CMO Council Offers Discounted Access To Global Library Of Content

The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to rethink their entire marketing approach but many lack the necessary data to improve responsiveness. To help businesses adjust strategies accordingly, the CMO Council is offering discounted access to its online decision support center and research library for $95 a year. 

Using the code SPRING2020, struggling businesses can tap into The CMO Library for unlimited access to peer-based knowledge and real-time market data.

Recent research from the CMO Council shows that marketers have been side-swiped by the coronavirus crisis and are looking for response ideas and customer engagement solutions. The findings show 84 percent of global marketers expect the pandemic will multiply business disruption globally and 90 percent expect to make changes to their marketing plans.

These businesses are hoping to find solutions from others who have overcome previous market upheavals as many lack the foresight to navigate marketing in the age of the coronavirus. 

According to the CMO Council’s data, 66 percent of marketers said they don’t have enough real-time visibility and insight into the pandemic’s impact across demand and supply chains. Additionally, two-thirds are dissatisfied with the quality, timeliness and usefulness of the decision support data currently out there.

Upgrading to the Library subscription will automatically convert current CMO Council members to a premium membership.

AR’s Revival Of Brand In The Hand Marketing

Originally published at AW360 by Pete Oberdorfer.

Years ago, when mobile smartphones became ubiquitous, it ushered in a new era of “brand in the hand” marketing, leveraging these new devices that people carried everywhere to serve brand experiences that were both personal and gave brands massive amounts of data. But things have already changed so much—this format is evolving rapidly, to the point of being unrecognizable from even five years ago.

Now, we can move way beyond text messaging campaigns or even QR codes, and directly into animated storytelling that directly jumps off the product. With augmented reality, “brand in the hand” has reached a new level of engagement and personalization.

Better still, the barrier to entry is less than it’s ever been. Most mobile devices are loaded with features that can integrate into these experiences: GPS for location-based AR games, cloud-enabled CMS services for updating content, and graphics engines for real-time gaming and visualization. Any and all of these can create endless opportunities for innovative storytelling—a type of experience that wasn’t even feasible a decade ago as compared to what is possible with mobile AR/XR today.

This is a new paradigm, enabled by the convergence of consumer behaviors, along with the power of mobile software and hardware. Before digital and mobile, consumers had to rely on out-of-home advertising or broadcast spots to hear a brand story or convey information about a product. Back then, users often encountered a product at the point of the purchase decision. Only recently has there been enough ubiquity of powerful mobile, connected devices that people are able to use a “camera-first” engagement method with their environment. By enabling users to easily scan products for brand-specific stories and information, they’re able to retrieve immediate AR experiences within the context of their shopping environment. This has evolved from text messaging campaigns and listed websites just a few years ago, into fully integrated holographic experiences that integrate with the packaging.

Building a modern “brand in the hand” experience

While these experiences are now easier to create, it’s still important to deliver “brand in the hand” AR that lives up to the promise of the technology and earns engagement from its audience. Each project’s approach must combine several principles, ones that we’ve successfully rolled out to our brand partners across countless AR experiences.

  1. These experiences must be brief, ideally no more than around 30-60 seconds since attention spans tend to be lower for mobile users on the go
  2. Make experiences evergreen, with content updated over time so as to invite repeated engagement
  3. Add interactivity or gamified mechanics to encourage user investment. After all, it’s more fun to play rather than just sit and watch
  4. Make your designs visually polished. This is no time to hold back on creativity
  5. Create experiences that are seamless with reality, including how it enters and exits the AR mode
  6. Always tell a good story with relatable characters and/or narratives that excite, inform and entertain
  7. Make every aspect of the experience easy to trigger, with a low barrier of entry

The future of brand in the hand 

AR-driven “brand in the hand” experiences can provide results in ways that more traditional media, like print, broadcast or the web, are no longer able to provide. It’s always proven difficult to serve brand messages to the consumer as they are making the decision to purchase. With AR comes a rare opportunity to do just that, delivering messages and stories right at the store shelves, allowing experiences to jump right from the products themselves. These kinds of packaging or product-activated AR apps have been used by literally millions and millions of people, and the resulting effects on sales are undisputed. For example, our “Living Wine Labels” app increased sales for “19 Crimes” wines by more than 200 percent.

