Walmart Adds Twist To Holiday Toy Catalog—Scannable Tech

For the first time, Walmart has added digital barcodes to its printed holiday toy catalog letting consumers browse and shop toys on the Walmart app. Customers with iOS and Android devices can use their phones to utilize the scan-and-shop feature to purchase toys including 150 exclusives straight from the catalog. 

Walmart’s digital twist on holiday marketing is being promoted in 35 million printed catalogs available in Walmart’s 4,800 US stores. Millions of catalogs are also being sent to customers’ homes and major omnichannel toy resellers in the US. 

The scannable catalog is part of Walmart’s major tech-enabled holiday initiative. New holiday shopping features include an online gift finder that yields personalized recommendations based on criteria, the ability to check out with an associate anywhere in the store and expanded abilities to place online orders from the store with an associate’s help.

In addition to offering consumers simplified shopping experiences, Walmart is ramping up in-store experiential events throughout the holiday season. The retailer will host themed events centered on the year’s film releases including Pokémon, Star Wars and Frozen 2

Last year, ahead of Black Friday, Walmart introduced to its app a store map feature that’s created uniquely for each store. The map allows customers to easily find an item’s exact location using new in-store signage that helps customers orient themselves. Also new to its holiday initiative last year was a redesigned website and the option of free two-day shipping without a membership fee.

Walmart’s quarterly earnings topped estimates, thanks to strength in the US, however, sales fell slightly short of estimates. A strong grocery business led to an increase in the retailer’s online sales by 41 percent in the third quarter. 

Polo Builds Ice Lounge Inside Bloomingdale’s To Promote Outerwear

Polo installed an ice lounge that’s kept at 18 degrees in Bloomingdale’s New York flagship to encourage customers to test out the brand’s outerwear, according to WWD

The Polar Ice Lounge, open from now until December 15, follows last year’s ice-skating rink the brand installed in the men’s department of Bloomingdale’s NY for the holiday season. 

Inside the lounge, created from more than 100 large ice blocks and 3,000 pounds of ice, customers are invited to try on one of the brand’s coats, including Polo’s battery-operated parkas. Customers can enjoy a cup of hot apple cider while capturing all the Instagramable moments inside. 

The lounge is a tie-in to Polo’s holiday advertising campaign, “Out of This World,” which draws inspiration from the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing. A coffee sampling and virtual reality space experience are two immersive activations the retailer also has planned.

Bloomingdale’s group vice president of integrated marketing, Kevin Harter, said that the department store has a strong outerwear business with Polo, and that at last year’s skating rink activation, they sold over 30,000 cups of hot chocolate. 

Strong demand for Ralph Lauren Corp’s Polo shirts and tweed jackets in China helped the retailer grow its shares by nearly 14 percent. The company opened more stores in China and has partnered with local ecommerce platforms such as Alibaba’s Tmall and WeChat to enhance online sales. 

Stronger sales with core products indicate the brand is no longer one only dads are wearing. Appealing to a younger generation involved Polo launching a pop culture-based collection celebrating the 25th anniversary of Friends.

#GirlsHaveNoLimits: Mercedes-Benz USA And Mattel Celebrate National STEM/STEAM Day

In partnership with Mattel and the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP), Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is launching the “No Limits” initiative to help erase the “That’s for boys, not for girls” stigma. The program kicks off today to correspond with the celebration of National STEM/STEAM Day, and as a part of it, MBUSA and Mattel will give away 50,000 Matchbox die-cast toy replicas of a Mercedes-Benz 220SE to participating children. The toy replica will also be available for purchase in stores nationwide beginning in December.

What makes Mercedes-Benz 220SE special is the fact that in this car, Ewy Rosqvist-von Korff, one of the most successful rally drivers, became the first woman to compete in and win the Argentine Grand Prix in 1962. 

Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services for MBUSA said in a press release shared with AList: “Whatever they aspire to be–an astronaut, engineer, judge, nurse, even the President, we want all children to dream big, dream bold and never give up on that dream. We’ve seen that stories like Ewy’s–championing women trailblazers and achievers–can have a big impact by calling into question the gender stereotypes that children may inadvertently adopt.”

According to the National Science Board, women represent as low as 29 percent of the current science and engineering workforce and a lack of encouragement and role models is named by women as the main reason for not pursuing majors and careers in STEM. Aiming to change this, MBUSA, NGCP and Mattel will provide 50,000 young girls in the US with an opportunity to engineer toy racetracks, design cars, engage with female role models and attend STEM workshops and therefore, challenge gender stereotypes (which research shows can impact decisions later in life).  

“Our goal is to inspire children to imagine all that they can become and break down gender stereotypes in the toy aisle with purpose-driven programs like this. Most people don’t know that the creator of Matchbox made the first vehicle for his daughter who was only allowed to bring toys to school that fit inside a matchbox. So, from its origin, it has been an inclusive way for kids to explore the world around them,” said Amanda Moldavon, senior director, Vehicles Brand Creative at Mattel.

Subaru Builds Upon Cause Marketing Efforts With 12th ‘Share the Love Event’

Subaru is launching its 12th annual “Share the Love Event” with an ad campaign through national, broadcast, digital and streaming platform integrations including video partners such as Hulu, Roku and YouTube. 

The campaign is an extension of the automaker’s national charity efforts with The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Make-A-Wish, Meals on Wheels America and National Park Foundation. Subaru created five television spots that bring to life stories of those impacted by its philanthropic work with national charity partners. The emotive spots will air in 30- and 60-second formats on national television and 30- and 15-second formats in targeted digital and social media promotions.

To reach niche audiences, this year Subaru will participate in a series of episodes on the “Science Vs” podcast where local Subaru retailers share how the event has helped them make differences in their hometown charities.

Now through January 2, the automaker will also donate $250 to customers’ choice of charity when a vehicle is purchased or leased at one of its 632 retailers nationwide.

Cause marketing through its “Share the Love Event” has helped Subaru establish itself as more than just an automaker for the past decade. For the duration of the campaign, Subaru and its retailers have donated to the aforementioned charities as well as 1,220 additional hometown charities. By the end of its twelfth event, the company will have given $170 million.

In the latest fiscal year, however, Subaru’s operating profits plunged by almost half. Its net income dropped 33 percent and revenue declined 2.2 percent. Subaru’s earnings were undercut by quality problems including costly recalls and a temporary production shutdown in Japan.

Erica Brown Of Peet’s Coffee: ‘Effective Holiday Marketing Must Be Steeped In Authenticity’

It’s November, and that means the return of limited-time holiday drinks at major coffee chains. Starbucks’ “Toasted White Chocolate Mocha” and Coffee Bean’s “Red Velvet Cocoa” are back on the menu, but Peet’s Coffee goes beyond prepared drinks to make their holiday campaign even more memorable. Each year, the California java brand rolls out a Holiday Blend—which varies annually depending on the best beans sampled across the world from the previous few months. The company also gives back to the community each season, donating tips and contributions to No Kid Hungry non-profit.

To learn more about the brand’s cause and holiday marketing strategy at home and abroad, AList spoke to Erica Brown, retail president at Peet’s Coffee. 

What is one of the most important things about a holiday marketing strategy? 

For Peet’s, effective holiday marketing must be steeped in authenticity. As community is one of our core values, we consider the Holiday Blend a natural extension of this philosophy. First, it is savored during one of the most celebratory seasons—where family, friends and colleagues gather to enjoy the festivities and reminisce about the year gone by. Second, for thirty-four years, Peet’s has supported charities and non-profits through our Holiday Blend.This is part of our mission to uplift the neighborhoods we serve.

