L.L. Bean, Uber Introduce Campsite Pop-Ups For Summer Experiential Campaign

Consumers say they don’t have enough time to enjoy summer, so in response, brands are bringing traditional outdoor activities to cities. Outdoor gear and apparel company L.L. Bean is bringing the backyard campsite experience to pop-ups in major cities across the US where guests can roast marshmallows and play games.

As part of its “S’more Out of Summer” Campaign, the company partnered with Uber to make it easy for people to visit the outdoor branded activations, providing Uber vouchers valued up to $15. The campaign was inspired by an L.L. Bean-commissioned study which found four in five Americans think summer passes by too quickly, and 50 percent expressed that they don’t have time to truly enjoy it.

Throughout summer, L.L. Bean will host free, immersive activations at all of its pop-ups, including summer activities such as s’more roasting, yard games and free kayaking and paddleboard rentals at local parks. The campaign also features a voice interaction with Alexa-powered devices which will respond to the phrase, “S’more Summer Tips.” There’s also an audio experience from the National Park Foundation.

The campaign extends to social in the form of a photo contest that gives users the chance to win one of five ultimate backyard campouts, set up by L.L. Bean professionals. To enter, fans must post a photo of how they find joy in the outdoors with their loved ones, using the hashtags #SmoreOutofSummer and #LLBeanContest19 via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. L.L. Bean will judge entries based on originality, creativity, and clarity and quality of photo.

L.L. Bean’s multichannel experiential marketing initiative is another example of how brands are leveraging rideshare partnerships to gain foot traffic and create user-generated content (UGC). In 2017, Taco Bell introduced “Taco Mode,” an in-app option that gave Lyft riders the option to stop at a Taco Bell. Additionally, AEG partnered with Uber to expand transportation options for event goers of 27 different AEG venues worldwide.

L.L. Bean’s efforts to give people a well-spent summer doesn’t end there. MasterCard is sponsoring L.L. Bean’s annual “Summer in the Park” concert, an added incentive to get outdoors and experience the brand. The summer-long event will be replete with free concerts and events starring special guest singers like Colbie Caillat and Gavin Degraw.

L.L. Bean’s first backyard-inspired campsites will pop up starting on June 20 in New York City, followed by Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

Red Bull Launches First Web AR Experience With Twitch Gamer ‘Ninja’

Red Bull introduced an augmented reality (AR) lens that lets gamers virtually compete with professional gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the most followed gamer on Twitch. Via the app, fans can invite his avatar into their homes for an AR experience. The immersive marketing initiative is an extension of Red Bull’s “Win with Ninja” campaign in Germany.

Anyone can activate the Ninja AR lens without having to download the app, making it instantly accessible. Fans can either visit the page with their smartphone or scan the quick response (QR) code with their camera app. Using the WebAR lens, gamers must send Red Bull pictures of how they hang out or play with Ninja’s avatar in their gaming room. The photos will be entered into a raffle for their chance to win a gaming session match against Ninja at Lollapalooza in Chicago in August. The raffle runs until June 30.

In addition to the possibility of gaming with Ninja, fans can scan the code under the flap of the limited edition Ninja Red Bull can—which launched in April— to win one of 2,500 Ninja headbands, 17,500 Red Bull gaming sticker sets or for a chance to be one of the five who will win a trip to the US to meet Blevins.

The AR lens comes after Red Bull launched its Win with Ninja US campaign in conjunction with the branded Ninja Red Bull can featuring pictures of Blevins. To enter the US sweepstakes, fans were to upload a video creatively showcasing how they game for a chance to be flown with their partner to a Red Bull gaming event.

Red Bull introduced the limited edition can to Blevins on the set of his photoshoot for The Red Bulletin, the brand’s digital magazine, via drone delivery. The 28-year-old Detroit native, who has neon aqua-blue hair, is best known for streaming Fortnite: Battle Royal and Apex Legends with record-breaking numbers of viewers, and famously streaming with Drake in 2018. Blevins has since been recognized as the global gamer with the most social interactions and boasts more than 45 million gaming followers across platforms domestically and abroad.

Red Bull’s partnership with Ninja echoes the commodity-turned-lifestyle brand’s commitment to marketing to young urban professionals via experiential campaigns. In 2018, the company transformed bus shelters into vending machines to introduce Red Bull Plus, a healthier version of the drink. Red Bull Energy Drink is available in over 170 countries worldwide.

