‘Insidious: The Last Key’ AR Activation Resets Purpose Of ‘Beauty’ App

Augmented reality filters have become a popular method for marketing the latest film releases. To promote Insidious: The Last Key—which opened January 5 and has so far earned over $126.7 million worldwide—Sony Pictures Entertainment used a beauty app a bit differently, making users appear possessed, ghostly or transport them into “The Further,” a dark spirit world from the movie franchise.

The BeautyPlus app is normally used to make users look more appealing. The developer uses facial recognition and AR to “try on” makeup or enhance photos.

The MakeupPlus app overlays a makeup look inspired by the film’s ominous lighting and demonic elements. The look features smoky eye makeup, white contact lenses and bloody lips. The beauty ensemble is finished not with blush, but a pierced throat courtesy of Key Face—a new demon from The Last Key. 

Ironically for a makeup partnership, none of the Insidious beauty filters feature its infamous Lipstick Face demon.

BeautyPlus developer Meitu first partnered with Sony Pictures last fall to promote The Emoji Movie. Three filters inside the BeautyPlus app overlaid a crown of poo emoji, devil horns and a devil emoji or a halo with dueling angel and devil emoji.

“We are continuously working toward expanding on the app’s extensive features and integrating with even more brands to engage with our users,” said Fox Lui, head of international business at Meitu, in a release from the company.

To support the AR campaign, Sony is also working to release a 10-day series of teaser trailers and themed chat stickers.



Brands Shift Super Bowl Approach To Reach Cord-Cutters

To score the proverbial touchdown on Super Bowl Sunday, marketers are shifting their focus off of TV to win in conversations happening in the digital space.

The asking price for Super Bowl commercials has grown 75 percent in the last decade, reaching figures north of $5 million from networks. For brands that are not advertising on TV with hopes of reaching the over 100-million plus viewers slated to tune into the game, they can still have a relevant part of the conversation and win consumer sentiment with mobile, social and web strategies that have the potential to stick.

“Your phone is not your second screen—it’s your second self,” said Courtney McKlveen, head of US field sales for Oath, Yahoo’s parent company. “The Super Bowl is not just a game, it’s actually an entire day for marketers to reach consumers, and the second-screen experience that day is critically important for those who are watching the game.”

“You have to analyze the battlefield before building a second-screen strategy,” added Ivonne Kinser, head of digital marketing for Avocados From Mexico, which has had TV ads on the Super Bowl for four years. “We’ve realized that the Super Bowl is just a huge digital conversation. We don’t have the budgets that other advertisers do, so we have to really rely on creativity, influencers, technology and marketing to amplify our message.”

Some brands with bigger budgets are skipping the TV screen altogether. Tostitos is shifting toward a pure digital strategy with an online platform that creates individualized ads for consumers. “Super Bowl Ads for All” stars The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor Alfonso Ribeiro and taps into super Sunday party culture, providing personalized invitations for anyone hosting soirees.

Screen Capture from Tostitos Game Day Personalized Invitation

“TV consumption has radically shifted over the past few years with viewers incorporating second-screen and sometimes even third-screen devices into the experience,” said Pat O’Toole, senior director of marketing for Frito-Lay North America. “It’s just as important to engage with our core audiences on those devices, especially when you’re looking to reach younger millennials—one of our primary targets for Tostitos.”

O’Toole said that since the Super Bowl is one of the biggest communal days of the year, they wanted to advance the dialogue and own the conversation as a brand before the grand game on the gridiron. It also made sense to take a pure digital approach because that’s where consumers are creating their invites on their quest to spending over a total of $14 billion for the sports holiday.

The marketing campaign is being paired with a Cantina-style experience in Minneapolis, the site of this year’s Super Bowl, where consumers can meet Ribeiro and use the space to create invites and interact with a slew of other brand activations from the likes of Doritos, Sleep Number, Bridgestone, Verizon, Target, US Bank and Polaris, just to name a few.

PepsiCo is also activating a three-episode digital content series with former NFL players that pits them in the kitchen, with the winning star having their dish featured at the Buffalo Wild Wings Menu at the Mall of America in Minnesota. The social-driven show was made in partnership with Vox Creative, Vox Media’s Eater and SB Nation.

“The Super Bowl continues to be a great platform to entertain consumers and deliver brand and product messages to a massive audience,” said Dean Evans, Hyundai’s chief marketing officer. “We welcome the creative challenge and the opportunity to test and hone our Super Bowl formula, which has found success the past several years. Being an NFL sponsor gives us the ability to truly integrate our program across TV, digital, social and on the ground in Minnesota.”

Despite TV’s widespread reach—especially for NFL games that still dominate the ratings cycle even with a dip in viewership—developing a second-screen strategy across several devices is essential for growing an audience. According to eMarketer, 185.8 million adults in the US will regularly use the internet on a second-screen device while watching TV this year, an increase of 4.5 percent from last year’s figure.

