Twitch Tag Teams With Lucha Libre To Leverage Mexico Market

Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide, Mexico’s biggest wrestling promotion organization, is creating a “parejas increíble” with video streaming site Twitch, livestreaming Triplemania XXV beginning with a pre-show marathon on August 24.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Triplemania XXV will be the “match of the decade,” pitting luchador Dr. Wagner Jr. against Psycho Clown. The event will be broadcast worldwide in both English and Spanish languages, featuring specially themed emotes for the Twitch chat.

“Prior to our relationship with Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide, we saw that the community was rallying their favorite wrestling leagues to start broadcasting on Twitch,” Christian Borneman, Twitch’s Latin America director, told AlistDaily. “This let us know it was a category worth exploring. This is the closest to being ringside you can get from a viewership perspective. Latin culture is very much about live events, participation with your friends and being there. Twitch offers that digitally and globally.”

The fast-action wrestling style of Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide is gaining a dedicated following outside of Mexico, as evidenced by its recent partnership with FrontRunner in the UK. This first-ever Lucha Libre broadcast in the region aired in June to 19 million homes across the UK and Northern Ireland.

Of course, the art of lucha libre, dating back to 1863, is most at home in its native country of Mexico, where Twitch shares a passionate user base.

“Twitch is very strong in Mexico since there is a passionate gaming scene in that part of the world and we’re constantly onboarding new streaming partners,” said Borneman. “We expect our base to continue to grow since our goal is to make the platform native to Mexico by amplifying some of the great participatory content the country is famous for, like lucha libre.”

Known for gaming livestreams, Twitch has also earned credibility within the worlds of competition—joining the advisory board for Nielsen Esports—live marketing and other forms of entertainment such as TV, film and anime. This partnership with Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide shows that sports will become an important part of that lineup.

“As with all emerging content areas on our platform, we’ll be looking to the community to guide us toward areas of interest,” explained Borneman. “Since traditional sports already have a presence on Twitch through video games—including this recent Twitch Prime initiative around Madden—and we also attract a lot of athletes who livestream, there is always the possibility of more sports.”

The Triplemania pre-show marathon on Twitch begins August 24 at 3 p.m. PT, with the live broadcast of Triplemania XXV beginning on August 26 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. PT.

‘Uncharted: The Lost Legacy’ Marketing Is A Duo Of Adventure And Girl Power

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is available now on PlayStation 4, and Naughty Dog has the challenge of marketing a beloved franchise without its beloved protagonist. Starring fan favorite supporting-characters-turned-main-characters Chloe Frazer (Uncharted 2) and Nadine Ross (Uncharted 4), The Lost Legacy marketing focuses on these two femme fatales, gameplay and the detailed environments Uncharted is famous for.

Originally planned as DLC, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a full game that has two of the franchise’s most popular characters team up for the first time, in addition to the all-new Survival Arena in multiplayer. It’s not surprising, then, that Naughty Dog and PlayStation have focused its marketing around these two tough ladies.

PlayStation also created wallpapers and merchandise to celebrate the match-up. Fans can “add a little adventure to their conversations” with official digital stickers, featuring cartoon versions of Chloe, Nadine and other characters displaying a range of emotions. Fans were invited to share their fan art of the new characters, which were shared on social media, as well.

Stars of the game, Claudia Black (Chloe) and Laura Bailey (Nadine) played the game live on Twitch to commemorate its launch, adding additional insight into how it was made and putting a face to the voice behind these new characters.

The game’s developers wanted fans to know that they treated The Lost Legacy with as much care as they did on previous titles—illustrated through behind the scenes videos, interviews and extensive gameplay previews. On Instagram, Naughty Dog created a mosaic of previews on its profile page using a screenshot from one of The Lost Legacy‘s scenic locations. Each tile revealed something different, from trailers to details about gameplay.

Uncharted has the sense of ‘oh shit, we’re exploring someplace no one’s ever been.’ We’ve brought that back there,” The Lost Legacy’s creative director Shaun Escayg told Eurogamer.

To further illustrate that exploration, PlayStation posted a 360-degree screenshot of the lost cities of the Hoysala Empire on Facebook, which players will get to explore in-game. In fact, Western Ghats is the largest explorable environment Naughty Dog has ever created.

As with Uncharted 4, PlayStation covered the sides of buses in London with posters and key art for The Lost Legacy, although the marketing doesn’t appear to be as extensive as Nathan Drake’s last adventure. That means no special console, no sweepstakes offering a trip around the world . . . but no shortage of livestreams hoping to show fans that The Lost Legacy isn’t a lost cause.

Fans may have a hard time imagining an Uncharted world without Nathan Drake, but Naughty Dog isn’t quite done with its many characters—which means if The Lost Legacy doesn’t do well, there may be other games in the expanding franchise that do.

“We have no immediate plans [for another Uncharted game],” Escayg told Red Bull. “But if there’s anything this game proves, [it’s] that this world is beyond Nathan Drake—there’s other cast, other characters—you’ve got quite a vast amount of cast to pull from in the future if you so wanted.”

Inside The Marketing Bonanza Behind The Mayweather-McGregor Mega Fight

The Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor super fight mostly materialized from the months-long back-and-forth banter played out in front of the fans and media between both of the global icons. It can even be argued that the cross-sport fight—which is unprecedented at this magnitude and is bound to break a bounty of records—came to fruition thanks in large part to the power of social media.

