App Revenue Jumped 22 Percent To Record Numbers In Q1 2018

Global app downloads grew more than 10 percent year-over-year to 27.5 billion, making the first quarter of 2018 the industry’s best yet.

Combining worldwide revenue stemming from Google Play and iOS, AppAnnie reports that consumer spend grew 22 percent YoY to $18.4 billion. The company noted that additional money flows through third-party app stores, mobile commerce and in-app advertising, so the first quarter’s record numbers only scratch the surface.

Google Play led in app installation, exceeding 19.2 billion downloads in the first quarter. While iOS downloads trailed behind with an excess of 8.2 billion, Apple is closing the gap 10 percent quarter over quarter.

In addition, iOS had 85 percent higher sales than Android, despite the lower number of app downloads. App Annie attributes this gap to the number of free apps available in Google Play.

Consumer spend on Google Play grew 25 percent YoY in the first quarter, while iOS grew 20 percent YoY.

Growth in both app installation and revenue was driven across a number of categories including shopping, games, music & audio and entertainment.

On Google Play, Music & Audio and Entertainment apps experienced the largest market share growth of global consumer spending, both quarter over quarter and year over year.

“This speaks to the larger trend of consumers choosing to sign-up and pay for music streaming and video streaming subscriptions in apps,” Lexi Sydow, market insights manager for App Annie wrote with the findings.

The battle royale genre of mobile games, fueled by Playerunknown’s Underground, helped drive quarter-over-quarter growth across both Google Play and iOS stores.

The US saw the largest growth in market share of any country both quarter-over-quarter and YoY, App Annie observed. After the US, Japan and the Philippines saw the largest quarter-over-quarter market share growth of Google Play consumer spend.

For iOS downloads, India, Indonesia and Brazil saw the largest market share growth—a trend App Annie says they have seen play out in the last two years. The US, Russia and Turkey experienced large year-over-year growth in market share, as well.

Amex, Google And Others Share First Look At Coachella 2018 Activations

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival begins Friday and while visitors prepare for a heat wave, brands prepare to reach waves of consumers.

Every year, brands flock to Coachella with experiential marketing campaigns that range from phone charging stations and WiFi to private concerts. Here are a few notable brand activations headed to the festival this year.

American Express (Amex)

Amex will integrate some new features into its annual festival presence. Guests that use the Coachella app can access an AR commerce experience that offers exclusive Coachella merchandise to Amex cardholders.

RFID in each Coachella wristband will grant Amex card members with exclusive benefits such as access into the Card Member Club, access to an exclusive Uber Priority Lane, a free ride on the Ferris wheel and free embroidery.

For the first time, the brand’s Amex Card Member Club area will be located onsite, offering drinks, recharge stations and time away from the crowds. Members will be able to access by linking their Amex account in the Coachella app.


Google is using voice activation to reach Coachella fans with Google Home and its Google Assistant. Saying “Hey Google, talk to Coachella” will prompt a number of interactive activities. Using their voice, consumers can access playlists for artists at the festival and discover new musicians in attendance, access and create a festival schedule and ask common questions such as performance times and travel info.

Throughout the festival, backstage interviews with the artists will be available for listening through Google Home and Google Assistant. Google is also engaging festival-goers at Coachella’s Ferris Wheel, one of the festival’s most iconic structures. Some of the ferris wheel gondolas have been outfitted with Pixel photo booths, complete with iridescent backdrops for “stunning selfies.”

For those who can’t head out into the desert this year, Google will once again offer an exclusive livestream of the event on YouTube.

Peet’s Coffee

Branded bicycles will be patrolling the Coachella grounds this weekend and giving out samples of Peet’s Cold Brew coffee. In March, the brand held a contest to win a 3-day VIP pass to Coachella. Coffee lovers could text “Coldbrew” or enter online.


A Coachella tradition, festival visitors can hang out in Sephora’s tent to grab free products, get their hair styled or receive complimentary make-up touch-ups. Visitors can apply their own temporary hair color, as well, and take pictures in a section of giant glitter beauty props.


