Op-Ed: How ‘NBA 2K17’ Epitomizes Pre-Launch Engagement

NBA 2K17 already has quite a legacy to live up to. The basketball game’s predecessor was the top-selling game in September of last year, contending against heavy-hitters such as FIFA 17, Madden NFL 16, and the critically acclaimed action game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Additionally, NBA 2K16 became 2K Sports’ first entry into eSports with the Road to the Finals competition where players competed for a $250,000 grand prize. The game has also been used to promote Kyrie Irving-branded Nike sneakers, “Kyrie 2” kicks.

So the newest addition to the basketball series took full advantage of the brand’s momentum by starting early and building anticipation for the game’s launch. In June, NBA 2K16 was offered as one of the PlayStation 4 free games of the month for PlayStation Plus subscribers, which gave a potentially new audience a chance to own and experience the record-breaking game for themselves.

Then the free My NBA 2K17 mobile companion app launched for both iOS and Android devices on September 8. With it, players could start earning in-game currency for the console releases of NBA 2K17 by completing challenges. Additionally, there is the incredibly popular MyTEAM Mobile collectible card game, which has been a longstanding feature of the series and allows player to collect NBA player cards and use them to challenge competing players around the world. Although neither feature is new to the app series, which is on its fourth installment, they give something for longtime fans to look forward to. The biggest new feature is the new face scanning technology, which lets users scan their faces onto custom NBA 2K17 characters with their mobile devices. While both NBA 2K15 and 2K16 used the Xbox One Kinect and PlayStation 4 Camera for face scanning, the results were often hit-or-miss. Now players can create custom characters with more reliable technology.

Furthermore, the game engaged with players 11 days before its official September 20 release by using a demo called The Prelude. Although game demos are nothing new, they remain one of the best ways to engage with audiences by giving them a quick preview of what’s to come. However, NBA 2K17 pushes things up a notch by letting players get a head start on the MyCareer mode using authentic Division I collegiate programs, and players can continue raising their draft profile in the full game when it launches. The aim is to engage new players by letting them continue their MyCareer journey with the full game. At the same time, existing fans are assured that the new game will be the same or better quality as its predecessor. As added incentive, 2K Sports recently announced that Michael Jordan would appear in the MyCareer story mode, giving players a chance to play alongside the legendary figure.

The basketball game takes pre-release engagement a step further with the Early Tip-Off Weekend, which is a longstanding tradition for the sports game. Pre-order customers were automatically upgraded to the Early Tip-Off Edition, which let them start on September 16—four days before the official launch of the game.

But perhaps the prominent way the game reaches out to NBA fans is how it manages to include no less than three major basketball stars for its covers. The My NBA 2K17 app has Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves on its cover. Meanwhile, Indiana Pacers All-Star shooting guard Paul George, who was the cover athlete for last year’s companion app, makes his first solo appearance on the cover of the main NBA 2K game. However, more dedicated fans will likely look to Legend Edition, which features the recently retired Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in a number of uniforms, including a Kobe USA Basketball Jersey, a Kobe hoodie and a 2K Kobe XI shoe. Then there’s the Legend Gold Edition, which includes 300,000 in virtual currency and the entire Nike Kobe shoe collection (24 in all) included in the game for $99.99. For comparison, the game’s predecessor included Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry and James Harden on three unique game covers, making for a total of four athletes when the companion app is included. It only had one special edition, which included Michael Jordan branded apparel.

Although it hasn’t officially launched yet, NBA 2K17 is looking to be another successful game for the franchise. Much of that has to do with the tremendous success of last year’s game, followed by an eSports competition that let console players compete for a $250,000 grand prize—a competition that is almost certain to return. But one of the most important aspects of the franchise’s ongoing success is engagement with fans of both the sport and the video game long before the new title releases. In fact, George’s cover appearance was announced by Bryant and Rick Fox at the Road to the Finals championship finale.

As games, particularly sports games, continue to evolve into ongoing services, it becomes vital for franchises to keep their audiences engaged throughout the year. That means paving the way for the next release by showing how it will take things to the next level just as the life cycle for the previous game reaches its conclusion.