The world will be watching with intrigue on Saturday when Mayweather, one of the greatest boxers ever, puts his 49-0 record and legacy on the line in the last fight of his decorated career against McGregor, a flamboyant mixed martial artist and the current face of UFC.

Prognosticators are predicting the prize fight will end in a landslide victory for Mayweather, a Hall of Fame-bound pugilist who has plied at his trade his entire life. In contrast, the Irishman (21-3) on the opposite side of the ring has never fought in a professional boxing match.

Flying fists aside, with pay-per-view (PPV) buys, ticket and merchandise sales, sponsorships and closed-circuit viewing, the sports spectacle is projected to rake in upward of a gaudy $600 million for a maximum of 36 minutes of in-ring work at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

It’s expected to shatter all-time records set during the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao matchup in 2015, which included total earnings of $623.5 million, 4.6 million PPV buys, gate receipts of $72 million and $60 million bet on the fight.

For a fight that’s on pace to become an unprecedented success in revenue and viewership, brands are quickly aligning their marketing motives for a potential knockout with their messaging.

“It’s kind of like winning the lottery,” Marianne Radley, senior vice president of marketing for Monster Energy, told AListDaily. “So many eyes are going to be on this fight. Conor is a lightning rod—a controversial, edgy, outspoken and hard-charging character—and that’s everything that Monster is about, too. He ties in perfectly with our brand and it’s a fortuitous time for us to be partnered with him.”

Monster leveraged its two-year relationship with McGregor by renewing its sponsorship with the star and filmed its biggest commercial to date. A five-by-five-inch logo featuring the energy drink company—they will be joining BetSafe with such branding—will also be adorned on the front of McGregor’s trunks come fight night.

Radley said they don’t normally do media buys, but saw this once-in-a-lifetime fight as an opportunity to harness its heritage and maximize its association in MMA to increase brand awareness with a 360-degree digital plan pushing content across various social channels, fight-viewing parties, retail tie-ins, point-of-sales and sticker-and-jersey giveaways.

Monster was previously an accidental beneficiary of a McGregor meltdown when the fighter hurled two cans of the energy drink (and bottles of water) at opponent Nate Diaz and his entourage during a press conference last year. McGregor and his agent Audie Attar, founder of Paradigm Sports Management and the man behind the marketing of “Mystic Mac,” cheekily used the brand to launch a limited-edition $75,000 can.

“We want to make sure that we’re expanding reach and casting a broader net to tell people who may not be aware of our branding and association with Conor, the UFC, MMA and combat sports,” Radley says. “That’s who we’re targeting pretty strategically and putting our media dollars in. . . . I couldn’t even begin to tell you [how valuable the sponsorship and media value is.] It’s priceless. It’s the fight of the century. To have part of the branding in that is just incredible.”

“I’ve got good endorsement deals. [The marketing] is certainly a good business. I’m very happy with everything that has been going on,” said McGregor, who also has Beats By Dre in his corner. “There are so many moving parts in the game. I’m just trying to roll with it . . . Everyone is excited here. We can go radio silent and this fight is still going to blow everything out of the water. This is a special historic event and everybody is excited about it.”

The collaborations are sizeable coups for McGregor because the UFC’s apparel deal with Reebok does not allow fighters to strike deals with shorts sponsors. In 2013, McGregor collected a $235 welfare check. He’s now forecasted for a $100 million payday.

“Money” Mayweather will make an estimated $350 million payday on Saturday. He seldom works with brands but has still amassed an eye-opening fortune that makes him one of the highest-earning athletes on the planet.

“We’re both real fighters,” Mayweather said. “We’re two huge names in combat sports. He’s made a mark the last few years and I’ve made a mark for 21 years. Now it’s time to go do what we do best and fight.

Mayweather’s method of promotion includes tapping into his wealth of famous friends, like Justin Beiber, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross, and having them all post on their social channels to buy his fights hours before the proceedings. There’s also the lavish lifestyle, the money and the fact that fans buy his fights to watch him lose.

Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s longtime adviser and CEO of Mayweather Promotions says “you have no idea what a great marketer he is.”

This week, Mayweather is working with the likes of tequila-maker Avion (which is releasing 150 commemorative bottles) by donning the brand’s hat during the weigh-in, and Swiss watchmaker Hublot, the brand of which will be adorned on the waistline of his trunks. For his fight against Pacquiao, Mayweather walked into the ring with the Burger King king for a reported $1 million figure, so there may be some more branded tricks up his sleeve.

UFC president Dana White said the fight is tracking to be the largest commercial PPV ever.

“This is the biggest event ever in combat sports history,” White said. “It’s the most distributed PPV event in history. The list goes on and on of the records the fight will break.”

The fight will be available in over 200 countries and is expected to exceed over five million PPV buys at $100 a pop. Face value for tickets range from $500 to $10,000, but StubHub says a lukewarm secondary market has materialized.

“I think we’ve done a good job working with Showtime in that they do the things that they’re good at, [and] we do the things that we’re good at,” White said. “There’s a lot of things boxing doesn’t do. For instance, most of the time you’re dealing with a network—networks aren’t too excited to go OTT. Not a big thing that they’re into. We have the capabilities. We do it all the time and I believe we’re one of the best to do it. . . . The numbers are tracking huge. We’re gonna kill this thing. It’s looking really good.”

Showtime is using the fight to shake-up its approach with a direct-to-consumer strategy. In addition to traditional PPV options, there will also be online and streaming buying options on its site, the Showtime app, PlayStation, Xbox, Apple TV and Roku. Consumers will have access to additional content and a special free trial for the Showtime standalone streaming service and CBS All Access.

