How Honda Drives Their Message On Social Media

Honda used two of the biggest entertainment events of the year this month to showcase their new marketing campaigns.

They selected the Super Bowl to continue their years-long message for “Power of Dreams” with the TV ad “Yearbooks,” a celebrity-driven spot featuring the likes of Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Missy Elliot, Stan Lee, Jimmy Kimmel and Magic Johnson, among others, to encourage people to chase their dreams as they talked through their static high school portraits.

The underlying idea behind it, which was complemented with the social campaign #PowerofDreams, was that Honda was making a 20-year dream come true with the CR-V.

“This year marked the CR-V’s third appearance in the Super Bowl, and each time the SUV has appeared has been tied to an important milestone, with this year marking the CR-V’s twentieth birthday,” Susie Rossick, Honda’s assistant vice president of marketing, told [a]listdaily. “The Super Bowl provided the largest audience on TV, making it the right platform for introducing the right vehicle—and this year’s campaign was created to entertain fans through the participation of some of the biggest stars from film, television, sports and even comic books while introducing America to the fifth generation CR-V. ‘Yearbooks’ conveys how the CR-V was once the new kid on the block before becoming America’s best-selling SUV—and how all of the stars featured in ‘Yearbooks’ began with a dream and the determination to achieve it.

The “Power of Dreams” messaging carried into the Academy Awards on Sunday in some markets, and it was complemented by their multi-channel marketing campaign, “Always Thinking About Tomorrow,” which focused on taking fuel cell technology mainstream by educating consumers about their new fuel cell car. The campaign was inspired by Honda’s global environmental slogan “Blue Skies for Our Children.”

“The new marketing campaign for the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is the next step in our effort to advance fuel cell vehicles to the mainstream market,” said Steve Center, vice president of the environmental business development office at Honda. “This fully integrated marketing campaign also demonstrates our commitment to growing electrified vehicles into a volume pillar for the Honda brand.”

Alicia Jones, Honda’s head of social media, joined [a]listdaily to share their second-screen strategy and how they are leveraging their channels to connect with consumers.

Which social channels are you most interested in engaging with your audience?

We go where our audiences are—wherever that may be. We have an engaged audience of millions of people across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, YouTube and more, and we interact with people in different ways on different platforms. Facebook delivers massive scale, rich targeting capabilities and unique creative formats. Instagram, now plugged into the dominant Facebook ad engine, gives us an opportunity to tell a rich, visual story. Snapchat allows us to drive strong national reach while making our audience active participants in our story through Filters and Lenses. YouTube is a powerful vehicle for driving reach and awareness, and functions as a library of video content that has a much longer shelf life than on other channels. Beyond its ability to scale video content through pre-roll, YouTube is also a massive search engine, and we can capitalize on that long-tail search interest by creating and optimizing niche content that solves problems, answers questions, and gives guidance.

What is the toughest task to marketing cars to millennials?

Millennials are often overgeneralized as an entirely uniform group of people, but there’s an incredible amount of nuance within that demographic. They care about experiences more than possessions, so we need to show how we empower and inspire those experiences. Data shows that millennials are also deeply mistrusting of the normal car-buying process, so our marketing needs to not just appeal to their emotional and rational needs, but needs to provide them with tools that give them the information they need on their terms, in the channels they’re comfortable with. 

How are you using social data to better connect with consumers?

Data is at the core of everything we do in social. We are rigorous in our collection, analysis and application of the insights we pull from literally millions of data points surrounding our social activity. We use data to inform who we’re talking to, which topics we discuss, which platforms we distribute our message, and what format we produce content in. We use data not just to eliminate waste in our marketing—making sure we are connecting with the people most interested and receptive to our messaging—but also to reduce friction in establishing those connections, and uncover hidden opportunities to reach our audience based on their passions. Every campaign is designed around a specific strategic hypothesis—establishing both a reason for being, and a desired outcome. We collect data on the performance of content and media to validate or disprove our hypothesis, and feed that into subsequent content development and media planning.

Has Honda done any influencer marketing in the past to promote marketing and social endeavors? What were the goals? Was it successful?

Honda has been actively involved in influencer marketing in a number of forms over the past several years. We see influencers as a unique tool for connecting with our audiences by having credible, authentically aligned voices tell the brand story in new ways. Utilized properly, influencers can be sources of unique content creation, and efficient organic reach. We’ve utilized influencers for model launches, tapping into people who represent our target audiences, or have audiences composed of people we want to reach. We’ve also used influencers to create content unique to their area of expertise or position in culture—travel, music, comedy, technology—that aligns with the core use cases for our products, or with the passion points of our target audiences. But there’s no question influencers can be misused, too. Simply paying the largest or fastest growing social celebrity to push product for your brand that they don’t have a meaningful alignment with, or tangible connection to, is a waste of money. Beyond the potential cost inefficiencies and supersaturation of branding in the influencer’s content mix, people see through the lack of authenticity, and reject the messaging. Above all else, when partnering with influencers, we look for the proper mix of scale against our target audience, alignment with our core messaging, authenticity of involvement and engagement among their fan base.

What is on top of your marketing “hot list” this year? What emerging trends are you zeroing on in order to explore and innovate the Honda brand?

