Nintendo Continues Travel Theme With Southwest Airlines Partnership

Nintendo has partnered with Southwest Airlines in a continuation of its travel-themed Super Mario Odyssey marketing. The video game has remained consistent in its approach to marketing both the Nintendo Switch console and latest Super Mario game, even after a successful launch of both products a year and several months ago, respectively.

Southwest Airlines is hoping the famous video game character will strike a sense of wanderlust into the hearts of consumers just in time for spring and summer travel. The partnership makes sense, considering the very first trailer for Nintendo Switch showed what gameplay could be like during air travel.

The Nintendo Switch console combines at-home and mobile play, so travel has been an ongoing theme from the very beginning. Ahead of its March 2017 launch, The “Unexpected Places” campaign hosted pop-up locations—not at game stores or malls, but places like the desert of California and the snowy peaks of Colorado.

Since its announcement, Super Mario Odyssey marketing has centered around a theme of travel and adventure. Ahead of its October release, a special tour bus drove from California to New York, stopping at events along the way to offer demos, prizes and photo ops with Mario. The tour culminated in a launch celebration at the Nintendo New York store, where the first 200 attendees could purchase a copy of Super Mario Odyssey.

Nintendo game developers Yoshiaki Koizumi and Shinya Takahashi also took a globetrotting tour of San Francisco, France, Germany, London and more, bringing their Nintendo Switch and posting photos from the official Nintendo and Super Mario social channels.

Thus far, Super Mario Odyssey has been a big win for Nintendo. The title became the second-best-selling game on Amazon for 2017 before it even launched. According to SuperData, the game went on to sell 191,000 copies, the biggest Nintendo Switch digital launch to date.

Through March 16, eligible residents of the US may enter to win Nintendo Switch prize packs and travel accommodations through Southwest Airlines’ website. One grand prize winner will receive a Southwest Airlines prize package that includes round-trip air travel for four, a $1,000 Starwood Preferred Guest gift card and a Nintendo Switch prize pack.

The Nintendo Switch prize pack includes one Nintendo Switch system, one Game Traveler: Deluxe Super Mario Odyssey Travel Case, one Super Mario Odyssey Collector’s Edition Guide and the Super Mario Odyssey video game. In addition to the grand prize winner, a total of 29 runners-up will receive a Nintendo Switch prize pack.

What Marketers Need To Know About Mobile World Congress 2018

Over 100,000 industry executives and 2,300 exhibitors are slated to attend Mobile World Congress (MWC), held this year from February 26 to March 1 in Barcelona. Marketers who go will have opportunities to experience new tech and meet the C-Suite of phone manufacturers—all while considering their brand’s vitality in the digital marketplace.

In addition to an array of announcements around smartphones, tablets and smartwatches and other areas of mobile, marketers can plan to get a better understanding around the maturation of artificial intelligence—like voice and machine learning—as well as digital transformation, AR, VR, IoT and 5G.

“This year will be about evolution, not revolution,” said Nitesh Patel, director of wireless media strategies for Strategy Analytics. “Marketers will see more demonstrations around 5G and IoT use-cases and discussion around business models as these technologies are a year closer to reality.”

As marketers look to unlock new levels of consumer engagement, advertising, media and marketing spend is gravitating more toward mobile-first campaigns and platforms and will likely continue on that path with the widespread roll-out of broadband networks.

Patel, an analyst who covers consumer mobile entertainment products and services, said MWC is designed for attendees to start new conversations and leave with fresh ideas to evolve their brands. This year, he anticipates marketers using the space to move more toward personalization as well as looking to provide strong value propositions for consumers.

“More important than any technology-based solution is how it can be deployed to address fundamental business challenges, which include improvements in efficiencies, delivering superior customer experience and strategic opportunities for revenue growth,” he said.

In addition to the ongoing rollout of 5G and wireless networks, marketers who attend MWC are also looking to learn about new opportunities to differentiate vis-à-vis competitors, not to mention which buzzwords will be in fashion over the next 12 months.

The early frontrunner for buzz-phrase of 2018 may very well be “sonic branding” because prognosticators are pointing to voice as the next emerging platform officially entering the vernacular and equation for marketers. At MWC, it is also one of the scheduled keynotes on the agenda.

Yet, as brands from all walks of life pour marketing resources into voice, Patel said it’s still the early days for the nascent space, and in the much bigger picture, we’re far from seeing it as a primary platform.

“As [voice] matures and becomes more widely adopted it shouldn’t be ignored,” he said. “For marketers, I’d position it as a mobile-first marketplace rather than mobile-only.”

Last year at MWC, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) was leading the conversation on surviving in mobile-only marketplaces in arenas including VR, AR, the connected home and tapping into AI for smarter marketing.

For the fourth consecutive year, the IAB and dmexco will continue talks around how to build a “mobile-always brand” in the 21st century. There will also be discussions later this month centering around cross-screen consumer engagement and new revenue streams that AI like voice and the connected home.

Beyond voice, Patel said that AR and VR innovations are still “rapidly emerging and maturing.”

Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, director of service provider strategies for Strategy Analytics, is expecting to continue seeing discussion around big data and machine learning at MWC as marketers look toward better targeting consumers and using data as a tool.

“The evolution of MWC will extend to data privacy issues and smart home solutions that are building a stronger platform for brand engagement and marketing to consumers,” she said.

Welsh de Grimaldo also sees the trend of the mobile operators opening up the ecosystem and business models to incorporate brands to seek market traction for offerings to consumers. An example of this is sponsored data and data rewards where users get free mobile data for engaging with brands.

“Content-based add-on bundles for mobile services are ways that brands and marketers can further work with operators and engage their target customers on the device they use the most—the smartphone,” she said.

IAB Encourages Brick-And-Mortars To Become Direct Brands

To survive today’s marketplace, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) says that brands must be able to sell directly to consumers. New research shows that growth in most consumer categories has shifted to brands focused on direct consumer relationships.

