The Most Influential Brands For Marketers In 2017

Based on internally commissioned research and compilation from social data, AListDaily has identified the 20 most influential brands to marketers in 2017. Our analysts monitored which brands marketers were following most on social media channels based on widely available data.

AListDaily interviewed marketing executives from these brands, and also reached back into our well of exclusive stories from 2017 to feature distinct calling cards for each of the 20 honorees.

20. GoPro 

GoPro’s stock saw a steep 20 percent decline in November, but the mounting losses didn’t stop the camera company from experimenting with product launches and partnerships.

The brand generated buzz for its new cameras with influencers and sponsored athletes at a pop-up exhibition at The Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco, and for the first time, livestreamed an event on

GoPro also wanted to leverage adventurous thrill-seekers, looking to complement the vivid and oftentimes rugged footage they capture with quality sound. The brand partnered with Sennhesier, making the brand the only official, verified audio company obtained by the GoPro Works program.

“We are closely collaborating not just with the marketing and engineering experts on the GoPro side but also with their associated enthusiasts and athletes,” Achim Gleissner, head of commercial management of broadcast and media for Sennheiser, told AListDaily. “This helps ensure that the products are performing as requested by the most demanding users. It also creates exciting content as well, which could be used for marketing purposes.”

19. Gap

Gap was one of the many brands in 2017 that championed diversity through is marketing. The retail clothing chain continued its “Meet Me in the Gap” campaign in the fall by calling on entertainers Cher and Future to sing their own version of “Everyday People.”

The American clothing brand’s remix of the original Sly & the Family Stone song spanned to television, outdoor, mobile, social, print, in-store and digital channels. Gap also started a namesake channel on Spotify with a mashup playlist.

“As a brand, our heritage is rooted in being a beacon of hope and optimism while also bringing people together,” said Gap CMO Craig Brommers.

18. Spotify

Spotify showed off its data capabilities and how well it knows its users with “2018 Goals.” The global out-of-home year-end campaign was similar to the one it unveiled last year and is positioned to provide a look into its users, potential users as well as potential advertisers and marketing partners. The music-streaming service experimented with data-driven outdoor ads, featuring copy such as “Eat vegan brisket with the person who made a playlist called ‘Leftist Elitist Snowflake BBQ.'”

Spotify also went ‘Upstream’ with brands for an original podcast centered around one-on-one conversations with company executives focusing on the future of their industries on “Spotify for Brands.” Hosted by Spotify CMO Seth Farbman, the podcasts feature discussions on open-ended questions facing the economy at large with influential figures, and it is yet another attempt to diversify its offerings as the company prepares to go public.

17. Warby Parker 

Retailers are feeling a reverberation from store closures, but purpose brand Warby Parker decided there is still a future in the space by opening 25 retail locations this year in cities like Los Angeles and Miami. It was a rare move of brick-and-mortar expansion amid store closures at several chains from brands like Radio Shack and Michael Kors. The eyeglasses seller now nears close to 70 stores ranging in size.

The digital-first, direct-to-consumer business—which maintains a help-related YouTube channel that gives video answers to frequent questions from consumers—also experimented in other avenues when its co-CEO, Dave Gilboa, created a startup to tackle a $5 billion opportunity in the antiquated eye test market using a mobile app.

16. Coca-Cola

The soft drink giant opened up plenty of cases of innovative marketing this year, but its FIFA 18 video game activation was one of its most refreshing.

Coca-Cola, which has a product portfolio made of 500 sparkling and still brands and a near $4 billion annual marketing budget, sponsored the fictional character Alex Hunter in the EA title. The virtual TV spot even re-imagines a 1979 Coca-Cola commercial with NFL great “Mean” Joe Greene. Coca-Cola also offered cans printed with Hunter’s likeness on them at 7-Eleven and Walmart stores in North America—each with a download code to unlock additional in-game content. It’s all part of a wider gaming strategy for Coca-Cola, which also featured esports.

“We take a multi-pronged approach [to esports]. We have our frontline marketing communication, which is the way we brand our product into the space,” Matt Wolf, vice president of entertainment, ventures and strategic alliances at the Coca-Cola Company, told AListDaily.

“Then we have the relationships that we make with the influencers, which is key. You can’t really lean into this space and get that value back as a brand unless you’re really able to hit it from a content standpoint, an influencer standpoint and from a social media standpoint.”

15. Arby’s

Much like Amazon and Target, the Roark Capital Group-owned Arby’s was in the mood for mergers as it swallowed up Buffalo Wild Wings in November for $2.4 billion. Both of the brands have had a large presence as non-endemic sponsors in esports, and the trend should continue well into next year.

In October, Buffalo Wild Wings partnered with Team Dignitas, which is owned by the Philadelphia 76ers. The restaurant chain is designed to become the official hangout for Team Dignitas while receiving a prominent logo placement on the sleeve of the team’s jerseys.

Arby’s has been connecting with gamers for over three years through its social channels and was also an inaugural sponsor for Turner and WME/IMG’s ELeague season.

“Our strategy is to engage versus sell,” Jeff Baker, vice president of brand experience at Arby’s, told AListDaily while discussing their esports marketing strategy. “We use our brand elements and create fun and lightweight stories that are about us being fans of the titles instead of us trying to sell the product. It’s been appreciated across the board with no negative commentary.” 

14. Oreo

The Mondelēz-owned cookie brand launched a global marketing campaign this year with the “Oreo Dunk Challenge” with Christina Aguilera, Shaq and Neymar. They partnered with Google to boot for a mobile game and site that integrates motion-detection technology and geo-location to allow fans to virtually dunk and launch their cookies into “space” and back.

Justin Parnell, Oreo’s director of global brand equity, told AListDaily that personalized marketing at scale that delivers the right content in the right moment, complemented with innovation through new products, is a critical component to the brand’s total growth strategy.

“There has never been a greater opportunity than now to deliver more tailored messages,” he said. “We are hard at work with our media and creative partners in thinking about how we best unlock this opportunity, which spans our content creation model to segmentation tools to real-time optimization.”

Parnell said things are changing faster than ever, so staying on top of changing consumer behaviors is something that all brands are challenged with.

“One area we’re keeping a close eye is on how the retail landscape continues to evolve,” he said. “Specifically, you will see our clear focus and stepped up investment in e-commerce in the near future. Also, staying relevant and contemporary, while being true to our roots, is so important. It’s a tricky balance, but one that is always top of our minds.”

