‘The Angry Birds Movie’ Takes Over McDonald’s In Virtual Reality

McDonald’s has been experimenting with virtual reality a lot lately. First, it introduced Happy Meal Boxes that could be transformed into virtual reality viewers in Sweden; then it introduced a unique demo at SXSW earlier in the year, where users could climb into a giant Happy Meal box and paint to their hearts’ content; and it most recently paired with Rovio and Sony to introduce an AR game experience tying in with The Angry Birds Movie using BirdCodes.

It turns out that the Angry Birds promotion was such a hit that it’s back with another one. McDonald’s has released a new video featuring the feathery stars from the film roaming around one of the company’s restaurants, with pigs dancing in the aisles and Yellow Bird checking in on a family that’s dining in. The minute-long 360-video is ideal for virtual reality headsets like Google Cardboard or the Samsung Gear VR, but can also be viewed on desktop browsers.

The chain worked closely with Rovio to make sure the assets matched those from the film, and to ensure that interactions with the actors felt natural. It’s a process that turned out fantastically.


The video has done very well over the past week, garnering more than 4.5 million views. More importantly, it opens up potential new possibilities for McDonald’s advertising, as it continues to experiment with virtual reality content.

Future promotions could benefit from the introduction of VR-related videos, and it could also mean a push for those Happy Meal VR boxes to make their way to markets outside of Sweden. For the time being, everything is coming up Angry Birds for the chain, between the BirdCodes and other promotions.

How ComiXology Unlimited Will Help Make Everyone A Comic Book Fan

ComiXology helped usher in a Kindle-style revolution when it made comic books accessible digitally. With the Guided View technology, comic book panels could be comfortably read from virtually any device, from computers to smartphones, and the company grew to offer thousands of titles from over a hundred publishers. So, it’s little wonder why Amazon decided to purchase the company in 2014.

Given the incredible success comic books are having in pop culture, with top-grossing movies like Captain America: Civil War and a multitude of television shows, the company is ready to take comic book reading to the next level with the ComiXology Unlimited subscription program. With it, subscribers gain access to hundreds of digital comic books, graphic novels and manga. Users can start off with a 30-day trial and can continue with a $5.99 monthly subscription afterward.

David Steinberger, ComiXology’s co-founder and CEO, talks to [a]listdaily about introducing the ComiXology Unlimited program, the incredible popularity comic-themed TV shows and movies are having, and the goal of turning everyone in the world into a comic book reader.

team_DavidSteinbergerWhat would you say has contributed the most to ComiXology’s digital comic book store’s success since it launched?

I think it’s a combination of two things. One, the experience of being able to read on any device, particularly using our Guided View tech on phones. Second, the content—tremendous relationships with a bunch of great publishers that put out an amazing amount of content, and deals that put it all at people’s fingertips.

What led to offering the ComiXology Unlimited subscription service, and how does it complement the existing storefront?

One big thing: the difficulty in penetrating the hundred-thousand-ish books we have on our system. And the fact that we feel that there’s a compelling amount of content that’s very hard to deliver in an interface that people, particularly those who are new to comics, can understand and know where to start. It’s a thing we hear over and over from people.

For the core customer who buys comics already, and is maybe a faithful buyer of one or two publishers, there’s this whole other world of comics, graphic novels and manga that have been created over the last 15 years. It’s an amazing time for comic book-style storytelling, and we feel that for six bucks, core customers can broaden their horizons and experience a ton of books that people have been telling them about, but they never had a chance to pick up. Now they can explore a huge amount of content.

For the newbie, it means that they can see something that they recognize—whether that’s Scott Pilgrim, or if they watch the Attack on Titan anime, or even Joss Whedon fans with Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Serenity—they see something that they’re interested in and say, “somebody told me that the Buffy TV show continued in comics. There about five trade paperbacks of Season 8 on ComiXology Unlimited, which is about forty or fifty bucks worth of content. I’m getting a 30-day trial, and it costs six bucks a month after, so I’m going to see what Joss is up to.” Then boom, they can take their time and wade through this gigantic, beautiful pool of content and discover what they’ve been missing.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8

How has ComiXology been reaching beyond the core audience?

