Oasis Games Exec Discusses Global Opportunities Of PlayStation VR

Chinese game publisher Oasis Games is making a big commitment to virtual reality. The company, which released its first PlayStation 4 game, Koi, in the US earlier this year, is bringing five PlayStation VR games out in Sony’s launch window. Ace Banana, Weeping Doll, Pixel Gear and Mixip will launch in October, while Dying: Reborn will be available this winter.

The company is connecting with gamers across multiple platforms. Oasis Games has also worked with Tencent and Bandai Namco on the massive PC multiplayer online (MMO) game Naruto Online.

Alen Wu, director of business development at Oasis Games, joined [a]listdaily to explain why the company is investing heavily in PS VR and how its development teams are creating games for the global market in this exclusive interview.

What opportunities is PlayStation VR opening up for your company?

The PlayStation VR is allowing us [Oasis Games] the opportunity to share with the world the exciting developments that are happening in China in console and VR, as well as the creations of extremely talented Chinese developers. Our initial lineup for the PlayStation VR is also expanding our presence in the Western markets and bringing some unique entertaining experiences to gamers there.

Why did you decide to support Sony’s PS VR launch with so many titles out of the gate?

While we have published over 35 games in other territories since 2011, we only began publishing in the West this April with Koi for PlayStation 4. Our PlayStation VR lineup is very diverse and the perfect vehicle to continue to introduce our games to players in the West.

Can you talk about your strategy in selecting different genres and types of games to focus on for PS VR’s launch?

As SIESH’s [Sony Interactive Entertainment Shanghai] current sole strategic partner, we had the rare opportunity to come out of the gate with many titles within the PlayStation VR launch window. While the lineup focuses on two main genres, shooters and horror, we’re able to show what can be done with VR in those genres and just how different those experiences can be, ultimately providing VR experiences for both casual and core gamers. For example, while both are family friendly gallery shooter style games, Ace Banana takes an archery approach with lots of goofy humor while Pixel Gear is fast-paced and has players blasting blocky enemies with rewards for more precision. Our horror games include a first-person room escape experience with Dying: Reborn which will offer three chapters for PS VR and six chapters for PS4 and PS Vita and the story driven Weeping Doll. Unlike Dying: Reborn, Weeping Doll is not free-roaming. You control an avatar and move by selecting a destination, which shifts your perspective. This style of movement also has a side benefit for those sensitive to VR gaming by limiting motion sickness.

Creatively, what is VR opening up for your development studios?

Much like others who are creating VR games, our developers are faced with a world of possibilities, but also the challenges that come with such a different platform where you are creating virtual worlds for an audience that is not familiar with this new experience. Also, as we go we’re forging new development paths for the VR genre. It’s exciting and a bit daunting at the same time.

Weeping Doll

What did you learn from your first PlayStation 4 game, Koi, that you’re applying to these PS VR games?

With Koi being our first foray into console gaming as well as publishing in the West, we learned the importance of partnering with Sony. Of course, the partnership would not have existed without a strong game, but all of our activations were amplified through the PlayStation Blog or the game store and other areas. There are also key learnings about how to promote a game in terms of marketing and PR that we’ve applied in all of our efforts, including our MMORPG Naruto Online for PC. We also see how equally important community efforts are to the success of a game and have upped our support in those areas.

How are you developing experiences for a global audience?

Our developers, while being Chinese, have very different cultural backgrounds. Additionally, while they did not grow up with many console games like most Western players did, they are all huge fans of gaming and are extremely knowledgeable about Western and Japanese developed games. We feel these two reasons, combined with the great talent pool in China, are key elements for successfully developing games for a global audience.

What are your marketing plans for these titles?

Rather than advertising we are very focused on PR and community-driven initiatives and aligning all of our efforts with Sony across all territories, including North America, Europe and Asia.

How are you working with Sony to cross-market these titles?

While I cannot go into details at this time, similarly to how we worked with Sony on KOI, we are looking at any opportunity to spotlight our games. This can range from inclusion in announcements and PlayStation events to the PlayStation Blog.

While there will be a limited number of PS VRs installed base at launch, do you see VR having a longer shelf life given that a year from now VR is going to be new to someone and they’ll be looking for games?

