Recreates The Addams Family Mansion

The digital travel platform,, celebrates the latest animated The Addams Family film, by offering overnight stays at The Addams Family Mansion in New York. A real-life replica of the family’s gothic house will open at the end of the month and provide an immersive Halloween experience for those who dare to come.

The three-bedroom, 3,700 square foot, 19th century townhouse, located in historic Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, has it all for the nostalgic immersion the classic movie fans and dare-devils can enjoy: Pugsley’s Room equipped with machines, Wednesday’s beheaded doll waiting in the living room to be played with and even Morticia’s carnivorous plants, dying to be nursed. The mansion decor is complete with the true Addams Family fashion touches, such as rose stems-filled vases and Lurch’s “you rang” bell. And the guest better not accidentally step on Thing, which might make an appearance at any time. 

The Addams Family Mansion goers will also be able to see a screening of the feature film, releasing in theaters on October 11, check out branded amenities and of course, have a taste of spooky snacks, we hope, created in spirit of Motricia’s saying, “Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc” (“We gladly feast on those who would subdue us”). 

Halloween themed amenities have become more of a tradition for the company, as back in 2013, first introduced its Haunted Hotels campaign, and in 2018, welcomed guests for a sleepover at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary to promote Booking Experiences portal. 

The marketing move is supported by independent research, conducted among over 53,000 respondents, who have traveled in the past 12 months. The research found that 43 percent of travelers want to stay in an amenity they’ve never experienced before and another 43 percent find “thrills and excitement” a major personal motivation for exploring the world. This is especially true for younger audiences, millennials and Gen Z’ers, who, driven by FOMO, are choosing experiences over stuff. caters to the need by accommodating stays at national landmarks, caves, train cars, houseboats, tiny homes, castles and even igloos. 

The initiative also makes a lot of sense, as researchers from Deloitte estimated the global in-destination activities industry grow $183 billion by 2020, as “in-destination activities represent an opportunity for hotels to connect guests to unique experiences and drive incremental revenue,” Deloitte analysts say. 

The Addams Family Mansion will be available exclusively on for $101.10 per night, open on October 28 at 12:00 p.m. EST. The overnight stays will occur each night October 29 to November 1.

Lisa Frank, Create A Rentable Flat Inspired By Brand’s Whimsical Aesthetic teamed up with Lisa Frank and Barsala to design a downtown Los Angeles-based ‘90s-nostalgic penthouse, full of the pop culture icon’s whimsical prints and characters. The “Lisa Frank Flat” will be open for booking starting October 11 through October 27 for $199 per night.

The flat is replete with social media photo opps and therefore every millennial’s dream. From a technicolor window display to a wall mural and even a light-up canopy bed, the flat is an example of immersive marketing at its finest. More Instagrammable moments will be made possible courtesy of the flat’s underwater dolphin fantasy bathroom, neon light fixtures and minibar stocked with free throwback lunchbox treats like Cheez Balls, Pop-Tarts and Pixy Stix, to name a few.

Guests will enjoy limited-edition Lisa Frank swag including multi-pattern plush robes, sleep masks and slipper sets—which they can take home with them. Before checking out, guests are encouraged to sign the flat’s guestbook in neon gel pen.

An experience that transports millennials to an era when things were easier and the world was calmer could be Lisa Frank’s attempt at a brand revival. In a press release, the Lisa Frank team said, “Over the past four decades, Lisa Frank fans have grown up enjoying our art in many forms. Many of them now book hotel rooms for themselves and their families . . .”

Lisa Frank’s colorful designs defined pop culture in the ‘80s and ‘90s, becoming so popular that the brand’s 300,000-square foot factory was reportedly producing $250 million of product a year. 2013, however, marked the brand’s demise when it went from 350 employees to six. 

Since then, maintaining the Lisa Frank pulse has proved seemingly difficult as the brand launches one-off collaborations sporadically. In 2017, Target announced a collection of signature Lisa Frank pajamas. That same year, launched a collection of debit cards in a variety of 31 Lisa Frank-inspired designs. The pre-paid debit cards can be filled in advance with the option of two day-advance direct deposit.

Rachel Ferdinando Promoted To Chief Marketing Officer At Frito-Lay North America

This week in marketing moves, former Uber CMO becomes first chief customer officer at Australia-based Zip Co, Rachel Ferdinando replaces Jennifer Saenz as CMO at Frito-Lay North America; Carrie Walsh will lead marketing at Subway Restaurants, and SiriusXM welcomes new CMO. 

Steve Brennen Swaps CMO Role With Uber For CCO Role With Fintech Upstart 

Steve Brennen, who previously served as chief marketing officer for Uber, joins fintech disruption company Zip Co as its first chief customer officer. 

Brennen spent almost three years with Uber overseeing the company’s marketing initiatives across Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Prior to that, he was with eBay, where he led marketing, brand and PR for four years. Brennen also held marketing roles at PayPal and Virgin Mobile and Virgin Media.

He told CMO Australia: “I’m thrilled to join the talented and passionate team at such an exciting time—as the business scales in Australia and looks to global expansion. As we continue to innovate, I believe we have a unique opportunity to enable millions of consumers and retail partners to make better payment decisions.”