Just as Oreo serves as a point of influence, Parnell draws inspiration from others as well.

“I am very impressed with Amazon. They are constantly evolving their model and offering to address changing consumer needs and they have a long history of investing in big bets in an ‘all-in,’ sustained way. Also, McDonald’s is another brand with a deep heritage, like Oreo, and what they are doing to reinvent their service model, menu and marketing approach for to be more relevant to consumer’s today is quite impressive.

“Last, but not least, I get a lot of inspiration from entrepreneurs. They often provide great insight into emerging trends and what’s ahead. Most inspiring to me, though, is how many young start-up brands are purpose-driven and fearless at their core, as their brands are a manifestation of their own personal passion and conviction.”

13. Whole Foods Market

The grocery-store giant felt the impact of Amazon earlier this year—literally—when the Jeff Bezos-led powerhouse bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The mere news of it ranked as this year’s No. 1 food news story among millennials, Gen X and baby boomers alike, according to the Hunter Public Relations Annual Food News Study.

Echo devices are now sold at Whole Foods, and the ubiquitous Amazon Prime brand is not-to-subtly shaped from ground beef at some locations. By the end of next year, as its grocery delivery options gets more consolidated, Amazon will really be aiming for your whole paycheck with its suite of services. 

12. REI

For the third straight year, the Seattle-based brand closed the doors to its 154 stores in the US on Black Friday and gave its 12,000 employees a paid day off to high praise from people who hold the shopping holiday in less regard. The outdoor retailer was in no mood for business—at all—as it also shut down online orders for the day.

REI promoted the movement on social media with #OptOutside and complemented the hashtag with a search engine where users shared snapshots of their favorite outdoor destinations.

Perhaps the planned day off was a coy marketing campaign all along to create consumer affection and have them buy more gear later on.

11. American Express

The legacy brand has a burgeoning marketing budget that stretches across sports, to small business and more experiential areas like chat bots, among others.

This year, the brand brought its marketing band to Coachella and played to the tune of affluent millennials with special events for platinum card holders at the American Express Platinum House.

The credit card company leveraged its heritage in music and swiped concertgoers for a voluntary reprieve by offering attendees SoulCycle classes and a private concert by Bebe Rexha.

“We know that when we create memorable experiences and provide unique access for card members in the moments that matter to them, such as festivals, they feel more loyal to the relationship with our brand,” Deb Curtis, American Express’ vice president of global partnerships and experiential marketing, told AListDaily.

For everyone else attending Coachella, the American Express Experience tent allowed music fans to create their own mini music video as well as unlock special rewards through the official Coachella app.

“Because we have access to such rich data, we’re able to see how those who engage with us respond in the moment and over time and we see—year after year—a positive impact across key loyalty metrics,” Curtis continued. “This investment in our customers pays back in a longer, more fulfilling relationship between card members and the brand. That’s what drives us to deliver for them time and time again, and fuels us to serve them better and better each year.”

10. Delta

Delta had a year fueled with marketing activations. The airlines company held a singles event with Tinder featuring popular destinations and graffiti-inspired wallscapes on the side of a Brooklyn building that love seekers used for selfies; it thanked all 80,000 of its employees—each by name—in a 50-hour, celebrity-filled Facebook Livestream, and it honored the “early risers” with an ad featuring the Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis.

Delta also revised its in-flight image by partnering with online shoe giant Zappos for a uniform overhaul and offered flyers free in-flight mobile messaging.

The marketing appears to be resonating. Delta has experienced a lift in millennial customers from a year ago, according to a YouGov report from July.

9. American Airlines

American Airlines’ business usually entails traversing the skies, but it is also taking on the digital cloud with IBM to innovate its own portfolio and data centers to scale operations.

The airline company embarked on a digital transformation and migrated its website, its customer-facing mobile application, airport kiosks and enterprise workloads to the cloud. Developers can now use the IBM Cloud to build applications for the airline’s customers.

8. Airbnb

Although Airbnb lost its CMO when Jonathan Mildenhall checked out of the company in October to start his own marketing consulting firm, the imprints of the executive still stood in 2017.

The home-rental company, valued at $31 billion, emphasized diversity and inclusiveness during the Super Bowl and also created unorthodox partnerships, such as a print magazine venture with Hearst offering glimpses into global destinations echoing the spirit of Airbnb, and promotional rentals with Taco Bell.

It also added to its in-house suite of martech by acquiring ad-tech startup AdBasis, which operated a platform and dashboard for ad testing and optimization. 

7. J.Crew 

The New York-based brand brought on a new CMO in July by hiring Vanessa Holden with hopes of her helping put a halt to the closure of additional stores, which totaled 50 this year.

Holden is now diving into a deeper digital strategy on mobile and social channels for the chain. The consumer-first move is designed to quicken mobile shopping while meeting users where they are.

After 10 quarters of dipping sales, J.Crew’s former CEO Mickey Drexler confessed to The Wall Street Journal earlier this year that he underestimated the power that tech would have on retail, while adding that his biggest mistake was increasing prices while consumers became more cost-conscious.

“We gave a perception of being a higher-priced company than we were—in our catalog, online and in our general presentation,” Drexler said.  “Very big mistake.”

6. Target

Target capped off its year with an attempt to take on Amazon by acquiring same-day delivery platform Shipt. The $550 million acquisition of the Instacart competitor sets the retail chain up to offer same-day delivery services at approximately half its stores by early 2018.

Target’s plan is to use Shipt’s proprietary technology platform and community of shoppers to bring consumers same-day delivery of groceries, essentials, home, electronics and other products. By the end of 2019, same-day delivery will include all major product categories at Target.

Earlier in the year, the retailer also got in on the mattress industry by acquiring the millennial-centric startup Casper.

5. BarkBox

BarkBox, a subscription service for dogs that launched five years ago, has already shipped more than 50 million toys and treats to date. This year, Bark launched in all 1,800 Target stores, and recently debuted a direct response television ad campaign that embodies America’s dog obsession on #BarkBoxDay.

“BarkBox’s digital strategies, which include social, email, search and affiliate marketing, have helped build the brand and become a case study for many other web brands,” Jay Livingston, chief marketing officer for BarkBox, told AListDaily. “Our social media team is made up of a mix of marketers, writers and comedians. They arguably invented the dog influencer model and regularly crank out viral hits that engage our rabid following of more than six million dog people.”