We’re excited about the potential of immersive content formats like AR, VR and 360-degree video. With the development of smartphone technologies to power the format, and the massive cost reduction in content creation tools, immersive formats present a rich canvas for marketers to tell more compelling, engaging and ‘sticky’ stories to their audiences. As always, we’re excited about the potential for applied data. More data is being generated now than ever before across all channels—and we want to make the capture, analysis and application of that data systemic. The more data we have, and the more effectively we use that data, the better experiences we can provide for our customers. We’re also excited about the power of what we’re calling ‘conversational interfaces.’ Voice interaction has exploded in popularity with Alexa, Siri, Cortana and others taking more prominence in people’s daily lives than ever before. Chat bots fall into this category as well. Whether they’re on Facebook Messenger, Twitter or on our website, the transformative impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning has breathed new life into the potential for brands to add value to people’s lives. As always, we have to think about how to make those experiences not just entertaining, but useful, or they’ll risk becoming novelties.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

Nintendo Isn’t Playing Around With Its Switch Marketing

The Nintendo Switch debuts on March 3, and retailers are struggling to meet demands. This is a great sign for Nintendo’s risky new hybrid platform, but that doesn’t mean they should uncork the champagne just yet. While Nintendo ramps up production to meet demand, the company has created a steady stream of hype ever since the big Switch reveal in October.

The Nintendo Switch may be all about having fun, but the company is taking its marketing very serious. From talk shows to pop-up demos across the US, let’s take a look behind the big marketing push to launch day.

Something To Talk About

Much like its sensational Wii predecessor, the Nintendo Switch aims to change the way consumers—and developers—look at gaming. “Nintendo Switch has inherited all of Nintendo’s entertainment DNA and we have packed each and every one of these features into the system,” said Shinya Takahashi, director and managing executive officer for Nintendo’s entertainment, branding and development division. “Nintendo is constantly pursuing new forms of entertainment to bring more fun and more smiles to the world.”

Whether gamers are skeptical of the Switch or can’t wait to buy one, the very idea of Nintendo’s latest offering invites passionate conversation across the board. Handheld devices and home consoles have always been two separate categories until now, but Nintendo dares to bring them together into one unit. The initial reveal posed more questions than answers from battery life to launch day titles.


Slow And Steady

When it comes to the console’s success, this Japanese gaming giant is playing the long game. Rather than attempting to cash in holiday shopping frenzies, Nintendo is instead focusing on building a solid fan base and developer community that will last.

“The Q1 launch is one of the smartest moves Nintendo could have done,” Eric Bright, senior director of merchandising at GameStop, told [a]listdaily. “Instead of pushing units out during the heaviest time of the year (in Q4), this allows them to build a base. So by holiday, we can focus on games. There will be millions of people who will be hungry for content, creating a richer development cycle for game publishers who will have an install base to support titles. This also will take some of the brunt off of Christmas and enable Switch to be better stocked at stores.”

Much like virtual reality, creating an ecosystem for the platform is pivotal to its longevity. Over 40 developers have partnered with Nintendo for the Switch including EA, Bethesda, Telltale Games, Sega and Capcom. In addition to well-known companies that gamers know and trust, Nintendo is welcoming indie developers to the fold and highlighting them through its “Nindie” line-up with a livestream on February 28.

Just because the Switch wasn’t available for Christmas didn’t mean Nintendo wanted consumers to stop talking about them. Nintendo America president Reggie Fils-Aimé brought the console to the Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, where millions of viewers got to watch Fallon “nerd out” live on the air.

Gaming On The Go

In a digital age where peer opinions weigh heavily on purchase decisions, Nintendo’s Switch activations have become proving grounds not only in physical form, but in spirit. The concept that gamers can take their favorite titles from the living room to . . . well, anywhere, is played out quite literally as pop-up locations appear around the country.

In addition to playable demos at PAX South as well as upcoming PAX events and SXSW, Nintendo is inviting people to try before they buy at “Switch and Play” events. The tour kicked off in January in New York and has been making its way around North America via Toronto, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The “Unexpected Places” campaign has taken the Switch to pop-up locations in the desert of California, the snowy peaks of Colorado, and on March 3, New York.

Pro wrestling star John Cena even got in on the fun, partnering with Nintendo for the invite-only California event on February 22. Cena played 1-2 Switch with invited fans and YouTube influencers, demonstrating the new Joy-Con controllers and other game modes.

“I know for fans of Nintendo, they’re going to go crazy,” Cena told Sports Illustrated. “Everyone is speculating about how good [The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild] actually is—it’s going to exceed expectations and, for a dude like me, a 40-year-old [in April] who hasn’t played Zelda since the gold cartridge, I sat down and was hooked. In a matter of 30 minutes, I didn’t want to put it down.”

Ready . . . Set . . . SWITCH

Nintendo’s big marketing push has included a livestreamed Switch event in which vital details were shared, a Super Bowl LI ad, unboxing videos and even tips for set-up. The console’s pre-orders may have a much higher attach rate than the Wii U, but a lack of launch-day titles or bundles may result in a rocky start.