Rachel Ferdinando Promoted To Chief Marketing Officer At Frito-Lay North America

Frito-Lay North America announced the promotion of Rachel Ferdinando, who previously led marketing efforts and partnership portfolio at the company to chief marketing officer, AdWeek reports

Ferdinando will replace former CMO, Jennifer Saenz, who will be promoted to president of PepsiCo Global Foods.

In her new position, Ferdinando will be in charge of tackling brand marketing, innovation, design and media for Frito-Lay. Previously, Ferdinando was in charge of leading the team focused on the growth of core brands, including the Doritos. 

Carrie Walsh Joins Subway Restaurants As CMO 

This week, the Subway brand announces the appointment of Carrie Walsh as the chief marketing officer, North America. 

Walsh will be responsible for overseeing the brand’s marketing and advertising strategy in North America, and defining global brand standards, as well as marketing strategies throughout Subway’s international markets.

Walsh has more than 15 years of experience building brands across the restaurant, retail and CPG industries. Previously, she was the chief marketing officer for YUM! Brands Pizza Hut and spent eight years holding executive marketing positions at PepsiCo. 

“I have been a Subway customer and brand fan throughout my life and am thrilled to be joining this iconic brand and great team,” said Walsh about the appointment. 

SiriusXM Appoints Denise Karkos As Chief Marketing Officer 

SiriusXM tapped Denise Karkos as the company’s new CMO. Karkos joins the company from TD Ameritrade where she was chief marketing officer, leading the marketing efforts of the Scottrade acquisition.  

In her new role with SiriusXM, Karkos will be in charge of brand and digital marketing of SiriusXM and Pandora. She will focus on the support and growth of SiriusXM subscribers and Pandora listeners and will report directly to Jennifer Witz, SiriusXM’s president of sales, marketing and operations.  

“I’m excited to join these two great brands and help contribute to their continued success. The audio entertainment category has so much momentum, and even more potential. It’s a privilege to join the leaders in this space,” Karkos said. 

Traeger Grills’ Appoints Todd Smith As Marketing Executive 

Traeger Grills announced that the industry veteran, Todd Smith, has joined the company as its chief marketing officer. 

Before joining Traeger Grills, Smith was the CMO for a human performance company, EXOS, for nearly seven years. Prior to that, he held several executive marketing roles at The Coca-Cola Company.

Jeremy Andrus, chief executive officer at Traeger Grills said about Smith: “Todd’s experience speaks for itself; he has a natural ability for building incredible brands. However, we’re most excited to bring in Todd for his dedication to culture and leadership. The people at Traeger are what have made the brand what it is today. Todd’s ability to build and lead great teams to do innovative things will help strengthen what it means to be part of Traeger Nation.”

Check out our careers section for executive job openings and to post your own staffing needs.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, October 11. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

Chief Marketing Officer ThirdLoveSan Francisco, CA
Vice President, Film MarketingNew York UniversityBrooklyn, NY
Chief Communications And Marketing OfficerUC San DiegoSan Diego, CA
Senior Vice President Of MarketingClear Channel OutdoorNew York, NY
SVP–Creative MarketingWalt Disney TelevisionBurbank, CA
Vice President, Marketing Int’l International Distribution And ProductionsSony Pictures Entertainment Inc.Culver City, CA

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

Reddit Tests Noncommercial Live Broadcasting Feature, Updates Bullying Policy

This week, Reddit is testing a live broadcasting feature that mimics the feel of public access television and updates its bullying policy plus a leaked TikTok deck reveals details about its audience

Reddit Is Testing A Live Broadcasting Feature

According to OneZero, the livestreaming network has the same feel as public television.

Why it matters: RPAN will build feelings of intimacy and allow users to experience the same things being depicted in streamed content. The noncommercial feature allowed creators a space for creative play.

The details: The new live broadcasting feature, called Public Access Network (RPAN), has been tested a few times with the public. On August 29, over 13,7000 watched an RPAN livestream featuring someone in a horse mask listening to jazz music and drinking a hot beverage. The RPAN broadcasts are shot vertically to fit smartphone conventions and quality of video streams are intentionally reduced to recapture the feeling of public access aesthetics. The arrows on RPAN’s up vote/down vote system are in 8-bit Nintendo graphics. During RPAN’s trial phase, there was no way for creators to monetize their work, giving them freedom to experiment. 

Leaked TikTok Deck Uncovers Platform’s Demographic

Obtained by AdAge, the leaked pitch deck shows that TikTok’s priority is to explain how the app works.

Why it matters: TikTok has been guarded about disclosing details about its audience, making some question its credibility beyond the number of times the app’s been downloaded—over a billon times.

The details:  The deck notes there are over 30 million monthly active users in the US with 69 percent of users between 16-24 years old. 

Reddit Updates Its Anti-Bullying Policy

The update is primarily driven by feedback from Reddit users, according to an announcement on Reddit.

Why it matters: The changes will take the burden off of moderators, but could also encourage users to exploit the policy by reporting users they want to silence.

The details: Reddit’s old policy required a behavior to be “continued” and/or “systematic” for it to take action against it as harassment. It also wasn’t clear whether abuse toward both individuals and groups qualified under the policy. Reddit doesn’t go into much detail about how the new policy will differ other than it’s leveraging machine-learning tools to sort human user reports better. “Behavior whose core effect is to shut people out of that conversation through intimidation or abuse,” will not be tolerated.

