‘Destiny 2’ Amazon Alexa Integration Marks New Engagement Tactic

Activision and developer Bungie surprised fans when it announced the launch of an interactive skill and app for Amazon Alexa in a first-of-its-kind partnership for the game Destiny 2. This partnership comes at a time when an increasing number of brands are exploring the voice platform as a way to engage with audiences. If players take to it, the skill could mark a major milestone for both video games and the Alexa platform, as other developers may look to connect the two.

Using the Ghost skill, players use their voice to interact with the game’s AI assistant Ghost to get details about their progress, equip loadouts, learn about the game’s backstory or connect with friends through Alexa-enabled devices.

“Alexa brings a whole new opportunity for entertainment and gaming to reach people in never-before-seen ways,” Ian Trombetta, vice president of consumer marketing at Activision, told AListDaily. “We have a full array of marketing activity centered around the game as well as the skill and hardware. This will culminate in our inclusion with the Alexa Moments TV campaign later this month. In addition, we have quite a bit of social and digital activity as well as key influencers that we’ll be engaging with throughout our campaign.”

According to Trombetta, the Destiny 2-themed Alexa skill came into being because the developers wanted to offer players new opportunities to experience the game using voice technology, driving deeper engagement with the game. Alexa’s platform provided an authentic opportunity to do that.

“We look for great companion experiences to be deeply personalized, and Ghost is aware of the activities you have completed and the skill level you’re at, updating in real-time and growing alongside your character the more you play,” Trombetta said.

To further engage players, a limited-edition Alexa device in the shape of a Ghost—which is depicted in the game as a small flying mechanical drone—will release on Dec. 19. The skill features over 1,000 lines recorded by actor Nolan North, who voices the Ghost in the game, and players can ask questions, like “what should I do next?”

NPD released sales figures in October showing that Destiny 2 became the bestselling game of 2017 in the weeks after it launched for consoles in September—exceeding first-month sales of its 2014 predecessor. The report came out one day before the game launched for PC, which increased the potential audience size for the free skill even further.

“We’re very excited to see how our Destiny 2 players embrace the new technology and look forward to working with Amazon again in the future if the opportunity arises,” said Trombetta.

Car Marketers Navigate Nuanced Relationship With Millennials

If you asked millennials to turn their feelings about buying cars into a Facebook status, they’d probably say ‘it’s complicated.’”

The most populous generation in the US, who has over $200 billion in buying power, is shifting and shaping the future of automobile ownership, and a variety of reports suggests both sides of the argument are valid: millennials are gravitating toward mobility-first lifestyles, moving to different cities and ditching car ownership altogether, living off Lyft, Uber or public transit. And millennials are also leasing and buying cars.

According to an April 2016 report from Bankrate, among all age groups that were surveyed, millennials were most likely to purchase a vehicle in the following 12 months; many of them are buying SUVs to drive to their suburban homes.

The holiday season, highlighted by such catchy campaigns like “December to Remember,” “Happy Honda Days,” “Toyotathon” and “Celebrate the Season Event,” is a particularly ubiquitous time for a heavy, year-end paid push to bring each respective brand across the finish line.

Automobile marketers are meeting the millennial demand for cars in different ways. Cadillac is staying nimble by repositioning their mission to millennials with subscription services, events and experiences; Tesla is relying on word-of-mouth by ditching traditional advertising models and press altogether; Alfa Romeo is raising brand awareness through paid media and drive events; and Lexus is leveraging storytelling to relay a luxury-lifestyle proposition.

AListDaily interviewed executives from these car brands at Automobility, the annual car expo in Los Angeles, to learn how each is refining and modifying its messaging to reach millennials and have them reconsider car ownership.

Not Your Daddy’s Caddy

Cadillac is a 115-year-old brand, which for some millennials means it was born sometime between the Stone Age and Apple’s launch of the first iPhone.

Nathan Tan, Cadillac’s associate director of brand partnerships and experiences, says their century-long heritage is a great asset, but it also comes with some false familiarity as your grandfather’s favorite car.

“Millennials might think what they know Cadillac is about, but usually that notion is an outdated, nostalgic and an old-fashioned one,” Tan said. “It’s at odds with the current Cadillac, which is the future of the brand. Our job is really challenging that from a product and brand perspective of modern luxury.”

Cadillac embarked on a transformative expedition three years ago to evolve its ethos by moving global headquarters from Detroit to New York City. Tan says their Manhattan-based offices now mirror the new demographic they’re targeting.

“The move is a major inflection point in our brand’s history that will stand the test of time,” Tan said. “The move allowed us to bring in a lot of new marketing talent across the board. A lot of millennials are now working for the brand to target them—and that makes a difference in the culture and mindset every day when we walk in to work.”

“The passion points we’ve identified align well both for millennials and us as a brand. It’s an authentic and natural way for us to live out our brand positioning to dare greatly.” —Nathan Tan

To combat the notion that millennials don’t want to own anything, the brand got on the mobility train and introduced the subscription-based service Book By Cadillac in February. For an all-inclusive cost of $1,800 a month, consumers can drive any car from the Cadillac portfolio on a month-by-month basis and exchange vehicles up to 18 times a year, meaning you can take a sedan to the beach and an SUV to go skiing at your leisure. It was piloted in New York and is now available in Los Angeles, Dallas and Munich, Germany, with plans to expand aggressively in the coming years. The move to mobility is just one way Cadillac and a caravan of other car marques are combating ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

“We’ve seen fantastic response to that,” Tan said. “It’s in our best interests to look at how those of types of [ridesharing] programs are performing in different markets, and it’s certainly factoring in the conversations and decision-making process. You kind of have to.”

Tan said they’ve been extremely pleased with the overwhelming interest in the subscription model since the service started, noting that 8,000 people have expressed interest in the program so far.

