Taco Bell Considers ‘Web of Fries’ Sequel After Success Of First Trailer

Taco Bell’s “Web of Fries” movie trailer sold a whole lot of nacho fries, so Taco Bell is considering what any movie studio would do—order a sequel.

Launched in January, Taco Bell’s trailer for a non-existent movie called “Web of Fries” told the story of a man who stumbles on a conspiracy by “Big Burger” to squelch any competition. The protagonist, played by Josh Duhamel (Love, Simon), finds himself obsessed about uncovering the truth about why Taco Bell doesn’t offer fries and finds himself being threatened by “the burger people” who don’t want the world to know.

“A lot of people are selling fries,” Tracee Larocca, Taco Bell’s senior vice president of advertising and brand engagement told Variety. “We had to find a way that felt really different and get people’s attention.”

The trailer resulted in 53 million orders of nacho fries within the first five weeks of its campaign. In the first weeks following the trailer, one in three orders included Nacho Fries. Now, Larocca said, the quick service restaurant is considering a sequel.

This is good news for fans of the trailer, which ended in a life-threatening cliffhanger.


Taco Bell has adopted a tongue-in-cheek marketing approach for years, from using a talking chihuahua as a spokesperson to offering wedding ceremonies in its Las Vegas restaurant.

Short films can be an effective way of telling a brand’s story in a short amount of time. In 2016, Chipotle released a Pixar-like animated film called “Love” that told the story of two young entrepreneurs brought together with fresh ingredients.

Pepsi’s “Uncle Drew” series of ads, starring NBA Kyrie Irving in disguise, has evolved from a short film into a full-length movie hitting theaters this summer.

“Web of Lies” looks like a real film. Time will tell if a “Web of Fries” Part 2 can match the campaign’s initial success and if would ever spawn a full-length adaptation.

Brands Engage Easter Consumers With Virtual Egg Hunts

Brands are on the hunt for consumer engagement this Easter holiday with the use of virtual egg hunts.

On Thursday, Cadbury hosted a one-hour Facebook event that invited Australian users to explore a 360-degree virtual landscape and comment when they found a hidden egg. The first to locate each egg was rewarded with real-world chocolate treats.

According to The Drum, the event drew 220,000 visitors, posting a total of 70,000 comments.

The Great Snapchat Egg Hunt debuted March 22 and runs through April 1 in the US and Canada. The AR scavenger hunt uses GPS to indicate when virtual eggs are near. Tapping on nearby eggs prompts the 3D World Lens to take over, placing the eggs in “real life.” Collecting eggs earns the users points, which can be compared to friends on the Snap Map leaderboard. Rare gold eggs are worth 5 points, and regular eggs are worth one.

Users who don’t want to display their location can still play in Ghost Mode, and their score will only be visible to them.

Throughout the month of March, Niantic has hosted the Pokemon GO Easter Eggstravaganza, offering users more chances to hatch certain Pokemon. The collectible creatures hatch from eggs, making the event a natural tie-in to Easter celebrations.

In Pokemon GO, users can collect eggs that hatch after traveling either 2 km, 5 km or 10 km. Certain Pokemon, such as Wynaut or Ralts are normally available only in eggs that require a longer distance but are available in 2 km eggs until April 2.

Niantic’s breakout AR mobile game rose one spot to number nine for digital mobile game revenues in February.

US consumers will spend $18.2 billion on Easter celebrations this year, according to National Retail Foundation estimates. Roughly 81 percent of Americans plan on celebrating this year, spending an average of $150 per person.

How Companies Are Growing Audiences With Snapchat And Facebook Watch Shows

Some call Snapchat and Facebook the future of television, while others see them as major challengers to YouTube. In either case, these social networks are changing the way viewers consume shows by courting media companies to produce premium content for their respective platforms, and these companies are finding different ways to grow audiences for their programs.

Snapchat began working with studios to host premium content on its Discover section in 2016 and has aired 50 shows to date. Facebook Watch launched in 2017, and now hosts hundreds of shows that cater to almost every taste. It’s a win-win situation for both the platforms and content creators, as Snapchat and Facebook get quality content to keep users engaged and media brands gain direct access to their user bases. Snapchat in particular has 187 million daily active users, who are largely comprised of millennial and Gen Z audiences.

Neither platform is likely to overtake broadcast television, but that’s not their goal. Instead, creators are turning to these platforms as additional means of engagement and to grow their brands. Shows on Snapchat tend to be short, lasting less than five minutes, and are all created specifically for the platform. A number of them complement existing broadcast news programs and talk shows such as The Late Late Show With James Corden, which posts show-related comedy sketches, while others have no relation to any other shows. Snap Inc. announced in February that it is furthering its investment in premium content.

Vertical Networks, a mobile-first digital content studio founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, has several shows on Snapchat, with one of the best performing ones being Phone Swap—a dating show where the two people agree to snoop through each other’s smartphones before deciding on whether to go out a second time. The show began its second season in March, and its first season averaging about 10 million views per episode, attracting 14 million people at its peak.

Vertical Networks CEO Tom Wright describes the company as “mixing math with creative,” with the aim of making story-driven content that is refined and optimized for individual platforms through data analysis. Vertical primarily makes shows on Snapchat, but it also has one Facebook Watch program, and they’re all made with the intention of creating an initial audience base on social media before moving to longer-form platforms like television.