YouTube Lets Politicians Secure Ad Placements Months In Advance

Google will allow politicians to purchase placement on YouTube for all of the 2020 election cycle months in advance, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: Giving politicians access to reserving inventory now is a strategic move for YouTube to pull ad spending away from Facebook.

The details: YouTube’s new reservation tool in Google Ads is called “Instant Reserve” which it hopes will let marketers book campaigns with a fixed budget and forecasted reach in advance.

Instagram Rolls Out New “Create” Mode For Stories Camera

The tool will make Stories tools like GIFs, countdown stickers and polls easier to use. 

Why it matters: Grouping the creative tools in Stories could encourage more use while also enabling Instagram to highlight its popular creative features.

The details: The “Create” tab in Stories replaces the existing “Type” option with various creative tools that give users quick access to GIFs, polls and music. Instagram announced the addition on Twitter

Snapchat Releases Monthly Trending Topics For September

The platform released its monthly “Snap Chatter” report on what trended in September in the US and Canada.

Why it matters: Marketers can use Snapchat’s monthly report to gauge the evolving interests of Gen Z which combined with millennials make up 90 percent of the platform’s user base.

The details: Trending Snapchat topics in the US included the Area 51 raid day, National Coffee Day, National Daughters Day and the movie IT: Chapter Two. GRWM, short for “getting ready with me,” spooky season and HoCo, an acronym for homecoming, were among trending slang in the US. In Canada, trending topics included the Mario Kart tour, back to school, iPhone 11 and Halloween.

Twitter Admits To New Email And Phone Privacy Breach

The platform made a statement saying it may have inadvertently used phone numbers and emails for advertising purposes in its Tailored Audiences and Partner Audience ad system.

Why it matters: The breach will prompt users to provide different forms of authentication other than private email addresses and phone numbers.

The details: Twitter says it may have matched people’s email addresses and phone numbers—provided by users for safety or security purposes such as two-factor authentication– to advertisers’ list when an advertiser uploaded their marketing list. Twitter can’t say how many were impacted by the error but notes that no personal data was shared externally with partners or other third parties. 

Facebook Could Pay $40 Million To Settle Advertiser Lawsuit

The proposed court settlement shows Facebook admits misjudging viewership metrics, Mobile Marketer reports.

Why it matters: The proposed settlement could bring closure to a dispute that ensued after Facebook disclosed three years ago that it artificially inflated measurement of average ad viewing time because it only considered video views of over three seconds. Facebook currently faces four antitrust investigations.

The details: The class action from small advertisers alleges Facebook engaged in unfair business conduct by inflating the amount of time users spent watching video ads by 60 to 80 percent. In 2016, Facebook apologized through there has been debate on how Facebook’s mistake impacted businesses.

TikTok Features Creators In Company’s Marketing Without Their Approval

According to AdAge, some users have complained that TikTok featured them in ads without being asked or paid.

Why it matters: Creators are integral to TikTok’s success and not working with them directly on ads that feature their content is bad form.

The details: TikTok creator Elijah Jay discovered that TikTok used one of his videos in an ad the platform ran on Snapchat. The video is of Jay pushing a three-foot-long balloon down his throat. After friends told him about seeing the ad, Jay tweeted TikTok on Twitter, “Hey TikTok, why are you using my video as a Snapchat ad to promote your app? And where is my money.”

TikTok Bans Paid Political Ads

The platform has explicitly taken a stand against political ads in its early days of experimenting with different ad formats. 

Why it matters: By banning political ads, TikTok may face some of the challenges Facebook did when it chose not to run political ads. Facebook’s solution was to create a system that verified candidates based on required information such as tax ID number, street address or US federal election commission ID number. TikTok may not have similar resources to maintain that level of transparency. 

The details: TikTok said in a press release that political ads do not fit the platform experience, namely the “light-hearted and irreverent feeling that makes it such a fun place to spend time.” The platform will not allow paid ads that promote or oppose a candidate, political party or group, current leader or issue at the federal, state or local level. TikTok’s policy includes no election-related ads, advocacy ads and issue ads.

Google To Acquire Firework, Short Form Video App Similar To TikTok

Firework is a short form video app similar to TikTok created by startup “Loop Now Technologies.”

Why it matters: Google reportedly decided to buy Firework to make sure TikTok doesn’t further detract from YouTube user growth and engagement given many YouTubers have started using TikTok.

The details: Firework was valued at $100 million last year and is available for download on iOS and Play store. Google didn’t disclose how much it’s paying to acquire Firework.

Instagram Launches Camera-First App Called Threads

Instagram says the standalone app allows users to message with close friends in a private space.

Why it matters: Instagram mimicking another core feature of Snapchat could result in the same decreased user growth Snapchat experienced when Instagram rolled out Stories.

The details: Last year, Instagram introduced “Close Friends,” which lets users share personal moments with a select group of followers that they choose. Now, Threads opens directly to your phone’s camera and lets you share pictures, videos, messages and Stories through a dedicated inbox and notifications just for close friends. Threads begin rolling out globally today on Android and iOS. 

Facebook Introduces Group Stories To Instagram

Facebook is bringing the group stories feature to Instagram after pulling it from Facebook.

