Brands Chase The Sun With Eclipse 2017 On Social

For the first time in 99 years, the moon passed in front of the sun, engulfing a 70-mile wide strip of land stretching from Portland to South Carolina in darkness throughout the morning. The last eclipse of this magnitude occurred in 1918, so this was a never-before-seen chance for digitally active brands to work with nature to build engagement and awareness.

Food And Beverage

Nothing rouses the appetite quite like rare celestial events, so it’s no surprise that food brands like Hostess, Chiquita Banana and Krispy Kreme attempted to cash in.

In a bold statement, Hostess named its Golden CupCakes as the official snack cake of the solar eclipse, citing the unmistakable resemblance between the celestial event and their cream-filled baked good, and providing a handy reference image:

Not to be outdone, Chiquita Banana decided to brand the sun, claiming that while the rest of the country wasted time with the “total(-ly overrated) solar eclipse,” they temporarily transformed the crescent sun visible before and after the eclipse into a banana. If you missed this one, they have scheduled another transmogrification for April 8, 2024.

Krispy Kreme overshadowed the solar shadow with their exclusive product announcement—a chocolate-glazed version of their famous doughnut. The limited-edition doughnut was available during “Hot Light” hours the weekend before the eclipse and the day of, after which point, like the solar system, Krispy Kreme reverted to its normal functionality.

Corona used it fortuitous brand-name correlation by associating the company with the “corona”—the only part of the sun that was visible during the total eclipse—by releasing a handy how-to video to help their customers make a pinhole eclipse viewer out of their 12-pack boxes.

Southern Pressed Juicery, located in Greenville, South Carolina, released a special “Black Sun Lemonade” for the celestial event. Made with activated charcoal, the drink turns completely black with just a few shakes.


As the path of totality missed many population centers and passed through numerous sparsely populated areas, hotel and campground bookings quintupled in the area. Vacation rental giant Airbnb and camping rental website Hipcamp took advantage of the jump in the interest of pushing their services, and even mattress manufacturer Casper temporarily threw its hat into the hospitality ring.

Airbnb, partnering with National Geographic, put out a contest earlier this month to find a tenant for a special campsite in Bend, Oregon. After a night in the geodesic dome bedroom, guests flew on a private jet over the Pacific ocean to witness the eclipse as the sun rose.

Meanwhile, Hipcamp worked with NASA projections for the path of totality and set up an interactive map of campsites to best witness the full eclipse across the country.

In a stroke of cosmic fortune, Casper mattresses found a town by the name of Casper in Wyoming right in the path of totality. Working with Under Canvas, Outdoor Voices and Alamo Drafthouse, they set up a luxury tent city, featuring food, movie screenings and a private eclipse viewing.

For those lucky enough to have vacation time during the eclipse, Royal Caribbean International created a week-long eclipse extravaganza cruise, featuring ziplines, surf simulators and—most of—a performance of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler during the total eclipse itself. The performance was an abridged version of her almost six-minute ballad, as the full eclipse only lasted for two minutes and 40 seconds.

For everyone else, Lyft offered discount codes for riders in PortlandNashville and Atlanta to metro-area viewing events.


MTV, partnering with Fooji, delivered eclipse viewing glasses and “astronaut” freeze-dried ice cream to celebrate the event and promote the VMAs on August 27 to those who tweeted with the hashtag #TotalEclipseVMA and the female astronaut emoji.

Both Volvo and Mitsubishi sponsored livestreams of the eclipse on Monday morning, working with CNN and ABC, respectively.

Volvo’s coverage of the eclipse featured 4K resolution 360° cameras capturing footage at seven different points along the path of totality. The livestream event was also VR compatible.

Mitsubishi’s event involved the brand attempting to include both the solar eclipse and their new car, the Eclipse Cross, in the same photo. They were also the exclusive sponsor of Good Morning America’s eclipse coverage and provided footage of the eclipse for the show.

Toshiba, partnering with NASA, displayed the space agency’s livestream footage of the eclipse on an enormous monitor in Times Square.


Brands Compete Through Customer Experience; Top Ads Watched On YouTube

Marketers are striving for transparency and brand safety in the programmatic world of advertising. According to the World Federation of Advertisers, 49 percent of marketers have adopted whitelists and blacklists of sites where advertising should or should not appear and 68 percent have suspended or intend to suspend investment in ad networks that raise red flags on brand safety.

To assist in this effort, 54 percent of respondents say they have worked with third-party verification companies to monitor the environments where their ads are placed.

Sixty-eight percent of marketing leaders say their company is increasingly competing on the basis of customer experience, according to the fourth annual State of Marketing report from Salesforce Research.

Shifting technology and social media landscapes often make it difficult to keep up with customer expectations, however. On average, marketing leaders today say 34 percent of their budget is spent on channels they didn’t know existed five years ago—and they expect that to reach 40 percent by 2019.

Millennials are almost 40 percent more likely to call out a brand on social media than other generations, according to the Q3 Sprout Social Index. Fifty-six percent of millennials surveyed say they have complained about or called out brands. In addition, 59 percent said they would use it to address an issue with a brand, compared to 51 person who would address the issue with an in-person conversation.

While 65 percent of Gen Z don’t think there’s much they can do about what they read in the news, 79 percent said they would engage with a brand that could help them make a difference, according to a study by Saatchi New York. In-person interviews with 50 members of gen Z between the ages of 10-to-19 and a survey online found that when it comes to social interactions, 70 percent want more time to hang out with friends outside of digital devices.

Publishers are successfully engaging readers through email. Ninety percent of publishing brands had statistically significant increases in unique open rates during the second quarter, according to Cheetah Digital’s Quarterly Benchmark Report for Q2 2017. Year-over-year open and click rates rose for publishers in the reporting period.

YouTube released the 10 most-watched ads for July. At number one, Apple’s The Rock x Siri Dominate the Day spot caught the most attention. Currently sitting at over 14.3 million views, fans enjoyed watching Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s use his iPhone 7 to accomplish whatever life goals he felt like accomplishing at the moment.