The premium cable channel has been churning out content chronicling the lives and training camps for the combatsmen with four feature episodes of its Emmy Award-winning series All Access. The network also partnered with the UFC to give fans insider access by making all of the media-only events available for fans worldwide live on YouTube and satellite.

“This is an event that transcends sports. It’s captured the world’s attention. We’re seeing unprecedented interest in a number of different ways,” said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports. “To give specifics, our Snapchat Stories have been getting 4.5-to-5 million views.”

“This is the biggest event ever in combat sports history. It’s the most distributed PPV event in history. The list goes on and on of the records the fight will break. . . . The numbers are tracking huge. We’re gonna kill this thing. It’s looking really good.” – Dana White, president of the UFC.

The straight-to-consumer tactics were highlighted by the four open-to-the-public press conferences (Los Angeles, Toronto, New York and London) that doubled as celebratory international events attracting over 10,000 fight fans in each market. White and Espinoza said that’s when they realized they had truly something special on their hands.

The CBS-owned network also tapped into its own resources and star power with a friendly wager between Diddy and Mark Wahlberg, and unveiled an exclusive promotional video featuring The Killers in the middle of a boxing ring as the rock band performed their new single “The Man” in the middle of the desert.

Although the UFC has the proverbial second seat in the saddle throughout the entire promotion—thanks to Mayweather, Showtime has been the shotcaller—the world’s preeminent MMA organization is making the most of its marketing opportunities. For one, consumers who order through UFC get a free hat and/or a 30-day trial of UFC Fight Pass. The UFC has been running a promoted Twitter campaign showcasing the deal.

Fans can also buy more than just the hype by getting an opportunity to splurge on the fight with pop-up retail locations for two consecutive weekends in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The shopping experience, complemented with photo booths and raffles to win tickets, airfare and hotel accommodations for the fight, feature exclusive merchandise and collaborations. And of course, an event with global appeal merits its own line of emoji.

Although a primary fight sponsor has not been announced yet, once the fighters hit the ring Saturday, they’ll be greeted by Corona branding in the center of the mat, which is billed as the official beer sponsor of the fight. BodyArmor-branded towels and bottles will be prevalent in the corners of both fighters.

“We’ve got a long history in boxing. We always lead with consumers, and we know what our fans like,” John Alvarado, Corona’s vice president of brand marketing, told AListDaily. “The hype and anticipation this match is getting from avid and casual boxing fans—as well as non-boxing fans intrigued by the unique matchup—was the real attraction for us. This is an opportunity to have the Corona brand in front of over 50 million-plus US viewers. All of the potential brand impressions that the weigh-in and fight itself will garner us made this a great opportunity for Corona to be front and center and reinforce our heavy involvement in the sport.”

Corona declined to disclose how much the single-fight sponsorship cost the company, but ESPN reported earlier that the asking price for a brand’s logo at the center of the ring as well as branding on ring girls and other opportunities was $10 million—nearly double the $5.6 million price tag Tecate paid for Mayweather-Pacquiao.

To say that the event will be a major beer-drinking occasion is an understatement. So, Corona will be setting up satellite bars with branded backdrops throughout Las Vegas where fans can consume Coronas as they partake in all the excitement that will be buzzing throughout the Strip. The Corona Boxing Ring Models will help fans show off that “they were there” before heading to the T-Mobile Arena to tell millions around the world what round it is every three minutes.

The beer brand will also be pushing paid posts through its social media channels at the weigh-in and fight itself to give consumers a behind-the-scenes look. Alvarado says that their efforts from retail to advertising to consumer engagement creates a lot of additional selling opportunities for Corona’s sales team.

“Boxing is a major passion point for our consumer,” he says. “We’ve always tried to align Corona with marquee fights that boxing fans get excited about and that can continue to cement the brand in the sport with those consumers. We’ll be leveraging every aspect of the fight this week to connect Corona with consumers during this record-setting event.”

For fans who can’t afford to fork over fortunes to watch the fight in grandiose fashion in Las Vegas—or refuse to come to terms with the PPV price point to order it—they can watch the tilt in a movie theater broadcast for around $40 in nearly 500 movie theaters across the United States.

Mayweather Promotions and Fathom Events are collaborating for the tenth time since 2009 to ignite a sense of electricity in movie theater auditoriums for fans to congregate and cheer on their favorite fighter. The up-close-and-personal, big-screen theater experience for a live sporting event is definitely different from the normal trip to the movies.

“With every new fight, we learn more about our audience, their buying habits and how to target them,” Kymberli Frueh, vice president of programming at Fathom Events, told AListDaily. “Our boxing and MMA events tend to see a lot of walk-up sales at the box office rather than pre-sold tickets, but the Mayweather-versus-McGregor fight has already sold thousands of tickets ahead of the event, so we’re expecting very good results.”

Frueh said that there are a lot of eyes on Fathom Events, some for the first time, and they’re getting a chance to learn about their programming. That means stretching their marketing budgets, too. Consumers are being digitally targeted with cinema-event messaging and they’ve already activated with an in-theater media campaign (onscreen exposure as well as promotions in hundreds of cinema lobbies nationwide) that is their largest to-date. They’re also using Mayweather’s muscle, who has a personal stake in the proceedings with his promotional company, to amplify the experience offering.

Frueh echoed a sentiment that all of the involved brands can likely agree on—positioning their marketing strategy with involvement in the fight is bound to pay dividends.