“For incumbent indirect brands, you must become a direct brand,” IAB chief executive officer Randall Rothenberg said with the company’s findings. “For upstart direct brands, you must break through the revenue and share barriers that are keeping you small. For every other company that serves them, you must help them become direct, and grow their business in that environment.”

Brands must traverse the last three miles to the head, to the heart and to the home, says IAB.

Brick-and-mortar stores are closing en masse, but it’s not because consumers don’t like or need retail products anymore. Over the last year, online channels drove 90 percent of fast-moving consumer good (FMCG) such as food and toiletry items, despite brick and mortar stores holding 93 percent of the market.

Why? “A two-way relationship is more valuable than a one-way impression,” says IAB in its new report, The Rise of the 21st Century Brand Economy.

Direct brands like Blue Apron and Dollar Shave Club are disrupting the way consumers expect retail experiences to be. Two-thirds of all US consumers expect direct connectivity to the companies from which they buy goods and services, says IAB, and 67 percent of consumers have used a company’s social media site for servicing.

“It’s not that mass advertising won’t matter,” said Rothenberg. “It will become less valuable as more and more consumer-facing brands cross the chasm and concentrate their activity on creating, reinforcing, and extracting value from their direct consumer relationships.”

The dynamic shift from recognized, but unapproachable brands to direct consumer relationships spans across the board from grocery to mattresses.

Gillette’s share of the US men’s razors market fell from 70 percent in 2010 to 54 percent in 2016, with most of that share shifting to Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s and others.

While grocery store revenue is projected to grow about one percent annually through 2022, the market for meal kits is expected to grow by a factor of 10 times.

Direct-to-consumer mattress companies garnered more than 16 percent of the market in 2016, and are expected to have doubled that share in 2017.

Online shoe retailers sent US brick-and-mortar shoe revenue tumbling 5.2 percent, the biggest year-over-year loss since 2009. It’s hard to drive anywhere without seeing another “store closing” sign at Stride Rite, Crocs or Payless ShoeSource. Meanwhile, online-only retailers like Allbirds, Jack Erwin and M. Gemi have gained nearly 15 points of market share over the past five years.

 

These Are The Mobile World Congress Events Engaging Marketers

Here is what’s on our radar for Mobile World Congress, between the show’s official daily agenda and evening events.

Saturday, February 24 to Wednesday, February 28 

GSMA’s Meet & Eat / Networking Events and Lounges
Time: Feb. 24; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. / Feb. 25; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. / Feb. 26-28; 12 to 9 p.m. All times are Central European Time Zone (CET).
Location: plaça d’Europa, within walking distance from the south entrance to de Fira Gran Via Venue, next to the L9 and FFCC (Fira-Europa) stations (Map)

GSMA, the trade organization that puts on MWC, has organized a “Meet & Eat” experience to give attendees the opportunity to network or plop with their laptops outside while experiencing Catalonian culture and culinary delights. There will also be music and other performances throughout each day.

The GSMA has also arranged 10 networking events by brands like Oath, Citi and Visa from Monday to Wednesday. Each will feature complimentary food, drinks and entertainment in a relaxed environment. There are four separate networking lounges.

Sunday, February 25

MWC won’t officially begin until Monday, but apparently Samsung didn’t get the memo—the electronics manufacturer has all but confirmed it will announce its flagship phones, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, during an event it’s orchestrating a day before show doors open.

Mobile Lunch
Time: Not available
Location: Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, Plaça de les Arts (Map)

For the third consecutive year, Mobile World Capital Barcelona is organizing a lunch designed to unite companies, entrepreneurs and SMEs to share and explore business opportunities and ideas around mobile marketplaces.

Monday, February 26 

What You Need To Know: Augmented Advertising
Location: Hall 8.0 NEXTech, NEXTech Lab
Time: 1:30 to 2 p.m. CET

The rise of smartphone users and their desire for mobile entertainment has ushered in a new era of mobile advertising. It’s also led brands to increasingly develop augmented advertising experiences. This session will aim to explain how AR experiences lead to higher viewability, engagement and brand lift than traditional advertising.

Tuesday, February 27

How To Build A 21st Century Mobile-Always Brand
Location: Hall 8.0 NEXTech Theatre C
Time: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CET

Its fourth time running the event, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and dmexco will lead conversation around mobile marketing, cross-screen consumer engagement and new revenue streams for AI and the IoT-connected home. Other topics include storytelling innovation in OTT, brand safety on mobile, cross-platform addressability and mobile-to-offline retail experiences.

Women In Mobile
Location:
La Bonne, Sant Pere Més Baix 7 (Map)
Time: 7:30 to 11 p.m.

This year’s female-focused event focuses on “personalization based on AI” and will feature panel discussions around how AI-based products deliver what users really want, handing out the Women in Mobile 2018 Award and a networking party to cap of the night.

Wednesday, February 28

CMO Summit
Location: Hall 8.0 NEXTech Theatre D
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

The day-long affair will feature 37 speakers and have multiple sessions and partner events, aiming to offer CMOs a wealth of opportunities to learn from peers and engage in discussion. Key marketing themes include maximizing exposure, protecting the brand, embracing AI, utilizing networks, creating a personalized context for audiences and staying within regulation. 

VR/AR Association Dinner
Location: H10 Casa Mimosa, Pau Claris, 179 (Map)
Time: 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. CET 

May be best for those first dipping their toes into immersive technology. Dinner is served with insights and discussion about VR and AR trends and issues affecting companies, projects and roles.

Thursday, March 1

Gamelab Mobile
Location: Hall 8.0 NEXTech Theatre B
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

This one-day, gaming-oriented summit brings mobile gaming leaders to discuss trends, opportunities and the convergence of entertainment, technology and media. Sessions will be divided into mobile gaming, mobile esports, player content, mobile VR and AR and how what prospects 5G, data, cloud gaming and IoT present. 