Hewlett-Packard (HP) is returning to Coachella with its air-conditioned dome called Antarctic, located right in the middle of the festival grounds.

Overhead, a music and light show is projected in 360-degrees while guests lounge on beanbag chairs. This year, the show will be a re-imagining of the 19th century novella Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions.

Here’s a preview of the new show:

Duolingo Adapts Social Strategy To Reach Bilingual Users

At the end of 2017, Duolingo, a popular online language learning service, did something unusual for an edutech firm: They started a podcast. As a “freemium” educational product, Duolingo uses a variety of avenues to attract new customers and keep (and monetize) the ones they already have. Podcasts are just one part of a social media strategy aimed at courting an audience split across countries, continents, and languages. 

Facing Freemium Challenges

Pittsburgh-based Duolingo was founded in late 2011 and was recently valued at over $700 million. The company quickly took on industry incumbents like Rosetta Stone by offering a completely free product that helped them become a dominant player in the online language learning space. Users access Duolingo either through its website or smartphone or tablet apps.

The company monetizes in three primary ways. Free users are served ads on their website and mobile apps, and there’s also an option for users to pay a monthly fee for an ad-free experience that includes extra freemium functionalities like offline downloading. Duolingo also offers non-English speakers a $49 online English proficiency exam which Sam Dalsimer, the company’s senior PR manager, says is primarily used in college and universities admissions.

Depending on the prism it’s viewed through, Duolingo is either an edutech company or an app maker. Their major social media marketing challenges are the same either way: A fragmented user base that uses Duolingo for very different purposes, and a wide variety of social channels preferred by very different users.

Going Across Platforms

Duolingo has official presences on Facebook (~1.5 million likes), Twitter (259,000 followers), Instagram (~5,700 followers) and Google Plus (~298,000 followers). According to Dalsimer, Google Plus remains popular in international markets like Brazil, where Duolingo has a presence.

The company maintains a unified visual opportunity for social media content; the same artist creates unique illustrations for all of Duolingo’s social media content, and the company deliberately carries the same cartoon-y aesthetics from their website and apps into the social media world.

Complicating things for Duolingo’s social media strategy is the fact that Duolingo serves two very different core constituencies. The first consists of native English speakers learning a wide range of foreign languages for instances like work opportunities, travel and heritage. The second, approximately 55 percent of their user base, consists of non-native English speakers learning English for primarily work-related purposes.

Dalsimer said Duolingo reevaluates their social media strategy every quarter, and have two current goals: Promoting their core value of diversity and informing users about new product launches, features and other company news.

However, despite teaching users everything from Spanish to Vietnamese to Russian, almost all of Duolingo’s social content is currently in English. Duolingo says that may change in the future.

Official And Unofficial Presences

Duolingo’s official Facebook page is accompanied by unofficial pages like Duolingo English-Spanish and Duolingo Greek Learners, the multi-platform Shit Duolingo Says, which highlights awkward and humorous translations, and the popular-but-unsanctioned Duolingo subreddit.

These unofficial sites arguably boost Duolingo’s engagement and name recognition, but exist outside of the service’s officially sanctioned social media presences. The Duolingo subreddit, for instance, is a mixture of praise and complaints about the service, while Shit Duolingo Says often features off-color content that doesn’t necessarily align with Duolingo’s brand.

In the case of Duolingo, the company balances the fact that they have an officially sanctioned user forum with a very active user base. Unofficial social media presences present service feedback and bug reporting.

App Lessons

Duolingo is a good example of how a mostly free educational app is trying to avoid user churn through social media strategy and marketing. But Dalsimer says there are foundational goals that should be set no matter the company.

“As we set our social media goals, we also think about deciding what our most important metric is and the optimize for that,” Dalsimer says. “For some brands and companies, it might be downloads or subscribes–you have to create and tailor content for that purpose. For other people, the goal might be engagement rates on posts, or calls-to-actions to put in posts–that is one of our biggest challenges. Once we make that decision, it helps us focus on what exactly we post, and best way to do it.”