One of the beauties of being attached to Amazon is that we can connect with a lot of different people who have shown interest—in one form or another—in comic book-connected material. Dark Horse, for instance, has a bunch of video game-related comic books, and a lot of them are part of ComiXology Unlimited. We haven’t done this yet, but we could potentially reach out and say, “We have a 30-day trial, and this video game that you bought has a ton of comic book content from Dark Horse. Why don’t you try ComiXology Unlimited and see if you like it.” Then they can look at the video game list on the homepage to find fifteen to twenty books right off the bat. That’s an incredible thing to be able to do.

Part of our marketing team’s efforts is figuring out how to connect with the right people, both on Amazon and more widely on Facebook and social media. I could go on and on with the licensed content. We have the Joss Whedon stuff, Outcast from Cinemax, Transformers, Star Trek, which is based on the new universe from the movies—and of course, the manga I mentioned before, like Attack on Titan, Scott Pilgrim and other books. There’s a lot of related material, so there are a lot of different angles where we can appeal to people who have shown an affinity for this material and introduce them to this wonderful world.

Tomb Raider Comic - Dark Horse

Is it ComiXology’s long-term goal to make all of its digital comics accessible through the Unlimited subscription program?

No, at least not right now. If we build an audience with the kind of size that creates an atmosphere where creators and publishers make so much money that they create more content for a bigger pool, that would be great. At this point, we’re more focused on how to get more people introduced to comic books. A program like that, with the size of the audience right now, would be incredibly expensive and would limit the amount of people that could come in instead of increasing it. For us, the $6 price point and 30-day trial means that people can jump in with very little risk. If they find a bunch of stuff that they love, they can afford to purchase more.

That’s where we’re starting. Do we expect it to increase and get bigger? Yes, we do, and we’ll be changing out the content month-to-month, and continue to add a ton of value, just to keep it exciting and fresh for subscribers. If we get to the point where comic books are as big as movies, TV and music, then I’d do it in a heartbeat—make a ten dollar program with access to everything. I would love that. But, if we go back to your first question, the reason we succeeded in the first place is with great content and a great experience, and that means that we understand where the industry stands and how to increase the people, and not harm the industry by being a disruptor. It would not be good for the comic book industry right now to disrupt through making every book available.

If we can get there, that would be amazing. That would mean we succeeded, and that tens of millions of people are reading comic books, and that would be an incredible feat. ComiXology would have succeeded in its goal, which is to make everybody on the planet a comic, graphic novel or manga fan.

What about offering classic issues to promote the program, like Amazing Fantasy #15, where Spider-man first appeared, or Detective Comics #27, which introduced Batman?

That would be great. I would love to have something like that, but of course, the problem is that they’re not written with modern sensibilities. While it’s fun to read them, and we have them for sale on ComiXology, I don’t know how many people it would appeal to. It’s fun as an educational exercise, especially for core fans, and the issues are relatively inexpensive on our site. The first Spider-man is about $1.99 and often gets discounted to 99 cents. So, I encourage people who are interested to check out the site. We [with Unlimited] focus mostly on stuff that’s fairly modern in sensibility, and I think it’s a second golden age of comics right now in terms of the maturity in writing, storytelling and artwork.

Has the recent popularity of comic book-themed movies and TV shows impacted the growth of ComiXology’s audience?

I think it’s been super-positive because any time people are thinking about the material and getting interested in comic books is a huge plus. I think The Walking Dead TV show was extraordinarily positive for us. Then, anytime Marvel or anyone else does a movie, there’s a tremendous amount of interest, and comic books get to coast off the marketing work that the movies and TV shows are doing. DC, for instance, did a really nice thing where a lot of their TV show actors tweeted out a code for the new Rebirth book, and it got a lot of people to the site to download that book, which I think is really exciting. So, we have to capitalize on that to try to get people back in the door. I think ComiXology Unlimited is a great way for people interested to start up.

Civil War 2

And I think Marvel and DC are getting much better at aligning their editorial calendars towards the movies. Marvel has Civil War 2 out right now. I sometimes feel like it should be even bigger when you see the huge diversity of audience at the conventions. Sometimes, in the core market and comic book stores, the diversity of audience doesn’t meet with the diversity of content. It does at ComiXology because we have infinite shelf space, and you can create your own comics that have no publisher, and we can put together a program like this—where any geek-oriented person who is into pop culture can find a lot of amazing material on ComiXology Unlimited that’s fiercely diverse with wide-ranging content.