Louis Vuitton came in second with its Connected Journeys spot, focusing on its Tambour Horizon connection watch. Rounding out the top five are Geico’s Running of the Bulldogs, Audi’s Driver’s Test (Spiderman: Homecoming) and Driver Versus Fierce Cute Dog by Genesis.

Ads that make the list are determined by an algorithm that factors in organic and paid views, watch time and audience retention.

Sixty-three percent of Instagram users consider themselves to be “fashion-forward,” according to a new study by Dana Rebecca Designs. The brand surveyed 2,000 Instagram users to see how the photo-sharing app impacts purchasing decisions.

The answer? Quite a lot, according to the report’s findings, with 74 percent of millennial respondents saying they have made a fashion or beauty-related purchase after seeing a related post on Instagram. In addition, 29 percent of respondents say they have purchased jewelry or jewelry accessories after seeing the product on Instagram.

Forty-seven percent of retail marketers say their companies struggle to keep up with the latest trends, according to a study by RetailMeNot. While 99 percent of respondents said they want to improve the customer shopping experience, 54 percent say that technology moves too quickly for them to keep up. As mobile commerce continues to rise, 90 percent of retailers believe their companies would benefit from partnering with a company that has mobile marketing experience.

Digitally oriented media owners saw growth of 20 percent in the second quarter this year, according to new data from Pivotal Research. Digital advertising drove a five percent expansion in the US ad market, despite TV being down one percent.

Ten tech firms including Amazon, Google and Expedia increased marketing and advertising spending by a median growth rate of 24 percent in the quarter.

Editor’s Note: This story will be updated daily until Friday, August 25. Have a new report, study or tip? Let us know at

‘Indivisible’ Creators Grow Game’s Fan Base By Using Trust

Lab Zero Games made a name for itself following the release of a fighting game Skullgirls in 2012. The game was originally developed by Reverge Labs, but when its then publisher Autumn Games was hit with a series of unrelated lawsuits, funding for further development was cut, its development team was laid off and the game was ultimately removed from Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Store.

The original team went on reform as Lab Zero Games, which continued work on content for the PC version, and took part in a charity donation drive during the 2013 Evolution Championship Series (EVO) tournament. That was what helped inspire the company to look to crowdsourcing to help fund development for Skullgirls DLC content. The campaign reached its goal and then some, raising almost $830,000 of its $150,000 goal.

In 2015, Lab Zero announced development of a new game called Indivisible during the Skullgirls panel at the Anime Expo in Los Angeles. Indivisible was presented as an action role-playing game featuring a female protagonist named Ajna, who teams together with multiple characters to battle their way to a warlord to exact revenge.

The game was put on Indiegogo that October with the goal of $1.5 million, and publisher 505 Games promised to fill in the remaining budget if the campaign met or exceeded the goal. A playable prototype was released at the launch of the campaign, and although it took a long time, the game eventually met its funding goal.

A playable version of Indivisible, featuring some of the latest updates, was shown at E3 and Anime Expo this year to help grow the game’s fan base as it continues toward its 2018 release for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

Peter Bartholow, CEO at Lab Zero Games, spoke with AListDaily about using crowdfunding as a means of building a fan base, engaging with them and working with a publisher to help grow the audience.

What are the challenges in continuing to promote a game after a successful Indiegogo campaign?

We really like showing our work, so crowdfunding is actually a great fit for our studio. We think it’s incredibly important to keep our backers abreast of the game’s latest developments, show them how we’re spending their money and try to update them with something new every two weeks or so. Hopefully, they’ll also show their friends and get them interested in the game, too. If there’s any particularly challenge with promoting Indivisible over Skullgirls, it’s that there’s so much we can’t show that we want to, otherwise we’d risk spoiling the game.

What led Lab Zero to develop an all new IP instead of spinning off from Skullgirls?

After working on Skullgirls for more than five years, the team was ready to try something different. While we all love fighting games, most of Lab Zero’s staff doesn’t actively play them, so we wanted to try our hand at something that better represented the team’s interests. Indivisible was originally pitched to another publisher, who requested something “like Child of Light.” While that publisher turned it down, we were so happy with the pitch and its potential that we kept shopping it around until 505 Games signed it.

How has Lab Zero worked with 505 Games to promote Indivisible, and how have crowdfunding backers been taking to game projects that include publisher involvement?

I work very closely with 505 Games to promote the game, and we try to make sure they’re aware of what we’re working on should any interesting promotional opportunities arise. The game is more than a year out, so right now most of the promotion is driven by Lab Zero’s social media efforts and campaign updates, but every once in a while something comes up that warrants more attention. For example, we signed anime studio Trigger to produce our animated opening, so we made sure to get 505’s PR involved in promoting that in the anime community. Also, 505 Games didn’t initially plan on having us at E3, but the backer preview build was getting close, so we figured we may as well show it. I’m glad we did, because we ended up winning a few awards. As for other crowdfunded games with publisher involvement, I’m not sure how well I can speak to that, because I believe our situation was unique in that we named 505 in our campaign from the outset. Some campaigns hide the fact that there is publisher involvement only to address it later, but we felt it was important to be honest and direct about 505’s involvement.

Lab Zero has used crowdfunding to develop DLC for Skullgirls. What did you learn from that experience when crowdfunding Indivisible, and do you see it as a kind of way to build and engage with an early fan base?

Crowdfunding is almost entirely about trust. When it comes to trust, I think a lot of crowdfunding campaigns start off on the wrong foot because they’re afraid to treat their backers like adults and try to protect them from the realities of game development. Especially on the financial side of things. While the level of honesty and transparency we strive for can make things more difficult in the short term, we think maintaining that trust is worth it. Especially if you intend to crowdfund again, as we did.

What is your approach toward keeping Indivisible at the top of mind as we get closer to the 2018 release?

We frequently update our backers with progress, showing them new art and animation whenever we can. We do this through streaming, campaign updates and the occasional trailer when there’s a bigger announcement. Soon we’re going to take the next step and give players a build to play with so they can start directly providing feedback on the game. This will be an enhanced version of the build we featured at E3 and Anime Expo. Once it’s out there, it’ll serve as a lasting test bed so we can try out new gameplay changes and get feedback. Eventually we intend to test out new characters and levels. Finally—in what I believe to be a first—the build will not only be delivered on PC, but also the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. We’re extremely grateful to Sony and Microsoft for letting us do this.