How Wendy’s Beefed-Up Social Media Presence Is Paying Off Big Time

Equipped with a tongue-in-cheek brand voice that bravely throws shade to its competition whenever it gets the chance, Wendy’s—the fast food restaurant and its redhead character counterpart—has become a cultural icon. The brand, and character, continue to express itself as the sassy friend who will tell you like it is, with the same tonality Wendy’s founder, Dave Thomas, established when he founded the company in 1969. Today, the fast food giant argues that its personification of Wendy’s, especially via social media,  is more important than ever for creative strategy and overall brand awareness.

Kurt Kane, Wendy’s US president and chief commercial officer, and Debbi Vandeven, global chief creative officer of VMLY&R marketing agency, reflected on the reinvention of Wendy’s for a panel titled, “Beefin’ Up Brands: The Power of Creative Transformation,” at Cannes Lions. Kane and Vandeven conveyed Wendy’s strategy for inserting itself into cultural conversations on social platforms and beyond.

Wendy’s credits Twitter for its success in creating organic and memorable dialogue with customers. Known for its outrageous Twitter comebacks, the brand found itself in a Twitter rap battle with another brand, prompting Wendy’s to create its own mixtape in 2018. As a video compilation showed, the “We Beefin’?” mixtape—released on Apple Music, Google Play, and Spotify—earned the top spot on Spotify’s Global Viral 50 list and was third on the Apple Music hip-hop charts. What’s more, the mixtape received 76 years’ worth of streams in just one week, and 758 million earned media impressions.

“My personal philosophy is that it comes back to embracing the art of storytelling. Understanding that if there’s no tension in your work, no one’s going to want to pay attention to your work,” Kane said.

Wendy’s isn’t afraid to play games, either. When Fortnite announced an in-game food fight urging players to pledge allegiance to either burgers or pizza, Wendy’s saw an opportunity. For its “Keeping Fortnite Fresh” campaign, Wendy’s used a Fortnite avatar resembling the braided Wendy to destroy every freezer in the in-game burger establishment, Durrr Burger. They invited Fortnite players to watch the slaying of freezers (Wendy’s cooks with fresh, not frozen beef), leading to a 119 percent increase of mentions of Wendy’s across all its social media platforms.

VMLY&R, the agency responsible for the campaign, won this year’s Grand Prix Lion in Social & Influencer award at Cannes. Vandeven told the audience, “Wendy’s can live anywhere that has to do with pop culture.”

The way to effect change very quickly, Kane and Vandeven agree, is by way of mass media and social media. In order to be at the heart of its customers’ needs and cultural moments, the Wendy’s team keeps its finger on the pulse of trends that resonate with their customers.

“You used to think about television and where [to] go from there. We’ve completely flipped that. We talk about the conversation we want to start, and then we figure out the best way to bring that to life. Social has been a great way to level the playing field because we don’t have the dollars like larger brands in our same categories. But we can get a greater share of voice by earning it. Honestly, I’d say our social voice, started to inform the television creative and the more traditional channels as well,” Kane said.

How Burger King Turns Marketing Failures Into Buzzworthy Successes

In a market where e-commerce is outgrowing brick and mortar, technology influences buying decisions and Gen Z drive marketing strategies, industry leaders forecast the demise of traditional advertising. But not all brands are ready to let go and still see value in the medium. Instead, they are changing the way they approach advertising. Fast food giant Burger King is reaching into its bag of no-holds-barred tricks to outlive what it calls the “Adpocalypse.”

At a Cannes Lions panel called, “Survivor’s Guide to the Adpocalypse,” Marcelo Pascoa, Burger King head of global marketing and Fernando Machado, Burger King global CMO, let us in on the ways in which the fast food chain overcame creative bumps in three categories: design, technology and product innovation.

To kick off their candid presentation, the marketers showed drab images of outdated interiors at some Burger King locations prior to renovation. They noted that when the brand renovates restaurants, the location’s in-store revenue increases 12 percent. Beyond efforts to enhance customer experience inside their stores, Burger King evaluated weaknesses in the brand’s visual identity.

Machado pointed to an unsuccessful ad featuring a WHOPPER on a pillow, and jokingly said, “Who wants to eat a sandwich sitting on a pillow?” Their remodel solution involved imbuing menus, ads and mobile design with the brand’s “raw” tone, which yielded a “made-by-hand look” and even a logo for the WHOPPER, which the item previously lacked.

