Rémy Martin Transports Consumers With HoloLens Mixed Reality For Cognac Tastings

While Microsoft was focused on E3 and its Xbox One and Xbox One X consoles, across town in Los Angeles, Rémy Martin debuted a new Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality experience that will travel the world for some alcohol-infused storytelling.

The “Rooted In Exception” experience takes place on a specially designed table that allows guests, wearing one of two HoloLens developer edition goggles, to see how the cognac brand’s blend is crafted. The 90-second, mixed-reality experience transports viewers to their Cognac Grande Champagne and Cognac Petite Champagne vineyards with Baptiste Loiseau, the cellar master of the house of Rémy Martin. Loiseau explains the cognac-making process from start to finish.

Maximilian Doelle, chief holographic officer at Kazendi, the European HoloLens development studio who created the experience, told AListDaily that one of the main advantages for consumer brand experiences with mixed reality is the high memory retention through the combination of 3D visualizations, 3D sound and haptics of the real world. In addition, the user feels much more comfortable being able to see the real world compare to VR and never get a headache from it.

“For brands, this also means that the solution is easily scalable since the only thing you need is a HoloLens, which fits comfortably into a backpack,” Doelle said. “In case a brand wants to update the experience for a local market, that’s not a problem—we can push remotely to the device and assist worldwide. “

Through mixed reality, groups of people, whether colleagues or consumers, can take part in shared holographic experiences and thereby enhance their capacity to communicate and collaborate with one another, Doelle added.

Emma Medina, vice president of marketing at Rémy Martin, told AListDaily the brand had experimented with augmented reality through a lifestyle shoot with Robin Thicke and virtual reality through brand ambassadors in the past because these technologies provide an interesting and interactive way to tell the brand story.

“France is far away and we can transport our clients there,” Medina said. “This technology allows us to take our customers there to understand the heritage and craftsmanship that goes into Cognac.”

HoloLens opened up a new opportunity for the brand to connect with consumers within restaurants, bars and stores around the globe.

“This was interesting because you can experience both the screen aspect of it as well as the physical world,” Medina said. “In VR you’re only in the creative space. With mixed reality you can do both, which allows sales people and brand ambassadors to interact with multiple customers at the same time.”

Medina is currently working her sales teams to identify different stores, on-premise restaurants and lounges to invite clients to experience this mixed reality table. The plan is for this experience to embark on a global tour after this initial launch. The event combines next generation technology with drinking.

“We want to bring this to as many clients as possible around the world,” she said. “While guests are interacting with the mixed reality experience, there’s a full tasting of Rémy Martin XO cognac as well as food pairings that highlight the different tasting notes and opulent aromas that the liquid delivers.”

In addition to the mixed reality technology, the specially designed table, which highlights the landscape of Cognac, France is key to the traveling experience. When customers aren’t wearing one of the HoloLens devices, they can see the regions where the wineries are based.

With Rémy Martin XO cognac retailing for $160, Medina said the clients tend to be affluent entrepreneurs and professionals that live in urban or metro centers throughout the US. They’re also very tech savvy, involved in social media and follow all the latest trends in lifestyle and innovation. Although the brand skews male, there is a very robust female following.

“Unlike whiskey, cognac has a very accessible taste because it’s smooth and rich and complex, which attracts a diverse group of consumers,” Medina said. “We tend to skew to an older, affluent consumer, but our sweet spot is between 30-and-40 years old.”

In the future, Medina sees the next natural step for mixed reality would be to enable guests to use their own smartphones.

“Once we saw the (mixed reality) images come alive and the elements move and spin around, it felt like we were walking into the future,” Medina said. “We’re excited about how far we can take this. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface with this technology. We have a full range of products and we can tell the story of our cellar master and wine growers and how to pair different cognac with food and explore the cocktail culture.”

Consumers Want Brands To Take A Stand, And Other Facts Marketers Must Know

For this week in marketing research and reports, vertical video isn’t quite all the rage, and marketers weigh in on what technology is part of the major game plan.

Believing Or Boycotting: Brands Beware

What makes customers happy? Not a lot of brands, apparently. According to Forrester’s Global Customer Experience Trends report, only 18 percent of US brands were ranked “good” or “excellent,” and a majority of brands (nearly 60 percent) were rated as just “OK.”

One issue millennials have with brands is their failure to listen. A study by the Fashion Institute of Technology found that 47 percent expressed a desire for brands to take ownership of their mistakes and take the consumer’s feedback into account.

A brand’s position on social and political issues is another driver for 57 percent of the world’s consumers, who will either buy or boycott a brand according to Edelman’s 2017 Earned Brand Study. The survey of 14,000 people in 14 countries found that 50 percent of consumers consider themselves to be belief-driven buyers. The top issues brands are expected to speak out about, according to respondents, are immigration, gender equality and environmental regulation. Out of those surveyed, 67 percent said they bought a brand for the first time because they agreed with its position on a controversial topic. Illustrating the polarizing results of a brand taking a stand or not, 65 percent said they will not buy a brand’s products when it stays silent on an issue they consider important.

Beware of taking a social or political stand just for the sake of it, however—23 percent of consumers indicate what they dislike most about brand marketing is false, misleading or phony advertising, according to research from the CMO Council and Dow Jones. The report was based on data from a survey of more than 2,000 consumers in North America and the United Kingdom. “Stupid” TV/video commercials and false promises tied for second on the list of most bothering traits, at 11 percent each.