Some of those examples include a Facebook campaign during the Super Bowl and a Dog Mom Rap, which has over 41 million views on Facebook alone. They’ve also experimented offline with the stand-up comedy concept Open Bark Night.

BarkBox has an affiliate program of about 300 dog influencers and brand ambassadors called the BarkPack. The hashtag #BarkBox has been used 2.7 million times on Instagram alone, and because of that the brand has been able to cull user-generated content on social channels.

“The biggest challenge we face as we grow our business is to make sure our customers are getting the same experience and customer service no matter where or how they interact with our brands,” Livingston said.

“We are also diversifying our channel mix to reach new audiences with our direct response campaign spanning the TV ad and our first major direct mail effort. Our hope is that our venture into more traditional channels will help us reach the parents of the 78 million dogs in the US—including those that aren’t scrolling social media.”

4. Nordstrom

Like many retailers looking to fend off Amazon, Nordstrom is trying to define a value proposition and drive experiences with a showroom concept. It’s newest store format—Nordstrom Local—is short on clothing and racks and long on experiences, including manicures and on-site tailoring.

Shoppers can still try on clothes in dressing rooms, but the stores are designed to specifically not keep inventory in stock. Rather, it pulls merchandise from mall-anchored stores and its website. A flagship 3,000-square-foot location opened in Los Angeles this fall. In comparison, a typical Nordstrom retail store, which stretches up to 140,000 square feet.

Nordstrom also sharpened its marketing mix for visual search by being a launch partner in Pinterest’s foray into scannable codes and personalized style suggestions in “Lens Your Look. 

3. Nike

Nike casts a wide net in sports across the planet and maintains its position with consumers across a variety of verticals. The sports and lifestyle brand continued its decades-long work in basketball and caught the attention of hoops fans this year by being the new global apparel partner of the NBA. The brand’s iconic swoosh logo now occupies the longtime real estate once reserved for the Jerry West-inspired silhouette.

The jerseys are connected to a radio-frequency chip embedded in the tag. It allows for teams to provide customized engagement with fans who are looking to build unique associations with the franchises they follow.

Nike has already partnered with Apple Music and released exclusive playlists for all 30 teams through the new jerseys and the NikeConnect app. LeBron James, the star ambassador for Nike, crafted his separate playlist as well. 

2. Netflix

Netflix viewers around the world watched more than 140 million hours of content per day, according to the audience data it released earlier this month. The streaming service sports a slew of original shows in addition to licensed content that have subscribers glued to their TVs and mobile devices. For the holidays, it used its original movie A Christmas Prince to start a conversation about repeated viewings on Twitter that garnered over 113,000 retweets.

Netflix maintained a tongue-in-cheek voice on social throughout the year by announcing the addition of the movie 8 Mile to its library with a play on Eminem’s lyrics to the tune of 86,000-plus retweets and used social to promote Bright by calling on all the Will Smith’s of the world.

It wasn’t all fun, games and binge-watching, however. Netflix also used its platform for more serious issues by supporting strong net neutrality and opposing the FCC’s proposal to roll back core protections.

1. Starbucks

Marketing for Starbucks is different than many other similarly sized and situated brands. Comparatively speaking, the international coffee chain does not engage in much advertising on television or in print.

“The best marketing in my view is the experience in stores, the human connection with Starbucks baristas and the quality of the food or beverage in one’s hand,” Rajiv Chandrasekaran, senior vice president of public affairs for Starbucks, told AListDaily.

For the second-consecutive year, Starbucks doubled as a non-media publisher and evolved its content ecosystem through the original series Upstanders, an 11-episode collection that documents altruistic citizens making differences in their communities. It was made available on Amazon Prime Video, Facebook Watch and Audible.

Although Chandrasekaran said the pro-bono storytelling initiative is aimed at inspiring people and is not designed as cause marketing, Starbucks is still getting a seat at the table with newfound opportunities (and exposure) that come with such projects, and it fits within the big picture of the company. 

Riot Games’ Esports Business Model Borrows From Traditional Sports

Riot Games has shepherded competitive gaming from hotel ballrooms to sold out sports stadiums like the Staples Center and the Bird’s Nest, establishing the League of Legends Championships Series (LCS) as one of the top esports leagues in the world today. Now Riot Games, which is owned by Tencent, is changing things up for 2018 by instituting a more traditional sports franchise model.

Chris Hopper, senior esports manager at Riot Games, told AListDaily that the game company is setting up the North American LCS in a structure that it believes will last for decades.

“This longevity gets us excited about the new opportunities for non-endemic sponsors and brands—introducing a format and structure that enables sponsors and brands to invest in long-term relationships with both the LCS and its teams,” Hopper explained. “We believe that esports is something that will be relevant for generations to come, and these changes will make sure the LCS is a league worth investing in.”

The North American LCS teams brings NBA teams such as the Houston Rockets (whose team is as Clutch City Gaming), the Cleveland Cavaliers (whose team is 100 Thieves) and Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob (whose team is the Golden Guardians) into the fold with venerable esports brand OpTic Gaming—which recently received investment from Texas Rangers co-owner Neil Leibman—and existing teams Cloud9, Counter Logic Gaming, Echo Fox, Team SoloMid, Team Liquid and FlyQuest.

Riot received over 100 applications for these team slots, which have a $13 million entry fee, with $8 million due up front. All of the teams will share in revenue from the league.

“By creating a revenue share that involves all teams, we can ensure a bottom line of stability upon which all teams can rely, and ensure an according degree of quality to team operations,” Hopper said. “It also aligns all teams to helping to grow the league and enjoying mutual success instead of needing to compete with each other for every sponsor dollar. Eliminating incentives that create a race-to-the-bottom among team owners is a significant benefit of this system.”

Riot Games has worked with non-endemic brands like Coca-Cola, American Express, T-Mobile, HBO and BMW to connect with its massive fan base. Previous LCS Finals have attracted over 30 million online viewers. Numbers for the 2017 event haven’t been released yet.

“Esports is truly a global operation; the largest leagues are broadcasted in multiple languages and fandom transcends national borders,” Hopper said. “While team and league-level sponsors certainly gain exposure to those markets, we imagine that most will be focused on growing their presence against the North American fan base. That said, there are a few brands that truly benefit from a global audience, and we believe that the top leagues present a great opportunity for brands who want to capitalize on our passionate fans.”

The franchise model also opens the door for more sustainability from a brand and sponsor perspective for each team. Hopper believes that by removing the threat of relegation, teams are now far more able to invest for the long-term, and that extended focus from teams should enable a similar long view from sponsors.

