Reese’s Swaps Unwanted Halloween Candy In Continued Push Of #NotSorry

Reese’s launched an activation for New York residents that lets them exchange unwanted Halloween candy. Saying its candy is better than the rest is all part of Reese’s new #NotSorry campaign.

It’s an age-old complaint—you get home from a long night of trick-or-treats only to find that your haul is plagued by candy you can’t stand. Sometimes you can pawn them off to your little brother, but we’ve all been left with undesirables that just hang around until they become fossilized.

Reese’s is offering a simple solution—change that candy into what you want—as long as what you want is Reese’s. Citing a statistic that 99 percent of Americans wish they could trade their Halloween candy, a branded vending machine has been erected near Washington Park in NYC that does just that.

From 4:00-9:00 p.m. Wednesday, consumers can insert their unwanted candy into the machine and out pops Reese’s instead. The machine has been loaded with 10,000 candies and will make trades until the designated time or when it runs out, whichever comes first.

The activation is part of Reese’s new #NotSorry campaign, encouraging consumers to unapologetically declare their love for the brand. Specifically, #NotSorry uses a combination of Halloween nostalgia and DIY tips to drive purchase intent.

Trick-or-treating as an adult, baking with Halloween candy and preferring chocolate peanut butter pumpkins to the real thing are examples of how Reese’s uses its campaign message (and hashtag) across social media. Hershey’s website offers Halloween tips, recipes and free game templates, as well as links to purchase candy online. In addition to pumpkin-shaped candies, the brand is pushing specially-marked glow-in-the-dark packaging for the holiday.

“We’re seeing great engagement and ideas from consumers on social media for these new products,” said Michele Buck, Hershey CEO, during the company’s Q3 earnings call. “In the US, we are focused on executing a strong finish to the Halloween season both in store and online.”

According to Buck, Hershey is outperforming the Halloween candy category and is expected to deliver its first $600 billion season.

Bethesda Shares ‘Fallout 76’ Lore With Retro-Inspired Audio Series

Bethesda released a series of monster-themed audio dramas on Wednesday that immerses players into the world of Fallout 76. Creatures that hail from West Virginia lore are included, of course, like the Mothman and Flatwoods Monster.

“Tales from the West Virginia Hills” is presented in the style of a 1950s radio serial. Each of the five episodes tells the story of dangerous encounters with monsters in the area, as told by a dramatic narrator. The stories are even “sponsored” by fictional brands from Fallout lore such as “Sugar Bombs—the breakfast cereal with explosive great taste and 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of sugar!”

Five episodes were released on Halloween, using the game’s monsters as a way to engage players already in the mood for a fright. According to Bethesda, all of these monsters can be found in Fallout 76, but “Tales from the West Virginia Hills” was created as a stand-alone bonus for fans.

“The world of Fallout 76 is steeped in mystery,” said Bethesda, “but when you’re not trying to discover what happened to everyone after the bombs dropped, you might find yourself asking a different question: ‘What’s that figure, lurking in the dark?’ The answer probably isn’t as friendly as you might like. The ‘Tales from the West Virginia Hills’ holotape series is here to give you an idea of what to look out for if you hope to survive.”

For the uninitiated, holotapes aka holodisks are small cartridges found throughout the Fallout video game franchise. These collectible items reveal information about the game world or even interactive games. Tales from the West Virginia Hills is therefore presented as something you might find while exploring the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 76.

The six episodes include Curse of the Wendigo, Sideshow Snallygaster, The Mothman Cometh!, The Beast of Grafton and The Strange Encounter in Flatwoods.

Anticipation for Fallout 76 has steadily mounted since its announcement in May. Fans were so excited that one tweet from Bethesda garnered $210,000 in earned media.

Other marketing for the game has included a team-up with the West Virginia Department of Tourism to encourage pre-nuclear war exploration. In addition to seeing locations that were recreated inside Fallout 76, fans can travel around the state in search of Vault Boy—the Fallout mascot—and take a picture with him on social media to win prizes.

Subscription Apps See Engagement Growth; Mobile Gamers Cut Spending

Consumers are more willing to pay for apps and subscription-based app models continue to gain momentum. However, as engagement continues to rise—especially among women—so does the competition. According to a joint study between Liftoff and Leanplum, marketers will need to focus on value if they want to keep users opening those wallets once an app is installed.

Leanplum and Liftoff’s Mobile App Engagement Index examines over 257 billion ad impressions across 58.4 million app installs and 47.4 million post-install events from September 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018. This internal analysis covered six major app categories—Dating, Finance, Gaming, Shopping, Travel and Utility.

