage. Additionally, or alternatively, the marketing device may also include a holder adapted to fix the orientation of the novelty container and the like-shaped containers substantially. Further, if included, the holder may be selected from the group consisting of a box, shrink wrap, and a plastic ring holder.

[0009] The invention also contemplates a method of marketing a product. This method includes: (a) providing a novelty container having a top portion and a bottom portion; (b) placing at least a portion of a novelty item in either the top or the bottom portion of the novelty container, wherein the top portion has an opening through which the novelty item can not readily fit; (c) encasing the novelty item in the novelty container by engaging the top or the bottom portion of the novelty container housing the at least a portion of the novelty item with the other of the top and bottom portion; and (d) engaging an engagement mechanism to fix the top portion of the novelty container to the bottom portion of the novelty container, wherein the engagement mechanism is selected from the group consisting of a male threaded-female threaded engagement, a hinge-latch engagement, shrink wrap, a snap engagement, pull-tab engagement, Velcro, and a combination of any one or more of these engagement mechanisms.

[0010] In a further embodiment of the method, the method may include: (e) maintaining the engagement mechanism in an engaged orientation by using a removable protective device. Moreover, the protective device may be selected from the group consisting of tape, plastic wrap, adhesive, and shrink wrap.

[0011] In another further embodiment of the method, the method may include: (e) providing a plurality of like-shaped containers, wherein the like-shaped containers are substantially identical in shape to the novelty container except that the top and bottom portions of the like-shaped containers are integrally formed without a like engagement mechanism; and (f) fixing substantially the orientation of the novelty container and the like-shaped containers with a holder. Further, the holder may be selected from the group consisting of a box, shrink wrap, and a plastic ring holder. Additionally, or alternatively, the like-shaped containers may house fluid.

[0012] The invention also contemplates a marketing device including a novelty container, a plurality of like-shaped containers, and a novelty item housed in the novelty container. In this embodiment, the novelty container has a top portion and a bottom portion which are adapted to be attached by means of an engagement mechanism. The like-shaped containers are substantially identical in shape to the novelty container except that the top and bottom portions of the like-shaped containers are integrally formed without a like engagement mechanism. At least a portion of the novelty item is adapted to be housed in the top or bottom portion of the novelty container whereas the other of the top or bottom portion is adapted to house the remainder of the novelty item so that when the engagement mechanism is engaged, the novelty item will be housed in the novelty container. In addition, the top portion has an opening through which the novelty item can not readily fit.

[0013] In a further embodiment of this marketing device, the engagement mechanism may be selected from the group consisting of a male threaded-female threaded engagement, a hinge-latch engagement, shrink wrap, a snap engagement, a pull-tab engagement, Velcro, and a combination of any one or more of these engagement mechanisms.

[0014] In another further embodiment of this marketing device, the device may also include a removable protective device adapted to maintain the engagement mechanism in an engaged orientation. Further, the protective device may be selected from the group consisting of tape, plastic wrap, adhesive, and shrink wrap.

[0015] In another further embodiment of this marketing device, each of the like-shaped containers may house fluid.

[0016] In another further embodiment of this marketing device, the device may also include a holder adapted to fix the orientation of the novelty container and the like-shaped containers substantially. Further, the holder may be selected from the group consisting of a box, shrink wrap, and a plastic ring holder.

[0017] The invention also contemplates a market device which includes a novelty container having a window therein, wherein the window is adapted to be closed by a cover via an engagement mechanism. This embodiment also includes a plurality of like-shaped containers, wherein the like-shaped containers are substantially identical in shape to the novelty container except the like-shaped containers lack a corresponding window and cover. In addition, this embodiment includes a novelty item housed in the novelty container. In addition, the container has an opening through which the novelty item can not readily fit.

[0018] In a further embodiment of this marketing device, the engagement mechanism may be selected from the group consisting of a male threaded-female threaded engagement, a hinge-latch engagement, shrink wrap, a snap engagement, a pull-tab engagement, Velcro, and a combination of any one or more of these engagement mechanisms.

[0019] In another further embodiment of this marketing device, the device may also include a removable protective device adapted to maintain the engagement mechanism in an engaged orientation. For example, the protective device may be selected from the group consisting of tape, plastic wrap, adhesive, and shrink wrap.

[0020] In another further embodiment of this marketing device, each of the like-shaped containers may house fluid.