“As teams look to sign players to longer contracts, build content around homegrown stars, and invest in platforms upon which to promote their brand, sponsors should then find new opportunities to work with the teams on compelling brand integrations,” Hopper said. “As these brands look to develop deeper relationships with teams and players, their economic investment should increase, and teams and players will be the primary beneficiaries.”

The other opportunity with LCS in 2018 and beyond is the continued partnership between Riot Games and Disney-owned BAMTech, which also handles streaming for MLB, WWE and HBO. While Hopper said this direction to go this franchise route was one that Riot’s esport leaders have sought to achieve since the first days of the LCS, the $300 million exclusivity deal with BAMTech certainly impacted the timing.

“We’re seeing great traction from our partnership with BAMTech, and we expect to see continued sponsorship growth among both non-endemics and endemics going into the 2018 season,” Hopper said. “Part of our decision-making process was around the economic viability of esports in the region, and the BAMTech deal helped to lay the foundation for the future of league sustainability.”

There will also be a minor league for sponsors to work with Riot around. The Academy League is going to replace the Challenger Series, as each LCS team will be required to field an Academy team instead of independent teams fighting for promotion. The Challenger Series itself was originally conceived by Riot and Coca-Cola.

Riot isn’t the only game company emulating traditional sports. Activision Blizzard launches its Overwatch League early next year, and the NBA also has its own esports league, in partnership with Take-Two Interactive, which debuts in spring. As more traditional sports owners invest in this space, esports will continue to open up new opportunities for companies looking to reach the elusive millennial and Gen Z audiences.

To Resonate, Influencer Marketing Can’t Just Borrow Interest

As the year comes to a close and brands jostle for position for top of mind among gift-givers, social media influencer marketing may seem like a sure thing to make an authentic connection with consumers. However, holiday gift-giving may not play to the strengths that make influencers so potent.

“It’s borrowed interest. We used to be harder on ourselves as an industry, trying to do good work, trying to avoid borrowed interest,” Rick Bursky, an advertising professor at USC, told AListDaily. “Influencers are just the new version of [celebrity] spokespeople. I’ve never gotten any great results out of influencers.”

The Cannes-winning Bursky, whose career spans work across agencies offering creative direction for top brands, offered that “as a rule, I would recommend against [influencers], but come up with relevant ones. Come up with something a little more interesting.”

A potential fix for the issue is to stop treating the medium as the message. According to Bursky, using influencers is similar to running a TV commercial—it may garner plenty of views, but it still needs to grab attention on its own merits.

“If you’re selling baby powder, get a baby to do it,” he said. “You spend money and you’re buying clicks, you’re buying eyeballs, the same way you would buy it on TV or in a magazine.”

Marketers have long posited that partnerships with popular social media accounts (even ones belonging to pets) pose a panacea for advertising fatigue, especially among younger consumers. A survey by Linqia found that in 2017, 86 percent of marketers used influencers. Almost all of that group claimed their efforts were effective, despite three quarters reporting difficulty actually tracking the return on their investment.

Part of this enthusiasm comes from equating activity by high-profile influencers with peer recommendations.

“Social media is like digital word-of-mouth,” said Mindy Pankoke, a product manager for Experian Marketing Services. “Leverage that digital word-of-mouth to engage those high influencers, delivering messages to them that resonate so they will be more inclined to advocate for your brand.”

Word-of-mouth is vital, especially around the holidays. Personal recommendations are the largest factor in making gift choices, with 48 percent of respondents valuing input from their peers, according to a survey conducted by Pollfish made available to AListDaily. However, many Americans don’t see high-profile social media users as their peers. Just 12 percent claim to value celebrity and social media influencer endorsements.

Though interest in influencer marketing has skyrocketed in the past year, Google says the increasing saturation may actually work to its disadvantage.

“Maybe it works, but I don’t think it’s brilliant marketing—it’s just expected,” said Bursky. “You can’t bore people into buying your product. You can’t look like everyone else and say what everyone else is saying and expect people to think differently of you.”

According to recent FTC guidelines, all endorsers, even influencers on social media, must disclose their affiliation with brands if they’re given any incentives to mention their products online. This kind of disclosure lumps brand-influencer partnerships with sponsored posts, which 67 percent of millennials claim they’ve never clicked on.

This potentially bodes poorly for the future of a group whose appeal came from a higher level of perceived authenticity than the celebrities brands used to seek endorsements from.

Just 21 percent of millennials claim that celebrity purchase behavior has any effect on their own, and the increasing focus on paid influencer sponsorships are eroding that group’s credibility as well. Among those ages 17 to 37, 40 percent reported trusting an influencer less after seeing them participate in paid sponsorships.

As the Fyre Festival debacle earlier this year demonstrates, influencers can be highly effective in certain areas. According to research by The Shelf, ROI on social media partnerships is highest when it comes to experiences—food, drinks and travel—while holiday shopping trends more toward clothing, electronics and toys.

To stand out in an ever-crowding marketplace and reach groups that are actively trying to shut advertising out, Bursky suggests putting a little more faith in creatives, even if it means taking risks.

“You can crunch data in a million ways, but still, someone has to have an idea before you put something out there,” he said. “If you want to be noticed, be brave.”

Ad And Apps Spending To Separately Grow in 2018—But So Will Fraud

CMOs Mobilize On Mobile

New research by App Annie suggests that consumer spending on mobile apps will increase by 30 percent over the next year, reaching $110 billion in total for 2018. This growth is driven by increased mobile penetration in markets such as China, India and Brazil, while consumers in more mature mobile markets are spending two hours per day on mobile apps.

It’s no great shock, then, that Forrester predicts that 70 percent of companies will spend more on both mobile web and app advertising in 2018. Furthermore, 39 percent of companies that spend more than $5 million per month will up budgets by more than 30 percent.

This optimism about mobile marketing comes despite rampant, unavoidable ad fraud concerns, Forrester found. Of the marketers it surveyed, more than a third estimated that over 40 percent of their budgets were at risk of fraud. Only 19 percent reported taking systematic action to prevent fraud, though assigning high priority to fighting ad fraud in the next 12 months was almost unanimous.

Nintendo Switch Rakes In Cash

After just eight months on the market, the Nintendo Switch has already sold over 10 million units worldwide.

“The response from fans has been great, and we’re doing our very best to satisfy demand during the holiday shopping season,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s president and COO.