Absolutely. Gamers will become familiar with the PS VR by playing with their friends who own them. And as long as the games keep progressing, they will see the PS VR as a vital part of their gaming collection. Developing on a VR platform is quite different from other platforms, and there is still much to be discovered and implemented into games going forward.

What opportunities do you see for PS VR connecting with a mainstream audience versus the more expensive PC-based systems like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift?

We see the PlayStation VR as being a leading player in the VR market. As you mentioned, the PS VR is priced competitively while also having the advantage of a massive PS4 install base compared to those who own high-end gaming PCs. We’ve also heard feedback from our recent media tour that the PlayStation VR unit has been the most accessible in terms of usability.

How quickly do you feel PS VR will expand its audience?

We feel expansion will happen quickly in the first year, increasing as developers become more familiar with the platform and more high-quality games are released. There are features such as co-op play that will also encourage gamers to purchase their own PS VR unit so they can join their friends.

What potential do you see for PlayStation VR outside of North America?

Regardless of regions, gamers share an excitement for new ways to play. We feel the interest in the PlayStation VR is and will be universal, especially with games launching closely together across all territories. This is a strategy we look to implement with our PS VR releases as well.

Sony Extends TV Choices For PlayStation Vue With HBO And Cinemax

It’s not just for gaming anymore—PlayStation 3 and 4 owners can already enjoy video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon from the comfort of their controllers, but Sony has extended that offering even further with HBO and Cinemax. Both networks launched Thursday on PlayStation Vue, Sony’s own streaming and DVR platform, and HBO NOW is available as a stand-alone service as well.

PlayStation Vue subscribers have the option of bundles that include HBO, Showtime and over 100 other channels or simply subscribe to HBO and Cinemax individually. Already have an HBO subscription? No problem. PlayStation Vue users with an active HBO subscription can also access programming from HBO NOW at no additional cost by linking their PlayStation Network email and password. PS Vue is also available for Roku and iOS or Android mobile devices.

(PRNewsFoto/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The move to include these popular channels helps establish Sony as a streaming network provider, and therefore a source for digital marketing revenue. According to a report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), advertisers and media buyers have invested 114 percent more in original digital video programming over the past two years. Combine that with a die-hard fan base for Game of Thrones, and PlayStation Vue could be enjoying a new source of income.

The power of digital entertainment is very real, with viewership expected to surpass primetime TV.

With the announcement of these new subscription options, Sony took the opportunity to remind viewers to watch the series premiere of HBO’s sci-fi drama Westworld airing October 2. It should be interesting to see what kind of cross-promotion comes from a Sony-HBO-Cinemax partnership.

Sony is a prime example of not putting all the demographic eggs in one basket, taking advantage of the company’s full range of electronics and video game influence to cross-promote itself, like placing Sony phones, laptops and PlayStation 4 systems in its original series Powers.

Why Emojis Are The Space To Be In For Stars, Brands, And Beyond

You’re not anybody until somebody emojis you, at least according to Moji president and CEO Oliver Camilo. Emojis have taken off as popular new content for major brands. Those expressive faces have taken on some of the most famous celebrities not limited to Kim Kardashian. The reason is simple, Camilo says: it’s the type of content that people can easily relate to. And it’s also the space that brands absolutely have to be in.

“Before, it was you had to have an Instagram, or Facebook. Now you need to have your own emojis,” Camilo says.

Moji recently released a brand new emoji collection for Denver Broncos defensive stalwart and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller for the start of football season. Whether he’s riding the iconic bucking bronco or tending to his flock of chickens, fans can choose from dozens of Miller expressions. Miller is a magnetic pitchman for such brands as Old Spice and a Dancing With The Stars veteran. No stranger to the celebrity circuit, his star power naturally lends itself to the communicative platform. Camilo said the new collection has done phenomenally well.

“For Von, I think it was particularly easy because he’s just so animated and charismatic and fashion-forward,” Camilo said. “Von was very instrumental in creating the content himself. It made our jobs a lot easier.”

But Moji isn’t the only player in the NFL emoji game, Camilo said. The NFL Players Association released a collection that includes a strong set of All-Pro players, and Twitter released custom emoji hashtags for every team this season—fans can even purchase jerseys using emojis. Then there are transcendent talents like Odell Beckham Jr., who like Miller, have their own keyboards altogether.