I’m very bullish that the embrace of media, cosplay, and being a fan continues to bleed into comics. I think that’s one of the core drivers of growth for the industry over the last few years.

Are you surprised by how much comic books have grown across different media since ComiXology started?

I’m not surprised at all. As a comic book fan, I think we all had this fantasy of everybody seeing what we saw in books, instead of having some preconceived notion about what a comic book meant and what it was like to read it. I think the TV shows and movies really help. Even before us, the newest movie runs started with Spider-man and X-Men in the early 2000s. ComiXology came into digital in 2009, and a lot of it had already percolated into movies and such. And DC has done an amazing job on TV. They’re killing it with all these shows.

To me, it’s not a surprise, because these are rich characters with faults and dreams. They embody a lot of hope that people connect to. Obviously, it’s a very encouraging time for any thirty, forty or fifty-something nerd who has read comics their whole lives to now see everybody embracing what it means to them.

What’s funny is that you have some shows—and Attack on Titan is a good example—that make people say, “What? It’s a comic book? What do you mean? It’s a Japanese anime show.” And you say, “No, it was manga first.” Now I can point to ComiXology Unlimited and tell them to try out the trial and read Attack on Titan. Also, by the way, here are a bunch of other Kodansha [published] books that you can try out, some of which are also anime. Find the source material; it’s amazing.

I’m grateful that we’ve made the company in this time. It’s a fun time to be part of it.

Attack on Titan


SuperData: ‘Dark Souls 3’ Crushes April 2016 Game Sales

SuperData provided video game sales numbers for April 2016, and here are the latest details.

Digital game sales increased by five percent over April 2015, totaling $6.2 billion dollars. “Digital console again sees the fastest growth of any segment for both revenue (up 23 percent year-over-year) and audience (up 15 percent year-over-year),” said SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen. “Mobile, MMO and PC also show YoY growth in revenue and monthly active users as digital full game downloads and free-to-play games take market share from physical games.”

He also noted a shift in casual gamers “from social desktop to mobile devices,” with a slight decline in Social Gaming (by ten percent) as a result.

But perhaps the month’s biggest success story was Bandai Namco’s Dark Souls III, the final chapter in the horror action series, where players control a knight battling against massive enemies in a dark fantasy world. The game managed to take first place in PC game sales, earning an estimated $45 million in its first month of release, which is an $18 million boost over console sales.

“This is the first Dark Souls title to perform better on PC than console, demonstrating that both Bandai Namco and From Software put the lessons learned from Dark Souls I and II to good use,” noted van Dreunen. “This time around, a PC-optimized version was prepared in advance for the game’s dual-platform release, providing PC users with improved controls and graphics from the get-go. The title’s PC success makes up for its failure to earn a top-ten grossing rank on Digital Console.”

On the mobile side, Supercell’s Clash Royale and Clash of Clans found a secure spot in the top five, with Monster Strike in first place. “Supercell keeps printing money with both its Clash games earning over $100 million a month,” said van Dreunen. “Following a spectacular release month, earnings for Clash Royale show first signs of normalization as revenues more closely resemble those for the firm’s other title, Clash of Clans. Both grossed a little over $100 million last month, with combined earnings still higher than before the new game’s release.

“So far, Supercell’s new title has managed to add to the company’s bottom line, rather than cannibalize the success of its existing titles.” However, he did note a drop-off from when Clash of Clans earned over $5 million a day, eventually settling to under $4 million.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III continued to be the top seller in digital console titles, with EA Sports’ FIFA 16, Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division, Rockstar’s still-selling Grand Theft Auto V and Dark Souls III rounding out the top five. Meanwhile, League of Legends and World of Warcraft still ruled the MMO charts, across free-to-play and pay-to-play, respectively.

As for eSports, van Dreunen noted that the “entry of broadcasting networks and non-endemic brands raise eSports market to $892 million.

“Hoping to connect with a hard-to-reach demographic of young adult males, advertisers have warmed up to competitive gaming recently, and the global audience is on track to grow to 214 million by the end of the year,” he continued.

He also noted the success of Overwatch, attaining 5.4 million viewer hours on Twitch within its first 48 hours of release, which beats the previous record of 4.2 million attained by Fallout 4 in its first two days of release last year.