About last night… #NBA2K17 #eSports #legends

A photo posted by @2k on

Quest Nutrition Powers Robert Morris University ESports Program

Quest Nutrition, maker of the Quest Bar, is the first non-endemic sponsor to get on board Robert Morris University’s (RMU) eSports program. The sponsorship encompass all RMU eSports teams, including League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. The university currently has 75 competitive gaming students on scholarship.

The private university was the first academic institution to jump into eSports, building out an eSports arena and offering $1.5 million in partial scholarships for players across the top PC games for the 2016-17 season. The Illinois-based school’s League of Legends team finished second place in the University League of Legends (uLoL) competition during the 2015-2016 school year. Now the school is working with Quest Nutrition to add exercise, health and nutrition to the mix for its eSports players.

Nick Robinson, chief marketing officer of Quest Nutrition, told [a]listdaily that the eSports and gaming communities have been traditionally stereotyped for being unhealthy and sedentary. “After researching the space, meeting with pro players, and talking about their training regiment, we realized that these athletes need to treat their bodies much like traditional athletes do and we want to help them tell the story of how living a healthy lifestyle can help their performance,” Robinson said. “We love how proactive RMU has been about trailblazing within the collegiate eSports space—how they’ve provided generous scholarships for their eSports athletes—and their mindset on physical fitness and nutritional wellness, which extends to their eSports program as well.”

Kurt Melcher, executive director and founder of the Varsity eSports program at RMU, said Quest is going beyond providing student-athletes bars, supplements and shakes. “We’re making a concerted effort to add a fitness component to what we do,” Melcher said. “Twice a week, our teams work with athletic trainers and receive instruction for lightweight and eSports-specific training using core competencies of what weight regiment makes sense. We have them monitored by trainers for physical activity like ellipticals or treadmills, and we’re setting life goals on improvements on what they want to achieve.”

Robinson said Quest has been active in the eSports space for some time, but this is the company’s first involvement in collegiate eSports. “We’re going to be creating content around the team, the players and telling the story of how our products help them succeed both in the classroom and in competition,” Robinson said.

Melcher said the student-athletes will create video testimonials focusing on nutrition. One example is tracking a player early on in his fitness program, and then midway, then through the season to follow the ups-and-downs of training. Quest will also receive social media and Twitch promotion, as well as placement on the walls of the school’s arena in addition to player uniforms and training gear.

“This partnership allows us to tell the stories of collegiate eSports athletes who are training to be the best they can, while also providing them with nutritional options that help them perform at their best,” Robinson said. “It’s a win-win for both sides.”

Robinson also said that the company is less focused on direct sales conversions from this partnership, and more interested in telling compelling stories and supporting the next wave of top eSports athletes. “In a sport where milliseconds matter, every edge that an athlete can create is important,” Robinson said. “Living a healthy lifestyle puts these athletes in the best mental and physical condition and allows them to excel in competition.”

Quest’s demographics skew younger and capturing the college audience, which is often short on time and in need of healthy snack alternatives, is a key part of the company’s overall marketing strategy. “ESports fans are typically young, male millennials, which is a rather difficult segment to reach,” Robinson said. “By telling compelling stories about top-tier athletes, we’re able to create an aspirational lifestyle, and hopefully convert a percentage of this audience into Quest fans.”

Quest is the first non-endemic sponsor to partner with RMU. The school works with endemic companies Twitch, SteelSeries, Asus, DX Racer, Infiniscene, Pwnit Wear and Discord. Melcher said it’s gotten more difficult to attract sponsors as more schools are formalizing eSports and bringing them into athletics. “People aren’t lining up to give us tens of thousands of dollars,” Melcher said. “Most of our partnerships are around product.”

From Pumpkins To Xbox: 5 Stats You Shouldn’t Miss This Week

Xbox One S Dominates August Sales

It’s safe to say that Microsoft’s launch of the Xbox One S console was a success, accounting for nearly a third of total hardware sales in August, according to the latest NPD report. That shiny, white console earned a whopping 37 percent growth in unit sales and a 25 percent growth in dollar revenue for the Xbox One brand. The white Xbox One S gamepad followed in kind, selling over 79,000 units and topping the PlayStation 4 black controller, which has long been the number one selling game peripheral.