 In 2019, we’re partnering with No Kid Hungry to raise funds for the organization’s goal of ending childhood hunger in the United States. We’re specifically timing the effort to Giving Week. Between December 1 and December 7, Peet’s will donate $2.00 USD, up to $30k, for every pound sold at coffeebars and at  

For those not familiar, Giving Tuesday and Giving Week are events that take place in the midst of the holiday season, serving as a gentle reminder to do good in the world at the same time as we’re checking our shopping lists for stocking stuffers or gifts for family and friends. The values behind this concept speak to who we are at Peet’s. Finally, we continue to honor a tradition established by Alfred, where any guest visiting a coffeebar on 12/24 will receive a complimentary small cup of coffee or tea as a thank you for their valued patronage. Any tips or donations collected at our coffeebars that day will also be donated to No Kid Hungry.

How effective would you say cause marketing is as part of a holiday marketing strategy? Or is it part of a strategic, year-round effort?

Consumers, especially millennials, expect transparency from brands on their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. Essentially, they look to align themselves with companies that share their values. We recently commissioned a study conducted by OnePoll that only reinforces this position. It examined taste preferences of 2,000 American respondents, 43 percent of which identified as “coffee connoisseurs,” and found that these connoisseurs were also more likely to spend time researching coffee. Eighty-three percent also investigated if their coffee beans are grown and sourced in a responsible way. 

Since our founding in 1966, Peet’s has engaged its audience with initiatives that underscore our commitment to social good. By nature of who we are, Peet’s is always seeking ways to support our farmers, as well as the community and the neighborhoods we serve. Our Holiday Blend is one example of this, but we also give back year-round to key non-profits through either direct donations or fundraising efforts with other coffees, such as our Anniversary Blend or Warriors Grounds.

Peet’s recently opened a few branches in China. How do you approach holiday marketing there versus the US? 

In 2017, we announced our first-ever China location with the debut of a Shanghai flagship coffeebar. When the 3,900-square foot Donghu Lu coffeebar opened its doors, it was met with immense success, brewing a local cult of Peetniks. Since then, we have expanded to nine coffeebars and will have 12 by end of year, reinforcing that China is a fast-growing market with a flourishing base of consumers in pursuit of better coffee. We approach that market in the same way we foster the US, by helping consumers discover exceptionally fresh, hand-roasted coffee and introducing a variety of new formats. In terms of marketing, we know that the Chinese consumer appreciates a 360-experience and we’ve catered to that demand with unique events, such as a 1966-inspired Shanghai pop-up that honored our original Vine & Walnut coffeebar in Berkeley, California. 

Finally, what was once a historically western holiday is now globally celebrated. And, as part of the holidays, we’re taking the regionally top-selling Coffee Latte and Flat White and offering limited release with a seasonal flair for the Chinese market. Similarly, we’re launching a limited run of Café Domingo to cater to the local consumers’ preference for Medium roasts. 

2020 US Local Advertising Expected To Top $161 Billion

Total local advertising revenue in the US will reach $161.3 billion in 2020, up from $152.5 billion this year, according to new research from BIA Advisory Services. The “U.S. Local Advertising Forecast 2020” shows that political and over-the-top (OTT) advertising and growth in mobile and social ads are reasons why the revenue landscape for 2020 looks robust.

The rise in local ad revenue in the US marks a 5.8 percent increase. Contributing to this growth is traditional media revenue, which accounts for 58.5 percent of total local advertising in 2020 at $94.4 billion—an increase from $93.2 billion in 2019 thanks to political ad spend. 

With the expectation of an aggressive presidential election, $6.58 billion will be spent in local political advertising in 2020, most of which will spread across over-the-air (OTA) television, online and digital, cable, radio and OTT. In each of the three top political revenue-generating markets—Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Phoenix—OTA television will comprise about 47 percent of political ad spend. 

Locally activated OTT advertising, on the other hand, will double from $1.06 billion in 2020 to $2.13 billion by 2024. 