YoMo: The Youth Mobile Festival
Location: La Farga de L’Hospitalet, Carrer de Barcelona, 2 (Map)
Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CET (Monday to Thursday)

If you’re a brand considering STEM as part of a larger marketing strategy and looking inspire the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and designers to succeed in an increasingly mobile world while you’re at it, then join over 15,000 students and educators from across Catalonia at The Youth Mobile Festival.

Brands Show Their Love To Compete For Valentine’s Spend

Valentine’s Day is a time for celebrating love, and US consumers love to shop—spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion on February 14 and these brand activations are waiting with open arms.

According to the National Retail Federation, 55 percent of the US population plans on celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, and spend an average of $143.56 while they’re at it. Competition, as always, is fierce, but here are some marketing campaigns that stand out.

Love: Play It Or Say It

On Feb 7, Teleflora gave secret admirers the opportunity to confess their love in a big way—literally. As part of its ongoing Love Out Loud campaign, the floral brand created a pop-up film set and romantic’s corner in New York where over 100 participants recorded a video message confessing their secret love. The videos were transmitted in real time onto a giant billboard in Times Square.

Valentine’s Day is the second-largest holiday for exchanging greeting cards, according to Hallmark, and this year the legacy brand is offering something different—cards with vinyl records built in.

Through a partnership with Rhino Records, each Hallmark Vinyl Record Card comes with a 45 RPM vinyl record featuring two songs from either Bruno Mars, Aretha Franklin or INXS built into a sleeve on card’s cover.

Timed with the Valentine’s Day holiday without mentioning it specifically, “What It Means to Love” is the third chapter in American Greetings’ “Give Meaning” campaign. The latest video ad depicts a number of scenarios in which people don’t or can’t say what they mean, even though they care—a problem remedied with the help of a greeting card.

 

Love, Delivered

Tinder partnered with Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Postmates to surprise select users on Valentine’s Day. Levine showed up at their homes with gifts ranging from a private concert to beer. Twitter users can also have their Valentine’s day wishes granted if they tweet Tinder and Postmates using emojis of the gift they would like to receive and the hashtag #VDayandChill.

If you ask Bachelor star Arie Luyendyk, Jr. the best way to show affection this holiday, he’ll say that safety is the new sexy. Luyendyk, Jr. partnered with Cooper Tire’s Tread Wisely program to educate teens and young adults on how to check their tire pressure and tread depth. Videos featuring the reality show personality are now available on the Tread Wisely mobile app.

“Nothing says love like keeping yourself and the people you care about safe on the road,” said Luyendyk, Jr.

You’re A Wizard, Valentine

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London is offering Harry Potter 18+ fans Valentine’s Day dinner in the Hogwarts Great Hall set from the movie franchise. On February 9 and 10, February, guests attending the event will receive a Love Potion cocktail, magic wand and access to other key sets from the Harry Potter films such as the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore’s office, the Weasley kitchen at The Burrow, Forbidden Forest and Platform 9¾.

Ring, Bling Or Just Be Bitter

Jolly Ranger encouraged fans to Tweet about their last-minute gift giving woes to win jewelry shaped like hard candy. The two-day event ran Feb 12-13 and required the hashtags #Sweepstakes and #ValentinesDaySucks to enter. The jewelry, made to look like Jolly Rangers candy, was designed by Mary Ping and Fabrice Covelli and come in five “flavors.”

A toll-free WingStop hotline is available to call through Feb 14, offering everything from vocal warm-up routines to a Valentine’s Day mixtape. Callers can cycle through the comedy recordings and press zero to pre-order the Wing Luv kit, which turns chicken wings into a bouquet. The kit contains a heart-shaped wing box, skewers for wing “roses,” decorative cellophane, tissue paper, ribbon and DIY instructions.

The Golden Arches are giving away some actual gold this Valentine’s Day with a diamond-encrusted ring made to look like a Big Mac sandwich. Dubbed the “Bling Mac,” this ring can be won by pledging one’s undying love for the famous burger on Twitter.

McDonald’s has also teamed up with American Greetings to offer Valentine’s Day crafts inside Happy Meals this holiday.

A Dunkin’ Donuts Instagram contest running through February 15 offers customers a chance to a trip for two to any US city of their choice. Followers can enter the #DDLoveContest by sharing how their friendship or relationship “runs on Dunkin’” on Instagram. Valentine’s Day emoji are also now available on the Dunkin’ Donuts Emoji keyboard through the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app.

A Snapchat game by champagne brand Moët & Chandon challenges users to shoot corks at a tower of glasses. “Love Unconventional” is a repeat of a successful Snapchat game first introduced for New Year’s Eve. This time, however, winners will get to collaborate on a love poem generated with input from poet Cleo Wade.

Valentine’s Day can be hard on those not in a relationship, but Hooters is encouraging the bitterness with a promotion called “Shred Your Ex.” Customers are invited to bring a photo of their former lovers to Hooters restaurants on February 14. Tearing, shredding or having the waitress destroy the photo earns them 10 free chicken wings to soothe their broken heart. Photos can also be shredded through the restaurant’s website. Users answer a few questions about the doomed relationship such as how long they were together and how it ended. The site then recommends the “most satisfying” method of disposal and allows virtual destruction by uploading the offending photo.

Calling Cupid

1-800-Flowers has launched an Alexa Skill that allows users to order flowers with their voice. The skill is integrated with Amazon Pay and responds to streamlined dialogue such as “Alexa, ask 1-800-Flowers to send my wife roses.”

Valentine’s Day marketing for 1-800-Flowers focuses on the brand’s AI integration, including Gwyn, a chatbot that lives on the official website and the Facebook Messenger chatbot. The brand is encouraging users to try digital methods of ordering by offering discounts exclusive to the mobile app, PayPal, Google Assistant and Facebook Messenger.

Huawei ecommerce brand Honor is offering a limited edition red version of its 7X smartphones for Valentine’s Day. Five Honor Instagram followers can win two red Honor 7X phones through a contest called “You had me at . . .” Consumers are asked to post a reenactment video on Instagram of the first time they met someone or something they love.