“The news that the Nintendo Switch will launch without any bundled games or even demos is likely to have a negative effect on initial sales,” SuperData CEO Joost van Druenen told [a]listdaily. “For the current console generation (PlayStation 4, Xbox One), bundling has been an important driver of consumer adoption and a key strategy in the face of weakening title sales at retail.”

“Every time we launch a new platform, every time we launch a critical new game, we always learn,” Reggie Fils-Aimé told [a]listdaily prior to the Switch reveal last year. “We always do our breakdown of what worked, what didn’t, and certainly we’ve done that with Wii U, and we continue to believe that the innovation of the second screen was a worthwhile concept.”

Regardless of the outcome, you have to hand it to the company for taking risks and daring to innovate in the creative space. Fils-Aimé said it best when he told us, “Nintendo has a quite appropriate reputation of doing its own thing.”

Photo of Nintendo Switch alistdaily

How ESL Is Bringing Non-Endemic Sponsors Into IEM

Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) has grown in physical attendance and online viewership consistently over the past 11 seasons, paving the way for ESL and Intel to attract more non-endemic brands to eSports. This year’s event in Katowice, Poland, which is spread over two weekends through March 5, features companies like Gillette, Sprite, GFuel and Credit Agricole.

These IEM world championship events across League of Legends, StarCraft II and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) have broken records each year with over 113,000 visitors to the IEM Expo and over 34 million livestream viewers tuning into the action last year.

Michal Blicharz, managing director of pro gaming at ESL, joined [a]listdaily to explain why non-endemic brands are flocking to competitive gaming and to forecast which verticals will enter the fray next.

IEM Katowice Spodek arena

How is Katowice expanding its footprint for this year’s two eSports events over the two weekends?

We ran out of space to accommodate all of the eSports fans last year, so we have decided to experiment with having the event over two weekends this time. This was the only thing we could do short of building another venue next to the Spodek Arena and the International Congress Center. It has allowed us to extend the tournaments for fans of each respective game without congesting the schedule in the stadium. No one had done anything like this, to my knowledge, so the whole industry will be much wiser after the double event is over. It definitely feels like the right thing to do right now.

Are there any comparisons to traditional sports when it comes to the amount of materials and trucks and cable, etc. that it takes to produce these huge IEM events?

I am not too familiar with traditional sports productions, but if you want some mind-bending numbers and facts, then I will tell you that it will take 1,845 work days’ worth of effort in under two weeks to pull off the event. This is the core event crew only, not including external staff we’ve hired to build the stage, security, catering staff and several other agencies. This is going to be a herculean effort by the company—it’s the largest amount of work ESL’s ever done for one event.

What type of increase is there this year with sponsors for the IEM Expo area, and how has that grown?

We’ve got about 8,000 square meters of space in the expo hall. We’ve been fortunate to have sold out the space every time. But what we’re noticing is that the non-endemic brands are really pushing to be in the eSports space. Next to the usual suspects from the technology space, we’re working with companies like Gillette, Sprite, GFuel and Credit Agricole. We’ve had dozens of conversations with insurance companies, car brands and various other lifestyle brands. We want to open the event even more to lifestyle brands in the future, since there’s clearly demand on their end.

What opportunities does the IEM Fan Expo open up for sponsors and brands?

We’ve learned from Intel that it’s not enough to just show the logo behind players on stream for a brand to reach the audience in a meaningful way. It needs to be the whole experience, from visibility and brand integration in the tournaments to providing the audience meaningful activities whenever their favorite players happen to not be playing. It’s a great place to showcase your product and get it in front of the most savvy and the most demanding consumer out there, and to build a long-term relationship with him or her.

IEM Katowice 2017

What do you see VR opening up for sponsors and brands this year? And beyond? is going to be offering our content in a VR broadcast. It’s something we’ve already done with them at a couple of events. We will also have a full VR technology and games day at the auditorium inside the International Congress Center where the audience will be able to compete, see influencers play the best VR titles and find out more about the technology. I’m excited to see how it turns out.

How have you seen interest by non-endemics in eSports impact IEM this year?

We have got a brand new deal with Gillette, and it is their first ever engagement into eSports of this magnitude. There are more and more interesting opportunities that we’re exploring. I think car companies will be next on the list.

What role do the companies like Intel that have been around from the early days play in eSports today and moving forward?

Intel has been eSports’ first major supporter and has pushed the industry for many years before games like League of Legends exploded and changed the landscape forever. They’ve invested tens of millions of dollars into competitive gaming, and there’s every indication that they are not going to stop. It makes sense—their chips are at the core of what we do both on the gaming side and on the broadcast and content production side as well. They are to us what Spaulding is to the NBA. It’s hard to imagine eSports without them.

Inside Time Inc.’s Content Strategy For Snapchat Discover

Media partners continue to flock to Snapchat—and Time Inc. sent two of its editorial entities in Entertainment Weekly and Essence to the platform earlier this month to join sister brand People in delivering unique content as publishers for Snapchat Discover.

EW and Essence will enter the fray as weekly publishers to complement People’s daily edition, which was an original partner of Snapchat when Discover launched two years ago. Essence’s weekly edition will address topics spanning entertainment and lifestyle to politics from the perspective of African-American women. Pop culture portal Entertainment Weekly will provide exclusive access, intel and insight on TV, movies and music, highlighted by the weekly features “Must List” and “Bullseye.”