For Avocados From Mexico, Kinser will be operating on four pillars during their “GuacWorld” digital campaign: SEO, display media, developing social media experiences within platforms that will appeal to any demographic and a paid search campaign that is relevant not only to the Super Bowl, but for all brand-related terms, like recipes.

Her two goals for Super Bowl Sunday are to own the digital conversation on social media and amplify the 30-second TV spot by corralling millions of views for the ad. The brand will also produce a 60-second spot for digital with the same story.

“We’re an underdog, and people love underdog stories,” Kinser said, noting that a produce marque from a brandless industry joining the advertising fray creates intrigue and attracts conversation. “So we set the bar really high for ourselves.”

Avocados From Mexico also formed a partnership with Silicon Valley-start-up and emoji-focused company Inmoji to develop trackable branded icons. Visitors will be able to use Inmoji’s patent-pending tech with the interactive “Picmoji” feature, Kinser said, combining the selfie and the emoji for the first time and sharing it with their friends as a clickable icon.

“Emoji is the communication of the future,” said Kinser. “With the way it’s evolving, we wanted to take the trend of shareable and interactive emoji and use it in a fun way that increases our marketing. Tech innovation is critical to stay at the forefront of respective industries.”

Avocados From Mexico is also reactivating an evergreen Snapchat strategy for GuacWorld in certain universities around the country with a customized Super Bowl message. A national Snap filter would require a “significant investment” that was outside of their budget, Kinser said.

Super Bowl marketing dollars appear to be paying dividends. A joint study from Stanford and Humboldt University found that Big Game advertisers saw sustained post-game sales boosts and value that persists well after the confetti has fallen. A separate study from Standard Media Index says that ad sales revenues for the NFL are still up and growing year-over-year.

McKlveen said that building a mobile and multi-screen strategy that enhances experiences around the entire day—and not only the game—will help marketers “breakthrough” with their strategies, which is largely the reason why Pizza Hut is partnering with Oath and Yahoo for the second year in a row with Squares Pick’em, the classic game that’s evolving with a digital twist.

Zipporah Allen, vice president of marketing for Pizza Hut, called last year’s version of the game a “successful campaign,” with 70 percent of people playing a combined nine million minutes of the game specifically on a mobile device.

This year, the piemaker is pairing the game with video, native, display and mobile ads across Oath brands, as well as email and social marketing, to drive sign-ups for the experience. Pizza Hut is also pairing its marketing with a promotion that aims to drive new sign-ups to its loyalty program that launched last year. If the record for the fastest Super Bowl touchdown ever (14 seconds) is broken, all members who join prior to kickoff receive free pizza.

“Sports is a tried-and-true method for marketers to deliver fan experiences,” said McKlveen. “For marketers who are thinking about experiences for the entire day, the second-screen is no longer an afterthought. You have to show up as yourself and deliver consumers value and entertainment.”

Study Finds Facebook Watch Gaining Traction With US Consumers

Facebook Watch is gaining traction among American users, according to a survey by Morgan Stanley.

As reported by Variety, 40 percent of US Facebook users tune into Watch every week, according to Morgan Stanley. Nearly a quarter—24 percent—use Watch daily. Viewers skew young, the analyst found. Forty percent of people using Watch on a daily basis are between the ages of 16-34.

Unsurprisingly, those who spend more time on Facebook check out the Watch tab more frequently as well. Sixty percent of respondents who spend at least three hours a day on Facebook’s platform use Watch on a weekly basis, the report said.

Short-form videos under 20 minutes are the most popular with Watch users, with roughly 75 percent viewing them weekly. That doesn’t mean shorter is the only way to go—the study found nearly half of the respondents view long-form content, noting a similar breakdown to viewing behavior on YouTube.

Morgan Stanley AlphaWise conducted the online survey of 1,400 U.S. consumers aged 16 and older in December.

Launched in August, Watch is Facebook’s answer to YouTube and Twitch, combining video with social interaction. Unlike its competitors, Facebook Watch focuses entirely on live or pre-recorded shows as opposed to vlogs. Facebook invested $200 million in hundreds of shows for its new video platform, which can be accessed through a separate tab from the News Feed.

That investment appears to be paying off. Facebook monetizes the videos through mid-roll ads, taking a 45 percent cut of revenue. In December, Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak estimated that Facebook would make $565 million in revenue from its Watch video platform in 2018.

“We are encouraged (and admittedly surprised) by this early Watch traction as it speaks to [Facebook’s] ability to drive adoption of new products,” Morgan Stanley wrote. The analyst firm predicts that Watch (and video) will be “the next key long-term driver of [Facebook] engagement and monetization.”

Sneaker Brands Use Tech And Entrepreneurs To Cultivate Enthusiasts

For the average sneaker enthusiast, purchasing a coveted pair of kicks can be as monumental a task as stitching the shoes from scratch.