North American Sports Market Grows

PwC has released its 2017 predictions for the North American professional sports market over the next five years, forecasting the industry to bring in $78.5 billion in yearly revenue by 2021. This growth will be driven mostly by increased spending on media rights and sponsorships, especially in 2018.

“Dilly Dilly” Dependability Drops

Despite the seeming ubiquity of the second “Dilly Dilly” spot in late November, the new addition to Bud Light’s campaign has not influenced positive perception of the brand, according to new research by YouGov. Among men, favorable impressions, from news, advertising and word of mouth, peaked on November 17, coinciding with non-“Dilly Dilly” ads that aired in late October. By the time the new spot aired in late November, positive perception was already on its way down, and continued diminishing even afterward.

Data And Distrust

New research by Parks Associates indicates higher-than-ever misapprehensions about data collection. Among US broadband households, 54 percent believe they gain nothing of value from sharing their data with corporations, and 42 percent believe they cannot rely on those companies to keep their information safe.

“It isn’t sufficient to provide excellent customer care. That’s table stakes,” said Alton Martin, co-founder of Trusource Labs. “[Manufacturers] need to convey and instill confidence that not only do their products work well, but they are secure and will not allow a consumer’s home and family privacy to be violated. I can’t imagine the negative blowback if IoT devices in the home suddenly became untrustworthy. They’d be disconnected in droves.”

US consumers are placing a premium on their data, despite not being entirely sure what information about them is being collected, a new study by Censuswide finds. Of the survey’s US respondents, 31 percent claimed they did not know enough about their data to weigh in. On average, however, US consumers value the data advertisers collect at $244 annually, totaling $78.8 billion for all the personal data in the country.

This presents a fine line for marketers to walk, with 60 percent of consumers preferring data-driven relevant ads, and 48 percent willing to give anonymous data to keep online sites free.

Misuse of personal data likewise carries a hefty price tag, a study by Accenture indicated. Consumer mistrust cost American companies $756 billion last year, with 41 percent of consumers switching companies due to irrelevant messaging and poor personalization.

The rewards for companies that use data wisely are great, with 43 percent of US consumers responding that they would be more likely to shop at a company that always personalizes experiences and protects their information.

“Those that succeed will hit a ‘sweet spot,’ whereby US customers will be willing to share more personal insights into their world in return for greater value and the confidence that their data is protected,” said Robert Wollan, senior managing director at Accenture.

Many US firms find themselves up to the challenge. New information from Winterberry Group, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Data and Marketing Association found that American companies will spend just over $20 billion on third-party data in 2017.

This spending is split almost 50-50 between acquiring user information ($10.05 billion) and activations to put data insights into practice ($10.13 billion). In terms of specific types of data, omnichannel makes up the largest share, with $3.53 billion to be spent on information such as names, addresses and interests. Transactional data, or purchase histories, comes in second place with $3 billion, and digital behavior in third with $2.08 billion.

Inclusion In Advertising

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) released a report on gender last April, which found that gender stereotypes in advertising harm individuals and society as a whole. In the year since, marketers in the UK have taken note, according to research by Shutterstock.

Among British marketers, 57 percent claimed that the ASA’s report led them to select images for their ads differently, and 35 percent have used more images featuring women in the past year. Furthermore, 90 percent of marketers agree that using more diverse images will improve a brand’s reputation, and 51 percent believe that it’s important for marketing images to accurately reflect modern society.

However, these shifts run mostly along generational lines. While 43 percent of marketers ages 25-to-34 increased their use of images of same-sex couples in their communications, only 17 percent of marketers over the age of 45 did the same.

“Striking a chord with consumers is no longer about serving them images of perfection, as social media has helped to change how people view images,” Robyn Lange, a curator at Shutterstock told Campaign. “Consumers prefer images that accurately portray the world around them, as opposed to a perfected version of the world offered by marketers.”

Netflix Releases Streaming Statistics

Netflix has released information on what its subscribers have been up to in 2017, including such tidbits as the fact that one user watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl once a day for the entire year. On average, Netflix users watched 60 movies on the platform in 2017, and in total streamed one billion hours of content every week.

Additionally, Netflix’s information establishes a major difference between binge-watched shows and non-binged shows, with no crossover between the top 10 shows in each category.

(Editor’s Note: Our weekly reports post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, December 15. Have a new report, study or insight to share? Let us know at

Utomik, Jump Share Strategy To Becoming ‘Netflix Of Video Games’

As the digital games market grows on platforms like Steam, discovery becomes a major issue for both game developers and gamers trying to decide where to spend their money. But despite the fact that platforms have been around for years, the idea of having a Netflix-style subscription service for video games is still relatively new.

“Right now is the wild west of game subscription services, as there’s a huge land-grab available for whoever figures out the formula first and claims the Netflix-and-Spotify-sized hole in gaming,” Anthony Palma, CEO and founder of the video game subscription service Jump, told AlistDaily. “The company that will win out will be a cost-effective multiplatform service that delivers a perfect gaming experience.”

Publisher Electronic Arts launched its EA Access subscription service for consoles in 2014, which was expanded with the PC-oriented EA Origin in 2016. Since the initial launch three years ago, a number of different game services ranging from Sony’s PlayStation Now, GameFly, Xbox Games Pass and other upstarts like Jump and Utomik have emerged.

Subscriptions psychologically eliminate the purchase anxiety consumers feel every time they decide to buy a new game, movie or album, Palma said, as billing just happens on a monthly basis.

“The paradigm shift from purchasing to subscription access is inevitable in gaming,” said Palma. “It’s already happened in virtually every other consumer market, including music, video, data and even grocery delivery.”

Doki Tops, CEO and founder of the Utomik service, agrees with that sentiment, stating that the games industry is following in the wake of media subscription services such as Netflix and Spotify.

“You no longer have to spend time on figuring out what to buy and where to get the best deal,” Tops told AListDaily. “Also, there is no boundary to discover and try games you would otherwise never look at. Something that buying individual games can prevent you from if you’re on a limited budget.”

Utomik launched in 2014 after developing technology that lets players start games after partially downloading them. Comparatively, Jump is a new service that launched earlier this year. Both want to be the “Netflix of video games” by offering subscribers “all you can eat” access to a variety of titles, with the main difference being that Jump specializes in independent games while Utomik is also partnered with major publishers like Ubisoft, Warner Bros. and Take-Two Interactive.