“Our focus is on reaching mass audiences and creating global franchises that we believe can become worldwide hits,” Wright told AListDaily. “Outside of premium mobile environments, we don’t see any places where we could do that kind of thing.”

In addition to their massive scale, Wright said that Snapchat and Facebook are ideal platforms for premium content because they both have curatorial elements to them, creating a quality threshold so that premium content doesn’t get mixed in with lower quality videos. Wright also appreciates how these social platforms are meritocracies, with content gaining popularity almost entirely through word-of-mouth.

Neither Snapchat nor Facebook promote any of its premium shows outside its normal process for surfacing content to relevant users and alerting subscribers to new episodes. Facebook Watch has a banner for featured shows, but its programs still rely heavily on word-of-mouth. However, creators on both platforms can help grow popularity by engaging with fans on their official Facebook pages or other social networks.

As a result, many of these shows have a feel that is distinctly different from television. Snapchat shows are all presented vertically so that they take up the whole screen on mobile devices, and are told quickly, sometimes through multiple snaps (photos and videos). Facebook shows such as Comeback Kids: Animal Edition, Returning the Favor, and Make Up or Break Up are usually longer and are meant to be viewed in landscape mode, but what they all have in common is that they’re designed to be shareable.

Comeback Kids, which tells tales about animals overcoming hardships, began its second season in March and is one of five animal-themed shows produced by The Dodo, part of the Group Nine Media network. The Dodo launched on Facebook Watch with 19 million followers on its main Facebook page as its base and grew its Watch audience organically from there.

The show’s first season has collectively attracted over 140 million viewers on Facebook alone, and The Dodo ranked as one of Tubular’s Top 10 Facebook Video Publishers for February 2018. But unlike Vertical Networks, The Dodo puts some of its shows to YouTube, Twitter and other platforms two days after episodes premiere on Facebook.

“We’ve spent the last few years really leaning into Facebook, learning about our Facebook audience and identifying what works best on the platform,” said Joanna Zelman, executive editor of video at The Dodo. “YouTube is newer for us, so we’re experimenting with different types of stories to see what that audience is most excited about. We’ve seen enormous growth on YouTube YOY in terms of watch time, subscribers and video views.”

According to Zelman, The Dodo’s YouTube audience has a higher concentration of males in comparison to Facebook, with about 50 and 30 percent respectively. YouTube also has a more international audience, so growth on that platform hinges more on having a universally relatable voice. Additionally, The Dodo found that human-centric content tends to perform better on YouTube, which inspired the studio to create its first YouTube-specific show that highlights famous pets and their human companions.

Although both Facebook and YouTube have tools for speaking with audiences, Zelman said, “YouTube affords us more opportunities to break down the fourth wall and engage directly with the audience.” Specifically, The Dodo asks its fans for opinions and feedback to guide its posting strategy, and it recently started using the YouTube community tab feature to interact with its audience.

Both Vertical Networks and The Dodo use remarkably little to no cross promotion to grow their audiences apart from the social platforms’ recommendation systems. Wright takes pride in the fact that all of Vertical’s programs grew to have millions of viewers on their own, with no supplemental marketing done except perhaps a tweet to let fans know that a new season was starting.

Wright also said that Vertical doesn’t do any post episode engagement with its viewers. Instead, shows rely on conversations occurring naturally. For example, Phone Swap generated about 60 thousand related tweets in its first season based solely on viewers discussing episodes with each other.

“The shows we create drive incredible word-of-mouth, but it’s not about proactive marketing outreach,” said Wright.

But in a sense, given Vertical’s long-term goals, its Snapchat shows are marketing future programs based on their core concepts. That’s a markedly different attitude compared to shows such as Returning the Favor on Facebook Watch, hosted by Mike Rowe, who travels the country to spotlight people who are making a difference in their communities. Rowe is the former host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel and was once a Ford truck commercial spokesperson. That fame earned him a large following on Facebook, and he actively engages with it on a regular basis to help promote the show.

But to grow beyond that initial fan base, Hudsun Media CEO and Returning the Favor executive producer Michael Rourke said that audience participation was the key.

“All of our heroes featured on RTF are nominated by the community, and they post videos, photos and articles in our Facebook group. We say that our show is for the community, by the community.”

According to Rourke, Watch is ideal platform because show producers get immediate feedback on shows through comments, which lets them know what works and doesn’t.

Rhett Bachner, president of B17 Entertainment’s Thumb Candy Media and production on Make Up or Break Up, tells a similar story. With Make Up or Break Up, audiences vote in real-time on whether a couple should stay together or call it quits.

“Real-time feedback is such a powerful tool,” said Bachner. “We know fairly quickly if a new idea is or isn’t working, but you have to be willing to try new things. The community appreciates being heard and you can see the results.”

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building an audience on social platforms. Although reality shows appear to be some of the best performing programs, Vertical also produces a scripted interactive mystery show on Snapchat called Solve, and its premiere episode pulled in 4.6 million viewers.

But even though Vertical has impressive viewership numbers, Wright said that it focuses on different metrics to determine a show’s success. The company emphasizes loyalty, quality of time spent with the show and engagement—which factors in top snaps per user, time spent per episode and subscription rates. These factors indicate an engaged audience, and they’re also qualities the Snapchat platform rewards.

“Scale is exciting, and we love that we have the audiences that we do, but we’d like to create brands that people care about,” said Wright.

Both Vertical and The Dodo agree that it all comes down to understanding audiences and the demands of each individual platform, whether it be Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter.