Marketers are making this process easier—and taking advantage of a $55 billion global industry—by using mobile augmented reality apps, influencer-inspired lines and other emerging tech to reach consumers who thrive on sneaker culture.

Take Nike. The brand is using its new SNKRS app to digitize the way the Phil Knight-founded company vends shoes with GPS and AR to complement the hype behind its releases.

“The Nike SNKRS app is an important part of our digital strategy,” Jenna Golden, Nike’s director of North American communications, told AListDaily. “It’s something that we’ve invested in over the last year. Since the start of 2017, we’ve really built out those digital experiences.”

Nike has developed its digital shock-drop approach with geo-located experiences in Berlin, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles through SNKRS Stash, an app feature that allows users to unlock access to hidden “stash spots” in their hometowns.

Since the experiences it’s cultivating require physical interaction with buyers, the move further positions the brand to combat bots and auto-buying tools that make purchasing limited-edition shoes seemingly impossible.

During ComplexCon, Nike also reached consumers who were not able to make it to the show in LA by opening up its camera experience and allowing fans to purchase one of the five shoes that were dropped at the show. A similar gamified strategy was used by incorporating AR for the drop of the Nike SB Dunk High Pro “Momofuku.” Consumers who scanned an image of David Chang’s Fuku East Village menu were given the opportunity to purchase the shoe.

Nike is a pioneer on the mobile AR front. SNKRS AR is looking to scale and fend off competitors like Adidas, which has grasped a sizable market share of late in both the United States and Europe.

In September, the striped brand surged past the Nike-owned Jordan Brand as the second most popular shoe brand in the US after Nike.

Since mobile is involved with nearly every moment of the purchase journey, consumers with a brand’s app on their phone are more likely to buy from that manufacturer, said Matt Powell, senior industry advisor for NPD Group.

Although mobile apps are a critical part of the marketing gameplan, Powell does not envision AR to have much of a role in the future, saying that it’s “more like a parlor trick—cool once, and after that, not so much.”

“Gamification is growing in popularity with brands, but again, these will have little impact on the commercial business,” said Powell, adding that he thinks there also is fatigue in the market over limited releases.

“I don’t see sneakerheads as very important to brands,” he said. “When [Nike] Tanjun is a top-selling shoe, it illustrates the limits of the sneakerhead community.”

Allison Giorgio, Puma’s vice president of marketing, countered that the sneaker culture is at an all-time high, and that it’s a great time to be a brand in the space.

“The sneaker aficionado space right now is interesting and exciting,” said Giorgio, who has used celebrities like Rihanna as creative directors to revive its brand. “We’re trying to figure out how do we move at the speed of culture that signals trends, innovate faster and release products quicker. Our mission is to be the fastest sport’s brand in the world, and we take that to heart from a development and marketing side.”

Although exclusive sneaker lines have primarily been reserved for star athletes and Hollywood literati, that model is now somewhat also shifting to influencers who sport an entrepreneurial zeal instead of a stellar jump shot.

Patrick Buchanan, global marketing director at K-Swiss, sitting next to the Gary Vee line of shoes. (Photo by Gina Canavan / AListDaily)

K-Swiss is rebranding its popular ‘90s brand with an eye toward targeting an audience of hustlers and young entrepreneurs with the campaign “Generation K” and their first signature sneaker shoe line for businessman Gary Vaynerchuk.

But is there consumer demand for such shoes?

“It seems there is another one every 10 seconds,” said Powell. “The people who are vying to buy them are for the most part ‘flippers’ rather than collectors. I think brands will try to leverage brand loyalty but because the pairs are limited, it will have little impact outside of the echo chamber.”

Patrick Buchanan, global marketing director at K-Swiss, told AListDaily that they’re tapping into the millennial mindshare and Vaynerchuk’s built-in fan base to release shoes in stores, online and through drops on Vaynerchuk’s personal social channels.

“Entrepreneurs are the new heroes, and we fully support that,” Buchanan said. “The sneaker culture is a huge imprint on popular culture.”

The brand is heralding the entrepreneurial push of “Generation K” by partnering with @f–kjerry’s Elliot Tebele, streetwear designer Anwar Carrots, social media and marketing strategist Karen Civil and Coco & Breezy founders Corianna and Brianna Dotson.

K-Swiss aims to inspire the “flippers,” who are the primary source behind the $1 billion sneaker resale industry.

Buchanan has been with K-Swiss for a little over a year and joined the brand to execute the new vision. The brand signed a deal last year with Vaynerchuk in Q2, and by Q4, the GaryVee 001 and GaryVee 002 had already hit store shelves. Their speed in production was also an imprint of the changing times.

“It takes almost two years to make a shoe. The conversations we are having internally is ‘how can we do things quicker,’” said Buchanan. “The biggest thing in marketing that is shifting for us is just trying to be faster and more responsive.”