This distinction leads to specific approaches to their businesses, with the most significant being that Utomik is partnered with developers and distributors such as Plug In Digital to have games added to the subscription service either on the same day they launch for sale or shortly after. Its initial day-one release is the independently developed adventure game Yono and the Celestial Elephants.

“We feel that day-one releases create a freshness and a premium feeling to a subscription platform, and it’s the first step we believe subscription gaming needs to take to become huge,” said Tops.

In contrast, Palma said that Jump advises developers to wait until games reach the end of their sales cycle so that they can profit from purchases first. However, new audiences may discover these games on Jump through the platform’s recommendation system, which is designed to connect players with games they might be interested in.

According to Palma, Jump targets users “who don’t necessarily need every game on day one,” but are interested in trying new games over time. The service plans to eventually develop its own original games to help draw in a broader audience.

Although both CEOs have different approaches when it comes to growing their respective platforms, both agree the content is the main factor.

“Content is king if you’re any type of media platform, be it digital sales or subscriptions,” said Palma, who added that content strategy needs to be coupled with long-term multiplatform on-demand access.

Tops said that the key to growing Utomik was to realize that there was no one master key. “You need to do a lot right,” he explained. “I would say, have a solid technology base to work on, then get good content on board and consequently finding the audience to the content that you get on board.”

According to Tops, subscription platforms have to learn that they’re never going to get all the games that they want. However, services should get feedback from their users and, most of all, remain persistent.

“Getting some of the bigger partners on board has taken us over two years of talking with them about the most random things, like tap dancing,” said Tops.

Utomik relies on a number of different social channels to promote itself, with Facebook being its main driver, but Tops hinted that bigger distribution and promotional partnerships will be announced in the coming months. Jump is also using a variety of platforms, particularly YouTube and Twitch, along with developer support and traditional ads to get the word out about its services.

“Online media is also paying more attention to subscription gaming than ever before,” said Tops. “Next to that we’re soft launching our yet-to-be-announced streamer-affiliate program to have people that enjoy Utomik get the word out for us. It always works better to have someone else recommend you than you recommending yourself.”

After three years of operation, Tops describes Utomik’s audience as broader and more varied than he expected when the service first started. The only common denominator that Tops found was that subscribers enjoy a wide variety of games, from longtime classics to niche titles. He also said that gender is not a factor and subscribers generally range from 20-to-50-years-old.

Greater acceptance will come as these services continue to grow. Tops said it’s already much easier to convince publishers and developers to join a subscription platform than it was when Utomik first started.

“We [recently] signed 61 new games in one month,” said Tops. “That used to take us a whole year in the beginning, and the games would be of a lower quality. As with most markets, the initial adoption is hard, and at some point, it becomes a slide. [These are] exciting times, and we are proud to be pioneers of this new age of gaming.”

Starbucks: ‘Upstanders’ Series Is Storytelling, Not Cause Marketing

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, senior vice president of public affairs for Starbucks

Starbucks is looking to seize the audiences it captivated with its storytelling efforts during the first season of Upstanders, an original series that documents altruistic citizens making differences in their communities, by expanding its content ecosystem and partners with new distribution channels in Amazon Prime Video, Facebook Watch and Audible.

Upstanders is a collection of short stories free of Starbucks product placement and is produced in written, video and audio formats, telling the stories of ordinary people who demonstrate courage through their actions. It is not intended to be political.

When asked if the quest for caffeine, content and uniting American communities is an extension of Starbucks’ cause marketing efforts—Upstanders sleeves have previously complemented cups—Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Starbucks’ senior vice president of public affairs, said he sees their work more as storytelling in the public interest, hoping that the series spreads a message and provokes a viewer’s attention toward humanitarianism.

“I don’t see this as marketing or cause advocacy,” said Chandrasekaran. “We’re not out trying to use Upstanders to sell more coffee, drive traffic into our stores or promote the brand. It’s really a pro-bono initiative that’s aimed at inspiring and engaging people. There’s no hidden agenda here that says, ‘we’re trying to do this to drive a marketing agenda.’

“If you can [create content] in a thoughtful and authentic way that’s not a clever way to promote oneself, [and] if you can tell great stories, the audience will follow.”

Balancing social-conscious storytelling with the bottom line by addressing issues at large within the communities Starbucks serves is a strong statement for a coffee company that casts a global net among consumers. Being a brand that doubles as a non-media publisher, Starbucks is seeking to create a cup of counter-programming to combat the influx of negative news hitting TV and social media every day, reminding viewers that there’s more to the country than what’s currently wrong with it. Although the series is not specifically tied to its marketing funnels, Starbucks is still getting a seat at the table with newfound opportunities (and exposure) that come with such projects, and it fits within the big picture of the company. 

“We’ve seen brands generate material about their own products for years now. There’s an appeal to that among consumers,” said Chandrasekaran. “What we’re starting to see is that when you train the lens not just on yourself, the product, people and experience, but on the country, people are interested.”

Chandrasekaran, formerly a senior editor for The Washington Post who co-authored the book For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism and Sacrifice with Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz, travels the country with Schultz to identify story subjects, spends time filming the change-makers and then jointly writes and produces the pieces. Stories from the 11-episode series include a woman who forgives her assailant and fights for his freedom after being shot in the face.

The Upstanders Stories
Knives, Fire and Opportunity | The Wave to Recovery | From War to Montana | Befriending Her Shooter | Planting Hope in a Coalfield | A Racist’s Rehabilitation | One Doctor’s Needle Fix | Love for All in Utah | Saving Middletown | The Firefighters’ Rescuer | The Disappearing Island

Upstanders was promoted in every Starbucks store in the US this year with table tents. In addition to distributing Upstanders through the Starbucks site, mobile app, in-store WiFi network and social media, the team created an exclusive full-length documentary for Amazon and became one of the first non-media brands to have content appear on Facebook’s recently launched Watch platform.

“Marketing for us is different than many other similarly sized and situated brands. Comparatively speaking, we don’t do as much advertising on television or in print,” Chandrasekaran explained. “The best marketing in my view is the experience in stores, the human connection with Starbucks baristas and the quality of the food or beverage in one’s hand.

“What we’re demonstrating is that a non-media company can create compelling content that’s widely watched on third-party platforms, but it’s still the early days for us. That’s a unique thing—there aren’t many people out there doing that. For us, this is still a learning endeavor.”

Top brass at Starbucks was surprised (and satisfied) with how well season one performed; videos were collectively viewed more than 80 million times.