“Traditional advertising is still very much a part of what we do. We still need one-way ads to bring people into our restaurants, but traditional advertising will only take you so far. This is precisely the reason why we’ve been struggling and having some success in bridging the gap between getting guests to our restaurants and turning them into loyal fans,” Fernando told the audience.

Burger King prides itself on flame grilling its burgers (as opposed to frying them, like its competitors) since 1954, yet half of its 18-24 audience doesn’t know about this key differentiator. The brand’s research indicates the ones who do know Burger King flame grills don’t believe them, thinking it’s a marketing ploy.

Pascoa attributed the obliviousness to the fact that Burger King has never put the broiler on display for guests. And why would they? The machinery is industrial and not much to look at. But armed with consumer feedback, Burger King set out to redesign the broiler in an effort to communicate the brand’s “barbecue experience” and generate guest trust. They revealed to the audience never-before-seen footage of the redesigned broiler, noting that in stores where it’s been tested, the positive perception of Burger King food increased 11 percent.

However, in a crowded market, even trust isn’t always enough. To better compete against every other fast food restaurant leveraging delivery and mobile ordering to boost sales, Burger King relies on outrageous ideas that people want to personally experience. For example, earlier this year, the company set out to identify and collect every McDonald’s ad as part of its “Burn That Ad” campaign. They developed an augmented reality (AR) feature on the Burger King app that recognized McDonald’s ads, which when pointed at with a customer’s phone, would burn the ad down and reveal a Burger King coupon. The campaign was met with a 54.6 percent increase in in-app sales and garnered 1 billion impressions.

“At Burger King, we truly believe that creativity can be a competitive advantage. We’re not the biggest spender in the [design] category so whatever we do, it really needs to stand out and get noticed,” Machado told the audience.

Are Brands Really Committed To Data Privacy? Sheryl Sandberg And Others Share Their Outlook

Data and privacy have become four-letter words in the ad and marketing industry. With notable breaches and security threats in the headlines, Facebook and other brands are making a case for consumer trust, but can the industry deliver on its promises?

“Don’t worry, we’re not reading your messages,” Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg told a packed house at Cannes. But look around the festival and you’ll find that the tech industry’s recent privacy scandals and the EU’s new GDPR laws have already started to reshape the relationship between advertisers, platforms and the way they use data.

Did you know that the root word for credit is the Latin word ‘credos’ which means ‘I believe?’ There, you now have a fact that you too can share at the next high-class cocktail party you attend and at least look like you’ve glanced at a copy of Horace. You’re welcome.

What do Roman poets and cocktail parties have to do with data privacy? This year, Cannes Lions coincided with the announcement that Facebook is in the process of developing a new cryptocurrency. So the company that is easily the least trusted in tech is about to find itself knee-deep in a business built on trust, and that has certainly been the talk of Cannes’ cocktail parties. But can they succeed in changing perceptions? That’s what everyone is really talking about.

We didn’t have to wait very long for Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to comment on her companys’ reputational battering. Speaking with Bloomberg’s Caroline Hyde at the cavernous Lumiere stage, she discussed the work the Californian tech giant has been doing to address their recent shortfall in data security. “I think there has been a growing understanding of privacy and how we have to protect it. In early iterations we made people share way too much information, but over the years, we’ve learned to share the minimal amount of information.”

She addressed the personal implications of data and privacy, too. “This has been hard. Being attacked personally has been particularly hard, but then, this stuff should be hard,” Sanberg says in answer to some questions on the misuse of data during the 2016 Presidential Election. “There have been things we’ve missed. We didn’t see Russian interference. We have a responsibility to protect people, and we absolutely have to do better at finding, recognizing and dealing with these kinds of threats.”

If this feels like too little too late, then you’re probably right. However, the main stage at Cannes Lions was never going to be the place where Facebook would come clean. With almost all of the large tech platforms embroiled in some data-related issues, Cannes is less about executives talking openly about data or offering any kind of specifics for how to address privacy concerns, and more about staying on brand and offering sweeping statements about a general commitment to data security.

The advertising industry relies heavily on data-driven insights to do everything from understanding consumer intent and buying preferences to using the data to make personalized recommendations. But in the rubble of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, heavy GDPR rules and promises of similar regulation coming down from Capitol Hill, it sometimes feels like data has become slightly toxic.