Why it matters: Facebook introduced group stories in 2018, but removed it nine months later, on September 26. The platform may predict better performance on Instagram given that its story stickers directly link to group chats. 

The details: The group stories feature will work similarly to Facebook, allowing users to share stories to a specific group, which is helpful for those attending the same event or discussing a particular topic.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, October 11. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at

US Consumers Want More Control Over Personal Data, Don’t Understand How It’s Being Used

Nearly half of US consumers feel they have little to no control of their personal data, according to Deloitte’s “US Consumer Data Privacy” study. Marketers are having to perform a balancing act between personalizing offers and experiences based on consumers’ past buying behaviors and preferences while not creeping them out. From 2016 to 2018, the volume of breached records in the US rose twelve-fold, and as a result, about half of all US states are developing data privacy legislation—including the forthcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), set to be effective January 1, 2020. Now more than ever, it’s important that marketers focus strategies on building consumer trust. 

Collecting data from consumers has served the industry three purposes: to learn more about consumers’ habits, communicate in personal ways and deepen relationships with frequent buyers. Retail executives in Deloitte’s survey state that the top uses of consumer data are efficiencies in operations (53 percent), improving product selection (52 percent) and enhancing in-store services and experiences (49 percent).

Despite how beneficial these efforts are for consumers, consumers still have their doubts as 47 percent admit they have little to no control of their personal data and one in three has been exposed to a data breach. Eighty-six percent believe they should be able to opt-out of the sale of their data. 

The good news: 71 percent of consumers are willing to share personal data if they receive special discounts or better pricing. What’s more, 73 percent of consumers said they’re more likely to be open or neutral about sharing personal data when satisfied with privacy policies, compared to 57 percent who are unsatisfied or unaware.

Consumers don’t have a clear sense of what information marketers collect and how they use it. More than two-thirds of consumers think they use the data for target marketing. Fifty-five percent of consumers believe advertisers sell data to outside buyers or share it with third parties. 

Retailers still face challenges internally over data storage. Nearly two-thirds of respondents say their organization has more than 50 information systems that store consumer data. Half of them indicate that inadequate data management is hindering their ability to implement consumer privacy programs. Lack of funding was the top reason cited.

For understanding consumers’ view of personal data and privacy, Deloitte surveyed US 2,000 individuals, conducted online using an independent research panel from April-May 2019. 

For understanding the executives’ view on the matter, Deloitte surveyed 201 retail industry C-level executives, senior management and senior directors in various retail organizations from US-based companies between April and May 2019.

Ford, Universal Pictures Launch Halloween VR Auto Experience

Consumers will get a taste of the future of in-car entertainment at Universal CityWalk Hollywood, where tech startup holoride, Ford and Universal Pictures are introducing a virtual reality (VR) experience inspired by the Bride of Frankenstein

Timed to coincide with Halloween, “Universal Monsters Presents: Bride of Frankenstein holoride” will be set inside new 2020 Ford Explorer vehicles where guests will be transported to the mysterious world of the Bride of Frankenstein. Riders will step inside the vehicle at the designated pickup location at Universal CityWalk, put on a VR headset and join the Bride of Frankenstein on her journey to deliver Frankenstein an important message. The fully immersive experience will feature virtual monsters and obstacles in addition to sound effects and visuals that match the movement of the car via navigational data from holoride.

“This collaboration allows us to showcase the promise of the connected vehicle and get essential customer feedback on what they want and don’t want in terms of immersive in-car entertainment experiences,” said Brett Wheatley, vice president of mobility marketing and growth at Ford.

VR ventures and augmented reality (AR) activations are nothing new for Universal Pictures. In 2018, the company launched a Jurassic World VR mini-series ahead of the release of the film’s latest franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Called “Jurassic World: Blue,” the companion experience to the Jurassic series combined live-action and computer-generated imagery in 360-degree 3D. 

To promote the film, Universal Pictures also created promotional content for Facebook and Instagram using AR effects to bring Blue, the velociraptor, to life, accessible through a link in trailer descriptions. Generating further excitement were 3D posts on Facebook that let users interact with dinosaurs from all sides from a post in Facebook’s news feed. 

Ford has also been an early adopter of VR. In 2016, the auto company released a VR app for iOS and Android that lets consumers experience VR stories about Ford products, no headset mandatory. In 2017, Ford and Google partnered to launch a VR app called “Ford Reality Check” to reflect the fatal consequences of driving while distracted, based on research that shows young drivers feel the need to constantly check social media and stay in the loop with friends as a result of fear of missing out, also known as FOMO.

Why Beauty Brands Are Master Influencer Marketing Puppeteers

Originally published on ION.

(Editor’s note: AList is published by To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the influencer marketing landscape, click here.)

Sponsored makeup tutorials, all-expenses-paid trips around the world, experiential tech-driven pop-ups—beauty brands have feverishly adopted far-reaching influencer initiatives, from courting nano- to mega-influencers alike. The proof is all over social media feeds as well as in the numbers. 

Nearly 80 percent of beauty brands launch influencer marketing initiatives and 76 percent of those brands target millennials, according to a report by Launchmetrics. On that same note, a GlobalWebIndex study found in 2018 that 54 percent of female social media users in the US and UK were most likely to be following influencers in the beauty category. 