For Moji and Miller—who spent part of offseason researching extinct animals—capturing the pass-rusher for his most relatable traits is what keeps the new release relevant and engaging.

“Fans think it really captures his personality off the field,” says Camilo. “With someone that’s as charismatic and animated across the board as Von is, we really wanted to capture that. It’s not just Von as the Denver Broncos player, but it’s Von Miller who is a chicken farmer.”

Sports emojis are nothing new for Camilo and company. The start-up released an emoji collection for NBA MVP Stephen Curry in June, and at the start of the 2016 Olympics later in the summer, released collections for Michael Phelps and Simone Biles.

“We definitely see our product do better and become more relevant if there are games currently going on,” Camilo says.


The emoji craze is, of course, not limited to sports. One of the most well-known emoji collections comes from Kim Kardashian, while other smaller brands are in the expressive ring, too. Meanwhile major brands like Pepsi and Volvo have featured emojis in recent ad campaigns as well.

Advertisers may be wondering if all this “emotion” is sustainable?

Recent research from the firm Appboy said the audience is split, and not surprisingly, that split is generational. But in general, the survey found that people respond well to emoji-based marketing.

Just ask Camilo—the space isn’t going anywhere.

“This emoji and sticker space is so popular right now,” continues Camilo. “Everyone wants to get into it but they don’t necessarily put too much thought into it. They just ship a product that doesn’t have much relevance. We come strong with the content we create. It really goes back to creating content that generates revenue and increases brand awareness or to provide another touch point for consumers.”

Film And Video Games Collide With ‘Firewatch’ Partnership

Video games and movies are becoming best friends. From the rising popularity of game-to-screen adaptations to game engines reworked for film, technology is blurring the lines between watching and playing. Now, two respected companies are coming together to create video game, movie magic.

The motion picture financing, production and global sales company Good Universe has joined forced with the award-winning indie game developer Campo Santo. Their first project? A film adaptation of the developer’s first game Firewatch.

Good Universe offers creative collaboration and financial support in the film industry, working on a variety of film genres from comedy (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) to horror (The Forest). Company founders Joe Drake and Nathan Cahane were also involved in Sam Raimi’s Don’t Breathe for Sony. Campo Santos, although a young company, is comprised of video game industry veterans whose work includes Bioshock 2Call of Duty: Advanced WarfareOri and the Blind Forest and more.

“When we met Good Universe we were floored by how they recognize, cultivate and produce incredible stories,” Campo Santo founder, Sean Vanaman said while announcing the partnership deal to the The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s rare you meet another group that shares so many of your values and makes the process of creating things even more exciting. We can’t wait to see what we make together.”

As for Good Universe, they wanted to team up with Campo Santo for their “utterly beguiling storytelling and amazing creative instincts.”

The partnership will involve the creation of content for both video games and film, a one-stop shop for franchise creation and sales.

Firewatch, which has sold nearly one million copies to date, tells the story of a fire lookout named Henry who uncovers clues in the Wyoming wilderness about mysterious occurrences. Isolated, he is able to communicate only with his supervisor through a walkie-talkie. Adding to the suspense, a shadowy figure keeps watching him from afar.

There is no word yet as to whether the film will be a direct adaptation, sequel, prequel or entirely new story set in the wilderness.

Chevy Taps Into IBM Watson To Reward Positive People


If you’re an online troll who commandeers Twitter and Facebook as if it were a Napoleonic war, you might have just typed yourself out of some free gas, not to mention some friends.

Chevrolet is trying to enhance personal engagement with consumers by pumping some positivity into the socialsphere by partnering with IBM Watson and introducing “Fueling Capabilities,” a new digital campaign that evaluates users’ social media presence to gauge their positive impact on society.

The Chevrolet Global Positivity System is a mobile and desktop website that provides the most accurate snapshot conceivable of a user’s social sentiment by pairing personality to possibility.

How does it work? Twitter and/or Facebook users are asked to enter their account and within seconds the program returns a score that makes you either feel like Mother Teresa or a Kanye West lovechild. The tool was made by IBM Watson’s cognitive computing platform.