“Frankly, strategic partnership with these big platforms have been challenged,” Doug Ray, president of product and innovation at Dentsu Aegis Network told Adexchanger in an article published just before this year’s Lions. “We want to do things that are innovative, but we find ourselves coming back to these topics.”

Indeed, more brands are bringing the issues of security and privacy outside of the walls of the IT department and into the public domain.

“Brand safety is becoming an important issue,” admitted Verizon Media’s Jeff Lucas as we spoke about his company’s ad-policy in a hotel suite on Monday. “I think you have to handle people’s data in a way that is totally transparent and accountable. The way we look at it is like this; we have a promise to our consumers that we will keep your data and we will protect it in our walls. When we’re working with third-party advertisers, it is our job to use our data set, identify the user who would be interested in the project and serve that advert in the most respectful way.”

Verizon Media, perhaps due to its background in telecoms and television, has always been very controlled with the way they share data in their B2B interactions. This could also be a glimpse into the future of the advertiser/platform relationship. More and more social networks and media companies want to be the gatekeepers between brands and consumers, and the age of the free-flow of targeting information seems to be coming to an end.

In return, the advertising industry also appears to be shaking off its data hangover. After sitting in on a couple of strategy sessions, there’s a feeling that industry leaders have been left wondering if they ever needed to know all this stuff in the first place.

“Basically, data is the other four-letter word. It really doesn’t mean anything without context,” says McCann Worldgroups chief strategy officer at a lively session on The Future of Strategy. “It’s gotten to a point where we have data about people freaking out about not having enough data. It makes you think, when did we start outsourcing common sense?”

Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands are also trailblazing new ways that brands can work with data. Like mini-versions of Amazon, companies like Dollar Shave Club, Brandless and Stitch-Fix are disrupting the retail space by concentrating on excellent customer relationships and experience. With their owned data-streams, DTC’s can have a super-detailed and fruitful interaction with their customer. Because they make their money from their products rather than from their customer’s information, there’s less risk that they’ll sell your data to a third party.

“I just think they have such a leg up,” Matt Hofherr, the co-founder and chief strategy officer of creative agency M/H VCCP told a panel on Monday. “Even after one purchase, they knew so much about me, and they only use that information to make the product better.”

Brands might be becoming more sophisticated in the way that they collect, analyze and store personal data, but one thing is also guaranteed, the marketing industries appetite for your personal information remains undiminished. Facebook’s entire business model depends on the mountains of personal data they’ve collected, and Sandberg is keen to show that her company has learned its lesson and is ready to get back to business. “People really do believe that you can’t do targeted advertising while protecting identities, but you really can,” she tells the Lumiere. “The problem is that we’ve done a terrible job at explaining it.”

Time will tell if Facebook will get it right this time, but with the entire tech space still committed to the mantra of “moving fast and breaking stuff,” you would suspect it’s only a matter of time until something like Cambridge Analytica happens again. The issue, from the public’s point of view, comes down to credibility—another English word that shares the same Latin root as credit.

Harvest Health CMO On The Labyrinthian Task Of Marketing Cannabis

As the CMO of one of the largest public companies in the fastest-growing industry in the country, I’ll forgive those of you who haven’t heard of us (yet). That awareness is largely due to the federal illegality of cannabis combined with a series of marketing restrictions and challenges that exist uniquely in the cannabis space. I joined Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. after more than 20 years in sales and marketing with CPG giants like Unilever and spirits experience as the CMO at Beam Suntory. I had no prior experience in cannabis, but soon found several hurdles that have forced us to be creative in order to reach patients and consumers.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Marketing has always appealed to me because our efforts create demand and the creativity involved builds value and puts a soul in companies. That has never rung truer than in the cannabis space today. Thirty-three states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have a patchwork of state-specific cannabis laws and regulations to follow—most similar—but several are vastly different. Which means you need at least 35 different marketing plans and strategies just to stay compliant (note: In our industry, smart companies have lawyers woven into every level).

While the beverage alcohol business was similarly state-specific, there have now been nearly 100 years since the end of Prohibition for the alcohol industry to find common ground and similar regulatory frameworks. We are virtually at “the day after Prohibition” in the cannabis industry…possibly even slightly before it.

Once you’ve designed a compliant campaign, however, your options are further limited on where you can actually display your final product. Social media—long the anchor of effective direct-to-consumer marketing—is almost entirely off-limits. The major platforms, Instagram, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, all have self-imposed company policies that prohibit or severely restrict any type of cannabis-related advertising. Broadcasters also get to decide whether they’ll run ads, but for the most part, have declined to do so.  As a result, we’ve chosen to invest significantly, and innovate around, some of the more traditional channels to reach patients and consumers.

