Inside Atari’s Brand Revival

Thirty-five years have passed since Blade Runner and Atari were married in a marketing move of premium product placement that was well ahead of its time when Atari was featured both on-screen and positioned on promotional billboards for the movie. The film starring Harrison Ford was envisioning the future, and in 1982, the 10-year-old arcade and video game console was the future.

Of course, a lot has changed since then for the fabled brand. The likes of Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox blitzed into the scene and now preside over the $150 billion games software and hardware industry. Atari stagnated culturally, failed to re-pivot and faded into eventual bankruptcy.

But the iconic yet beleaguered brand has slowly bounced back from oblivion and has been playing toward a path of revitalization since the 2013 bankruptcy by turning into an interactive entertainment production company and licensing its brands more widely—and strategically—for a consistent revenue stream.

It turned to an old friend on Wednesday to rekindle some of the nostalgic marketing mojo when Atari announced a partnership with action figure and collectibles maker NECA to introduce wearable tech products and social audio experiences for the Ridley Scott-directed sequel Blade Runner 2049 .

Atari describes the smart baseball hat as a social synchronous broadcast application that enables multiple Speakerhat users to experience music and other programming simultaneously, and in perfect sync. The Audiowear-powered, Bluetooth-enabled Atari Speakerhat will be complemented with a limited-edition Blade Runner 2049 version, which can be experienced at San Diego Comic-Con this week.

The partnership appears to be a no brainer while further positioning Atari into wearable and connected consumer products, because the first second of the Warner Bros. Pictures-released Blade Runner 2049 trailer, once again features Atari front-and-center as a car zips past a giant Atari logo lit up at night in a futuristic city. The brand appears once more at the 10-second marker of the film trailer, which is set to hit theaters October 6 and stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford.

One notion is clear from the trailer—Atari is still alive and relevant 32 years from today. But is it thriving and doing well today? It appears that Atari is positioning themselves for a resurrection.

With hopes of cashing in on the resurgent popularity of retro games, Atari is jumping back into the video games sphere and appealing middle-aged customers with the Ataribox, a new home video game console—its first new console in 24 years.

AListDaily sat down with Frederic Chesnais, Atari’s CEO and chairman of the board, and Michael Arzt, chief operations officer of Atari Connect, to talk about how the brand plans to rise again after being relegated to the bottom of the video game rung.

How do you introduce the Atari brand today?

Chesnais: When you think about Atari, we want consumers to think about us like they would with Virgin and all of their categories—we’re more of a transmedia brand. Our goal is to create interactive entertainment. It could be software or hardware. We just want to be a producer of interactive entertainment content because this is where the DNA of the company and brand is. I returned to Atari [in 2013 after leaving in 2007] and brought the company back from bankruptcy. We’ve come a long way. I think we have to be cautious. We’re just trying to do the right thing. Of course, we make mistakes, everybody does. But we’re all very passionate about the brand and the lifestyle-transmedia feel. It’s just unbelievable.

How are you repositioning the Atari brand during this evolution?

Chesnais: I think brands do matter. The only thing that we’ve been sure of for the last 20 years is that it’s very difficult to create new brands. So when you have a brand, you stick to it. On the other hand, we have two different types of brands. We have certain games like Asteroid, Millipede and Centipede which are brands by themselves. At the same time, we have the Atari umbrella, which is much bigger than games. It’s really a brand that speaks to generations. It’s more of a lifestyle brand than a gaming brand. So, if you look at the strategy of the company, we’re doing four business verticals at the moment to take advantage of the lifestyle uniqueness: games, casino games, connected devices and television shows and multimedia productions. This is what we’re doing to take advantage of the brand and to reposition it to make it relevant—not only for the generation who grew up with Atari, but also for the young generation that didn’t.

Why is it important for Atari to position the brand in wearable tech products? What are you hoping to accomplish with the Atari Speakerhats in your quest to create next-generation social audio experiences?  

Arzt: Atari has always been a company that’s about enjoying entertainment together. Social audio is a logical extension of other forms of shared media that a new generation of Atari fans are already interested in. Younger consumers are all about experiences—whether that’s online games, live events or travel—and sharing these experiences with their community. Wearables are a logical extension of this, enabling this collaborative enjoyment anywhere and anytime. Our new Speakerhats are the first of several active tech products in development that foster this “connected lifestyle.” In the case of the Speakerhats, our partners at Audiowear are working on synchronous technology that effectively evolves old “silent disco” private-listening tech to enable a shared experience. Atari has always been a pioneering brand. It’s about opening up new frontiers in which Atari delivers fun in innovative ways, rooted in the junction of tech and entertainment.

How does the Blade Runner 2049 activation help speak to a whole new generation of Atari fans as a pop-culture lifestyle brand?

Arzt: More than anything else, we look at our presence in that world and the year of 2049 as a sign that we have an enduring brand, even in a dystopian future that’s depicted in the film. There are recurring examples of Atari—very good ones, in fact—throughout entertainment in numerous films, TV shows, books, etc. That’s because it’s an iconic brand that means something beyond just video games to the many creators that grew up with the brand. Passing their love and nostalgia for the Atari brand on, they’re now becoming the arbiters of taste for the current generation. When an Atari logo, game or physical product shows up in high-profile entertainment “events” like Blade Runner 2049, The Walking Dead, Stranger Things or another, it registers not only with established fans, but also with a new and even younger audience. These fans then often seek out the Atari brand and we want to be there for them with entertainment that speaks to them while staying true to the brand’s roots. If we get it right, our new and old fans will think that Atari is still a cool brand that’s doing cool things with cool partners.

How is your consumer marketing strategy evolving at events like San Diego Comic-Con?

Arzt: San Diego Comic-Con is very much a community-driven event. So, whether it’s the biggest high-profile brand partners like Blade Runner 2049, or quieter-but-no-less-important opportunities like our comic books with Dynamite, or our board games with IDW, Atari will always be about delivering fun transmedia experiences and strong value to the fan base that already loves our brand, as well as introducing us to new fans. We’ll continue developing innovative value-add experiences that not only enhance the Atari brand and the brands we partner with, but also add to the enjoyment of our fans, regardless of medium.

What is the messaging and the marketing that you’re putting behind mobile games? How are you trying to shine in a very competitive mobile market?

