Here’s Your Fast-Food Cornucopia For This Year’s Thanksgiving

With brands starting the marketing storm for Black Friday earlier and earlier every year, it’s easy for Thanksgiving to be lost in the chaos. But for fast-food restaurants, Thanksgiving is a chance to creatively promote themselves to those either gorging themselves at home or looking for something less traditional.

Staying In

Popeyes is stepping in again to help out the over-busy or culinarily incompetent, offering a pre-cooked and frozen turkey for fans of southern cuisine. Interested eaters have to pick up the 10-pound, $40 birds in store, driving additional customers into the restaurant in addition to providing a novel revenue source. And if Brand Eating‘s review is to be trusted, they don’t taste half-bad, either.

If Popeyes isn't open on Thanksgiving, you can bring something like it home with you.
Popeyes Cajun-Style Turkey

White Castle is also helping out family-dinner diners for Thanksgiving, putting out a recipe for turkey stuffing made from its signature steamed sliders, which consumers can pick up either from the fast-food restaurant itself or frozen at most supermarkets. The recipe wisely suggests removing pickles before making the stuffing.

If your local White Castle isn't open on Thanksgiving, you can still pick frozen sliders from your local grocery store.
White Castle’s Special Slider Stuffing

This means that, theoretically, one could eat a Popeyes turkey stuffed with White Castle sliders, though whether one should is an entirely separate matter.

Though technically related more to Cyber Monday, Kentucky Fried Chicken‘s November holiday offering merits mention for upholding the traditional Thanksgiving values of family togetherness and lack of internet service. KFC has manufactured their very own branded Faraday cages, designed to protect families from the “hailstorm of coupons, BOGOs, hot dealz [sic], and brand advertising.”

Let Colonel Sanders' protective embrace take you back to a simpler time, the store page reads.
KFC’s “Internet Escape Pod”
In spirit of the holidays, however, the “Internet Escape Pod” has been discounted from its normal price of $96,485.34 to the far-more-reasonable $10,000—an 89.6 percent discount, practically a steal.

Going Out

For those looking to get into the Thanksgiving spirit early or want to experience holiday dinners at their local fast food restaurants, Subway and Arby’s are offering their own takes on turkey dinners.

Subway brought back its Autumn Carved Turkey sandwich back in September, letting customers enjoy the Thanksgiving leftover experience months in advance of the holiday itself.

Meanwhile, Arby’s decided to depart entirely from Thanksgiving traditions, introducing a line of deep-fried turkey sandwiches, saving curious customers the difficulties of frying enormous birds themselves. Apparently, it can be quite dangerous.

Taco Bell has jumped on the Friendsgiving bandwagon, inviting a group of influencers to its headquarters to try a Tex-Mex-themed dinner menu, including “Butternut Squash Chalupa Bites” and “Baja Blast Glazed Ham.”

Taco Bell’s “Friendsgiving Feast” works for many millennials choosing to celebrate the holidays with their friends before (and sometimes instead of) their families.

Google Makes Marketers Rethink Universal App Campaign Approach

Peli Beeri, CEO of Bidalgo

Google shut down the remaining non-Universal App Campaign (UAC) made campaigns Wednesday, bringing all app creators under one unified system for its network of services.

UACs streamline the promotion of mobile apps across Google’s platforms, including Search, Google Play, YouTube and the Google Display Network with one toolset instead of having to create separate campaigns for each. UACs can also be optimized to target specific goals such as growth. All developers need to do is add text, creative and their bid while Google’s machine learning service handles all the rest.

Signs within the industry indicate that UACs have made life much easier for app developers, but those devs could still use some guidance for helping their UACs stand out. To address this, the search giant also announced its UAC Premier Partners for mobile advertising on Wednesday to help brands optimize campaigns and navigate the UAC-only landscape.

“One of the best features of UAC is that marketers can optimize their ads for any business outcome they want,” Peli Beeri, CEO of martech company Bidalgo, a UAC Premier Partner, told AListDaily. “We advise making sure business objectives are clearly defined and that they run universal app campaigns designed to meet those objectives.”

The Premier Partner badge is the highest honor a partner can earn, and Beeri said the designation means that a company meets Google’s requirements for performance and expertise. The company offers automated solutions such as a software as a service (SaaS) platform to grow and market apps in-house with artificially intelligent media buying services across channels that include Google, Facebook, Apple Search, Instagram and others.

“Partners certified in mobile advertising can help advertisers connect with potential customers on mobile devices through text, image, video and HTML5 ads,” said Beeri. “Our platform analyzes elements of ad creative such as the images, colors, copy and more, and then it breaks down the winning elements so that marketers can design the most effective creative possible. It’s connected to different measurement partners and other ad networks, allowing advertisers to view and optimize their full funnel performance.”