The report also projects significant ad spending in native social ads next year. Current social media ad revenues from all forms of mobile devices represent 93.8 percent of total social ad spend. That figure will grow to 96 percent by 2024 as users shift from desktops to portable devices. The mobile native and social segment of mobile advertising is forecasted to grow 13.9 percent from 2019 to 2024, making it the fastest-growing area. Specifically, $29.5 billion will be spent on mobile in 2020, and $44.6 billion by 2024.

Findings are based on nationwide total US spending estimates for five years in addition to individual media forecasts for 13 media.

A. Bradley Nelson Appointed CMO At Sotheby’s International Realty

This week in marketing moves, Topgolf Entertainment Group welcomes Stuart as new chief marketing officer, Sotheby’s International Realty promotes A. Bradley Nelson to CMO. 

Sotheby’s International Realty Welcomes New Chief Marketing Officer

The global residential real estate brand, Sotheby’s International Realty, announced the promotion of A. Bradley Nelson to CMO. 

As the company’s long-time veteran, Nelson previously held several senior marketing roles at the realty firm. In his new position, he will be supporting the brand’s affiliated agents and companies by developing and delivering industry-leading marketing, product and technology offerings.

Nelson said about his appointment: “We are fortunate to have so many smart and successful agents affiliated with Sotheby’s International Realty. By focusing on their end-user experience in our marketing, product and technology offerings, and by leveraging exclusive marketing partnerships offered by Sotheby’s auction house and our media partners, I believe we can help them effectively navigate the current competitive and transformational real estate environment as they focus on expertly serving their clients.”

Topgolf Entertainment Group Taps Stuart Foster As CMO

A global sports and entertainment community, Topgolf Entertainment Group, announced the appointment of Stuart Foster as CMO. Foster will be in charge of the sports community’s overall vision and strategy, engagement growth, venue visits and brand loyalty. He will report directly to the Topgolf Entertainment Group global chief marketing officer, Brian Radics. 

Previously, Foster was a VP Global Brand Marketing at Hilton Worldwide and previously led world-known brands such as L’Oréal and Moet Hennessy.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the Topgolf family. Topgolf has grown tremendously throughout the last several years, with an inspired vision and global community. I look forward to diving in with the team and helping take the venue business to the next level,” Foster said.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, November 15. 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, MarketingNew Arena at Seattle CenterSeattle, WA

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

Instagram To Extend Hidden Likes Test To Some US Users

This week, Instagram offers to pay for creators’ IGTV production costs, Facebook expands its breaking news tag to publishers in more regions and the Federal Trade Commission releases updated influencer disclosure guidelines.

Instagram Offers To Cover Production Costs For Creators’ IGTV Content 

The offer is being extended to select influencers but has one caveat. 

Why it matters: IGTV has struggled to gain viewership since its June 2018 launch, making this a small incentive for influencers to ramp up IGTV content creation. 

The details: Bloomberg says that Instagram is willing to pay influencers thousands of dollars towards production costs in exchange for a set number of videos. The platform has already signed dozens of deals, the biggest being $250,000 for more than 20 posts. The partnership restricts creators from posting to YouTube and enlisting any third-party sponsorship for giveaways. One caveat is that creators aren’t allowed to discuss social issues, politics or elections in their videos.

YouTube Will Ask Creators To Clarify Whether Their Content Is Suitable For Children

The move follows an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over YouTube’s violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Why it matters: YouTube will also stop serving personalized adverts alongside children’s content, which, the platform says, could result in a revenue decrease for some creators.

The details: After the FTC fined YouTube $170 million dollars for its failure to comply with COPPA, YouTube was ordered to create a system to better identify content that’s aimed at children. During the upload process, creators will now be asked whether the video they’re publishing is suitable for children. YouTube will further its initiative via machine-learning to identify content targeted at kids. Comments on child-related content will also be disabled. 

Facebook Expands Publishers’ Access To Breaking News Tags In More Regions

The feature is being extended after Facebook’s year-long test in several markets.