“There’s no silver bullet,” Wright explained. “If you make really good content, you’ll find a meaningful audience. Between Facebook and Snapchat, there are different audiences and different behaviors. A piece of content that is built for Facebook would perform terribly on Snapchat and vice versa.”

Wright describes the Snapchat audience as “impatiently curious,” and brands can either fight that by trying to force content that they think they should be consuming, or embrace it by tailoring content to what gets viewers excited.

“If you’re going to try to stimulate and retain that audience, you need to commit resources and have a deep understanding of who you’re looking to engage,” said Wright.

‘Fortnite’ Helped Drive $9.1B Worldwide Digital Game Sales In February

Global consumers spent $9.1 billion on digital video games in February, an increase of six percent year over year (YoY), according to the latest figures by SuperData Research.

US digital spending grew 21 percent, primarily from an increase in console spend across premium AAA titles and free-to-play (F2P). Premium PC grew 33 percent YoY, while the console segment grew 34 percent over the same month last year.

Meanwhile, the Social and Pay-to-Play PC segments shrank one percent and eight percent, respectively.


Free-to-play console games drove a staggering 359 percent YoY growth last month, a feat that SuperData attributes to Epic Games’ Fortnite. The zombie survival game and its battle royale mode earned more in additional content purchases than all other console games in February, with the exception of Call of Duty: WWII.

“With the success Fortnite demonstrates, it is likely that more developers will attempt to enter this space,” Elena Fedina, senior analyst at SuperData told AListDaily. “We currently saw that in 2017, the F2P console market was over $300 million, but it will more than double in 2018.”

Fedina noted that while F2P remains a large subset of PC gaming—earning more than $15 billion last year—consoles are a much more closed off and challenging platform for developers.

“Games like World of Tanks and SMITE (even before the impressive performance of Fortnite this year) showed developers that despite being a more challenging environment from a development standpoint, consoles have a large audience of gamers that want to play F2P games,” said Fedina.

Free-to-play PC revenue dropped four percent last month, while mobile—free or otherwise—grew a modest four percent YoY.

Tencent Races For The Top

QQ Speed, Tencent’s mobile racing game, is a breakout hit in China. The game released in December after a popular run on PC and has climbed to the number two mobile spot in a matter of months. SuperData notes that QQ Speed shows one of the fastest climbs of any mobile title they’ve seen.

“Essentially, [QQ Speed] is very similar to Mario Kart, which is not available in China, hence the initial interest,” explained Fedina. “QQ Speed had no real competition and it is a part of the Tencent ecosystem, which adds the social aspect to it and makes it more attractive to players.”

Fedina also pointed out that QQ Speed does not offer cross-play between mobile and PC, which doesn’t put PC players at an unfair advantage.

“This also leads to potentially increased spending,” she added. “The accounts are not shared, i.e. in the mobile version player starts from scratch so if they had a favorite skin, they would have to buy it again.”

Amazon Voted Most-Liked Brand In Recent US Survey

Amazon was voted the “most liked” brand by consumers in a recent survey by Morning Consult and Public Affairs Council.

A survey of US consumers conducted between March 13-15 found that among 15 brands, Amazon was by far the most liked with a net score of 44 percent. This is twice as high as the next most liked brand—Google—which earned a net score of 21 percent.

Rounding out the top five most liked brands are General Mills (10 percent), Sony (five percent) and UPS (four percent).

Tech giants like Amazon and Google have been under government and public scrutiny over brand safety, alleged censorship and data privacy concerns, but the survey shows consumers remain loyal overall.

Amazon shares dropped two percent on Thursday following a Twitter post by President Trump criticizing the company. The company may be relieved to know that, at least with these survey respondents, they are still in the public’s good graces.

Tom’s of Maine received a net score of zero, as two percent of respondents named it their most and least liked brand. Sadly for Goldman Sachs, not one respondent named it their favorite brand on the list.

Trump Hotels, meanwhile, was voted the least liked brand by 30 percent of respondents and the most liked by only one percent.

Digging deeper for political bias, the survey also looked at voter affiliation. Even among those who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 US Presidential election, only four percent listed Trump Hotels as their most liked brand, while six percent named it their least favorite.

Unsurprisingly, no respondents that voted for Hillary Clinton listed Trump Hotels as their favorite, with 52 percent listing it as their least liked brand.

Tobacco brand Philip Morris is only disliked slightly less than Trump Hotels, with a net score of -15 (one percent “most liked,” 16 percent “least liked.”). Despite Americans moving away from cigarettes and tighter regulations, the US tobacco industry relies on a smaller group of loyal customers, it seems, as revenue is soaring.

Porsche Adopts Haptic Feedback Ads For Vehicle Customization

Porsche is using mid-air haptic feedback to highlight features and allow customization of its new 2019 Cayenne Turbo.

Consumers may soon be able to customize a vehicle with the wave of a hand thanks to a partnership with ZeroLight. A demo of the technology is on display at the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas on Thursday and features haptic feedback without the need for gloves or devices.

According to an official press release, special UltraHD advertisement displays feature videos and images of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Moving one’s hand in front of the display will trigger haptic cues delivered “directly to their bare hands” through ultrasonic technology.

The interactive display allows users to customize the car with a myriad of options from color to dashboard features. During the demo, a user can scan a QR code that creates a dedicated microsite featuring their personalized vehicle, which can be personalized even more online.