“This particular generation is looking for accessibility and flexibility,” Tan said. “It’s a unique and easy way for consumers to engage with the brand. One of the more exciting things is that it allows for us to get in front of new consumers. It’s a nice alternative for today’s generation who wants to enjoy luxury without having tangible things.”

Cadillac is also engaging millennial consumers outside of car dealerships and in the real world for potential point of sales with a two-pronged strategy that entails product-oriented drive experiences that engages in lifestyle passion points. The brand is shunning baby-boomer-driven verticals like golf and changing their meaning of luxury by taking a seat at the center of fashion, entrepreneurship, travel, design, culinary, arts and culture.

The strategy is highlighted by Cadillac House, a vibrant public space that unites creators and sparks conversation through a variety of events and art shows. The concept is in development to expand globally.

“The passion points we’ve identified align well both for millennials and us as a brand,” Tan said. “It’s an authentic and natural way for us to live out our brand positioning to dare greatly. The idea is that Cadillac represents innovation and entrepreneurial risk-taking and creating tangible value in the world.”

Cadillac’s approach to marketing culturally relevant events is not simply for association and sponsorship from a logo perspective. Tan and his team craft and co-create innovative partnerships with the likes of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) to further create credibility within worlds.

“When we think about traditional luxury, really what you’re thinking about is a status symbol that says something externally,” Tan said. “The shift to modern luxury is really about your expression of your internal values and the idea of self-actualization.”

Will Tesla’s Take On Anti-Advertising Stand The Test Of Time?

Tesla first debuted the Roadster in 2008 and the Model S shortly after, and ever since, the automaker that doubles as an energy storage and solar panel manufacturer has deliberately marketed its electric vehicles differently.

Do you recall the last time seeing a Tesla commercial that got you revved up for its cars? You don’t, because Tesla does not invest in traditional advertising budgets to advocate its products. Instead, it builds brand integrity and affinity among millennials by way of word-of-mouth marketing through car owners and brand advocates. It also relies on age-tested avenues like its website.

However, according to the company’s annual report last year, Tesla spent $48 million on “marketing, promotional and advertising costs.”

The brand also does not actively engage the press—a company official only agreed to an interview with AListDaily on the condition that answers would not appear in quotes attributed to them.

According to the Tesla spokesperson, this unique medley creates passion behind their brand and sets them apart within a younger demographic of buyers.

It’s largely the reason why Elon Musk, who sits at the Mount Rushmore for the modern-day chief executive, is the public-facing front for the company. Musk, whose acumen and mystique makes fanboys out of millennials and middle-aged men alike, engages in one-to-one conversations with consumers and corresponds with the press on Twitter for public consumption. He manages his own handle and does not have a muzzle on social media, and consumers have come to appreciate such transparency.

The Tesla spokesperson believes word-of-mouth straight from the fingertips of their CEO and their devout advocates resonates with millennials because they much rather trust information delivered by a friend or family member over a message delivered through a billboard.

Tesla believes word-of-mouth marketing straight from the fingertips of their CEO and their devout advocates resonates with millennials because they much rather trust information delivered by a friend or family member over a message delivered through a billboard.

Tesla goes to market differently to begin with. The Silicon Valley-based automaker announces vehicles before actually starting production. In the case of the Model 3, it went with an unorthodox method of accepting $1,000 reservation payments from consumers to hold a place in line to get their vehicle.

Millennials don’t find the approach off-putting because the group is instinctually adaptive with new-buying habits, the Tesla spokesperson said, noting that the purchase model the brand used is also adopted among other industries.

Tesla often skips auto shows, but for consumers who were crisscrossing the floors of the Los Angeles Convention Center for Automobility this year, they had the chance to explore Tesla’s “house of the future,” an entirely solar-powered, minimal space that served as home grounds for the Model 3, Model S and Model X. The prominent appearance showcased their solar roof tile technology.

Technology, mobility and connectivity are at the core of Tesla’s products and business, the Tesla spokesperson said, and that messaging and marketing is ultimately what makes its way to its vehicles.

Alfa Romeo Is A ‘New Kid On The Block’

Alfa Romeo is another 100-plus-year-old brand trying to figure out where it stands in the marketplace.

The Italian car manufacturer reentered back into the US market in 2014 after a 20-year hiatus and wants to reestablish its stateside marque with millennials who likely have no recollection—or idea—as to what the brand is all about.

The FCA-owned Alfa Romeo’s main priority this year, and continuing into 2018, is building overall brand awareness to indicate it’s different than every other car on the block, said Katie Inderelst, head of Alfa Romeo marketing and communications.

“It’s important to have consumers understand who we are and what we stand for as a brand before they purchase a vehicle,” Inderelst said. “Every car manufacturer is trying to figure out how to reach the millennial audience. We’re trying to generate name-plate awareness and getting an understanding of where we fit in competitive car segments.”

“Every car manufacturer is trying to figure out how to reach the millennial audience. We’re trying to generate name-plate awareness and getting an understanding of where we fit in competitive car segments.” —Katie Inderelst

Inderelst said she and her team at Alfa Romeo are trying to do so tactically with a creative execution built around “Say My Name”. That includes heavily pouring more budget into paid media on digital and broadcast, but more so with presence and experiences at events like the New York City Wine & Food Festival, Monterey Car Week and establishments like Top Golf, all of which have a heavy millennial attendee rate. It gives Alfa Romeo, which is not currently considering mobility as a strategy of focus, to access and reach a clientele that doesn’t necessarily fit the hardcore car enthusiast profile.

“Our research indicates that millennials are looking to make an emotional purchase,” Inderelst said. “They see us as an expressive brand versus a practical one and are looking to tell a story behind why they purchase one of our vehicles. Our marketing team is making sure our creative has seductive and stylish messaging that we’re a distinctive brand.”