Why it matters: The platform’s red “breaking” tag doesn’t impact news feed post rankings, but Facebook says they improve a post’s performance. Following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s statements about free speech, it seems Facebook is attempting to reinforce its role of news provider. 

The details: After running a test that allowed more than 100 news publishers from North America, Latin America, Europe, India and Australia to identify and label stories as “breaking news” on Facebook, the platform found that people engaged more actively with these stories. Now, the breaking news tags will be available to selected publishers in Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

Federal Trade Commission Announces Simplified Guidelines For Influencer Disclosure 

According to, the brochure explains laws surrounding disclosure and sponsored content in a manner that influencers will understand.

Why it matters: The FTC has made significant efforts to mitigate misconduct in digital spaces. Earlier this year, the FTC slapped TikTok with a $5.7 million penalty after the platform illegally collected personal information pertaining to children. Later, it fined Facebook $5 billion in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The details: Entitled “Disclosure 101,” the FTC’s updated guidelines provide clear instructions on how to disclose a partnership and reiterates the fact that financial relationships are not just limited to a monetary transaction. If sponsored content appears in a live stream, the brochure notes, then the disclosure must be repeated periodically so that viewers who opt-in at different times see it. The brochure also states that influencers shouldn’t mention products or services they’ve never used.

Instagram To Extend Test Of Hiding Likes To US Users

According to Social Media Today, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri announced at the WIRED25 conference that the platform will extend its test of hiding likes on posts to some users in the US.

Why it matters: Expanding the hidden likes test to additional users in the US suggests that it’s generating results, but what those results are, remains to be announced.

The details: Instagram launched the initial test in Canada in May then extended it to seven additional countries in July. Still, Instagram hasn’t released any data on how no likes will impact engagement and metrics.

Report Shows Impact Of Instagram’s Hidden Likes Test On Influencer Engagement

The HypeAuditor study surveyed more than 154,000 Instagram influencers to examine the impact of Instagram’s hidden likes experiment. 

Why it matters: The removal of total likes is impacting overall engagement stats for influencers, but the results aren’t definitive.

The details: The study found that total like counts have fallen in regions where Instagram implemented the test. Nano-influencers have seen a pronounced reduction in some areas but not all. Brazilian influencers in the mid-tier influencer have seen a bigger hit while Japanese influencers experienced a spike in the major influencer category.

TikTok Partners With Yandex On Ad Sales

TikTok is collaborating with Yandex, “Russia’s Google,” known for its range of online services.

Why it matters: The collaboration gives marketers a way to reach Russian consumers on TikTok. Half of the Russian consumers use social media, making the county a ripe market for growth. This also means that TikTok is expanding the platform to third parties for ad sales to help expand its revenue base.
The details: Yandex advertisers will reach TikTok users in Russia through Yandex Advertising Network (YAN), the company’s ad-serving platform. The video ads will appear in TikTok users’ curated feeds in a format that Yandex adapted for TikTok. The ads will also be adapted in a mobile format and targeted at specific TikTok users.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, November 15. 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

Influencers Are Now More Trusted Spokespeople Than Celebrities

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.)

Influencers are the new celebrity—whatever their lead, Gen Z and millennial follow. Exactly how much influence does the new class of cultural tastemakers have on young Americans and how much trust do consumers have in influencers? Morning Consult’s new report, “The Influencer Report: Engaging Gen Z and Millennials,” explored answers to these questions to reveal how brands can leverage influencers of different scales to reach young consumers.

The report found that 72 percent of young Americans follow influencers on social media and that teenagers are most likely to follow multiple people. Among this group, men prefer to follow gaming and sports influencers whereas women prefer beauty and fashion influencers. 