Facebook Messenger Is Kind of a Big Deal

Facebook Messenger has become a valuable resource for marketers, reaching one billion users in July, up from 700 million users in July 2015. According to David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging, 300 million people use audio and video calling features on Messenger every month. The social media giant now offers native payments, pushing Facebook into a full-fledged eCommerce contender.


Pumpkin Spice Errthang

It’s that time of the year again when everything from coffee to hummus (I wish I was kidding) is given an autumn makeover with pumpkin spice. The most notorious of pumpkinators is Starbucks, of course, whose Pumpkin Spice Latte has become a holiday tradition along with its own fan base. According to a study by social media analytics company Spredfast, tweets about the sugary drink jumped to 5,076 tweets per minute as soon as it became available. In total, the phrase “pumpkin spice latte” and the abbreviated hashtag #PSL have racked up over 56.8 million tweets.

Digital Ad Spending Has Finally Surpassed Traditional TV

According to a recent CMO survey by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, social media accounts for 11.7 percent of marketing budgets, up from 3.5 percent in 2009. In fact, US digital ad spending will hit $72.09 billion, about 37 percent of total ad spend according to eMarketer.


According to a recent study by Trackmaven, brands see the highest average engagement ratio on Instagram. However, the introduction of new monetization features caused a fall for engagement of nearly 26 percent. Instagram users may love to interact, but not with just anything—so don’t forget that frontline marketing!


Twitch Assembles ‘Magnificent Seven’ To Promote Movie

Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Twitch are partnering to promote the upcoming movie The Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. Inspired by the 1960 film of the same name, the new movie features seven mercenaries who gradually come together to help a poor village against thieves. Following in that theme, Twitch is assembling its top seven Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) players and will be broadcasting its first CS:GO exhibition game on September 19, from 4 PM to 6 PM PST.

The showdown, called Saviors vs. Bandits, features seven of the most-followed players in the company’s history, and they will be playing on a special Western-themed map and battling until there is only one left standing. Viewers will be allowed to interact with the gamers and suggest handicaps to up the challenge.

Twitch’s “Magnificent Seven” broadcasters are Summit 1G, TimTheTatman, iiJERiiCHOii, HayliNic, JoshOG, Reynad27, and 2MGOverCSquared, who have a combined reach of over four million followers and over 200 million views on their channels. Actors Chris Pratt and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo will deliver special messages and present exclusive footage from the film during the live event.

Elias Plishner, executive vice president of worldwide digital marketing for Sony Pictures, stated in a press release that: “Twitch has never before brought so many respected and skilled gamers with such a huge following together for a single game. As these seven face off, this is an unparalleled opportunity to bring the action, intensity and fun of The Magnificent Seven to millions of fans worldwide.”

The event, hosted by GoldenBoy and commentator John “Blu” Mullenm, will air live on Twitch and on www.Mag7Showdown.comThe Magnificent Seven hits theaters on September 23.

NPD: Xbox One S Took Nearly One Third Of All August 2016 Console Sales

NPD has released its monthly video game industry sales report for August 2016, and while hardware sales increased thanks to the new Xbox One S, total hardware spending saw a decline of six percent compared to last year. Despite a successful launch of the Xbox One S and continued spending growth for the Nintendo 3DS, it was not enough to meet or exceed 2015 sales for the same time period. August saw a decline in spending on the PS4, Wii U and older consoles, compounded by a seven percent decline in the ARP for consoles and a 22 percent decline in the ARP for portables.

Xbox One S was clearly the star of August, contributing nearly a third of all hardware sales with the console and its controller was the top-selling gamepad at 79,000 units. “The release of the Xbox One S helped to generate a 37 percent growth in unit sales and a 25 percent growth in dollar revenue for the Xbox One brand,” explained NPD’s video game industry analyst, Sam Naji. “In its first month on the market, the Xbox One S 2TB White was the second-best selling hardware SKU, despite lacking a bundled title.”


As for video games, Madden NFL 17 was the top-selling title, despite earning three percent less than its predecessor, Madden NFL 16. Overall spending on software, hardware and accessories grew by one percent compared to August last year. “The release of strong new titles such as Madden NFL 17, No Man’s Sky and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided bolstered console software dollar sales by eight percent and this had helped to offset losses in spending elsewhere,” Naji said in the report.