Chesnais: Games are just one of our business categories. With mobile games, we’ve had a good experience. We’ve reached a very high number of downloads. We have a very good level of expertise in areas like simulation games. On our end, it’s pretty natural, but we keep investing in these types of games like Goon Squad, Lunar Battle as well as RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch. There are many different types of games that we don’t do—like shooters—but we know simulation and the other types of games we’re very comfortable with. Casino games are popular in the US and very strong in Europe. We try to select the things that we know the best. This is where you can make an impact. We have spent enough money in the marketplace to know where the players are . . . at least certain types of players—the ones we want. If you look, for instance, at Roller Coaster Tycoon Touch, which is the last 3D mobile version of our simulation games, we have over seven million downloads and more than 300,000 DAUs already and the game has very good reviews. So, I think we’re just going to capitalize on that. If you’re doing mobile, you just have to go country-by-country, because the message is different in each.

Why is it critical to be licensing your IP?  

Chesnais: We’re soon going to be licensing scripted television series based on the Atari properties. They are like game shows that are shooting as we speak, and will air in Europe most likely in November. We’ve also granted licenses for three movies. If you take any of our intellectual properties—like Missile Command, for example—it could be a game, a mobile game, a console game, a PC game, a comic book, a scripted TV series and a movie. Then you have the merchandising of the property. You could have a book about the property. You could even have an attraction in a theme park that would be called “Missile Command.” We have enough IP to have our own amusement park—easily, like 20 attractions based on Atari properties. Any IP can be part of transmedia strategy. That’s what we’re trying to leverage.

You recently partnered with Tapjoy to announce a deal that enables players to earn free in-app coins by watching videos and engaging with ads from Tapjoy’s premium advertising partners. Why is this a good marketing and ad model for the games industry? 

Chesnais: First, it’s an option. No one forces the user to watch the videos. The ads are targeted toward certain types of users. If they watch the ads, we’re giving them in-game rewards, and we’re getting paid by advertisers. We’re very sensitive of the players because the last thing we want to create is negative feedback. So, we’re testing with the ads. You have to be careful. You have to listen to what the players are saying. Down the road, this type of business model will become more and more important because you’ll be able to target your ads to a certain audience. As far as publishers are concerned, this is going to be a bigger revenue stream for us. It’s something you cannot ignore.

What’s the first thing that consumers should think about after hearing “Atari?”

Chesnais: That Atari is a brand that basically brought together the revolution in tech and the revolution in entertainment. That was the purpose of the Pong console. If you look at our Speakerhats, I hope consumers will remember it as something that brings a form of revolution in digital entertainment, and a way they can enjoy certain types of experiences.

id Software Prepares To Shake Up Esports Scene With ‘Quake Champions’

The original Quake wasn’t designed for esports when it took the PC gaming world by storm in the ’90s. In fact, the term didn’t even exist yet, and id Software’s studio director Tim Willits, who has been around since the dawn of Quake, is still surprised by how it grew into a model for esports today.

Tim Willits, studio director at id Software

“I’ve worked on every Quake and I can tell you honestly we never thought that competitive gaming would be like it is today,” Willits told AListDaily. “It’s unbelievable. From the early days of Quake 1, clan play and tournaments naturally happened as people wanted to see who the best players were. Even QuakeCon wasn’t our idea. I’ve watched as Quake tournaments grew from 32 people in a hotel to filling up stadiums and with multi-million dollar prize pools. Gaming has evolved from friends seeing who’s the best player to mass market entertainment.”

Bethesda partnered with ESL to catapult Quake Champions into the esports space with the ongoing Quake World Championships in full swing across Europe and North America, featuring the new 1-vs-1 Duel and 4-vs-4 Sacrifice modes. The battle for the $1 million prize pool reaches the next stage at the Regional Finals, August 5 and 6, followed by the Finals to be held on the main stage at QuakeCon in Dallas, TX, August 24-26. Thirty-two Duelers and eight teams will compete for a share of the $1 million prize pool.

“Of the 32 Duelers, 12 will come from BYOC,” Willits explained. “You can come to QuakeCon and take part in Open Qualifier to compete for part of $1 million prize pool. One-versus-one is unique to Quake and a lot of fun to watch.”

Willits said his biggest worry with unleashing Quake Champions to pro gamers was that everyone would play as the same champion, but that hasn’t happened. Pros are using different champions and strategies.

“We’ve seen a good uptick in Twitch viewers with the championship,” Willits said. “We’re still in beta, but we’re adjusting the game and getting the network code as solid as we can. We’ve learned a lot and taken a lot of guidance from pro gamers.”

At QuakeCon last year and at IEM Katowice this year, id Software introduced 50 to 60 Counter-Strike and Overwatch pro gamers to Quake Champions to gather their feedback. That feedback led to the new Sacrifice game mode that was designed specifically for competitive play. It’s a mode that Willits said id tweaked three separate times to get it just right for the pro gaming scene. The first iterations of this 4-vs-4 team-based mode were fast and fun to play, but they lacked the central objective for spectators to follow. That’s been fine-tuned now, just in time for this massive tournament.

“We had an ESL event with Team Liquid and Team Rogue at E3 this year and the crowds were amazing,” Willits said. “A lot of these pro guys played Quake originally and a number of Overwatch teams have Quake players on them. We hired John ‘Zero Four’ Hill as our esports manager and he’s been working with these teams to get them on board. They’re excited about Quake Champions.”

While ESL is running the tournament for id Software, the game developer signed AMD on as its signature partner for QuakeCon. Other sponsors include AT&T, Twitch and Amazon.

“Our focus has always been around gaming, but we’re trying to do more this year,” Willits said.

Quake Champions is very uniquely positioned to not only take QuakeCon by storm, but also to find a place among the top esports. “Quake is the original arena-based shooter,” Willits said. “It’s very fast, movement is used as both offense and defense, and the dexterity and skill of the world’s best Quake players is amazing. It has a long legacy as the first 3D game and the first game to offer client server architecture. Most people have had their first PC experience playing a Quake game over the years.”

Willits believes the Duel mode in first-person shooters is a big hole missing in esports today—one that Quake Champions can immediately fill. “Pro gamers love it because it’s all about their skills and they stand on the stage alone as champion,” Willits said. “The fact that a lot of these guys love Quake, and a lot of the companies that run tournaments and events also love Quake, allows Duel mode to fill that spot.”