And AR is only getting bigger, with tech companies pouring billions of dollars into AR/XR/MR technology, trying to be the first hardware platforms for a “mixed reality” future. Facebook’s Oculus division is targeting a 2023 AR wearable, Apple is releasing a wearable “glasses” AR device that same year that they say will entirely replace their iPhone, Google has devoted billions to their Google Play Services for AR, and Microsoft has a robust mixed reality presence with their HoloLens 2 device. Brands need to quickly adopt a strategy that allows them to participate in this increasing consumer wave of AR. So, why not start by experimenting with “brand in the hand?”

Coronavirus Causes Mission-Based Marketing To Spike

Nearly three quarters of advertising executives think coronavirus will have a greater impact on US ad spend than the 2008 financial crisis, according to a new survey from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), “Coronavirus Ad Spend Impact: Buy-Side.”

Seventy percent of media buyers have adjusted or paused their short-term ad plans for March-June. Seventy-three percent said the pandemic will impact their 2020-21 upfront spend commitments, estimating a 20 percent drop from their initial plans. 

The short-term impact is the greatest for traditional media as 39 percent of marketers have reduced ad spend for traditional media versus 33 percent who have decreased digital ad spend. In addition to the slightly less negative impact on digital spend, the findings suggest a faster rebound for digital in Q2.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of respondents have paused all advertising spend for the remainder of Q1 and Q2. Another 46 percent of respondents are adjusting ad spend for the rest of Q1 and Q2. Impact on Q3 and Q4 spending is expected to be more modest.

In response to the pandemic, 63 percent of advertisers are also changing their messaging, resulting in a 42 percent jump in mission-based marketing and a 41 percent increase in cause-related marketing.

Over a third (35 percent) of advertisers are also adjusting their in-market tactics, leading to a 38 percent increase in audience targeting, 35 percent rise in over-the-top/connected television targeting and 34 percent increase in mobile/tablet device targeting. 
Findings are based on answers from 390 respondents comprised of media planners, media buyers and brands spanning multiple categories, between March 18-24.

John S. Couch On Leveraging The Art Of Creative Rebellion

How does one protect their fragile creative ideas in the face of constant media bombardment and pressures to conform? In “The Art of Creative Rebellion: How to Champion Creativity, Change Culture, and Save Your Soul,” John S. Couch answers the question through his experience as Hulu vice president of product design and previous leadership roles at CBS, eBay and The Museum of Contemporary Art. The result is a call to practice radical candor and get comfortable with being uncomfortable in the name of pursuing creativity without having to arbitrarily please higher-ups.

We spoke with Couch about his tips for leveraging creative rebellion in the age of coronavirus, how marketers can imbue the creative spirit within their teams and how introverted marketers, designers and creators can confidently share their ideas in meetings and beyond.

You believe creative thinking requires only contemplation: how can marketers and creators today ensure they’re not getting sucked into endless screen time/work/social life and actually take the time to contemplate? What are some best practices that have worked for you and your teams?

What I have implemented heavily within my own team at work, when I was physically there, was every year I had a mindfulness meditation teacher come out and do a workshop with the whole team. We also put stand-up desks in place to make sure that people are not just sitting, like out of a scene from Wall-e where they’re just sitting there and getting fed information but not really getting any nutrition out of it. 

One of the things that I found is I don’t know what I think until I am silent until I have a moment to move away from the bombardment of information coming in. When you have nothing but information bombardment, you’re in a reactionary state and you’re reacting, but you’re not acting.

If I can stay quiet for even just 10 minutes and allow the noise to settle, then that’s where creative ideas come from. I think that’s one of the reasons why people find most of the best ideas when they’re in the shower or they’re doing something which doesn’t allow them to be distracted by media input or work demands. Then that muddy water of the mind is able to settle down into the bottom of the cup and the clarity of the water reveals what you really think.