The NPD’s top 10 best-selling games for August 2016 are:

  1. Madden NFL 17
  2. No Man’s Sky*
  3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  4. Grand Theft Auto V
  5. Overwatch*
  6. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
  7. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  8. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  9. Minecraft*
  10. Destiny: The Taken King

Asterisks indicate that digital sales were not accounted for (or purchases made on Battle.net, in the case of Overwatch).

New titles, including No Man’s Sky and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided  brought in almost three times the amount to last year’s new releases, Gears of War Ultimate Edition and the PS4 exclusive, Until Dawn.

Total accessory spending for the month (including gift cards and memberships like Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus) reached $107 million, a decline of five percent compared to August 2015. Amazingly, the Xbox One S white controller outsold the PS4 DualShock wireless black controller in August, which had been the best-selling gamepad for some time. Overall, sales for game cards, headsets/headphones and gamepads decreased, while interactive gaming toys accessory spending increased by 10 percent.

Kia Motors America Proves Bo Still Knows, And Dominates ‘Tecmo Bowl’

On Sunday, September 18 during NBC’s Sunday Night Football, Kia Motors America will tap into the nostalgic value of Koei Tecmo’s classic Nintendo 8-Bit video game Tecmo Bowl. Anyone who played that classic football game knows that Bo Jackson was a beast in that virtual gridiron experience—so Kia is resurrecting the game franchise in a pair of new spots featuring Jackson and fellow NFL legend Brian Bosworth to market its Sorento SUV.

In the campaign, Bo and “The Boz” are transported into a world with Tecmo Bowl’s signature 8-bit graphics and sound effects. The spots, called “Tecmo Bros” and “Tecmo Bo,” feature the NFL legends interacting with and driving the Sorento into the video game field. Koei Tecmo licensed the game to Kia Motors America for this campaign.


Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and EVP at Kia Motors America, told [a]listdaily that nearly three decades after its release, Tecmo Bowl is still considered one of the best sports video games of all time.

“We saw an opportunity to connect with consumers and showcase the Sorento SUV in a way that’s never been done before,” Sprague said. “When our agency brought the opportunity to work with Bo Jackson, who is widely known as the game’s most unstoppable player, it was too good to pass up.”

From a technology standpoint, the team behind these spots heavily researched Tecmo Bowl references, and based upon that, they enlisted New York-based Method VFX to recreate the 8-bit look completely from scratch. The team went to great lengths to make sure that the classic Tecmo game look was recreated in full high-definition to look exactly like the original game.

Now that video games aren’t niche anymore, they are more than just another media opportunity. They serve as creative inspiration. They give Kia Motors America a whole other universe with its own culture and language to mine for ideas. Most people can relate to the joys and strife of video games. It makes for some great creative fodder.

Sprague said the Sorento target buyer demographic is the generation that first grew up with Tecmo Bowl: 35-to-50-year-old males now with families of their own. “We wanted to take a great childhood memory and give it new life through a fresh lens, and went to great lengths to keep the Tecmo graphics and sound effects authentic while incorporating a modern twist with live-action footage,” Sprague said.


Football fans don’t just remember Tecmo Bowl; there’s a real love for that game that still exists today. Kia Motors America wanted to be sure and respect that by staying as true to the game as possible, while incorporating its message in a way that was organic and fun. This marks the third year Kia Motors America has advertised on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Sprague said sports is one of the company’s core marketing pillars, and there is no bigger audience in primetime television than Sunday Night Football.

“Last year, Sorento sales were up more than 13 percent, and we attribute a lot of that gain to the exposure on Sunday Night Football,” Sprague said. “In addition to increased Sorento sales, we have also experienced spikes in visits to Kia.com and activity on our social media channels over the last three seasons with Sunday Night Football, and our dealers tell us the show drives customers into their stores to discover what the new Kia has to offer.”

For those too young to remember the classic Tecmo Bowl game, EA Sports has brought Jackson into its Madden franchise. There are three different versions of “ultimate legend” Jackson in Madden NFL 17 through the Madden Ultimate Team mode. Nintendo is also launching the mini NES Classic Edition on November 11, and one of the 30 pack-in games is Tecmo Bowl.