Allowing 15,000 members of the public into E3 this year gave Willits a preview of what QuakeCon and Quake Champions esports might look like. “The ESL space was next to the Bethesda booth and it looked like we had half of the show floor,” Willits said. “It was a well-trafficked area and the online traffic was good for us.”

With id Software designing Quake Champions from the ground up for esports and seeking pro gamers’ input during the development process, the stage has been set for something old, yet new, to rise up.

“We’re excited about the future,” Willits said. “The challenge for us now is to focus on QuakeCon, get through the beta, and get this game out in final release. Then we’ll build out that player base to accomplish what we set out to do with Quake esports.”

American Express And Vans Share Their Music Festival Marketing Strategies

It’s festival season, and that means music, friends and congregations galore.

An astounding 32 million Americans attend at least one music festival per year, according to Billboard—that’s more than the entire population of Texas. These engaged consumers create opportunities for experiential marketing that can’t be found anywhere else.

We asked two brands active in the festival circuit—American Express and Vans—about how they approach experiential marketing both as partners and event organizers.

American Express has been a partner with Coachella for three years and this year attracted the festival’s largest attendance ever. The legacy credit card company appealed to affluent millennials at Coachella with special events for platinum card holders. The American Express Platinum House in nearby Palm Springs offered attendees SoulCycle classes, premium food and drinks and a private concert by Bebe Rexha. For everyone else attending Coachella, the American Express Experience tent allowed music fans to create their own “mini music video,” as well as unlock special rewards through the official Coachella app.

“This partnership [with Coachella] has truly blossomed into a fully integrated experience with multiple American Express touchpoints throughout the festival, from providing utility and differentiated value through a special in-app experience to offering services on-site including a spend offer, to activating off-site for our Platinum card members who travel in for the experience,” Deb Curtis, American Express’ vice president of global partnerships and experiential marketing, told AlistDaily. “We look to surround the experience with service that truly delights our card members.”

In addition to partnering with festivals from Pandora, too, American Express hosts a music app, highlights up-and-coming talent and offers preferred seating and advanced ticket sales for card members. In this way, the company is not just offering rewards, but building a relationship with its customers.

“We know that when we create memorable experiences and provide unique access for card members in the moments that matter to them, such as festivals, they feel more loyal to the relationship with our brand,” says Curtis. “In fact, because we have access to such rich data, we’re able to see how those who engage with us respond in the moment and over time and we see—year after year—a positive impact across key loyalty metrics. This investment in our customers pays back in a longer, more fulfilling relationship between card members and the brand. That’s what drives us to deliver for them time and time again, and fuels us to serve them better and better each year.”

Seventy-eight percent of millennials would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something, according to a study by Eventbrite.

The study further revealed that 55 percent of millennials say they’re spending more on events and live experiences than ever before. In addition, 69 percent believe attending live events and experiences make them more connected to other people, the community and the world.

The Vans Warped Tour has traveled the US for 25 years running, partnering with some of the biggest bands—and brands—to create unique experiences for its guests.

“We like to think if a brand can dream it up, we can make it happen,” a Vans Warped Tour representative told AlistDaily. “We, as a tour have partnered with brands in myriad ways from basic on-site activations and sales to promotions, couponing, sampling, artist partnerships and in-store appearances.”

Vans is open-minded with its brand partnerships, which have varied to ones like with cheese maker Emmi Roth.

“[Partnership type] varies, but if a brand wants to work with us, we will make it work,” said Vans. “We will not, however, work with tobacco brands or alcohol brands, or really anything that our CEO and founder deems inappropriate for our audience.”

While the company is open to working with a variety of brands, Vans has strong feelings about creating value for its partners.

“We do our best to work with our sponsors to create programs that have built-in measurability [like] trackable coupons, samples given out and social media increases. We work closely with our sponsors to try to make sure they get what they want.”

While many festivals turn to RFID wrist bands and apps to cater to a digital native demographic, some types of music marketing never change.

“I think the most obvious change in marketing is that things have become primarily digital,” Vans explained. “That being said, in the last couple of years we’ve seen a bit of a backup to traditional postering, street teams, and the like. But I think overall, the evolution of the internet and social media is truly the biggest change we’ve seen.”

ESL, MusclePharm Hire New CMOs; Pinterest Poaches Pair Of Execs For Products And Partnerships

Rodrigo Samwell is the new chief marketing officer for ESL. In a corresponding move, ESL also hired Martin Hubert as chief revenue officer.

“This is an exciting time for the global esports industry with ESL at the heart of this massive ecosystem,” said Ralf Reichert, ESL’s president and global CEO. “These new executive hires reflect the company’s global focus to better service our growing roster of partners, publishers and sponsors, and add expertise in key areas such as marketing and sales. We are excited to welcome Martin and Rodrigo to the team.”

Pinterest expects to make $3 billion in revenue next year, so it has snagged Jon Alferness and Meredith Guerriero to help develop new ad formats and targeting.

Alferness has been named head of ad products at Pinterest. He formerly was Google’s vice president of product management of shopping and travel products.

“We’re excited that Jon has joined Pinterest. He brings significant product experience to the company, including deep e-commerce domain knowledge and expertise across search and display advertising,” Pinterest president Tim Kendall said in a statement. “Jon will make an immediate impact as we continue to roll out more ad solutions that deliver strong, measurable results for our partners.”

Guerriero has been tapped as Pinterest’s head of eastern region partnerships and head of the company’s New York office. Guerriero formerly was at Facebook, where she was director of health, grocery and politics ad verticals. Previous to that, she spent nearly a decade at Google for in a variety of roles.

MusclePharm announced the hiring of CMO Matthew Kerbel. In a corresponding move, Paul Anton was named vice president of finance.

The performance lifestyle sports nutrition company noted that Kerbel will be “responsible for directing and executing brand strategy to support MusclePharm’s growth both domestically and internationally, continuing to engage the company’s core audience, while identifying innovative ways to reach a growing cohort of vegan and recreational athletes. Kerbel will also oversee the management and implementation of all current and future brand athlete and influencer agreements.

“Matt harbors a deep understanding of the messages and values that resonate with our target audiences,” said Ryan Drexler, president and CEO of MusclePharm. “Moreover, he truly cares about delivering an excellent and authentic product. His enthusiasm for the fitness industry combined with his notable expertise in conceptualizing and implementing impactful consumer marketing strategies, make him an ideal fit for MusclePharm.”