The campaign aims at driving awareness for Chevy across global markets under the tagline “Find New Roads.” To promote it, Chevy took over three gas stations in Buenos Aires, Cape Town and New Orleans where patrons were given free gas based on their positivity score. The free gas initiative is also planned for Canada, Dubai and South Korea.

Could Oprah, LeBron James and Pope Francis win free fuel? IBM Watson tested their service on some world leaders and celebrities by applying linguistic analytics and personality theory to infer attributes from unstructured text.


Chevy becomes the latest brand to hitch its consumer-marketing wagon to IBM Watson, joining the likes of Macy’s, Kia and a slew of others.

Stephen Gold, the chief marketing officer for IBM Watson Group and vice president for partner programs and venture capital at IBM, said that there isn’t a single industry that won’t be transformed by their cognitive computing technology.

“Marketers pay a steep price for not understanding their customers’ needs and reactions to their business decisions. Watson can help marketers better understand their customers on an individual level, creating a more personalized experience that can lead to deeper engagement and stronger brand affinity.” Gold told [a]listdaily. “Much of the data explosion that has occurred, especially in the social realm, has provided an incredible wealth of information for marketers to learn from and respond to. But to take advantage of this newfound resource, they need cognitive capabilities.”

Although a dearth of data analytics can work wonders, according to a 2016 PwC’s global data and analytics survey, 62 percent of executives still rely more on experience and advice than data to make decisions.

To better find out why Chevy drove deep into the roads of data, Brian Thomas, director of global creative content for Chevrolet global marketing, joined [a]listdaily to explain.

Why did Chevrolet zero in on cognitive computing to create a social sentiment tool?

What we set out to create went beyond social sentiment. We used both IBM’s Watson Personality Insights as well as the AlchemyLanguage APIs for tonality of social posts. It was our goal to create a tool that could provide a detailed personality snapshot for users that was based on multiple criteria, including a social media analysis to evaluate sentiment and a personality characteristic evaluation to help guide users toward activities for their next adventure. Ultimately, Chevrolet’s point of view in terms of applying technology is that it should make life simpler and better. Partnering with IBM in this way allowed us to create a simple, human experience that encourages real people to find a new road in life.


What is the partnership with IBM Watson designed to accomplish? How does it help you sell cars?

The ‘Fueling Possibilities’ campaign drives awareness for our brand and what we stand for. Chevrolet is at different stages of brand awareness around the globe. A global campaign such as ‘Fueling Possibilities’ helps us create consistency as to who we are as Chevrolet, bringing a unifying message around our global brand promise to ‘Find New Roads.’ Our audience wants a brand that means something to them. These types of campaigns help define Chevrolet globally. There are scores of auto brands producing cars around the world. We need to be clear as to why Chevrolet produces them. Chevrolet exists to help people make every mile count on their life journey.

Is there a specific marketing strategy behind promoting the Chevrolet Global Positivity System?

‘Fueling Possibilities’ is being supported through a global integrated campaign that consists of paid digital media, owned media and earned. Through paid media, we’re utilizing targeted Facebook custom videos based on edited content from the campaign. We also ran a promoted trend on Twitter across multiple global markets amongst other digital marketing tactics. We also had a really strong earned push that started with an employee advocacy strategy developed to get our own Chevrolet employees engaged and familiar with the app itself. Because we incorporated social sharing into the app, there was a viral tide that helped build awareness from the inside-out.

How will you be judging the success of the Chevrolet Global Positivity System? What kind of tools work best to assess the activation?

The campaign will span over a year-long period. We’ll utilize post-campaign analysis and measurement reports specific to standard digital metrics.


How would you describe Chevrolet’s social personality?

I would say that our social personality is commensurate to our brand values. We’re a genuine brand with a strong history. We’re confident, optimistic, young at heart and live for innovation.

What do you plan on doing with the dearth of data that you gather? Will Chevrolet develop tailored marketing campaigns and products with the data? 

We aren’t focusing on PII, but more so giving customers who may never have considered a Chevrolet the opportunity to understand more about who we are as a brand. In aggregate, the data we evaluate through ‘Fueling Possibilities’ will help us design better campaigns into the future. We truly believe we can build on this experience.

How is Chevrolet positioning the brand in developing and implementing global creative content along with digital and social media strategies?