The goal of this ad format, ZeroLight explained, is to encourage “active involvement in the experience, driving brand affinity whilst connecting public advertising to a wider retail ecosystem.”

Porsche is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year—a milestone reached by adapting to trends and emerging technology throughout the decades. On Wednesday, Porsche released a marketing campaign dubbed #SportscarTogether, inviting fans to share their favorite moments with the brand.

UK start-up ZeroLight is disrupting the car-buying process during a time when consumers spend more time online researching and less time in the dealerships. Other partnerships include a VR concept for Audi and a VR showroom for Pagani.

According to Bloomberg, US dealers spend $2.75 billion annually on interest just to keep new vehicles on their lots. Allowing consumers to customize and visualize options without the physical car present saves showroom space and money that can be used for marketing and customer experience solutions.

Equifax Names Mark Begor New CEO


Equifax has named former General Electric executive Mark Begor as its new CEO. The hire is designed to lead the credit-reporting company’s marketing rehabilitation after it faced a cyber attack that exposed data of more than 148 million customers.

“[Mark] is a highly accomplished executive with a long track record of successful leadership across a variety of global industries relevant to our business,” said Mark L. Feidler, chairman of the board of Equifax. “His proven leadership ability, operational expertise, growth focus, financial acumen, strategic vision and customer orientation make him the right person to lead Equifax into the future.”

Begor is 35-year GE veteran, which included a stint as president and CEO from 2014 to 2016 as he oversaw the company’s $8 billion business.

“I am excited to take the helm of Equifax at such a pivotal moment in the company’s history,” added Begor. “The team has made meaningful progress in the last several months to address a number of well-publicized issues while continuing to focus on delivering differentiated new products and advanced analytics to support our customers. I will prioritize continuing our team’s efforts to communicate transparently and restore confidence with consumers, customers, shareholders and policymakers. And most critically, we will continue to invest in and strengthen our IT and data security.”

Mondelēz International is reinventing its international marketing strategy with a series of moves.

Martin Renaud has been named global CMO, where he will oversee teams responsible for brand strategy and agency relationships, marketing capability as well as media and digital. The former Danone executive will also be responsible for the portfolio of marketing “power brands” like Oreo and Trident.

“Martin is a world-class marketer with extensive commercial, strategy and digital experience and a strong record of driving growth,” said Tim Cofer, chief growth officer for Mondelēz. “We’re thrilled to have him join us at this critical moment in our journey. His experience will be a tremendous asset as we reinvent our marketing in a rapidly changing global consumer landscape.”

In coinciding news from the Mondelēz, former ABInBev executive Debora Koyama assumes the role of regional CMO for Europe; Jason Levine was promoted to the role of regional CMO for North America; Maria Mujica was promoted to regional CMO for Latin America; and Mie-Leng Wong joins the company as regional CMO for Asia, Middle East and Africa.

“Investing in a new regional CMO model will not only bring deep expertise to our marketing practice, but also increase connection and collaboration between our global CMO, our P&L leaders and the global team,” added Cofer. “This new structure will change the trajectory of our marketing function, empowering our fearless commercial talent to drive growth and allowing us to move at the speed of our consumer.”

Juliette Morris has been named as the first ever CMO for TuneIn. The former NBCUniversal executive and 20-year marketing veteran will be tasked with overseeing audience development and grow brand awareness.

“Having worked with some of the most pre-eminent entertainment brands, Juliette’s proven success driving tangible results through brand, partner and performance marketing makes her an invaluable addition to TuneIn as we focus our efforts on content, platform and audience growth,” said TuneIn CEO John Donham.

NBCUniversal has dismissed Scot Chastain, the company’s executive vice president of marketing and development, after conducting a review into alleged misconduct.

“A thorough internal review was conducted,” a company spokesperson said to Deadline. “Scot Chastain is no longer with the company.”

Chastain oversaw the company’s affiliate marketing group, which provided strategy and materials to the company’s 240 subsidiary TV stations. He had been at NBCUniversal for over 20 years.

Just Born Quality Confections, manufacturers of the Peeps marshmallow candy, have appointed Energizer Bunny as the company’s celebrity creative director, a newly created position.

“Energizer Bunny is pleased to raise his mallet and step in,” said Lori Shambro, Energizer’s vice president of global marketing.”With his boundless energy and eye for innovation, this new role was a perfect way to help a fellow Bunny during their busiest season and add an exclusive, energized accessory to the product line.”

Mr. Bunny brings over 29 years of branding experience to the confectionary company. He will continue his current role as brand ambassador for Energizer, juggling the new responsibilities of his temporary position.

BuzzFeed Media BRands has brought on Melinda Lee as its chief content officer, a newly created position.

“I’m thrilled Melinda is joining us and I’m excited to see her apply her deep experience building out brand portfolios to help us quickly grow our media brands group by emphasizing brands that serve audiences, instead of the other way around,” BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti said. “The growth and monetization of BuzzFeed Media Brands is an integral part of our strategy to diversify BuzzFeed’s business to a multi-revenue model.”

Lee most recently worked at Meredith Corporation, where she held the title of senior vice president and general manager.

Peter Hutton has joined Facebook as its director of global live spots partnerships and programming, a newly created role, where he will collaborate with rights holders to expand Facebook’s portfolio of live-streaming sports rights.