Have you discussed plans for growing the Indivisible audience beyond the initial backers?

A lot of that ultimately falls on 505’s marketing team, but of course we’ll be working closely with them on that. The game is far enough out now that we’re still planning a lot of that marketing, but because of how often we update our backers, the website will have a huge backlog of behind-the-scenes content to look through and see just how much work went into making Indivisible. I think the Backer Preview should get a fair amount of attention once it’s released, especially as we continue to refine the gameplay with player feedback. The prototype generated a lot of videos back when the game was mere hypothetical, so hopefully the same happens again now that it’s becoming a reality.

How Xfinity’s Brand Marketing Revolves Around Product Experiences

With consumers increasingly relying on staying connected to a cavalcade of devices, Comcast is positioning its Xfinity brand to capture a market share in the cable television, internet, telephone and wireless services categories with a variety of marketing.

The activations have been wide-rangin and varied, like Xfinity leveraginged celebrities and tentpole movies to help promote Xfinity X1 features, including Kevin Hart, the Minions, Olympian Carli Lloyd and The Secret Life of Pets. They’ve also partnered with social media creators like Josh Peck, King Bach, Meghan McCarthy and Zach King to create content based on their favorite features.

There is also the X1 Challenge, which takes Xfinity X1 on the road with Chris Hardwick with an interactive bus, to let people compare X1 features to competing video platforms. The X1 Bus Tour is now in its second year and visits nearly 50 major events, including state fairs, city festivals and sporting events.

For more emotional and relatable marketing that celebrates family and togetherness, Xfinity activated with “Hooking Up Grandma’s House” for the holidays last year, which put the spotlight on families that miss their favorite technologies while visiting their grandparents during the holiday season.

AListDaily sat down with Peter Intermaggio, senior vice president of brand marketing and communications for Comcast, to discuss how the Philadelphia-based subsidiary is positioning the brand with marketing across a variety of different verticals.

What is the company’s mission in the space in reaching new consumers? Why do you think Xfinity is emerging as a household brand?

We operate in an exceptional marketspace that really matters to people—at the intersection of technology, entertainment and media. Over the last few years, we’ve worked hard to position Xfinity as a technology and lifestyle brand by highlighting industry-leading products, authentically connecting the Xfinity brand with popular culture, and deploying aggressive customer acquisition campaigns. Meanwhile, our category is intensely competitive, with a mix of traditional distributors and new entrants. And still, this year Xfinity debuted at No. 23 on the BrandZTM global top 100 only seven years after the brand was launched.

What categories are you emphasizing on?

I look to the work we’re doing with music tour sponsorships (Taylor Swift and Katy Perry), with award show programming (The Oscars, Country Music Awards and Billboard Awards), in sports partnerships (NASCAR Xfinity Series sponsorship along with NFL, NBA and MLB sponsorships), and our investment in esports, including sponsorship of the ESL gaming league and the Evil Geniuses esports team. These are all examples of how we are reaching audiences and building the Xfinity brand.

Why is a presence in eSports critical for the brand?

Gamers are classic “heavy users.” They’re among the most demanding internet users, so we’re using our esports presence to highlight our industry-leading internet speed and reliability. We’re sponsoring ESL, the world’s largest eSports company, and Evil Geniuses, the most successful North American professional gaming organization. We’re just entering our second year with both ESL and Evil Geniuses, and through these partnerships, we’ve opened up two Xfinity training facilities for Evil Geniuses—one in Alameda, California and another in Bloomington, Illinois. Both facilities are serviced by Xfinity gigabit internet speeds, the fastest available in the area. As an official ESL partner, Xfinity naming and branding is present at industry broadcasts, tournaments and events. We’re also working with the ESL to create and distribute unique content, as the eSports market has clearly shown a strong desire for behind-the-scenes access.

Considering you are a Comcast-owned brand, how are you influencing overall industries and trends for marketers?

We market through the funnel effectively by aligning brand and product features with hardworking, every day “always-on” acquisition campaigns on TV, in digital and in direct mail. Our ability to work within our company with the marketers and brands of NBC Universal is a particular advantage. This year, we produced a small film which highlighted Xfinity Internet speeds by featuring a wild ride in the cars from the movie The Fate of the Furious. We got 34 million views and incredible engagement levels. We also worked with virtually every network and property of NBC Universal to promote our X1 Voice Remote and got outstanding results. Outside of NBC Universal, we’ve partnered with a number of music award shows to highlight the X1 Voice Remote’s capabilities. This has included in-show integrations like using our voice remote to announce award nominees.

What was the mission behind your experiential activation at San Diego Comic-Con with the themed TV diner last month? Is experiential something you want to explore further?

If you want to have a lifestyle brand, you have to go where people are engaging with entertainment. At Comic-Con, we recreated sets from Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black and Marvel’s Luke Cage so fans could immerse themselves in the settings of these popular shows while enjoying some food made famous by the programs themselves. We had thousands of people come through our space and have fun with their favorite shows and with our brand. It was a great way to highlight our recent Netflix integration and to celebrate the new season of Game of Thrones.

Peter Intermaggio, senior vice president of brand marketing and communications for Comcast

How are you offsetting challenges from new competitors?

Our products and our marketing are truly insight-led. These innovations allow us to strengthen the Xfinity brand and separate ourselves from the competitors. We’ve really put an emphasis on product experience as a differentiator. For example, Xfinity X1 has changed the way people enjoy television. Our X1 Voice Remote provides dozens of moments of “surprise and delight” for customers every day. Our recently launched Xfinity xFi internet platform gives customers visibility and control over one of the most important technologies in their home—wi-fi.

How is the Xfinity X1 platform being positioned to capture market share through innovation in entertainment programming?

Xfinity X1 is at the center of our video strategy and scores well on every metric—customer satisfaction, video consumption and retention, among others. It’s an easy-to-use platform that puts all of your entertainment experiences in one place—live TV, 130,000 Xfinity On Demand choices, DVR, Netflix and web video—and it’s controlled by the X1 Voice Remote, which makes finding what you want to watch fast, simple and fun. We’re really proud of the way we’re showcasing these innovations. Every day we’re finding new ways to highlight our brand and product story.