“Being associated with a fight that has tremendous global awareness improves our brand recognition,” she said. “It’s trending to be the biggest ever.”

Back To Gaming: Notifying Mobile Players Without Being Annoying

Perhaps the single greatest advantage mobile games have when compared to console and PC games is easy access to players.

There’s no better way to engage players than with well-timed push notifications letting them know that it’s time to pull out their mobile devices and progress further in their favorite games. But the question is, how do you get players back into games without being intrusive or bothersome?

AListDaily united Emily Greer, CEO of and co-founder of Kongregate (AdVenture Capitalist; Animation Throwdown), Jon Radoff, CEO of Disruptor Beam (Star Trek Timelines; Game of Thrones: Ascent) and Joseph Kim, chief product officer at Sega Networks (Sega Forever; WWE Tap Mania), to get their thoughts about when to properly use notifications and the best ways to re-engage with mobile players.

Emily Greer, CEO And Co-Founder Of Kongregate

“I think that [it’s about] making sure that it’s something of real interest and use to the player, and not over-spamming. We tend to use a mix of push notifications and local notifications, where local notifications trigger much more often and provide useful information about what’s happening in a game that you’re actively playing. So, for Animation Throwdown, [it tells me] when a rumble or guild siege is starting and I need to jump in and help my guild—something that’s really useful for me. I always leave them on because I want to know when those particular time triggers happen.

“Lapsed players get less frequent notifications, and it’s about having a distinctive voice to the game. We try to bring a lot of the humor and charm from AdVenture Capitalist or Animation Throwdown to the push notifications so it doesn’t feel like it’s someone nagging you, but they’re saying something interesting. Then we make sure that it’s selective and brings something new and relevant, like a new part of the game, expansion or update that’s worth a push notification. It’s important to be selective and thoughtful about it, and you have to think about what the player needs and wants, or else they’re going to block you out and turn you off altogether.”

Jon Radoff, CEO Of Disruptor Beam

“We don’t actually think of ourselves as a mobile game company. First and foremost, we think of ourselves as a storytelling company. So, the engagement we drive is through having a story people want to participate in and come back to. Things like notifications can only exist to serve that, otherwise they’re an annoyance that pops up on your screen. So, if it tells you something important that you want to know, then that’s fine.

“We’re on Steam, mobile and Facebook, so our games are cross platform. We span multiple devices with the thinking that we want to be on the devices that people are using. The cross-platform stuff is an important part of our strategy. It’s about being able to have these stories structured in a way that you can consume them in little bits at a time. You don’t have to sit down in front of a game for hours. Some of our customers do engage for hours, but you can also do it for a few minutes at a time—at the time and place of your choosing. If you want to do it through Windows, you can do it that way. Or you can do it on mobile devices or Facebook. We give you multiple options for engaging. I think that one of our strengths is that we give these multiple touchpoints on the same game, but it all ultimately comes back to story. I think good media—not just games, but television, movies and theater, going back to when people were sitting around a campfire—is all based on stories.

“If you can’t engage people through stories, then it’s going to be difficult to engage them overall over a long-term basis. We’re going for a deep, human connection that we all share with stories.”

Joseph Kim, Chief Product Officer At Sega Networks

“For me, the answer basically boils down to engagement. If users are engaging with the notifications, then the game isn’t going too far. However, the tricky bit stems from the situational nature of the use and frequency of push notifications.

“From a personal perspective, I want to see every notification to collect a chest in Clash Royale or when I get a new follower in Instagram. However, [there are] some notifications I don’t want to see at all, and some games can spam like crazy for every short-term retention mechanic implemented in game.

“From a game developers’ perspective, we’ve got to be careful to avoid annoying users, thereby potentially leading to a negative impact on game KPIs and negative brand impact. Assessing user preference for these notifications essentially boils down to just measuring a player’s level of engagement with them.

“More specifically, developers should seek to understand the types of notifications being sent, the impact of varying frequency in which they are sent, the types of players who like specific notifications (even down to individual player preference if possible), as well as the overall impact on game KPIs.”

Electronic Arts Opens ‘Madden NFL’ Esports Playbook

The NFL is finally going all-in on esports. While Electronic Arts has been at the forefront of competitive gaming with its Madden NFL video game franchise for decades, and the game has been the centerpiece of esports through Madden Bowls and Madden Challenges for over 15 years, the NFL has committed all 32 clubs to the Madden NFL Club Championship this year. It’s part of the Madden NFL Championship Series (MCS), which EA launched last year.

The competition kicks off on August 23 with online qualifiers on Madden NFL 18 in the Madden Ultimate Team Champions mode. After registering online, gamers across the country can compete for a chance to represent their local NFL team in a competition that will fly out the top 32 players (one per team) to compete in the Madden NFL Club Championship Live Finals. That competition will commence at the NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida and culminate at the NFL Experience Driven by GMC in Minneapolis, Minnesota ahead of Super Bowl LII.

Madden Championship Series commissioner Matt Marcou told AListDaily that last year’s NFL Club Series competition, which featured eight NFL clubs, paved the way for the entire NFL to officially commit to esports for the first time.

“At EA, we learned that the feedback was positive and [NFL Club Series was] regarded as one of the coolest competitive offerings we’d put forth,” Marcou said. “That helped us want to push the program forward. Those eight clubs got deep insight into what competitive gaming is all about and how it’s a parallel to the competition they create with the NFL. Those clubs were over the moon about the series and that excitement served as a catalyst to encourage the rest of the clubs to follow suit. Most importantly, the clubs learned that this is a business they want to be in.”