Inderelst said one of the main misnomers with millennials is that they’re always seeking acceptance from other generations.

“Millennials want to be different and make decisions on their own. They don’t want to follow the status quo—but they do like a status symbol—and a car brings that to them,” she said.

According to FCA, just 516 Alfa Romeos were sold in the US last year, and sales were down by 22 percent. At 30-years-old, Inderelst, who has been with FCA for the past seven years, believes she’s ready for the tall task of successfully reaching consumers.

“My age probably plays a role on how to reach those audiences, and provide audience-specific feedback and advice,” Inderelst said. “Our average initial buyer is between 50-to-52-years old and is still younger than that of the competitor. The early adopters have been millennials, and word-of-mouth has been just as important.”

Alfa Romeo is trying to get consumers behind the wheel of their cars to experience its racing heritage, handling as well as the “young, sporty look” to potentially separate itself in the premium category.

The brand started the year with a significant paid push at the Super Bowl with three commercials to amplify that message. The spots yielded 450,000 visits to the brand’s website that Sunday alone and continued with Inderelst seeing a substantial increase in search visits and an uptick in social media following.

Alfa Romeo’s Instagram account is tallying 20,000 followers every quarter, and since its stateside comeback, the manufacturer has added 14 points to its brand awareness index.

“The Super Bowl was a huge stepping stone and had an impact on organic growth. It was our unofficial launch that we’re really back, and we continued that marketing push,” Inderelst said. “As we compare ourselves to other brands that have also reentered, we’re seeing some great success so far.”

Lexus Lays On Its Luxury Laurels

Over the last five years, Lexus has been on a quest to shift itself into a luxury lifestyle brand around the 90 markets it caters around the globe in four major markets—US, Europe, China and Japan.

“Lexus marketing is perceived in the same way globally. The world is very small, so we want the positioning to feel the same,” said Brian Bolain, corporate manager for Lexus product marketing and marketing communications. “If you want to be known as a lifestyle brand, you need to have a consistency of messaging to be recognizable. It doesn’t help to have misunderstandings with affluent customers.”

Lexus is leveraging a luxury gameplan and trying to reach millennials who may not be thinking about cars every day by organically weaving itself into stories within lifestyle pillars—like design and craftsmanship—that millennials personally find interesting.

One way it’s trying to accomplish this is with the forthcoming film Black Panther and teaming up with Marvel Studios for the LC Inspiration Series production car and concept coupe.

“Aligning with a character they love helps put us in the conversation, and that’s all we can ask for,” Bolain said. “That’s definitely a bit of millennial marketing though and it’s a huge play for us.”

To speed up storytelling efforts, the Toyota-owned company has a longstanding short films division that doubles as a branded-content farm. Earlier this year Lexus also changed its tagline from “Pursuit of Perfection” to “Experience Amazing” during a big Super Bowl push that featured Sia, Minnie Driver and a dancer with fast and furious moves.

“Action and iconography in our marketing gives us more relevance and resonates within a younger audience,” Bolain said. “The tone of voice is very important, along with what media outlets we reach them through. The main thing with millennials who haven’t yet moved into luxury categories is to create advocacy. You need to be interesting to get them on your side.”

“That book hasn’t been written yet, but I don’t believe the notion that millennials don’t want to drive cars. Everyone wants to find independence, and cars give you that. It’s a big personal statement, especially for affluent ones.” —Brian Bolain

Bolain said millennials are not giving up the use of cars, but rather shifting how they’re acquiring the use of a vehicle. He noted that he can point to studies that speak to both sides—that millennials are both wanting and abandoning cars.

“That’s why you need vehicles and a brand that’s interesting, and we’re trying to do that with our marketing to stay at the forefront of their minds,” said Bolain. “When you see a demographic shift, it gives you permission to think differently. Millennials really want storytelling, and we want to provide them shareworthy stories with a different voice about our products. That formula seems to work really well.”

However the future plays out, Bolain wants to maintain a brand that successfully markets luxury-oriented millennials, and that for him is “a big deal.”

“That book hasn’t been written yet, but I don’t believe the notion that millennials don’t want to drive cars,” Bolain said. “Everyone wants to find independence, and cars give you that. It’s a big personal statement, especially for affluent ones. Millennials are very smart about how they spend their money. We’ll see how they choose to acquire vehicles, but it’s important for every brand to figure that out.”

VR Growth To Slow In 2018; Marketers Favor Influencers Despite Millennial Distaste

Virtual Reality Progress Stumbles

For the first time, quarterly shipments of virtual reality headsets have surpassed one million units, according to a report by Canalys. PlayStation VR drove the largest share of shipments, with 49 percent of the total figure coming from Sony’s headset. The Oculus Rift came in second with 21 percent, and the HTC Vive trailed at 16 percent.

“VR adoption in the consumer segment is highly dependent on price, and Oculus’ strategy of lowering prices has definitely helped drive adoption,” said Canalys research analyst Vincent Thielke.

According to research by YouGov, total sales of PlayStation VR headsets have reached two million, just six months after the VR platform hit the one-million-sold milestone. Despite this growth, YouGov research director Tom Fuller predicted that adoption will drastically slow in the future. “The penetration has plateaued,” he told Variety. The constraints to growth in VR have not been addressed. I don’t see industry-wide efforts to address these.”

VR manufacturers can address this issue by reducing costs, Fuller recommended. A survey by YouGov found that 56 percent of VR non-adopters report high prices as the largest barrier to entry.

Influencers Becoming Uninfluential

Millennial consumers are beginning to reject celebrities as influencers, a new survey by Roth Capital Partners finds. Among Americans ages 17 to 37, 46.5 had a negative view on the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements and an additional 32 percent were indifferent. Only 21 percent responded that a celebrity endorsement would influence their purchase behavior at all.