By focusing on patient programs, customer loyalty, physician outreach, email marketing, budtender education, CRM campaigns, geofencing and age-gated mobile targeting, we are developing a clear picture of who our customers are and the best ways to interact with them. That picture is equally female and includes many older demographics and more sophisticated consumers.

David Vs. Goliath

You won’t find cannabis clients on the rosters of  Madison Avenue’s most prominent names. Most, if not all, belong to holding companies who have yet to venture into the exciting world of cannabis. Instead, a creative network of forward-thinking small and medium agencies have taken advantage of the level playing field with some of the biggest names and companies inthe cannabis space.

Earned & Owned For The Win

Earned media has always been an incredibly compelling form of connecting with audiences, and in cannabis, it is worth its weight in gold.

There are so many facets of (and stories within) our company that are of interest to a wide range of audiences. We spend considerable time to share them with both the media and the public through our channels. In a limited paid media environment, using our channels or the channels of others (influencers, tastemakers) to spread the word is critical. Ecommerce poses its challenges, even in the non-THC (psychoactive) aspect of the cannabis trade. Many believe the passage of the Farm Bill last December legalized hemp or CBD.

“Earned media has always been an incredibly compelling form of connecting with audiences, and in cannabis, it is worth its weight in gold”

In actuality, the new bill’s passage simply swapped regulation of the hemp plant from the Justice Department to the Food & Drug Administration. That means there remains a significant gray area around the legality of CBD and hemp products and has resulted in a limited number of banking, processing and back-end service providers.

Most importantly, while there are thousands of hemp-based CBD products on the market, the FDA has yet to approve it for use in food, beverages or cosmetic products.

Patient data is of considerable importance and subject to stringent oversight; it must be treated just like any other sensitive medical information. Although we have personal information on our patients, we work closely to make sure they have opted in to any communication we may send their way, and their information is treated with the utmost privacy.

The Coca-Cola Of Cannabis

Where there are challenges, there are unique opportunities. We aim to build some of the first truly national brands in the category and establish a suite of household names in cannabis.

Due to our vertical-integration (operating throughout the seed-to-sale process, including cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, product and retail) we have an opportunity to move our brands throughout our industry-leading footprint of retail facilities in the U.S. We recently took Colors—one of our best-selling vape pens from Colorado where it’s well-known and beloved—to stores in Arizona and Florida. Soon, we will also be distributing in California.

“Where there are challenges, there are unique opportunities”

Where in the past a cannabis brand lived locally and only in the state it was grown and manufactured, our model allows us to use our scale of cultivation, processing and retail in each state to expand the reach of brands to other markets. However, the logistics for rolling a product out require more investment, coordination and customization than any other industry. Companies are prevented from moving products across state lines and must instead produce and finalize SKU’s separately in each state in which they operate.

There has never been a time like this in our history—where the largest players are barred from entry, federal and state laws and policies often contradict one another (or at the least pose serious confusion), channels to reach customers are severely restricted and basic services like banking and ecommerce are near-impossible to come by.

However, there have never been so many Americans who support cannabis legalization no matter their politics or age. Fortunately for me, Harvest will be there to capitalize on this historic opportunity, and I will continue to have one of the best jobs in marketing, making history every day.

“There has never been a time like this in our history—where the largest players are barred from entry, federal and state laws and policies often contradict one another…”

“Men In Black” Suit Rooms By Paul Smith Open In London And New York, Letting Customers Try On And Buy

As summer movie season nears, brands are starting to unveil activations and product tie-ins to help boost awareness and add a little summer fun to the marketing mix. Paul Smith’s MIB Suit Room pop-up is an experience that’s out of this world, but close enough to home to let consumers try on and even take home a little bit of the Hollywood experience.

To celebrate the premiere of Men In Black: International movie, Paul Smith opened special agent pop-up suit rooms in its stores in London and New York.

The pop-ups are fashioned to replicate the iconic suit rooms from the film and allow shoppers to “put up [their] arms and all [their] flippers,” as Agent K would say. And they can even slip into and purchase a “suit to travel in” from the retailer.

The activation doesn’t feel completely alien, as Paul Smith actually dressed the lead characters of the Sony Pictures’ Men In Black reboot, in partnership with the designer Penny Rose.