The deal allows for Time Inc. to continue attracting advertisers and marketers looking to magnetize millennials, which was highlighted by their Academy Awards coverage Sunday. During a conference call with analysts to discuss Q4 results, Time Inc. CEO and president Richard L. Battista revealed that digital advertising revenue increased 15 percent year-over-year during the quarter, and native advertising revenue doubled in 2016, courting more than 400 sponsors across 600 programs.

Snap Inc., which according to documents filed with the SEC has its sights set on a $22 billion valuation in IPO, is rallying a variety of players with publishing prowess in recent weeks to solidify its seat at the social table.

The platform also partnered with The New York Times and Discovery Communications earlier this month. The exclusive content moves they’ve brokered carry into the recent wave of momentum with such brands like Disney and NBCUniversal, who also procured deals to produce Snapchat-specific content. Snap Inc. paid content partners $57.8 million under ad-revenue sharing agreements.

“Our goal is to entertain and inform Snapchatters on a wide range of topics that speak to the diversity and many interests of our community,” said Nick Bell, vice president of content for Snap Inc. “Essence has served as a quintessential guide to what matters to African-American women for decades. Entertainment Weekly provides unparalleled insider access to take our audience deeper into the stories behind their favorite shows and movies. Their strong editorial perspectives will be incredible additions to our Discover lineup.”

Snap’s other editorial partners that publish editions on Discover in the US include: The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Mail, Vogue, Cosmo, Bleacher Report, Buzzfeed CNN, Comedy Central, Mashable, MTV, Complex, Food Network, Mitu, Now This News, Brother, Refinery29, Tastemade and Sweet.

Zoe Ruderman, executive director of content strategy at Time Inc., joined [a]listdaily to detail how they will be approaching editorial on the emerging platform.

Zoe Ruderman, executive director of content strategy at Time Inc.
Zoe Ruderman, executive director of content strategy at Time Inc.

Why is it critical for publishers to be on Snapchat and pursue storytelling on new platforms for new audiences?

Our goal is to be wherever our readers, users and viewers are. It’s no longer about making the user come to you, but rather going to where they are and delivering the kind of content experience they’re looking for on that platform. The audience is enormous—and growing—on Snapchat, and it’s an audience that doesn’t overlap a whole lot with the users we have on other platforms, on our sites, or in print. Plus, because of the nature of Snapchat Discover, we have a lot of fun with how we tell the stories: using animation, video, really creative design formats and interactivity. People has been on Snapchat Discover from the inception, and we’ve had huge success in growing our social footprint and gaining new fans. We’re excited to replicate all of those successes with Entertainment Weekly and Essence.

Will you be shifting your content strategy away from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to Snapchat for EW and Essence by tailoring more content toward that specific platform?

Not at all. We’re leaning heavily into Snapchat, but that doesn’t mean we’re easing up our efforts and growth on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. In fact, we recently launched a Facebook Messenger bot at People and broke Instagram video records at InStyle, so we’re continuing to go hard on all platforms. We’ve also staffed up with writers, editors and designers to accommodate the new content we’re pushing out across our social channels.

What’s the best way you’ve learned to create content for Snapchat? As a distribution vehicle for existing content? Or creating original content?

Definitely original content. The consumption and the user are so different from that of the site or magazine that it doesn’t work to just take content from other places and retrofit it for Snapchat. We have a dedicated team of writers and editors, and they’re crafting stories and experiences on Discover that are distinct and unique from what you’ll see on our owned and operated sites. Often, we’re covering the same topics (for example, when Beyoncé revealed she was pregnant, we did numerous stories on the site, in print and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, plus of course Snapchat), but we’re using different graphics, headlines and ways of drawing in the user depending on the platform.

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 12.41.50 PM

How else are you engaging mobile customers outside of your dedicated website? Are you testing any other new platforms?

We know that the majority of our users are consuming content on their phones. So, every single part of every one of our sites is mobile optimized, and when we’re creating content, we’re doing so with mobile in mind. Especially when we’re launching new tools, programs or campaigns, we’re thinking mobile-first. For example, this red carpet season, we kicked off a program that takes users inside the awards shows in a minute-by-minute way, curates social content the night of the shows and essentially throws the ultimate virtual viewing party. It looks even better on mobile than desktop—it’s slick and beautiful on a phone.

What have you learned from the platform’s audience? What does it offer that other social channels don’t?

We’ve got it down to a science. With the People editions, we’ll literally print out top snaps from the past few months, tape them all to a wall of a huge conference room, write out the swipe-up rate, the completion rate and the time spent then spend a couple hours analyzing the numbers and talking with a team about what we can glean from the data. That, combined with our editorial instincts, has made us even better at getting people to engage with our content. We’ve learned so much about the stars they care about, the words that catch their attention, even things like the ideal length of time for a top snap. And our data deep dives have confirmed what we all already assumed to be true: Snapchatters can’t get enough of the Karjenners.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

How The NBA And 2K Sports Will Play Ball With ESports Partnership

The NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software will launch the NBA 2K eLeague in 2018, a new professional competitive gaming league that will unite the best basketball gamers in the world. Although several NBA teams, including the Sixers and Heat, have purchased eSports teams, this marks the first official eSports league operated by a US professional sports league.