In general, millennials are mistrustful of paid sponsorships, with 40 percent responding that they erode credibility for both celebrities and influencers. Rather than one-off paid posts, millennials approve of authentic endorsements, with over 50 percent claiming that an influencer using a product multiple times was more important than just one post.

Despite this disfavor among millennials, 86 percent of marketers used influencers in 2017, and 92 percent of those found it to be effective, according to a survey by Linqia. Even with this widespread support, 76 percent claimed to find difficulty tracking return on investment from influencer marketing efforts.

Among individual social networks, marketers favor Instagram most, with 92 percent reporting it the most important influencer platform for 2018, and Snapchat least, with 50 percent reporting it the least important influencer platform for 2018.

Mobile Content Consumption Predictions

Consumer spending on mobile app stores across all platforms will pass $110 billion in 2018, according to research by App Annie, a 30 percent increase over last year. Some of this revenue will come from the newest monetization trend, in-app subscriptions. Additionally, non-game app revenues are projected to grow more quickly than those for games in 2018.

EMarketer has released a new set of predictions on internet and mobile usage, indicating that this year, 46.8 percent of the world’s population will access the internet at least once per month. By 2021, this number will jump to 53.7 percent, or 4.14 billion people. This growth will be driven primarily by increased penetration of internet-capable mobile devices in regions such as Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa.

A new forecast by Ericsson predicts that the video consumption on mobile devices will go on unchecked, at least until 2023. Six years from now, 75 percent of all mobile data traffic will come from video sources, up from 55 percent in 2017. Additionally, total data traffic will increase eightfold, from 14 exabytes monthly to 110 exabytes—the equivalent of 5.5 million years of HD video every month.

(Editor’s Note: This post will be updated until Friday, December 8.)

Nike, Turner Communications Bring On New Brand Marketing Chiefs


Lauren Sherman has joined Nike as senior director of digital marketing to oversee the brand’s digital branding and marketing efforts in North America.

“I’m thrilled to be part of this iconic organization and to be doing work that promotes sport and supports athletes. If you have a body, you’re an athlete,” Sherman wrote in an Instagram post announcing the move.

Prior to Nike, Sherman served as head of marketing for both brand growth company Red Antler and delivery brand Shyp.

Turner has promoted Molly Battin, elevating her to the position of executive vice president and chief communications and marketing officer, where she will be responsible for maintaining brand reputation across all of its platforms.

“This is an exciting time in our company’s history, and Molly’s demonstrated leadership, forward-thinking approach and results-driven reputation will be critical as we continue to shape and push the boundaries of what’s possible for Turner,” said John Martin, Turner’s CEO. “Molly’s experience, energy and collaborative style will be extremely beneficial as we continue to advance the reputation of our Turner brand.”

Battin has worked at Turner for 17 years, most recently as chief brand strategy officer, a position in which she was responsible for both corporate and employee branding for the company. Additionally, Battin has served in senior positions for several Turner sub-brands, including upwave, TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies.

Vimla Black Gupta has joined Equinox Fitness Clubs as chief marketing officer, overseeing global strategy and execution for the brand’s 91 clubs.

“As a gifted brand marketer with strong lifestyle credentials, Vimla will be an invaluable asset to the team,” said Niki Leondakis, CEO of Equinox. “Her global perspective and entrepreneurial instincts will be especially important as we expand into new markets and drive innovations that further enhance our member experience.”

Before signing on with the luxury fitness brand, Gupta served as senior vice president of global marketing for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics for four years. Prior to that, Gupta held the title of vice president of new brand development at Idea Bank.

After four years as chief marketing officer at Cadillac, Uwe Ellinghaus has announced his departure at year’s end, citing personal reasons.

“I’d like to personally thank Uwe for his partnership as a member of the leadership team and wish him the best as he pursues his future endeavors,” said Johan de Nysschen, Cadillac’s president, in a memo.

While helming the auto manufacturer’s marketing efforts, Ellinghaus spearheaded Cadillac’s shift from traditional advertising to more experiential activations. He has worked at Cadillac since 2014, after joining from Montblanc International.

WeWork has brought on Julie Rice, founder of SoulCycle, as chief brand officer, where she will expand the company’s community aspects, creating additional amenities and events.

“It’s about leading by example right? I was an entrepreneur, I built something,” Rice told The Cut about her plans to work at a WeWork shared space. “It’s great for other entrepreneurs to see another entrepreneur who took a risk and did it.”

In addition to running SoulCycle, Rice co-founded LifeShop, and investment and advising company. Before opening SoulCycle’s first studio in 2006, Rice worked as a talent manager at Handprint Entertainment for seven years.

Len Van Popering has joined Subway as the sandwich giant’s vice president of global brand management and innovation, a role in which he will be responsible for both brand messaging and changes to the restaurant’s core menu.

“We are evolving our global marketing team to reflect the contemporary vision we have for the company,” said Joe Tripodi, CMO at Subway. “Len’s diverse background, collaborative approach and shared enthusiasm for Subway will help us expand the innovation and creativity so critical to our brand.”

Van Popering has served as CMO at both Applause Innovation Group and Logan’s Roadhouse in the past, as well as senior vice president of marketing and product innovation at Arby’s.

The Rest Of The C-Suite

(Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, December 8. Have a new hire tip? Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.)

Adobe has appointed Scott Belsky to the role of chief product officer and executive vice president of Creative Cloud, the company’s slate of productivity and design tools. In addition to overseeing management and engineering of Creative Cloud projects, Belsky will direct Adobe’s Spark and Behance initiatives as well.

“Scott is a seasoned leader in the creative and design community with a track record of introducing disruptive new technologies and ways of thinking. He combines an unmatched passion for products with an acute vision for how the creative process must continue to evolve,” said Shantanu Narayen, Adobe’s president and CEO. “As Adobe enters the next phase of growth in our creative business, Scott is the ideal leader to help drive product innovation in our Creative Cloud offerings and ensure Adobe continues to empower our creative customers to do their best work.”