Vertical And Virtual

In the first quarter of 2017, MediaRadar found that only 112 (out of over 100,000) mainstream websites and mobile sites contained vertical video ads. The report also found that around 70 percent of vertical video ads are 15-second spots.

Dedicated AR and VR headsets collectively are expected to grow strong for five-year CAGR of 57.7 percent, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). The company’s Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker predicts that shipments of AR and VR headsets will grow from just under 10 million units in 2016 to just shy of 100 million units in 2021.

An accessible alternative to VR is 360-degree video, and Google used heat map technology to study immersion within the medium. Google found that viewers spent 75 percent of their time within the front 90 degrees of a video. For many of the most popular VR videos, Google noted, people viewed more of the full 360-degree space with almost 20 percent of views actually being behind them.


Thirty percent of marketers worldwide plan to prioritize AI in the next 12 months, according to a poll by NewBase (formerly Publicitas International). AR is also high on the list at 24 percent, compared to just 18 percent in 2016. The poll asked 1,019 marketers worldwide to pick the top five types of technologies they plan to prioritize over the coming year.

Social Drinkers

In March, 98 percent of beverage conversations on Facebook happened on mobile, the site reported in a press release. More than one in three people use Facebook or Instagram in restaurants and bars, and more than 50 percent of respondents report trying a drink that friends and family posted about on Facebook.

Facebook-owned Instagram Stories has reached 250 million daily active users—surpassing Snapchat’s 166 million—according to Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s global head of sales.

“If you think about it a year ago when we sat together, Instagram Stories didn’t exist,” Everson told CNBC. “Today on the platform, we not only have 250 million people using it, but actually a third (of the most viewed stories) are businesses using Instagram Stories and one million are advertisers.”

Gaming On The Move

Mobile gaming sessions have declined by 10 percent year-over-year but time spent in gaming apps has remained steady over the last year, according to a report by Flurry Analytics. The average US consumer now spends 33 minutes per day in mobile games, and the average session length rose to seven minutes and six seconds in 2017. In other words, while gamers are opening gaming apps less often, they are spending more time playing them during each session.

Mobile continued its strong growth, up year-over-year by 16 percent in May, according to SuperData, with free-to-play and pay-to-play games growing 17 and 12 percent respectively. Fueled by mobile purchases, the worldwide digital video games market grew nine percent year-over-year in May. Gamers spent over $1 billion across all platforms in May, despite a seven percent decline in console and a large 30 percent decline in the premium PC market.

Top-Selling Games For May 2017:


  1. Clash Royale
  2. Clash of Clans
  3. Monster Strike
  4. Mobile Strike
  5. Game of War: Fire Age
  6. Fate/Grand Order
  7. Candy Crush Saga
  8. Lineage 2 Revolution
  9. Fantasy Westward Journey
  10. Honour of Kings

*Mobile is iOS and Android only and does not include China App Stores


  1. League of Legends
  2. Crossfire
  3. Fantasy Westward Journey Online II
  4. Dungeon Fighter Online
  5. DOTA 2
  6. World of Warcraft
  7. World of Tanks
  8. Overwatch
  9. New Westward Journey Online II
  10. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive


  1. FIFA 17
  2. Grand Theft Auto V
  3. Battlefield 1
  4. Injustice 2
  5. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  6. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  7. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  8. Overwatch
  9. NBA 2K17
  10. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege

Diversity Proves To Be A Pressing Topic At Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions is an annual celebration of creativity for marketing mavens. Every year brands, agencies and celebrities compete not only for awards and recognition at the French Riviera-based fest, but to make a change as well. Fun and games aside, the week-long event is also a goldmine for meaningful conversations. This year’s hot-button topic particularly reverberated around diversity.

A digital billboard created by Mother London read, “Stop talking about equality and make it happen.” The billboard was prominently on display above the Grand Hotel and remained there for the entire span of the Cannes Lions festival.

‘The Fearless Girl’

In honor of International Women’s Day, State Street Global Advisors created the now iconic “The Fearless Girl” statue—dropping her in front of the famous “Charging Bull” statue into Bowling Green Park in lower Manhattan. The overnight sensation was installed under the cover of darkness and became an instant conversation piece worldwide, but not without its controversy. “The Fearless Girl” took home three Grand Prix awards on the first day at Cannes, followed by a glass lion, and more.

“The placement of ‘The Fearless Girl’ in the epicenter of the world’s financial capital helps not only promote our commitment to women in leadership today and tomorrow, but it also establishes an interesting emotional and rational aspect to responsible investing,” State Street Global Advisors’ chief marketing officer Stephen Tisdalle told AdFreak.

Diversity Demands Action

According to a survey of 500 members of the Fast Company community, 71 percent of respondents believe their organizations respect diversity of thought, but an overwhelming 85 percent said more needs to be done.

Separate research found that men appear in ads four times more than women and have seven times more speaking roles, according to J. Walter Thompson and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Marketing executives, public figures and people in entertainment were at Cannes Lions trying to make a change.

Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, after launching Unstereotype Alliance to eradicate outdated stereotypes in advertising: “We’ve seen true progress in our industry, but it doesn’t go far enough. Our job isn’t done until we never see an ad that diminishes or limits the role of women and men in society. We want to work with our peers across the industry to develop new ways of working, to share knowledge and approaches, so that we can scale the Unstereotype commitments. We believe cross-sector collaboration will lead to sustained transformation. This is no longer just a social imperative but a business one, progressive ads have been found to be 25 percent more effective and deliver better branded impact.”