Mobile Game Marketers Share Video Ad Strategies For 2018

There are several emerging video ad formats that mobile game publishers should be aware of this year.

Brian Bowman, CEO of adtech company Consumer Acquisition, said publishers should watch out for “brand in motion,” “demo in motion” and “six-second videos.” These are all short animations that emphasize specific aspects of the game, from the brand name to its gameplay.

“Publishers may want to start testing six-second videos and brand in motion videos from simple assets, and then graduate to the more interactive formats,” he explained.

These short-form ads, in addition to rewarded video, are the most effective formats for engaging and converting players, but he also warns that users may quickly grow bored of ad creatives, decreasing returns over time. In a recent blog post, Consumer Acquisition wrote that on average, 95 percent of video and image creative “fail to outperform best-performing ads on a portfolio making heavy creative testing necessary to achieve and sustain Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).”

Where Mobile Game Ads Thrive

Naturally, mobile game developers and publishers have turned to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for their marketing over the years to acquire users and strengthen engagement with their titles. Bowman said Facebook is the platform of choice for most companies and marketers are allocating between 20 to 60 percent of their monthly user acquisition budgets there.

“Compared to other platforms where we’ve tested video ads, such as Pinterest and Snapchat, Facebook is miles ahead in efficiency, and this is why it continues to be a key platform for advertisers,” said Bowman.

But many marketers have found stronger returns from other mobile games than from video or social platforms.

“YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are excellent sources of user acquisition, but are inherently different environments than mobile games,” Tapjoy’s VP of performance sales Sarah Chafer told AListDaily.

Chafer explained that rewarded ads on other games offer the best returns for discovery. In a game, players clearly understand that they’re watching videos in exchange for in-game currency, boosts or other benefits.

“Not only does this defined value exchange generally drive greater advertiser return on investment, but studies have shown that consumers are in a more relaxed and open state of mind when playing mobile games than when engaging with social networks, so they are more receptive to hearing advertising messages,” she added.

This relationship means that video ads within mobile games have better engagement, higher completion rates and ultimately bring in better quality users. There are no wasted impressions when it comes to using mobile games because publishers know that the audience is already interested in gaming.

While rewarded videos offer high returns, marketers stand to benefit from engaging players on other platforms.

Phil Hickey, SVP of brand marketing at Seriously, noted that creatives on rewarded videos in other mobile games tend to be very straightforward, whereas YouTube and Facebook allow the developer to reach its target audience in unique ways by mixing creativity with data.

“For YouTube, our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are based on Cost Per View (CPV) at scale, resulting in the Cost Per Install (CPI) we are happy with,” Hickey said. “We generally compare against our own benchmarks, since we’re already aware of what success looks like for us.”

Hickey also said that Facebook has a clear ROAS, which needs to be hit within the first week of an ad going live to know if it will be profitable or not.

Working with influencers to livestream games across Twitch, YouTube and Facebook remains critical to helping games grow an audience. Discovery occurs as viewers seek to learn more about a specific game or tune in to watch their favorite streamers. Both happen at close to the same rate.

“Viewers generally come for the game itself and stick around if they like the streamer,” explained SuperData senior analyst Carter Rogers. “Education about games is nearly as important as entertainment for livestream viewers. Among US livestream viewers 13-and-up, 72 percent watch to learn about games they are interested in, while 78 percent watch to be entertained.”

Rogers also said that livestream viewers ages 13-and-up in the US are 29-years-old on average, and they have a 69 percent male 31 percent female gender split. However, those statistics differ greatly when it’s an esports title. Esports viewers tend to be young and skews heavily toward males. Among US esports viewers 13-and-up, 84 percent are male and have an average age of 28. Rogers said that this also contrasts greatly with the overall gaming audiences, which has a gender split of 52 percent female and 48 percent male with an average age of 34.

According to Hickey, the key to knowing which platforms to extend a marketing mix to is in understanding the audience.

“After you have insights into your audience’s interests, it’s important to find platforms that can scale, such as radio, TV, out-of-home or even interesting digital media platforms that are unexpected, like Grindr,” said Hickey.

 

Chobani Expands Wellness Theme To Fit Cause Marketing Vibe

Chobani’s “One For All” campaign, launched with an experiential marketing installation on Monday, is designed to inspire a generous spirit.

“It’s meant to feel very magical in terms of what planting a seed can do—small acts leading to big fireworks in a metaphorical sense,” Leland Maschmeyer, Chobani’s chief creative officer told AListDaily.

Located in New York’s Grand Central Terminal, the one-day experience is an interactive version of a Chobani spot called “The Giving Tree.” Participants arrive to find a stylized tree leading up to a colorful projected canopy. At the base of three are round activators designed to simulate the covering of a seed with dirt. Interacting results in an LED light show moving up the “trunk” of the tree where the canopy “explodes” with animations of fruit and leaves in the same animation style as the commercial.

For every virtual seed planted, Chobani will donate a case of its Greek yogurt to the No Kid Hungry charity organization. Multiple seeds yield different results, encouraging participants to try them all. A national media campaign launched alongside the activation on Monday. Visitors are also gifted with coupons for free product.

The message of “One For All” represents two ideas—small acts leading to bigger things and 10 years of company growth.

In a country divided by politics and social issues, it has become more common for brands to take a stand or advertise their goodwill efforts. Chobani, which has always focused on wellness and nutrition, now finds itself among a sea of well-wishers but isn’t worried about standing out.

“With our brand relaunch, we’ve understood that the context of our mission is the idea of wellness,” said Maschmeyer. “This campaign isn’t meant to be something different for us, it’s meant to be a doubling down on what we believe to be incredibly important.”

The Chobani Foundation, for example, volunteers time and food to communities and organizations such as the Red Cross, food banks and the Special Olympics.