“The opportunity to join MusclePharm is congruous with my passion for working with dynamic and forward-thinking businesses,” said Kerbel. “MusclePharm is already a global company with strong brand equity and, as evidenced by the recent launch of the Natural Series, is highly attuned to the evolving needs of consumers. The Company has reached a critical inflection point in its history, and this is therefore an extremely exciting time for me to come on board.”

Fred Graver has been hired to serve as the senior vice president of digital content and social for Discovery Digital. Gaver formerly was the global head of television creative for Twitter. 

“I am thrilled to have Fred join the Discovery Digital team,” said Karen Leever, executive vice president and general manager of digital media at Discovery. “He brings with him a wealth of experience and a passion for the Discovery brands. As a creative visionary, he is perfectly suited to drive our networks’ digital and social strategies forward as we continue to pursue our goal of creating iconic Discovery content for audiences across all platforms.”

Travis Howe has been hired by ESPN to serve as senior vice president of digital ad product sales and strategy. Howe will be responsible for establishing the go-to-market strategy for ESPN’s digital advertising business moving forward to enhance the overall ESPN Platform. He will report to Ed Erhardt, ESPN’s president of global sales and marketing.

“Travis is an outstanding and creative executive who has the vision to identify, develop and execute our key priorities for the digital sales team,” said Erhardt. “His expertise and thorough understanding of the evolving digital media marketplace will help enhance and drive the entirety of our portfolio.”

Former SYCO Entertainment executive Mark Brittain has been appointed as Gfinity’s new chief commercial officer. Brittain will be responsible for creating brand partnerships and grow the esports events company’s exposure among traditional media channels.

“Securing Mark’s services is a real coup for us,” said Neville Upton, Gfinity’s CEO. “His background with global successes such as X-Factor and the Got Talent series will prove invaluable in securing strategic partnerships and driving significant revenue for the company.”

“When I looked at the metrics for esports I knew it was a sector I wanted to be involved in,” said Brittain. “With its global footprint encompassing multiple touch points, Gfinity already offers its commercial partners a great route to engage with a young and passionate audience. The recent launch of the Challenger and Elite series, expands Gfinity’s reach and opportunities for brands both here in the UK and across the globe. And I genuinely feel that esports is one of the most exciting entertainment sectors in the world right now.

Marco Raab is leaving his position at Red Bull to join Escada and lead all marketing and communication activities for the German designer brand. Raab previously was at Red Bull for 10 years, most recently working as global marketing manager for special projects for the beverage company.

Josh Kovolenko has been promoted to senior vice president of marketing strategy and operations for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel, the company announced. The executive will oversee marketing strategy, partnerships group, marketing production teams and the marketing on-air operations for all three networks.

“Josh is an incredible leader, and one of the hardest working people I’ve had the pleasure to work with,” said Lara Richardson, group executive vice president of marketing at Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel. “I am overjoyed to have his knowledge and skill set across all three nets.”

Antitrust attorney Michael Hahn has been hired to serve as the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) senior vice president and general counsel.

Formerly a partner at Lowenstein Sandler LLP, Hahn will handle legal matters for the trade groups, including antitrust compliance, intellectual property rights and general corporate and contractual matters. He will also be responsible for serving as an advocate for the digital advertising industry on legal matters affecting members of IAB and IAB Tech Lab, it was announced.

“We have already been impressed by Michael’s legal acumen, as well as his deep understanding of advertising technology,” said Alanna Gombert, senior vice president of technology and ad operations for IAB and general manager of the IAB Tech Lab. “Having him come on board full-time will prove invaluable as we engage further in driving technical standards across the complex global landscape.”

“I am excited about taking on this new role with IAB and IAB Tech Lab—organizations’ at the nexus of digital marketing in the US and across the globe,” said Hahn. “I am eager to bolster their missions and provide meaningful legal counsel on key issues that impact their constituents and advance the industry-at-large.”

Mobile esports company Skillz announced the addition of 18-year gaming veteran Kent Wakeford to its board of directors. Wakeford previously was the COO for mobile game developer Kabam.

“As a seasoned technology executive and a successful founder, Kent’s strategic leadership will be a key asset on our board,” said Andrew Paradise, CEO and founder of Skillz. “Kent’s business acumen and gaming expertise will be invaluable as we continue to help developers make games better by delivering eSports to the world’s 2.6 billion mobile gamers.”

“Skillz solves two of the most challenging problems facing the $46 billion mobile gaming industry, monetization and discovery, by enabling competitive play,” said Wakeford. “eSports are one of the fastest growing segments in the video game industry, and Skillz is leading the way on mobile by powering competitions for thousands of indie developers as well as iconic franchises like Street Fighter.”

The board of directors for Six Flags Entertainment Corporation announced the appointment of Jim Reid-Anderson as chairman, president and CEO of the company.

Facebook’s WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger products has a new vice president of communications in former Uber PR pro Rachel Whetstone.

NASCAR has a new managing director of event marketing and promotions in Brandon Igdalsky. He previously served as president and CEO of Pocono Raceway.

Former three-time Lakers champion Rick Fox is bringing more basketball gravitas to his esports organization with the hiring of 11-year NBA veteran Jared Jeffries as the president of Echo Fox.

“Jared is a proven winner and fierce competitor on and off the court,” said Fox. “We cannot be more excited to have someone with his pedigree as a professional player and front office executive help lead Echo Fox as it continues its ascension to the number one esports organization in the world.”

United States Cellular Corporation has hired Jay G. Spenchian as senior vice president of marketing to develop strategic branding and communications initiatives to drive customer growth and loyalty, the company announced.

“Jay has a proven track record of driving customer growth, identifying consumer trends and marketing innovative products, and his expertise in a variety of marketing initiatives make him a great fit for the fast-paced wireless industry,” said Jay Ellison, executive vice president and chief operating officer at U.S. Cellular. “As a key member of our leadership team, he will help us successfully execute on our business objectives by ensuring that we offer the latest products and services that customers care about and that our brand messaging resonates with consumers and businesses.”

Universal Music Group has appointed executive Adam Granite to the role of executive vice president of market development. Granite will be tasked with maximizing commercial opportunities for artists and labels across Europe and emerging markets including Africa, China and India.