Beeri said that using automated solutions enhances Google’s built-in UAC tools, which use machine learning to help marketers efficiently target users based on specific business goals. His tips for living in a UAC-only world include optimizing creative, finding the ideal bid-to-budget ratio and providing Google with better signals for smarter audience targeting. Goals can be broad like driving a high volume of installs, or they can be specific to converting installs into in-app spenders—or UACs can be used to help generate longer retention.

Bidalgo recently wrote that “around half of all app downloads across its networks are being driven by UAC.” To illustrate the effectiveness of UACs, the company did a case study on its campaign with Pixelberry Studios, makers of Choices: Stories You Play, which resulted in a 250 percent increase on return on ad spend (ROAS).

Although Beeri said that app discovery occurs primarily in digital stores such as Apple’s App Store and Google Play, it’s still crucial for marketers to cover other channels because “the landscape is becoming increasingly fragmented.”

Consumers can learn about apps through any number of channels, and marketers may be missing out major opportunities by ignoring one. For example, Beeri recommends utilizing social channels outside of Google to supplement UACs to identify the right send-to-revenue ratio that drives the highest ROAS. Each platform caters to different audiences, such as millennials on Snapchat, and Beeri says that overall performance is increased with multiple platforms.

But ultimately, standing out in the crowded mobile space comes down to being unique.

“It might sound obvious, but the number one thing an app marketer can do to stand out in today’s crowded marketplace is to offer something that no one else offers,” said Beeri. “From an advertising perspective, it’s important that campaign creative conveys the features and benefits that make the app so special. That’s not always easy to do in a static image or 30-second trailer, but the goal for all ad creative should be to highlight the one or two elements that make your app different from its competitors.”

To Fend Off Amazon, Brands Need To Define Value Proposition, Drive Experiences

The daily dose of headlines generating from the world of Amazon underscores one notion—its grip on the retail industry and brands alike continues to tighten. The Jeff Bezos-led powerhouse is forcing executives to rethink strategies for delivering experiences and unique value propositions to consumers in order to remain prosperous in Amazon-dominated times, a quartet of industry experts told AListDaily in separate interviews.

Lokesh Ohri, a principal at Deloitte emphasizing in omnichannel retail, digital and supply chain strategy, says that if you’re a commodity brand, then you need to reevaluate your plan and build a strategy around a product, category or offering that Amazon cannot meet.

“Amazon is basically trying to become the one-stop-shop for everyone and remove brand value,” said Ohri. “They’re trying to disintegrate into different areas by saying ‘the brand is separate from the product.’ Relevance is a very big aspect of that.”

Building brand loyalty among consumers is one way marketers can make sure they have more than a mere puncher’s chance. Brand marketing strategy shifts include everything from experiential retail pop-up shops to introducing artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality and Internet of Things in order to enhance the shopping journey and further harvest customer loyalty. Ohri called this the “omnireality” and sees it as part of growing trend to further fend off Amazon.

“How you really connect with consumers, both as brands and retailers, in an omnireality world is the next question that marketers need to start answering,” Ohri said. “Start thinking, preparing and integrating for that world a little bit more, not just waiting to see who’s going to do it next.”

Michael Klein, director of industry strategy for retail, travel and consumer packaged goods at Adobe, echoed much of the same sentiment.

“I don’t think we want to see a whole bunch of copycats,” he said. “We certainly want brands to think more about the value they drive to their customers, rather than trying to think about ‘how do I compete with Amazon?’”

Klein said that although Amazon will always have a relevant piece of the overall pie, building experiences that resonate with consumers will help build brand equity that can otherwise be lost.

“I think it’s really about being true to the brand promise of having integrity with the brand that marketers put forth,” Klein said. “At the end of the day, with all things being equal—price, location—experience is going to be the differentiator. Drive a different experience that solves a problem.

In their quest to take on Nike, Reebok and Adidas, Under Armour has also felt a reverberation, reporting its first year-on-year fall in revenue last month. When asked of the e-commerce effect Amazon is forcing on its brand, Sid Jatia, vice president of omnichannel digital at Under Armour, said the company is focusing on content and experiences ranging from exclusive drops to shoes and studio collections.

“We’re excited about what Amazon is doing in the retail innovation space, as they’re a strategic partner of ours. However, our team in the direct channel is focused on creating a more elevated experience, perhaps the best the brand can offer across touchpoints,” said Jatia.

Under Armour’s customers come back to UA’s channels because it offers content that portrays the brand in a way that is relatable, Jatia said.

“We have an extensive product line and unique storytelling capabilities that differentiate us from retail channels like Amazon,” Jatia said. “At the end of the day, it’s about personalized experiences, extensive product choices, deeper content and elevated conversation being the reward for shopping in the direct UA channel.”

Although Amazon seemingly has an endless disposal of data to craft and build its own experiences, retailers can still remain competitive by building ecosystems, Ohri added.

“Because Amazon still has a captive market, integrate with social media platforms and use the data you have to make sure that you’re targeting the right customer bases for your products,” Ohri said. “If you think about social platforms, you have a much larger reach than just Amazon.”