2K and the NBA will run the new league, which will consist of teams operated by actual NBA franchises. The founding teams will be composed of five professional eSports players who will play the game as user-created avatars. The NBA 2K eLeague will follow a professional sports league format: competing head-to-head throughout a regular season, participating in a bracketed playoff system, and concluding with a championship matchup.

Jason Argent, senior vice president of basketball operations at 2K, told [a]listdaily that this new league was born out of the company’s first two eSports events. They hosted the NBA Road to the Finals tournament last year with winners competing in Los Angeles and attending an NBA Finals game.

And this year, 2K crowned the winners of its NBA 2K17 All-Star Tournament during NBA All-Star in New Orleans. Competitive team Still Trill competed alongside hundreds of thousands of teams for the title, winning the $250,000 grand prize and tickets to the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. Nearly two million fans tuned into the livestreamed championship event via multiple digital channels, including one million on Twitter.

NBA 2K17 New Orleans

After the check presentation, the winning team of five competed against NBA stars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, C.J. McCollum and Aaron Gordon in a friendly exhibition. Still Trill extended its winning streak, defeating the team of NBA players, 95-52.

“Last year in Los Angeles was our first event, and on most levels, it was a success, but there was a ton of stuff we learned from a structural, design and event standpoint for eSports and competitive gaming,” Argent said. “We walked away from that with big positives on how we recruited players and how many people were involved in the tournament. We deemed it a success and took those learnings and brought them to New Orleans. And our numbers will prove that out. My belief is with these events we laid groundwork with the NBA for the NBA 2K eLeague.

Argent said from a bigger-picture-brand-and-development standpoint, there’s a strong internal challenge to evolve the NBA 2K video game franchise, and not rest and ship the same game.

“ESports is the same in how to build out this league, and take it to the next level,” Argent said. “The NBA players and athletes we work with have embraced the game, as well as the competitive game aspect of it. The NBA players love playing at that level and these tournaments were well received by them.”

Multiple NBA teams, including the Sixers and Heat, as well as current (Jonas Jerebko) and former (Rick Fox, Shaq) NBA greats have already invested in traditional eSports teams competing in games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2. Now the rest of the NBA has been invited into the virtual arena.

“All 30 teams have been presented this opportunity and there’s a variety of interest in some capacity,” Argent said. “Some teams want to get in immediately and there are others that may need time. We’ve scaled and structured this league enough so we could support a great number of teams, and we guess about half will be involved.”

Argent believes the NBA 2K eLeague leverages the best of everything that 2K and the NBA do well.

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, right, joins NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to announce their joint partnership.
Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, right, joins NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to announce their joint partnership.

“We know the development of the video game franchise and how to lay the groundwork and structure to launch an eSport, while the NBA knows how to run a league,” Argent said. “They have independent local teams and fan bases to reach and they know how to bring people into the arenas. We look at this as a marriage made in heaven.”

Sacramento Kings co-owner Andy Miller said Golden 1 Center was built for eSports. And the NBA has many state-of-the-art arenas, including Staples Center, home to two League of Legends championship games.

“NBA arenas are a great opportunity for us, the NBA, and the teams,” Argent said. “This thing could go in many ways, but the vision is to have our eSports teams play consistent with the real teams. As an example, perhaps the team has an eSports event that happens three hours prior to an NBA team event. This could drive an early, and potentially new and broader audience, into arenas, spending more time on merchandising and food and beverage—extending the time engaged with the team and the brand.”

Argent said 2K is trying to learn as much as it can from the traditional eSports world.

“We have no egos here,” Argent said. “We’re trying to learn as much as we can from that. But part of the success we’ve had with the NBA is carving our own path. We’re trying to do what’s inherent and endemic to what our brand does. This marriage between an international sports league and video game company has never been done before.”

Both the NBA and 2K cater to an international audience—although the target audience for a game like NBA 2K is likely more broad than titles from the traditional eSports landscape.

“There’s a language people see with eSports, which is an enormous business—but not what I’d call mainstream,” Argent said. “There’s a huge opportunity to connect with fans of the NBA—like my dad and my wife—to understand what eSports looks like in the context of something they follow. And that will follow with sponsors as well. Our numbers will prove the value to our partners. We’ll potentially get non-endemic sponsors now to see this NBA 2K eLeague as palatable to reach consumers.”


Argent said beyond the national and international brand and sponsorship opportunities, individual NBA teams could benefit from the new league.

“One of the biggest opportunities is for individual teams to work with great local partners to connect with these new eSports teams,” Argent said.

Just as eSports has emerged as the first truly digital-native sport, the NBA has been at the forefront of connecting with its digitally savvy audience across all emerging platforms.

“I look at eSports as consistent with all other sports in that TV has a role in sports,” Argent said. “We’ve seen the role of TV change over the years, with how much viewership happens online, and on social platforms like Twitter.”

Argent said Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick made a point that everyone played basketball, and then at some point, people started watching NBA players play the sport, too.

“People aren’t used to watching people play video games on TV, but there’s an appetite for that,” Argent said.