“More than ever, to be successful in an increasingly global music business, you must be able to maximize opportunities in markets around the world. With Adam, we are adding an experienced executive to UMG’s deep bench and gaining someone with a global track record of commercial success.”

“With the global nature of today’s music industry, artists have access to audiences around the world and the ability to broadly influence culture on a scale never before seen,” Granite said.

Jamie Diamond has been named director of communications for Universal Music Publishing Group. Diamond will oversee internal and external communications, public relations strategy and digital properties for UMPG.

Ocean MacAdams has been tapped as the president of Thrillist in order to increase emphasis on video production for the digital entertainment publisher, who primarily emphasizes programming on food, travel and lifestyle.

Tesla has brought on 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch and Johnson Publishing Company CEO and chairman Linda Johnson Rice to join its board of directors. The two executives will serve as independent directors without ties to Elon Musk, the CEO and founder of Tesla.

Haagen-Dazs has gotten happy by naming Pharrell Williams to lead its new global ad campaign.

Gregory McCray, the CEO of Google Fiber, the broadband and cable business division of Google, has stepped down from his role with the company just five months after originally joining.

“We are committed to the success of Google Fiber,” Alphabet CEO Larry Page said in a statement. “Fiber has a great team and I’m confident we will find an amazing person to lead this important business.”

Darren Lachtman, the head of Twitter’s Influencer Marketing Network and the co-founder of Niche, the company acquired by the social media network, is leaving post, he announced. Nick Millman, director of global partnerships for Twitter, will lead the division moving forward, and Kristen Lachtman, Niche’s former head of content strategy and Lachtman’s wife, will lead the team’s US operations.

(Editor’s Note: This post will be updated daily until Friday, July 21. Have a new hire tip? Let us know at

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Brands At San Diego Comic-Con Want To Be Experiential Marketing Heroes

San Diego Comic-Con is here once again in all of its glory. The costumes are on, the celebrities have arrived and experiential marketing is abound at the biggest fan gathering of the year. Let’s take a look at how some brands are competing for attention with creative activations.


Celebrating the upcoming Hearthstone expansion of Knights of the Frozen Throne, Blizzard Entertainment is bringing Ice Cream Citadel, a pop-up ice cream shop, to the Petco Park parking lot. Anyone in the area is invited to stop by for a free frozen cone in “Villain-illa” or “Scourgeberry Sorbet,” as well as a photo with the imposing Lich King himself. Those brave enough to call the business (1-855-LIC-HKNG) will be greeted by the Lich King’s chilling voice. No Comic-Con badge is required to participate.


Beat the summer heat with HBO’s “Winter is Here” activation. The immersive environment will take fans to Game of Thrones locations like Winterfell, Dragonstone, King’s Landing and North of the Wall. Dragonglass RFID wristbands will capture each touchpoint of the journey, producing individual links with ready-to-be-shared pieces of content. Every guest that goes through the experience will be given a custom SDCC Night King Funko Pop! figure, a T-shirt featuring the Night King key art and an exclusive Robert Ball Episode 701 mini poster.

Adult Swim

Adult Swim On The Green is a mini carnival with games, motorized animals, a tarot card reader, dart throwing, an oversized claw machine with Comic-Con-related prizes and an upgraded “Meatwad Dome 4D Experience” with motion seats.

Open to anyone over the age of 18, the event is located behind the convention center at Fifth Avenue Landing and Convention Way. Celebrity guests will be stopping by throughout the Con and will be broadcasting shows live. Adult Swim’s Nighttime On The Green will offer free screenings for fans who want to see the latest series and pilots. At Petco Park on Saturday, Adult Swim will host a Rick and Morty event with creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon.

Amazon Prime

The Tick is heading to San Diego with a giant 24-foot replica of the hero’s head, complete with animatronic antennae that respond to posts about it on Twitter. Starting July 21, Twitter users who add the #TheTickSDCC hashtag to their tweets, along with specific emojis, will see replies from the official Tick account with videos of the antennae moving in response to the requested emoji. The 24-foot replica of The Tick’s head will be visible from “all major landmarks” at the event, and Twitter users can control it with emoji.

Warner Bros.

Want some sewer candy from a creepy clown? Sure, why not? Brave fans can hop on an IT-inspired school bus that doubles as a virtual reality installation. The bus and FLOAT: A Cinematic VR Experience will be located at the Interactive Zone across from Petco Park—no badge required, although you might want to bring an inhaler.

Those attending the LEGO Ninjago Movie panel will receive an exclusive, movie-themed giveaway. For an hour each day during the convention, fans looking for a good stretch before standing in their next line can head to the lawn at the Omni Hotel at 10 a.m. to participate in “NINJOGA,” a tai chi/yoga-like workout for the ninja in everyone.

Warner Bros. teamed up with Johnnie Walker to immerse SDCC fans into the world of Bladerunner 2049, in all its gritty, cyberpunk essense.


Located in front of the Hilton Hotel in the Gaslamp Distrcit, The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead will be on display at AMC’s free “Deadquarters” experience. Test your swing at the Negan Batting Cages, meet cast members and more.


Hey, it’s that one guy . . . you know, who was in that one movie? If you’re constantly looking up what shows and movies actors were in, then you’re no stranger to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). This year, the IMDboat returns with host Kevin Smith to interview celebrities from The Walking Dead, Arrow, Preacher, Vikings and more—all streamed on a giant screen so spectators can watch live. Street teams will also be giving away swag bags to convention guests.


The San Diego ballroom of the Marriott Marquis & Marina will be transformed into a colorful Nintendo world full of photo ops and game demos. Fans can also participate in competitions sponsored by Nintendo for a chance to win prizes, catch a glimpse of the upcoming Super NES Classic Edition hardware and celebrate the launch of Splatoon 2 with special game-themed activities.


There will no doubt be a ton of Overwatch cosplay at San Diego Comic-Con this year, but attendees who find the HyperX cosplayers can win big prizes. Peripheral manufacturer HyperX has partnered with six cosplayers dressed as D.Va, complete with custom HyperX headphones. Convention-goers who take a picture with these ladies on social media while tagging @HyperX and #SDCC will be entered win a HyperX Peripheral Kit—featuring a HyperX Cloud Revolver S headset, HyperX Alloy FPS keyboard, HyperX Pulsefire FPS mouse and HyperX Fury S mousepad.