As for the podcast, it could be a bellwether of sorts in terms of social content for the growing company. The Duolingo Spanish Podcast is an important foray for the into content that is emphatically bilingual and is aimed at the company’s approximately 110 million English speakers who have signed up for free Spanish-learning courses. The first eight episodes debuted this past winter and Dalsimer likens it to “This American Life, but in Spanish.”

‘Rampage’ Twitch Stream Pays Tribute To Arcade Roots

To promote the upcoming Rampage film, Twitch hosted a livestream of popular creators playing arcade games on a giant controller.

A “Big Meets Bigger” event took place on Monday, streaming from a Twitch studio in London. A retro TV was mounted inside a frame, decorated to look like a broken brick wall. Twitch Partners Stodeh and MissEllaCronin had to work together atop a seven-foot-long game controller, as the joystick and buttons were too big for one person to manipulate by themselves.

Until now, marketing for Rampage has focused not on its gaming origins, but on the film’s action and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, its A-list star. The Twitch event does, however, tie into the film’s ongoing theme of “big.”

“We’ve been working with Warner Bros. for the last couple of years on their slate and are always looking for a fresh approach to how we spotlight their films,” Adam Harris, Twitch’s director of custom solutions, Europe told AListDaily.

During the event, Stodeh and MissEllaCronin used the giant controller to play the original Rampage. Audience members interacted with the stream via chat, adding challenges like playing behind their back or while wearing goggles that obscured their view.

“Big Meets Bigger” will be streamed again April 10 in two regions outside the US and narrated in their native languages. For the Asia-Pacific region, a replay of the event will be narrated in Chinese by Twitch partners 殺梗 (Xargon0731) and 優格 (yogurtlin1010). In Latin America, the stream will be narrated in Spanish by users DuendePablo and Gonchotwm.

Streaming from Stodeh’s Twitch channel on Monday, the Big Meets Bigger event garnered over 4.7 million views. MissEllaStodeh streamed behind the scenes footage of the event, which garnered an additional 685,000+ views.

Warner Bros.’ Rampage film was inspired by an arcade game of the same name, first released in 1986. The film continues an ongoing trend of adapting video games for the big screen, from Tomb Raider to Tetris.

For Harris and his team, however, the Rampage arcade game was more of a bonus than the point of the activation.

“It isn’t about the game,” he said. “It’s about the Twitch audience. The challenge was to engage the Twitch community in a meaningful way that they would interact with and appreciate. The giant controller achieved this by letting our community experience a unique approach to playing games while featuring creators they know in a live environment. It also featured the ‘big meets bigger’ messaging that tied in with the movie campaign. The fact that the game could be utilized was a bonus that completed the narrative.”

In the last year, Twitch executed creative campaigns for films including Alien Covenant, BaywatchJumanji and Tomb Raider.

Warner Bros. recently promoted Rampage with an AR app that inserts one of the film’s three raging monsters into real-life environments. Fans were invited to film interactions with the AR creatures for a chance to win a trip to the Rampage premiere, where they would meet The Rock.

US Marketers Will Spend Over $46B On Programmatic In 2018

Marketers in the US will shell out $10 billion more for programmatic ad buying this year, according to new forecasts by eMarketer.

Over $46 billion will be spent on programmatic advertising in 2018, according to eMarketer’s latest report, “US Programmatic Ad Spending Forecast 2018: Private Setups Pull Even More Ad Dollars to Automation.”

More than 85 percent of all US native display ad dollars will transact programmatically in 2018, and that portion will continue to grow through the year 2020.

In 2018, $27 billion will be spent on direct programmatic, while $19.55 billion will be devoted to real-time bidding (RTB). Meanwhile, $10.56 billion will be spent on the open exchange, which includes ads transacted through a public RTB auction in which anyone can participate.