Belsky most recently served as Adobe’s vice president of products, leading mobile application strategy for Creative Cloud. He joined the company in 2012, after it acquired Behance, a platform he co-founded in 2006.

Digital applications company Kony Inc has appointed Kathy Crusco to the role of executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“As we continue our journey of high-growth and leadership in digital technology, we need a financial and operational executive with Kathy’s strength, track-record, experience, credentials and strategic thinking,” said Thomas E. Hogan, Kony’s chairman and CEO.

Crusco most recently served as chief operating and financial officer at Epicor Software Corporation, guiding the company through several acquisitions over the course of a decade.

DISH Network has announced its CEO, Charlie Ergen, will be stepping down, and to be replaced by Erik Carlson. Maintaining his current title of chairman, Ergen reports the move is to permit him to focus more on the company’s emerging wireless business.

“With more than 20 years’ experience at DISH, Erik brings a complete understanding of the business opportunities both DISH TV and Sling TV possess,” said Ergen. “I have every confidence that under Erik’s leadership our new organizational structure will deliver value for DISH TV and Sling TV and will aid our entry into wireless.”

A 22-year DISH veteran, Carlson served as president and chief operating officer prior to his promotion.

Ben Gibson has joined cloud-computing company Nutanix as CMO.

“Whether by design or by accident, the multi-cloud era is here,” Gibson said. “Our focus will be rapidly expanding our influence and impact across new markets, and within each Nutanix customer—spanning innovative infrastructure managers, cloud architects and application developers.”

Gibson has held the position of CMO at several other networking companies in the past, including F5 Networks, Veritas and Aruba Networks.

George Harrington has signed on with capital bonds platform Overbond as head of US business development, based out of the company’s New York office.

“George’s extensive expertise across both the buy-side and sell-side will be instrumental in furthering Overbond’s open platform strategy as we roll out our services to more than 5,000 US clients,” said Vuk Magdelinic, Overbond’s CEO.

Before Overbond, Harrington worked at Bloomberg as head of global markets, where he led global sales and product teams, handling overall strategy for Bloomberg’s fixed income management platforms.

Apple Worldwide Video has brought on Michelle Lee as a creative executive to assist the company’s expansion into original scripted programming. Before Apple, Lee worked as a producing partner at True Jack Productions, assisting in the development of shows such as The Path, About a Boy and Pure Genius for a variety of networks.

Amazon’s newly opened Australia division has hired its first director of marketing in Arno Lenior. He joins the company two years after departing Samsung in 2015, where he had served as CMO since 2012. Previously, Lenior ran his own consulting firm, helmed marketing efforts at Lion Nathan and also held marketing positions at Apple and Enterprise.

Joanne Lipman, chief content officer for USA Today Network, has announced that she will be stepping down, citing a need to focus more on her upcoming book.

The heightened focus on sexual harassment has led to a flood of interest and opportunities surrounding my upcoming book about closing the gender gap,” Lipman said in an email to staff.

Lipman has worked at USA Today Network since 2015, joining from Conde Nast’s Portfolio magazine, where she was editor in chief.

Exxon Mobil has announced the merger of its refinery and marketing operations into a single company, named ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants Company. Bryan Milton, currently president of Exxon’s marketing division, will helm the united operation, seeking to further improve efficiency.

Milton has worked at Exxon since 1986, where he served as a developmental engineer for Exxon Chemical.

21st Century Fox has named Uday Shankar as president for the Asia region, a role in which he will lead the company’s video businesses, including Star India and Fox Networks Group, across the continent. Additionally, Shankar will continue in his current position of CEO and chairman for Star India.

“Uday’s new role will enhance our strategic focus across all of Asia and enable us to further capture opportunities, building on the transformation Star India has driven in our most important growth market,” said James Murdoch, 21st Century Fox’s CEO. “Under Uday’s leadership, our India business has firmly established itself as a world-class asset with durable businesses across entertainment, sports, satellite distribution and OTT.”

LG has created the position of marketing director for the Western Europe region, tapping Merlin Wulf to fill the new role. Starting this month, Wulf will lead the company’s marketing efforts in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherthlands.

Before joining LG, Wulf worked at several advertising agencies including KNSK and Wire Advertising.

YouTube, citing brand and content creator worries, has announced that it will expand its content review team to 10,000 members by the end of 2018. The new jobs will consist of manual moderators and ad reviewers, and will help the video platform train its machine learning algorithms to flag and remove policy-violating content in the future.

Job Vacancies 

Sr. Brand Manager, Local Marketing T-Mobile Redondo Beach, CA
Director of Marketing, Americas Razer USA, Ltd. Irvine, CA
VP, Creative & Brand Synergy JCPenney Plano, TX
VP, Worldwide Marketing Partnerships Paramount Pictures Hollywood, CA
Sr. Director of Global Brand Licensing/Marketing Ralph Lauren New York, NY
Integrated Brand Director, Global Influencer Marketing Nike Portland, OR

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

Study Reveals Progress In Fight Against Invalid Traffic Ad Fraud

For decades, marketers have waged a war against ad fraud and according to a new study, they just might win—or at least stop losing so much money.

Ad fraud occurs when purchased ads are displayed on sites that produce traffic artificially through bots, or when malware programs repeatedly “click” advertisements to simulate engagement. Obtaining sourced traffic—traffic acquired by a third party and therefore unverified—is also causing problems for marketers. A recent study by ANA found that 3.6 times as much ad fraud comes from sourced than non-sourced traffic.

By current estimates, brands will lose over $6.5 billion in 2017 due to invalid traffic (IVT) from bot fraud. This is a slight improvement over the estimated $7.2 billion lost in 2016, but the battle is far from over.