Peter Wharton, IBM’s worldwide product marketing lead for commerce and optimization, spends his time defining go-to-market for omnichannel experiences and competing with Amazon from a platform and cloud perspective.

He said that if brands want to shift the competitive balance a little back into their favor, they need to avoid using Amazon’s services altogether.

“There’s an opportunity for retailers to look at how they can take advantage of what happens in the marketplace, as well as what happens on their websites,” said Wharton. “Retailers compete with Amazon, but they [might] also use the Amazon cloud to manage their commerce environments. If you’re using the Amazon Web Services platform, you need to desperately get off of it because all you’re doing is funding the competitor.”

“Amazon has even more information now about customers because brands are going through the Amazon platform,” added Klein, meaning that if you’re a marketer hell-bent on battling Amazon to build brand loyalty and drive experiences, your best bet might be to avoid building voice command functions for Amazon Alexa and Echo.

“Brands will need to clearly define their value proposition and engage their customers in a way that they know will stay relevant,” Ohri said. “As a retailer, you cannot try to become Amazon, but there’s absolutely a space for retailers, too—they need to start crafting it slightly differently. It’s a different game that Amazon’s playing.”

‘Justice League’ Marketing Turns Teamwork Into A Superpower

Justice League unites DC superheroes Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and—if rumors prove true—Superman to save the planet as a team. As with all superhero movies, marketing efforts for the film highlight fight scenes and special effects, while placing extra emphasis on the idea of teamwork.

Riding high on the success of Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. spared no expense to close out its year of superhero movies in style, and brands jumped at the opportunity to get involved. Touting slogans like, “You Can’t Save the World Alone” and “All In,” Justice League marketing efforts present brand partners as valued members of the team.

Mercedes-Benz is not only featured in Justice League but in a behind-the-scenes featurette that explains how the legacy brand fits into a make-believe world of superheroes.

“In order for [audiences] to relate to this movie, we need to have things that we’re all familiar with, and who’s not familiar with Mercedes?” Actress Gal Gadot, who plays Diana Prince/Wonder Woman says in the promotional video. “I think it was a good choice.”

Gillette joined Warner Bros.’ team of sponsor super friends to create limited edition gift packs—each inspired by a different member of the Justice League. A commercial was produced that depicts the “Gillette Advanced Grooming Lab,” where researchers are hard at work creating shave solutions for each of the six Justice League members. The campaign’s slogan, “The Best A Superhero Can Get” is a play on the brand’s trademark “The Best A Man Can Get,” and the company released a set of razor handles sporting each hero’s logo.

A free mobile experience called Justice League VR: Join the League Gillette Edition was also introduced to help get fans excited and immerse themselves in the world. Available for iOS and Android, smartphone users can assume the roles of each superhero and use their abilities to accomplish missions ranging from defusing a bomb as The Flash to battling a sea creature as Aquaman.

Of course, there would be no Justice League without the comic books that begat them. DC Comics and Warner Bros. joined forces with AT&T to provide first looks at the upcoming film and experiential marketing throughout the country.

During a limited engagement in October, fans could visit the AT&T store in New York City’s Times Square to meet comic book writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee, who were signing copies of Justice League Volume 1: Origin.

The experience included displays of props and costumes, including the Batmobile and Bruce Wayne’s Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo. VR experiences were also available for hands-on demonstrations. The costumes, props and VR experience will continue to be featured at select AT&T stores across the US through January.

DC also partnered with General Mills to produce specially-marked boxes of breakfast cereals. Each box depicts cereal mascots dressed as a superhero and includes one of four original comic books featuring Justice League characters. When collected, all five boxes become a Justice League mural.

Fans were invited to “unite their league” through Facebook, with exclusive Justice League stickers and masks. The cast of the film even tried them out.

Once reserved only for the elite and the lucky, it has become common practice to livestream movie premieres over social media. Justice League is no exception. Over 55,500 fans tuned in live on Twitter to watch the big event unfold with interviews with movie stars on the red carpet.

Warner Bros.’ Justice League has already brought in $8.5 million outside the US and is expected to bring in $110 million in US theaters this weekend.

GameStop Appoints Interim CEO; Foxtel Marketing Exec Departs

GameStop has appointed Daniel A. Dematteo to the role of interim CEO, as the current chief executive is stepping down to seek treatment for a medical condition. This is not the first time Dematteo has helmed the corporation, as he held the title of CEO back in 1996 as well.

“We continue to send our best wishes and strong support to Paul and his family,” DeMatteo said. “The Board of Directors has tremendous confidence in GameStop’s executives and the management team’s ability to effectively run the business with the Board’s support.”

Rob Farmer, marketing director for Foxtel, has departed the company after six years working there. This is just one of several recent departures, including the TV provider’s managing director of customer and retail and executive director of channel aggregation and wholesale, in the last few months.