Mobile programmatic ad spending will reach $32.78 billion in 2018, which comes out to 70.4 percent of all programmatic digital display outlays in the US.

The least amount of budget this year, eMarketer predicts, will be devoted to private marketplaces, with $8.99 billion. That will change over time, however. Of the nearly $19 billion in additional ad dollars that will enter the programmatic display space between 2018 and 2020, the majority will go to private setups, such as private marketplaces (PMPs) and programmatic direct transactions.

EMarketer attributes this investment in private setups as a sign that buyers are still wary of transparency and quality issues in the open market. However, marketers still turn to programmatic for its audience targeting capabilities.

The increase in spending is good news for programmatic buyers, especially since many CMOs will continue to outsource this task. According to a recent study by NewBase (formerly Publicitas International), 43 percent completely outsource programmatic to out-of-house providers—more than any other task.

Outsourcing makes sense since overall, marketers find it difficult to understand programmatic pricing. It may be confusing to the uninitiated, but marketers across the world hope to gain a better grasp on the subject this year.

In a December 2017 survey by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and dataxu, more than 60 percent of marketers worldwide said better understanding auction dynamics/pricing is a priority for 2018.

Heinz Reignites Tomato ‘Fruit Or Vegetable’ Debate

Heinz is inviting conversation by asking consumers to vote on whether they believe tomatoes are a fruit or vegetable.

April 6 is National Tomato Day, the latest in an ongoing string of internet holidays, but are we celebrating a fruit or vegetable? Heinz is using the day as a platform to continue its “Grown Not Made” campaign by igniting the longstanding debate on Twitter and Instagram.

The campaign includes an online poll through April 8. Consumers can vote on their choice of fruit or vegetable through a dedicated microsite, a poll on Heinz’ official Twitter account or by posting on social media with the hashtag #tomatoedebate.

Heinz will also be selling a limited quantity of ketchup bottles that either read, “Heinz Ketchup: Made from Tomato Fruits” or “Heinz Ketchup: Made from Tomato Vegetables.” Depending to the results of its online poll, Heinz will change its website to either or The winning bottle label will also be sold as an ongoing Heinz product.

The Twitter poll yielded over 27,000 responses as of Friday, and dozens of posts followed with users weighing in on the tomato’s preferred classification. An official Instagram post announcing the poll has also received numerous replies on what a tomato is, with users adding their own hashtag #teamvegetable or #teamfruit.

Heinz also sponsored an Instagram post by Elliot Tebele, aka FuckJerry—known for his polarizing sense of humor—which gained over 102,500 likes in a matter of hours.

The tomato debate has been raging for centuries. In the 1893 United States Supreme Court case Nix. v. Hedden, the court ruled unanimously that an imported tomato should be taxed as a vegetable, rather than as a fruit.

Scientists define a fruit as a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant. As tomatoes develop from individual flowers, it has been deemed a fruit. However, in culinary terms, a more savory albeit seed-bearing structure such as tomatoes and bell peppers are considered a vegetable.

Netflix’s Billboard Investment Would Give Out-Of-Home Advantage In L.A.

Netflix is reportedly investing in its out-of-home advertising strategy with the planned acquisition of a Los Angeles billboard company.

As reported by Reuters, a source close to the matter says that Netflix is offering more than $300 million to buy Regency Outdoor Advertising. Regency owns a number of billboards across Los Angeles, including the Sunset Strip.

Netflix has previously rented billboard space from Regency to promote Stranger Things and The Crown. Owning these billboards would allow Netflix to save money over time and provide unlimited access to a valuable out-of-home market. The move would also place competitors like Hulu and Amazon at a disadvantage, no longer able to rent these billboards for Los Angeles commuter attention.

The OTT streaming entertainment giant has displayed a particular interest in billboard advertising recently. In addition to direct promotion, Netflix used the platform to tease its new comedy line-up with plain white billboard ads in Los Angeles and New York that said, “Netflix is the Joke.” The guerrilla marketing campaign had consumers guessing whether it was an ad or an attack.