We’ve created what we refer to as the global content studio which is made up from a cross-discipline team of blended talent on the client side as well as across multiple agencies, focused on one objective. The global content studio allows Chevrolet to speak with a consistent voice across markets within digital and social while providing us with the right people, processes and tools to support a world where being both agile and responsive is key.

What role do you want to play in the new era of computing moving forward?

We recognize that the world is not only digital, but mobile. How we convey our brand values to our customers has to be built around the tenants of digital marketing—we need to be agile and responsive while providing personalized experiences that lead our customers to feel that Chevrolet is a brand for them.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

What Virtual Reality Means For Advertisers

Virtual reality has obvious potential for immersive storytelling, but how does that translate for digital advertisers? The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released a report exploring VR’s potential as it pertains to just that. The report provides key takeaways from interviews with two dozen professionals in advertising, publishing, VR and platform development, along with a number of related case studies.

Hype Or Here To Stay?

The overall consensus across a variety of industries seems to be that VR isn’t going anywhere but up—illustrated by over a billion dollars invested in the technology during the first half of 2016 alone. VR is often compared to 3D TV, an ill-fated trend that was supposed to revolutionize the way consumers watch content but quickly went the way of the laser disc. In just a short time, however, the technology has proved its staying power, mainly because of its versatile applications.

IAB reports that in the next two years, respondents believe we’ll see more brands engaging in 360-degree video, a low-cost “gateway” into more interactive forms of VR. Other forms of advertising may also appear in VR like 2D digital billboards, 2D video and even TV spots. In Australia, for example, Microsoft introduced the first 4DX cinema advertisement for its new game Forza Horizon 3.


Defining VR

Because there are many ways to implement this rising tech, the term, “virtual reality” gets tossed around a lot around the media, from 360-degree videos to fully-immersive video games. While the latter allows the user to interact with their rendered environment, 360-degree video allows users to move the camera, but are otherwise at the mercy of pre-scripted content. Chris Hercik of Time, Inc. told IAB that for him, 360-degree video or photo experiences are not necessarily VR. “I think we need to clearly distinguish the two, because when we’re talking to advertisers or partners, we need to clarify which one offers just a point of view and means of looking around, and which one is more immersive.”

Advertising In VR

Publishers, agencies and creators seem to agree that the VR growth trajectory will be directly affected by the cost of its devices. 360-degree video is predicted to remain an entry point for advertisers. Dedicated content, such as Hilton’s virtual vacation activation or the Kate Moss’ dream sequence for Charlotte Tilbury’s new fragrance are just two examples of how brands are utilizing the new technology.

When it comes to content offered within a VR experience, however, fans aren’t as keen to participate. Immersv CEO Mihir Shah noted engagement numbers drop whenever a VR user experience has been interrupted. “If we put an advertiser in a queue, with a ‘check this out’ call to action—within the user’s current VR experience, people simply hit the skip button, or they leave,” Shah explained. “You can’t just put things into a scene. A lot more work needs to be done to get the integration points right. It can be extremely jarring when you’re immersed in another world.”

It seems that the more immersive an experience, the more emotional attachment a user will develop for that brand. Mia Tramz from Time Inc. told IAB that in her mind, the future of the medium is fully immersive experiences.

“360 VR experiences are great on-ramps to VR and for acquainting consumers with the medium, but the platforms that offer more immersion and interaction—especially in room scale—are undeniably compelling.”

Featured image source: Unit9

Why General Mills Is Targeting ESports Fans

General Mills is the first presenting sponsor of Yahoo ESports Live, an hour-long pair of weekly live shows. Late Night League focuses on Riot Games’ League of Legends landscape, and Tilted covers the entire world of competitive gaming. With custom branded segments and video advertising during live programming, the new campaign for Reese’s Puffs Cereal will also include Yahoo’s livestream coverage of ESL One New York 2016 on Saturday and Sunday.

Scott Baldwin, director of marketing for cereal at General Mills, told [a]listdaily that the company has been looking at eSports over the past year and settled on this partnership with Yahoo because of its audience and reach.

“Reese’s Puffs is a favorite of millennials and we’re always looking for new ways to engage with this audience,” Baldwin said. “ESports is such a broad space and it’s where our consumers are, so we saw this as a great opportunity to get involved.”