“The biggest thing in marketing that is shifting for us is just trying to be faster and more responsive.” —Patrick Buchanan, global marketing director at K-Swiss

In the past, the brand would have culled marketing materials for the product campaigns as early as a year ahead. Now in order to be more relevant to consumers, Buchanan and his team are preparing marketing materials much closer to launch dates.

“That’s just one example of how we’re trying to work much faster and efficient,” said Buchanan. “When you work for big companies, it’s sometimes hard to turn the ship. You have to be willing to change if it doesn’t make sense.”

Buchanan said the beauty of being a shoe marketer today is that you have to keep your finger on the pulse and embrace industry shifts with new marketing strategies, which is why he’s also shaking up his content marketing mix with the podcast series “CEOs Wear Sneakers.”

“Trends are changing every day, as well as the way people are being touched,” he said. “We’re seeing a shift from retail to online. For me, it’s always trying to be open and listen to what’s happening. I have to be a responsive marketer and move as the trends and times do.”

Starbucks Cashless Payments Will Have Ripple Effect For Brands

When Starbucks announced the launch of its first cashless location, it didn’t just make headlines on the merit of its innovation. The rise of cashless payments has also created a data gold rush for marketers.

“Data is clearly the biggest upside to all these trackable transactions,” said Debby Ruth, senior vice president of global media and entertainment at Magid. “Going cashless really provides the opportunity to get a better understanding of your customers and build relationships, especially if it makes sense with an app.”

Kicking off the program at one of its Seattle locations, Starbucks’ cashless pilot store won’t accept cash for purchases for an unspecified period of time—except for tips.

This tech is coming at the right time. Consumers may still break out the plastic when they want to pay, but swiping is going out of style. PwC predicts that by 2019, there will be over a billion global mobile proximity payment users and that 85 percent of transactions will be near field communication (NFC)-based.

With an app ready to take on the transactions, Starbucks is a good test case scenario for a transition to cashless: Mobile payments comprised 36 percent of the brand’s total US transactions in the third quarter of 2017. Making high-traffic locations cash-free would allow the Seattle-based company to increase this figure.

“It’s a pretty seamless experience from a user perspective,” Ruth said. “[Starbucks is] smart by using all the gaming techniques like setting goals and getting points. Those sorts of advantages really would increase purchase amounts and frequency of purchases.”

Offering cashless transactions through a mobile app also cuts out the middleman, allowing brands direct access to valuable marketing data.

“They don’t have to rely on the credit card companies or banks because they’re in between,” said Ruth, adding that apps may not be for everyone. “Even if you’re reliant on the credit card companies, I think it’s more important than ever when you’re negotiating to use their services to include data in that.”

Total card payments in the US grew from $5.65 trillion in 2015 to $5.98 trillion in 2016, according to the 2017 Federal Reserve Payments Study. The annual report found that US consumers are not only using cards more but are making larger purchases when they buy. Total card payments increased at an annual rate of 7.4 percent by number and 5.8 percent by value from 2015 to 2016.

Cashless payments offer convenience to consumers and safety for businesses against would-be robbers, but digital transactions are not without risk. Identity theft and fraud affected over 15 million US consumers in 2016, who lost over $16 billion—even with the transition to EMV chip readers.

Still, Ruth notes the risk is a worthwhile one for those marketing the brand.

“As long as marketers are in the data chain, I think it’s a real boon.” she said.

Snapchat Lays Off From Content Division; Nike Promotes New CMO


Snap Inc has laid off over 20 employees across various departments, mostly from its content division, citing the importance of scalability in its business model.

“Having a scalable business model isn’t enough,” Spiegel said in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Cheddar. “We also need to have an organization that scales internally. This means that we must become exponentially more productive as we add additional resources and team members.”

These layoffs come as the app faces stagnating user growth and continued delays to a worldwide rollout of its promised redesign.

Nike has filled two high-level marketing roles this week, appointing Dirk-Jan van Hameren vice president and chief marketing officer, after promoting Greg Hoffman to vice president of global brand creative and marketing innovation.

Van Hameren has spent a quarter-century at Nike, most recently as vice president and general manager of Nike Sportswear, where his efforts contributed to the division attaining $3 billion in revenue.

Facebook has named American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault to its board of directors, marking the first black member of its board since the company’s founding.

“I’ve been trying to recruit Ken for years. He has unique expertise in areas I believe Facebook needs to learn and improve—customer service, direct commerce and building a trusted brand,”  Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, said in a statement. “Ken also has a strong sense of social mission and the perspective that comes from running an important public company for decades.”

Chenault will be retiring from his current position on February 1, ending a 16-year tenure at the head of American Express.

Internet mattress company Casper has a new chief marketing officer, Jeff Brooks, after launching physical retail concept stores across the country.