Nate Hayden has joined Jukin Media its senior vice president of original content, a role in which Hayden will oversee video production for both web and television platforms.

“When you consider the fact that there are roughly 6 billion camera phones across the globe filming everything from music festivals to historic world events, I realized the endless potential of storytelling rooted in user-generated content,” Hayden said to Deadline. “I jumped at the chance to be a part of this new wave of content creation.”

Hayden joins the company from AOL Studios, where he led video content teams for The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Engadget.

The Atlantic has created two new members of its leadership team, both vice presidents of advertising partnerships. Ryan McRae and Liz Lorenzoni will be joining the magazine’s New York and Chicago offices, respectively, and will spearhead efforts to bring in additional revenue through branded journalistic content.

“Ryan and Liz are both incredibly smart, strategic, passionate sales leaders and brand storytellers who bring a new level of energy and creativity to our talented team,” said Hayley Romer, publisher and senior vice president at The Atlantic. “With these two in place, we’re able to focus on planning for a formidable 2018.”

Lorenzoni has been with the company for four years, most recently as senior executive director of global advertising partnerships, selling The Atlantic‘s voice for us by Boeing, Emerson and Porsche. McRae joins from Business Insider, where he held the title of director of east coast sales.

Scholastic Education has announced hiring a new senior vice president of strategic marketing, Victoria Burwell. In the role, Burwell will seek to strengthen ties between the private company and public organizations, pushing business growth through literacy development.

Burwell joins Scholastic from McGraw-Hill Education, where she led the company’s efforts to rebrand and embrace digital business as senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

Sony Pictures TV has promoted Eric Berger to chief digital officer.

“During his tenure here at Sony, Eric has paved the way for us on the digital front, using a mix of business models and products, including AVOD, SVOD, TV Everywhere, games, virtual reality and more to guide the expansion of SPT Networks’ 100-plus linear international channels to on-demand, OTT, streaming services and other digital-first initiatives,” said Andy Kaplan, president of Sony Pictures TV, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Berger will continue his current role of GM for Crackle, the company’s foray into content streaming. He first joined Sony 11 years ago, becoming GM of Crackle in 2008.

Cheryll Idell has signed on with Snap as its newest head of entertainment measurement, a role in which she will assist the company in pitching its ad products to various multimedia networks.

Idell joins Snap after spending eight years at Nielsen. Most recently, she served as executive vice president of client solutions and oversaw the metrics provider’s relationship with Disney. Idell has also worked at 20th Century Fox and IAG Research over the years in leading executive roles.

Kevin Campbell has rejoined 20th Century Fox Film as co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing.

“Kevin has had extensive experience working with some of the best filmmakers in our business; and with some of Hollywood’s best studio marketing groups,” Stacey Snider, CEO of 20th Century Fox told Variety. “We are fortunate to take advantage of all of these many assets so that we can make sure that Twentieth Century Fox’s marketing prowess is future oriented for this century and beyond.”

Most recently, Campbell worked at Amblin Partners as head of marketing, and prior to that held other executive marketing positions at Fox from 2005 to 2008.

Metro-Goldwin-Mayer has appointed Michael Wright to fill the position of president of EPIX. Beginning Dec. 4, Wright will lead the company’s efforts to expand its original programming alongside overseeing marketing efforts.

“We are thrilled to welcome Michael into the MGM family,” said Gary Barber, CEO of MGM. “His television industry experience and creative instincts are the perfect combination to help us execute on our original content strategy for EPIX and drive additional value creation for MGM overall.”

Previously, Wright helped launch Amblin Partners in 2015 and led as its CEO. Before that, he was president and head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies.

The NBA has tapped Amy Brooks for the role of chief innovation officer, an entirely new position at the league. Additionally, Brooks has been granted the title of president of team marketing and business operations.

“It is the opportunity to make changes around our game and the way we market our game and our players,” Brooks told Sports Business Daily. “This is a position that looks at the opportunities to grow and looks to make rapid changes to both develop our business and grow our game. We have several new opportunities to change the way we do things, and my role is to make sure I am interacting with all key stakeholders to properly assess all those decisions and when and if we should make them.”

Brooks will potentially head the development of a midseason NBA tournament and will lead a team of roughly a dozen members to develop new business initiatives for the league.

Troika has announced the hiring of Damon Haley as head of sports marketing, furthering the company’s push into team and athlete branding and marketing.

“Damon is an accomplished leader who has successfully bridged the sports and consumer products worlds,” said Kevin Aratari, head of business development at Troika. “Previously, as account director at Troika, Damon played an integral role in securing and leading initiatives for our foray into live sports with the Charlotte Hornets, Jacksonville Jaguars and UFC.”

Before his current role, Haley worked at Nike as a global brand consultant, working with athletes such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

McLaren has furthered its foray into the esports world, appointing Ben Payne as its first-ever director of esports. Payne will oversee the growth and development of McLaren’s esports strategy, including the company’s World’s Faster Gamer competition.