[0021] In another further embodiment of this marketing device, the device may include a holder adapted to fix the orientation of the novelty container and the like-shaped containers substantially. For example, the holder may be selected from the group consisting of a box, shrink wrap, and a plastic ring holder.

[0022] These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following description, appended claims, and accompanying exemplary embodiments shown in the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0023] The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate various embodiments of the invention and together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

[0024] FIG. 1A is a depiction of an embodiment of a container having a novelty item therein, wherein the novelty item was inserted into the container, and wherein the novelty item is maintained in the container by a male-threaded/female-threaded engagement mechanism which joins together top and bottoms portions of the container;

[0025] FIG. 1B is a depiction of an alternate embodiment of a container having a novelty item therein, wherein the novelty item was inserted into the container, and wherein the novelty item is maintained in the container by a hinge/latch engagement mechanism which joins together top and bottom portions of the container;

[0026] FIG. 2 is a depiction of a holder maintaining the orientation of a container of the type shown in FIG. 1 with respect to a plurality of like-shaped containers;

[0027] FIG. 3 is a break-away depiction of an alternate embodiment holder maintaining the orientation of a container of the type shown in FIG. 1 with respect to a plurality of like-shaped containers;

[0028] FIG. 4 is a depiction of an alternate embodiment container with a novelty item therein, the novelty item having been inserted via an opening provided in the body of the container and maintained therein by an engagement mechanism.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0029] As will be later discussed in detail with respect to the figures, the present invention addresses both a novel container having any type of novelty, premium, promotional, or retail item (“novelty item”) therein and a method of marketing a product using a novelty item containing container. The novelty item may be anything that can be inserted into the container. For example, the novelty item may be a type of toy, a figure, a game, a gadget, etc. The purpose of the novelty item is to serve as an attraction to a grouping of a plurality of like-shaped containers. Accordingly, the novelty item should be something of appeal to a consumer who would be interested in buying the grouping of the plurality of like-shaped containers.

[0030] One aspect of the present invention includes a technique and structure for opening a novelty item containing container to create an opening through which the novelty item may be inserted into (and removed from) the container. Another aspect of the invention addresses combining the novelty item containing container with other like-shaped containers so that the grouping can be sold as a unit, wherein the novelty item is designed to entice a purchaser into buying the grouping. Finally, the invention also addresses a method of marketing a product using a novelty item containing container.

[0031] Reference will now be made in detail to presently preferred embodiments of the invention, which are illustrated in the drawings. An effort has been made to use the same reference numbers throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts.

[0032] FIG. 1A depicts an embodiment of a container 101 with a novelty item 105 therein. The novelty item 105 was inserted into the container 101 and was maintained therein by a male-threaded/female-threaded engagement mechanism 110 which joins together top 107 and bottom 109 portions of the container 101, as later described in detail.

[0033] Although the container 101, as shown, is transparent, it may be opaque. Further, although the container 101 is shown as being in the shape of a soft drink bottle having a cap 103 covering an opening (not shown) through which the novelty item can not readily fit (i.e., the item can not be inserted or removed without being altered, e.g., compressed, rolled, folded, etc.), such a cap 103 is unnecessary. Moreover, the container 101 may have any number of shapes such as, for example, the shape of a spray bottle commonly used for sports drinks, or other container. In addition, the container 101 may be formed of a material including, for example, plastic, glass, aluminum, or other material suitable for housing a novelty item 105.

[0034] The engagement mechanism 110 is provided in the body portion of the container 101 and is preferably positioned toward a lower end of the container 101, so that it is less noticeable. In addition, the preferred mechanism by which an upper portion 107 of the container 101 is engaged with a lower portion 109 of the container 101 is a male-threaded/female-threaded screw relationship.

[0035] It should be readily apparent that the male-threads 111 of the engagement mechanism may be provided on either the bottom edge of the top portion 107 (as shown) or the top edge of the bottom portion 109. Of course, whichever portion 107, 109 has the male threads 111 of the engagement will dictate that the other portion 107, 109 have correspondingly sized female threads 112. In this relationship, the top portion 107 will screw onto the bottom portion 109 in a manner similar to putting a lid on a jar.