Smith took great pride in working on the MIB agents’ looks and told Campaign, “When I was invited to get involved in the return of the Men In Black films, I was delighted. I’ve designed suits for earthlings for my entire career, so the opportunity to take things to another dimension was too good to refuse.”

To visit the Men in Black suit rooms, head to 44 Floral Street in London or Greene Street in New York.

Several other luxury brands also created activations around the newMIB movie, including Lexus, Hamilton Watches, Police eyewear and others.

Lexus promotes its futurist-looking Lexus RC F as the elite agents’ “greatest weapon yet, that pairs advanced alien-fighting technology and flight-ready engineering with exclusive MIB wheels and Umbra Black paint.”

The lifestyle brand, Police, offers “neuralyzer trouble-free” sunglasses–an exclusively designed style with codename: Police SPL872 to customers. And Hamilton Watches, whose Hamilton Ventura model was featured in Men in Black I (1997) and III (2012) still remains a part of the sharp agents’ uniform and remains the official watch of MIB IV (2019). In fact, Agent M from the London-based team wears the Hamilton Ventura when she fights the alien evil.

You Have to Mean It, How Brands Are Embracing Active Inclusivity

As multiple panels at this year’s Cannes Lions demonstrate, brands can no longer pay lip service to the issues of intersectionality and inclusivity. Consumers are demanding authenticity and social good from brands, who are unveiling campaigns that go beyond marketing slogans.

The harness is screwed down and the earphones are flipped over to complete the sense of immersion. Suddenly you’re transported. After a blinking a few times to clear the haze, you’re experiencing the world through a completely different set of eyes—and there, as plain as day, are all the subtle sneers, uncomfortable shuffles and off-putting glances that come with the territory when you’re a young person of color living in modern America.

As an activation, P&G’s ‘THE LOOK’ is certainly thought-provoking. Produced in partnership with ground-breaking, socially aware creative collective Saturday, the film is a follow up the Grand Prix-winning ‘The Talk’ and is a powerful comment on the issue of racial bias. On display at Cannes’ Health Lions, it also fits into a broader trend that is shaping marketing dialogue in 2019. The message: brands not only have to do good, but they also have to mean it.

More and more audiences are demanding brands and media platforms make a more sophisticated argument than simply saying they are for or against something. So far, two days in, panel after panel has talked about the need for credibility and authenticity over virtue signaling and gimmicky activism.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that diversity isn’t important—it’s something that your audience really does cares about,” Stitch Fix CMO Deirdre Findlay told a panel on Monday. And there is data to back them up.

A later panel showed off a new study from Karmarma and the Gay Times that asked people to mark their sexuality on the Kinsey Scale reported in the 18-24 category, one in ten are now identifying as neither straight or gay. Around the world, societies are becoming more diverse, informed and articulate. The challenge for brands is how to reflect the tastes, hopes and attitudes of this audience in a way that feels real.

Speaking on the same panel as Findlay, actor, director and activist Kelly Washington, was asked the obvious follow up to all this—what makes an organization credible? “It’s about being seen a brave and being seen as able to take risks,” replied Washington. “To talk about diversity is fine, but to be able to truly disrupt, you have to go beyond algorithms and take risks. I think this is something that comes easier to women because as a woman working in a creative field, you’re always taking a risk.”

For brands, taking these risks often means following through and ensuring that authentic inclusivity always means active inclusivity. Now that almost every facet of an organization can be easily scrutinized by the public, it’s not enough for companies to say that they are allies. They also need to show it. It’s a revolution that begins at home—a point beautifully illustrated in a slide presented during a Pride Over Pinkwashing session on Monday.

“Think of it as like a pyramid” explained Karmarama’s planning director Matthew Waksman at the outdoor session. “Yes, you’ve got these big, loud brand activations on the top, but to make a difference that has to be built on a foundation of organizational changes. You have to look at the people both in front and behind the cameras and say ‘do these people represent a diverse range of voices? Can we be doing more to make sure that we are?’”

The good news is, that on both sides of the lens, the media industry is doing a much better job at presenting a wider range of voices. UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies released a report in February that showed a significant rise in the number of women and people of color working in both the talent and production sides of the Hollywood Film industry.