Kathleen Hall, corporate vice president of brand, advertising and research at Microsoft: “Advertising is a reflection of culture and sometimes can be ahead of the curve and help effect change.”

Philip Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity: “ . . . The conversations around diversity and representation have moved toward practical and effective solutions to encourage equality in creativity.”

HP’s chief marketing offcier Antonio Lucio says the ad world needs to walk the talk when it comes to diversity, per AdWeek. “If I could point at one thing that is getting in the way of real progress in our industry, it’s the lack of diversity. We’re spending way too much time talking about it, not enough time doing what needs to be done. If you believe in innovation, if you believe in improvement, diversity becomes a business imperative much more than a values issue. . . . We believe our ability to deliver more innovation and better innovation from a product standpoint and our ability to connect with our customers around the world will improve by having teams that are diverse in their composition.”

Airbnb chief marketing officer Jonathan Mildenhall took to Twitter to raise the issue of ethnic diversity at Cannes Lions, per Campaign. “I feel this insane responsibility to use my profile to make sure that when I look around, I can see the next generation of CMOs that might look like me. The next generation of CMOs that might identify with my same sexuality. The next generation of female CMOs that might have brown skin.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson called out the tech world and Hollywood to be more diverse, per The Hollywood Reporter: “For too long, Hollywood has stereotyped people in ways that have either damaged the culture or been indifferent to change. . . . We must brand our values. Branders must heed that call, I think maybe more than politicians. They are willing to explore the other side. . . . There is a struggle for the soul of America.”

Frank Cooper, global chief marketing officer of Blackrock, citing Uber’s crisis as a lesson for the industry, per The Wall Street Journal: “You have to model behavior from the very top, especially for a startup company still significantly developing. . . . People are inherently uncomfortable with people who are not like them—with people who don’t look like them or act like them.”

Oscar-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), while addressing the crowd at Cannes Lions, per The Hollywood Reporter: “I am not a fad . . . “I’m [an] anomaly. I’m not supposed to be here and be part of the Hollywood conversation because of my body, because of my skin, because of my age, but I’m still here because I am also the audience. [Entertainment is] moving in an amazing way. I think if this were 2007 instead of 2017 I probably wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be worth listening to.”

Actor Sir Ian McKellen (The Hobbit, Vicious) teamed up with Vicious producer Gary Reich to create a series of short films by and for the LGBTQ community, with Facebook as a broadcast partner, per The Hollywood Reporter: “I’ve been impressed with gay rights all over the world [and] how much commerce wants to be involved. Hollywood, to crudely sum it up, has tended to deal with fantasy, tended to deal with escape. Branding has to be up to date otherwise. [Brands] come up with a response to the world as it really is. It’s a much different approach to anything that Hollywood would do.”

Ida Rezvani, senior partner at WPP,during a diversity pane, per The Guardian: “When it comes to broader diversity, we’ve got a long way to go.”


‘Call Of Duty: WWII’ Engages Fans With High-Flying Activation And More

Call of Duty: WWII, developed by Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision, marks a return to roots by bringing players back to the war that started the entire franchise. It is a highly anticipated entry in the franchise, considering how its past few games have taken players to the future and outer space. Activision debuted the game’s multiplayer modes and gameplay at this year’s E3, giving attending fans their first chance to try the game out well before its launch in November.

NBA star and celebrity spokesperson Karl-Anthony Towns made appearances at Activision’s E3 booth to further spur excitement on the show floor, but the real spectacle would happen high up in the sky. On the opening day of E3, two groups of World War II-era planes flew over the Los Angeles Convention Center to promote the upcoming game. The two flybys made multiple passes over the South Hall of the convention center, flying approximately 800-1,000 feet off the ground. The first group included a C-53 transport plane while the second squadron included AT-6 planes based in Van Nuys, California.

AListDaily spoke with Todd Harvey, SVP of marketing at Activision, about what inspired the high-flying activation.

“Historical authenticity is a central tenet in Sledgehammer Games’ development philosophy for Call of Duty: WWII and a cornerstone of our marketing efforts,” said Harvey. “In addition to the planned activities within the convention center, we were passionate about finding a way to respectfully extend our presence to the conference attendees outside. The activation was a great way add impact to the show while celebrating the history of World War II aviation.”

So, what was involved with getting this activation off the ground, so to speak?

“In order to pull off the flybys of E3 using vintage World War II planes, we carefully coordinated with a handful of Southern California aviation preservationist groups such as the Condor Squadron based nearby in Van Nuys,” Harvey explained. “These groups are made up of passionate individuals who devote much of their time to preserve and fly vintage planes, many from the era. There was a shared interest to participate because of the relevance to Call of Duty this year, and also because it was a chance to share their passion with the new generation of gaming fans.

“In terms of the activation itself, working with these aviators, we coordinated a safe, but exciting flight plan that would be fun for a viewer on the ground.”

Although the flyby was one of the key highlights of the show, we couldn’t overlook how packed the Activision show floor booth was since the event was open to the public this year. Fans waited in long lines to be among the first to play Call of Duty: WWII. We asked Harvey how E3 compared to engaging with audiences at other public events.