With involvement from every club across the NFL, this is the largest competitive gaming commitment ever by a US professional sports league. The NBA and 2K will launch NBA 2K ELeague next year, and the inaugural season will feature 17 of 30 teams, with plans for all teams to join up eventually.

EA Sports is also expanding its FIFA esports offering this year. Marcou has seen esports emerge as a business unto itself.

“When we were running the Madden Challenge 10 years ago, it was experimental marketing,” Marcou said. “Now, thanks to changes in technology and in the market, instead of competitive gaming being a marketing initiative, it can be grown into a viable business outside of selling copies of the game.”

The Madden NFL Club Championship is one of three Madden NFL Championship Series EA Majors, the other two are the Madden NFL Classic on October 20-21 and the Madden NFL Challenge on December 15-16. EA hosted four EA Majors last year and the Madden Club Championship is replacing the Madden Bowl. EA Majors are the pinnacles of the Madden NFL Championship Series with only the top players qualifying. Additionally, the Madden NFL Championship Series purse has risen to $1.15 million for the season, up from $1 million in its inaugural season.

“The NFL is completely supporting us,” Marcou said. “We’re working hand-in-hand. The NFL has brought in an overall interest by bringing the clubs into this, as well as additional support to further this concept and bring it up to the EA Majors level.”

In a press release, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “Competitive gaming and esports are one of the most exciting ways to engage a larger, younger and digitally savvy NFL audience. Collaborating with EA to create the Madden NFL Club Championship presents a unique opportunity to capture the excitement of NFL action and the passion of our fans with competition that anyone can participate in.”

Marcou said each club decides how they want to activate in their own market. Last year the Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars and 49ers activated in their stadiums, while the Vikings held its esports event in the Mall of America and the Seahawks held theirs at the Seattle Pop Culture Museum.

“Last year, each club was allowed to bring in their athletes as they saw fit,” Marcou said. “With all 32 clubs involved now, we’ll see how each best figures out how to craft the experience for competitors and leverage their location and athletes. There is more opportunity for athletes at these competitions, but hopefully this opens up additional opportunities for EA as we’re running our Majors.”

Having 32 local markets invest in esports will open up new opportunities for local brands and sponsors, which is a similar approach Activision Blizzard is taking with its upcoming Overwatch League. Marcou said Madden creates more bite-sized opportunities for local club sponsors to get involved. Each club will have free range to integrate sponsors into their activities. Last year, the Patriots activated with Friendly’s ice cream and integrated that product into the competition, while Gillette, Buffalo Wild Wings and Snickers were also part of the event.

When it comes to national sponsorships, Marcou added that this competition creates more opportunity across the board.

“There’s no better opportunity than working with the official marketing partners of the NFL,” Marcou said.

While EA worked with McDonald’s last year for the Pro Bowl portion of the competition, Marcou said sponsors for this year have not yet been finalized. Nor have the digital and television partners for this season’s competition.

How Brands And Bands Are Working Together In Harmony

Corporate partnerships with musicians are nothing new—cigarette companies have used music endorsements as far back as 1941.

But, just as love-song similes have become much less hackneyed over the ensuing decades, the face of brand-music partnerships has changed dramatically as well.

Business-first artists like Sean “Diddy” Combs exemplify this shift. In 2014, six years distant from his most recent album, a healthy serving of the $60 million he earned from ventures came from working closely with French vodka distiller Diageo. Diddy brought the luxury liquor Cîroc to his fans and split profits with the manufacturer, going as far as calling himself “Cîroc Obama.”

Now, free streaming services like Spotify and Pandora are making it more and more difficult for artists to make a living from royalties—the music sponsorship industry is set to pass $1.5 billion in 2017. Brands and bands are finding it necessary to collaborate much more closely than ever before.

“The best marketers today know that loyalty is in short supply and so they have to deliver experiences and emotions that tap right into people’s desires and aspirations. Those brands that successfully create emotional engagement are the ones that succeed in turning customers into fans,” Olivier Robert-Murphy, global head of new business at Universal Music Group, said in last year’s “IFPI Global Music Report.”

It takes more than just a winning smile and slow-motion footage to sell these days, and just this year, brands like Sprite, Chipotle and Converse are proving themselves amply prepared for the task.

Converse Rubber Tracks

With its Rubber Tracks campaign, Converse finds itself as one of the vanguards of this trend. Ironically enough, the most modern implementation of the musician-brand partnership has been a reversion to a medieval patronage system.

The idea was simple enough. Converse, with its extensive clout, reach and most importantly budget, set up recording studios in 18 different cities around the world, and offers free studio time to up-and-coming artists. Musicians can hand over limited rights to their recorded songs to allow the brand to publish them on their website and social media, and the company hires full-time sound engineers to work with artists in the studio. But otherwise, Converse keeps its hands to itself and lets the music do the talking (or singing).

The strength of the Rubber Tracks campaign lies not just in its simplicity, but its necessity. As the streaming model has choked album sales and squeezed revenues for modestly successful artists, major labels have invested heavily in developing already-known bands and producing smash-hit singles, leaving many small or experimental artists out in the cold. Converse has stepped in where the music establishment has failed, and in the process is building genuine goodwill among a younger crowd—no mean feat.