“I think at the end of the day what really distinguishes companies who want to stand for bigger social ideas is what they do, not so much what they say,” Maschmeyer explained. “What you say is a great way to begin, but what you do is ultimately going to be the thing that separates the talkers from doers and the thing that’s actually going to create the impact that these companies envision.”

A teaser campaign was launched a week prior to the activation that included digital display ads, video, social media and a sign-up portal on Chobani’s website. The company poured $40,000 into media buy that consisted of paid or organic social, TV, display ads, video ads, radio and more.

On average, 22 people sign up for Chobani’s email list each day. Once the teaser campaign launched, 50,000 signed up within a week. Video ads yielded a completion rate of around 70 percent across both organic and paid. Maschmeyer attributes this success to the art style of the spots, advanced audience targeting and brand recognition.

Through March 4, consumers can visit Chobani’s website to download a coupon, redeemable at retail, for a free yogurt. An Alexa skill allows consumers to redeem the coupon through Amazon Fresh and Prime Now.

Chobani has set a benchmark of 10 million cups given away between consumers and No Kid Hungry. Maschmeyer said the company has already experienced a 50 percent conversion rate on display ads and within two hours of the campaign’s launch, averaged 1,000 coupons printed per hour.

“The main thing we needed this campaign to do was to create social content for people to promote the One For All campaign online,” said Maschmeyer. “Everything we did was geared toward that so we made sure that there are lots of different ‘Instagram-able’ moments.”

In addition to a light display, the activation features a mirror with the hashtag #Chobani and silhouette billboards throughout.

“We’re not telling people to do stuff, but we’re making it really compelling for them to take photos and post them,” Maschmeyer added.

“This is the most integrated and ambitious campaign Chobani’s ever done,” said Maschmeyer. “It really is ambitious in the sense of being able to get all of these national retailers working together to bring this campaign to the doorsteps and the email inboxes of everyone in America.”

In November, Chobani redesigned its logo and packaging to mark the 10th anniversary of distributing its Greek Yogurt. The brand currently holds 20 percent of the US yogurt market, according to Nielsen. While the Grand Central activation will be the only one of its kind for Chobani’s One For All campaign, future campaigns are expected to include experiential marketing this year.

Image credit: Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Chobani

A Quick Primer For Marketers Ready To Study Machine Learning

The rise of machine learning-derived technologies means new opportunities and projects for marketers—and a massive job gap on the horizon. Now is a good time to start training for employers needing talent that can marry AI and data science with analytical chops.

First, Some Background

It’s important to note that data science and machine learning are not the same things. Data science is a massive field dealing with the intersection of data sets, computer programming, and analytics; machine learning is a subset of data science that deals with teaching computers and other machines how to learn.

Vince Lynch, the CEO of AI firm Iv.ai, recommends that marketers think about how machine learning benefits their organization before coming up with a learning strategy. “One of things that’s important is to look at the overall construct of the problem that you are facing and then think about all the data that comes into play to solve that problem,” Lynch says. For instance, if a machine learning project is based around understanding how customers interact with an ecommerce website, organizations should think about which data would be applied to the project and how it would be handled.

Companies working on artificial intelligence and machine learning projects don’t have enough talent to go around, which means workers with AI backgrounds are paid very well—between $300,000 to $500,000 if stock options are taken into account, according to the New York Times’ Cade Metz.

These high salaries have just as much to do with competition for qualified artificial intelligence experts as they do with the difficulty of the work.

A 2017 IBM report gives a good idea of the sheer numbers involved. By 2020, report authors Steven Miller and Debbie Hughes project 364,000 new jobs total created for data and analytics talent, with approximately 62,000 of those consisting of data scientists. That’s a lot of jobs.

Prepping Marketers To Learn AI

For marketers, machine learning may be trickier to learn than other data science concentrations. Potential students without a background in computer programming and mathematics will want to keep up by learning the basics of algebra, algorithms, the programming language Python, statistics and calculus. through Khan Academy or another site helps greatly with the necessary building blocks.

Lynch recommends that once marketers understand the basics, they start experimenting with different machine learning projects. “Start building things and deploying them,” he says. “Take some of the approaches that you learned about and start testing. Get data into shape, run it through models, look at the output and see how it performs.”

MOOCS, Online Courses And Self Starters

Learning the basics of machine learning doesn’t have to cost anything.

The rise of Massive Online-Only Courses—a.k.a. MOOCs—has led to a profusion of free, high-quality and in-depth online classes offering machine learning primers.

Coursera offers hundreds of machine learning and data science courses, including offerings from the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University. One of their best-known MOOCs is the 11-week Machine Learning course, developed by Stanford University and taught by Andrew Ng, Coursera’s co-founder and the former head of Baidu AI Group/Google Brain. Coursera offers this as either a free course or a $79 version, which includes a verified certificate enrollees can share with their employers and place on their resume. Over two million students have enrolled in this particular MOOC so far.

A wide range of online machine primer courses are available free or under $100 from Udemy, Lynda, and Skillshare. Udacity, another MOOC service, offers a $1000 “Machine Learning Nanodegree” that lasts six months, with approximately ten hours of study time weekly.

Class Central, an online learning aggregator, also offers an extensive list of online machine learning courses for those seeking exactly the right fit.

There’s one big caveat about these services, however. Everyone learns differently and free online courses are not a one-size fits all solution.

MOOCs and self-paced online learning services offer two major advantages: They’re free (or low cost) and allow students to learn on their own schedule. However, students need a considerable amount of initiative, time to study, and diligence in order to succeed.

In comparison to in-person learning, there is very little hand-holding in MOOCs and responsibility for completing assignments and understanding in-class material is completely on the student.

There’s also the background knowledge students need to succeed in these courses. For marketers who are used to working with a specific marketing tech skill stack, learning the basics of machine learning will be challenging and, at times, disorienting.

Extension Learning And On-The-Job Education

While MOOC certificates look good on resumes and help open the door to interviews, many learners prefer more formal certification or certification that ties in more closely with their employers’ goals. At marketing firms, this includes everything from AI-driven data analysis to streamlining marketing costs and making sense of real-time data.