“E3 differs from most of our public events in that it’s primarily an industry conference,” said Harvey. “While the information needs of the attendees are at times different than the general public, at the end of the day, the steps we take to drive engagement doesn’t differ greatly from our other public events. Being informative and entertaining is important to all audiences. This year, the general public attended E3 for the first time, and the presence of consumers didn’t change our plans in any substantive way.”

Harvey also detailed how Karl-Anthony Towns became involved with Call of Duty’s promotion. “We first met Karl-Anthony during Call of Duty’s release in 2015, and more recently sponsored him last year during our fan celebration event, Call of Duty XP,” he said. “His knowledge of Call of Duty’s history and interest in the various aspects of gameplay is impressive. This year, with our return to the Call of Duty franchise’s roots in World War II, we felt E3 would be a great opportunity to sponsor his appearance and host him here at the show. He was able to spend time with and play Call of Duty: WWII and met some of the team. He was great to work with, and an absolute pleasure.”

In addition to its E3 showing, Activision further engaged with its community by bringing the Making of Call of Duty livestream series back to Facebook Live last week. Hosted by actress Alison Haislip, developers at Sledgehammer Games provided an in-depth look at newly revealed multiplayer modes through the fan-focused livestream. The first episode debuted episode in May and more are expected to release during the lead-up to Call of Duty: WWII’s launch.

“Delivering this program in a live broadcast where our team can engage directly with fans to share insights of the choices they make, and provide an authentic look of what goes into producing a title like Call of Duty is what this is all about,” Activision CMO Tim Ellis said in a statement. “Making Call of Duty is another critical step in connecting deeply with our community. It follows the reveal in April, which was the most watched livestream in franchise history. We’re bringing a new level of engagement to fans where they can consume and interact directly.”

Marketers Are Integrating IoT To Engage Consumers

Forward-thinking brands are using IoT in innovative ways. IoT devices can offer timely, relevant, data-driven engagement to consumers and manufacturers alike. By 2020, there will be over 26 billion connected devices, and the IoT market will be worth $151 billion, per Gartner.

The retail industry is ready to adopt the futuristic technology, according to a study by Research Now and Qualtrics. A global survey of 1,700 executives across multiple retail segments found that 96 percent are ready to make the changes needed to adopt IoT. Sixty-seven percent have already implemented IoT capabilities in some form. In-store tracking is a popular use for retailers, with 35 percent saying that they currently have the ability to know when specific customers are in the their stores.

In fact, IoT has found a special place with retailers interacting with consumers on-location. Home Depot’s mobile app assists customers in locating items throughout the store. Other retailers, like Macy’s and Rite-Aid use beacons to offer deals timed with a consumer’s location and activity.

“We just see a great upside in using beacons to enrich the one-to-one experience with our customers,” said Gerard Babbits, Rite-Aid’s senior director of digital marketing.

Inanimate objects in our daily lives are getting smarter by the day—the Smart Home Market will be worth $121.73 billion by 2022, according to Markets and Markets.

Amazon Dash Wands and buttons allow customers to instantly order everyday products. The Amazon Echo learns new skills on a regular basis, which is beneficial to voice search. Patrón paired with the Echo smart speaker to deliver over 150 cocktail recipes.

Gartner predicts that by 2020, 250 million cars will be connected to the internet. Tesla vehicles receive upgrades through IoT and send data back to the manufacturer for analysis.

Over half (51 percent) of the world’s top marketers believe IoT will revolutionize the marketing landscape by 2020, per Marketo.

Is your brand connecting to IoT?

It Takes More Than Nostalgia To Make ‘Sega Forever’

This is the first of a two-part interview series with Mike Evans, chief marketing officer of Sega’s mobile division in the West.

Sega has begun transporting its massive catalog of classic games to mobile with Sega Forever, which officially launched globally on Thursday with the first Sonic The Hedgehog and other select titles. Every two weeks, a new game will be available as a single app and will hail from a console from any Sega era—from SG-100 all the way to Dreamcast.

Modern features like leaderboards and cloud saves have been added to the gameplay but otherwise the titles won’t veer from the originals. Each game is either free with ads, or a user can make a single in-app purchase of $1.99 across all games that will disable a pre-roll.

With two decades worth of games to parse through and endless online feedback available from a global fanbase, making decisions for a campaign of this size is no small task. AListDaily sat down with Mike Evans, chief marketing officer of Sega‘s mobile division in the West, and explored everything that went into Sega Forever and the resonance of an evergreen IP.

How did you choose the first five Sega Forever titles?

These titles were chosen for a very particular reason. [These are] all Genesis titles. First, Sonic the Hedgehog—a mass market title. We shipped 15 million of these on the Genesis, which is incredible. It’s Sega’s best-selling title.

The next thing is the historical context. Back in ‘89, when the Genesis shipped, the pack-in title was Altered Beast. Comix Zone is a great title, released later on in the Genesis lifecycle. Then, we wanted to put in a little bit of a core fan game, so we’ve got RPG Phantasy Star II. A funny fact about this particular game: When you think about the size of games these days, they can be huge, but not necessarily on mobile. On the console platform, when it shipped, it was a whopping 6 MB, which is quite sizable. It’s funny how things have changed.

And then the final title is Kid Chameleon. For people who haven’t played it, it’s just a great platformer, and it plays really well on mobile. After that, it’s just a combination of anniversaries and fan demand.

Mike Evans, CMO of Sega’s mobile division in the West.

Sega has over 1,000 published titles. How do you decide which games to revive?