Industry wide, marketers are spending $8.5 billion on influencer marketing, but beauty influencer marketing dollars are especially surging to new heights as they continue to nurture these relationships. For example, in its second-quarter earnings call in August, Estée Lauder’s CEO, Fabrizio Freda, revealed that the brand is allocating 75 percent of its marketing budget to digital, specifically beauty influencers.

Now more than ever, beauty brands have more incentive to increase their influencer budgets due to the shopping habits of early adopters like Gen Z and Gen X. According to a CivicScience study, almost two-thirds of US Internet users who reported buying a product after seeing an influencer use it were younger than 34 and over half the group was under 25. 

Given these generations search for and discover new products on social first, brands count on influencers to help build brand awareness and create meaningful connections with audiences. To understand the scope of the beauty industry’s involvement in influencer marketing is to examine their activations.

The nature of beauty in itself is conducive to the success of influencer marketing. What better way to demonstrate the glistening, toning or straightening effects of a product or tool than by enlisting a well-liked social media figure to create a video in real time? 

An influencer’s audience is already primed for and interested in the products they display making it easier for influencers to simultaneously form an authentic connection with their followers and deepen the consumers’ interest to the product or brand. While brands are big on sponsored posts, in recent years they’ve gone beyond the norm to fuse consumer experiences with influencer-led activations. MAC, Shiseido, Estèe Lauder, Sephora and E.l.f. Cosmetics are examples of brands that have utilized influencers to generate buzz around products and events in the hopes of creating value for consumers and thereby driving sales.

In a recent unexpected move, MAC created a cosmetics booth at TwitchCon San Diego last month. The 20-foot-by-30-foot booth stuck out like a sore thumb among video game and energy drinks vendors, but MAC knows what it’s doing: reaching the female gaming community, who make up 45 percent of US gamers. The tie-in doesn’t sound so odd when you consider MAC has been courting Twitch influencers Pokimane and KittyPlays who have 3.4 million and 1.1 million followers, respectively. The booth was open all three days of TwitchCon and featured makeup application services and giveaways as well as a master class on “stream-ready makeup.” According to Glossy, part of the success of MAC’s presence there was centered on the hashtag #macattwitchcon.

Influencers with big audiences don’t necessarily translate to sales. In fact, many beauty brands are tapping micro-influencers who have a small but engaged following. While Estée Lauder has been known to recruit ambassadors like Kendall Jenner, the brand has also worked with micro-influencers on YouTube and Instagram. A campaign from Jo Malone London, one of the 29 brands Estée Lauder owns, reflects the value brands see in micro-influencers. For its “Declare Your Scent” fragrance campaign, the brand focused on authentic storytelling through nano influencers who they knew were already advocates of Jo Malone London. This was in part due to the personal nature of fragrance

Sephora took a unique approach to influencer marketing by crowdsourcing influencers for its new #SephoraSquad influencer marketing program launched this year. In search of 24 influencers, Sephora held an online contest that drew 16,000 applicants and required testimonials from applicants’ social media followers of which the brand received 250,000. Sephora signed yearlong contracts with the 24 chosen influencers with payment for participation and opportunities for coaching, early access to Sephora products and access to beauty industry experts. Sephora timed the influencer initiative accordingly as it plans to open 35 new US stores in 2019 including Seattle, Palm Springs, Brooklyn and Washington D.C.

In 2018, Shiseido removed all existing makeup from retail stores and its site to launch a new color cosmetic line. The goal? Overhaul the brand and more importantly, appeal to a younger audience. Additionally, the Japanese beauty brand also upped its spend on influencer marketing in the last year and a half during which the brand has orchestrated six influencer trips. To help continue these outings, Shiseido increased its influencer marketing budget by 50 percent in 2019. 

Eighty-nine percent of US marketers said they deem Instagram as the most critical social media platform for influencer marketing in 2019 and one-third of Instagram posts containing #ad was a story. Instagram and YouTube may house most beauty influencer initiatives, but some brands are slowly starting to test activations on emerging platforms to capture the attention of Gen Z. For example, E.l.f. Cosmetics recently launched a branded hashtag challenge on TikTok called #eyeslipface to an original song. Though it didn’t feature a creator from the TikTok platform. E.l.f. said the challenge will kickstart the brand into having daily content on the platform. Given the influencer marketing success that music and lifestyle brands have experienced on TikTok, this could mean E.l.f. is gearing up for TikTok influencer partnerships to showcase its products. 

Driving Culture And Embracing Periods Of Transformation With Smirnoff’s Jay Sethi

Jay Sethi is the brand marketing lead for Smirnoff, the largest and most important name in Diageo’s family of drinks brands. We sat down at Advertising Week NY to talk about his experiences in marketing, the importance of risk-taking when it comes to shifting perceptions and why consumer brands must always be at the forefront of change.

What does it take to look after one of America’s most iconic brands? As you may have read last week, Smirnoff is one of the undisputed giants of the drinks industry and for over 150 years, it’s iconic red and white bottles have held the crown as the number one vodka brand in the world.

Introduced to America in 1933, when exiled Tzarist distiller Vladimir Smirnoff sold the US rights to his vodka to fellow Russian émigré Rudolph Kunett, the brand has embedded itself into the fabric of drinks culture and has turned a nation of avowed whiskey lovers into loyal vodka drinkers. 