“This expansion of our leadership team is a major building block in our growth story,” said Philip Krim, CEO and co-founder of Casper. “Jeff brings invaluable experience to Casper as we continue to scale and bring better sleep to more people across the globe.”

Before joining the sleep disrupting startup, Brooks held the position of president and CMO at Huge, Casper’s digital agency.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have been expelled from Disney’s board of directors, the company announced this week.

“Given our evolving business and the businesses Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Dorsey are in, it has become increasingly difficult for them to avoid conflicts relating to board matters,” the company said in a statement.

This move comes as the culmination of efforts by all three parties expanding their presence in the streaming-video field: Twitter and Facebook have won the rights to broadcast live sporting events, and Disney pulled its library of content from Netflix in August to make way for its own yet-to-be-announced platform.

MoviePass, the movie-theater subscription service, has hired Natasha Mulla as the company’s first-ever chief marketing officer as it seeks to expand its customer base in cities with low ticket prices.

“It’s been fairly easy to get people to subscribe in high-cost markets,” MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe told Variety. “By hiring Natasha, we’re hopefully going to be finding those people who are in other parts of the country and who can offset the high cost of these other subscribers.”

Before joining MoviePass, Mulla held the role of senior vice president of Mashable, and prior to that was director of events for Haymarket Media.

LGBTQ dating app Grindr has been fully acquired by Kunlun Group Limited from founder Joel Simkhai, who will depart the company.

“I’m beyond proud of what we’ve built as a team and how Grindr has been able to make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the global community,” said Simkhai in a statement. “I look forward to Grindr and Kunlun’s continued commitment to building tolerance, equality and respect around the world.” 

Yahui Zhou, current board chairman for Grindr, will serve as interim CEO while the company searches for a permanent replacement for Simkhai.

The Rest Of The C-Suite

(Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, January 19. Have a new hire tip? Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.)


Medical Marijuana, Inc, the first American publicly traded cannabis company, has promoted Michael Coleman to the position of vice president of online sales and marketing, focusing on expansion of the company’s digital presence.

“We are excited to expand Mr. Coleman’s role and give him the platform to continue to provide creative and strategic marketing direction,” said Dr. Stuart Titus, Medical Marijuana’s CEO. “Since joining our organization, he has helped provide exponential growth to the company’s brands and has increased web traffic on the company’s website from 9,000 to over 1 million visitors per month.”

Coleman has been with the company since 2014, originally holding the title of marketing director.

Home-improvement retailer Lowe’s has announced three new appointments to its board of directors, David BatchelderLisa Wardell and Brian Rogers.

“We are pleased to welcome David, Brian and Lisa as new independent directors to the Lowe’s board and especially value the constructive discussions we have had with the D. E. Shaw group,” said Robert Niblock, Lowe’s president and CEO. “The addition of these directors complements our board of directors’ skills and experiences, and we are confident they will provide valuable perspectives as we continue to execute our strategy, drive profitability and enhance value for all Lowe’s shareholders.”

Sony Interactive Entertainment has announced hiring a new deputy president, Jim Ryan.

“Jim has more than two decades of experience at PlayStation and has a great record of success, including the successful launches of PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation VR that he led as Head of Global Sales and Marketing,” said John Kodera, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO. “With his deep knowledge of the game business and industry as well as his understanding of our own culture and strengths, I am confident that he will take our business to an even higher level.”

Human resources software provider Namely has appointed Graham Younger president and chief revenue officer, where he will oversee the company’s expansion into new markets.

Previously, Younger served as executive vice president of worldwide field operations at Box, a cloud-storage platform.

Storyful, a News Corp-owned media publisher, has promoted Mandy Jenkins to the role of editor in chief.

Mandy Jenkins has been a vital member of the Storyful team and we are thrilled to grow her role in the organization, especially as we continue to evolve into a world-class social newsroom,” said Sharb Farjami, CEO of Storyful.

Jenkins has worked at Storyful for three years, most recently as head of news. Prior to Storyful, she has held positions at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Huffington Post.

Martech provider Impact Radius has announced the appointment of its first-ever CMO, Scott Brazina.

“Scott is a talented, multifaceted executive whose deep experience marketing enterprise software, vision and leadership come at a critical inflection point as Impact Radius scales and sharpens its global go-to-market strategy,” said David Yovanno, CEO of Impact Radius.

Before Impact Radius, Brazina served at Dyn, an internet performance management firm, as vice president of martech and media.

Sony Music Entertainment has named Daniel Lieberberg as its latest president for the continental Europe and Africa regions, overseeing all of the company’s operations in the areas, except those in Spain and Portugal.

“Daniel is one of the most outstanding creative and futuristic executives in Europe, and I am very happy that he will now lead a group of territories that contribute significantly to our global business,” said Rob Stringer, CEO of Sony Music. “Not only does revolutionary music technology come from some of these countries, but the adage ‘hits can come from anywhere’ has never been truer, and Daniel is uniquely capable of building on this momentum for our company.”