Netflix earned over $11 billion last year in streaming revenue but faces increasing competition from the likes of Amazon, Hulu and Facebook. To remain competitive, Netflix announced that it will increase its marketing spend to around $2 billion in 2018.

“We want great content,” said Netflix during its Q4 earnings call, “and we want the budget to make the hits we have really big to drive our membership growth.”

Billboards remain a popular tool for marketers to promote digital OTT services. To tease the return of Twin Peaks, Showtime placed cryptic billboards around strategic locations in the US—depicting either a cherry pie with a piece missing or a single slice. Savvy fans quickly figured out that the crust pattern matches Twin Peaks‘ infamous Red Room floor, and the billboard locations correspond to important events in the first series, as well as creator David Lynch’s hometown.

Spotify turned statistics into light-hearted goals for 2018, each displayed on a colorful billboard. Examples include “Eat vegan brisket with the person who made a playlist called ‘Leftist Elitist Snowflake BBQ” and “Exercise more conventionally than the 46 people who put ‘Slow Hands’ on their running playlists.”

Humanscale Names Leena Jain CMO, And Other Hires

Leena Jain has been named Humanscale’s first chief marketing officer. Jain joins the ergonomic furniture manufacturer with 12 years of experience as L’Oréal’s vice president of marketing.

Schneider Electric has appointed Shonodeep Modak as chief marketing officer for North America. In his new role, Modak will be responsible for the development and implementation of the brand and marketing strategy in the United States, CanaCanada and Mexico.

“We’re confident Shonodeep will take our North America marketing effort to a new level, helping to more clearly deliver our message and simplifying the value proposition we bring to our customers and their operations,” Annette Clayton, CEO of Schneider Electric said in a statement.

Campbell Soup Company has announced a strategic reorganization that has resulted in multiple hires. Luca Mignini president of Global Buscuits and Snacks, has been given the additional title of chief operating officer, where she will be responsible for Core Soup, Simple Meals, Shelf-Stable Beverages, and Global Biscuits and Snacks businesses.

Ana Dominguez has been named president of Campbell Fresh, which is now part of the Accelerator Unit. The unit is in charge of long-term innovation, small brand incubation, future consumer experiences, ecommerce and new distribution models.

Emily Waldorf has been promoted to senior vice president of corporate strategy, where she will lead strategy for the Accelerator Unit in addition to her roles that include enterprise strategy development, planning and measurement.

Carlos Barroso, senior vice resident of global research and development, will move to a strategic advisory role within the Campbell Snacks business.

Senior vice president of integrated global services Bethmara Kessler has exited the company to pursue other opportunities. As a result, senior vice president and chief financial officer Anthony DiSilvestro will now oversee many of Campbell’s integrated global services division, including financial planning and analysis and information technology.


The Rest Of The C-Suite

(Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, April 6. Have a new hire tip? Let us know at

Jim Ensell joins Platform9 as chief marketing officer, bringing with him over 20 years’ experience in leading cloud-based marketing strategies.

“Jim is a proven marketing executive who has an impressive breadth and depth of experience in architecting hard-hitting marketing campaigns. I am thrilled to welcome Jim to our leadership team as we scale Platform9,” said Sirish Raghuram, co-founder and CEO at Platform9.

DataCore Software has appointed Gerardo A. Dada its new chief media officer. Most recently, Dada served as vice president of product marketing and strategy at SolarWinds.

In addition, Dave Zabrowski joins DataCore as chief executive officer. Zabrowski was the founder and CEO of Cloud Cruiser, a company recently acquired by HPE. Former CEO and original founder George Teixeira transitions to the role of executive chairman, where he will work with the management team on key strategic initiatives for DataCore.