KFC’s Edgy Marketing Wins Millennial Trust

If your kind of marketing is finger lickin’ cray-cray, then Kentucky Fried Chicken has your back. From chicken-scented sunblock to sandwiches from outer space, KFC has taken its world famous buckets of chicken on a marketing crusade to win the hearts—and affection—of millennials.

“We’ve learned that we need to extend our brand positioning beyond traditional advertising to really break through and make a dent in pop culture,” George Felix, KFC’S director of advertising, told AListDaily. “Our tongue-in-cheek humor and over-the-top selling is something that has been working well for us since many millennials distrust advertising to begin with. Instead of running away from that, we run right toward it. We believe that our ability to poke fun at the conventions of typical advertising has given us credibility with millennials. We know the new brand positioning and advertising have put KFC back on the map.”

Love it or hate it, KFC’s zany marketing stunts are, at the very least, consistent.

Colonel Sanders is portrayed by a revolving list of actors and comedians like Billy Zane, Rob Lowe, Jim Gaffigan, Rob Riggle and Norm Macdonald. The restaurant even used old footage of the real Colonel Harland David Sanders to poke fun of its new portrayals of the icon, as well as make goth kids happy. The brand is continually topping itself with outrageous campaigns that include a Mother’s Day romance novel, a WWE “Sandoslam” activation, sending a chicken sandwich into the stratosphere and even a line of merchandise with the slogan, “Dance like no one’s watching. Sing like no one’s listening. Dress like you haven’t eaten lunch yet.”

On Fried Chicken Day (July 6), select restaurants were outfitted with a robotic Colonel Sanders in the drive-thru. H.A.R.L.A.N.D. (Human Assisted Robotic Linguistic Animatronic Networked Device) repeated whatever the drive-thru operator said, but in the Colonel’s classic Southern accent.

The Colonel also joined forces with DC comics for an exclusive comic book available to fans at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. KFC #3: Across the Universe sends Colonel Sanders and The Green Lantern on the hunt for an intergalactic chicken thief.

The famous fried chicken has been creative in other parts of the world, as well. For Canada’s 150th birthday, the restaurant changed its name to K’ehFC for the summer. This celebratory name was reflected on special bucket packaging and at the first Canadian KFC, approved by Colonel Sanders himself in 1955. In China, KFC celebrated 30 years in the country by partnering with Huawei to release a limited-edition branded cellphone. The device comes pre-loaded with KFC’s Chinese app that allows the customer to place orders and even pick songs they want to hear inside a KFC restaurant.

In June, the company just completed their eleventh-consecutive quarter of same store sales growth. They’ve also seen 45 percent increase in brand consideration among millennials over the last two years.

“No brand can be everything to everybody,” Felix said.

But as KFC found out, sometimes weird and whacky just works.

Nielsen Esports Explains How Standard Metrics Are Essential For Brands And Players

It’s official—the esports industry has grown so big and has so many components that Nielsen created an entirely new business vertical to track it. Nielsen Esports will provide sponsorship valuation, fan insights, custom industry research and consulting services for those venturing into the $892 million industry.

Nielsen has been tracking esports for years from viewership to ad spend, and it even created Esport24, a syndicated sponsorship tracking service for tournaments. Findings from Esport24 data include how the playoff rounds of major 2017 esports tournaments to date have yielded anywhere from $75,000 to nearly $17 million in sponsorship value. The company says numbers like this emphasize the need for standard metrics to help industry players understand the value they are providing, receiving or missing out on.

Non-endemic brands—and their investment decisions—were a big reason we felt there was an opportunity for Nielsen Esports to play a role in the industry,” Nicole Pike, vice president of Nielsen Games and global research and project lead for Nielsen Esports told AlistDaily. “Nielsen will bring these brands an unbiased view of esports, both in terms of the opportunity it presents but also the questions they should consider before jumping into the space. Esports has come too far for a desire to reach millennial males to be the only deciding factor for brands—it’s a nuanced industry, and we want to help brands understand and navigate that nuance.

“[Additionally], our valuation data will allow these brands to build a sound case when or if they do decide to invest in esports—and to set proper expectations for the value they will receive,” Pike added. “Not only this, but they will also be able to compare and contextualize this value relative to other sponsorship activations across other forms of entertainment to help optimize their entire sponsorship portfolio.”

Tracking esports data such as viewership and money spent is not only helpful to investors, but also to the professional players. A lack of transparency in the industry makes it difficult for players to gauge how much they should be paid based on audience draw and performance.

“Team and player sponsorship is a significant opportunity within the esports space,” says Pike. “To date, the lack of credible standards around sponsorship valuation in esports has made many brands hesitant to jump into esports sponsorship. By providing clarity around the value of brand activations, Nielsen Esports’ goal is to empower our clients to make sound investments in this space, which will in turn support esports teams and players. Furthermore, our ability to consult around sponsorship strategy can help esports teams determine how to develop an effective, authentic relationship between a team sponsor and its players.”

Competitive gaming exists across different platforms, from mobile and local events to massive, international tournaments, and Nielsen Esports will be tracking them.

“One of the exciting things about esports is how an amateur, everyday fan can interact and compete in the same way their favorite professional is able to—there is an accessibility to esports that is hard to rival,” said Pike. “Our fan insights data explores both the professional and casual/amateur side of esports—and importantly, the interplay between the two. And certainly, as amateur esports events continue to expand, more sponsorship opportunities outside of the professional realm will present themselves—which Nielsen will be well-positioned to value.”

Def Jam, Daimler, Conagra And Credible Expand With New Leadership

Def Jam Recordings has brought on Scott Greer as executive vice president of marketing and commerce, where he will lead the company’s marketing, branding and creative content initiatives.

“Now more than ever, we are seeing the global reach of that culture, and Def Jam is rightfully at its center,” Greer said. “Authenticity and cutting-edge artistry have always been at the core of Def Jam’s spirit, and its incredible roster includes some of the most influential voices and exciting new trailblazers in music today.”

Greer joins the label after a six-year tenure as senior vice president of marketing for Columbia Records, where he worked on campaigns for Adele, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Lil Yachty and many others.