“Gaming and esports are two huge and exciting markets, and we believe that they’re essential elements of McLaren’s new marketing platform,” said Zak Brown, executive director at McLaren. “The growth and appeal of gaming and its close relationship to motorsport and Formula 1 makes this a natural area of expansion for us.”

Payne most recently worked at Microsoft, where he led third-party marketing divisions for Xbox and Windows. Additionally, he has held positions at SEGA and 2K Games.

Jaguar Land Rover has a new chief marketing officer in Felix Bräutigam, the company announced.

“The automotive business has many challenges,” Bräutigam said. “I am looking forward to getting our brands ready to face them and help take Jaguar Land Rover and the customer experience to the next level.”

Bräutigam joins the company from Porsche AG, where he served vice president for the European region, managing 51 different markets.

Toyo Tire USA is bringing on a new vice president of marketing in Tim Chaney.

“Chaney’s experience leading a challenger brand and out-of-the-box thinking is the perfect match for us at Toyo Tires as we continue on our mission to increase market share and brand awareness in the US,” said Roy Bromfield, president and CEO of Toyo Tires.

Chaney has worked in the marketing and automotive industries for three decades, including a 15-year stint at Kia Motors America, part of which he spent as vice president of marketing communications. At Kia, he oversaw the company’s famous hamster ads.

Hankook Tire has hired John Overing as its latest director of sales and marketing for the Canadian region.

“John’s proven track record of success throughout an extensive career in sales makes him the ideal candidate to take on the role of director of sales and marketing within our organization,” said Sen Yang, president of Hankook Tire. “He brings with him unparalleled knowledge and insights and we look forward to his success at Hankook Tire Canada.”

Overing has close to 20 years of experience working with tires, having held senior positions at both Yokohama Tire and Michelin North America.

Anheuser-Busch InBev announced that the head of its North America division, Joao Castro Neves, will be stepping down. The position will be filled by Michel Doukeris, who is currently the company’s chief sales officer.

“The US is our most important market and we recognize the need to continue to focus on driving topline growth across our portfolio,” said Carlos Brito, AB InBev’s CEO.

David O’Connor, CEO of Madison Square Garden, has quit the company. James Dolan, Madison Square Garden’s executive chairman, will take over as interim CEO.

VisitPay, an online healthcare billing platform, has hired Will Reilly to lead its client and consumer marketing team. Prior to joining the company, he worked at IBM as vice president of product marketing.

(Editor’s Note: This post will be updated daily until Friday, November 17. Have a new hire tip? Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

Director, Global Levi’s Brand Marketing Levi Strauss & Co. San Francisco, CA
Director of Marketing, Consumer Products Activision Santa Monica, CA
Global Head of Product Marketing Eventbrite San Francisco, CA
VP, Creative Development, New Platforms Condé Nast Seattle, WA
Manager, Global Creative Marketing Netflix Los Angeles, CA
Director, Product Marketing Microsoft Redmond, WA

Make sure to check back for updates on our Jobs Page.

‘Wonder’ Movie Marketing Aims To Make The World A Kinder Place

Wonder tells the story of Auggie, a young boy whose unique face and personality inspires kindness in his new school. Rather than promote the film alone, Lionsgate took a wider marketing approach to promote Wonder‘s message to #ChooseKind.

Auggie’s disorder—Treacher Collins Syndrome—affects by around one in 50,000 real children and adults worldwide. The book on which the film is based has been embraced as a teaching tool by the Children’s Craniofacial Association (CCA) and schools since its publication in 2012.

Auggie may be a fictional character, but just about everyone can identify with being the new kid in school, being the odd one out or being picked on. As kids returned to school earlier this fall, it became an ideal time to promote kindness in the classroom.

Lionsgate, CCA, GapKids and Walden Media created an educational initiative called “The Wonder Certified Classroom” that focuses on bringing acts of kindness, acceptance and inclusion for third-to-sixth grade students. The initiative includes projects, discussions and challenges for the classroom to engage in as a group.

“While serving as a cornerstone of our marketing campaign for the film, we are hopeful that the Certified Kind Classroom program brings Wonder‘s central themes of acceptance and inclusion to real life in meaningful and tangible ways,” Kerry Phelan, Lionsgate executive vice president of global franchise management and strategic partnerships, said in a statement.

GapKids joined the movement through a series of short films for back-to-school. The final short in the series, which focuses on kindness, features actor Jacob Tremblay (Room), who plays Auggie in Wonder. The brand participated in Lionsgate’s #ChooseKind campaign to coincide with World Kindness Day on November 13 and Wonder‘s release November 18.

Students could 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 CCA.

If there’s any place that could use a little less hate right now, it’s the internet. “Choose Kindness” is a new Chrome extension that detects and covers abusive content with banners that display positive messages. The extension’s three settings—kind, kinder and kindest—use machine learning to finding offensive content and shield the user’s eyes with messages like “kindness is contagious.” Users can mouse over banners to decide if they want to reveal the hidden messages or not.