“Peter is uniquely qualified to lead our live sports partnerships…he knows the global sports rights landscape, owns strong relationships, and has a track record of delivering results on multiple continents,” said Dan Reed, Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships. “Plus, he’s worked on behalf of both broadcasters and rights holders.”

Hutton most recently was CEO of Eurosport, a position he held for three years.

Dominique Delport has signed on with Vice Media as its global chief revenue officer and president of international operations.

“Dom Delport is a true legend in the industry,” said Vice cofounder Shane Smith in a statement. “He’s a brand whisperer that understands the crucial intersection of content and platform. The fact that he is coming to VICE to round out our Dream Team (and I’m talking the Jordan, Magic, Bird era dream team), shows our commitment to making VICE the media company of the future.”

Delport joins Vice from Havas Group and Vivendi, where he held the dual role of global managing director.

Justin Richmond has joined athletic-wear retailer Lululemon as its chief strategy and digital officer, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Previously, Richmond served as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Zulily, a Seattle-based ecommerce firm. He departed the company in March of last year, quietly beginning work at Lululemon in January of 2018.

Fullscreen has hired Mary Murcko as its senior vice president of partnerships and revenue, a newly created role, where she will responsible for driving income across the company’s branded-content network.

“Mary’s strong background in digital media and marketing planning will be a huge asset to Fullscreen as we accelerate our mission to help brands create authentic relationships with consumers,” said Pete Stein, Fullscreen’s general manager, to Variety.

Before Fullscreen, Murcko worked at What to Expect as senior vice president and head of brand partnerships and sales. Prior to that, she was chief revenue officer and publisher for Condé Nast’s Self.

Anna Bakst has signed on with luxury lifestyle brand collective Tapestry, Inc, as CEO and brand president of Kate Spade. She is replacing Craig Leavitt, who left it when Kate Spade was acquired in 2017.

“The appointment of Anna Bakst marks another key step in the evolution of the Kate Spade brand,” said Victor Luis, CEO of Tapestry, Inc. “She brings a rare combination of business acumen, directly related fashion experience and strong leadership skills to the company.”

Bakst joins the company from Michael Kors, where she held the title of group president of accessories and footwear until this January.

The Rest Of The C-Suite

(Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, March 30. Have a new hire tip? Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com)

Gary Briggs, Facebook’s vice president and CMO, has been appointed to the board of directors for Etsy, a global marketplace creative goods.

“Gary’s extensive marketing expertise will support management’s work driving creative thinking and execution across our organization, including helping to provide our 1.9 million creative entrepreneurs with new, innovative ways to start and grow their businesses,” said Etsy CEO Josh Silverman.

Briggs is now one of eight board members for the brand.

Christian Baesler has been named to the newly created role of president for Complex Networks.

Baesler will oversee the Verizon and Heart-owned company’s day-to-day operations and will be asked to grow its portfolio of brands, including Complex, First We Feast, Rated Red, Sole Collector and Pigeons & Planes.

“Christian is an exceptional executive with deep knowledge of the digital landscape and an impressive track record for guiding businesses to achieve their fullest potential,” said CEO Rich Antoniello.

Before joining the Verizon and Hearst-owned youth-culture digital media company, Baesler spent nearly a decade overseeing the UK and US businesses for Bauer Media Group.

Netflix has appointed Ambassador Susan E. Rice to its board of directors.

“We are delighted to welcome Ambassador Rice to the Netflix board,” said Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings. “For decades, she has tackled difficult, complex global issues with intelligence, integrity and insight and we look forward to benefiting from her experience and wisdom.”

Rice joins the streaming company’s board after directing the US National Security Council staff and chairing the National Security Principals committee from 2013 to 2017.

AEG Global Partnerships has hired Matt Lawler as director of digital, where he will oversee the company’s efforts to expand its sports partnerships in the online space.

“Matt offers a wealth of experience and enthusiasm that benefits brand partners as we expand the digital business capabilities and build out new revenue streams across the worldwide portfolio,” said Nick Baker, chief operating officer of AEG Global Partnerships.

Lawler most recently served as vice president and group director of social for Canvas Worldwide, a media agency.

Bob Raposo has joined Sony Electronics as the head of its film theater business, where he will focus on selling the company’s new line of digital projectors.

Raposo most recently held the position of vice president of sales for D-Box Technologies.

Kristin Stark of Amblin Partners has been promoted to senior vice president of marketing and communications, wherein she will manage the entirety of the studio’s marketing efforts.

“Amblin is fortunate to have such a deft communicator and marketer in Kristin, who understands the demands of an ever-changing business,” said Susan Fleischman, Amblin’s executive vice president of corporate communications. “We’re delighted to recognize her many contributions with this promotion and even happier that she is part of our leadership team.”

Before her promotion, Stark held the title of senior vice president of publicity.

Video marketing platform Innovid has appointed Tim Braz as its senior vice president of sales.

“Tim’s laser-focus on customer satisfaction and success couldn’t be a better fit for Innovid’s mission and company culture,” said Beth-Ann Eason, president of Innovid. “Data-driven video has become increasingly important for our current and prospective customers, and Tim’s consultative experience with brands will enable us to help them achieve more effective video marketing.”

Before joining Innovid, Braz served as senior vice president of North American sales for Ignition One, a digital marketing platform.

Investment Metrics has hired Mark Bell as its first-ever chief marketing officer.

“Mark brings a wealth of expertise and market knowledge to Investment Metrics,” said Sanjoy Chatterjee, Investment Metrics CEO. “This, paired with an impressive background of growing fintech companies will help us as we embark on an exciting phase of product and global market expansion.”