Manufacturer Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is promoting David Giroux internally to the newly created position of director of channel marketing. Giroux will head communication and strategy for DTNA’s Detroit and Freightliner brands. Filling the now-vacant position of director of public relations and corporate communications is Katja Bott.

“David’s accomplishments for DTNA are tremendous. For over six years, he and his team have ensured industry leading communications. We are grateful that he will continue to push communications for DTNA in this new critical role for the company,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of DTNA. “We welcome Katja to the DTNA family. With her breadth and depth of public relations and leadership experience, she will continue leading communications in our industry.”

Giroux was DTNA’s director of communication for seven years, and Bott has served at the Daimler Goup for 14 years.

Packaged foods conglomerate Conagra Brands is bringing on DeLu Jackson to fill the new role of vice president of precision marketing. He will oversee transition to a more personalized consumer marketing approach using data-driven activations.

“DeLu has achieved incredible results as an integrated marketing leader and he will play a vital role in transforming our marketing function so that our brands are reaching consumers in the ways their connectivity and lifestyles dictate,” said Darren Serrao, executive vice president and chief growth officer. “As we focus on growing our brands and business, DeLu will help accelerate our progress by partnering with our teams involved with insights, innovation and marketing strategies to create breakthrough programs.”

Jackson most recently was vice president of digital acceleration for Kellogg Company, and before that was corporate vice president of global marketing at McDonald’s Corporation.

“Conagra Brands is transforming into a more contemporary company and with that comes opportunities to deploy more innovative marketing strategies for its brands,” Jackson said. “I’m looking forward to digging in and helping the team drive results and having a positive impact on Conagra’s growth objectives.”

Personal loan marketplace has hired its first chief marketing officer Alan Gellman.

He will focus on building word-of-mouth marketing among consumers and stimulating further company growth.

“Credible has established that our core values of transparency, simplicity and choice are widely appreciated by millennials,” said Credible founder and CEO Stephen Dash. “We’re excited to welcome Alan to our team—we share a vision for doing the right thing by consumers, and Alan’s experience is both significant and highly relevant.”

Gellman previously held the position of CMO at online-centric insurance agency Esurance, where he was named one of the 50 most innovative CMOs in the world by Business Insider.

“Credible’s mission of helping consumers make smarter financial decisions is enormously appealing to me, and the opportunities for scaling the company’s business are exciting,” Gellman said. “The disruptive approach to student lending—where Credible provides clear choices and active guidance— has tremendous potential to extend to other financial services categories.”

Meelad Sadat is joining video game developer and publisher Blizzard Entertainment as director of global corporate communications. Sadat is jumping ship from virtual reality headset manufacturer HTC, where he was director of public relations for the Vive. Sadat previously served as the Ayzenberg Group’s communication’s director as well.

T-Mobile has promoted Andrew Sherrard to the newly created position of executive vice president and chief commercial officer. Sherrard, previously the brand’s CMO, will lead all offer and operations strategies for the company.

President Donald Trump has dissolved the economic advisory and manufacturing councils after numerous executives from brands like Under Armour and Intel resigned in protest of his remarks regarding the events in Charlottesville, Virginia this week.

Members of the two councils held leadership positions in firms such as JPMorgan Chase, IBM, Campbell Soup Co. and PepsiCo.

Angela Courtin has signed on to YouTube as global head of YouTube TV and originals marketing, joining recent hire Jon Wax (head of drama) and promotee Dustin Davis (head of comedy development).

Previously, Courtin worked at Fox Broadcasting as chief marketing officer, where she oversaw brand strategy and both on- and off-air promotion.

Mike Connolly has been hired by internet radio giant SiriusXM as their latest head of ad sales, where he will oversee attempts to grow revenue across the full lineup of SiriusXM channels.

“Mike is a proven ad industry executive and we are excited to have him lead SiriusXM’s ad sales team and continue its strong sustained growth,” said Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer. “Mike’s extensive experience in audio entertainment will be of crucial importance to SiriusXM as our programming depth and variety expand and the national audience of subscribers and listeners continues to rise.”

Connolly joins SiriusXM from his previous position as vice president of advertising and affiliate sales for ESPN Audio Network.

“I’ve been a longtime listener of SiriusXM content and have always been a huge fan,” said Connolly. “A vast majority of my career has been in radio sales, so the opportunity to lead the sales effort at SiriusXM is a dream come true.”

Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE), owners of the Washington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics, have recruited Grant Paranjape as director of esports business and team operations. He will oversee their investment in Team Liquid, which recently won the Dota 2 tournament.

“We see esports as the next great frontier in sports and entertainment, and a crucial part of our larger strategic efforts to engage younger fans,” said Zach Leonsis, senior vice president and general manager. “In addition to launching two AFL teams, we are relentlessly building our esports business to meet this young, voraciously growing audience where they are—on digital and over-the-top platforms.”

Paranjape is joining Monumental from a previous position as business development lead at Splyce, where he contributed to improvements to their League of Legends team.

“MSE has been a visionary in working to develop a robust esports operation and I’m looking forward to working with the team here to further expand our esports practice,” Paranjape said. “With a history of innovation and technological experience, MSE’s focus on esports will allow our team to provide fans with industry leading content and an exceptional viewing experience.”

Kid’s media brand is bringing aboard Stone Newman as chief revenue officer, where he will oversee sponsorship and merchandising of the brand’s affiliated YouTube channels.

“Stone is what I would call a mythical CRO, an executive who can do it all from merchandising, to content sales, to cultivating sponsorship opportunities,” said Chris M. Williams, founder and CEO of “He combines the right mix of big company experience, with a roll up your sleeves startup attitude, to help us achieve our goals during this explosive stage in our business.”

Newman joins from his previous role as president of global products licensing for Genius Brands International, where he negotiated the company’s first content sales to Nickelodeon and Netflix and secured a worldwide toy deal with Mattel.

“From the moment I was introduced to, I knew it was going to be a revolutionary business,” said Newman. “I never thought I’d say this, but being a father of toddler twin girls and a seven year old son, I can’t wait to bring my new work home to my kids.”