Many of the large tech incumbents, such as Facebook and Google, offer their employees free courses and resources. For instance, Facebook recently launched an internal Facebook AI Academy—a combination of in-classroom courses and on-the-job immersion designed to quickly bring engineers up to spec on various artificial intelligence-related technologies. Amazon takes this one step further and also offers machine learning and deep learning certifications for anyone working inside the AWS ecosystem.

When choosing a machine learning program, students should be prepared to shop around—check up on the bonafides of instructors, make sure their learning style aligns with what they’re looking for, confirm that the syllabus aligns with their career growth expectations, and make sure that students have used their degree or certificate for career growth afterwards.

Entertainment Leans On Celebrities To Grow VR Awareness

While Walmart’s investment in a virtual reality startup may show more diverse industries driving virtual reality adoption, entertainment remains one of VR’s most prominent supporters—especially given how the industry marked the first seven-figure purchase of a VR series at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

While that was a major milestone, spreading awareness about VR still requires a large variety of content—preferably backed by celebrity participation. These include everything from having famous actors play “Virtual Reality Pictionary” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to Elton John announcing his retirement from touring using a VR retrospective of his music career.

Sports, which has its own celebrities, is a major driver for the NextVR platform. The company recently partnered with the WWE to broadcast highlights from 2018 events in virtual reality.

Danny Keens, VP of Content at NextVR, pointed to ex-NFL player Reggie Bush as a prime example of a VR influencer. He said that the former pro football player, who also happens to be an avid video game player, was a natural fit for presenting the NFL in VR as a co-commentator who discusses highlights from select games.

“The VR space is new and exciting, and like most new ventures people want to get in early to be part of the movement,” Keens said. “A key factor with talent and celebs in the VR space is having a passion for technology.”

“The opportunity to transport fans from anywhere in the world to see their favorite sports team or band live is transformational,” Keens added. “We’re able to have fans feel as if they are at the live venue experiencing the event through our technology.”

But sports events aren’t the only ways to grow an audience for VR. Baobab Studios, an animation studio co-founded by former Dreamworks Animation director and writer Eric Darnell, specializes in creating animated VR shorts such as Invasion!, which won a Daytime Emmy last year. The company has attracted a long list of celebrities interested in helping to pioneer the medium, starting with Ethan Hawke, who is featured as a narrator for Invasion! More recently, the studio brought on musician John Legend as a voice and producer for its VR series Rainbow Crow.

Baobab CEO Maureen Fan explained that VR allows audiences to emotionally connect with characters in ways they couldn’t before, and that’s attracting celebrities to become involved.

“Celebrities are creatives, and of course they want to create experiences that connect with audiences more deeply,” said Fan.

Although the NextVR platform includes standalone programming such as short VR films, it puts special emphasis on live event broadcasts, which Keens said helps drive fans to adopt VR. Content includes concerts, sports, esports and other events as The Game Awards. Specifically, Keen said the NFL and NBC’s World of Dance are examples of strong VR programming, with the latter being a weekly series that complements the television show featuring Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo, Derek Hough and Jenna Dewan Tatum as judges.

But even though sports and other live events are major drivers, catering to all different tastes, Fan added that statistics show that VR narratives make up about half the time people spend in virtual reality headsets, indicating exceptional interest in original stories.

“VR is like the mobile phone or a TV,” Fan explained. “It’s a platform to deliver content.”

Underscoring the point is how Invasion! is currently being adapted into a full-length 2D movie experience in partnership with Roth Kirschenbaum Films, a movie studio founded by Hollywood veterans Joe Roth and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum. Additionally, Fan said that other forms of virtual reality such as social VR, location-based experiences (LBE) and immersive theater are all gaining traction.

“I’d imagine that sports would work especially well for social VR,” she said. “In order for an LBE experience to draw audiences, it better be ‘wow’ enough to get you off your couch. Right now, that means integrating the physical world with the virtual world in the LBE spaces.”

Ultimately, what works best to attract audiences is still being worked out.

“VR is still a young medium and networks, brands and VR companies are experimenting with programming,” Keens said.

Winter Olympics Make Sponsors Bring Their Marketing A-Game

The Olympics serve as one of the most visible global marketing stages for brands that have budgets to splurge, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea is an 18-day sports showcase giving sponsors a platform to introduce and emphasize particular verticals from their brand’s portfolio.

The spirit of the games also aligns with 360-degree brand marketing missions that support athletes and competition with human progress.

“The Olympics are a special moment in time where the world comes together to celebrate human achievement,” Alex Changhead of sports marketing for Samsung Electronics America, told AListDaily. “It provides both a global and local platform for our brand to engage with consumers, which is immensely valuable. Our primary goal is to drive brand engagement, whether that be through digital content featuring Olympians or experiential activations showcasing our technology.”

In addition to Samsung, the other 10 official sponsors in the Olympics Partner Program this year include Coca-Cola, Alibaba Group, Intel, Bridgestone, P&G, Panasonic, Visa, Toyota, Omega and The Dow Chemical Company.

Making The Marketing Leap To A Global Stage

For a brand like Bridgestone, the tire marque has partnerships across many sports, including the NFL centering on the idea of “Clutch Performance.” But for the PyeongChang Games, the brand is activating what it’s labeling as the first truly global marketing platform in company history.

“We believe in the power of sports to unite, excite and inspire people across all borders—and there’s no better example or bigger platform for that than the Olympic Games,” said Philip Dobbs, CMO for Bridgestone Americas. “Our worldwide partnership is a strategic global investment designed to push our business forward, showcase our commitment to being an outstanding corporate citizen and tell our brand story.”

Dobbs said the Olympics provide the brand “incredible” marketing value because Bridgestone has goals during the games to grow business in both new and existing markets.