Subscription Acquisition Costs Decline Nearly Half

Engagement for subscription-based apps rose 32 percent over the past year, highlighting a link between value and retention. Acquisition costs for subscription-based apps have dropped year-over-year, as well, which is an added bonus. Leanplum noted costs of $86.99 for the index period compared to $162.22 last year.

Mark Ellis, Liftoff co-founder and CEO drew a connection between the report’s findings and Apple, which reported a 95 percent lift in subscriptions over 2017.

“Acquiring users for this app category isn’t inexpensive by any means, but the year-over-year data showcases major momentum for subscriptions,” said Ellis. “There’s no question that the long-term benefits of the subscription model, in the form of loyal users and stable cash flow, are worth the investment in service quality and marketing spend.”

Women Engage More, But It Will Cost You

Women are twice as likely to take action, boasting an install-to-reservation conversion rate of 62 percent compared to 22 percent for male users.

Acquiring female customers is more expensive, however, at $94.16, but the report found higher engagement that justifies the expense. Female app engagement is “highly compelling,” Leanplum noted, with a conversion rate of 3.8 compared to their male counterparts’ 1.8 percent.

Gamers Slow Down On Purchases

Mobile games may be a $55 billion industry, but the top 10 games control 20 percent of global revenue, according to SuperData Research.

Acquisition costs in the mobile game category decreased as engagement grew, according to Leanplum’s report. Acquiring a user one thing, but acquiring one that makes in-app purchases is quite another. The cost for this type of user increased 56 percent over last year, while in-app purchase rates dropped by nearly half.

Part of the problem is a surge in free-to-play (F2P) titles, especially as developers scramble to capitalize on the popularity of Fortnite. Initial acquisition for paying users is high overall, the report noted, but certain months yield better ROI. For example, September yielded the highest engagement rate (4.3 percent) at the lowest cost ($61.16).

Last year, gamers spent $36 billion, $9.1 billion and $5.9 billion on F2P mobile games across Asia, North America and Europe, respectively.

SodaStream Offers Halloween ‘Costume’ For Their Flagship Appliance

SodaStream gave their flagship appliance a halloween costume—a sort of Halloween prank from the millennial-focused company. What’s more interesting is what the appliance is dressing up as: a Nespresso machine.

The company—which was purchased by PepsiCo earlier this year—released the printable cutout sheet Nespresso costume via a 20-second Facebook video with step-by-step instructions on how to dress up your device.

It seems pretty straightforward. First, you print it, then you cut it and finally you fold and place it over the SodaStream.

“Our SodaStream machine and the Nespresso machine often live together on kitchen countertops so we wanted to find a creative and fun way to engage with this neighbor brand,” said Clara Amselem, global public relations manager of SodaStream. “We are already known for our April Fool’s prank SodaSoak, so Halloween is another great opportunity to engage in a lighthearted way with our consumers.”

SodaSoak was a 2018 April Fools’ parody featuring the Shahs of Sunset reality star Reza Farahan. The infomercial style video features a carbonated device for your bath, claiming its how Farahan keeps his youthful looks.

The Halloween social media prank intertwined some light banter with Nespresso. One of the comments includes, “ You know for a machine that makes coffee, you guys seem really tired.”

The style is reminiscent of Wendy’s social media sass. The fast-food company is famous for it’s “beefing” on Twitter successfully taking digs at its competitors.

There have been all sorts of reactions on Facebook. One user said “ Yeah, no. George Clooney is involved in your product, I will never buy it.” SodaStream didn’t hesitate to respond saying, “Some think George Clooney is a smooth talker, but we think he comes off a little… flat. BURN.”

SodaStream’s costume campaign is a unique approach to holiday driven by mostly bland marketing platitudes, especially when carbonated water isn’t the first thing you think about during the candy-centric celebration.

In August, PepsiCo acquired SodaStream for $3.2 billion in a move to expand their water portfolio as consumers move away from sugary, carbonated drinks.

SodaStream emphasizes the brand’s environmental friendliness with its reusable bottle. Consumers only need to replenish the carbonation cylinder when it runs out. Which all fits right in with PepsiCo’s “Performance with Purpose 2025” plan.

Seltzer water has become increasingly popular with millennials, due in large part to the success of La Croix. In the last 5 years, the sales of carbonated water have grown 42%.