January Digital Game Sales Yield Surprise Success For These Titles

Holiday purchasing power extended to January, helping the global games software market’s total digital revenue to reach $7.47 billion. This was a healthy 9.8 percent year-over-year increase, according to SuperData’s latest monthly report. 

The transition from physical copies to digital downloads shows no signs of a slowdown, SuperData reported, particularly in the US where the segment rose 43 percent. Digital console and premium PC led this movement in January with 32 percent and 34 percent year-over-year rises respectively.

January was another strong month for Grand Theft Auto V, which despite being over three years old, held the No. 2 console sales spot and even outperformed itself over the same period last year. GTA Online grew year-over-year as well, continuing the trend of a seemingly unstoppable game.

Studio Wildcard’s prehistoric adventure game Ark: Survival Evolved launched on PlayStation 4 in December and continued to rise in popularity throughout January. The game has built a loyal streaming-and-modding community online, which helped lift the title to the No. 4 slot—ahead of titles like Battlefield 1 and Destiny.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare continues to lose steam, however, slipping down from No. 1 in December to No. 3 in January. Activision’s latest shooter is down 41 percent from Black Ops 3 in the prior year. “This was partially offset by another month of solid average selling price growth thanks to continued sales of the Modern Warfare bundle,” SuperData noted in the report.

January brought a surprise contender to the table with Zynga Poker. The Facebook and mobile game had its strongest month in years, with $13 million in revenue—up 94 percent from the same month last year. Zynga Poker saw a conversion rate of 4.9 percent, the highest reported monthly rate since launch and fueled by online tournaments, January marks the fourth consecutive month with revenue growth.

FIFA 17 rose to the No. 1 console spot, knocking Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare down to No. 3. Battlefield 1 lost steam after the holidays, dropping four spots to No. 6 in January sales. Clash Royale is holding firm as the top mobile game, and Pokémon GO held its position as No. 4.

On PC, the top three titles are virtually unchanged from December, held by League of Legends, Crossfire and Dungeon Fighter OnlineOverwatch rose one spot to No. 4, knocking World of Warcraft down one spot.

Pokémon Day Catches All The Fun Across Games And TV

It’s Pokémon Day, and both Nintendo and The Pokémon Company International have a lot to celebrate.

On February 27, 1996 the first Pokémon games launched in Japan—21 years later the franchise is still a source of entertainment and camaraderie for fans both young and old alike. This year’s anniversary celebrations extend across the Pokémon universe from games to TV and of course, plenty of nostalgia to go around.

Using the hashtag #PokemonDayfans are invited to share their favorite moments with the franchise to be included in a photo gallery on An all-day Twitch stream will replay memorable matches from the Pokémon trading card game, video games, and Pokkén Tournament from the past several years. The promotions continue on the official web store with the debut of a new Gallery Figures collection designed especially for the Pokémon Center.

For those playing the games, there are several promotions to keep trainers on their toes. Wild Pikachu characters in Pokémon GO will be wearing a party hat from February 26 to March 6 and any Pikachu caught during that time will get to keep its festive look.

Happy Pokémon Day 2017!


Those playing Pokémon Sun and Moon can visit a participating GameStop location through March 5 to receive a free Bottle Cap—unlocking an in-game strength boost for a single Pokémon. Also on Nintendo 3DS, the puzzle game Pokémon Shuffle is offering special promotions as part of the celebrations.

Of course, it’s hard to imagine the “pocket monster” phenomenon without the trading-card game. The Pokémon Trading Card Game Online started its festivities early with extra Trainer Tokens available on the Bonus Wheel for the entire week leading up to Pokémon Day. Players logging onto the site on Pokémon Day will also receive an “extra-special” daily bonus.

For a limited time starting Monday, Pokémon TV will be hosting a marathon featuring full-length animated movies and TV shows online and through the official Pokémon TV app.

It’s no secret that last summer, the whole world caught the “training” bug and Pokémon GO became the most successful mobile launch in history. Not only did Pokémon GO capture the imaginations of consumers everywhere, but of other developers and brands, too—demonstrating the profound possibilities for augmented reality. That hype fueled tremendous success for Pokémon Sun and Moon, resulting in launch day sales exceeding 10 million units. This was a 150 percent increase from the last Pokémon games (Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire in 2014), making them the best-selling titles in Nintendo 3DS history.

Nintendo 2DS and 3DS consoles saw a boost in sales as fans dove into the Pokémon games for the first time, or relived some of their favorite titles. Nintendo even launched a limited-edition Pikachu Yellow Edition New Nintendo 3DS XL to further entice fans to the platform.

Happy Birthday, Pikachu! You’re now old enough to drink!

Twitch Announces Direct Game Purchasing During Livestreams

Today, Twitch announced that it is enabling the sale of games and add-on content directly on the livestreaming platform this spring by using a “Buy Now” button, which appears during broadcast for a related game. The purchasing system, which was first introduced with the game Streamline in November, has been greatly expanded to include both indie developers and AAA game publishers, including Ubisoft, Telltale Games, Digital Extremes, Hi-Rez Studios, tinyBuild, Paradox Interactive, Trion Worlds, Vlambeer, and more.