Similarly, a study released today by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and Cannes Lion showed that in key areas, the depictions on gender, race and sexuality in advertising are improving, both in frequency and positivity. However, there is still work to be done. For example, women might make up 85 percent of worldwide purchasing decisions, but the number of women who are creative directors languishes at around 19 percent. And the issue is even more pronounced when looking at the representation of LGBTQ communities. The same Geena Davis report that showed positive movements, also showed that only 1.9 percent of adverts show characters that are clearly identifiable as non-heterosexual or non-cisgender,  and that is a slight improvement.

One of the key issues is that the only time many companies talk about diversity, it’s usually as part of short-term campaign activations. Trans activist Charlie Craggs hit the nail on the head when she talked about the perennial problem with tokenism that portions of the media seem to fall back on rather too easily. “On the one hand, it’s great that I get asked to be a model in all these campaigns – which is clearly ridiculous, as I like chips way too much,” she jokingly told the Pride of Pinkwashing panel yesterday. “The only problem is, I’m booked in June and Pride Season every year and then hear nothing from anyone for the rest of the year. I’m like c’mon guys, a trans person is for life, not just for Pride!”

Brands are getting better at getting it right, and are discovering more authentic ways to join the inclusivity conversation. Paddy Power is not a brand you’d think as a natural ally of the LGBTQ community. The British and Irish bookmaker, with a long established brand voice filled with pranks, stunts and sometimes youthful banter, makes it a stalwart of the extremely straight British soccer coverage. Yet, they have been a long time supporter of gay rights, famously tackling the taboo of homophobia with rainbow laces in 2013 and even donating $10,000 to Stonewall per goal that Russia scored in the 2018 world cup (thumbing their nose at Vladimir Putin’s very public anti-gay stance). By sticking to a topic where they have authority, and using their voice to highlight LGBTQ issues, Paddy Power is highlighting inclusivity in the right way.

The point is, if you’re going to be an ally, do it with respect and understanding. “Whenever I work with a new brand, I always start by asking ‘why are you here?’” says Tag Warner, the  Gay Times CEO who highlighted best practice at his panel.

“It’s a legitimate question. As a brand, if you’re turning up and thinking of rainbow flags then think again. You are speaking to a community that has incredibly diverse communities within it and while there is so much positivity, you also have to accept that you have to stick around for the negative. Not everything is two cute white guys kissing.”

How To Launch A Millennial Beer Brand

Joshua Zad has done this before. The founder of Alfred Coffee (and Tea), a chain that is ubiquitous throughout Los Angeles and has expanded to Austin and Tokyo, has not just built a brand, but a refined lifestyle to go with it. One that is eminently Instagrammable with its “But first, coffee” cups.

His newest brand, Calidad Beer, has been engineered with the same focus on lifestyle and identity.

One step inside the “Casa de Calidad” and the vision for the brand comes into full focus. A 1920s Spanish colonial home tucked away from Melrose Place where two of Zad’s Alfred outposts are located, the house is intricately curated with a modern Southwest vibe. Paddle cacti, a horseshoe and cow skull hang from the walls and stylishly worn rugs run throughout the space.  There is a pool table, a set of rules on the wall encouraging photos and a beer tap in the kitchen. It was made to be experienced and enjoyed.

“Calidad is a SoCal brand at heart—specifically Santa Barbara where our beer is brewed,” said Zad to AList.

“With that in mind, we wanted to create an event space that captured that same essence and lifestyle. Everything from the tiled archways and hand-dyed rugs to the melted-brick fireplace and hanging succulents ties back to that iconic Santa Barbara aesthetic.”

For Zad, emphasizing brand experience is the most direct and engaging way to reach modern consumers—especially those who identify as discerning consumers of coffee and beer.

“Calidad is a SoCal brand at heart—specifically Santa Barbara where our beer is brewed”

“These days, customers are extremely brand and tech-savvy, so it is critical to plan out a holistic brand experience from introduction to a product all the way through its consumption.”

In engineering that brand experience, Zad has a clear understanding of what has worked for him. He refers to the key pillars of his success as “The Five C’s,” standing for coffee, charity, community, culture and cool vibes.

“A successful brand not only has a strong identity but a fully-fleshed out lifestyle to go along with it and must be a quality product that tastes good. You can’t cut corners on any of these three areas.”

Zad developed the logo for the brand with design house LAND, known for its lived-in, modern-Western aesthetic, having worked with other brands like Stumptown Coffee and Poler.

“It was a really inspired process,” said LAND co-founder/co-creative director Caleb Everett to AList.