[0036] Although the male-threaded/female-threaded engagement is preferred, other engagement mechanisms may be employed. For example, a hinge 114 and latch 116 engagement mechanism could be used to close an alternate embodiment container 102, as shown in FIG. 1B. Of course, other engagement mechanisms are possible such as, for example, a snap lock, Velcro, adhesive, a pull tab of the type commonly found on delivery packages, compact discs, and packs of gum, etc. Accordingly, the method by which the container 101 is opened and closed is not limited to any particular method and corresponding structure.

[0037] Regardless of the engagement mechanism employed, it may be protected by a removable protective device 140. The protective device 140, which is designed to inhibit opening of the container 101, may be for example, tape, plastic wrap, adhesive, shrink wrap, etc. The protective device 140 may be employed during marketing to prevent (or at least inhibit) theft of the novelty item 105 in a container 101 open to the public, such as if the container 101 were located on a store shelf.

[0038] FIG. 2 is a depiction of a holder 250 maintaining the orientation of a container 101 of the type shown in FIG. 1A with respect to a plurality of like-shaped containers 201. As shown, the holder 250 is a ring holder which is preferably formed of plastic. The ring holder 250 maintains six containers 101, 201 in a known six-pack 200 orientation. In addition, each of the like-shaped containers 201 is adapted to contain a beverage such as, for example, a soft drink, juice, or sports drink. Accordingly, five beverage containing containers 201 could be sold with one novelty item 105 containing container 101 as a six-pack.

[0039] It should be readily apparent that the six-pack 200 is merely an example of a plurality of containers 101, 201. The present invention is not limited to a six-pack. For example, as shown in FIG. 3, an alternate embodiment holder 350 in the form of a box may be provided which will hold, for example, twenty-four containers 101, 201 in the form of a case 300. By way of another example, the holder could be shrink wrap encompassing any number of containers 101, 201. Further, any other structure which substantially immobilizes the containers 101, 201 could be used.

[0040] FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate a marketing method of selling a plurality of containers 101, 201 that are grouped in some way with respect to each other. One container 101 contains a novelty item 105 and is grouped by a holder 250, 350 to a plurality of like-shaped containers 201. By including one container 101 having a novelty item 105 therein, the grouping 200, 300 may be more attractive to consumers than a similar grouping which does not include a container 101 having a novelty item 105 therein. Accordingly, the container 101 having the novelty item 105 therein acts as an inducement for consumers to purchase a grouping 200, 300 of like-shaped containers 201.

[0041] FIG. 4 is a depiction of an alternate embodiment container 301 with a novelty item 105 therein. In this embodiment, the novelty item 105 is inserted into the container 301 via an opening (“window”) 320 provided in the body of the container 301. Unlike the aforementioned two-portion 107, 109 embodiments, in this embodiment, the container 301 is integrally formed and is provided with a cover 322 adapted to close the window 320. To insert the novelty item 105, it is passed through window 320 while the window 320 is not covered by the cover 322. When the novelty item 105 is housed within the container 301, the cover 322 may be affixed to the window by an engagement mechanism.

[0042] As shown, the window 320 of the container 301 may be closed by hingedly connecting the cover 322 to the container 301 by one or more hinges 324. Further, the cover may be maintained in a closed position by an engagement mechanism which may include a latch 326. It should be readily apparent that a hinge/latch connection is not essential. Rather, the window 320 may be closed by a number of alternate methods such as, for example, a snap-lock engagement, adhesive, etc.

[0043] It also should be apparent that the window 320 does not need to be formed toward the bottom of the container 301. Rather, it can be provided in the middle of the container 310, as shown. However, to hide the window 320, it could be provided in an underside of the container 301, provided the shape of the underside of the container 301 is conducive to such an arrangement. Finally, like the other embodiments, a protective device (not shown in FIG. 4) such as, for example, tape, plastic wrap, adhesive, and shrink wrap, could be provided to maintain the window 320 in a closed orientation.

[0044] Although the aforementioned describes preferred embodiments of the invention, the invention is not so restricted. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made to the disclosed preferred embodiments of the present invention without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention.

[0045] In addition, although the aforementioned embodiments address beverage containers, the invention is not limited to beverages. Rather, the invention could be employed to market other items such as, for example, tennis balls, food stuffs, etc. Accordingly, it should be understood that the apparatus and method described herein are illustrative only and are not limiting upon the scope of the invention, which is indicated by the following claims.