More information about the HyperX Cosplay Scavenger Hunt will be available on the HyperX Twitter account before the event starts. Winners will be randomly selected the week following the convention.


Pepsi’s Fandom Fest includes a food truck that will serve pop culture-inspired foods with Pepsi drink pairings. Menu items include Chimichanga with Pepsi (Deadpool), Fire And Ice Float made with Pepsi Fire (Game of Thrones), Ichiraku Ramen Taco with Pepsi Zero Sugar (Naruto) and Wookie Cookie with Diet Pepsi (Star Wars).  A live stage at the event will host trivia games, cosplay shows, talent interviews, panels and a lounge area for fans to take a break.

‘Splatoon 2’ Pits Ice Cream Against Cake; ‘Layton’s Mystery Journey’ Puzzles The World

This week, Nintendo’s most successful IP since Wii Sports gets a sequel and Level-5 takes puzzle-solving to a global level. From ice cream to strangers in hats, we take a look at how these two brands are getting creative with game promotions.

Splatoon 2: Splatfest

Which is better—ice cream or cake? To celebrate the world premiere of its Splatoon 2: Splatfest demo, Nintendo asked players to choose a side (Team Ice Cream or Team Cake) and duke it out in the ultimate Turf War online. The Splatfest event allowed players to try four different main weapons including the new Splat Dualies, the Tentatek Splattershot and remixed versions of the iconic Splat Roller and Splat Charger.

In the end, Team Ice Cream won the event, just in time for National Ice Cream Day on July 16. Even Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aimé got in on the fun by posing with an ice cream cone.

Splatoon will soon get its own anime series, according to Japanese gaming news site Ga-M. The franchise already has its own manga in Japan that appears in CoroCoro magazine each month. An animated version will air exclusively on CoroCoro’s YouTube channel beginning in August.

Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle And The Millionaire’s Conspiracy

For the seventh official entry into its popular Layton puzzle game series, Level-5 wanted to get the world talking. A month prior to launch, dapper characters dressed in black began to appear at strategic locations around the globe—each holding a puzzle. Hints to their location were given on social media through photos, challenging players to track them down in person. Regardless of location, fans are invited to an official web portal where they can solve these and other puzzles, interact with other players and earn prizes that carry over into the finished game.

The very first puzzle was presented by Japanese comedian Daimaou Kosaka as his alter-ego Pikotaro, made famous for his song PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen).

Layton’s Mystery Journey introduces new characters, the most puzzles in the series and a whole new platform—smartphones. While the game launches on Nintendo 3DS later this year, Layton’s Mystery Journey will debut on iOS and Android July 20.

For the series’ creator and Level-5 co-founder Akihiro Hino, embracing the mobile platform is a natural step forward.

“With Layton’s Mystery Journey on the smartphone, we’re getting that know-how—the knowledge of how to move it onto the smartphone platform,” Hino told GameSpot. “We are actually looking into trying to bring past projects onto smartphone, [or] maybe even a new console, like Switch.”

‘Marvel Powers United VR’ Wants To Give Fans The Ultimate Superhero Experience

Marvel madness is everywhere. Between blockbuster movies like Spider-Man: Homecoming, television shows like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and upcoming video games such as Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite and the Insomniac-developed Spider-Man game, fans don’t have to look far to see their favorite heroes in action against supervillains. Earlier this week, Oculus and developer Sanzaru Games announced Marvel Powers United VR for the Oculus Rift, which promises to take the superhero experience to an all new level.

Although the game isn’t expected to release until 2018, Oculus and Sanzaru already have a working demo that will be debuting to the public at the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) this week. Oculus will be at the Marvel booth with VR stations so that attendees can play a four-player cooperative mission. Players will be able to choose between taking the roles of Captain Marvel, Rocket Raccoon or The Incredible Hulk. On Wednesday, Deadpool was announced as the fourth playable character and Comic-Con attendees will have a chance to slip into the merc with a mouth’s red and black outfit. More characters are on the way, as Sanzaru plans to launch the game with a 12 character roster with more to follow afterward.

Omar Woodley, development director at Sanzaru Games

Omar Woodley, development director at Sanzaru Games and designer for Marvel Powers United VR, spoke with AListDaily and described the game as “the ultimate superhero experience. You get to be the hero in pretty much any aspect you can imagine. You physically look like the hero, move as the hero, and wield the hero’s powers.”

When asked what inspired the creation of a Marvel superhero-themed VR game, Woodley spoke about how there were a lot of Marvel Comics fans at Sanzaru Games and Oculus. The development studio, having made two VR games for the Oculus Rift already—VR Sports Challenge and Ripcoil—wanted to grow the platform’s library even further. At the same time, Marvel was exploring new ways to grow its IPs, and it all culminated into this project.

Woodley also described the development of the character roster as “vetting and routing process,” since Marvel has such a long list of characters. “Sanzaru had its wish list of characters, as did Oculus, and they were compiled into one big list that was sent to Marvel—which had its own list of characters they wanted to see in a game,” he explained. “Eventually, it was vetted to the roster that we have, and I think everybody is happy with the final list.”

As for how the four wildly different characters were selected, Woodley explained how “for the demo, the four that were chosen were the ones that we felt established the roadmap for the experience that we want to do for players. You have two very oppositely scaled characters with Rocket and Hulk (one is short while the other is a giant). Meanwhile, Captain Marvel is human-sized but she has some of Hulk’s abilities, like throwing objects around, and can blast things using her powers, like Rocket does with his guns. They gave us a good blueprint for building other characters we plan to release.”

Coincidentally, Rocket is part of a four-person team called The Guardians of the Galaxy, although there might be more characters added since the movie sequel released in May. We asked Woodley if this was a sign that the roster might include full teams for players to bring together.

“I don’t think we specifically targeted that direction,” Woodley replied. “We were just thinking about what would give players the best experience, what cool characters we could have, and what could we do with those characters. A small team on the roster is a possibility, but that’s not our main goal. We’re looking for more breadth and to pull more awesome characters from the comic books that might not have had as much spotlight put on them.”

VR is still a relatively small but growing area of entertainment, and a major brand like Marvel could be crucial to spreading awareness of the technology. “I think Marvel is a key player. They have amazing IPs that they can market and that we can establish VR experiences around. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to play a video game where I was the hero—not with a controller looking up at the TV—I wanted to actually be in the game. That’s what we’ve done. When you play as Rocket, you can look down at your furry body that’s carrying crazy guns and you can see your muzzle [in front of you]. That’s an amazing experience to me,” said Woodley.