Bell most recently served as vice president of global marketing at Real Capital Analytics.

Dunkin’ Donuts has appointed Keith Lusby vice president of media, a role in which he will lead the company’s efforts at media planning, buying and placement.

“Keith is an accomplished marketer with extensive experience leading successful consumer-centric media plans for iconic brands,” said Tony Weisman, Dunkin’ Donuts CMO. “Under his direction, we look forward to developing exciting ways to promote the Dunkin’ Donuts brand across a broad spectrum of channels, from television to new opportunities in digital and emerging media.”

Lusby joins the company from MullenLowe Mediahub, where he led the media agency’s placement campaigns for brands such as Chipotle, JetBlue and Staples.

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill + Bar has announced tapping Steve Levigne for the role of vice president of insights and analytics.

“Steve is a highly-regarded veteran of the restaurant industry and understands our challenges from a culinary, service, value and brand differentiation perspective. Importantly, franchisee partnership is part of his DNA, and he’ll be a terrific culture fit for the Applebee’s team,” said John Cywinski, Applebee’s president.

Levigne joins the company after spending 23 years at McDonald’s, where he rose to the level of vice president of strategy and insights for the quick-service restaurant’s 14,000 US locations.

Robert A. Niblock, CEO of Lowe’s Companies, has announced his plans to retire after a quarter-century at the hardware stores.

“After a 25-year career at Lowe’s, including 13 years as chairman and CEO, I am confident that it is the right time to transition the company to its next generation of leadership,” Niblock said in a statement. “I look forward to assisting the board with its search, and I am committed to supporting a seamless transition for all of our stakeholders.”

The board of directors has begun a search for Niblock’s successor, and Niblock will continue in his current position until a suitable candidate can be found, presumably one who will be a chip off the old Niblock.

Susan J. Riley, chair of ComScore’s board, is stepping down from her position, adding another position, in addition to that of the CEO, that the company will seek to fill by the end of the year.

“On behalf of the Board, I’d like to thank Sue for leading ComScore through a very challenging period and, in particular, her tremendous work in overseeing the successful completion of the financial restatement process,” said Jacques Kerrest, chair of ComScore’s nominating and governance committee.  “Sue has also been instrumental in driving fundamental changes throughout the organization, and her contributions have put ComScore firmly on the right track.”

Virgin Atlantic is expanding its in-house creative department, following the Janurary appointment of Michael Stephens as head of brand and creative at the airline.

“Digital doesn’t stand alone as a department anymore and needs to be woven into everything,” Stephens told to Marketing Week. “These roles will mean we can be reactive with social content and not rely on an agency. We’re being requested more and more for animation and motion graphics and we know that photography and film are more important than ever.”

Whole Foods has slashed its marketing department, terminating all marketing employees below the rank of “associate” in a bid to cut costs, Business Insider reports. It is currently unknown how many people will be affected by this mass layoff.

Job Vacancies 

Events Producer AList Pasadena, CA
Associate Director of Marketing Services Mondelēz International East Hanover, NJ
Sr. Director & VP of Marketing & Communications  adMarketplace New York, NY
Marketing Director, Cheetos Brand Equity PepsiCo Plano, TX
Head of Marketing Amazon Seattle, WA
Paid Marketing Manager Omaze Los Angeles, CA

Make sure to check back for updates on our jobs page.

Mobile Gaming On Rise, But Brand Ad Spending Remains Low

Despite the strong growth of mobile games, brands outside of the gaming industry have yet to take full advantage of the platform. There are multiple possibilities as to why, but analysts agree that brands are largely missing out on an opportunity to target a diverse and engaged audience.

According to data gathered by DeltaDNA, mobile gaming grew globally by about 19.3 percent to $46.1 billion, but brand spending in mobile games accounts for only 15 percent of total ad spend. DeltaDNA CEO Mark Robinson told AListDaily that the reason brand ad spending was low is because of an outdated view of mobile gaming demographics, which has changed significantly in recent years.

“In 2008, the year that the App Store launched for iOS, just 4 percent of the global mobile population downloaded games to their phone, and the bulk of mobile game development was dedicated to adventure and sports simulation. These are genres that broadly appeal to men aged 18 to 30,” explained Robinson. “Five years later, analysts were still extolling the virtues of in-game advertising as a way of reaching the young male demographic that represents the majority of mobile game users.”

Today, according to DeltaDNA’s findings, 62 percent of mobile gamers are female, with the majority over 25 years old, making games a prime platform for industries such as beauty or fashion. The typical mobile gamer of today is a professional woman around 35- to 44-years-old, but Robinson notes that audiences vary according to the types of games. Women tend to prefer casual and social casino games, while men lean more heavily towards action and strategy games.

Data analyst firm App Annie has similar findings. Its 2017 gaming report, which released in March, shows that games represent nearly 80 percent of total worldwide consumer spend across iOS and Android, and account for roughly 35 percent of worldwide downloads in 2017. According the App Annie, 25- to 44-year-olds made up 38 percent of US gaming demographic last year, with 37 percent older and 25 percent younger. US gamers age 45 and over spent around 37 percent of their total mobile time playing games, which is greater than in other countries the firm analyzed.