“For years we have appreciated how supportive Twitch streamers and viewers have been of our games,” said Chris Early, VP of digital publishing at Ubisoft, in a press release. “This made it an easy decision to work with Twitch to better serve our passionate community with benefits for everyone.”

Not only can viewers buy games while watching a livestream—an ideal point of engagement—but streamers can earn money from purchases. As stated in the press release: “Developers will earn 70 percent of the revenue and partnered Twitch streamers will earn five percent for sales originating from their channel pages.” As additional incentive, Twitch is rewarding buyers by offering them a free Twitch Crate, which contain randomized item drops that enhance the viewing experience, such as exclusive emotes, chat badges and Bits for Cheering.

Mock Up Image of how it will look

“We are allowing the sale of games and in-game content on Twitch for two reasons,” Robin Fontaine, product marketing manager of e-commerce for Twitch told [a]listdaily, “to help support our partnered streamers who will receive a revenue share from sales on their channel pages, and to help game creators be more successful on our platform.”

In explaining the purchasing process, and whether it competes with digital storefronts such as Steam, Origin and Uplay, Fontaine said that “the purchase experience happens on Twitch right on the channel page. Content is purchased from Twitch, not a third-party store. When a game or piece of content is redeemed through an existing service like Uplay it is done by linking the buyer’s Twitch account to his/her Uplay account.”

Furthermore, viewers that already own the games can still purchase digital content through Twitch. “If the developer has an ID system that integrates with Twitch, users can buy items on Twitch to enjoy in their existing game installation, wherever that might be,” said Fontaine. “We fulfill to any developer ID system and are agnostic beyond that.”

Fontaine explained that the system won’t yet support pre-release purchases during beta event livestreams, but the Buy Now button will automatically appear for streams of related games. “An offer to buy a game or in-game content will appear automatically on all streamer channel pages when a game is being played that is offered for sale by Twitch,” she said. “Only partnered streamers will be eligible to earn revenue through this program.”

We asked Fontaine if it was difficult to convince publishers and developers to get on board with the program. “Publishers already know how important it is to invest in communities on Twitch and completely understand the value of rewarding streamers who help gamers find their content,” she said. “And since the revenue share to streamers does not come out of the publisher’s revenue, it was a no brainer.”

As for free-to-play games, Fontaine said that “if a free-to-play game has been integrated with Twitch Games Commerce, in-game items can be purchased through Twitch. Gamers will link their Twitch account to their game identity accounts and items purchased on Twitch will show up automatically in the game.”

Best Of Movie Marketing From This Year’s Academy Award Nominees

The 89th annual Academy Awards are right around the corner—fans are excited, filmmakers and movie stars are dreaming of Oscar and advertisers are planning a big push for Sunday’s showcase.

ABC has already sold out of commercial slots for the ceremony, charging an estimated $2 million each for a 30-second spot, making it the network’s single-highest day of ad revenue all year. Between those commercials, however, all eyes will be on this year’s nominees. Thanks to year-round marketing from posters to interview tours, these films have become household names.

Beyond the tours and trailers, we’re taking a look at some of the best out-of-the-box campaigns from this year’s Academy Awards candidates.

La La Land

Evoking the spirit of 1950s musical films and images of classic Hollywood, Lionsgate has been sweeping the awards leading up to the night—reinforcing its message that with big dreams and a lot of hard work, sometimes Hollywood hopefuls really make it. The film’s saturated, dream-like colors and flashy musical numbers hark back to a time when Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers ruled the big screen. Before the world fell in love with La La Land, marketing was based on that nostalgic look and feel, which certainly piqued audience interest. Since then, the studio has shared behind-the-scenes looks and even introduced an iOS stickers app to help spread a little LA sun to friends and family.

La La Land has been nominated for 14 Academy Awards—tied for the most all-time with Titanic and All About Eve.


When aliens show up in a movie, it’s usually not good news, but what if they were just sitting there and willing to talk? In Arrival, Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a linguist who must communicate with aliens in order to understand their purpose and prevent global war. Roadshow explored the concept of language barriers with a short film to illustrate how listening and communication can bring people together. One of the film’s movie posters brought two cities together, but in an accidental and unwelcome way—by accidentally adding a Shanghai tower to the Hong Kong skyline. The ensuing complaints among current political conflicts in the region resulted in a swift correction and apology by the studio.

Arrival received an impressive eight Academy Award nominations.

Hacksaw Ridge

Lionsgate teamed up with Heroes and Generals game developer Reto-Moto to promote Hacksaw Ridge, the story of a conscientious objector during WWII that showed tremendous courage in the line of battle to save lives rather than take them.

Customers in the US can order an exclusive Heroes and Generals bundle on Steam featuring a digital copy of Hacksaw Ridge, as well as the “Heroes & Generals Medic Pack,” which contains a 14-day Veteran Membership giving players several in-game perks, a Medkit for one soldier that allows players to heal themselves and friends in battle, and a 5x Medic Ribbon Booster for use in game.

Hacksaw Ridge has been nominated for six Academy Awards.

hacksaw ridge

According To YouTube Trailer Views, The “Best Picture” Goes To . . .

YouTube released the most-watched movie trailers for the nine “Best Picture” nominees, giving an indication of which films are bringing the hype.