“We know brand awareness and reputation are determining factors in brand preference and choice for consumers, and the Olympics offer a powerful platform for quality engagements with consumers,” Dobbs said.

Bridgestone began its marketing journey in the summer by announcing Team Bridgestone USA and by striking a union with US Figure Skating for its first federation partnership. By November, the brand had already launched the marketing campaign across television, social media, in-store touchpoints and the digital brand experience “Bridgestone Performance Institute” featuring Olympic and Paralympic athletes Amy Purdy, Ashley Wagner, Elana Meyers Taylor, Erin Jackson, Evan Strong and Nathan Chen.

The marketing was also recently complemented with an Olympic-themed retail promotion, honoring the parents who drive the dreams of young athletes as well as with an onsite activation program in South Korea that hits on a series of marketing, athlete and education initiatives.

“The partnership provides opportunities to engage directly with fans around their passion points—to educate them not only about our innovative products and technologies but also about what we stand for as a company,” said Dobbs.

In addition to accumulating marketing cache, attaining shared value and a competitive advantage to perhaps be leveraged across their targeted regions, Dobbs said Bridgestone is likewise committed to leaving a positive legacy in each Olympic host city and wants to use their Olympic partnership to engage its 140,000 employees around the world.

“We learned a lot at Rio 2016, our first-ever Olympic Games,” said Dobbs. “Now our company can leverage the Olympic rings in more than 200 countries worldwide.”

Stick To Sports—Not Social Issues

Albeit mostly reserved for athletes, the Olympics also serve as a podium for those that choose to comment on social issues. When sponsors were asked if they will be taking any specific stances related to the current social climate in the world, especially in the US with the #MeToo movement, diversity and other social issues—marketers offered a mixed bag of responses.

Ricardo Fort, VP of global sports partnerships for Coca-Cola, said the company will not be using the games for any messaging other than amplifying the marketing around the “pleasure of drinking Coca-Cola.”

Coca-Cola instead used the Super Bowl stage this year to talk about diversity with a 60-second ad featuring people of different races, nationalities and geographic regions. The message was clear—that Coke is “for everyone,” as one person in a wheelchair took part in a daredevil-like athletic contest.

“The Olympic Games have become an important part of how we talk about our brand,” Fort said. “The Olympics are recognized for being very inclusive, it’s something that our company and brand stand for. Each company needs to consider their brand values and stance on certain issues.”

“The Olympic Games have become an important part of how we talk about our brand. The Olympics are recognized for being very inclusive, it’s something that our company and brand stand for. Each company needs to consider their brand values and stance on certain issues.”—Ricardo Fort, VP of global sports partnerships for Coca-Cola

Samsung is using their brand marketing position, “Do What You Can’t,” to “support anyone who faces barriers and has the courage to overcome them,” Chang said. Samsung is sponsoring Team USA members Chloe Kim (snowboarding), a first-generation Korean-American whose parents immigrated to the US to realize their American dream, and Gus Kenworthy (freestyle skiing), who is competing in his first Olympics since coming out.

Dobbs said Bridgestone will be operating under the message of “Chase Your Dream,” which aims to empower people everywhere to overcome adversity and persevere in pursuit of their goals.

“The spirit of the Olympic movement is all about bringing people together in celebration of sport—and the Olympics present a unique opportunity to support sport as an agent of positive social change,” Dobbs said. “We respect and recognize that there are an array of important topics generating conversation today, and very much look forward to honoring the sense of peace and unity that the world comes together to celebrate every Olympiad.”

Stephanie Joukoff, Intel’s director of Olympics marketing, said that the brand won’t take a stance on any issues outside of sports because “our platform is about delivering amazing experiences through Intel technology, and helping fans experience the games like never before.”

Intel, a long-term technology partner through the 2024 Olympics, is instead looking to offer a glimpse of the future for the games through “Experience the Moment,” which is highlighted by 30 live and on-demand virtual reality experiences. The brand is also looking to flex its marketing muscles in esports, drones and 5G, while further engaging B2B prospects and customers.

“Our primary goal is to accelerate the adoption of leading technologies through this amazing global platform and ultimately, drive growth to our business,” said Joukoff.

Intel’s partnership is rooted in the idea that technology can transform the Olympics experience for fans and athletes alike. Joukoff said this is a unique opportunity that extends beyond a traditional sponsorship and allows Intel to integrate it’s tech into the games.

“Success for us is bringing new, amazing experiences enabled by Intel technology to the games, which will drive growth for Intel,” Joukoff said. “This is our first Olympics sponsorship, so we will be using this opportunity to test and learn for the next few games.”

A Message For The Non-Sponsors

Once the Olympics get underway and competition reaches its crescendo, brands and social media managers alike may get patriotic and be tempted to offer congratulatory salutations to athletes, perhaps even joining in on an official hashtag or two in celebratory revelry.

However, unless your brand has a thing for lawsuits, marketers from small, medium and large companies should think twice before wishing to provide social media commentary. In fact, they should stay away from anything that suggests authorization, sponsorship or an official connection to the Olympics altogether, according to Fara Sunderji, a partner at international law firm Dorsey & Whitney who advises brands in the development marketing of campaigns.

Similar to how the NFL protects its trademark for the Super Bowl that forces brands to generically refer to it as the “Big Game,” the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) are enforcing “Rule 40” in order to protect the value it brings to the official sponsors that sign steep checks. This includes prohibiting unofficial sponsors from using the Olympic rings, the official logo, the official mascot or hashtags incorporating trademarked terms in connection with commercial promotions.

“Excluding the official sponsors and the brands that got Rule 40 waivers, the best guidance is to be careful,” said Sunderji. “You can’t directly or indirectly associate your brand with the Olympics. At the same time, you can take advantage of it. It just requires creativity, like stars-and-stripes imagery conjuring the ‘home’ team or imagery of selective sports that are popular. It depends on the excitement, and where your brand fits in.”