Another thing that I do is I write, not just books, but I write down in a journal all the stuff that’s bothering me as a way of clearing out my head. And I don’t know what I think sometimes until I’ve written it down.

You have to up-level out of the momentary sense that you’re being productive into slowing down, paradoxically, in order to think strategically so you can go faster in the long run.

I find in design, whether it’s communication design or product design, there tends to be a reaction to the competition. Well, the competition is doing X so we need to react to that and do X, too. A typical example: Ten email newsletters seem to work. Let’s do 100. By increasing quantity you’re not addressing the core issue. The problem you’re trying to solve is probably four or five levels up, which is, I’m trying to communicate with my customers or I’m trying to reach people. And how do I do that? So instead of doing newsletters, maybe there’s a different way to do it.

What do you predict will be changes that will affect creatives in the coming years? 

I think creativity is probably the one area that’s going to be even more important and powerful in the future and not just because it’s my business. But because with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), any kind of non-creative work is going to be systematized to machines.

That will require people who are used to functioning on a certain level of creativity or maybe complete lack of creativity to suddenly realize that in order to remain relevant, they need to start thinking in a creative way. And this is not a bad thing. This is actually what humans are most geared towards—is actually being creative. 

We make creativity the thing that you either have or you don’t have and I would argue, as I wrote in “The Art of Creative Rebellion,” that it’s intrinsically how you’re born. You don’t tell a kid to be creative. They’re just naturally making games and drawing and making music and banging on things. For whatever reason we downplay that as we get older and we start to move into systems which are mechanized. My armchair philosophy is that essentially, humans since the industrial revolution were put into roles in relation to a machine or assembly line. If we take away the dehumanizing effects of that kind of labor and allow human beings to be more creative, that’s the one thing that will separate us from AI in the short term, because AI will take a long time to catch up to the non-linear thinking of the human mind.

How can marketers imbue the spirit of creative rebellion within their teams?

The interesting thing about a lot of businesses and not just marketing but in general is that they tend to be hierarchical in their structure. Whoever is at the top of the heap becomes the person that everybody on the lower levels of the pyramid are trying to please on some level. It’s dangerous because on one hand, if you’re lucky then the person in the very top is a visionary and has the ability to guide things. But if you’re not lucky, then you have someone at the very top who is limited by their own biases in the way that they see the world, which sometimes can be really good if it advances you.

In reality, the best environment for being creative is a flatter one where you practice radical candor. This isn’t a free-for-all, there’s still structure in that, but there’s the ability to speak openly without fearing that whatever you’re saying could have a negative blowback on yourself. 

Within my organization, I have interns and associate designers who call me out on my bad ideas all the time, and I encourage it. This is not a license to be critically mean to somebody—it should be a stress test to the actual ideas. If the idea doesn’t survive the stress test within your company, it’ll die when it goes out into the public. So what I try to do with my team is allow them the ability to be themselves completely and truly allow an environment which is safe to speak openly and speak truth about any idea. 

In one of your blog posts, you mention being an introvert. What advice would you give to introverted marketing executives, designers and creatives who struggle to share ideas in a meeting or throw them out into the world?

I actually had this problem with my team as a whole because not only am I introverted, but designers in general tend to be introverted. A woman on my team came to me and said that she felt that within the construct of a tech company that it’s difficult sometimes to have her voice heard. As I dug into it, I realized it wasn’t just a female thing, it was a designer thing. It was people who felt terribly uncomfortable explaining what they’re doing to a larger cohort.

For me personally, at one point the thought of speaking in front of large groups terrified me, but I realized that if I didn’t get above it that I wouldn’t be able to represent the work of my team well.

At first I tried to take public speaking on like an actor in a role. That way I could hide behind it. But what I found that was really useful was that in order to address the introversion was to get in front of people and say, as an experiment, I’m actually going to be just me. When I encouraged my designers to go through the same thing, what I realized is that you can fumble your way through it, but if your story is solid, then it tends to get you through. Just know your story and speak truthfully to that.

You spearheaded Hulu’s first redesign in a decade via Hulu Experience—how, if at all, do you strike a balance between innovative and familiar when undertaking such big and strategic creative endeavors?