“What’s speaking to millennials right now is just authenticity. We live in a world where people that do what we do typically do market research and focus groups, and they try to figure out what they think people want.”

Inspired by Mexican-style beer, particularly Pacifico, Calidad’s logo gives the perception the brand has been around for some time. “When conceptualizing Calidad, I knew I wanted a look that felt authentic and familiar—I wanted people to think, ‘have I seen this before?”

“We just wanted to create what felt like we wanted to see out in the world.”

And it has, in a way. Zad first launched a merch shop before the beer was ever sold, with t-shirts, rolling papers, patches and more “because the designs were cool.” With an audience and interest around Alfred already, it was a clever way to market the beer product before it existed.

“The question we were faced with was, ‘how do we get people obsessed with our beer brand before even having liquid in [the] market?’” said Zad.

The brand also blended old-school-meets-new-school with how it has approached marketing as well. Calidad relies heavily on Instagram where its lifestyle curation and visual identity read loud and clear; uses texts to interact (it’s 253-300-HOLA) as well as billboards and murals to draw attention to the brand.

“We like experimenting with different advertising mediums. In L.A. specifically, which has a very strong car culture, out-of-home marketing is extremely effective and allows people to organically discover new brands as they travel around town,” said Zad.

Now that the beer exists and distribution is expanding throughout California, Calidad is taking part in events throughout the region, like Taco Madness, where Zad looks to interact directly with consumers and provide them an opportunity to taste the beer.

Despite having raised a seed investment from the founders of Sweetgreen and MeUndies, among others, how Calidad’s marketing is taking shape feels very grassroots.

“We are taking a brand-first approach, building an entire lifestyle around a simple product.”

The World Food Program Reframes Global Hunger In Second Spot For “Feed Our Future” Campaign With SAWA

The UN World Food Program (WFP) teamed up with The Global Cinema Advertising Association (SAWA) for a video spot in an effort to represent the silenced voices of starving children worldwide. SAWA and WFP presented the ongoing campaign and short film at “The Global Cinema Medium Inspired By Hunger” panel that Facebook livestreamed from inside the Palais at Cannes Lions.

The spot, which marks the WFP and SAWA’s second global advertising campaign for “Feed Our Future,” will air across cinema screens in more than 30 countries from September to November 2019, with forthcoming digital and social components.

Set in a war-torn village, the 60-second short film opens with children playing in rubble and gazing out of bombed-out buildings before they begin singing in unison, “How Can I Tell You” by Cat Stevens. As the camera pans across the landscape, they sing “Wherever I am, I’m always walking with you. But I look and you’re not there. It always ends up to one thing. When I look and you’re not there.”

As the chorus continues, each child disappears. Eventually, they all disappear except for one. The spot concludes with a poignant fact, “Every year 3 million children die of hunger. Help keep their voices alive.” Ad legend John Hegarty visited a refugee camp where he scouted the spot’s cast of eight year olds. The cast of kids spent six weeks learning the song in English.

In an advertising world saturated with purpose-driven campaigns and an audience apathetic to never-ending images of starving children, SAWA and WFP’s marketing relies on big ideas and creativity. “When I’m thinking about my marketing strategy, I have to think, first of all, how am I going to reach those governments who will invest in the cause, and then, how do I reach individuals who can do their part. The WFP’s challenges are, does the world actually care and can we cut through the noise? We’re not competing against other brands—we’re competing against no one hearing what we have to say and no one hearing what the 93 million people that the WFP serves have to say. So in the mix of marketing, what we think about is how do you connect to people in a way that’s not your classic charity, which is why we teamed up with SAWA, a brand-building medium, to reach the public consciousness and reframe the issue of world hunger,” Corrine Woods, WFP CMO told AList.

Last year’s film for the “Feed Our Future” campaign told a chilling story about the world’s lost potential due to hunger. In the piece, a girl who died from starvation as a child was robbed of her the chance to discover a scientific medical breakthrough in adulthood. The spot ended with a call-to-action (CTA) to download the ShareTheMeal app, which directly increased WFP donations by 60 percent. The campaign was also digitally integrated via Facebook.

“We’re hoping that with our backstories, our behind-the-scenes footage, taking the audience in Cannes Lions to Lebanon and to refugee camps and showing them a real life outside of Hollywood, that it’s going to inspire the communications world to step up and really embrace the fact that the global problem of hunger can be fixed,” Cheryl Wannell, SAWA CEO, told AList.