Millennials also love Halloween, so it’s no surprise SodaStream decided to tap into the spooky holiday. This year its estimated Americans will spend around $9.1 billion on Halloween goods.

Boingo Wireless CMO Dawn Callahan Explains The Vital Role Of Data

Today’s chief marketing officer has to be a jack of all trades and master of all. Boingo Wireless CMO Dawn Callahan has watched this role evolve over the past 20 years from an age of tedious AB testing to real-time data analysis.

At Boingo, Callahan is in charge of consumer-driven revenue and leads marketing across all lines of business, as well as corporate marketing, branding and PR. Callahan sat down with AList to explain the role that data plays in today’s marketing world and why trust is a CMO’s biggest challenge.

How has the nature of your work changed in the last five years?

A lot. (laughs) The biggest thing for me is investor relations. You’re still a storyteller but now you’re telling a story to the analysts, investors, that sort of thing. Every quarter you have to find a new way to tell that story.

What are the most important qualities of a modern marketer?

There are three things: they’re intensely curious, they’re great storytellers, and the third thing is that they’re data-driven.

Typically when we see a CMO, [people think you’re] in charge of the brand and advertising. I run 50 percent of our company’s business. Marketers today almost have to be a CTO or CEO. In fact, I recently read an article saying that CMO is the next step to CEO. That’s definitely true from where I sit. More than anything else, marketers are having to become massive data experts.

When I think about how I started my career, a lot of it took place in direct mail. That’s the original data-driven [strategy]. We’re doing that but now it’s on a digital platform and it’s so much faster. Synthesizing that data depends on what you’re trying to do. For example, if you want to track a customer journey from beginning to purchase, that’s hard to do—it doesn’t matter how many systems you have in place. But if you talk about using data for things like UX design and A/B testing, [that’s different]. Going back to when I was doing direct mail, you sent out a lot of A/B tests and it took forever. Today, you can do all that stuff in literally 24 hours so you can iterate, iterate, iterate.

What is the biggest challenge facing marketers today?

Trust is the biggest issue that marketers have today. We’re in this environment where news is fake and truth isn’t truth, and so people don’t know what to trust anymore. We also live in this world that is increasingly online so it’s dehumanized in a way. For example, we don’t go to a brick and mortar [where] you can come up to me, see my face and have an authentic relationship with a real person. As we do less and less of that, there’s less human contact and less trust. I have Sirius in my car and I can’t go five minutes without listening to a commercial that’s by a founder, [telling the story] of why they founded the company, etc. It’s cool, but it’s because we have to create trust. One of the ways we do that is by trying to personalize the company. Trust is the biggest thing we all have to worry about right now.

Where do you find inspiration?

It happens everywhere when you’re open to it. For me, it’s definitely art, music, commercials, film or someone wearing something on the street. You can’t stop kicking those ideas around because the cool idea [can come from] idea number 12. We start with a Pendleton shirt and we end up with the patch that goes on a hat. You have to keep going. We’re lucky to have an in-house agency.

Do you have a preference for working with an in-house agency?

Our creative services team does all of our artistic output. But, if we have to do an activation, we’ll work with an activation company because they’re no way we’re going to hire 40 people to go work on it. Depending on what we’re doing, we’ll definitely pick up people—but I cannot imagine working with an outside agency after bringing someone in-house.

For Mobile Video Ads, CTAs Are Critical For Fostering Consumer Relationships

Consumers are naturally more interested in mobile video ads that feature a call to action (CTA), IAB found in a new study. This extra thought and attention, they asserted, lays the groundwork for a direct relationship with consumers.

The Interactive Effect: CTAs in Mobile Video Shoppable Ads” included 70 participants from the Austin and Chicago areas. Respondents were allowed to choose from a variety of short film video content to watch, during which they were exposed to various ads. IAB used biometrics, eye-tracking and surveys to gauge interest both on the conscious and subconscious levels.

The biggest takeaway from IAB’s lab study was that consumers are naturally more interested in ads that feature a “Learn More” call to action prompt. Four types of CTAs were tested—Learn More, Shop Now, Sweepstakes and no CTA as a control.

Ads that invited users to learn more received more interaction and were considered to be of higher quality by study participants. These ads also yielded higher purchase intent than other categories—67 percent, compared to 62 percent of ads with no CTA. Based on heart rate, attention increased after interacting with Learn More ads. While engagement increased upon first exposure to all types of ads, it continues to be active much longer for those that offer additional information.