This is a big community project for us. We’ve hired some really core guys to come and work with us from it. So, part is understanding what the community would like, and the other part is which titles make sense commercially.

We’re starting with the Genesis platform. My belief is it changed the fabric of what gaming was and started to build it towards what it is today. Many of the big IPs we launched were on that platform, so we thought it’s a great place to kind of introduce people back to that experience. Then we’ll be going both forward and back to start peppering in some of the different experiences.

We’re also looking at anniversary dates. On June 23, we have Sonic the Hedgehog’s anniversary. It would have been 26 years since he first appeared on the Genesis platform.

So he can rent a car?

That’s right. So [Sonic] did appear actually just before that. He was an air freshener in a racing game, funny enough, for one of the Sega games. And then he evolved to be a character in his own right. Also, Alex Kidd was Sega’s mascot before Sonic. It’s a combination of those factors, and as we go forward, we’re going to be listening to requests. I know many people are going to be saying, “When can I see Panzer Dragoon?” for example, which is a title for the Saturn we’re actively looking at. 

Sega Forever games are ad-supported and with the option to buy. What convinced you to use this monetization model?

The model that we’re using for the monetization is two-fold. First of all, all of the games are free. Now, within mobile, there are lots of free things, so they need to believe they’re really free in that sense. There’s a pre-roll in front of the game, which a user can skip [with purchase]. After that, they play the game and it’s uninterrupted except for an ad if they want to save the game. 

A lot of people have asked me, “Why not release these as a single [app]?” There are a couple of reasons. If you have a single app and you’re downloading a lot of content into this app, the app can get very large, very quickly, particularly when you’re talking the likes of Saturn or Dreamcast games. We’ve decided to allow the user to create their own folder, and they can choose what content goes in there. It also allows us, from a business perspective, to build a network, which is a key part of our strategy.

There is talk of new IPs down the line. Can you tell me a little about them and how they fit in with the Sega family?

As we release these apps over a period of time, we’re going to start to build up a really good understanding of audience. We start to understand the growth and strength of the IP, the demographics, the cycle graphics, and the games that they’re open to playing.

The big question that I always ask myself is: how elastic can we be with our IP? There’s an example out for the moment, a remake of Crazy Taxi called Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire. The quest here for me was to understand, if you are going to make a Crazy Taxi game, could you not drive, and can we transpose that onto a model which works very well on the App Store?

We don’t do this lightly. We have a panel of Sega fans who we work with and we spend much time play testing and trying to understand what the important includes are. What we discovered was that narrative, the original characters and the music are all very important, including the music by The Offspring. The funny thing about mobile games is that a lot of people won’t often listen to the music because they’ll have the sound turned off. But we took the decision that is was necessary as one of the core links.

If you think back to the original Crazy Taxi, you have to understand the IP. A lot was rooted in rebellion: you against the school, you against social cliques. You were driving around in this open world with almost impossible time limits.

We knew we were going to take a satirical approach. This particular story is set in San Francisco in a way that Crazy Taxi was. This time, you are running a local lovable—but kind of crazy—taxi company. The story unfolds as it’s you in charge of this crazy taxi company, and you’ve been running it for a couple of years. In comes ridesharing and it’s about the struggle, the topical but fun struggle between ridesharing and the local taxi firms. I think a lot of people should enjoy it.

Are you a gamer? What are your favorite games?

Absolutely. Going back a few years now, my father bought the Atari 2600. My mother scolded him at the time because I think he spent the month’s rent on it. But I kind of knew at that time that my life was never going to be the same again. That platform differs for a lot of people, but I think it’s where Sega Forever really folds in.

After that, I played a lot of platforms. I spent a lot of my university life playing the N64 with Mario Kart and Goldeneye was really one of the first multiplayer-style shooter titles. That was great. 

My favorite game of all time is probably Sid Meier’s Pirates!, an open world real-time strategy game. It was an incredible game. You just got lost in the fantasy of the world. Very swashbuckling in that sense, and it’s still a game which I go back to today on my mobile device.

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Dell Engages Gamers Using Two Distinct Brands

While industry analysts and companies have reported declining PC sales in recent years, Dell has had a remarkably different story to tell. The company has enjoyed 17 consecutive quarters of year-over-year (YoY) share growth, and it shipped over 11 million PCs last year with 6.2 percent YoY shipment growth. The company is looking to continue that trend by investing heavily in gaming using its premium Alienware products and its newly launched Inspiron Gaming brand.

“We are making significant investments in the gaming business and in the Dell consumer client business,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware, gaming and XPS at Dell in a press briefing. According to Azor, Alienware leads the market with its 13-inch gaming notebook, which launched over a year ago. Among other technological leaps forward, Dell was also the first to bring 8K monitors to market. Dell also takes pride in having the largest selection of VR systems, with all Alienware notebooks being VR-ready and its desktops having a path toward VR support.

The Inspiron Gaming desktop was introduced at E3, and it is the first Inspiron model that is built for gaming, designed around the new AMD Ryzen processors at a price that starts at $600. This is in stark contrast to Alienware’s one-year exclusive OEM partnership with AMD to be the first to offer an Area 51 gaming desktop that features the insanely powerful 16-Core Ryzen Threadripper processor and up to three graphics cards to handle everything from VR gaming, to 12K gaming and livestreaming at the same time—pushing the boundaries of high-end desktops.

The need for two separate gaming brands came from listening to its audience.