As perpetrators adapt to deterrents, any guarantee that marketing fraud will stop entirely is unrealistic. Partnering only with trustworthy advertising supply chains, however, may dramatically reduce invalid traffic.

A study conducted by The 614 Group tested the theory that using only TAG Certified channels would reduce or eliminate IVT when compared to the industry average.

Out of 6.5 billion impressions run through TAG Certified channels, just over 97 million impressions were identified as fraudulent. While that’s certainly a lot, the IVT rate was only 1.48 percent. This is a reduction of 83 percent compared to general industry and fraud rates.

Ad fraud continues to erode trust and budgets, but marketers aren’t going to take it anymore. Brands are banding together in solidarity to demand transparency and more control over how their marketing dollars are spent.

Founded by the ANA, 4A’s and IAB, The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) whitelists companies as legitimate sources for digital ad impressions—a program joined by tech giants such as Google and Facebook. After a proprietary background check and review process powered by Dun & Bradstreet and subsequent approval by TAG, companies can be verified by name or by their unique, persistent TAG-IDs in a database.

In January, Proctor & Gamble announced that it would no longer buy media from companies who are not TAG registered.

“Walled gardens” that control most of the world’s advertising dollars in secret raise obvious concerns about transparency. To help put its clients at ease, Google joined the “Ads.txt” project through the Interactive Advertising Bureau in March. The new tool provides a mechanism to enable content owners to declare who is authorized to sell their inventory.

Google issued partial refunds to victims of ad fraud in August, vowing to develop a tool that provides more transparency for marketers. Together with companies like Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft, Google committed to meet “Gold Standards” set forth by IAB UK.

To combat ad fraud, TAG recommends that brands designate a trained Brand Safety Officer, communicate a clear and consistent policy for measuring ad fraud and work only with TAG Certified Against Fraud partners. The company also encourages brands to send a message by refusing to pay for ad fraud.

“Fraud thrives in the dark crevices of the supply chain, so we knew that we had to get the legitimate participants in the supply chain to adopt the same high standards for this effort to be successful,” said Mike Zanels, president and CEO of TAG in a statement. “When the industry links its arms and stands together, there is no place left for the criminals to hide.”

‘The Grand Tour’ Courts Twitch Audience With Exploding Cars

Michael Benson, head of marketing at Amazon Prime Video

Promotion for the season two premiere of Amazon Prime Video’s car-themed show The Grand Tour has literally become explosive.

Following the success of its first season premiere last year, which became one of the digital entertainment service’s most watched episodes, Amazon is appealing to the Twitch audience for the first time by having influencers blow up cars in an interactive Battleship-style live game event called “Battle Cars Live.”

“We were looking for a way to get young adults to sample The Grand Tour,” Michael Benson, head of marketing at Amazon Prime Video, told AListDaily. “We knew that gamers on Twitch love live gaming, and [hosts] Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May love to execute incredible stunts with vehicles of all kinds on their show. So, we wondered if we could combine live gaming with car stunts on a global scale.”

Broadcasting across two days the weekend before the show’s second season premiere, “Battle Cars Live” was inspired by a scene in episode five of The Grand Tour, where May and Hammond compete to drop small cars packed with explosives onto larger cars placed on a grid.

On Twitch—which is owned by Amazon—things were kicked up a notch using popular personalities who played against each other using cars and trucks that were rigged to explode at the push of a vintage-style dynamite plunger. Whenever a player scores a hit, the loser spun a wheel of defeat to receive penalties—such as being slapped with a fish or eating an especially stinky cheese. Viewers could also get involved by voting on grid points, but there was no penalty for being wrong.

“It was a clever way to bring the show and the audience together with an engaging activity that provided a great marketing opportunity for both Twitch and Prime Video,” said Benson.

Although this isn’t the first time Amazon Prime Video has teamed up with Twitch, it is the first of its scale. Previous cross-promotions involving shows such as Jack Ryan, Lore, The Man in the High Castle, The Tick and others usually involved influencers doing on-air stunts such as using Amazon Echo devices to break out of an escape room.

Benson believes Twitch’s core audience of 18-to-34-year-olds who consume most, if not all, of their entertainment online is the perfect fit for shows such as The Grand Tour—and like the hosts of the show, Amazon Prime Video looks to create fitting activations to engage with them in spectacular ways.

He also said that Amazon Prime Video would continue to partner with Twitch on other show campaigns in ways that can best leverage the livestreaming platform to bring value to its users.

“Twitch users often like to be together with friends when watching compelling events, so they can share in the moment,” Benson explained. “Twitch’s live video and real-time chat enable the creation of a room with unlimited users who could collectively interact and share in real-time on a global scale. It also provides a platform that allows us to bring video from the show directly to an audience who is interested in what The Grand Tour has to offer.”

“Battle Cars Live” was mainly promoted on Twitch, through social media and via traditional press outreach. Influencers encouraged their followers to play from their personal Twitch channels in the days leading up to the event.

Hosts Kelly Link and Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico talked about the show while playing clips and trailers during the event. Two episodes of The Grand Tour are also available for non-Prime members to watch on Twitch.

The show premiered on Friday with a fiery stunt-gone-wrong lighting up social media. Co-host Richard Hammond crashed a £2 million supercar at 120mph and was caught inside the blazing wreck. But even though the spectacle left many fans stunned, Hammond survived the stunt with just a fractured knee.

Casual Connect USA Coming To California’s Disneyland Hotel This January

There’s roughly a month and a half left before Casual Connect USA 2018 comes stateside – this time taking up residency at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California. The game development conference, taking place January 16-18, is expected to host over 200 speakers, 2,000 professionals, 100 exhibitors and sponsors, and 60 Indie Prize Showcase teams.