Shoppable ads showed promise, IAB observed, noting that consumers liked the concept of shopping inside the ads themselves. Among a series of “agree or disagree” statements, the most popular was, “I like the convenience of choosing to get more information about a product advertised without leaving the page,” followed by “It’s convenient to be able to buy directly from an ad.”

Since respondents were able to choose which content they viewed, no ad targeting was used in this study. However, a combination of shoppable ads with focused efforts could prove beneficial.

“These findings indicate that customers note the ability to shop or learn more right from the onset,” said Sue Hogan, senior vice president of research and measurement at IAB. “The great promise for shoppable ads, then, is not only the immediate ability to capture sales but also in smart retargeting.”

‘My Life As An NPC’ Ads Share The Other Side Of ‘Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’

Ubisoft has released a series of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey videos in Europe called “My Life As an NPC.” The animated ads feature NPCs (non-player characters, as in the reactive AI that live in the game) who tell viewers how they are impacted by the presence of gamers running around in their world.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey continues Ubisoft’s hit video game franchise with a romp through Ancient Greece. The game is a sandbox role-playing game (RPG) meaning that you can wander around the massive environment at will. Those environments are filled with computer-generated characters that offer quests, items or just mull about.

Prior to the game’s launch, a series of vertical video ads aired in Europe called “My Life As An NPC.” Portrayed as personal Instagram Stories or Snapchat videos, these spots take viewers into the oft-ignored perspective of these non-player characters that often fall victim to a player’s antics.

One such ad called “Leap of Faith” depicts an assassin perched atop a building, shot from the perspective of an NPC on the ground. As townspeople beg the assassin not to jump, one woman dares him to. The man leaps gracefully from the roof, then falls into a surreal world with copies of himself. Finally, he lands, unhurt, in a pile of hay. Seeing this, a woman comments on the convenient location of the hay pile.

This is a joke among Assassin’s Creed fans, who unlock game achievements by taking a Leap of Faith themselves. You can always tell a designated location by the conveniently placed pile of hay.

The ad spots are brief but clever, and were created for Ubisoft by DDB Paris, who also created the foul-mouthed (NSFW), full UK commercial spot for the game.

Another spot tells the story of a shepherd who finds his beloved flock, including a goat named Bella, slaughtered by someone. The shepherd blames their fate on “the cruel world of fashion,” but it is actually the result of a quest in Odyssey called “Stink Eye.” Players are challenged with finding a jewel called the Eye of Cyclops. The problem is, it’s being carried by a random goat and in order to find it, you have to kill every goat you find and examine it. Poor Bella.

Other spots for French-speaking consumers were fashioned at Instagram Stories and showed up on the DDB Paris Instagram.

In America, Ubisoft also took a comedic approach with a social media takeover. #AskaSpartan allowed Twitter users to ask questions, real or serious, to an actor dressed as a Spartan warrior.

Ubisoft’s comedic approach to everyday life in the world of Assassin’s Creed is similar to tactics used for the previous title, Origins. A series of videos called “Tales from the Tomb” featured Egyptian hieroglyphs that shared gossip amongst themselves.

NHL Enters Sports Betting With MGM Resorts Partnership

The National Hockey League (NHL) has signed a multi-year partnership that makes MGM Resorts its first official sports betting partner. Despite previous resistance to its legalization, pro leagues are making the best of things as the US stands poised to become the world’s largest sports betting market.

This new partnership grants MGM Resorts the ability to market hockey betting services to its members and offer specialized game insights by accessing proprietary NHL game data. This data will allow MGM Resorts to inform any activations around interactive fan engagement and betting opportunities.

The NHL will, in turn, market MGM Resorts across its considerable fan base. This partnership also makes MGM the official resort partner of the NHL.

In May, the US Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law that banned commercial sports betting in most states. Professional Sports Leagues, for the most part, supported the law with concerns that gambling would impact the integrity of the sport—i.e. game fixing.

You know what they say—if you can’t beat them, join them. The NFL was among several leagues that sued the State of New Jersey when it repealed its anti-sports betting law in 2014. So was the NBA, who signed a sports betting partnership deal with MGM Resorts this summer.

The legalization of sports betting in the US is expected to make it the world’s largest sports gambling market, according to GamblingCompliance Research. US sports betting is predicted to reach anywhere between $3.1 billion and $5.2 billion by the year 2023, as more states vote to legalize a pastime already popular in other regions of the world.