Although App Annie’s director of market insights Amir Ghodrati also notes that demographics change from game-to-game, he said that both men and women are taking to mobile games. He agrees that ad spending on mobile gaming is lower than what it should be, given the data, but he believes it has more to do with how brands need to learn the benefits of the gaming platform.

“It’s easy to do app-install type advertising, especially when it comes to gaming, where those companies tend to be ahead of the curve,” said Ghodrati. “You can have a specific call to action to install an app directly from an ad, and that’s something that’s easy to measure.”

With app-install ads, companies—usually games—can quickly see how many impressions an ad made, how many people downloaded the app, how many continued to play and which spent money. The direct link between these types of ads and revenue is easy to see, but the connection isn’t necessarily as direct when it comes to brand advertising.

“You have to do a lot more complicated research to measure what kind of impact advertising is having on your brand,” said Ghodrati. “But if you look at the total time spent in mobile versus other ways people consume advertising, the amount of money people are spending on mobile should still be a lot higher.”

“Mobile increased its share of global ad spend to 20.6 percent in 2017, showing massive growth year-on-year, and pushing itself into distant second behind TV at 36.5 percent,” Robinson added, stating that the shift does not reflect the importance of the gaming audience, as investments are still heavily focused on web, video and social media. “We have all these huge figures and yet there are still huge discrepancies between where users spend their time and advertisers spend their money.

DeltaDNA found that as of January this year, games accounted for a higher percentage of all active apps on Apple’s App Store than any other category, at 25 percent. Robinson also stated that 57 percent of all mobile app users are gamers and 86 percent of total smartphone time is spent in-app. But only 73.2 percent of mobile ad spend is dedicated to it, with the rest going to mobile web. Judging by its data, Robinson said that brand ad spend should be spread out with 83.72 percent going to gaming apps, 8.14 percent to social media, 4.65 to business apps and 3.49 to other types of apps.

However, Ghodrati said that in the US, only about 11 percent of people’s time is spent in gaming apps, with the remaining 89 percent spread out across other categories, with the top being communications at 21 percent of time, social with 22 percent and video players and editors comprising about 10 percent of time. While this indicates that there are more opportunities for brands to take advantage of, non-gaming apps still only represent 20 percent of global consumer spending on the app market. Games also have the added benefit of cycling at a faster rate in comparison to other apps, meaning that the time from download to spending tends to be much shorter.

Robinson also points to a study by Tapjoy, which reports that gamers tend to feel more engaged, focused and happy while playing. Comparatively, a 2017 report by the American Psychological Association (APA) shows that users tend to feel stressed when engaged with non-gaming apps such as social media.

Both analysts agree that rewarded video—ads that offer in-game currency or other benefits in exchange for viewing—is the ideal format for brands, since players opt-in to watching them.

A prime example of how effective rewarded videos can be, and how they’re evolving, comes from a recent partnership between Tapjoy’s newly launched in-house brand experience design studio, Interplay Studios, and 20th Century Fox to promote the animated film Ferdinand.

For Ferdinand, Tapjoy took a traditional rewarded video and added interactive end cards to them. Trailers for the movie were accompanied by branded minigames that included a mix and match memory card game, a fall-and-catch game called Bull in a China Shop and a maze for players to puzzle over.

According to Tapjoy’s findings, all three campaigns saw an average completion rate of 97 percent. Although Tapjoy CRO Shannon Jessup told AListDaily that this was the same completion rate of rewarded videos in general, the interactive end cards added another 30 seconds to the 30-second trailer, totaling a whole minute of in-ad engagement time. She also notes that the click-through rate of end cards is three to fives times higher than traditional mobile video ads.

“Over the last year or so, we have seen a notable increase in the amount that brand advertisers are spending to reach mobile gaming audiences,” said Jessup. “Mobile gamers are an extremely desirable audience for brands, and our data shows that 63 percent are women, mostly between 18 and 44-years-old. The best time to reach them is while they are engaged in a fun, entertaining, low-pressure activity like mobile gaming.”

Rewarded videos are an effective way for brands to engage with mobile gaming audiences because they not only offer positive brand affinity, but they help drive the metrics that they care about most: viewability, audibility and video completion rates. Jessup said that interactive end cards add downstream metrics such as conversions and sales.

Brands may also take advantage of cross-promotional integrations, the way the NFL partnered with Rovio to promote Super Bowl LII in Angry Birds 2. Ghodrati said that App Annie observed a 30 percent bump in downloads and an active user increase for the game during the time leading up to the Super Bowl.

But Robinson doesn’t believe that in-game cross-promotions offer good ROI for the majority of advertisers, stating that a worldwide survey from last year revealed that only four percent of mobile marketers were excited by these ads. Cross-promotions stand in fifth place behind native ads, social video, full-screen video and playable ads, which is by far the most popular at 45 percent.

“These partnerships only make sense for huge names with huge budgets and massive studios,” said Robinson. “Brands are missing out on ideal targets at every level from indie upwards, not just the very top bracket.”

However brands choose to engage with the mobile gaming audience, both Ghodrati and Jessup emphasize that the method needs to naturally complement the gaming environment so that it doesn’t create tension with the user.

In the meantime, it looks like brands are becoming more aware of video games. App Annie reported that the global average for advertiser spend is set to grow from $13 to $52 per user by 2021, as “advertisers increasingly leverage technology and new ad formats that allow for better targeting and measurements of ads and their effectiveness.”