For even more positivity, the official Wonder Facebook page has launched a chatbot that will deliver inspiring messages each day.

Roma Boots, a brand that donates footwear to children in need, created a limited edition children’s rain boot designed to symbolize kindness and hope, inspired by the film. For every pair of Wonder boots sold, the company will donate a new pair to an impoverished child.

The big question is whether all this positivity makes consumers more receptive to brand messaging. Maybe so. When Ace Metrix released its list of breakthrough video ads for the third quarter, it found that those in the top one percent feature compassion, kindness and ingenuity. That being said, it never hurts to make your customers smile.

Wonder is expected to bring in at least $16 million during its opening weekend domestically, and its feel-good messaging should play well over the holiday season.

Social Media Drives Shopping; Consumers Talk Most About Underdog QSRs

Social media has become the new storefront, a new survey by Curalate indicates. Among US consumers, 76 percent reported buying items they first saw in a brand’s social media post, and 40 percent shop online at least once per week.

Additionally, young people are significantly more affected by social media. Curalate’s data found that among 18-to-34-year-olds, 52 percent shop online weekly, and were 3.3 times more likely to discover products on social media than average US consumers.

“With billions of people inhabiting social networks, the content they thumb through has the potential of setting in motion a journey that leads from discovery to purchase,” said Curalate CEO Apu Gupta. “Creating those moments of discovery represents a massive opportunity for e-commerce to go beyond search and to introduce people to their next great find.”

Marketers can take advantage of this information by incorporating existing payment platforms. Eighty-five percent of daily online shoppers say that one-click payment options would make them more likely to buy directly on social media.

A new study by Engagement Labs tracking quick-service restaurants points to increasing relevance for underdog fast-food chains at the expense of previously strong coffee providers. Chipotle, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and In-N-Out all made the study’s top 10 rankings in terms of both on- and offline consumer conversations, while Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts fell from their places of prestige.

“In the case of Dunkin’ Donuts, the company saw a decline in its sentiment scores, which is a concern because our predictive analytics show that sentiment is an important driver of future sales,” said Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs. “Meanwhile, Starbucks dropped in the ranking due to a decline in its brand sharing scores, demonstrating that consumers are sharing less of the coffee chain’s content online, while also talking less about its marketing or advertising in offline conversations.”

TVision Insights has released its “Q3 2017 Eyes-on-Screen TV Attention Report,” tracking the best television content in terms of capturing and maintaining consumer attention.

This quarter, ABC’s Modern Family and AMC’s Turn: Washington Spies scored highest for watcher attention, while Land Rover and P&G’s Bounce had the most engaging ads, according to the study.


The Interactive Advertising Bureau released a new report on OTT co-viewing, indicating that watching video content with others significantly increases engagement with and conversation about brand content.

More than 50 percent of co-viewers report regularly talking about brands and products they see on OTT channels, and more than 90 percent of Americans ages 13-to-64 co-watch TV programming.

“Watching TV has always had an important social component, and this has absolutely continued as OTT platforms become ever-more important parts of people’s viewing rituals,” said Chris Kuist, senior vice president of research and impact at IAB. “This social aspect of biggest screen in the house is powerful and is being amplified on OTT platforms in ways that can greatly benefit marketers.”

Netflix, one of the largest OTT providers, released similar research about accidental co-viewing. According to its data, 67 percent of global smartphone users are willing to stream content out of the home, and 45 percent of that group have caught someone else “backseat binging,” peeking at what they’re watching on their phone.

This growing trend leads to more conversation and potential for brands. Of those who stream content in public, 27 percent have been interrupted by a stranger asking about what they’re watching.

Mid-sized companies are finally embracing the emerging technologies they need to thrive in digital marketplaces, according to a report by Deloitte. Among middle-market companies, 36 percent are now spending more than 5 percent of their revenue on technology, up from 26 percent last year. Only 14 percent are spending less than 1 percent on technology, with the rest falling in the middle.

Additionally, the vast majority of mid-market companies plan to tap into cutting-edge technologies in the near future, with 77 percent reporting intent to invest in blockchain and 64 percent in mixed reality.

McAfee released its third annual “Most Hackable Holiday Gifts” list, identifying the most glaring security flaws in common consumer electronics and public opinion on them. Of the people McAfee surveyed, just 22 percent agreed that connected toys and appliances need to be secure, as compared to 69 percent for laptops, tablets and smartphones.

“We continue to see connected devices high on holiday wish lists, but it’s clear consumers don’t always understand the importance of protecting devices at every point of connection and within products themselves,” said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at McAfee. “In many cases, consumers are simply unaware that their devices need to be protected or how to protect them.”

More than 90 percent of consumers agree that security is important, but only 53 percent have taken the necessary steps to protect themselves.