Throughout its eighty years on our shores, the brand has grown to become one of our most recognized consumer brands. Not only does it regularly outdo more expensive competitors in taste-tests, but it also fueled America’s long love affair with the cocktail; popularizing the Screwdriver and Bloody Mary as well as LA’s first signature cocktail, the Moscow Mule. It even managed to return home, reportedly becoming the illicit brand of choice for Soviet soldiers just prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain.

“Brands change all the time—it’s only the values that should stay the same.” Smirnoff’s Jay Sethi discusses his brand’s commitment to purpose.

Taken just as a brand, Smirnoff’s heritage is undeniable, and since 2016 the person in charge of its safe-keeping has been Jay Sethi. Recently named CMO at the Diageo Beer Company, until September, he was vice president, brand marketing for Smirnoff and emerging brands where he infused his strong passion for inclusion and diversity into the brand. 

With a track-record when it comes to transforming large, legacy brands through digital, retail, media and entertainment marketing he has been the driving force behind many of the company’s iconic campaigns of recent times; including the award-winning “Love Wins” and the recentWelcome to the Fun%” and ‘Welcome Home’ activations headed up by Laverne Cox.

We caught up with Sethi at Advertising Week NY to discuss his work with the brand and how he helped to reinvigorate Smirnoff and reconnect it with its founding sense of inclusivity and purpose.

What was your introduction to marketing?

Y’know, I didn’t really know what marketing was for quite a long time. I jokingly describe myself as a millennial, multicultural Midwesterner and it wasn’t something that ever came up. After graduating from the University of Chicago, I ended up working in politics for a little bit before I was lucky enough to land a job on the marketing team at Procter & Gamble.

Let me tell you, that role really changed my career. One of the blessings of that experience is that I got to see America. Now that I run one of the big, iconic American brands, I think traveling around so much gave me the experience to be able to understand the country.

What value does marketing bring to Smirnoff?

Smirnoff has been around for 150 years, and I really see myself as a steward of that brand. I have to leave it better than I found it; so I think the marketing team adds value not only by pushing forward the values that we’ve held for a long time but also by leaving a mark and driving our agenda forward.

I also think diversity and inclusion are important—not only for Smirnoff but for the industry as a whole. There are still levels of under-representation that we need to tackle, and I think my role and the choices that my team and I are making, are also helping to push that side of the conversation forward as well.

The idea that marketing needs to look like the people it serves is something you hear a lot.

Exactly. I might be of mixed heritage and gay, but often, my Midwestern-ness is the most unique perspective that I can offer. I love living in New York, but we need to remember that we market to the country as a whole, and I’m proud to be able to represent different communities. 

Marketers talk about intersectionality a lot, but that’s because it’s our job to bring communities together. We have to have the courage to do this kind of work and create these spaces where people can come together.

What are the main challenges when it comes to managing the Smirnoff brand? Is it hard to be nimble when you have so much brand heritage to look after?

If you manage to survive 150 years—my friend, I think you’ve shifted quite a bit. This is a brand that has gone through a lot, such as wars, economic collapses, you name it. But that also means that Smirnoff as a brand is fundamentally strong. It has always been able to shift to reflect American culture. 

We were the first to bring vodka to the US. The first great American cocktail, for example, was the Moscow Mule and we helped to invent it. A couple of decades after that we introduced flavored vodka to America and, boy, did that explode. 

Today’s generation is more focused on leading healthier, more holistic lifestyles, and it’s my responsibility to ensure that we reflect that. So, for example, we’ve just begun to roll out a zero sugar line. On the other hand, we’re just seeing the beginnings of a seltzer craze, and we’ll no doubt be a big part of that also. 

Working on a brand like this, you need to be able to embrace these periods of transformation. Being the biggest often means we’re able to drive culture forward in a way most other brands can’t.

Do you think that a lot of brand managers are almost too respectful with the brands that they represent?

It’s true that a lot of marketers at legacy brands are indeed afraid of change, but I think if they look in their archives, they’ll find that brands change all the time. It’s only the values that stay the same. It’s like the saying goes: “Often the fruit is in the root.”

For me, knowing the heritage of the product gives me the power and courage to be able to make changes. And, at the moment at least, I don’t think we have a choice. We are living in a great age of disruption and consumers are starting to look more closely at the products that they buy. One of the significant parts of this has been the rise of purpose, and the public at large are looking for brands that can be authentic allies and remain true to their values.

In a nutshell, how does Smirnoff’s brand today reflect the company’s values?

I think it comes in two parts. First, our accessibility. Smirnoff has always been an affordably priced vodka. We may compete with some of the most expensive vodka brands in the world, but by principle, we don’t charge more. We want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy our product, and we believe that everyone should be able to.

The other half is through our marketing and how we express ourselves. That’s why our commitment to hiring a diverse set of characters is so important. By being everywhere and showing everyone, the audience can really think, “finally here’s a brand that gets us.”

Part of that commitment has been Smirnoff’s long-standing support of the LGBTQIA+ community. Could you tell us about your experiences working on this project?

I think first and foremost, our support for the community goes back decades. I always say to my team if they dared to do that then, then we must have the courage to think that big now.  