Music lifestyle company Gibson Brands has appointed its first global brand ambassador in Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. In the role, Slash will develop new products and provide exclusive content to the brand.

“We are thrilled to recognize Slash as Gibson’s first Global Brand Ambassador,” said Henry Juszkiewicz, chairman and CEO of Gibson Brands. “Slash embodies the characteristics of creativity, passion and excellence that are so closely aligned with Gibson and we are very proud of the friendship and mutual success we have shared together for over 30 years.”

Slash has used Gibson guitars throughout his 30-year rock career en route to selling 30 million albums.

“It’s an honor to be Gibson’s first Global Brand Ambassador,” said Slash. “I’ve been working with Gibson since the early days of my professional career and playing Gibson guitars since before that. I’m proud of the creative relationship we’ve developed over the years.”

The LEGO Group has appointed Niels B. Christiansen as CEO.

“Niels is a great leader who delivered outstanding results while CEO of Danfoss,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, executive chairman of LEGO Brand Group. “His experience in digitalization and globalization, implementing a transformative strategy and creating an agile, high performing, international team will benefit the LEGO Group.”

Christiansen will be replacing Bali Padda, who will stay on in an advisory role once Christiansen joins the company in October. Christiansen comes off of a nine-year tenure as CEO of industrial technology company Danfoss, during which time the company doubled in value.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to join an organization as iconic and purpose-driven as the LEGO Group,” said Christiansen. “I have loved building with LEGO bricks since I was a child. As I look at the challenges facing this generation of children, the group’s mission, to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, is more important and urgent than ever.”

Netflix announced a multiyear television deal with writer and producer Shonda Rhimes and her production company Shondaland. She, along with her longtime partner and producer Betsy Beers will develop a new series exclusive to the streaming platform. This announcement comes on the heels of the news of Disney moving several of its properties off of Netflix to a planned proprietary streaming service, and is sure to shore up any concerns about new content available to subscribers. The streaming giant has also been steadily growing more autonomous of late, partnering less with studio producers and offering showrunners more control over their projects than at larger media conglomerates.

Rhimes’ current shows Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder will continue to air on ABC.

“Shonda is one of the greatest storytellers in the history of television,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer. “Her work is gripping, inventive, pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, taboo-breaking television at its best. I’ve gotten the chance to know Shonda and she’s a true Netflixer at heart—she loves TV and films, she cares passionately about her work and she delivers for her audience.”

Rhimes has led her company Shondaland for 12 years, starting with Grey’s Anatomy in 2005 and continuing on to produce six more shows, of which four are still on the air.

“Shondaland’s move to Netflix is the result of a shared plan Ted and I built based on my vision for myself as a storyteller and for the evolution of my company,” said Rhimes. “He understood what I was looking for—the opportunity to build a vibrant new storytelling home for writers with the unique creative freedom and instantaneous global reach provided by Netflix’s singular sense of innovation.”

(Editor’s Note: This post will be updated daily until Friday, August 18. Have a new hire tip? Let us know at

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Oculus’ Strategy For The Mass Adoption Of VR

Oculus is well into its “Summer of Rift” campaign, which is comprised of multiple promotions such as a temporary price reduction to $399 for the Oculus Rift headset and Touch controller bundle, free-to-play weekends for select titles and a partnership with Intel and ESL to create a VR esports league featuring the games Echo Arena and The Unspoken. All of this culminates into a major push to bring virtual reality to the mainstream that rests on two critical points: affordable hardware and a broad library of content to support it.

Jason Rubin, vice president of content at Oculus VR, recounts how there was no content available when he joined the company three years ago. The Oculus Rift headset launched with 30 titles 19 months ago, and another 30 titles were added when the Oculus Touch controller came out in December. Now there are currently over 500 titles in the Oculus Store, and 200 of them are for Touch, which has become the fastest growing segment of the market, according to Rubin.

Jason Rubin, VP Content at Oculus VR

“We found that most users who bought Rift before Touch came out went out and bought it, and now they’re pretty much selling at a one-to-one ratio,” said Rubin, discussing the growth of VR. “I think the last few months have really marked a turning point. When we went to GDC, we talked about this being the year of content, and that’s happened between GDC (March) and now.”

Rubin explained how the conversation around VR has changed from what people should look forward to, to what people should looking to buy right now.

“That sounds minor, but it’s actually very important to our ecosystem,” said Rubin. “We have now reached the point where the average consumer can take something home, and we have a wide enough library so that they’ll not only find a few things to like, but find things that they’ll get to like.

Oculus is launching over a title a month this year, building up its backlog of content. Rubin emphasizes how this is an important moment in an ecosystem because it’s the point where the utility and entertainment value of the product outweighs its cost.

“We’re now getting to the point where content made for VR is truly utilizing VR strengths and creating entertainment that’s very different from what anyone else has seen,” Rubin continued. “With the [Marvel Powers United] and other upcoming announcements, you’re going to see bigger IP and bigger development studios and publishers getting into the business now that it’s growing. But we never thought it was going to be instant success for VR—we always knew it was going to take a long time. You can look back at any of our statements, especially Mark Zuckerberg’s statements, [to know] how long it was going to take for VR to become mainstream, but we’re shifting into second gear and third gear is on the horizon. We have a very specific plan that we’ve stuck to—financing great content and bringing down the price point.”

Talking with AListDaily, Rubin discussed the evolution of VR content at Oculus. He said that, although launch games such as Chronos and Edge of Nowhere remain popular, they were largely experimental and didn’t really address why consumers would want VR in their homes.

That changed when Crytek released The Climb in April of last year, which gave users a true sense of tension as they climbed up a mountainside. The Climb has since become the best selling and most demoed game on the Oculus platform.

Things are bound to grow even bigger and better. According to Rubin, the launch of Robo Recall in March marked the second generation of VR games.

“Everything is coming together to make a much better wave of content than the first generation,” said Rubin. “This is normal with a console, so this is exactly how it should be going. The next generation of software is going to be unbelievable.”

The Next Phase Of VR

With the two biggest challenges, price and content, being dealt with, Rubin discussed the next major hurdle for mass adoption of VR.