Before joining Sony, Lieberberg oversaw Universal Music’s business operations in Germany.

Sue Kroll, Warner Bros. marketing and distribution head, has announced that she will be stepping down in April, citing a larger restructuring at the company.

“It’s the right structure at the right time. We should be marketing our movies with a life cycle approach rather than marketing for the theatrical window and the home entertainment window,” Kevin Tsujihara, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros, said in an interview with the LA Times. “It’s really about having a marketing and distribution strategy that is seamless across windows.”

After stepping down, Kroll will stay with Warner Bros. as a producer, already attached to two upcoming films.

Cable network Turner has promoted Michael Engleman to the position of CMO. Additionally, the company has appointed Marie Moore as senior vice president of communications.

“As we’ve continued to reinvent our two market-leading brands, TBS and TNT, Michael and Marie have been key architects in rebuilding our marketing and communications strategies and organizations, as well as pivoting to our bigger vision of re-imagining where television is going,” said Kevin Reilly, chief creative officer of Turner Entertainment, to Variety.

Englemen has been with Turner since 2016, when he joined TBS and TNT as executive vice president of marketing and brand innovation. Moore likewise joined the networks in 2016, holding the position of vice president of communications.

Paramount Pictures has named David Sameth as the company’s latest president of worldwide marketing, taking over from Megan Colligan, who departed in November.

“David is an incredibly talented, visionary marketer who has created some of the most iconic and successful campaigns in our industry’s recent history,” Jim Gianopulos, Paramount”s chairman and CEO, said to Variety. “He has experience launching an array of films from big franchises to small, specialized endeavors, and everything in between.”

Before signing with Paramount, Sameth served as executive vice president and head of theatrical marketing for Disney Animation Studios and Pixar.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has hired George Pastrana as its latest president and COO.

“George has impressed us every step of the way with his integrity, people-first, products-second leadership philosophy, sound experience at high level strategic planning and his recognition that innovation and brand distinction are at the heart of every successful entrepreneurial company’s raison d’etre,” said Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head’s founder and CEO, in a statement.

Most recently, Pastrana worked at ACH Food Companies, where he spent six years as CMO and vice president of marketing and innovation.


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NPD Report Shows Nintendo Finishing Strong In Conventional Franchise Year

The video game industry is continuing its trajectory of healthy growth this year, according to The NPD Group’s latest retail sales figures, showing few surprises in terms of the best-selling video games and a strong performance in the hardware market.

“Video game hardware was the primary driver of overall growth,” said Mat Piscatella, an NPD industry analyst. “Combined sales of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One continue at a record-setting pace.”

Overall, sales revenue increased by 11 percent in 2017, hitting $14.6 billion for the full year. Spending on hardware jumped by 28 percent year over year. On the other hand, software unit sales fared worse, with just a 4 percent bump as many publishers transition to a “games-as-a-service” business model.

While Nintendo lagged behind Sony for the full year, its slow-burn marketing strategy for its Switch console has started to pay off, heralding a bright 2018 for the company. The PlayStation 4 was the best-selling video game console of 2017 in general, but the Switch took first place for the all-important month of December and sold more units in its first ten months on the market than any other platform in history.

The publisher likewise dominated the software category for December, driving more consumer spending than any other publisher that month. Of the 20 best-selling video games of December 2017, seven were published by Nintendo, almost double Electronic Arts’ second-place figure of four.

Beyond Nintendo’s dark-horse comeback in December, a Call of Duty franchise title topped the overall December sales chart for the eighth year running, shooter games continue to draw the largest portion of consumer spending compared to all other game genres and the best-selling game accessory was the PS4 DualShock 4 controller.

Marketers Focus On Social VR For Needed Platform Reinvention

After more than two years on the open market, VR is not the shiny new object in the modern-day marketer’s toolset anymore. Executives in the marketing industry find creating inherently more social VR experiences will be critical in successfully deploying future immersive content and having them resonate with the audiences they’re trying to reach.

“Marketers need to have a real desire for consumers to interact with their brand or IP in VR,” said Zeda Stone, head of business development for RYOT. “We will probably get to the point where consumer interaction in social becomes a priority and [will] dictate whether or not VR will succeed in the end.”

“We will probably get to the point where consumer interaction in social becomes a priority and [will] dictate whether or not VR will succeed in the end.” —Zeda Stone, head of business development for RYOT.

Although VR experiences seem to debut every day, YouGov says VR adoption will drastically slow in the future because penetration has plateaued, and there haven’t been industry-wide efforts to alleviate constraints such as isolation and lagging tech.

When done well, VR can evoke emotions for curious consumers to recall messaging marketers are trying to convey. Whether playing video games, reconfiguring furniture in living rooms, training and learning or immersing in a brand-specific experience, marketers who build VR experiences will need to attach KPIs that solve scalable issues that satisfy specific marketing needs, Stone said. That way, when reports return, looking at the numbers won’t feel like their activation was akin to a tree falling in the middle of the forest.