RZA And Chipotle: Savor.wavs

Scoring points for sheer unorthodoxy, Chipotle worked with rap legend RZA to cook up 51 different beats to represent their 51 “real ingredients,” from pizzicato violins representing bell peppers to a lonely trumpet riff to symbolize distilled vinegar. Chipotle then made the samples available to the public with an announcement video featuring hand-drawn animation and a somewhat bored-looking RZA, but not before passing them along to artists like GRiZ, AWOLNATION and Wu-Tang Clan to remix.

Despite RZA lending his name and talent to the project, it’s clear that Chipotle maintained creative control. “Tastes good . . . feels good” is the first line in the Wu Tang remix, and “all the good things come together” features prominently on the hook.

Given the call to the public to mix the samples themselves and get a free coupon, the musician partnerships are just one arm of a consumer campaign rather than an attempt to build a lasting relationship with any of the artists themselves. In any case, like with their “The Scarecrow” short film, Chipotle is seeking to garner brand engagement through noteworthy executions, using music as another chance to turn heads and earn press.

OK Go And Morton Salt

OK Go’s “The One Moment” stands at the opposite end of the spectrum from Chipotle’s starkly controlled content—the creative freedom stands at the opposite side of the brand-musician relationship.

This activation, filmed in slow motion over 4.2 seconds, links to Morton Salt’s “Walk Her Walk” water crisis campaign, but the song speaks about clinging to individual moments rather than making a difference, and the video includes no reference to salt or their cause.

Vince Staples And Sprite

Up-and-comer Vince Staples’ critically acclaimed track “Norf Norf” begins with the line, “Bitch you thirsty, please grab a Sprite,” and thus began the whirlwind romance.

Most recently, in connection with their “Summer Sprite Cold Lyrics Series,” the soft-drink brand produced the music video for “Rain Come Down,” the first time they’ve ever directly financed an artist’s music. The video ends with Staples, sitting woodenly in a diner booth, sipping from a bottle of Sprite like a Disneyland marionette. Additionally, he appears in a 30-second TV spot, in which he apathetically acknowledges soda-ad tropes.

Staples describes the union as a “fair and honest partnership,” adding, “they’re not trying to be anything other than Sprite.” Just so, Staples isn’t trying to be anything other than himself either, and the fact that both parties aren’t trying to oversell either themselves or each other adds an air of authenticity that builds trust in both.

Brands Celebrate Back-To-School Season With Humor, Positivity And Magic

It’s time to go back to school, and that means shopping carts both physical and electronic are being filled with everything from crayons to the latest electronics.

Retail sales are estimated to reach $867.18 billion this year, according to eMarketer, with a 14.8 percent growth for e-commerce. With so many stores to choose from, this can only mean one thing for brands—creative back-to-school marketing.


Stranger Things star Millie Bobbie Brown teamed up with Converse to capture 32 different emotions teens feel on that first day of school with a series of animated GIFs. Appropriately named #FirstDayFeels, Brown acts out a number of scenarios from hyper to nervous, all in bite-sized, easy-to-share images through Giphy.

Converse partnered with publishers like BuzzFeed and Teen Vogue, which will also help the brand get in front of a relevant audience of young women and teens.

Ikea—Oddly, Ikea ASMR

Going back to school can bring feelings of anxiety and excitement, but Ikea is using its own products to elicit feelings of relaxation through sound. “Autonomous sensory meridian response,” or ASMR, is a popular genre of relaxation videos on YouTube that uses soft narration, scratching, tapping, brushing and other gentle sounds found to be therapeutic by many people.

Ikea created a series of ASMR videos using these sensory techniques on products such as sheets, clothes hangers, lamps and other items one might find in a dorm room.

“Back to college is a highly competitive space, and brands—both in- and out-of-home furnishings—are offering unique services and multichannel experiences,” Kerri Homsher, external communications specialist for Ikea, told AListDaily. “So, you always need to be doing something that’s going to make people engage, especially during this time of the year. Whether going off to school or staying close to home, these are big family decisions. We target both the parents—whose focus is on affordable, quality solutions—and the student who wants a stylish, fun space. Their mindsets, priorities and how Ikea can support them are different, so we aim to tailor the messages accordingly.

GapKids and Lionsgate—Back To School, Forward With . . .

GapKids partnered with Lionsgate to bring positive messages to kids as they head back to the classroom with a series of short films. Each of the four shorts highlights a way in which school can be a positive experience—focus through meditation, creativity through art, confidence with a mantra and kindness to one another. Each video ends with the slogan, “Back to school, forward with (focus/creativity/confidence/kindness).”

The final short in the series, focusing on kindness, features actor Jacob Tremblay (Room) and ties into Lionsgate’s upcoming adaptation of the book Wonder. Tremblay plays a young boy named Auggie whose unique face and personality inspire kindness in his new school.

GapKids is, in turn, participating in Lionsgate’s #ChooseKind campaign to coincide with Wonder‘s release in November and World Kindness Day on November 13. Students can participate in a T-shirt contest, creating designs that represent what kindness means to them. The eight winning designs will be sold in select GapKids stores, with profits donated to myFace and Children’s Craniofacial Association.

Shoe Carnival—A Surprise In Store

Shoe Carnival recruited YouTube star Zach King to perform his trademark magic tricks and highlight new styles around the store. In a series of commercials, King “magically” changes customers’ shoes, splits one sneaker into a pair and more, all in the name of back to school shopping.

“More than ever, our category is fragmented, consumers are demanding more, and everyone is shouting about back to school offers,” Todd Beurman, senior vice president of marketing for Shoe Carnival said in a statement. “We had to create a campaign that would break through the clutter and get people to pay closer attention to Shoe Carnival.”