Woodley also confirmed that there was a plan to coordinate the game’s content with Marvel as new movies release, but could not provide any details about that partnership. However, he did confirm that the movies were crucial in helping to keep Marvel Powers United VR at the top of mind in the months leading up to the game’s release.

“The Marvel umbrella—with its movies, shows and games—will all work to keep it at the top of mind for fans,” said Woodley. “Other than that, I think participating in more demos and events will help keep people talking about this title.”

Lastly, Woodley shared his thoughts about what’s ahead for VR.

“I would love to see the next version of the Oculus Touch controls,” Woodley explained. “That technology is already amazing, but I would like to see more contextual sensitivity for detecting finger movements. Maybe we’ll see a full suit or sensors that you can attach to your body for the cameras to track, like what they do with motion capture.” A virtual reality suit would certainly fit into the theme of slipping into a costume to become a superhero.

Skydance Rockets Toward New Vertical With VR Game ‘Archangel’

Skydance Interactive officially announced the debut of its first virtual reality game Archangel on Tuesday. The first-person shooter will bring players into the cockpit to pilot a six-story high war machine in a VR battle that travels across landscapes of a post-apocalyptic America in the year 2089.

Players can begin leading the resistance against tyranny exclusively on PlayStation VR for now, but beginning August 2, Archangel will be available on HTC Vive and Oculus, and later be complemented with locational-based experiences at IMAX VR Centres.

The launch of the VR franchise signals the start of a new vision and business division for Skydance Interactive.

Jesse Sisgold, president and chief operating officer of Skydance Media, oversees business affairs, business development, interactive, international acquisitions as well as sales and licensing for the David Ellison-owned company. Sisgold joined AListDaily to talk about how their debut VR game begins a news chapter for the diversified media and entertainment company.

On Skydance’s VR strategy . . .

Archangel is a story-driven, action-packed, triple-A VR title. A little over a year ago, we launched our third big pillar of content creation with Skydance Interactive with an emphasis on awesome, interactive gameplay for VR. The Skydance brand, for the most part, has been sci-fi, action, adventure, fantasy and PG-13 for audiences with the ability to cross media. Given that large demographic, we think VR, and in particular with the emphasis on computer-generated, hardcore interaction will weave the storytelling DNA of Skydance to make it more hybrid. It will work both for gamers, and for those who are more new to interactivity through a console. We think we have a super exciting vertical integration opportunity to capture IP that has a massive audience. It will take it to the next level in an authentic way through the VR experience that we launched at E3 last month with our partnership with Skybound for The Walking Dead game.

On how Skydance is creating experiences that are different from others . . .

We’re really thinking VR holds the future because there are a lot of great experiences coming out now that are much more passive, yet, still exciting because it transports you to others worlds. We’re a little less focused on that. We’re focused on immersing you in the world and then having you drive the story through interactivity. That would be hardcore gameplay components mixed with true emotions, great characters and stories—but you’re an active player in the story. I think that won’t be just limited to the VR gamer. I think that could be available for every adult and child that wants to fully dive in, and is available to silo themselves from their world for a certain amount of time.

On marketing VR . . .

I think the marketing bible is still being written for VR. It’s sort of similar to the early days of 3D. One of the hurdles that it has to overcome is that it’s really hard to express to someone how awesome VR is unless you’re in there experiencing it yourself. Also, the user base we’re talking to is still relatively small. You have to be able to potentially market through mobile VR experiences that will later lead to the console VR experiences—and then do your best to cut trailers, have great fan reviews and get great critical reviews.

On the advertisement opportunities VR presents . . .

VR needs to be authentic, organic and feel genuine to the user experience. That has to be No. 1. With that I think there are a lot of opportunities. I think not before long, you will see ad-sponsored or free-to-play [experiences], particularly on the mobile VR side. I think there’s an ad revenue [there]. Imagine you’re in the world, and the ad is with you. So there’s a chance to really immerse the person within the ad. Particularly on console experiences, where you’re building an awesome world and fully interacting with it. So to make that world authentic, you would probably not have everything feel generic—you would want brands that would really fit the space. I think there’s probably a pretty cool way to integrate products down the road—maybe even beyond what’s been done in movies.

On the VR adoption trends Skydance has seen . . .

The gamer demographic is jumping in early on. That’s for a variety of reasons. They’re often always on the frontier of trying new technology. If you already have a PlayStation or Xbox, it’s a relatively modest upgrade versus starting from scratch with other platforms and brands. Those prices are coming down, too. But if you look across, particularly on mobile VR platforms, you’re starting to get everyone. Now on the menus there are both adult-and-children-oriented VR experiences. I think you’re starting to see more and more of the general community coming in. But I think the gamer demo is still leading the pack.

On what the future holds for Skydance . . .

There is a lot of research and development involved, but we feel very good. It all starts with an awesome product for the fans, and with that awesome product, hopefully you get appreciation from what the platform provides. It’s just about being smart in how you reach potential consumers and to provide digital and on-site experience opportunities. We’re excited with the stuff we have coming down. We just premiered Baywatch with Paramount Pictures, of course, in late May. We’re following up Archangel with the very cool, online arena shooter PC game PWND. All of this is to get the audience to understand what Skydance is all about—which is a company making fan-first experiences, with authentic stories, and making sure that it fits the medium and keeps the quality bar super high.

Sacramento Kings Are Using AR, VR And Esports To Become NBA’s Tech Tour De Force

The Sacramento Kings announced another first in the NBA. The team partnered with Nike and developer Zappar on Tuesday to add an augmented reality feature in its Appy Award-winning Kings + Golden 1 Center app that brings the team’s new Nike Icon uniform to life.

Fans will be able to interact with seven-year NBA veteran and Kings shooting guard Garrett Temple, who wears the new uniforms for the first time and elaborates on the new features of the team’s on-court look.

Ryan Montoya, the Kings’ chief technology officer, told AListDaily that fans can customize their own jersey with their name and number, virtually “frame” and “hang” the new look on their wall, and photograph themselves with Temple, too.