Forced with the idea that sports betting can and will happen in many parts of the US, professional leagues are being methodical about how they accommodate fans. For the NHL, that means using the same data-driven approach that they would use for any marketing campaign.

“The new sports betting landscape presents a unique opportunity for fan engagement utilizing technology and data that are exclusive to our League,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement. “Fan engagement, technological advancement and innovation are paramount to our progressive approach and will be at the forefront of everything we do.”

Integrity is still a major concern when gambling is involved. As part of its partnership with MGM Studios, the NBA is using anonymized real-time data sharing and other “best-in-class practices” to protect the integrity of NBA and WNBA games.

Irrelevant Brand Messages Can Lead To Permanent Disconnect

Consumers only want to see relevant brand messages but are reluctant to share online browsing data to get it. According to a new study by Opinion Matters and Emarsys, two out of five consumers would not purchase from a brand again if they receive irrelevant marketing materials.

Opinion Matters surveyed 2,002 UK consumers on behalf of Emarsys in August 2018. The common consensus among respondents was that in order to gain their loyalty, marketers must cater messages directly to them. Only six percent said they already receive clearly relevant offers from brands.

Irrelevant messages are simply being ignored and deleted by 84 percent of respondents, who are not afraid to wipe their hands of a brand thereafter. More than half—66 percent—said they would ignore all future correspondences and 40 percent said they would not purchase from that brand again.

Marketers agree that personalization is vital in today’s world, but accessing the data to fulfill that need can be easier said than done. Opinion Matters found that just five percent of consumers would be willing to share their browsing data with an online retailer. Nearly a quarter said they wouldn’t share any information at all.

The gap between expectation and willingness to share data stems from a simple lack of understanding. While 82 percent were aware of the use of AI in the shopping experience, only a third realized that technology is used for sending personalized offers. Views on AI are mixed, as well. Nearly half of the respondents were happy with intelligent technology as it relates to choosing discounts, marketing materials and which products match their preferences.

The good news is that consumers still very much want brand offers. Loyalty-based discounts were named as a top reason for making repeat purchases, as were bespoke discounts based on a past purchase. Echoing their desire for more personalization, 41 percent said that catered messages would inspire them to buy again.

“As this study shows, consumers aren’t generally fussed about how they are marketed to,” said Emarsys CEO Ohad Hecht. “Ultimately, they want a shopping experience which provides value, both in the product or service purchased, and the act of purchasing itself.”

PepsiCo Vows To Reduce Plastic As Part Of ‘Purposeful’ Mission

PepsiCo announced a new goal to use 25 percent recycled content in its plastic packaging by the year 2025. The initiative is part of the beverage giant’s ongoing Performance with Purpose 2025 plan, by which time Pepsi hopes to make all its packaging recyclable, compostable or biodegradable.

As one of the world’s largest sources of plastic packaging, PepsiCo has taken responsibility for its environmental impact. The Fortune 500 company is making a bold statement about single-use plastic that in addition to making itself look good to consumers, may inspire other brands to adopt similar tactics, if they haven’t already.

PepsiCo is taking particular attention to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and specifically, PET manufactured by Loop Industries. Loop’s PET is 100 percent recycled material made by continuously recycling low-value plastics into virgin quality. PepsiCo hopes to achieve 33 percent recycled PET content by 2025.

According to the brand’s vice chairman and chief scientific officer Dr. Mehmood Khan, PepsiCo is already one of the world’s largest users of food-grade recycled PET. Khan called attention to global waste collection and recycling rates, saying that investment in these areas is “vital.”

Other goals include 100 percent sustainable sourcing of palm oil and cane sugar by 2020 and zero landfill waste across direct operations by 2025. By the year 2030, PepsiCo aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent.

Luckily for the planet, PepsiCo is far from alone in its pursuit of reducing waste. Coca-Cola launched a similar sustainability campaign by releasing specially microchipped reusable bottles for its Freestyle dispensers. Meanwhile, its World Without Waste initiative aims to collect or recycle one bottle or can for each one sold by 2030. McDonald’s is also partnered with Starbucks in July to find alternatives to disposable plastic cups.

Single-use straws are also under the crosshairs of environmentally conscious brands, with Corona, Bacardi, Starbucks and others vowing to eliminate them all together.

According to Pew Research, 75 percent of American adults are “particularly concerned” about helping the environment, but only one in five say they make an effort to live in ways that protect it all the time. Despite widespread concern, a majority of Americans turn to the government for action, with 55 percent listing the environment as a top policy issue that the President and Congress should tackle in 2018.