Spending on shoes will average $119 per US parent this school season, according to predictions by Brand Keys. US parents are expected to spend an average of $716 on back-to-school items this year, a six percent increase over 2016 spending of $675.

NPD: ‘Splatoon 2’ Tops July Video Game Sales; ‘Call Of Duty’ Continues To Shine

US video game spending in July reached $588 million, NPD reported, growing 19 percent over the same month last year. This growth was fueled by a number of factors including Splatoon 2, Crash Bandicoot: N Sane Trilogy and additional availability of the Nintendo Switch console.

Sales of console and PC game software combined to reach $277 million in July 2017, up 17 percent versus a year ago. Driven by the Nintendo Switch, hardware rose 29 percent to $182 million. Meanwhile, video game accessories grew nine percent over last year to $129 million.

Tom Clancy is feeling the love from gamers as the bestselling game franchise in the US. In fact, Tom Clancy Ghost Recon: Wildlands the bestselling game year-to-date, and Ubisoft is the top-selling publisher.

Nintendo Paints The Town

Splatoon 2 was the bestselling title of July, marking a strong period for Nintendo, which was the bestselling software publisher for the month. The company published three of the month’s top bestselling games, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 and ARMS at numbers five, seven and 17, respectively.

Coming in at number two, Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy became more popular during its second month on the market, as the game debuted in June at number four.

Gamers Answer The Call Of Duty

Over the 12-month period ending July 2017, Call of Duty is the market’s bestselling video game franchise and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare the bestselling game. In fact, gamers are “answering the call” big time—three games from the Call of Duty franchise reached the top 20 in July, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered joining June carryovers, joining Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare at numbers 12, 13 and 15 on the charts, respectively.

RPGs Play A Role

Year-to-date dollar sales of games within the RPG genre have grown more than 50 percent, compared to the same period a year ago, NPD observed.

Titles such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Nier: Automata, Nioh and Persona 5 are driving the RPG market resurgence, as NPD video game industry analyst, Mat Piscatella noted in the report.

The NPD’s top 10 bestselling games across all platforms for July 2017 are:

  1. Splatoon 2*
  2. Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy
  3. Grand Theft Auto V
  4. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  6. Injustice 2
  7. Mario Kart 8*
  8. Overwatch*
  9. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
  10. NBA 2K17

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

Pico Goblin Aims To Make VR Accessible To Everyone

Although mobile and premium VR headsets tend to exist in their own separate worlds, Pico Interactive is looking to bridge the two with a standalone, tetherless device called the Pico Goblin. The portable VR headset looks like a cross between the Samsung Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View, but it does not require a phone to be inserted into it.

Paul Viglienzone, vice president of business development at Pico Interactive, sat down with AListDaily and described the Pico Goblin as “an Android-based all-in-one VR headset. It’s fully self-contained with no wires needed, no need to plug into a PC, and no phone.”

Paul Viglienzone, VP of business development at Pico Interactive

The Goblin supports about three hours of continuous play and comes with a small Bluetooth remote control, similar to Daydream’s. It’s available for pre-order now for $249 and pre-purchases come with five free games.

The goal is to bring VR to everybody by offering an affordable device for users to pick up and enjoy. “We’re trying to make it as simple and as engaging as possible for users. Our goal is to expand the market and make VR accessible for everybody,” said Viglienzone.

Viglienzone also compared the Pico Goblin to mobile VR devices such as Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR. “Google Cardboard and other products like it require a phone,” he said. “With us, you don’t need that. You can just grab it and go and it always works. You don’t have to worry about the battery running out on your phone, and you don’t have to worry about compatibility like you do with phone solutions [like Samsung Gear VR].”

Even though the Pico platform is Android-based, it doesn’t support Google Play or Daydream content directly. Developers will have to port content to the device. However, Viglienzone assured us that it will be very easy for developers to bring their content to the Pico platform, stating, “We expect a lot of ports to come over.”

However, users won’t be struggling for content, as Viglienzone said that the device is launching with over 50 games, with some being exclusive to the device. More are being brought over from other platforms such as Gear VR, Daydream and PlayStation VR.

“We have Defender, which is made by our own studio,” said Viglienzone, describing a VR combat game where players use a sword to fend off a horde of invading creatures. “Another title that I’m excited about is called Attack of the Bugs from Binary Bubbles, and I really love Starship Disco from Solus Games, which comes from PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift, and is a music shooter where you can load your own tracks. Our goal with the types of games we have is for them to be super fun to play. We want to make the headset accessible, so we want content that’s similar to that. The games should be fun, engaging and easy to play.”

Pico also has a unique approach for supporting non-gaming entertainment such as YouTube 360 or Facebook 360 videos.

“Our plan is to keep things simple for people, so we have our own tool that allows you to aggregate content,” said Viglienzone. “So, you can pull in YouTube videos and Facebook videos—pretty much anything that’s on the web—and build your own library and playlist. The idea behind that is that you don’t have to fill up your memory by downloading 20 different apps. You’ll be able to add the content to your library and stream it.”

The Pico Goblin has 16 GB of memory built in, and users can add a 128 GB microSD card to it.

To spread awareness, Pico hosted an event to debut the device in Beijing, and its first showing in the US was at E3 to kick off a summer launch. At E3, attendees could sit down and try the device out by playing games and demos.

“We’ve been pretty low-key,” said Viglienzone. “Our focus is in getting it to market, so we’ve been focusing on social media and press coverage. We’ll be doing more marketing as we get closer to delivering the product.”