[a]live: Social Video’s State Of The Union

From the infamous Chewbacca Mom to Buzzfeed‘s exploding watermelon, it’s clear that Facebook as a video platform is coming into its own. We’re now beginning to see what is working and what isn’t for Facebook Live, and publishers and brands are shifting quickly to create video that is native to Facebook—a largely silent, but highly visual viewing experience.

Snapchat, of course, is of increasing interest to brands as well. With reportedly 110 million daily active users and over 8 billion video views each day, it’s easy to see why.

This [a]live, host Andrew Volpe chats with Ayzenberg director of social media, Lindsey Buchanan, discuss  where it’s all heading and what’s working.

[a]listdaily Weekly: PepsiCo Goes Direct-To-Influencer, Video Game Movies Are Back

This week on [a]listdaily Weekly, we’re talking fizzy entertainment, ad interruptions and the return of video games to the big screen.

PepsiCo is injecting some caffeine into the media world, introducing their own in-house content development arm and launching the first-ever brand-owned multi-channel network. The new, high-fructose network was designed to attract partnerships with influencers who will create YouTube Dew-related content such as gaming and action sports—basically anything involving simulated danger… or actual danger.

Add all this carbonated joy to the other ridiculous announcements of late—Mountain Dew inventing the sport of drone hunting, AMP Energy partnering with Twitch and Brisk Iced Tea entering the eSports arena alongside OpTic Gaming. I’m pretty sure at this point, all they have to do is create zero-calorie Doritos and PepsiCo will have arrived at the edge of the universe.

While many viewers demand less commercial interruption, video ads aren’t going away any time soon. Facebook expects mobile video to be 75 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2020. As a result, video ad budgets continue to rise. According to eMarketer, 72 percent of brands are looking to invest in YouTube ads over the coming months and 46 percent are looking to Facebook. As for whether or not video ads are effective, 60 percent of all impressions on Instagram came from video ads in Q4 2015 and 18-24 year-olds are 112 percent more likely to share online videos. So, yes, it’s effective. (Is 112 percent even a possible percentage?)

Video game movies are on the rise, much to the delight or despair of hardcore fans. Remember the Mario Brothers movie? Nintendo is reportedly trying again with feature films based on those famous plumbers and The Legend of Zelda. The Angry Birds Movie sling-shotted its way into North America with an estimated marketing push nearing $400 million—making it one of the biggest campaigns ever for a Sony-original animated film. Not to be outdone by anthropomorphic avian projectiles, Warcraft is set to hit theaters June 10th, buoyed by a campaign offering moviegoers at participating cinemas a free digital copy of World of Warcraft

Kellogg’s Captain America VR Game Is A Heroic Effort

A lot of advertisers are on board with Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War, and for good reason—it’s already made $1.05 billion at the box office, with more money set to arrive over Memorial Day weekend. But one promotion that’s winning fans over is with Kellogg Co. and its Civil War-themed virtual reality game.

The cereal maker partnered with Marvel to present not only the VR game, but also a separate viewer, either designed with Captain America or Iron Man, letting fans choose a side as they’ve done in previous Civil War promotions. Fans simply need to join Kellogg’s Family Rewards free of charge, buy three participating products (Cheez-It, Keebler, Kellogg’s or Pringles), and then register for the viewer.

Captain 3 Captain 4

The general goal of the game is to defeat Crossbones and his crew of mercenaries using characters that include Captain America, Iron Man and an unlockable Black Panther. However, unlike most VR apps, this can be played with a standard phone in a traditional mode without the need of a headset.

“The Kellogg’s Marvel’s Captain American: Civil War VR game is one of the most compelling brand implementations of VR I have seen thus far,” said Michael Becker, mCordis managing partner, speaking with Mobile Marketer. “They have reached new heights in putting the fun back into the functional of branded apps.


“The great thing about this initiative is that they have produced a connected marketing program that can connect, engage and influence individuals, at scale,” he said. “To enjoy the experience all someone needs is a smartphone, which most of us have, and a VR Viewer, which is easily obtainable by purchasing a participating Kellogg’s product and submitting the receipt to receive a free viewer (or you can use a variety of viewers, like Google Cardboard).

“Once you have the viewer in hand, the fun comes alive. You enter the world of Captain America and with your Capital America, Iron Man or other superhero powers are immersed into a 360-degree virtual gaming experience, including relevant Kellogg’s branding.”