Baldwin said General Mills is targeting millennials, men and women alike, with this cereal.

Reese' Puffs

“It’s not just 18-to-20 year olds in dorms, but a much broader demographic,” Baldwin said. “And we’ve seen that with Yahoo ESports. It’s a range of age and a nice mix of men and women, some of going upward of 30-plus. But 18-to-30 is the sweet spot.”

The fact that eSports lives online and is a completely digital audience fits right in with the overall marketing strategy for the cereal.

“What we do for Reese’s is all oriented toward this target demographic, so we’re not on traditional TV airing spots now,” Baldwin said. “Our work is already customized to them. It’s fun, and funny. It has that vibe. It’s out of the norm. It’s not about the family eating breakfast at the kitchen table.”

The tagline for Reece’s Puffs campaign is “you either love them or you’re wrong.” General Mills has integrated its humorous spots into the online content. So far, the company hasn’t created commercials specifically about eSports.

“We didn’t want to artificially make Reese’s Puffs content because we don’t want to pander to the audience,” Baldwin said. “We have fun content to share.”

Reese’s Puffs is also integrated into Yahoo’s Twitch and Facebook Live channels. Baldwin said the company has a robust social engagement across all platforms that millennials interact with hoping that they’ll share Reese’s Puffs content that they find funny or interesting.

“It’s early, but we’re pleased with how it looks,” Baldwin said of the one-year sponsorship deal General Mills signed with Yahoo.

“Are we reaching audience we’re after? Yes,” Baldwin said. “We’re watching engagement and how people are reacting to content on social media. We’ve learned from all of our brands that are working with gamers that you can’t just put something out there. Your content needs to be different and sharable and something that really draws them in. We don’t want to talk at them, but talk to them and make it engaging and fun to watch.”

This isn’t General Mills’ first foray into gaming. Baldwin said Cinnamon Toast Crunch has been marketing to late-night gamers for several years. And Totino’s Pizza Rolls partnered with Twitch for a Super Bowl bucking couch activation featuring influential streamers. Last October, Totino’s had an on-pack partnership with Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. This October the brand has an on-pack partnership with Microsoft’s Gears of War 4, which is being released October 11.

Devin Kunysz, marketing manager of Reese’s Puffs at General Mills, told [a]listdaily the brand has also targeted gamers at events like the recent PAX West in Seattle.

“We were a Twitch livestream sponsor at their broadcast booth handing out Reese’s Puffs at a table for anyone to enjoy, including the broadcasters,” Kunysz said. “We had a large bowl of cereal in the Reese’s Puffs Pit that attendees could slide down and find a prize. We had a variety of prizes, including Xbox One game consoles.”

Baldwin said the Reese’s Puffs Facebook page gained several thousand followers from that PAX West activation.

“We’re starting this in little bits and seeing how it goes,” Baldwin said. “It’s a pretty dynamic space, so we’re watching and seeing how people respond.”

How Absolut And Sonos Create Deep Brand Experiences

As brands are increasingly becoming media owners, companies are looking for creative ways to engage with audiences. Different approaches were discussed by Afdhel Aziz, director of Absolut Labs, and Joy Howard, chief marketing officer at Sonos, at a panel presented at the New York Media Festival on Wednesday.

Although the brands are very different, the two panelists spoke about their approaches in working with musicians to create memorable experiences. Aziz spoke about Absolut’s long history of finding “ways to allow artists to connect with their fans using whatever canvas was available.” Whether that canvas was advertising, making documentaries (as was the case with Jay-Z), it was always designed to help the artists do something they were never able to before and connect with their fans.

“The thing that has changed from then to now is the technology,” said Aziz. “What that technology has given us is the ability for brands to collaborate with artists and reach their fans in a way that that doesn’t need to involve a traditional media network . . . now there are wayside which you can do something at scale that connect with millions people cheaper than ever, farther than ever, and in cooler ways than ever.”

Absolut has begun using virtual reality technology for content, with artists providing the creative spark to make the experience better. The most prominent experience is the Absolut deadmau5 app, which was created in collaboration with the musician.