  1. La La Land: 22.2 million views
  2. Arrival: 16.99 million views
  3. Hacksaw Ridge: 14 million views
  4. Lion: 6.9 million views
  5. Fences: 6 million views
  6. Hidden Figures: 5.9 million views
  7. Manchester By The Sea: 5.76 million views
  8. Moonlight: 4.77 million views
  9. Hell or High Water: 4 million views

Tommy Gargotta Joins Fox; BAMTech Appoints New CEO

From media networks to mobile gaming, here are the week’s biggest job moves.

Tommy Gargotta, a film marketing veteran who most recently worked as head of marketing for the Relativity EuropaCorp Distribution venture, has joined the Fox broadcast network in a senior marketing position. In this newly created position, Gargotta will oversee the on-air promotion and design departments for Fox, which will extend to print, digital and outdoor venues.

The Lakers are in full brand and franchise rebuild mode, and it has named the legendary Hall of Famer, Earvin “Magic” Johnson as president of basketball operations. He replaces, Jim Buss, who will no longer serve as executive VP of basketball operations and is tasked with overhauling the team’s front office.

AwesomenessTV’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Robbins, announced in a memo issued this week that he will be resigning. The memo also stated that Brett Bouttier, who is currently serving as the company’s president, will be taking over the role.

Brad Grey, who has overseen Paramount Pictures for over a decade, announced earlier this week that he was leaving the company. His departure comes amid shake-ups at its parent company, Viacom, which officially made Bob Bakish as its CEO last December. A search for Grey’s replacement is currently underway.

Keith Cox has been named as president of development and production at the Paramount Network, a relaunched version of Viacom’s Spike TV. Cox will be responsible for programming at the rebranding network and its sister channel, TV Land. Meanwhile, Sharon Levy, executive vice president of original series for Spike TV, is departing Viacom. Levy was responsible for developing popular shows that include Lip Sync Battle, Ink Master and Bar Rescue.

The Weather Company has hired Mark Risis as its new VP of partnerships. In this role, Risis will focus on building new tech and data partnerships across the media and ad tech spaces.

Lauren Burack was promoted to the role of SVP of brand and consumer marketing at IFC. Burack will oversee IFC’s consumer-facing marketing campaigns, brand communication, events, promotions and partnerships.

Lara Cohen, head of entertainment and lifestyle partnerships at Twitter, said that she will be leaving the company. Cohen joined Twitter in 2013 and was responsible for working with talent across TV, film, fashion lifestyle and digital domains—creating content that fans could connect with.

The streaming video venture, BAMTech (owned by MLB Advanced Media, Disney, and the NHL), has hired Michael Paull as its new CEO. Paull was most recently Amazon’s VP of digital video and begins his role at BAMTech in March.

Kristina Schake—who is best known for helping former first lady, Michelle Obama, build her brand—is joining Instagram as head of communications. At the same time, the current head, David Swain announced that he is leaving Facebook after almost a decade at the company.

WWE has appointed Sal Siino as its senior vice president of global content distribution and business development. According to a press release, Siino “will be a key member of WWE’s leadership team, responsible for the management of WWE’s worldwide content distribution business across all platforms. Siino will also manage business development initiatives and partnerships, and provide related support to WWE’s business units. “

Cirque Du Soleil named Danny Boockvar as its president of the NFL Experience Times Square, which is expected to launched in November. The attraction will use interactive displays on training regimens, game plans and physical challenges to bring football to life and allow guests to compare themselves with pro players.

IO Interactive, creator of the Hitman series, announced the promotion of Hakan Abrak to studio head. Abrak has been with the company for over a decade, and he replaces Hannes Seifert, who left IO Interactive and its parent company, Square Enix, to pursue a project that is closer to his home in Austria.

Square Enix announced the opening of Studio Istolia, based in Tokyo, to “builds on Square Enix’s vision to create new intellectual properties alongside existing Square Enix studios,” according to a press release. The studio is headed by Hideo Baba, who is famous for Bandai Namco’s Tales franchise.

Coffee Stain Studios, the company most famous for the comedic game, Goat Simulator revealed that it will be getting into the business of indie game publishing. The move comes as a reaction to years of dealing with publishers who were either unable or unwilling to meet the needs of indie developers. The first game to release under the Coffee Stain label will be an ‘80s-style retro shooter called Huntdown, developed by the Swedish studio, Easy Trigger.

Netmarble announced that it completed its acquisition of Kabam, which made Marvel Contest of Champions and is currently developing Transformers: Forged to Fight. Netmarble will operate Kabam as a wholly-owned subsidiary. “The acquisition is a perfect fit,” said Seungwon Lee, chief global officer of Netmarble Games in a statement. “Kabam has a proven track record of developing games based on iconic entertainment brands, powered by state-of-the-art technology and managed by an incredibly talented team. It’s a winning combination, and together we’ll continue Netmarble’s expansion across Western markets.”

In the wake of the Netmarble acquisition, Kabam has spun-off its remaining two studios—comprised of former teams in Los Angeles and San Francisco—into a new company called Aftershock. The new company will be run by much of Kabam’s leadership team, including Kevin Chou as its CEO, Steve Klei as CFO, Kent Wakeford as COO and Aaron Loeb as president of studios and live services.