It’s a step in the right direction for marketable PR, as well as introducing fans to a more casual version of VR, complete with access to an affordable yet still effective viewer. And having Marvel imagery certainly doesn’t hurt, considering millions of fans still appreciate the Marvel franchise, and are a big reason why the Civil War film is such a smash hit.

Captain 2

Could we be seeing more VR-related promotions from companies in the future? Considering the effectiveness of the Civil War campaign, it’s very likely. It’s just a matter of what experiences can be presented, as well as the franchise that they’re tied in with.

The 5 Most Epic ‘Warcraft’ Movie Promotions

The World of Warcraft movie has been ten years in the making, and it has reached epic scale hype. Inspired by the hit massively-multiplayer online role-playing game, World of Warcraft, the movie tells the story of how the orc forces of the Horde and the human-led armies of the Alliance first clashed in the fantasy world of Azeroth. Starring Travis Fimmel (Vikings), Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), and Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger; Agent Carter) the magic and might-filled movie hits theaters in the UK (where it’s known as Warcraft: The Beginning) on May 30, and June 10 in the US.

An Epic movie needs some equally epic promotions, so here are some of the top ways Warcraft is getting fans to theaters.

Virtual Gryphon Rides

If there is one Warcraft promotion that still resonates, it’s certainly the Warcraft: Skies of Azeroth VR experience. In this video experience, users get to fly over the fantasy world of Azeroth, where the movie takes place, riding on the back of a giant gryphon. Legendary Entertainment helped kick-off the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con last July by giving away 50,000 Google Cardboard viewers, and the lucky attendees were among the first download the Legendary app and take to the virtual skies. The experience was later turned into a 360-degree video, which can still be watched on YouTube, with our without Cardboard.

Additionally, a few lucky Comic-Con attendees who had their pictures taken next to a giant Orgrim statue were allowed to take home some actual movie props. No word on whether one of the props was Orgrim’s massive hammer, and if it was allowed as a carry-on aboard a plane.

Bringing The World To Life


The Warcraft movie relies heavily on special effects to bring its fantastic spells, flying gryphons, and hulking orcs to life. To let audiences see what goes into creating a 7-foot-tall warchief, the movie released a series of behind-the-scenes videos that help put a human face to the orc one. The work done to make the actors look different, yet familiar, is nothing short of stunning.

Getting To Know The Characters

Although names like Lothar, Blackhand, Durotan, and Orgrim may be instantly recognizable to many World of Warcraft players, they don’t mean much outside of the gaming world. That’s why the movie released a number for character-focused trailers, with extended featurettes that started coming out this week. They include characters like Anduin Lothar, played by Travis Fimmel. The actor gives viewers some background about the character, what motivates him, and some thoughts about the movie itself.

The movie also has a fully themed page on IMDB, which organizes the character videos, photos, and shows a countdown timer to the movie’s premiere. Additionally, fans can click on a link to be purchase tickets.

An Epic Screen For An Epic Movie

Warcraft fans had a chance to be rewarded for their dedication. IMAX partnered for a contest to bring one winner and a friend to see Warcraft a day early at the IMAX headquarters in LA. As if that weren’t enough, winners could ask the movie’s director, Duncan Jo, whatever burning questions they have and he promised to answer them in a personalized video message.

Experience World Of Warcraft For Yourself

Let’s not forget the game that started the worldwide phenomenon in the first place: World of Warcraft. Blizzard is helping to launch the movie with its own promotion. Anyone who purchases a ticket from a participating Regal Cinemas will receive a free digital copy of World of Warcraft, so that they can set off on their own adventures after seeing the film. Members of the Royal Crown Club will also have the opportunity to win two tickets to BlizzCon 2016.

Existing players won’t be left out in the cold. Special movie-inspired items are now available in the game, and players have until August 1 to log in and claim them.

Reddit Launches Its Own Native Image Sharing Utility

After seven years working alongside Imgur to host videos and photos, Reddit has decided to bring its work in-house with a native image sharing tool.

The company announced the new service last night, introducing it as a beta and providing information on how users can put it to good use.