Pinterest’s consumer product and ads product teams are now combined into one integrated product team, led by SVP of Product Lawrence Ripsher. As a result of these internal changes, Pinterest SVP of ads and commerce Jon Alferness has exited the company after less than a year.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy will become the president of StubHub, a division of eBay Inc., effective May 2. She will report to eBay Inc. CEO Devin Wenig and become a member of eBay’s executive leadership team. Cassidy succeeds Scott Cutler at StubHub, who recently became SVP and head of eBay’s Americas business unit.

Rena Liu joins Warner Bros. OTT service DramaFever as general manager. Liu previously served in a number of roles at NBCUniversal. She will report to Warner Bros. Digital Labs GM Patty Hirsch in her new position.

Julie Nester joins eBay Australia as chief marketing officer, bringing over 20 years of marketing experience to the brand. In her new role, Nester will focus on loyalty, personalization and partnerships.

“Retail, especially online, is in an extremely dynamic period and I am looking forward to working closely with the eBay leadership team to help 40,000 Australian retailers to grow their businesses,” said Nester.

Steven Phelps has been promoted to chief operating officer of NASCAR from his position as senior vice president and chief of global sales and marketing. Phelps will oversee all of NASCAR’s commercial and media operations.

“Steve has worked passionately over the years to lead the sport and it’s clear his impact is felt in all corners of the industry,” said NASCAR President Brent Dewar.

Jeremy Burton, chief marketing officer of Dell Technologies, will exit the company effective April 13. After nearly two years with the company, Burton is looking forward to taking a break, but plans to stay in the technology industry. Allison Dew, vice president of Dell, will take over Burton’s duties upon his departure.

Popsockets has named Becky Gebhardt chief marketing officer, where she will oversee both marketing and creative teams. Gebhardt previously served as executive vice president and CMO of Lands’ End.

John Kieselhorst also joins Popsockets as VP of creative. He will be working both nationally and internationally creating collateral across a range of platforms, envisioning broad initiatives for the brand and heading up the creative team.

Pluto TV has named Rich Calacci as its first chief revenue officer. Calacci joins the OTT company with experience as senior VP of sales for Turner Sports and CRO of Bleacher Report.

“We were looking for someone who knows both the TV business and the digital video marketplace, in addition to having an entrepreneurial spirit. With Rich, we found that triple combination,” said CEO and co-founder Tom Ryan.

Google’s former head of artificial intelligence and search, John Giannandrea, has been appointed Apple’s first senior vice president of AI. Giannandrea will run its machine learning and AI strategy, reporting to Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook.

J. J. Abram’s Bad Robot has hired Rachel Rusch as senior vice president of television, where she will help produce existing projects like Hulu’s Castle Rock and HBO’s Lovecraft Country, in addition to developing new programming.

“I look forward to seeing just how far we can all go together in telling stories that spark the same kind of inspiration and excitement in our audiences that we feel in making it,” said Rusch.

Cory Long has been appointed vice president of footwear for DC Shoes, Inc. In his new marketing position, Long will oversee the brand’s global product creation strategy, including footwear marketplace positioning, storytelling and overall design aesthetic. He returns to DC Shoes, Inc. in this new position, having served as a global merchandising director for the brand earlier in his career.

“DC’s brand momentum is building speed and we are committed to fortifying our global business by investing in top talent,” Mike Jensen, global GM for DC Shoes, Inc. said regarding the hire. “Cory’s pedigree and track record of success in the industry is unmatched and we’re looking forward to his contribution and leadership in evolving our brand position in the global marketplace.”

After two years with the company, ELeague general manager and Turner VP of esports Christina Alejandre has departed, per a Twitter post made on her personal account on Monday. She has not publicly shared future employment plans, nor has ELeague announced a replacement.

Volkswagon has promoted Bishwajeet Samal to head of marketing for passenger cars in India, effective June 1. Samal joined Volkswagon in 2008 and is currently responsible for regional marketing and international communications at Volkswagen AG, Germany. He returns to his homeland of India following the departure of Kamal Basu, who moved to Nissan Motor India recently.