“The largest hurdles were price and content, but with those things fading into the distance as issues, our biggest challenge is getting people to understand what VR is and why it fits in their lives. Over time, we’re positive that that’s going to work itself out. You work that out by getting as many people into VR as you can, and they become your proselytizers. Anyone who is on the fence—they see the price then see the reaction on Reddit and it becomes an instant buy. When everyone has VR, their friends want to know what it’s like, and when they play it, that becomes another sold person.”

VR will spread by usage, according to Rubin.

“It’s slow at the beginning, but things that are exponential start slowly and then they burst. I think VR is going to go through that process. It took a while to get the first 100,000 people in it, a little longer to get next wave in, and it will eventually get to the point where everybody knows someone who has tried VR and then it will spread quickly. Especially if the price goes down the content keeps getting better. It’s a pretty simple formula for us because the product is so good. If we had something harder to sell, we’d be in a much tougher situation. But we’re in a world where you put it on people’s heads and they say that they want it.”

However, it’s often hard to see ahead with a slow process. In December, analyst company SuperData singled out VR as the “biggest loser” of the holiday season.

As recently as June, Rikard Steiber, president of HTC Viveport and senior vice president of VR, admitted that VR had a marketing problem. It seems like the days when Oculus was featured in Time Magazine are long gone as enthusiasm for the technology has died down, but Rubin believes that this is an unavoidable part of the process.

“We’ve been saying since the beginning that it was going to take a while for VR to become mainstream,” said Rubin. “But there are forces around any new technology that we can’t control.” He then described how, with any technology, there’s a hype curve that’s followed by the trough of disillusionment and the eventual acceptance and mass market appeal. Rubin admitted that the hype phase was over, and now we’re in the disillusionment phase.

“The reality, which we always knew was going to happen, has happened,” Rubin said. “I think that over the next year or two, people are going to come out of that and realize that a lot of people have this and really like it. More people are jumping into this, more game developers are developing for it and more movie studios are getting involved. All of this is happening, and [VR] is not going away. We’re just in the moment where we’ve gone past the hype and can’t ride on that anymore. We’re in reality, and reality is going to take off, and we’re going to be just fine.”

Getting People Into VR

Partnering with Intel and ESL to create the VR Challenger esports league is an important step in getting more audiences used to VR.

“[Consumers] are constantly bombarded with words, advertisements and calls to action,” explained Rubin. “For example, every food has the word ‘extreme’ in front of it, to the point where no one pays any attention to it anymore. In our world, I think the equivalent word is ‘immersion.’ We tell you VR is immersive and bang you over the head with how it takes you to another place, but if you haven’t put it on your head or haven’t seen someone use it, which is still the vast majority of the world, you just ignore that word.

“The beauty of a sports league is that you see people using VR. You see them moving around with the headset on and how into it they are. Then they start to understand why it would be interesting. Instead of seeing a beautiful model in a straight pose or random words thrown out by a well-meaning article writer, they’re watching someone who is incredibly good at what they’re doing and they can picture themselves doing that at home. It’s very important to give people an aspirational reason to pick up VR. That’s also the reason why we have Best Buy demos. Giving people the ability to put on a headset is the number one way to convince them VR is going to work.”

The Global Impact Of ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG/Battlegrounds) is the number one PC game in Japan, number six in the world and according to Newzoo, is attracting players away from other games—while still in early access.

“It’s quite a unique game, even within its genre,” Newzoo senior data analyst Gijs Holleman told AlistDaily. “The gameplay goes much deeper than similar titles [such as H1Z1] by focusing much more on strategy, ultimately boosting the competitiveness, and having a wider diversity of weapons and items. This attracts a lot of players who are looking for a different shooter experience, different from Overwatch and CS:GO for instance—which is where we see that most [Battlegrounds] players originate from.”

Using its new PC Game Tracker, Newzoo found that Battlegrounds was the sixth most-popular game among core PC gamers worldwide in July, with 10.8 percent playing the title. In terms of global impact and the potential of a breakout hit, that’s more than World of Warcraft, GTA V, and Rocket League.

The game was also number six in terms of play time, accounting for four percent of the total time spent on PC games in July. This data is derived from Overwolf’s user base of 12 million PC gaming enthusiasts across 42 countries.

“From its early release in March, the game immediately caught the attention of Twitch creators who grabbed the opportunity to make it a perfect game to stream on their channels,” said Holleman. “This helped [Battlegrounds] to quickly make a name [for itself] among the huge pool of PC enthusiasts and spread among them like wildfire.”

Newzoo found that Battlegrounds is attracting players away from other games, who abandon them in favor of the popular all-out shooter. No game has felt this effect more than Overwatch—of the global players who stopped playing Overwatch in July, 25.2 percent were playing Battlegrounds. This was most pronounced in Japan, Newzoo found, where the figure was 54.7 percent.

Churn from CS:GO was also high with 21.1 percent globally and 31.9 percent in the US. Other genres have been affected too, although not as dramatically. Of the people who stopped playing Minecraft and World of Warcraft in July, 14.2 percent and 19.6 percent were playing Battlegrounds, respectively.

Battlegrounds has sold over four million copies since it entered early access in March. The battle royale is proving fun to play, but just as important in today’s marketplace, it’s fun to watch as well. Within three months of launch, the game became the second most-watched game on Twitch.

In Battlegrounds, 100 players parachute onto an island where they must kill to survive while avoiding death themselves. Heavily inspired by the 2000 film Battle Royale, the game is based on a number of previous mods created by Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene.

The “anything goes” style of gameplay makes each game session unique.

Ikea Re-envisions Its Back-To-School Marketing Strategy

When the summer season slowly comes to a close, it signals a start for brands to begin conversations with consumers through back-to-school messaging.

Ikea is ramping up its marketing with millennials by hitting college campuses this month with a series of interactive videos promoting the Danish retailer’s products for dorms.

The company considers back-to-college season as a pivotal part of its brand marketing—especially since media consumption among student audiences remains in full flux. Ikea admits that it has become increasingly difficult to engage with the younger generation with traditional paid channels to communicate their proposition.