The conference is looking to be its most jam-packed and informative yet – with 15 tracks of workshops, lectures, roundtables, panels, and 1-on-1 mentoring spread across six session halls and three days. Licensing is set to be a major topic, taking advantage of the fact that California is ripe with Hollywood intellectual property and big-name brands. Other topics include game design, business development, studio growth, markets and industries, leadership and management, esports, casino gaming, kids games, monetization, and emerging technologies.

There will also be special tracks put on in conjunction with Casual Connect USA 2018 partners. LiveOps Connect with PlayFab will bring together some of the top liveops practitioners in the industry to share their stories and hard-won knowledge. United in Diversity with Contagious Creativity will explore topics in diversity, leadership, and professional growth in the video game and digital media industries.

Featured speakers include experts and executives from Disney Consumer Products & Interactive Media, Netmarble US, Insomniac Games, Xbox, HitPoint Studios, Jam City, Atari S.A., Mattel, Product Madness, Blizzard Entertainment, Twitch, DoubleDown Interactive, Skydance Interactive, Zynga and more.


If it’s the latest in innovation or new partnerships you’re looking for, Casual Connect USA 2018’s exhibition area has you covered. Sixty Indie Prize teams, cultivated from hundreds of entries, will showcase the latest in independent game design and innovation on the showroom floor and compete for great prizes and Indie Prize’s iconic crystal trophies at the 21st Indie Prize Awards on January 18. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of exhibitors who can help budding and established game developers alike take their games and businesses to the next level – as well as exhibitors looking to recruit new talent into their own ranks.


Alongside the conference itself, Casual Connect USA 2018 will also host three major networking parties. The fun will kick off with the Badge Pickup Party at the Disneyland ® Hotel on January 15, the day before the conference begins. On January 16 attendees can get their game on at the ESPN Zone and on January 17 attendees can enjoy a fiesta-style celebration at Tortilla Jo’s. All the parties are located very close to the conference venue and partnered hotel – making it easy to come to and from everything and make it to the conference the next day well-rested. In addition to its networking parties, Casual Connect USA 2018 also includes exclusive and unlimited access to its Pitch & Match meeting system which attendees can use to search for and connect with each other based on their needs and interests.


All in all, Casual Connect USA 2018 is shaping up to be an event filled with educational insights, networking, new friendships, and much more. In addition to enjoying all these things, Casual Connect USA 2018 attendees will also get access to substantial discounts on the Disneyland ® Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier® Hotel – as well as discounts on Disneyland ® Resort Theme Park tickets. Those interested in learning more about the event should head over to the official Casual Connect USA 2018 website at http://usa.casualconnect.org/.


Digital Retail Experiences Coercing Holiday Shoppers Into Physical Stores

With Amazon cornering the no-frills, just-get-me-the-product market, physical retailers are feeling pushed to establish their unique value proposition. While the e-commerce giant has taken advantage of digital tools to further its dominance in convenience and commodity, physical retailers can use the same to draw consumers away from their computers and enhance their shopping journey.

In-Store Experiences

NPD Group reports that 40 percent of holiday shoppers plan to give experiential gifts over physical products this year, further continuing the trend of valuing activities over merchandise. To adapt, Nissan elected to bring memorable experiences into its dealerships, tying in with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Dec. 15.

The project, called “See the Unseen,” brings starfighters, holograms and droids from the Star Wars movies into Nissan dealerships using augmented reality technology. In addition to featuring characters and images from the iconic franchise, “See the Unseen” ties into Nissan products, explaining several safety features in a more interesting and digestible format than a user’s manual or Joe Carsalesman.

Jeremy Tucker, president of marketing for Nissan North America, described the project as “retail theater,” and also highlighted the importance not only of standing out with interesting retail experiences, but messaging as well.

“While the competition is focused on Santa Claus and red bows this holiday season, we are filling our dealerships with stormtroopers,” he said.

Simulated Tangibility

According to a survey by RetailDive, shoppers overwhelmingly prefer physical retailers for the option to test out products before purchasing. For simple products like, say, scissors, such a pre-buy trial is simple enough. However, for furniture retailers like Ikea, testing how a piece of furniture might work in the home before paying is closer to stealing than an innocuous test-run.

To give consumers the option of testing out interior design outside of pre-established showrooms (without risking jail time), Ikea partnered with TakeLeap, a Dubai-based virtual reality developer. Setting up pop-up locations across the Middle East, the DIY furniture giant allowed customers to design their own spaces with virtual Ikea products and, most importantly, buy them on-site if something strikes their fancy.

After all, the second-most-popular response in RetailDive‘s survey was the ability to take product purchases home right away, more instant gratification than any online retailer could ever hope to provide.

Human Interaction Is Overrated

Despite what analysts at Goldman Sachs might claim, interaction with underpaid, overworked retail employees is not a primary driver for shoppers stopping in physical spaces. RetailDive‘s survey found that only seven percent of consumers value the ability to pose questions to store associates as a reason to go to physical retailers.

Target embraced this antisocial shopping trend this year, installing beacons in stores to help customers navigate its labyrinths of shelving.

The Bluetooth devices allow Target shoppers to find their own location and the locations of individual items through an app on their phone, rather than having to track down an associate to help them.

Target’s beacons smooth out one of the fundamental difficulties of physical retail shopping, given that no matter how clearly-marked aisles may be, a search bar will always be an easier way to find exactly what someone is looking for.

The National Retail Federation reported that seven million more people shopped only online than only in stores over Black Friday, a trend that is unlikely to shift in the near future.

In order to stay competitive, retail brands need to lean into the physicality of their store spaces and use technology to give consumers a compelling reason to make an appearance.

Game Video Content Attracts Brands Searching For Audience Engagement

Over the past few years, game video content (GVC) has become a rising star in the world of audience engagement, and brands have taken notice. Defying stereotypes, GVC viewers are diverse in age and gender, allowing marketers to not only reach but engage with a passionate community. Studies show that this demographic is huge and yet only a handful of major brands appear to be targeting GVC audiences.