Tecmo Bowl is a cult classic with multi-generational appeal,” Sprague said. “Players of all ages participate in tournaments around the country, and the phenomenal response we’ve received since releasing the spots prove the campaign is resonating with people who are young-at-heart, regardless of their age.”

Kia has seen its US sales more than double since the Soul was first introduced in 2009. Sprague said commercial campaigns have been a big reason for that success. Jackson follows in the footsteps of the hamsters. “As some of the most-watched advertising icons in the world, our music-loving hamsters have played a major role in attracting younger and more style-conscious consumers to the brand,” Sprague said.

Even after all of these years, Bo still knows football. And Tecmo Bowl.

How ‘Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2’ Engages Players With Craziness

The Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare series has prided itself on being the zaniest competitive shooter around. Whether it’s playing as a heavily armed plant or a brain-eating zombie, fans can always look forward to a crazy good time. The sequel, Garden Warfare 2 launched last February and has received regular free updates to keep its players engaged. The latest expansion is called Trials of Gnomus, and it includes new game modes, additional weekly events, and new areas to explore.

Marcel Kuhn, the associate producer for Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, spoke with [a]listdaily about the free update and how the game manages to stay ahead in a market full of competitive shooters.

Marcel Kuhn, associate producer for Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, EA PopCap

“The Gnomes have been occupying the town hall in the middle of the Backyard for a while now, and even though players heard construction noises from within, they weren’t able to enter,” Kuhn said, when asked to describe the Trials of Gnomus expansion. “For this update, we’re finally opening up the doors of the town hall, and players get to see what the Ministry of Mystery built for their King: The Mystery Portal.”

The portal gives players access to three time-limited modes that include: Super Mix Mode, Cats vs. Dinos and Boss Hunt. Players are rewarded with Rainbow Stars for participating in these modes, which are used to open Rainbow Star reward chests that contain unique customization options and Trial Keys. Keys are used in the new area, the Gnome Underworld, and unlock the Trials of Eternity. “Each trial will challenge the player in a different way, i.e. their ability to memorize a sequence of icons or navigate across hazardous traps,” said Kuhn. “I could go on about what happens next, but I think that’s a surprise the players need to find out for themselves…”

When asked about how Garden Warfare 2 has grown since launch, Kuhn responded: “We’ve had several updates since we launched in February and delivered new experiences for all areas of the game. That includes new maps, characters and customizations as well as completely new game modes such as the Delivery Time Trials and the Community Challenges we’ve added as part of the Trouble in Zombopolis update. These additions make the game feel alive, as there’s always something new to discover, no matter what type of experience you’re looking for.”

Given its dedicated fan base, we asked why the developer released free expansions instead of using paid DLC like many competing games do. “It’s part of our identity as EA PopCap,” Kuhn said, “and we feel that as our players invest time in us, we need to invest time in them. We want to make sure our community knows that we care and support them, we deliver that support by providing free content updates and hope that the players continue to enjoy the PvZ GW2 experience.”

So how exactly does EA PopCap work to keep its players engaged for the long-term? “We’re keeping the game fresh by providing new updates that also include gameplay tuning based on feedback we’ve received from our community,” Kuhn explained. “As a result, the game keeps improving as time passes, allowing players to continue to have fun and discover new characters and challenges along the way. We’re also adding new ways to play multiplayer through new character variants in our free content updates. So if you have an affinity for a certain character class but wish certain abilities had subtle differences and variations, we’re adding those in with new variants. There have been several since launch, and we’re continuing to look at more.

“While our most recent update Trials of Gnomus introduced three new, time-limited game modes that specifically catered to our multiplayer community, this is not limited to player-to-player interactions. In earlier updates, we added single players challenges and new quests to the Backyard. We also continue to deliver new customizations for our characters, which is one of the key pieces to GW2’s success and allows players to be creative by generating unique characters to play with.”