Thinking of how much influence Apple had on me—when the iPhone first came out everybody was using a BlackBerry or some sort of keyboard-based phone. And the immediate reaction was, no one’s going to use a glass screen that’s flat.

People are going to tell you that they want more of the same thing that they’ve always had, not realizing that there’s another thing. Steve Jobs up-leveled the whole question of what a phone is and how one interacts with it. So anything which is truly original is always ugly on first experience.

The problem for a creative director or a marketer or anybody who’s trying something different is that they have to say, yeah, I see the data, but I have up-leveled the problem and mitigated it by doing prototypes and testing. 

When acting on your ideas, you have to be able to stomach the drop from underneath your feet and be okay with putting it all on the block. If you don’t then you spend your whole life professionally trying to arbitrarily please somebody above you. Whereas if you at least believe in something that you’ve done and it goes sideways, at least you went down with the thing that you believed in versus going down with the thing you felt was a compromise. And you can always bounce back really fast from a problem like that because you’ve maintained your principles.

Can you recall the first time you deployed creative rebellion in the corporate world and what you learned from the experience?

About seven years ago, I was at a company called Magento, which is an Adobe company now. The founder Roy Rubin asked me if we can do something to affect the environment, which I thought was very forward-thinking of him.

My wife connected me to a few street artists in Los Angeles and I had them come into the offices. They made these amazing murals. I didn’t tell anybody I was doing it, I just had it done. But the rebellion part of it was I remember there was this one mural near my office featuring a giant dragon and tiger. And I had this engineer come over and get freaked out and angry about the mural. Instead of getting into a conflict with him, I said, well, tell me, what do you think about it? As we talked, he explained why it concerned him and I explained to him what the meaning was behind it and the reason why I did it. Within about fifteen minutes, it was all okay. It was really a confrontation with the unknown or the new that threw him off. Ironically, the first week or so, there was a lot of complaining about it and questions like, why does this tech company have giant murals and what do they mean? And then within about a week, the executives were coming through with groups of people and showing off the art.

I realized that part of creative rebellion for me was learning how to be very uncomfortable for a short period of time. If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re probably not growing. I believe in risk, I don’t believe in recklessness. There’s a difference. And you shouldn’t do things which are reckless that can affect people adversely. But you should do things which are calculated in the risk.

I think part of creative rebellion for leaders is the ability to be extremely yourself, tell the truth and to borrow from Brené Brown, be vulnerable. The more that you expose what you don’t know as much as what you do know, it’s not a weakness and people come to help at that point, helping alleviate the strain of whatever huge endeavor you’re doing.

If giving an idea to “a group of engaged individuals who can take the ember of the idea, add fuel to it and turn it into a bonfire” is so important for breeding creativity, how can marketers/teams be proactive in this process while teleworking?

While working from home, keep a notebook and write down ideas and Post-it notes and put them on the walls because no one’s looking. 

In a weird way, this coronavirus can help stabilize a lot of connections that people have been missing. The virtualness of it may, in a weird way, allow people to get centered around what is important. A lot of the embers that I was talking about are hard to find. When you go into a conference room and you try to say, hey, let’s have a brainstorming session around something, it almost never works. It almost becomes a one-upmanship.

I believe ideas are so delicate. This really delicate ‘ember’ of an idea, if you bring it in too quickly into a corporate environment, it can be dismissed suddenly. What’s important is to have a non-fear based environment, a sandbox, so to speak, that you can then bring the ember into. And then there’s a ceremony within your team plus the idea of what you’re doing. It’s a “yes and.” Not being in an actual physical environment with someone can alleviate some of that stress that you would feel by being in physical proximity to them. And I find that I can more easily exchange ideas that way.

What We’re Reading—Week Of March 23rd

We’ve searched for the most pressing marketing news so you don’t have to. Here’s what’s happening so far the week of March 23.

Marketers Think COVID-19 Will Be Worse For Advertising Than The 2008 Financial Crisis

A survey from the IAB suggests how marketers plan to calibrate their advertising decisions in light of the current crisis, including a figure that 74 percent of respondents said they think the coronavirus pandemic will have a larger impact on the advertising spend than the 2008 financial crisis.