Stone, who plies his trade at a media company primarily focused on 360-degree, traditional documentary filmmaking rather than true VR, said that for social VR marketing to shine, there need to be additional storytelling layers added on top of it as well. He also warned that access to social interaction alone doesn’t make it the right choice for the marketer—but if chosen, expectations must be scaled back, because from a metrics standpoint it won’t be comparable to traditional platforms.

VR platforms are beginning to embrace social play, social learning and second-screen experiences, said Jenna Seiden, head of content acquisition and partnerships for HTC Vive.

“Creators need to specifically build content for social interaction because that enables marketing teams to find demographics,” said Seiden. “Whether it’s a game or retail experience, it starts from the DNA of the product.”

Seiden warned that if the content’s purpose is to be sharable, it should not be repurposed from other platforms.

“You have to build it natively from the beginning and think about all of the different ways that people are interacting in headsets and give them the incentive to engage in the content,” she said. “Every app made for VR should have a multi-player or social element to it. People love to share.”

But even after establishing social VR, there are still obstacles for marketers, says Guy Bendov, founder and CEO of Sidekick VR—a publisher of games for VR platforms.

“Challenges in delivering for all kinds of headsets, platforms, browsers and mobile devices will still remain in 2018,” said Bendov. “I have not seen a lot of shared experiences, but I want to see how marketers are going to bring those experiences to the forefront. The overall user experience will help marketers and brands better tell their stories.”

For consumers to enjoy social elements in VR, they don’t need to be isolated in headsets, Seiden said, noting that people can also affect outcomes for others using VR through mobile devices and 2D screens.

“For non-endemics, it’s about raising brand recall and awareness,” she said, adding that non-native brands are seeing value in VR by reinvesting in the space. “It has to fit for the brand’s goals. We’re all learning, and whether it’s a brand, developer or filmmaker, we give constructive marketing parameters. Social VR does not mean you immediately monetize.”

Chris Hewish, EVP of games and interactive for Skydance Media, said the market is still relatively small from a concurrent user standpoint, and content creators and marketers have to embrace VR’s social interaction mechanics.

“All of the ingredients are there for social VR,” said Hewish. “We just have to make sure we mix it right. Performance is king. From our perspective, VR is still going strong, but dividing audiences into platforms reduces the growth. Because it’s a relatively new medium and small market, we can’t lose focus of what we’re building.”

Hewish, who oversees Triple-A content development and partnerships for the home and location-based users, sees a few ways to help alleviate the growing pains and friction of marketing a new technology: lowering price-points, offering easier-to-use hardware and high-quality, and creating platform-agnostic content VR experiences.

“I don’t think the evolution of VR strictly relies on social,” said Hewish. “Although the social side is fun and is important, the best way to market VR right now is to try it early and often and by word-of-mouth.”

Rather than approaching from a pure profit and loss standpoint, Hewish said giving away premium VR experiences for free will help marketing penetration as well. Testing, failing and learning to make it right will help future iteration.

In its quest to become more social, VR needs to ultimately break the boundaries of the technologies that came before it, Stone said. One way to do so is to shun controllers and clickers and create interaction through gesture and eye-gazing, which will become a critical part of consumers using their intuitions to create their own stories.

“It’s an open landscape to get creative,” Stone said.

GDPR Explained: What To Expect On May 25

Scroll to the bottom to watch Part I of “GDPR Explained.”

May 25, 2018 should be circled, circled again and circled once more for good measure in bright red marker on every marketer’s calendar. It’s the day the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect. After that, any company that processes European personal data—even if it does not exist in Europe itself—can face massive fines and even jail time if it’s found to be in breach of the law.

According to Forrester’s predictions, 80 percent of GDPR-affected firms will not comply in time and risk shelling out as much as €20 million or 4 percent of global revenue for the year, whichever is higher. Of those companies making an active effort to comply with the new law, 77 percent expect to spend more than $1 million on completely overhauling the way they handle data.

User Rights

On a fundamental level, GDPR completely shifts the legal status of people’s personal information. As of May 25, EU citizens will legally and permanently own any identifiable information about themselves, such as race, sex, location—just to name a few. Any company that wants access to their information will have to ask for consent in clear and plain language and must specify exactly how it will use that information.

In essence, companies will only be able to borrow personal information. GDPR introduces a policy known as “the right to be forgotten,” meaning that if a person withdraws their consent, the company must completely erase any and all of their personal data “without undue delay.” Furthermore, people will have the right to know exactly what about them is being collected, how it’s being used and how long the company will store the information.

And because it’s the people who own their data, companies can’t say that any information they have on someone is proprietary. If a user asks, a company is required to give them a copy of its records and has no recourse if that user chooses to share that information with its competitors.