In an effort to target the demographic—specifically 18-to-24-year-olds—the multinational brand activated an influencer campaign by partnering with pop duo Superfruit’s Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying, and debuted back-to-school ads that doubled as personalized adventures exclusively on Snapchat. The customizable experience enables Snapchat users to shape their own stories by following the influencer of their choice, then controlling and impacting the outcome with the tap of a button.

Ikea curated seven different style collections for its college campaign by intertwining data, technology and content. The motive is to offer insight into user preferences and capture the brand’s range of styles. It was complemented by a sensual 25-minute YouTube video of a woman soothingly describing how the products will give you “head orgasms.”

Kerri Homsher, external communications specialist for Ikea, joined AListDaily to explain how the brand is approaching a re-envisioned marketing strategy.

Kerri Homsher, external communications specialist for Ikea

Why is the back to school and college campaign an important marketing message for Ikea? What is the campaign designed to accomplish?

This year’s campaign aims to showcase how Ikea can support our customers during the moment by being the partner that allows customers to get what they need and express their personal style. For the parents, it’s very emotional. It’s the moment they’ve saved for since their child was born. They are concerned practically. Their focus is making sure their child has what they need to live away from home and be successful. For the students, the insight is still emotional. It’s a bittersweet moment for them as well, but the focus is slightly different. Of course, they still need the practical items, but they’re also wanting to find ways to express themselves. An empty dorm room is more than a space to fill with a bed, a desk and a set of drawers—it’s the first space they truly own. A blank canvas for self-expression. So, there is more of a focus on style. Ikea understands that a home isn’t just the place you live—it’s the foundation for your dreams, goals and aspirations—whatever it may be. With how expensive college already is, affording the necessities should be an exciting support rather than another financial burden.

How are you zeroing in on specific aspects of product marketing for each audience—parents versus students? 

Back to college is a time when many are creating a dream home or space for the first time. Everything today is about understanding the consumer and then providing them with convenience and greater access. Many companies get these insights through traditional research like surveys and focus groups. Ikea goes one step further by doing home visits, both in person and virtually. We want to see real challenges in your living space because we design for solutions. It’s from all of this combined data that we then zero in on specific product suggestions. We have developed a central hub for all things. Additionally, we created a dorm and apartment checklist, which helps students and parents get prepared for college life.

For parents, we know that they’re mainly concerned with ensuring their child has the necessities for life away from home. One thing we’re testing this year to make shopping easier for parents is a bundle button that allows people to add all items in that bundle to the shopping cart. We created product bundles for different areas of the college home, including bedding, bedroom furniture, living spaces, cooking and eating, and common areas.

For students, since we know their focus is more about self-expression, this year we created coordinated styles using Ikea products. To make it even easier, we even have a quiz to help students find their personal style. We also look for opportunities to try something new that will surprise our fans or connect to a trending topic, which is why we launched a mini-series of videos—“Oddly Ikea”—that is a play on the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) genre. These videos focus on products that are relevant to college students and are meant to not only educate the viewer on Ikea products, but also to help them relax.

Why are influencers a critical voice to Ikea’s brand messaging? How do you plan on testing new methods and evolving with influencers? 

In today’s digital media landscape and with how people consume content, we understand the importance of giving people a reason to stop the thumb and engage—and then share. Consumers are much more likely to engage with a brand if they saw a recommendation from a friend, and many look to influencers as trustworthy sources, just like their friends.

We’re always looking for new ways to engage with the audience we’re targeting for back to college. We engaged influencers because it’s a great way for a brand to make a connection with its consumers. Also, we know that the vast majority of students discover new content online by browsing their social feeds rather than through search or direct shares. When it comes to fashion and style, their decisions are often informed by what others will think. On a national level, we utilize influencers to help us tell an authentic story, highlight how people use Ikea products in their homes and reach new audiences that may not think of Ikea first. From a global perspective, we even look to do product collaborations with well-known design influencers.

Why did you decide to launch on Snapchat, considering the platform is not conducive to cultivating influencer activations?

One of the Ikea values is “doing it a different way.” Snapchat gives us both a way to natively engage with the college consumer and show up in a way that we haven’t before with interactive video that allows users to control the narrative. It’s very easy to tap past an ad on the platform, but we’re seeing fans lean in to follow the storyline we’ve presented, all the while seeing what Ikea has to offer.

How is Ikea’s social media strategy evolving? 

We continue to optimize and evolve our social media strategy every year. We learn more about our fans, and build custom audiences to find those that we think will become fans with the right introduction to our brand.

What is the Ikea’s strategy on communicating with digital-first consumers? How do you reach them?

The reality of how people consume media and shop today is digital and we continue to see mobile taking a bigger part across the board and continuing to be an influence—and that’s something we need to be mindful of. We always aim to take a digital and mobile first approach in all of our marketing efforts. It’s a new way of working for us, but we want customers to shop where and how they want so that the interaction with the brand feels seamless. For example, possibly getting to us through social media, but then shopping either in the store or online.

What are your key learnings from previous years? What insights can you share? How has it changed? 

The consumer is smarter than ever, so marketing efforts and product offerings need to be smarter than ever. The students are not necessarily the primary decision makers. It’s a joint decision between parents and students, but we see that the parents still hold the spending power. We’re always looking for insights that drive our consumers.

Over the last few years, we’ve had several learnings. Back-to-college shopping is no longer just about going to the store and picking up what you need. We see researching and shopping beginning as early as April and May, when students start to get acceptance letters. Then, we see the peak in July when many parents and students are actually making the bulk of their purchases. However, we know from previous years that the shopping never actually ends. Customers are shopping on school breaks and throughout the year—so it’s about being mindful of when these consumers are looking, not just where. It’s important to develop creative with specific targets and specific platforms in mind so that the content is more customized. You also need to offer products that can work harder for the consumer. For example, at Ikea we have smart furniture, products with hidden benefits and products that help you live more sustainably at home. Affordability is more important than ever. Our research told us that the overwhelming majority of parents say they expect their children to attend college, but the rising cost of education and burden of college debt is generally perceived to be the biggest limitation to the American dream for future generations.

What kind of targeting is most important for the marketing behind this?

Back to college is a highly competitive space, and brands—both in- and out-of-home furnishings—are offering unique services and multichannel experiences. 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.