“Befriending Her Shooter”

To amplify their message even further, the coffee chain experimented with their content mix by tapping actor Michael B. Jordan to narrate Upstanders as an audiobook, which is available as a free download on Audible. The audiobook is new for the second season, but Starbucks went back to produce a separate installment for season one.

Starbucks also experimented with user-generated content and tapped into its fervent consumer base by providing grants for deserving groups through the “Upstanders Challenge.” After receiving upward of a thousand video submissions, the Starbucks Foundation awarded more than half-a-million dollars in grants to non-profits making a difference in their communities.

“For the last couple of years, we’ve been asking: what is the role and responsibility of a public company?” Schultz said last year. “For any consumer brand, especially a brick-and-mortar retailer like Starbucks, [it’s] the rules of engagement, because of Amazon and mobile commerce are really changing . . . We’re never going to become a media company. But we can extend the brand and the experience through media and original content.”

Chandrasekaran, Schultz and the rest of the Upstanders content development team are already planning for more storytelling projects in the coming year and will apply insights from the first two seasons to be more thoughtful and adept storytellers.

“There certainly are learnings that will apply to more traditional branded content that the company is going to create,” Chandrasekaran said. “It’s only going to reinforce our commitment to creating content in the public interest.

“There’s a lot of dysfunction, anger and fighting out there. American people are yearning for greater unity, for positivity [and] to reclaim the great values that the country was founded upon.”

Instagram’s New Follow Hashtags Feature Gives Brands More Social Options

Instagram has introduced new tools to help users find interesting brands and vice versa. Starting today, users can follow hashtags.

“Following a hashtag is just like following a friend,” Instagram said in an announcement made Tuesday. “Now it’s even easier to stay connected with the interests, hobbies, passions and communities you care about.”

Rather than requiring users to search manually for hashtags to keep abreast of specific topics, the photosharing service now creates pages for topics, populating them with “top stories” that its algorithm curates. When users follow hashtags, they will see the latest top posts in their feed, just as if they were following another user publishing posts. Additionally, Stories including the hashtag will appear in the following user’s Stories bar as well, and a user’s followed hashtags will appear in their profile.

The new engagement method grants brands additional ways to reach photo fiends who haven’t followed their official social media accounts yet, but it comes with some caveats. Hashtag additions to the feeds of followers are algorithmically generated, and because hashtags can have multiple valid meanings, users can mark posts in their feed as irrelevant to them.

Because of this, brands that use the new feature irresponsibly can find themselves shut out from it entirely, and ultimately, the update will influence how brands use hashtags on Instagram from here on out. Because posts now easily reach audiences well beyond an account’s followers, social media managers need to doubly ensure their posts are relevant to the hashtags they include. The addition of topic following may shift the social-spend landscape as well, at least in part away from popular influencers to popular topics.

Like Spotify did with its discovery features, Instagram is giving users the ability to discover more relevant content without ever having to leave the app.

“Following hashtags is just the beginning of how we’re giving you the tools to discover and be inspired by our community,” said the Instagram announcement.

Now that users can follow hashtags, Instagram has begun to sort the wheat from the chaff within individual topics.

It Takes More Than Rotten Tomatoes To Kill A Movie, Says Analyst

Movie ratings on Rotten Tomatoes are often featured on trailers and blamed for box office failures. While it’s true that peer reviews increasingly drive consumer behavior, a look at box office data reveals that reviews are only one of many factors that contribute to a film’s success.

Aggregate scores on Rotten Tomatoes determine whether the film is “fresh” or “rotten.” Anything over 60 percent is considered “fresh,” anything under 60 is “rotten” and 75 percent or above gets the coveted “Certified Fresh” seal of approval you see in movie trailers.

Rotten Tomatoes, along with other aggregate movie rating sites, compile review scores so that consumers can get an overview of its reception on one site. A recent study by National Research Group found that 36 percent of US moviegoers check Rotten Tomatoes before seeing a film and seven out of ten would be less likely to see a film if the score was less than 25 percent.

Over the past year, many have speculated whether “The Rotten Tomatoes Effect” is a myth or movie killer, especially when a low score on the site corresponds with low box office revenue.

“There are a lot of factors that go into [the success of a film], not just reviews,” Karie Bible, box office analyst and film historian at Exhibitor Relations, told AListDaily. “For example, the IT movie. That got 85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes—that’s really good, but Warner Bros. did a fantastic, very long lead marketing campaign on that film.

IT has made $327.3 million dollars to date. The film did well, but not just because it had good reviews—it was a great concept [and it] had been 20 years since the TV series,” said Bible. “It wasn’t something we’d seen a bazillion times before and there’s probably a whole generation that doesn’t know about the TV series necessarily. It has a great marketing campaign. There are so many reasons it was a hit other than good reviews, although they certainly helped.”

Massive marketing pushes have always played a role in getting audiences into the theater, but a lack of marketing can have the opposite effect. Geostorm, the big-budget disaster film starring Gerard Butler, received very little promotion prior to its release in October—rather unusual for a Warner Bros. film. Screenings of Geostorm also did not allow press, which aroused suspicion that the studio didn’t have much faith in its success. The film currently sits at 13 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and $207.6 million worldwide.

Timing is another factor to consider when releasing a film, which—if we’re being honest—was an unfortunate challenge for Geostorm, which came out amid real-life natural disasters. Whether the film was worth seeing in the first place is up to audience’s opinion, but even the best disaster film would suffer under such circumstances.

Competing films is another consideration. Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens this weekend, but unlike The Force Awakens, it will compete with other family-friendly movies like Jumanji, Justice League, Coco and Wonder. That’s not to say fans won’t come out in droves to see the long-awaited sequel, but competition will certainly play a role in ticket sales.

“People want really hard and fast rules, and it doesn’t work that way,” said Bible. “Screenwriter William Goldman once said that ‘no one really knows anything in Hollywood.’ In a lot of ways that’s true because what is a rule one day isn’t necessarily going to be a rule tomorrow. Sometimes a movie will get glowing reviews and it will have a good opening, and sometimes it can have all the great reviews in the world and that doesn’t mean it’s going to make money.”

For example, Lady Bird was the best-reviewed title on Rotten Tomatoes that, until recently, maintained a 100 percent score from 196 reviews. Despite critical praise, Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut has fetched a modest $22 million at the box office to date.

In contrast, The Mummy reboot earned $31.6 million during its opening weekend in the US, despite a score of 16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The film has earned over $409 million worldwide, most of which originates from audiences overseas. However, The Mummy’s overall performance has Universal rethinking its Dark Universe franchise plans.