“We’re super excited to begin rolling out in-house image hosting on Reddit.com to select communities this week,” said Andy, a Reddit product team member, with the announcement. “For a long time, other image hosting services have been an integral part of how content is shared on Reddit—we’re grateful to those teams, but are looking forward to bringing you a more seamless experience with this new feature. Starting today, you’ll be able to:

  • Upload images (up to 20MB) and gifs (100MB) directly to Reddit when submitting a link.
  • Click on a Reddit-hosted image from any listing (such as the front page, a subreddit, or userpage) and be taken directly to the conversation and comments about that image.
  • View gifs within Reddit’s native apps with less taps and without leaving the app.”

The tool is said to introduce a “more seamless experience” with posting, according to a Reddit manager, although users can still utilize Imgur and Photobucket if they prefer. The only question is what will happen with the Imgur now that Reddit is moving on, considering how important it was to its growth.

In response, Imgur stated that the change “wasn’t a surprise” and that it will move forward with its own advertising plans. “We’re super focused on our mission to surface up the world’s most entertaining content and making Imgur the best visual community in the world,” Imgur said in a statement to Techcrunch.

Rob Riggle’s Humorous Ploy Makes Staying At Holiday Inn Express Fun

Editor’s Note: When watching the video above on mobile, we recommend opening the video in your YouTube app or viewing in Google Chrome browser.

Holiday Inn Express is a hotel brand that banks its personality on hilarity just as much as it does by offering a satisfying cup of coffee.

InterContinental Hotels Group has held their place in the hotelsphere and pop culture alike by working with comedian Rob Riggle as creative director for their “Stay Smart” campaign over the last two years.

“We know that our guests love humor, so last year, when we set out to find our creative director, we wanted someone who had a mix of smarts and humor. Rob’s creativity and wit make him the perfect addition to the Holiday Inn Express team,” Jennifer Gribble, vice president of Holiday Inn ExpressAmericas brand, told [a]listdaily. “As creative director, Rob not only stars in the brand’s hilarious ad spots, but both this year and last, worked closely with us throughout the creative process, lending his humor and ‘smarts’ to generate unique ideas.”


Highlights from the campaign over the last year have featured the funnyman promoting programs such as the Pancake Selfie Express and BREAKFA-moji keyboard.

The hospitality company also made another foray into virtual reality this year by filming a 360-degree video of Rob in a raincoat highlighting a guest’s room experience through the power shower—all while delivering the snappy spiel the funnyman has long been known for.

“It’s somewhere between a squirt gun and a fire hose which, as we all know, is the sweet spot,” Riggle says of the water’s “proprietary blend” during the two-minute immersive experience.

It’s not the first time IHG has been at the forefront of innovative technology. During the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, IHG’s Holiday Inn brand used augmented reality to allow visitors to take pictures with the athletes. They’ve also kept things a bit simpler by offering 360-degree virtual tours for their hotels.

Gribble joined [a]listdaily to explain how Holiday Inn Express is leveraging technology, social media and influencers for their integrated marketing campaign.

Why is using emerging technology such as 360-degree video critical to a marketing campaign? How do you plan on experimenting with such immersive experiences like virtual reality in the future?


Our target guest, who we call the ‘smart traveler,’ is a tech-savvy individual who generally travels with at least four devices. We know that they’re always online and consume much of their content via mobile. As such, it’s important to us to leverage technology to reach them where they are. With our new 360-degree video, the combination of the new technology and the unique, humorous approach allows us to connect with consumers through a memorable, tongue-in-cheek experience.

We always keep our finger on the pulse of the latest technology and marketing trends in order to break through to our target guests in ways that interest and matter to them. Last year, we leveraged truly innovative technology when we took our one-touch pancake machines on the road and amplified breakfast by creating an immersive experience that allowed consumers to laser print their selfie on the pancake. By combining something simple like pancakes with the innovation of laser-printed selfies, we created something incredibly engaging for consumers that was widely sharable via social media.

Why is it important to give an influencer creative freedom? Would you use the same approach with, say, a YouTube or Instagram influencer?

Consumers are very smart and know when content is inauthentic. This is why it is important for brands to partner with individuals who genuinely align in style, tone and vision. When we first set out to find a creative director, it was a difficult position to fill because we knew whoever we hired had to check a lot of boxes. He had to be funny, since we know humor resonates with our guests, and he had to be smart. Rob’s humor and wit make him a natural fit as creative director and his personality is true to the Holiday Inn Express brand, which we believe is essential to any partnership.