“At Volkswagen, nurturing in-house talent and offering a diverse platform of enhanced learning is at the core of our brand philosophy,” wrote Steffen Knapp, director of Volkswagen Passenger Cars. “We are confident that Bishwajeet’s extensive experience in Marketing shall contribute to our growth in India.”

Grindr VP of global marketing Peter Sloterdyk has exited the company and is now the director of marketing for North America, Australia and New Zealand for Netflix. Grindr is planning to promote from within to fill Sloterdyk’s responsibilities as marketing head, a person familiar with the matter told PR Week.

Gameloft has appointed Damien Marchi as its new vice president of marketing. Marchi joines the Vivendi-owned mobile game publisher from Havas, where he served as global head of content. Marchi will be responsible for marketing and communications strategies and will collaborate with local teams in the 40 countries that the company operates in.

Paramount Home Media Distribution has named Vincent Marçais its new exec VP, worldwide marketing. In his new position, Marçais will oversee the creative advertising, media, brand and market research for all of the studio’s home entertainment releases across physical and digital platforms.

Marçais joins Paramount having previously served as exec VP of worldwide brand and customer marketing for 20th Century Fox Digital Home Media. There, he oversaw the release campaigns for all transactional businesses (Video-on-Demand, DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD) and also managed joint consumer marketing efforts with digital retailers and US and international operators.

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.

Dove Partners With ‘Steven Universe’ For Self-Esteem Project

Dove continues its Self-Esteem Project by signing a three-year partnership with Cartoon Network and animated show Steven Universe.

Steven Universe—Cartoon Network’s first animated series created by a woman—is known for its themes of inclusivity. Dove hopes that young people will be positively impacted by sending body positive messages through the popular show.

On Thursday, the first of six animated short films will air that focus on self-esteem and body confidence, each directed by Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar. According to Dove, all the films’ content is based on scientific evidence by body image expert Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs at the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England.

An original song featuring the cast of the show will be released later this year, along with a music video and an educational eBook.

“It has always been important to us that our content resonates with our audience and empowers them,” Christina Miller, president of Cartoon Network said in a statement. “This partnership is unprecedented in its scale, reach and ambition to make a difference in kids lives around the world.”

Dove’s Self-Esteem Project began in 2004 and includes resources for parents, teachers and youth leaders about body confidence, self-esteem and bullying.

There has been a noticeable shift in the beauty industry, moving away from ideal beauty standards and reaching consumers through body-positive messaging.

In January, CVC announced that it would no longer airbrush photos to promote its beauty products in stores. Later this year, photos that have not been significantly retouched will bear the “CVS Beauty Mark” label.

“The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established,” Helena Foulkes, the president of CVS Pharmacy and executive vice president of CVS Health, said in a statement. “As a purpose-led company, we strive to do our best to assure all of the messages we are sending to our customers reflect our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”

Beauty brand Glossier made headlines last September with its Body Hero campaign. The print and digital ads featured five different models in the nude, each with a different skin color and body type ranging from thin to plus-sized and pregnant.

Dove came under fire for a campaign recently that featured women with different skin tones removing their shirts and transforming into one another. A black woman “transforming” into a white woman with Dove body wash was perceived as racist, and the ad was promptly removed with a formal apology.

Video Game Marketers Discuss Inclusion Strategies For Women

Many developers and publishers are still hanging on to outdated views of the gaming demographic by heavily targeting teenage boys as their primary audience, even though studies by analyst firms such as Newzoo found that 45 percent of gamers are women.

Although companies including Microsoft and Facebook are working to address the issue through targeted initiatives, gender diversity in the video game industry as a whole remains an issue, with many publishers overlooking almost half the gaming audience when marketing their titles.

Angela Hession, co-lead for Microsoft’s Women in Gaming initiative told AListDaily that the best way to grow and diversify an audience is to focus on culture, content creation and engagement.