“We at Alienware have been listening to our customers, and one of the things they’ve been asking for have been more affordable gaming systems, and we’ve been responding to those requests with the Inspiron gaming line,” said Azor. “They’ve been asking for more VR-ready systems, and we’ve been doing that with the entirety of the Alienware portfolio, and brought it into XPS for folks that want a gaming and VR capable system but without all the flash an Alienware or Inspiron Gaming system has to offer. And they’ve been asking for Alienware peripherals, which we haven’t had for a while now, but we’re bringing them back this year.”

Alienware peripherals, which include gaming mice, keyboards and high-end monitors, will be high quality and will feature the brand’s iconic designs such as custom lighting. Dell plans to showcase these peripherals at esports events, and Alienware designed headsets are currently being planned. In the meantime, the company is focused on distinguishing the Alienware brand from Inspiron Gaming for consumers.

Bryan de Zayas, director of marketing for Dell Gaming

“Alienware is focused on driving innovation and performance, which is what it has been doing for over 20 years, and that will not change,” Bryan de Zayas, director of marketing for Dell Gaming, told AListDaily. “One example of that is our leadership from a VR perspective and making all of our products VR-ready. We’re the first to launch an entire line of notebooks—including the Alienware 13—that are VR-ready out of the box. We’re going to continue driving that innovation, and as you would expect, that comes with things that are more expensive, but we’re not going to pull back and compromise.

“So, we had a choice. Were we going to address this ever-growing market with the Alienware brand by cutting things out or were going to leverage a very well respected and established brand we have with Inspiron? That choice was very easy. We decided to develop these products from the ground up, brand them, and market them as Inspiron Gaming products. The key difference is that Inspiron products will focus on the lower price band growth segments of the gaming market.”

“The Alienware brand is something that we built 20 years ago, and there’s a certain expectation when it comes to buying and owning an Alienware product,” Azor added. “We have to invest a considerable amount of cost into delivering and meeting those expectations. Those costs go into innovation, performance, the industrial design and so on. As a result, Alienware products are at premium price points. In order for us to preserve the promise of what Alienware has delivered, we have to make those investments. If we don’t make them, then the brand will no longer meet expectations. That’s a large part of the reason why the Inspiron Gaming products are not branded Alienware. The approach for how we designed those products is for them to be very good gaming products but not necessarily premium gaming products. It was very important for us to set proper expectations with customers and that’s why we decided to brand the two products differently.

The AMD Threadripper OEM partnership does much to set Alienware up as a premium brand. When asked how the partnership came together, de Zayas said: “The exclusivity from an OEM side came together because of the platform that we have. Alienware Area 51 is a top of the line desktop in the marketplace and it has the full performance capabilities. Our customers expect that from us. In discussing with AMD, it made sense for them from an engineering and timing perspective to partner with Alienware and bring it to market.”

In comparison, the Inspiron Gaming brand is being promoted in partnership with Sony and is reaching a different segment of gamers with the movie Spider-Man: Homecoming, as shown in a TV commercial featuring Dell’s new Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop.

“The broad popularity of the Spider-Man franchise and its relevance with gamers presented a real opportunity to launch Dell’s Inspiron Gaming line as part of the campaign and bring Dell’s expertise in high-performance gaming to more people,” said Gerri Tunnell, senior vice president, consumer and small business marketing at Dell in a statement. “Spider-Man fans care about authenticity to the brand, character and storytelling, so partnering with Jon Watts on the TV spot allowed Dell to uphold a seamless look and tone, stay true to the film and deliver to the Marvel community.”

Meanwhile, Alienware remains fully committed to community engagement to promote its products.

“We have critical engagement with our customers through avenues like Twitch, Twitter, YouTube and Alienware Arena,” said Azor. “We’re engaging about 10 million customers at any given time. We’re listening to what we’re doing well, where we can improve, what are the new things they want to see from us, and where we can help drive the gaming industry.”

“We want to talk with, work with, and engage with gamers around the world in a real way,” said de Zayas. “It’s very easy for a company to come and try to sell somebody a product by trying to win on price and things like that. The way we want to win is by working with our gamers and engaging with them.”

Dell has invested in a number of key areas, with one being Alienware Arena, which was started over 10 years ago and now has over six million members. It started as an amateur tournament location, which is a precursor to many things you see today in esports.

Another area of expansion over the past year is with Alienware.tv, which is designed to engage with the community every day. Livestreams take place on Twitch, Twitter and other platforms, but Alienware wants to “go beyond that to where gamers live and breathe every day,” said de Zayas. The company has an Alienware.tv studio based in Austin, Texas, which produces content six hours a day, four times a week to engage with gamers by talking with them and answering questions in real-time. Complementing it is a mobile broadcast studio, which will be traveling across the US and working with esports partners like Team Dignitas and Team Liquid.

“For Alienware and Dell, it isn’t just about what’s going to sell products. It’s also about making sure we’re proactively engaging with gamers,” said de Zayas. “You will get solid gaming performance at more affordable price points from Inspiron Gaming, and from Alienware, you’re going to get the best technology out there.”

The Inspiron Gaming tower was shown for the first time at E3 2017 in a dual booth setup that showcased both it and the Alienware brands together. The Area 51 desktop featuring the AMD Ryzen Threadripper processor was also being showcased for attendees while Alienware.tv presenters broadcast their show from a different part of the event.

AListDaily sat down with de Zayas at the show to discuss how the brands benefit from being shown together.