Canalys released its research on the wearable band market in Q3 2017, revealing that interest in smartwatches and other such devices is waning, if slightly. Overall, the wearable band market fell by 2 percent this quarter, reaching 17.3 million units sold. Among individual players, Apple took the lead with its Apple Watch Series 3, claiming 23 percent of total market share.

“Strong demand for the LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 has dispelled service providers’ doubts about the cellular smartwatch not appealing to customers,” said Canalys analyst Jason Low.

(Editor’s Note: This post will be updated daily until Friday, November 17.)

Deloitte: Mobile Trends Maturing, Addiction Gives Way To Etiquette

Deloitte’s 2017 “Global Mobile Consumer Survey” has been released, and for the first time, several mobile trends are flattening out after years of consistent change.

A Maturing Market

The growth of mobile device ownership has slowed, increasing just five points from last year, which is down from 2016’s growth of seven points and 2015’s figure of 12. Saturation among the youngest consumers (18-to-24) is much higher at 93 percent, though adoption among those 55-and-older is growing more rapidly than any other group.

Common mobile-usage habits have crystallized into observable trends, the Deloitte report finds, with 89 percent of users checking their phones within an hour of waking up and 81 percent within an hour of going to sleep. These numbers are largely unchanged from 2016’s figures of 88 percent and 81 percent, respectively.

Similarly, the amount of times that users check their phones has plateaued at an average of 47 times per day, though the demographic aged 18-to-24 are a notable outlier. Such digital natives check their phone 86 times per day, up from 82 last year.

Mobile usage situations have likewise remained largely unchanged. The vast majority of consumers use phones while shopping, talking to family and friends, watching TV and eating. There is, however, one heartening change from last year—users are becoming more safety conscious, with 2 percent fewer reporting using their phone while crossing the road.

Device Etiquette

Mobile trends that are shifting are concern over mobile addiction and consumer efforts to combat it. Significant majorities among the youngest groups Deloitte surveyed reported the concern about overuse, with 75 percent of those aged 25-to-34 saying that they “definitely” or “probably” check their phone too much. By contrast, only 13 percent of those over the age of 55 expressed the same concern.

Beyond concerns, users are taking action to limit their usage. Thirty percent of all mobile users reported successfully reducing the time they spend on their phones, and 38 percent reported intending to in the future.

The most popular methods of fighting mobile addiction are keeping phones out of sight when meeting others (38 percent), silencing notifications (32 percent), keeping phones out of sight when alone (27 percent), deleting apps (26 percent) and shutting phones off at night (26 percent).

Furthermore, consumers are increasingly using their devices to communicate in more personal ways, with 86 percent making voice calls weekly, up from 77 percent last year. Voice calls are also on the rise, with 30 percent using such services weekly.

While worries about phone overuse are on the rise, so is consumer understanding of the value of their phones to others. The percentage of respondents reporting throwing their old phones away dropped by half, and the number who give old phones to family members almost doubled.

Changing Tech Trends

Consumer opinions on various mobile features are shifting, with users expressing a preference for Wi-Fi over 4G for the first time in the study’s history.

“Network statistic data indicates that this is in part being caused by an overall slowdown of 4G networks globally,” the Deloitte report reads.

Additionally, trust in mobile payments is rising as well. Almost 30 percent of users reported making an in-store payment via their phone this year, up 50 percent from 2016.

Interest in both connected devices in cars and wearable technology is increasing, too, with only 14 percent and 31 percent of users expressing disinterest, respectively. These numbers are down significantly from 2016’s of 25 percent and 38 percent.

Marketers Level Up Creativity To Fight Ad Blockers

With the dawn of the Internet came endless information . . . and endlessly annoying ads. This begat ad blockers that changed digital marketing strategies forever. First appearing in the 1990s, ad-blocking software solves one problem—pop-ups and invasive marketing—while creating another for brands seeking consumer attention on the internet.

Annoying, malicious and disruptive ads are the largest factors for installing an ad blocker, according to a recent survey by Hubspot. As the saying goes, “one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel,” and now consumers see the very idea of ads like an offering from the Wicked Witch.

Emarketer predicts that by 2018, 30 percent of all American internet users will block ads. According to Kantar Millward Brown, 51 percent of Gen Z consumers already do.

Creative Solutions

Despite consumers’ lingering distaste for ads in general, many brands continue to market with great success online. In fact—according to the Chartered Institute of Marketing—76 percent of marketers think ad blocking will be positive for the industry because it encourages greater creativity.

One example of how marketers think outside the pop-up is through branded content. Content that is separate from a display, video or pop-up ad is just that—content—and thus cannot be blocked by software. More importantly, documentaries, podcasts, web series and more trade the hard sell for informative or inspiring entertainment that aligns with a particular brand message.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers say that personally relevant branded content positively influences how they feel about the brand, according to a 2016 joint study by OneSpot and Marketing Insider Group. More than two-thirds of consumers say that branded content is at its best when it educates or informs them.