“Excluding the official sponsors and the brands that got Rule 40 waivers, the best guidance is to be careful. You can’t directly or indirectly associate your brand with the Olympics. At the same time, you can take advantage of it. It just requires creativity”—Fara Sunderji, a partner at international law firm Dorsey & Whitney

Sunderji said unauthorized brands cannot use #TeamUSA, #Olympics #GoForTheGold #PYEONGCHANG 2018 or any other USOC branded hashtags. Both committees have pages of guidelines and rules to sift through that outline the policy, she said, which trickles all the way down to athletes, who cannot share videos on their personal social channels showing the “field of play.”

One brand that has already carried the creative torch and carefully stepped around policies is Planet Fitness. The gym franchise operates a location near Olympia, Washington, and it released a social media video that promotes the business and depicts real “Olympians” from the state capital.

A brand like Ralph Lauren, which secured a deal with the USOC to introduce a wearable heat concept integrating fashion and apparel innovation, is not dealt the same hand as other unofficial sponsors. The same goes for The North Face, which has a deal in place as an official competition uniform partner for the US Ski, Freeski and Snowboard teams under the marketing mantra “Never Stop Exploring.”

“Social media posts are a form of advertising,” said Sunderji. “If you have a branded social account, more likely than not [the posts] are considered advertising. What you can say and do on that account is much different than what individuals can from their personal accounts, so be creative, and careful.”

The Lines Between B2C, B2B Sponsors Begin To Blur 

One of the trends that Fort and his cohorts at Coca-Cola, an Olympics sponsor since 1928, are particularly monitoring this year is the shift between Olympics partners who are promoting to consumers, and the ones of which are B2B sponsors.

Sponsors like the Alibaba Group, Intel, Bridgestone, Panasonic, Samsung and The Dow Chemical Company all operate in B2B capacities.

“Sponsorships and marketing is our bread and butter—we do it every day. But I’m interested to see how this particular Olympics will play out from a consumer-first, marketing communications standpoint,” said Fort. “Coca-Cola is a meaningful part of people’s lives, and because of that, they feel more attracted to the brand. We can drive the growth of our business and sports partnerships because of this.”

From the IOC, FIFA, European soccer clubs and other international leagues, Fort, who led the task of defining Coca-Cola’s Olympics marketing strategy, negotiated contracts and made sure rights were delivered, said there has been an overall industry-wide shift in sports from B2C sponsors to B2B.

“The profile is changing, and it could affect the engagement of people in many countries,” said Fort. “It will particularly be interesting and critical for us to see how that changes the way regular people consume the Olympics and other global events.”

In the meantime, Coca-Cola will focus on the strategy at hand with more than 200 executives from marketing, sales and respective agencies that are tasked with handling the execution at scale. The total beverages company has had a specific Olympics-based team in South Korea dedicated to the marketing development of their sponsorship for the last three years.

Fort said the months leading up to an event like the Olympics are just as important as the marketing executions during it. Coca-Cola relies on its analytics partners to measure the impact of their marketing spend based by countries, which include how many customers are promoting its brands, referencing an internal tracker for their brand image, the conversations that are being created in social media, and all the way across to sales volumes.

“We see a lot of impact in our business in a larger window in the months leading up to the event, and of course during it too,” he said. “Consumers pay more attention to our marketing, they like the brand more and they drink more of our products.”

One brand in particular that will likely not strike any chords with consumers, yet, is still making a strong push at the Olympics as a sponsor is The Dow Chemical Company. The Michigan-based B2B multinational chemical corporation is using the Olympics as a platform to demonstrate its materials, scientific acumen and sustainable solutions.

Although the company is not sponsoring Olympics athletes, it’s the official technical partner of the USA Luge team, using science to help the team redesign their competition sleds. The brand’s solutions will also be found in various Olympic venues, like precision temperature management of ice rinks, waterproofing coatings, insulation and sealants in buildings and also in the paint used to mark the Olympic Lane from Seoul to PyeongChang.

“We’re seeing excellent marketing results across our areas of focus,” said Louis Vega, VP of Olympics and sports solutions for The Dow Chemical Company. “Our investment in these areas has proven to be quite successful across our business units.”

From a B2B marketing stance at the Olympics, Vega said Dow brings business revenue impact while showing its science and solutions; it’s applied across industries and geographies and reaches new audiences to grow market share.

Another B2B Olympics sponsor that has C2C and B2C sprinkled in its company DNA is the Alibaba Group. The Chinese multinational conglomerate is looking to leverage the games as the ultimate platform to drive awareness and engagement for both its core-and-emerging audiences.

To do that, the company is debuting “To the Greatness of Small,” its first advertising campaign at such a scale to share the story of its brand ethos since being founded 19 years ago. The marketing hits on the narrative of Alibaba’s brand positioning of supporting small businesses and using their tech to help “underdogs” succeed in global marketplaces.

“We see the Olympics as an unprecedented platform to build brand awareness, connect with new audiences and demonstrate the impact of our technologies and innovations—when the entire world is watching,” said Alibaba Group CMO Chris Tung. “There’s tremendous value in leveraging our relationship with the games to showcase our technology and innovation to a global audience.”

Alibaba’s company mission is to serve two billion consumers and support 10 million merchants and small businesses around the world. Tung said their Olympics partnership supports their global goals and will help accelerate plans to reach those lofty ambitions.

The IOC also turned to Alibaba to help transform the games for the digital era by using their cloud technology. Tung said the partnership allows for the brand to share their tech and demonstrate to small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups and businesses how the Alibaba Cloud helps other businesses.

Alibaba had a similar presence earlier this year at CES in Las Vegas by sharing its ecosystem of AI, IoT and cloud-powered tech.

“We’re focused on using PyeongChang as an opportunity to listen, learn and build relationships that will ensure the success of our long-term strategic alliance with the IOC and the Olympic family,” said Tung. “While we’re expanding awareness and understanding for our brand, we also hope to inspire Olympic fans around the world to achieve their own greatness, no matter how small their dream might be.”