“The Kings’ culture of innovation continues to build as Nike, the most innovative and creative sports apparel company in the world, becomes the official on-court apparel provider for the NBA,” Montoya said. “This is a preview of what’s possible when teams collaborate with the NBA and brands like Nike. When we learned about the new jerseys we wanted to have the best way to launch these early with our fans. AR achieves objectives. Whether a kid lives in South Sacramento or South Asia, they can see it in real life immediately. Fans can also go in-depth to see what the differences are compared to the old jerseys.”

The new Nike purple Icon uniforms and white uniforms will be available for purchase this fall, making the AR experience the only way fan can enjoy the jersey and embedded technology until the beginning of the season.

Montoya said the Kings first embraced AR four years ago when the team opened its Experience Center for Golden 1 Center.

“Usually you’d have a physical 3D model of what the stadium will look like, but we instead created an AR app so fans could come in and use an iPad and see the arena come to life,” Montoya said. “They could walk around the arena and see our aircraft hangar doors open and see the seating for basketball versus a concert.”

Over that short span of time, Montoya has seen AR technology evolve with better graphics chips and a better viewing experience.

“It’s gotten more sophisticated and easier to use,” Montoya said. “We’re excited with every new opportunity that technology like HoloLens or Oculus Rift or HTC Vive opens up for our fans. We go to all of the technology shows. We talk to people from MagicLeap. We’re excited about the future and we have specific ideas of how we want to utilize new technology for our fans.”

Montoya said that for over a decade, the Kings have been pushing the boundaries on digital innovation, welcoming fans behind the curtain for enhanced and immersive experiences through this app, as well as inside the arena. The team has been at the forefront for many of activations that an average sports fan would not anticipate a franchise to make. They were the first team to join Twitter, invest in a virtual reality company (Voke), host a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” with players, use Facebook Live to interview players, stream a game in virtual reality internationally and host a startup competition.

Andy Miller, co-owner of the Sacramento Kings, is also at the forefront of the team’s esports movement. He previously has said that his NBA franchise’s new Golden 1 Center was built for esports. Last week, the Miller-owned NRG Esports entered into Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League.

“Andy has been involved in esports and we’ve been trying to figure out the best way to get involved,” Montoya said. “We were one of the first NBA teams to raise our hands and embrace esports as the future—not only with the NBA 2K ELeague, but with our own arena activation.”

In March, Golden 1 Center hosted a halftime esports competition with Team NRG’s Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada taking on a local gamer, Caleb Patton, who had battled his way through a 50-person “Road to the Golden 1 Center” Super Smash Bros. tournament to play in front of over 17,000 NBA fans. The five-minute competition was played at center court on the NBA’s largest 4K videoboard.

The Kings also embraced gaming by hosting a Pokémon Go meet-up at its stadium at the peak of the gaming craze last year.

“We’re excited to have an NBA 2K esports team here,” Montoya said. “We’ve been talking to a lot of players in that community, and a lot of them want to come here because of what they’ve heard or seen about the technology inside the arena.”

That technology includes over 800 wi-fi access points inside the billion-dollar arena, which has 650 miles of fiber-optic cable and 300-plus miles of copper running though its infrastructure. There’s even a 6,000-square-foot data center in the stadium, which is one reason attendees can theoretically send 500,000 Snapchats per second.

The NBA has the youngest audience across the four major sports in the US. In addition, one in seven people in the world is following the NBA on social media. This global audience is also crazy about NBA 2K, with over 34 million people playing in China alone.

“We built the arena with complete future-proof flexibility because we see Golden 1 Center as a platform with the ability to scale over time,” Montoya said. “Anyone who comes in here would love to play NBA 2K on the scoreboard or any of the other esports games. Esports was in the design and development phase of this arena. It’s the ideal location for hosting esports events, as well as concerts and other entertainment.”

Twitch And Crunchyroll Unite Fandoms With Anime Marathon

Anime and manga community Crunchyroll has partnered with Twitch to host a five-day marathon featuring more than 15 different anime series. This event will be the first anime marathon on Twitch—not counting the Pokémon animated series—adding to a growing list of TV programming streamed across the site.

The anime marathon will run July 27 to August 1 on the TwitchPresents channel. While the full programming schedule won’t be revealed until July 21, the slate of anime series confirmed include: Yuri on Ice, Mob Psycho 100, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers.

Twitch was originally founded to stream games, but it has become a thriving community that gathers for whatever passions they share. For fans, this means more access to their favorite animated shows. For marketers, this means access to an engaged fan base in a market that fetched ¥1.8 trillion ($15.9 billion) in 2016.

“Anime content on Twitch always sparks a lot of positive feedback from our community given how gaming and anime cultures have borrowed a lot from each other,” Annie Berrones, director of emerging content marketing at Twitch, said in a statement. “By partnering with Crunchyroll for our first ever anime marathon . . . we will be able to tap into this passion of our community in a much more robust fashion than ever before.”

Subscribers to the TwitchPresents channel will receive access to new, exclusive emotes themed after some of the featured shows.

“We’re bringing two powerful fandoms together around our shared passions, and we look forward to introducing new viewers to some of our favorite anime series starting next weekend,” Kun Gao, Crunchyroll’s co-founder and general manager, said in a statement.

The Japanese animation industry is experiencing its fourth “Anime Boom,” according to The Association of Japanese Animations, especially in the United States. This boom can be attributed to increases in market channels including internet distribution like Amazon, Netflix and Crunchyroll. You’d think that Amazon-owned Twitch would partner with AnimeStrike for its first anime marathon, but a mutual love of the animation transcends competition.

“Crunchyroll and Twitch have had a close relationship for some time, including featuring some of their talent on our shows and audiences that are very adjacent,” Michael Aragon, Twitch SVP of content told AlistDaily. “Because we already knew their team and content, we proposed Twitch as an ideal platform to highlight their shows via a marathon since it would ultimately drive a new audience to their paid subscription service.”

Crunchyroll partnered with LootCrate last year to further its brand outreach and encourage subscriptions to its anime streaming service. For the first time, Crunchyroll will have its own booth at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

“Anime has been a fundamental part of Japanese culture for several decades, and it’s been an increasing part of worldwide culture over the past 25-plus years,” Dallas Middaugh, head of brand and community at Crunchyroll, told AlistDaily in an interview last year “You can make several arguments as to why ranging from the coolness factor to the accessibility of the art. But in the end, I believe it comes down to compelling stories and characters.”