We asked about how EA PopCap worked to convert players of the original game over to the sequel. “GW1 was an amazing game and introduced the world’s craziest shooter,” said Kuhn. “We are very happy that we have such an active community in both GW1 and GW2. In order to reward that community, we’ve implemented special features to make their transition from GW1 to GW2 easier, such as the ability to import characters you’ve unlocked in GW1 into GW2. There are also some exclusive loyalty rewards for GW1 players transitioning over to GW2. To give you a taste of the full GW2 experience, there are also time-limited, free GW2 trials on all platforms.”

GW2 released in a year that’s already loaded with competitive shooters, including heavy hitters like Overwatch. Then there are upcoming games such as Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1, both of which are being published by EA. How does GW2 manage to stand out in such a crowded space?

“The Plants vs. Zombies universe, with all its crazy humor, ensures that it’s still the craziest shooter around—there’s simply nothing like it out there,” said Kuhn. “On top of that, GW2 offers a unique balance that allows casual players to enjoy themselves while requiring skill to be successful at a higher level of play. It’s easy to play, but hard to master.

“Based on the vast amount of content in the game, there’s also a lot of depth. Be it on your own or with friends—there’s also always something new to discover and to look forward to. This can be a new personal best in the shooting gallery, promoting a new character variation you’ve unlocked or inviting your friends into your Backyard to show off your latest character customization. The possibilities to enjoy the game in different ways are seemingly endless.”

Why Dos Equis Doubled Down On A Rebrand With The ‘Most Interesting Man’ Numero Dos

Dos Equis has arguably had one of the most iconic marketing campaigns of this millennium with the “Most Interesting Man in the World.”

It starred Jonathan Goldsmith, a man whose blood smelled like cologne, and a winner of the lifetime achievement award—twice. But in March, the Mexican beer brand said no mas to the actor who lived vicariously through himself and decided it was time to move in a new direction, and skew toward a younger demographic.

If Dos Equis wanted to have an awkward moment just to see how it feels, this might be it, because they introduced the second-coming of the retired Goldsmith by way of Augustin Legrand, an actor over 30 years his junior.


Legrand is not reinventing the prodigious characteristics of “the most interesting man”—he’s just adding a contemporary twist of masculinity paired with an edgier and dangerous exuberance in order to appeal to more millennials. So, in case he needs to complete a cross fit or a color run in world record time for the future of the campaign—it actually seems conceivable.

In the feature-film style trailer “Cantina,” the bilingual-bearded Legrand can be seen chopping open a coconut with his bare hand, carrying a piglet through tight quarters and diving into a well to retrieve a soccer ball.

In October, Dos Equis will release a full-length commercial that will illustrate how interesting has changed, and how Legrand will continue to embody the legendary status. It will be coincide with social integrations on Snapchat, including a national lens that will be available on October 22 for College Football Game Day to celebrate Dos Equis’ College Football Playoff sponsorship.

Andrew Katz, the vice president of marketing for Dos Equis, joined [a]listdaily to discuss why Dos Equis decided it was time to drive the brand into a new direction.

Why was it crucial to re-brand the “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign? What were the deciding factors to going in a different direction?

The ‘Most Interesting Man’ campaign has been incredibly successful and made Dos Equis one of the fastest-growing beer brands in the US. Since its inception, Dos Equis has been planning for this transition, and no matter the consumer, their attitudes and behaviors shift and change. In 2016, character and substance are what make a man interesting. Our research shows that more than three times as many men say it’s their sense of humor (59 percent) that makes them more interesting than their athleticism (17 percent). And nearly twice as many men use the word creative (51 percent) rather than accomplished (30 percent) to define a man who’s interesting. With these new defining characteristics of interesting in mind, Dos Equis evolved the ‘Most Interesting Man’ campaign and a character to reflect the characteristics and values of our target today and to ensure the brand is interesting for today’s drinker. The search for the new character spanned multiple continents and included thousands of auditions. We discovered Augustin Legrand and knew right away he was the one. He’s led an interesting life in his own right and was perfect to portray this iconic, legendary character.


What is the biggest challenge of an undertaking like this and making sure the sequel still reaches viral success?

The ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’ has been a cultural icon for the past nine years, but regardless of the actor, the character has always been greater than the actor who portrays him. The content, substance and strategy behind the campaign are all factors in how Dos Equis is evolving the ‘Most Interesting Man’ and, hopefully, continuing its viral momentum. Part of our strategy is also accompanied by our new visual identity and logo refresh on our packaging, bottles and cans, our first-ever Snapchat campaign and our multi-year sponsorship of the College Football Playoff.