Invisible Influencers: Almost Nobody Discloses Affiliate Ads On YouTube

Influencers have long been an effective tool for marketers hoping to build more authentic connections with their consumers, new research from Princeton University has cast some doubts on the transparency many had taken for granted. According to the study, the vast majority of influencers on YouTube and Pinterest who use affiliate ads may be violating American trade laws.

Affiliate ads, or affiliate links, are personalized URLs that brands, usually ecommerce sites, give to individual influencers, who earn kickbacks for clicks and converted sales from that link.

The paper, by Princeton researchers Arunesh Mathur, Arvind Narayanan and Marshini Chetty which analyzed 500,000 YouTube videos and 2.1 million pins on Pinterest, found that 90 percent of posts containing affiliate links do not disclose the fact that they are sponsored. Of those that do mention payment, less than 30 percent actually meet the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines for brand endorsements.

According to FTC guidelines, influencers must tell their audience about any partnerships that may affect their content.

“Knowing about the connection is important information for anyone evaluating the endorsement,” the FTC states on its site. “Disclosures need to be easily noticed and understood.”

Since, as Princeton’s research found, user engagement on posts that contained affiliate ads tended to be higher than those without, YouTube’s and Pinterest’s recommendation algorithms tend to display them more frequently. This may well lead to a decreased trust in and effectiveness of influencer partnerships in the future, as consumers grow wary of undisclosing product endorsements.

Despite having sent letters to prominent influencers about the requirements to clearly state the existence of any partnerships with marketers, the FTC can do little to combat this issue. According to its Endorsement Guides, the FTC itself has no authority to prosecute influencers that violate its regulations.

“The Guides themselves don’t have the force of law,” the FTC website reads. “The Guides themselves don’t have the force of law. However, practices inconsistent with the Guides may result in law enforcement actions alleging violations of the FTC Act. [emphasis added]”

Even if legal action is brought against influencers that violate the FTC Act, punishment is nonexistent: “Law enforcement actions can result in orders requiring the defendants in the case to give up money they received from their violations…there are no ‘fines’ for violations of the FTC Act.”

With the risk of being caught so low, and the penalties for being caught being essentially nonexistent, there are few reasons for influencers to take affiliate ad disclosures into their own hands, and thus many simply don’t.

Both YouTube and Instagram have recently incorporated disclosure tools into their platforms, which will automatically display “paid partnership” messages on promoted content, but this does not apply to partnerships made outside platform channels.

“Such disclosure tools are a step in the right direction, however, it is unlikely that such blanket disclosures will cover all marketing strategies,” the Princeton researchers write. “Future work could investigate what kind of affordances should be designed into social media platforms to enable affiliates to disclose clearly.”

CMOs Are Shifting Strategy To Bring Services In-House According To New Survey

CMOs are taking more marketing services in-house, according to a new study released by media and marketing consultancy NewBase (formerly Publicitas International).

The Evolving Marketer” survey, released Wednesday, explores the marketing strategies of 120 CMOs and found that brands prefer to keep certain advertising elements close to the chest.

Unsurprisingly, marketing strategy is performed in-house by 86 percent of CMOs. Likewise, 76 percent of survey respondents indicated that product marketing is performed in-house compared to 20 percent shared responsibility with an outside firm and five percent delegating out-of-house.

“There are some critical functions that need to remain in-house and require the day to day control and management of the marketing team, and these tend to relate to strategy, pricing, product and customers,” wrote NewBase in the survey.

However, areas like social media and branding—both traditionally outsourced to agencies—are now becoming part of the CMO’s wheelhouse.

Just over half of CMOs said their marketing teams handle social media exclusively in-house, for example, with only 10 percent combining resources with an outside agency. Branding is exclusive to in-house operations for 43 percent of respondents, as well, compared to 42 percent who outsource the responsibility.

When it comes to budgets, digital marketing is now the number one priority for CMOs, the survey found, and his/her responsibility has increased across the board for digital, content and social media marketing.

One reason for this increased responsibility is an increase in pressure. “There is an increasing expectation for the CMO to implement change and deliver results,” said the report. Another reason is the availability of technology that makes a CMO’s job easier.

“Many automated systems, processes and efficiencies are now in place to handle repetitive tasks, which to some extent has freed up time for marketing teams to focus more on consumer and creative related work,” said NewBase.

Over three quarters—77 percent—of global CMOs agree that ‘there is increasing interest in marrying art, science and data.’ CMOs are divided on whether to rely on outside sources to handle data and analytics, the study found. The role of data and analytics is split between exclusively in-house and exclusively out-of-house at 45 and 43 percent, respectively.

Similarly, content marketing is also split between in-house and out-of-house exclusivity at 44 and 49 percent, respectively.

The CMO is now overseeing an average of 12 creative and MarTech areas, NewBase found, with 64 percent of respondents responsible for 10 or more.

Despite the control of handling marketing services in-house, the practice is not without its limitations. NewBase found that while 66 percent of global CMOs claim that their business is moving more towards in-house marketing services, budget or other structural constraints often prevent organizations from hiring the ‘perfect team’ on a full-time basis.

In addition, 55 percent of respondents claim that they lack the right skill set, or indicated that the ‘mix of skills’ could be better. Only three percent are confident that they have perfected the skill set necessary to handle all marketing services in-house.

CMOs aren’t bringing everything in-house, however. Amid brand safety concerns regarding ad placement on the web, CMOs still rely on outside sources for programmatic ad buying. The study found that 43 percent completely outsource programmatic to out-of-house providers.