“E3 is the third time that we’re at an event with this kind of setup,” said de Zayas. “We were at PAX South and PAX East with two different booths, and you’ll consistently see that from us for the remainder of this year. Why that’s important is so that people understand that both of these brands have different promises to gamers. We’re fully committed to this and we’re investing more than we ever have into gaming, including in esports—where you’ll see both brands. There is a commitment from Dell as a company in the gaming space, not just from a product side, but there’s investment in marketing, esports, and community engagement. Those things require a focus on both Alienware and Inspiron Gaming to tell a complete story.”

‘The Walking Dead’ Producer David Alpert Explains Why Skybound Is Serious About VR

Consumers will soon be able to zero in and immerse themselves in an army of weapons-wielding zombies, because The Walking Dead is coming to virtual reality with a slate of multiple video games scheduled to be released based on the show’s terrifying and visceral world.

Skybound Entertainment, the multiplatform entertainment company responsible for such TV hits as Outcast as well as the companion series Fear the Walking Dead, announced they’ll be partnering with Skydance Interactive, a division of David Ellison’s Skydance Media, to co-develop and produce a number of original VR video games based on the post-apocalyptic universe of The Walking Dead.

The VR game will feature an entirely new setting and cast of characters, and players will be able to experience the different world through an innovative contextual interaction system. The collaboration between the transmedia giants marks a multi-year strategy to further solidify a foothold in gaming by leveraging VR and the pop-culture phenomenon from the TV show, which is currently filming its eighth season. The Walking Dead previously went for a similar deadly combo by pairing the show with console and mobile games.

David Alpert, CEO of Skybound Entertainment and executive producer of The Walking Dead, joined AListDaily for a video interview to shed light on how they’re looking to build engaging experiences in new worlds while telling compelling stories.


On how The Walking Dead has built an emotional connection with viewers through storytelling . . . 

What we’ve learned from making The Walking Dead is that you can have a really big world—you can go deep into a genre that most people don’t think would be for them—and as long as you keep a very simple, emotional hook at the center, everyone can relate to it. So if you look at the beginning of our show, it’s a man looking for his wife and his son, and when he finds them, he learns that she’s taken up with his best friend. So that’s a very simple, emotional concept that can connect with everybody. You don’t have to like zombies to like that story. You don’t have to like father-and-son stories. But that story is instantly relatable and emotional. And once people are in on that journey and that connection, they’re willing to go along with, “okay, the world’s falling apart, and the military couldn’t stop the zombies, and now there’s a zombie outbreak, and the zombies have formed herds and are taking over entire parts of Georgia.” So people are willing to go along with that because they’ve connected emotionally with Rick’s journey to find his wife and his son. I think the same things applies to VR. A lot of things we’ve seen have really put you in completely alien worlds and completely disconnected spaces, and those are fun. And for me as a fan boy, I love experiencing them, but I think they’re still a little bit esoteric in that they’re not giving me that instant, emotional connection. What we can get from emotion allows us to go into crazy landscapes and crazy worlds. But if you don’t have that emotional connection, I think you’re dead in the water.

On the impact VR has on marketing . . .

I think that VR is a brand and marketer’s paradise. Ultimately, people have described VR at times as an empathy machine. They’ve talked about the idea that it allows you to connect with a story in much greater detail, and much more emotionally and intuitively than you can just by watching it, or reading it and playing it. If you think about that—“what does a brand want?” A brand wants you connect with them. What does a marketer want? It wants to forge and emotional connection between you and a product. So if you can actually have that immersive experience in the world around a brand, and you have that emotional connection to it, you’ll much more likely be predisposed to it. You’ll be much more likely to make those connections. So for us, if you can come with a narrative-based solution in VR, and around a brand—that to us is sort of the holy grail of marketing.

On the challenges of marketing VR . . .

When you’re talking about marketing VR, I think we still have to get VR to be a thing. And honestly, when I say “a thing,” people don’t even really know what they mean when they say “VR.” A lot of people think VR is just 360-degree video. And yes, 360 video is a type of VR, but it’s really just video. You can watch 360 video on Facebook and on your cell phone. It doesn’t necessarily need to be [with a headset]. When you talk about fully immersive video when you have agency and control, that’s an entirely different thing. But I think the fact that there isn’t yet a unified term is part of the problem. Another part of the problem is also it’s still in the early adopter stage. You have tech heads and gamers—those are the people who’re really picking it up. Look at TV—everyone has a TV. They know what a TV is about. They understand what a TV show looks like. They understand all of the different things they can get from a television. They don’t yet think that way about VR, and I still think we’re a few years away from it. But I think the promise of what VR has, and that emotional, visceral and instant connection you make when you put on the goggles is the thing I think that gets everyone so excited.

On maximizing the potential of VR . . .

One of the things that we look at is, “how do we use the medium for its full benefit?” And the thing that VR does is it gives us a sense of presence in a way that you don’t really feel in film and television. So when you watch film and TV, you’re very cognizant of the distance between you and the screen, the fact that there’s a disconnect between you and the screen. And what we see in VR is you’re able to be placed directly in the center of the storytelling. Gone, Skybound’s serialized VR thriller, is about a couple of people at a park who are watching their kids, and then all of a sudden one of the girls goes missing. One of the great things for us about that story was, since you have presence, and since everyone’s kind of watching the kids together, you have a sense of culpability when the child goes missing. You don’t just feel bad for the mom, who just lost her daughter—you feel like in some way that you were responsible. The ability to evoke those types of emotions in viewers, those are things that we work hours and hours on any sort of scripted entertainment. Any experience that can inspire awe and fear in a five-minute short is really an impressive piece of filmmaking—it’s a medium really worth getting into.