Our values mean that Smirnoff has always been an accessible, inclusive brand. We serve over 50 million people in the US alone, so almost by definition, we have to be inclusive. We serve every income bracket, every age, every race and every gender. That gives us a responsibility to really help move LGBTQIA+ rights forward. But we also need to do it in a way that almost everyone in America can applaud and feel good about. 

On a personal level, I’ve also been going through my own coming-out process. It’s been extremely difficult at times—as I mentioned, I’m a Midwestern kid; my mom is Mexican catholic, and my dad is Indian Hindu, and both are of fairly conservative backgrounds. But overwhelmingly it’s been a very positive experience.

Smirnoff’s recent campaigns with Laverne Cox positively reflect the brand’s inclusive purpose. How did the partnership come about?

Mainly because Laverne is so great. We didn’t hire Laverne because she’s an activist or a trans woman, we hired her because she’s accomplished and funny and humble—values that we cherish as a brand.

What I’m most proud about is the fact that she not only fronts our PRIDE campaign, but she’s also the star of our ad campaign all year round. We just got our test scores back actually, which are very important in the industry to make sure that the work we put out is effective and it turns out that we’re in the top 5 percent of industry advertising. I think that says so much about America’s progress as a nation. Regardless of who she is, her character is just so fantastic. The relatability between her and the brand is so strong that people just love the work. That says a lot.

How has working with Laverne made you reassess brand purpose as part of Smirnoff’s messaging? 

It’s true to say we are definitively taking a step forward in this space and it’s also true to say that it’s working. We’re really excited by the direction we’ve been heading in with our recent creative campaigns, and for that reason, you’ll be seeing a whole lot more of it. 

I think it’s also a testament to the time we’re living in. It’s a time when you need to stand up for your values and demonstrate that they can be real allies. We’re proud to be able to carry the mantle. We’re the world’s number one vodka brand, if we can’t do that, then I think it makes it so much harder for other people to be able to do the same.

Diageo, in general, invests heavily in spokespeople to represent their brands. Could you give us an insight into the process you have for choosing talent?

It’s certainly true that if you go back into our archive, you’ll find that we’ve partnered with celebrities throughout our history. It’s one of the ways that we demonstrate that we’re a big, popular brand. 

We always try to partner with folks who embody our values like accomplishment and humility, but with a little bit of wink. It’s the reason we work with Laverne, but it’s also why we’ve worked with Ted Danson. If there were a checklist for people when it comes to representing Smirnoff—then it would be a person who is, on the one hand, successful and accomplished, but who is also down-to-earth and is just like us.

How Brands Are Successfully Engaging Consumers Beyond Paid Facebook And Instagram Ads

New research from Socialbakers shows that Instagram and Facebook dominate the paid social landscape. According to its “Must-Know Social Trends for Q2 2019,” more than 60 percent of ad spend is allocated to Facebook’s news feed rather than being diversified across Instagram feed, stories, suggested video and in-stream placements. 

This is the case even despite marketers increasing their overall spend on Instagram. The findings also show that mobile remains a paramount platform for brands and that influencer marketing continues to surge. Here we’re taking a closer look at the role Facebook and Instagram play in paid social activations and how brands are targeting consumers on a variety of other social platforms that have gained significant traction.

If Instagram and Facebook are the two most popular paid social platforms then influencers are the stars of the show. Socialbaker analyzed over 3 million influencer profiles and found that the number of Instagram influencers affiliated with brands who made posts using #ad increased by 33 percent compared to Q2 2018. That number is expected to surge. According to Business Insider Intelligence estimates, brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022. Amazon is also deepening its influencer marketing efforts with new influencer storefronts. Building on its Amazon influencer program, launched in 2017, the storefront lets influencers link directly to Amazon through channels where hyperlinking a URL isn’t possible. 

The two highest click-through rates (CTR) for brand accounts are on Facebook ad placement, with 1.7 percent clicking through on the news feed and over 0.75 percent clicking a suggested video. Comparatively, for Instagram feed and stories, the number is 0.25 percent or below. Carousel is the leading format for organic interactions on Instagram while it’s the live feature for Facebook. All factors considered, Facebook seems to be the top choice for marketers given the platform moves users from social to web, and ultimately, offers a user experience that leads to lower costs.

When brands put all their eggs in one basket, namely by advertising to everyone, they’re using a blanket strategy. Brands who lack paid social media diversification and employ blanket ads could potentially see less acquisition and conversion in the long run because those ads fail to micro-target niche groups or personalize messages based on consumers’ self-identified interests. Maximizing cross-channel visibility and focusing on paid social media optimization not only help to target new customers, but also re-engages previous ones and allows a brand to reinforce core messages. 

Expanding ads to other social media platforms other than Facebook and Instagram is especially critical given the steady increase in users and engagement on Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube. For example, 300 million people use Pinterest every month and 84 percent of people use the platform when they’re deciding what to buy. What’s more, 98 percent of pinners have tried something new they found on Pinterest. According to Pew Research Center’s survey on social media use in 2018, 94 percent of 18-24 year olds use YouTube. Similarly for Snapchat, 82 percent of users ages 18 to 24 say they use the platform daily, and 71 percent use it multiple times a day.