Viglienzone believes that the next big challenge for mass VR adoption will be content, but reiterated how the Pico Goblin may go a long way toward convincing users to pick up VR.

“Our approach—and I think we’ve done it really well—is focusing on a couple different things,” said Viglienzone. “One is getting to an affordable price, because many of the other products are quite expensive, and we’ve been focusing on bring an affordable all-in-one experience. We’ve also focused on making it as simple as possible. A lot of the solutions out there are pretty complicated for people who aren’t tech-oriented, and we’ve tried to reduce all those hurdles. There’s no complexity in playing with the Goblin. Those two things make it very accessible for folks.”

However, Viglienzone also explained how there is a third factor that makes the Pico Goblin far more appealing than a device like Gear VR.

“The biggest thing is that you can share it with people,” he said. “A lot of people don’t like having their phone in a Gear VR and having it passed around. With ours, you can share it with your family and friend and still keep your phone in your pocket.”

Epic Games CEO Explains How Game Technology Is Impacting The Entertainment World

Tim Sweeney delivers the opening keynote for the inaugural Devcom Developer Conference at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany on August 22. His company Epic Games has had a blockbuster release with Fortnite, on the heels of last year’s release of Paragonand Unreal Engine 4 technology currently powers the top four games on Valve’s Steam platform.

Speaking with AListDaily, the founder and CEO of Epic Games took some time to discuss the new opportunities video game technology like Unreal Engine 4 is opening up for new industries like Hollywood and automakers, and how small game teams are developing huge hits with the technology, in this exclusive interview.

How are you seeing Unreal Engine 4 impact the video game industry?

The trend is that several years into this indie developer revolution that powered a lot of this, we’re seeing a real flight in quality. Instead of a million games a year competing for the Top 10 charts on iOS, we’re seeing more developers moving to PC, pushing high-end graphics and really innovative and deep gameplay in interesting ways. And we’re seeing new ideas and new types of games and new form factors, including the birth of some new genres of games that didn’t exist previously. It’s a really exciting time.

What do you think has been the key to the Unreal Engine’s success?

At Epic we’re game developer, and the Unreal Engine is an engine written by game developers for game developers. It really aims to solve the hard problem of enabling you to build a high-quality competitive game and then ship it efficiently. We make all the trade-offs necessary as we’re building the engine and our own games to achieve that. Of course, as a game developer, we’re on the line for it. If something sucks for you about the Unreal Engine, it sucks for us too, and we’re going to fix it right away. So, it’s a very pure business model that’s based on helping other developers succeed with the technology.

Coming out of the SIGGRAPH convention, what’s new with Unreal Engine 4?

SIGGRAPH is the graphics industry’s high-end event, where all the elite graphics nerds get together and talk about the state of the industry. We’re seeing a lot of amazing things happening in gaming and outside of gaming. We showed the Fortnite trailer running in real-time at Epic’s SIGGRAPH Real-Time Live event. It’s the first time you’ve seen a movie or a television show quality real-time animation running live in a game engine, and the production values there were really astonishing. We also showed “The Human Race,” this General Motors real-time car commercial running live in the Unreal Engine. It brings a photo-realistic car and sequences it together with mixed reality footage shot by a camera to create a really compelling experience, where can configure your car and then see it live in a car commercial.

How is real-time 3D impacting virtual reality?

On the digital human front. We feel like the area where today’s graphics technology falls short in photo realism is rendering humans, especially human animation. So, we worked together with Mike Seymour (Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars; Spider) and some partners to create a real-time motion capture setup and demonstrate Mike’s face being captured in VR in real-time and projected it into a VR scene—interviewing people with full facial motion capture and a very realistic response. We feel like this is the most realistic human rig that’s ever been created that runs in real-time, and it’s just the very beginning of this big effort at Epic. Over the coming years, it’s going to get closer and closer to reality.

Unreal Engine 4 also is powering NBC Universal’s Zafari. How is Unreal Engine 4 invading Hollywood?

Zafari is an animated real-time kid’s TV show created by Digital Dimension. It features these very realistic animated animals with fur and a very interesting storyline behind it all. But it’s also the first high-quality television animated series that’s authored in real-time. It’s powered by Unreal and it shows that the television and movie industries are starting to move away from their offline CG production, where it takes hours to render each frame, and moving to game engines. The quality of graphics that they can get out of game engines are approaching the levels that they see in film. You’re seeing adoption across a really wide range of products. Star Wars: Rogue One included real-time pixels rendered out of the Unreal Engine for one of the droids, just to prove that the technology was possible. We’re seeing widespread adoption across television. There is some sports broadcasting work that’s going to come out powered by Unreal Engine, all running in real-time, that really highlights how game engines have grown beyond games and they’re not just engines.

How does the new TV show out of Norway, Lost in Time, tie into this technology?

The Future Group Team in Norway has been producing this really amazing kid-oriented television show that’s actually a game show. People get together and compete in a real-time competition using computer graphics and it’s broadcast live to the world. So, they’re sitting there in front of a green screen doing things like driving cars or flying space ships, and then the CG is just edited in real-time. The audience and participants all see this really interesting, completely live interactive experience. It merges computer graphics with reality in some interesting ways. This isn’t Epic entering some weird new market. What we’re seeing is all these different industries that use computer graphics, from gaming to television production and film to enterprise, all coming together and converging on a common feature set for a new digital content—that transcends all of this and brings it all together in industry ways.