Sonos, with products that have been recently made available in Apple Stores, has been experimenting with retail experiences. The experience Sonos offers focuses on listening to music out loud. What the experience needs to do is reach people and help them understand the value of what Sonos offers, and why it’s a great way to listen to music together.

“People are most likely to adopt Sonos if they listen to it at a friend’s house,” said Howard. “So we really wanted to recreate the experience of listening to music out loud together.”

Sonos has hosted radio broadcasts from the store and “first listen” events with artists releasing new albums, such as De La Soul. The company has also experimented with live events that are enhanced with music, such as gathering people together around food and hosting yoga classes in the store with the music turned up.

Absolut is working to go beyond plain brand integration with music tours by growing its partnerships. The company’s first experiments featured a small band for a VR livestream. It gave away Google Cardboard viewers and there were over 600 viewing parties hosted across the US. All participants had a front row seat to the show, and the average viewing time was 19 minutes.

“It goes back to that communal experience,” said Aziz. “It’s people getting together to listen to music in a space and experience music in an immersive, intense and intimate way.” However, scaling live events is problematic because you need hundreds of thousands of viewers for it to be worthwhile, limiting you to events with with near universal appeal.
“The pivot moment was: we’re a nightlife brand. We’re about people going out,” said Aziz. “Why don’t we partner with an amazing music artist and follow him or her for a night?”

That’s what led to the partnership with deadmau5, who also happened to be an avid gamer. It was his idea to transform the experience into a VR game. “What we got was this thing that was part video game, part VR and part music video where you get to control him (deadmau5) on a night out,” said Aziz.


In-game branding was very subtle, with buildings and shadows in the shape of Absolut bottles. Aziz stated that you don’t have to hit people over the head with branding, since “they’re playing a called Absolut deadmau5.”

When discussing about using technology to grow an audience, Aziz stated that 60 percent of Absolut drinkers are over 40. The company has to shift things so there is a new generation of Absolut fans.

“When you look at some of this technology,” said Aziz, “it can really move the needle by creating new channels to communicate with people through a device that everybody has and give them a really immersive brand experience that deepens their affinity and advocacy for the brand.”

When asked about going beyond sponsorship promotions, like having a popular artist promote the product on Twitter, Howard said: “One of the first things I learned early in my career was how to spot a really bad idea. One of the ways that you can spot a bad idea is that it has a celebrity in it. If someone pitches an idea and it depends on a celebrity, you should suspect it as a bad idea.

“The insight behind that is that you can paper over a lot of good ideas with celebrity and with glamour. But a really good idea should be powerful regardless of the celebrity cache of the artist involved.”

Howard further elaborated by saying that a straightforward sponsorship is something with which both brands and artists should be uncomfortable with. When it’s very transactional, and you’re putting the brand in the place of what any other brand could be, then you’re doing something that “in some ways, cheapens not only your brand, but also dilutes the equity of the artist.”

Howard suggests that the way to work instead is to do things that are truly collaborative, useful and contribute to culture. “The age of interruption is over,” she said. “You can’t interrupt people anymore. You’ve got to earn their attention. You’ve got to earn their engagement.”

Forming partnerships with artists relied on a shared set of core values, according to Howard. One of the most important values is wanting to help people listen to music better. So any space where music is important and listening matters is a space for Sonos to come in and elevate the experience.

One area includes music stores. Howard explained that people still go to record stores, even though the experience is generally uncomfortable. There is something positive in discovering music in a communal setting, even though it’s not always easy. To help address the matter, Sonos partnered with Rough Trade to build a listening room, where customers can enjoy a quality experience. Sonos took things further, with encouragement from Airbnb, by designing the space as a bedroom. Users can even rent the room for a night through Airbnb.

Howard advised principles such as “be useful,” and to “own, don’t rent.” Brands should invest in ideas that can travel. Don’t just rent a sponsorship or something that’s transactional. Pragmatic aspects involve reach. “You can create a really great experience in a tiny record store in Brooklyn, but then only people there will know about it,” she said. You amplify the experience so that it has long reach primarily by being relevant and doing something people care about.

“I think people should not be afraid to do things that are really relevant to their business,” said Howard. “Everyone is interested in marketing, everyone is in business nowadays. For us, it’s very natural to work with other business people to improve their retail experience. When an experience is relevant, people care about it.”