“I believe starting with a set of committed core values to build inclusive games is the first step,” she said. “These shared values around creating inclusive and respectful gaming experiences will inspire collaboration and innovation within teams and across the industry.

Hession also believes that ensuring a wide range of perspectives, including women, are included early in the development cycle will help make games more appealing, reduce missed business opportunities and help with innovation.

Facebook has a similar Women in Gaming initiative that encourages diversity and inclusion in the video game industry. In February, the social platform launched #SheTalksGames, a collection of videos that highlight female professionals across the industry, with roles that range from CEOs to marketing and sales, development, writing and design.

“Nearly half of gamers today identify as female, yet according to recent IGDA survey women make up just 23 percent of [gaming industry] workforce,” said Aoife Brodigan, Facebook head of games marketing in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We need to use the full talents of the population to create titles and games that speak to the full population. By bringing more diverse voices to the table we believe this could lead to the creation of more engaging games and richer experiences for players.”

Even as consumers see more female protagonists being featured in games, Brodigan said the overall message from the community is that there is more work to be done, and more diverse voices are needed to help inspire change.

These sentiments can be found throughout Microsoft’s Xbox head Phil Spencer keynote speech at DICE, which highlights the connection between the creative teams and how games are presented. At one point, Spencer discussed how Minecraft’s mascot characters, Steve and Alex, were shown in stereotypical gender roles—with Steve often being portrayed as an architect, designer or geologist while Alex liked to build and explore.

That changed when Minecraft brand director, Lydia Winters, pointed out the “subtle but powerful gender distinction.” The team changed how the game was presented, with one example being that going forward, Alex was never to stand behind Steve on the box art. “These deliberate fixes made Minecraft more gender equal, and it signals to our players and teams to think of them as equals.”

EA Sports began a similar initiative in 2015 when it included both female and male athletes on the cover of FIFA 16, which went on to become one of the best-selling games of that year. But even though EA decided to be more inclusive of female sports fans, its main competitors have yet to follow suit.

“I was excited to see that EA was taking that step because female sports are historically underrepresented,” said What’s Good Games executive producer Andrea Rene, who is featured in one of the #SheTalksGames stories. “I appreciate that EA said that women’s sports deserves a spotlight alongside men’s sports, but do I think it will kickstart a revolution? No, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

“I think that all players, and all people in general, want to feel represented in the entertainment they enjoy and in the world around them,” said Pete Hines, VP for PR and marketing at Bethesda Softworks.

He explained that Bethesda didn’t make hardcore action and role-playing games such as Doom or Skyrim with any one demographic in mind. “Doom isn’t meant to be an inherently male or female game,” said Hines. “It’s just a game where you get to be a badass and kill demons. We don’t talk to people differently about what we make based on what gender they are … Games offer all kinds of experiences for all kinds of people, and you never know who will be into what. That’s how you end up with Skyrim Grandma.”

“The problem with video game marketing today isn’t necessarily that they’re not targeting directly toward women, it’s that they’re actively targeting towards men and leaving women aside,” said Rene. “I think that’s fixable if you make your games and marketing materials more targeted towards everybody instead of just men and teenage boys.”

To overcome stereotypes and better communicate with audiences, publishers need to broaden their view of the gaming community, not just in terms of gender, but also in age and playing preferences.

“As the gaming ecosystem encompasses mobile, PC, console and now streaming, I believe we need to think more broadly about the definition of ‘gamer’ across the board,” said Hession. “Unfortunately, I think the stereotype of a gamer is still tied to a ‘hardcore’ gamer and excludes the vast amount of the larger population of people who engage with games globally.”

Rene agreed that the definition of “gamer” should be thought of more inclusively. “We don’t want to see the video game business make marketing or creative decisions based on stereotypes, because that is leaving a potential audience on the table,” she said. “There has been an unfortunate trend where games that are considered ‘casual’ aren’t for ‘real’ or hardcore gamers. I would like to see those attitudes go away because if you play Candy Crush on your phone, you’re a gamer, just like if you play Madden.”