GVC is defined as video game livestreams, trailers, tutorials and other videos related to gaming. SuperData predicts that the worldwide audience for GVC will reach 665 million in 2017, more than double the population of the US. It’s not just males that tune in, either—GVC viewers in the US are split 54/46 male to female with an average age of 33. GVC is on track to generate $4.6 billion in revenue in 2017 through advertising and direct spending, a level that would outpace revenue generated by sports.

Interactive Influence

Those who livestream games are often able to amass large followings across social media and Twitch, transforming everyday people into celebrities and influencers that brands can partner with.

“Because viewers are passionate about supporting their favorite creators, brands have the ability to tap into that equity,” Anthony Danzi, Twitch’s senior vice president of client strategy told AListDaily.

Under Armour, for example, is promoting the launch of its Curry 4 “More Buckets” colorway sneakers by hosting a Twitch livestream tournament on Friday. Nine popular Twitch streamers will go head-to-head in a round robin tournament inside NBA 2K18. The winner will receive a pair of the colorway sneakers, signed by pro basketball player Stephen Curry. The shoes will be available for sale in-game and in real life beginning on Friday, so the campaign covers both gamers and sports fans.

Unlike a static video, those watching branded livestreams at home can interact directly with the brand. In the case of Under Armour’s activation, Twitch viewers can vote for who they think should be MVP and enter to win prizes using the chat feature.

Endemic Not Required

Endemic brands have an obvious advantage when marketing to gamers, but brands should not assume that that’s all GVC audiences care about. Non-endemic brands from insurance to food have invested time and money into reaching this young, engaged demographic.

Last year, General Mills became the first presenting sponsor of Yahoo ESports Live, an hour-long pair of weekly live shows. Geico created a series of comedy skits around its sponsored esports team SoloMid with its YouTube debut. Carl’s Jr. even created the first live commercials on Twitch during a gaming marathon.

While Twitch may have been founded around—and is best known for—video game livestreams, its community also streams and watches content ranging from TV shows to fitness guides.

“Less forward-thinking brands who haven’t done their homework might simply classify [Twitch audiences] as gamers who are only interested in endemic products,” said Danzi.

Non-endemic brands are even hiring video game characters as spokespeople.

GVC Is Everywhere

Gaming-related video content is streamed across the same platforms on which audiences find news, entertainment and information, so marketers don’t have to look far.

Advertising powerhouse Facebook has taken aim at GVC audiences by adding live broadcast for video games across its platform. A partnership with Activision Blizzard allows Facebook users to broadcast gameplay from a myriad of devices directly to the social media feed—the same feed in which advertisers reach millions of consumers each day.

Over 20 million how-to gaming videos have been uploaded to YouTube, and 56 percent of gamers on the site say they go to YouTube to connect with their gaming communities.

‘Tetris’ Reaches For New Audience With Facebook Messenger Adaptation

Maya Rogers, president and CEO of Blue Planet Software, Tetris brand’s agent

Few IPs are as iconic, adaptable and enduring as Tetris, which broke through the “Iron Curtain” in the 1980s to help make the original Nintendo Game Boy handheld console a success. Today, the various “tetromino” shapes remain a recognizable part of global pop culture for both gamers and non-gamers alike, and the game is now reaching a new audience on Facebook Messenger as the service marks the one-year anniversary of Instant Games, which turned the app into a gaming platform.

“As gaming platforms and technologies have evolved, Tetris has evolved right along with it,” Maya Rogers, president and CEO of Blue Planet Software, the sole agent for the Tetris brand, told AListDaily. “Great care has been taken to ensure that every new game maintains the essence of what Tetris is known for.”

Rogers said that although the game’s core goal of fitting pieces together to eliminate lines has stayed the same, the gameplay has been uniquely adapted to each platform over the past three decades, ranging from Facebook to the Nintendo Switch. The Facebook Messenger version, developed by CoolGames, gives the platform’s 1.3 billion users a chance to play marathon sessions and make a name for themselves on leaderboards.

“Instant Games will introduce the franchise to both new and seasoned players alike,” Leo Olebe, global director of games partnerships at Facebook, told AListDaily.

According to Olebe, players are taking to the Messenger platform because it combines social aspects with gaming. For example, Olebe said that discovery for games has been largely organic through the games tab on the Messenger homepage, but driven by friends challenging each other or organizing groups to go on raids. Also, like mobile games, Messenger titles fit into almost any time schedule.

Adapting to new gaming platforms has been critical to Tetris‘ ongoing success, and it was one of the first major brands to launch for mobile platforms in the US. Rogers said that when Tetris launched for mobile phones, its sales surpassed all other platforms, including the Game Boy and other consoles. There are currently several versions of Tetris available on mobile, with over a billion combined downloads to date.

However, Rogers also stated that it is equally important to keep Tetris relevant outside of video games, as related merchandise and fandom can be found all over the world. There is a movie in development based on the franchise, further banking on a recognizable brand that has a fan base that stretches several generations.

“We were just waiting for the right opportunity to bring the Tetris universe to the big screen,” said Rogers.

According to Rogers, Tetris continues to engage both new and veteran players because it “satisfies people’s inherent desire to create order out of chaos.”

She also said that the company is looking for new platforms to introduce Tetris, indicating an interest in virtual and augmented reality and even esports. The franchise will be celebrating its 35th anniversary in two years, so anything is possible.

As for Facebook Messenger, Tetris isn’t the only game that’s making its way to the platform. Facebook also announced that Sonic Jump, Disney Tsum Tsum and a new game from Puzzle & Dragons maker GungHo Online Entertainment are on the way. Angry Birds will soon introduce new gameplay features as well.

By taking advantage of these features and platforms, games like Tetris could engage with players for generations to come.