With 70 percent of brands planning to increase spend on social media networks—and the percentage of US internet users who made a purchase through social media growing to 34 percent this year from 29 percent in 2018, per Bizrate Insights—it’s important to note the ways brands are diversifying their paid social media strategy.

Legacy brands, for example, are beginning to test the waters on Pinterest due to the platform’s roll out of discovery tools such as mobile ad tools and “Shop The Look” ads. In May, Macy’s launched an out-of-home (OOH) campaign called “OUT[FITS], stationing pin codes in popular beaches, lakes and parks. When scanned, the pin code directed consumers to a page on which they could shop the items. Similarly, MillersCoors and PepsiCo have taken to Pinterest. In April 2019, MillersCoors launched its Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails on Pinterest via promoted video ads and carousel. To spread the word about its Quaker Kids Organic line of soft-baked bars, PepsiCo utilized static pins targeted to consumers searching for lunchbox inspiration. 

Brands taking a chance on Pinterest comes at a time when the platform found, in a study of 9 million consumers, that Pinterest households were 29 percent more likely to try a new product within the first 10 months of launch than non-Pinterest households—which included more than 40 consumer packaged goods (CPG) product launches.

Campaign elements are also starting to find their way to Twitter, perhaps in light of the platform’s recent attempt to support influencer marketing. Samsung Spain, for example, partnered with HBO’s Game of Thrones to promote its QLED television sets for a Twitter poll about their favorite characters. During the five-day campaign, the #BatallaQLED hashtag received four times more mentions than the #GameofThrones hashtag in Spain.

Grubhub uses Snapchat creatively via ads and contests to target its college students. In 2018, the food delivery company launched a game called “Food’s Here” accessible via an ad in Snapchat stories. As a reward for winning all three levels, users would win $10 off their first order when they downloaded the Grubhub app. The ad ran for 30 days and its success was measured by swipe-up rate, length of game play and offer redemptions. 

On YouTube, six-second bumper ads have been proved to raise brand affinity. YouTube launched theirTrueView” bumper ads in 2018 after a survey the company conducted showed that people are three times more likely to pay attention to online video ads versus televisions ads. Among 84 TrueView campaigns in beta testing, nine out of 10 drove a significant lift in ad recall, with about a 20 percent average lift. Uber, for example, used 85 different TrueView bumper ad variations to connect with consumers in India, resulting in 63 percent more first trips from YouTube at an 18 percent lower cost per first trip than past campaigns. YouTube released a roundup of the top 20 bumper ads from around the globe with brands like Samsung, iHOP and Hefty earning top spots.

In addition to incorporating Snapchat and YouTube into their social campaigns, brands would be wise to up their mobile strategies given that ads are seen on mobile devices 95.1 percent of the time compared to 4.9 percent of the time on desktop, according to Socialbaker. Sephora and The Home Depot are two examples of brands that are using mobile to deliver customers a personalized shopping experience. Sailthru’s retail personalization report ranked Sephora, The Home Depot and Walmart as the top retailers for data-driven mobile and email customization. Eighty-four percent of the top 25 brands surveyed used mobile push notifications compared with 10 percent of brands not in the top 100. Likewise, in a Forrester study of retailer mobile apps, The Home Depot app ranked first due to strong user experience and Sephora came in second.

Getty, AARP Create Photo Collection To Encourage Inclusive Representation Of Seniors

Getty Images and AARP teamed up to launch a collection of images called the “Disrupt Aging Collection,” to squash senior stereotypes and encourage inclusive representation of the audience in marketing.

Representation has become a core element of brand marketing today yet older generations are consistently left out of the picture. If they are in the picture, that image depicts aging as a time of isolation or a lifestyle devoid of intergenerational friendships.

There are over 114 million Americans over the age of 50, which according to the Longevity Economy 2016 report, contribute $7.6 trillion in annual spending yet 80 percent of them agree they’re stereotyped by marketers. Hence Getty Images and AARP’s “Disrupt Aging Collection,” a bank of 1,400 images that capture moments to help break stereotypes and combat ageist biases in advertising. 

A quick search of the word “woman” in the collection yields several images of seniors enjoying physically active lifestyles, managing their businesses and engaging with technology—the opposite of how they’re traditionally depicted. Searches for “senior/seniors” on Getty Images increased 151 percent year-over-year from June 2018 to June 2019. Searches for celebratory moments that involve others and moments with family have been trending with increases two to tenfold year-over-year, according to Dr. Rebecca Swift, global head of creative insights, Getty Images.

An AARP analysis, which reviewed a sample of more than 1,000 images, found that only 15 percent of media imagery reflects seniors despite the fact that 46 percent of the US adult population is over 50. The analysis also found that while one-third of the US labor workforce are 50 and older, only 13 percent of the images showed this age group in a work setting.

Getty and AARP’s initiative follows additional AARP research showing perceived ageism influences seniors’ shopping habits. Seventy percent of people 50 and over said they’re more likely to buy from brands that feature people their age in marketing. Similarly, 80 percent of the same group says that marketers assume their lifestyle is based on stereotypes and 62 percent would consider switching to a brand that represents people their age. People across generations prefer a mix of ages in ads too, as 81 percent of people 18 and over feel better about brands that feature a mix of ages in marketing. Consumers 18 and over are also more likely to buy from brands that do so.