IBM partnered with The New York Times to promote the film Hidden Figures through an augmented reality app. Outthink Hidden is an AR experience that overlays virtual statues of the film’s real-life NASA scientists in select city locations.

“The overall program itself was to increase diversity in STEM,” Ann Rubin, IBM’s vice president of branded content and global creative told AListDaily. “It’s part of the core of our company’s culture and values. We want to continue to encourage how important inclusion and diversity is to a company’s success.”

Dove encourages women to recognize their own beauty with its “Real Beauty” campaign—a series of short videos that explore the strength of a woman’s inner beauty without mentioning any products. The first film, “You’re More Beautiful Than You Think,” has been viewed over 168 million times since it debuted in 2013.

Sponsored content and influencer marketing are two other ways in which brands reach a targeted audience on their own terms. These partnerships help creators build their brand, and while fans are already tuned in, marketers enjoy a shared audience. According to a study by Bloglovin, 41 percent of marketers said they have seen more success in influencer campaigns than in more traditional advertising efforts.

Battling The Ad Blocker Blues

Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is strongly against ad blockers and blames their rising adoption on the current marketing-media ecosystem.

“We are mistreating our most valuable asset—our consumers,” wrote IAB. “We can talk all we want about the ad-centered ‘value exchange’ between consumers and media. But until we commit to the cause of ever-improving user experiences, advertisers and media will be at risk.”

Bad ads aren’t the only ones to blame, says IAB. The firm alleges that ad blocking is an extortionist scheme that seeks to divert advertising spend from publishers to technology companies. Major ad blocking companies charge publishers to be whitelisted, for example.

Google—the world’s largest source for advertising—is issuing a Chrome browser update in January with an ad blocker built right in. As a founding member of the Coalition for Better Ads, Google is tackling what research deems to be the most annoying types of advertising on the internet.

For publisher websites that fail to meet Google’s new standards, the company is testing a “Funding Choices” feature that gives visitors the choice to either enable ads or block them all for a fee. Proceeds from this transaction would be split between Google and the publisher.

“We believe these changes will ensure all content creators, big and small, can continue to have a sustainable way to fund their work with online advertising,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google vice president of ads and commerce with the announcement.

Bottom line? If you can’t beat the ad blockers, engage consumers in an authentic way—unless you’re Google, in which case you can become your own ad blocker and cut out the middleman.

Gartner: Marketing Budget Stagnation Makes Executives Too Careful

Misguided and shortsighted marketers are to blame for falling budgets, a new survey by Gartner reports. Marketing budget allocation has shrunk to 2015 levels, dropping from 12.1 percent of total revenue in 2016 to 11.3 percent this year, the firm reported in its latest findings.

Why’s The Money Gone?

“While the descent is not yet steep, it still poses difficult questions for chief marketing officers,” said Ewan McIntyre, research director at Gartner. “Previous budget increases have come with weighty expectations, some of which have yet to be met. The time has come for marketing to show its financial management credentials, proving it can deal with financial constraints, assume accountability for business performance, build budgets based on future returns rather than past assumptions and grow the business while making hard choices.”

Chief marketing officers are pessimistic, however, about budget-allocation prospects in the coming year. Only 15 percent expected a significant budget increase in 2018, while 33 percent expected their finances to be either frozen or even cut.

While the report suggests that recent natural disasters in addition to Brexit and global political volatility may be responsible, it quickly points out that this is not the full picture.

“CMOs may have become distracted—either by a heavy focus on operational and tactical measures of performance or by large, cross-functional initiatives such as customer experience programs that have yet to provide hard economic benefits,” the report reads.

McIntyre recommends a middle course to reverse this trend in the coming years, saying, “The risk is that CMOs are either being too nearsighted to be strategic or too visionary to deliver against marketing’s objectives.”

Where’s The Money Going?

Despite, or perhaps even because of stagnating budgets, many CMOs plan to significantly change up their strategies, with 67 percent planning to increase marketing budget allocation for digital advertising at the expense of traditional media. Over half of the surveyed CMOs planned to plateau or reduce spending on event and partner marketing next year, and 63 percent said the same about offline advertising in general.

As marketers find themselves with less leeway to take risks on new technology, martech spending has dropped by 15 percent this year. Additionally, martech’s share of total marketing budget allocation has dropped as well, from 27 percent in 2016 to 22 percent this year.

Following this trend of reducing risk in budget allocation, marketers have shifted resources drastically toward keeping consumers and away from attracting new ones. Spending on customer retention now dwarfs acquisition by a two-to-one ratio, something Gartner warns may be sacrificing long-term health for short-term safety.

Increasing focus on measurability explains much of this shift in spending. As brand safety and fraud concerns grow, marketers are pushing for more quantifiable data to ensure a proper return on investment. Gartner emphasizes the importance of paying attention to metrics, but warns against playing it too safe.

“CMOs need to think and act fast, ensuring they continue to meet the growing business expectations,” the report reads, “or further cuts will be ahead.”