We now live in a connected society where peer reviews greatly influence consumer behavior. Rotten Tomatoes may not hold all the cards to a film’s success, but when the company withheld its score for Justice League until the day of its release, some worried that the move could spark a new trend that holds film criticism hostage.

Former film critic and Doctor Strange co-writer C. Robert Cargill is concerned that if moviegoers buy tickets to a bad movie because they couldn’t see reviews ahead of time, smaller filmmakers will suffer the consequences.

“Fortunes are being made and lost at the hands of these united, aggregated critics,” Cargill wrote on IndieWire. “What happens when your [scrappy little] film gets annihilated by a juggernaut of a stinker that would have been otherwise crushed because of its poor reviews—reviews that were brushed under the rug of the site that has become the Siskel & Ebert of its day?”

The problem with blaming bad reviews for a film’s performance is that related data is held close to the chest by both Hollywood and aggregate movie rating sites. While a studio is proud to announce when its blockbuster is “Certified Fresh,” the same studio or its directors will blame Rotten Tomatoes if that same film loses money. However, the general public will never understand the true impact either way because studios will never reveal how much money they lost or other factors that went into a film’s success.

Unfortunately, the solution isn’t as simple as “don’t make a bad movie,” because as an art form, a film’s entertainment value is entirely subjective.

“Good reviews don’t necessarily make or break a movie—they can, and they can’t,” Bible concluded. “It depends on the marketing, the timing and so many other factors.”

‘Pitch Perfect 3’ Story Game Promotes Brand To Female Gamers

Universal Brand Development, a business segment of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and part of NBCUniversal, is collaborating with Episode—a mobile storytelling platform created by Pocket Gems—to target female audiences with the game Pitch Perfect In Deep Treble. The branded story experience is leading a marketing push for the Dec. 22 Pitch Perfect 3 theatrical release.

Heidy Vargas, games and digital products manager at Universal Brand Development, endorses the pairing of Episode and Pitch Perfect as a natural fit for what they found resonates well with young females. The intention is for the story-based gameplay to allow players to create their own avatar and feel like they are actively living and interacting with the movie characters.

“Within Universal Brand Development we aim to expand the audience experience beyond theaters and TV screens. Specifically with games, we aim to create hours of additional content and experiences that will hopefully appeal to fans of each unique property,” Vargas said. “We understand audiences choose to play in many different ways and that allows us to get creative and find game styles that work across a variety of demographics.”

The Pitch Perfect franchise has earned over $400 million at the global box office, targeting a large female demographic. The film franchise stars Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins.

“We view Episode as separate from the world of video games,” Summer Watson, vice president of business operations at Episode told AListDaily.

The game company is comprised of former film and television writers and creators, which has also helped secure other Hollywood licenses like Pretty Little Liars and Mean Girls. Episode is designed to be played in either short bite-sized moments or long binges, and stories are made up of several episodes that can have multiple seasons.

Watson also explained that the vast majority of Episode’s audience are women, and over 4.4 billion episodes have been viewed on it. The Episode community is comprised of over 9 million users who have created over 73,000 custom stories.

According to a 2017 study by Pew Research, 75 percent of women own a smartphone. Research firm Newzoo has estimated that there are over 70 million female gamers playing on smart devices in the US alone.

“Given that women are some of our most active players for mobile games, we see potential in creating more mobile games for female-driven movies,” said Vargas. “Women want to see themselves represented in the games they play. Audiences seek to identify with the characters they interact with, and I think our franchises are giving us some really cool, strong, aspirational female leads.”

When it comes to the platform Episode has created, Watson said original mobile stories can build awareness around returning franchises that younger people might not be as familiar with, and can reignite interest in franchises they may have forgotten about.

“Mobile can give entertainment a new life through our platform and, because of how we develop stories, Episode can expand a franchise by releasing consecutive seasons, like with our Mean Girls or Pretty Little Liars stories,” Watson added.

While this is Universal’s first partnership with Episode, it won’t be the last. Before working on this Pitch Perfect game, Episode worked with singer Demi Lovato for her interactive story Path to Fame.

Universal Brand Development core businesses include consumer products, games and digital platforms, and live entertainment based on IP from Universal Pictures, Illumination, DreamWorks Animation, and NBCUniversal cable and television.

Warner Bros. Reaches For Casual Gamers With ‘Harry Potter’ Mobile Game

The Harry Potter franchise may have just marked its 20th anniversary in June, but it’s still worthwhile for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to keep this IP working. The company is leveraging the brand to reach a more casual gaming audience by partnering with Jam City to create Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery—a game based on J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World franchise.

Launching in 2018, Hogwarts Mystery will cast players in the role of a student at the famous school for witchcraft and wizardry. Although most details are still under wraps, fans of Jam City, famous for games like Cookie Jam, Family Guy: Another Freakin’ Mobile Game, Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow and Snoopy Pop, can expect to attend magic classes, where they’ll learn to duel, mix potions and perform other spells.

Jam City is working with Warner Bros. and the Harry Potter franchise on different programs to promote the forthcoming game. Over 50,000 people are expected to attend the official “A Celebration of Harry Potter” fan event on January 26-28 at the Universal Orlando Resort, and the game is a sure lock to be seen there.

Josh Yguado, co-founder and president of Jam City, explained that in order to engage with a global fan base as immense as the Harry Potter audience, you need “a passionate team that takes the lore and brand very seriously.”

“Warner Bros. has some incredible studios focused on mid-core and core mobile game mechanics,” Yguado told AListDaily. “You need a true love for a brand like [Harry Potter] to be successful. After that, it’s just communicating with that same perspective and having respect for the fans.”

The game is launching under Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s Portkey Games label, which is dedicated to creating game experiences inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. Though it’s been years since the original Harry Potter books and movies concluded, the franchise continues to engage fans with other properties—such as spin-off film sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, scheduled to release next November.

Yguado said that part of the brand’s strength comes from how an entire generation was raised on the Harry Potter saga, learning both language and moral concepts from it.

“The books are magical and powerful in how thoughtful they are about life and I think that resonated as strongly with adults as well,” said Yguado. “The internet also was really born while the books were proliferating, so you have this convergence of a generation learning and expressing themselves through this mythology on a new medium and connecting around it.”

This follows Pokémon GO-maker Niantic’s announcement last November that it was creating a Harry Potter-themed augmented reality game.