According to research, gaining inspiration, learning about new trends and being exposed to interesting, fun content are among the reasons why young consumers follow influencers. “Seeing their successful lives inspires me to do better in my own,” one respondent noted, while another said, “I like to see the new beauty trends and what works and doesn’t work.” Voyeurism is also another reason young consumers follow influencers’ moves closely as one stated, “To see what they do with their lives and their wealth. It’s intriguing to follow their life.” 

For an influencer to impact a consumer’s choices, however, they must appear authentic. 58 percent of respondents said being authentic and genuinely caring about their interests is a very important trait for influencers to have, followed by 53 percent for being funny or having an engaging personality. Interestingly, only 10 percent ranked having a large following as very important. Additionally, both Gen Z and millennials said the influencer must seem knowledgeable about the product, brand or industry they’re promoting and the influencer must be the type of person the consumer can relate to. 

Surprisingly, influencers are now more trusted as spokespeople than celebrities as 50 percent of millennials said they trust influencers they follow for product recommendations compared to only 38 percent for their favorite celebrities. For Gen Z, top YouTube influencers are as popular as major celebrities. For example, as many Gen Z men are familiar with gaming YouTuber PewDiePie as know Lebron James, but the kicker is that PewDiePie is more well-liked. When asked to name their favorite influencers, respondents listed PewDiePie, Jeffrey Star, Shane Dawson, Markiplier and Kylie Jenner. Four out of five of these influencers are YouTubers.

Social media remains a key driver of consumer purchases for Gen Z and millennials. Eighty-eight percent say they learn about products they’re interested through social media and 56 percent have purchased a product after seeing a post from someone they follow. What’s more, half say social media is where they most often learn about new products to buy. 

Where do young consumers engage with influencers the most? Gen Z and millennial men prefer YouTube, while a majority of both Gen Z and millennial women prefer Instagram. Those 13-16 are as likely to use TikTok as Facebook or Twitter.

Consumers themselves expressed a desire to become influencers, with 54 percent of respondents saying they’d become an influencer, given the opportunity. The chance to enlist micro-influencers, a category of influencer whose social media audience ranges from 5,000-100,000 followers, is ripe for the picking as consumers of all stripes are largely willing to post sponsored content for money. 

Morning Consult’s findings are based on 2,000 survey interviews with 13-38 year-olds.

Gucci Gives Millennials What They Really Want: A Pop-Up

Gucci is introducing a number of luxury pop-up stores in shopping malls around the world—an experiential first for the brand. The inaugural brightly-colored pop-up, called “Gucci Pin,” will launch in the US at Denver’s Cherry Creek Shopping Center. The concept was inspired by the pins seen on interactive digital maps and its first activation will focus on the brand’s Gift Giving line and campaign. Items for purchase will include women’s ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories.

To further enhance the pop-ups, branded Gucci pins featuring patterns of the themed pop-ups will appear on Google Maps in some countries. Each location will also include a digital installation that utilizes augmented reality (AR) technology, though additional details weren’t disclosed.

Gucci pin-themed AR offerings and photo filters for Snapchat and Instagram are also in the works. The high-fashion brand recently launched a 3D Snapchat portal lens that transports users to a Gucci-filled holiday beach and lets them interact with signature handbags and accessories from the brand.

Additional immersive experiences for Gucci include a forthcoming Chinese New Year-themed store, psychedelic pop-up store dedicated to luggage, accessories and ready-to-wear, and a Mickey Mouse-inspired pop-up featuring a baggage carousel.

Over the last few years, Gucci has made strides wooing millennials. Data from L2 Research shows that Gucci was the best performing digital fashion brand in 2016 and 2017. Among key measures like website and ecommerce, digital marketing and social media, Gucci outranked Michael Kors, Fendi, Burberry and Louis Vuitton.

Gucci has leveraged partnerships with hip-hop artists and promoted theatrical fashion shows via social media, but after the release of a controversial sweater that critics likened to black face, that momentum slowed. According to Tribe Dynamics, the brand lost the top spot among luxury companies for social media engagement in March. A drop in quarterly North American sales then followed.