Is Dos Equis considering a “Most Interesting Woman”?

Right now there is not a plan for a Most Interesting Woman. However, there will be an interesting cast of new characters whom the Most Interesting Man will encounter along his journeys.

Drinkers are multicultural and diverse than ever. As a Mexican beer brand, what is the strategy to targeting and reaching consumers? What marketing strategies do you use?

The reality of the drinker base is more multicultural than ever and Spanish-dominant consumers are increasingly important, which is extremely relevant for Dos Equis as Mexican beer. Through the evolution of the ‘Most Interesting Man’ campaign, we’re leaning into our authenticity and embracing our Mexican heritage more than ever. You can see glimpses of how we’re targeting the multicultural consumer in the new trailer. The spot is also narrated in Spanish with English subtitles and takes place in a cantina south of the border.


Augustin Legrand is over 30 years younger than Jonathan Goldsmith, and Dos Equis also has a College Football Playoff sponsorship, with Snapchat plans in store, too. Why are you trying to reach a new, more contemporary audience?

There have been a number of key shifts in the marketplace in the past nine years since the campaign debuted. Everyone is consuming media and culture differently, and the beer category has exploded with new choices. The evolution of the ‘Most Interesting Man’ campaign and a new character is our response to the changing world, ensuring that the brand remains relevant for our consumers. The Dos Equis drinker has many interests, pursuits and tastes in life. As these tastes change, the campaign must evolve to fit the aspirations of a new generation. 

How will Augustin continue to embody the legendary status of Jonathan? What can we expect from his character?

The Most Interesting Man in the World is a legendary character. There will certainly be components of the campaign that remain consistent, such as continuing on with the Most Interesting Man’s ‘legend lines.’ The new Most Interesting Man is more active and adventurous, and we see glimpses of this in the trailer. He will be doing less reminiscing about past glories, and more hands-on adventure seeking.

Why is Snapchat the best social channel to launch this campaign? What does the platform offer that others don’t, and how will you measure the success of the national lens?

Snapchat is the best social channel to launch the campaign because over 45 million consumers 21 and over use it daily to snap with family and friends, watch their Stories, see events from around the world and explore content from top publishers. In terms of measuring success of the national lens, Snapchat partnered with Millward Brown to prove that their Sponsored Filters and Lenses drive more brand awareness, favorability and purchase intent versus mobile norms. Our partners at MediaVest are working with Millward Brown to measure success of these metrics for the campaign, as well as Datalogix to determine direct effect of SnapAds on Dos Equis sales.


What kind of experiential marketing activations can consumers expect in the coming months?

Dos Equis recently announced a historic, multi-year agreement to become the official beer sponsor of the College Football Playoff (CFP). The sponsorship further establishes Dos Equis’ standing in sports, giving the brand a strong platform to drive fan engagement with one of the country’s most exciting and growing franchises. Dos Equis will leverage the CFP to bring unparalleled and interesting experiences to help fans go for ‘Game Day Greatness’ throughout the regular season and Playoff, both at games and at viewing occasions.

There surely will be fans who are not thrilled that Augustin is the new face. How do you monitor the temperature on social channels, and how do you engage with consumers who are not happy about the re-brand?

We’re excited for fans to see Mr. Legrand’s new take on the character. After all, the Most Interesting Man has always represented an ethos more than any one individual person. The actor is obviously important, but at the end of the day, we think that the campaign itself is the thing that people love. We deeply value the opinions of our consumers and we have great resources that monitor the temperature on our social channels and engage with our consumers directly. Our fans can rest assured that any concerns communicated on our social platforms will certainly be heard.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan



How Fashion Brands Are Making Virtual Reality Sexy

The next time you’re watching a model do her “little turn on the catwalk,” keep in mind that she is not too sexy for the latest technology—in fact, the fashion industry is embracing tech integration like never more.

In May, IBM partnered with fashion house Marchesa to create a Met Gala dress that reacted in real time to posts about it on Twitter.