On Skybound’s upcoming movie Invincible . . .

We’re stoked about Invincible, the longest and most successful superhero comic book outside of Marvel and DC. It’s one of the biggest comic book stories that has yet to be told, and we have millions of fans that are waiting to see it. And we couldn’t be more excited. It’s created by Robert Kirkman, who created The Walking Dead, and as the CEO of Skybound, it’s what I’ve been most determined to do right in my entire career. We found the perfect home for it by partnering with Universal Pictures, as well as Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg. They’re going to write and direct the adaptation for us. We’re incredibly excited about this because we think that the time is right—it’s a father-and-son story, but it has a little bit of that edge that Deadpool brings.

Cannes Lions: Legacy Brands Use Modern Means To Stay Relevant

Cannes Lions started as a modest, marketing-themed film festival in 1954 and oh, how the present-day, yacht-filled times have changed. Through the annual gathering, Cannes Lions and other legacy brands explore and celebrate changing views, fashions and what consumers care about the most. This year has been no different at the French Riviera-based fest.

Named “Creative Marketer Of The Year,” Burger King drew praise for the company’s fearless and modern campaigns. The quick service restaurant chain continues to push boundaries from the “Proud Whopper” supporting the LGBTQ community to the controversial ad that hijacked Google Home and Android devices by saying, “Okay, Google, what is the Whopper burger?”

For Fernando Machado, Burger King’s head of brand marketing, staying relevant is just part of keeping the right people at the helm at his burger chain’s marketing efforts.

“We’re trying to make our brand cool enough to attract the people we want to work for us,” he told Campaign. “That’s what we’re really crazy about. If we win awards, that’s perfect. It motivates everyone—our franchisees, our staff and, of course, our agencies because it makes it easier for them to hire the right people for our business.”

CNN president Jeff Zucker is confident his company is rising to the needs of today’s consumers by exploring new methods of communication—influencers. The 37-year-old news organization has partnered with YouTube star and Beme founder Casey Neistat.

“The world has changed—we can all get news 24/7 from any device, any outlet,” Zucker said at Cannes Lions, “but we want to tell different stories in different ways, and add to the news. We are not going to attract new viewers by just feeding CNN onto different platforms.

“The way that CNN would traditionally tell a story is so different from the way Casey and Beme would tell a story, both are incredibly valuable, both will find their audiences and that is what I think the new CNN is about—being a multi-platform company that reaches many different audience members on many different platforms.”

Consumers get their news—and just about everything else—on the go, and YouTube has been an incubator for new ad formats. Last year, Google’s video sharing site introduced a six-second, non-skippable ad format that will change the way brands share stories. Fox Networks Group is just one of the forward-thinking company’s already at the forefront.

“This is the first time that a broadcast television company has committed to the ad format, which YouTube introduced last year,” the companies said during Cannes Lions, explaining that the six-second format “strikes a balance between appreciable brand lift and optimal user experience” as more consumers watch premium video content through mobile.

From social advocacy to adopting new technology, legacy brands that adapt are one step further away from irrelevance in an ever-changing marketing landscape.

W Hotels Gamifies Its Newest Location With ‘Belle The Bear’

W Hotels has always marched to the beat of its own marketing drum, and now it has added a video game to its list of out-of-the-box campaigns. Belle the Bear is a retro-inspired mobile game that celebrates the grand opening of the new W Bellevue hotel in Seattle.

“Bellevue is a gamer’s city, so we thought it would be fun to tap into that energy but with a W twist,” Anthony Ingham, W Hotels Worldwide global brand leader said in a statement. “Creating Belle the Bear, a throwback game with an innovative edge, is just another example of how we are constantly looking for new ways to engage with future W fans on their own turf.”

Belle the Bear has players traversing an 8-bit world Frogger-style on their journey to a virtual W Bellevue hotel. This Seattle-themed adventure features a few special roadblocks to keep things interesting, such as a cannabis leaf that turns Belle into a gummy bear and cocktails that reverse the in-game controls.

Through July 15, top-scoring US gamers can compete for glory and prizes, including a trip for two to Seattle, where they will stay in the Extreme WOW Suite, dinner, wine tasting and a seaplane tour of western Washington. To help spread the word and celebrate its newest hotel, W has enlisted the help of social media stars.

“We are reaching out to influencers in the lifestyle and gaming space, posting the game link on our social channels and announcing the news globally in our news center,” Ingham told AListDaily. “The game also has built-in social sharing options, so participants can post their latest high score directly to their personal social channels. We think the news will spread organically, as it often does with fun new games.”

W Hotels joins a growing list of brands using games to promote and engage its audience. Following the release of Under Armour’s It Comes From Below ad campaign, a tie-in game was created for Snapchat that challenged fans to navigate Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton through a forest of obstacles. Netflix created an 8-bit endless runner game to highlight its lineup of original programming and Gatorade celebrated the 2016 US Open with a Snapchat game starring tennis champ Serena Williams. Additionally, NBC Universal turned to a variety of experiential campaigns to promote the launch of The Mummy, including a standalone VR stunt experience and a separate VR video game called The Mummy: Prodigium Strike, developed by Starbreeze (John Wick Chronicles).