What insights can you share from your integrated marketing campaign from 2015, which was highlighted by the Pancake Selfie Express? How did you measure success?

The 2015 “Stay Smart” campaign performed incredibly well. As a result of our 2015 campaign efforts and partnership with Rob, we saw significant lifts in all of our key brand health metrics. This year, the bar was set even higher, meaning that our team had to find new, creative and compelling ways to continue to drive brand performance. To achieve this, we’re continuing to leverage new technology and humor to highlight the simple pleasures that help our guests leave our hotels ready for anything.


What did you learn and refine for the latest “Stay Smart” campaign that focuses on the “simple pleasures?”

Last year, we went big on breakfast as we know it’s one of the most important decision factors for our guests when deciding where to stay. This year, we have expanded our campaign in order to showcase more of the ‘simple pleasures’ that Holiday Inn Express hotels offer guests. We’ve gone one step further by building our in-room credentials—a restful night of sleep, a good cup of coffee at the push of a button with the addition of Keurig K130 brewers in every U.S. guestroom and a powerful shower—in addition to breakfast. We have also fine-tuned our media approach in order to ensure we reach more of our target guests more frequently across digital and broadcast channels as well as through experiential activations.

How will you be leveraging the “Stay Smart” campaign on social? What’s the execution plan looking like on the brand’s YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages?

Humorous content featuring Rob as creative director performed very well across social channels in the 2015 campaign. For the first phase of this year’s Stay Smart campaign, we are focusing on Facebook and Twitter as we continue to raise the bar for engagement and break through the clutter with filmic shorts, GIFs and 360-degree video to highlight the brand’s smart in-room amenities—coffee at the push of a button, a powerful shower and a good night’s sleep.

In the second phase of the campaign, we’ll integrate a few new elements such as Twitter Polls and Facebook Canvas to highlight our breakfast offerings as we execute against experiential activations and media partnerships. This strategy is all part of laying the foundation for reaching our target guests.

How is “smart traveler” targeting millennial business and leisure travelers? 

Our target guest, the smart traveler, includes business and leisure travelers ages 25-to-44. These people are independent and self-sufficient, and value simplicity and efficiency. As mentioned, they see their hotel as a launch pad that helps them get a great night’s sleep so they are prepared to tackle the day. With these consumer insights in mind, we developed an integrated campaign that highlights the simple pleasures that our guests value and reaches them through the digital platforms in which they’re connecting throughout the day.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

Facebook Video Sees High Engagement While Links Decline

Facebook video has had tremendous growth over the last several months with the implementation of live streaming and other features. A new report from NewsWhip takes a deeper look at the social media platform, explaining how—as video has gotten bigger—links have fallen a bit by the wayside.

The report shows that the total monthly Facebook engagements for top ten publishers that have dropped over the past few months, going from 287 million in July 2015 to 162 million in April 2016. While it’s still a steady number, the drop-off in link engagements has been noticeable, mainly because of how well video has been doing in comparison.

It further noted that the decline wasn’t limited to a singular type of interaction. There was a 55 percent drop in Likes across the top ten sites over the same period, while Shares fell by 57 percent, and comments declined by 64 percent.

Meanwhile, video has picked up quite a bit. The report cited CNN’s interaction on Facebook. Back in July, the company only posted about 22 (2.1 percent) of native videos from its general posts, for a total of 97,330 engagements. However, by the time April 2016 rolled around, it saw significant improvement, with 22.6 percent of its overall posts being native videos, with 2.4 million engagements. That’s a tremendous amount of growth.

“If people are spending more time watching and interacting with videos from the publishers that are posting them, they’ll see more and more. That means there’s less chance of them coming across a link to a story that their friend has liked,” writes Liam Corcoran, Head of Communications at NewsWhip, and author of the report.

While the engagement rate for publishers continues to be on the high side, these numbers could indicate that using video is better at reaching audiences than just a basic link. “As media consumers’ habits change, publishers need to be aware of how their audience is finding their news,” Corcoran states. “Mass distribution in the news feed helps you to reach the right readers, but takes effort and informed insight to make a proper impact.

“Paying attention to your internal analytics and experimentation is key in maintaining a strong connection with the audience.”

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