Company Responsibilities

Not all of GDPR’s provisions center on reacting to the changing wishes of EU citizens—large portions of the law establish concrete guidelines for how companies can interact with the data that they get their hands on, all of which value security and privacy over all else.

A central tenet of the law is called “privacy by design,” which mandates that companies take data privacy into account at all stages of any project that involves personal information. This means that firms will not be allowed to tack on data privacy features to existing systems; they will have to rebuild them from the ground up with data protection in mind.

But even with the best security systems, breaches can still occur due to circumstances outside of a firm’s control. To account for this possibility, GDPR requires companies to take a highly proactive approach to their data security: they are permitted to collect only the information they need and give access only to those people who need it. Additionally, companies must delete personal data as soon as it stops being useful for the purpose they originally obtained user consent for.

To ensure compliance, companies will also be required to keep detailed records on the types of data they collect, what they do with it and what systems they use to handle that data.

In the event of a data breach, companies must notify GDPR regulators within 72 hours, and in severe cases will have to inform every person whose information was exposed. If the company is found to be at fault, any other organization that entrusted it with personal data can also be penalized.

Data Protection Officers

For companies that collect data on a large scale or process information deemed to be “special” under GDPR—information about medical or criminal records, union membership, religious or political beliefs, race, ethnicity, genetics and biometrics and sexual activity and orientation—Data Protection Officers (DPOs) are mandatory.

DPOs are specialized attorneys intended to be internal watchdogs at data-processing companies. GDPR requires DPOs to educate company executives on what they need to do to stay compliant and, in the case of intentional disregard for the law, blow the whistle on offenders.

These attorneys don’t necessarily need to be in-house. If a DPO can feasibly do their job off-site or as a consultant, companies can contract out the position to a qualified freelancer.

Companies that need to hire DPOs will also be required to conduct something called a “Data Protection Impact Assessment” (DPIA) on the information they process. If a security breach would likely cause a “high risk” to those whose data has been collected, firms must work individually with GDPR regulators to ensure that the information stays safe.

The General Data Protection Regulation is a landmark bill, the first update to the EU’s privacy laws since 1995. Though the full scale of its effects is unknown, organizations such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau have already established industry standards and best practices for those businesses seeking to stay compliant.

New TAG Guidelines Require Ads.txt Adoption

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) has released updated compliance guidelines for its anti-fraud and anti-piracy programs. Among them is a new requirement that publishers implement the ads.txt standard to become TAG Certified Against Fraud.

Founded by the ANA, 4A’s and IAB, TAG offers marketers a way of verifying companies as legitimate members of the digital advertising industry.

Ads.txt is the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab’s answer to inventory sales fraud. Publishers add a text file called—you guessed it—Ads.txt to their web servers that lists all of the companies authorized to sell ads on their behalf. This allows buyers to visit the text file and ensure they are purchasing from valid third parties.

For marketers hoping to purchase from multiple publishers, IAB Tech Lab released a web crawler last year that speeds up the process.

TAG CEO Mike Zaneis says these new guidelines will “put teeth” in the ads.txt initiative by requiring publishers to adopt it as a Certified Against Fraud Seal prerequisite. In addition, the new requirements will move the ad buying and publisher communities “from support to action.”

In addition to the new Ads.txt requirement, direct ad buyers must complete TAG Registration, be a TAG member in good standing, have a designated TAG compliance officer, attend annual anti-piracy training, comply with and fully operationalize TAG’s Anti-Piracy Pledge and employ pirate mobile app filtering for all advertising displayed in a mobile app environment.

Publishers hoping to receive the TAG Certified Against Fraud seal must also meet the TAG Registration, good standing, compliance officer and training requirements, as well as ensuring that their properties do not block or unduly restrict the use of anti-piracy software. Based on the degree to which publishers host user-generated content, additional requirements may apply.

These new requirements will go into effect and be subject to TAG enforcement on July 1. New applicants for the TAG Certified Against Fraud seal will be will be evaluated against the updated guidelines. Companies that currently hold the Certified Against Fraud and/or Certified Against Piracy Seals, however, must come into compliance by that time.

It is estimated that marketers lose around $7.2 billion per year to ad fraud, piracy and malware. Last year, Proctor & Gamble—a company that spends over $7 billion per year on advertising—announced that it would no longer buy media from companies who are not TAG certified.

A March 2017 report by Forrester says that programmatic media and video are the primary causes of ad fraud spending “wastage.” If the problem is not addressed, that number may grow to $10.9 billion by 2021, the company warns.

Thus far, studies have found TAG’s Certified Against Fraud and Certified Against Piracy Programs effective against criminal activities. A December study conducted by The 614 Group tested the theory that using only TAG Certified channels would reduce or eliminate invalid traffic when compared to the industry average. Running impressions through TAG Certified channels resulted in a reduction of invalid traffic by 83 percent.