But the latest trend? Virtual reality, an industry that has reached $1 billion in 2016. Although the term “virtual reality” is often interchangeable in marketing with 360-degree video, in this case, VR refers to an immersive, though not interactive, visual experience that can be enjoyed through a VR headset. (VR implies the ability to manipulate the environment in ways other than a camera angle.)

New York Fashion Week is upon us, and British makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury released her fragrance Scent of a Dream on Saturday with a virtual reality/360-degree experience starring Kate Moss. Samsung Gear VR headsets were set up around the three-story building for celebrities, models and other guests to view the dream-like experience.

In an interview, Tilbury said she “built the scent with all these feelings of joy, love, light, positivity and power to the wearer.” She said the scent and the VR film—which was a first for both her and Moss—are meant to give the viewer a sense of traveling through time.

Designer Rebecca Minkoff is known for her high-tech approach to the shopping experience, teaming up with eBay to offer “smart dressing rooms” equipped with touch screen mirrors that request clothing to try on and even a beverage to go with it. For the fall fashion show, Minkoff introduced her own version of Google Cardboard—a branded cardboard headset that (together with a mobile phone) provides enhanced content for fans. The $25 headsets provide an intimate, (almost) 360-degree view of Rebecca Minkoff runway shows, from the models to the photographers and members of the audience. The brand’s fall 2015 runway show was filmed in VR, too.


Rebecca Minkoff CEO Uri Minkoff proudly told Racked, “We’re the first fashion brand to democratize access to VR by making it available to our audience at home, or anyone who has a Google Cardboard headset.”

Earlier this year, veteran fashion photograher Ruvan Wijesooriya hosted one of the first fashion shoots in VR, called Unstitched. The short film depicts two models dancing and posing for Wijesooriya while wearing clothes from designers like VFILES and Dries Van Noten.

The concept of immersing viewers into the world of fashion in this way has been explored by the industry for several years now. For London Fashion Week in 2014, Topshop hosted a promotion in which five competition winners sat in the window of Topshop’s flagship Oxford Circus store, where they were granted virtual access to the front row of a 360-degree cat walk experience. The campaign won “Project of the Year” at the BT Retail Week Technology Awards 2014 and Best Hybrid Event/Best Virtual Event at the 2014 Event Tech Awards.

For the moment, fashionistas can immerse themselves into virtual experiences, but are unable to interact with them aside from turning their head. 360-degree experiences are a low-cost way to introduce new technology to the masses and there’s no doubt that the fashion world will adopt more immersive experiences as they become available.

Holographic photoshoot, anyone?

Taco Bell Teams Up With PlayStation For Pop-Up VR Arcade

Taco Bell and PlayStation have a long-standing relationship that has spanned several years—offering gamers a chance to win consoles like the Vita and PlayStation 4 before they hit stores. That partnership continues with a pop-up VR arcade and a chance to win a PlayStation VR set up.

The Taco Bell Arcade installation in New York City is open Thursday and Friday this week only, and features a number of PlayStation VR stations to try the new tech. Playable demos include a street-luge race and an underwater cage where users can face a ferocious shark. “And yes, there will be tacos,” says the official Facebook meet-up page. Visitors to the arcade can receive free samples of crunchy tacos, Doritos Locos Tacos and cheddar habanero quesaritos.


“The future of gaming is here in VR, and we want to give people a chance to experience virtual reality in a way that they haven’t before,” said Matt Prince, PR and brand engagement manager at Taco Bell. “It’s just a really fun space.” The activation also features brightly-colored taco art that’s perfect for sharing on social media and a GIF-making station where visitors can create their own shareable, taco-themed GIFs.

For those who can’t jet set to New York, hungry fans can still enter to win a Sony PlayStation VR set before they’re available in stores. Going on now through October 19, customers who purchase a Taco Bell Big Box will receive a code to text for a chance to win. The prize pack includes one PlayStation VR headset, two PlayStation Move motion controllers, a PlayStation Camera and a $40 PlayStation Store credit. Winners will begin receiving their prize packs in early October.

“We’re pleased to be partnering with Taco Bell once again,” said PlayStation on its official blog, “And can’t wait for all of you to experience PlayStation VR!”