Relevance also relates to the impact a brand has on the world. “What are the behaviors that you’re encouraging?” Howard asks. “What are the activities you’re encouraging people to take that, at the end of the day, are not just more clutter?”


Fast Cars, Fast Hedgehog: This Week In Game Launches And Promotions

From shoes you can wear to trailers you can feel, it was a big week for video game launches, particularly with the following titles that were ushered in with great marketing fanfare:



Sports fans everywhere are on the quest for soccer stardom this week with the launch of EA Sports’ FIFA 17. During E3, EA Sports placed major emphasis on the players themselves and each individual’s journey to greatness—inviting gamers to interact with the title on an emotional level. Additionally, fans were invited to vote on the cover star, further creating a sense of personal investment in the game’s success. A strategic partnership with Nike resulted in some limited edition cleats—EA Sports x Nike Mercurial SuperFly, available in real life, as well as in-game. Coke also partnered with EA by offering a collectible Slurpee cup activation at 7-Eleven stores across the US, along with a FIFA 17 contest featuring over 10,000 prizes.

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice

Everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog is back in Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, the third in the spin-off video game series. Sega’s world-famous character has been making a serious social comeback with videos, Twitter takeovers and more. For the launch of Fire & Ice, Sega challenged Twitter users to see how “hot or cool” they are by clicking on an animated GIF that stops on the answer. In the Nintendo UK store, players can pick up a special bundle with the game, along with a snazzy, Sonic hat.

Forza Horizon 3

“Forza Horizon 3” Snapchat lens

As if Sonic didn’t give you enough need for speed, car-lovers are burning rubber throughout North America today with a nationwide Forza Horizon 3 Snapchat lens. The filter is part of a series of launch activations, including an event at the Peterson Automotive Museum this past weekend in Los Angeles, complete with a Facebook Live pre-show, Twitch stream featuring rally driver Ken Block and a real-time @Xbox Snap Story.

In Australia, Xbox launched the UK’s first 4DX-enabled cinema ad to promote the release. The immersive execution incorporated hi-tech motion seats and special effects including water sprays, gusts of air, fog and strobe lighting, immersing movie-goers into the game’s trailer. Microsoft released a demo September 12 to get fans excited, and those who purchased the Ultimate Edition were able to start playing last week.

Microsoft showed off the game during E3 2016, demonstrating Play Anywhere compatibility, four-player co-op and and the largest car roster in the series—including a BMW M4 customized with a wide-body kit, 800-hp truck and the new Lamborghini Centenario.


Why It’s Still Safe To Count On Facebook Video Metrics

Last Thursday, advertisers were told Facebook’s counting method likely overestimated the average time spent watching videos by between 60 and 80 percent, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. This was because it was only factoring in video views of more than three seconds. Technically, Facebook only considers a video “watched” if it has been viewed for at least three seconds. However, marketers grew concerned and according to Facebook, the error has been fixed, per Ad Week.

So, what does this mean for advertisers? Luckily, the price of ads is typically based on impressions, 10-second views and completed views—none of which were affected by Facebook’s view-counting mistake. These metrics were accidentally inflated for approximately two years before the discovery was made public, a fact that Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions, views as a mistake.

“I think a lesson learned for all of us at Facebook—and perhaps in the industry—is that what we should have done a month ago was made it public that we had found this error and that we had made a correction, and not just called our clients and agencies,” Everson said in a presentation during New York Ad Week on Monday.

Is it still safe to use social media as a reliable source of video traffic?

Absolutely, says Eric Ayzenberg, chief brand soulmate of the Ayzenberg Group, a Pasadena-based ad agency. “Facebook handled its video analytics revisions very well,” he said. “I think it’s just a blip on the radar considering how well Facebook video works for our clients. Although I understand the idea that a player should not also be a referee, at this moment, I do not see a third-party auditor who I would trust more.”

Despite understandable concerns following the metrics revelation, marketers still consider the social media giant to be the best for measuring return on investment.

It’s not much of a surprise, however, that Facebook’s latest ad measuring tools emphasize human involvement for that extra layer of comfort. The corrected video-counting metrics, combined with Facebook’s new human-powered resources, should help soothe concerns while providing more in-depth insights—proving to be a marketing “blessing in disguise.”