Why it matters: The survey highlights just how marketers plan to adjust spend for the year.

Doing Their bit In A Crisis: Dyson, Yves Saint Laurent, Spotify, John Lewis And More

How brands are supporting initiatives around coronavirus, from fabricating ventilators to supporting the NHS.

Why it matters: Recent findings support brands taking a stand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Grocery Private Brands Stand To Gain In A Post-Coronavirus World
Modern Retail

“Private brands present a customer acquisition opportunity — especially as people’s shopping patterns dramatically change.”

Why it matters: Consumer behaviors and shopping patterns will certainly be affected by this crisis beyond the current inflection point, but to what extent remains a major question.

How Companies Can Set Employees Up For Success When Working From Home

“Companies should consider several factors to ensure employees feel supported and enabled during this time.”

Why it matters: Adapting to this new work from home paradigm means equipping your employees with the right tools and setting expectations.

Just 8% Of Consumers Think Brands Should Stop Advertising Due To The Coronavirus Outbreak
Marketing Week

“A survey of more than 35,000 consumers globally by Kantar found that just 8% thought brands should stop advertising.”

Why it matters: Listen to the consumers: they’re expecting brands to address what everyone is facing now.

A Regularly Updated List Tracking Marketers’ Response To Coronavirus

A roundup of how brands including QuickBooks, Jimmy John’s, JanSport, Crocs and Ford are responding to coronavirus and tweaking ad campaigns.

Why it matters: Businesses of all sizes are experiencing negative fallout from the pandemic and silence from brands isn’t an option in the eyes of consumers.

What Coronavirus Means For Sports Marketing
Marketing Dive

Brands, especially smaller ones, must come up with a new plan or redirect budgets to social and esports if they’re to continue marketing to sports.

Why it matters: As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA suspended its season and the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics has been rescheduled to a date beyond 2020.

Nike: In Times Like These, Strong Brands Get Even Stronger
Marketing Week

On an analyst call, Nike CEO John Donahoe said his teams are exploring designs for personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses and others on the coronavirus frontline. Additionally, Nike has made the premium part of its app free for 90 days and launched a digital campaign across the US and Europe with the messaging, “Play inside, play for the world.”

Why it matters: After closing its China stores as the country fought to contain the virus (with now 80 percent of stores back open), Nike is applying what it learned abroad to the US market.

The Significance Of Brand Marketers’ Response During COVID-19 Crisis
Chief Marketer

Consumer packaged goods brands have the potential to use digital ads to support consumers and help alleviate their concerns via product-centric tutorials and educational content.

Why it matters: How marketers respond to the pandemic can impact brand perception in the long-term.

‘Your Communities Want To Hear From You More Than Ever’: How SAP CMO Alicia Tillman Is Leading Through The Coronavirus Crisis

After canceling three of its own customer events at SXSW, SAP’s CMO Alicia Tillman instructed her team to reshape what has been a physical approach with events via digital and short-term activations including a heavy dependence on social media.

Why it matters: Communication with consumers during the coronavirus crisis should be a top priority for brands.

Social Conscious Brands Are Winning Big With Influencer Marketing


Consumers are increasingly making purchases based on their beliefs and expect brands to show their beliefs.

Why it matters: Cause-marketing and sustainability create positive associations for brands and influencers.

Starting As CMO During The COVID-19 Pandemic


Think3 CMO Adam Singer found that Fortune 500 businesses aren’t equipped for remote workforce management.

Why it matters: Social distancing in the age of coronavirus will show which brands have effective teleworking policies in place around onboarding and creative management.

The Power Of Purpose: How The Advertising, Marketing And Media Industries Can Help Fight Coronavirus


Repurposing ad creative, donating media time, creating at-home experiences and sponsoring the early release of movies and content to create virtual premieres are all ways ad and marketing industries can lift spirits during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Brands that deploy tone-deaf campaigns or messaging right now run the risk of losing customers.

How Burger King’s Data-Driven Marketing Drives Strategic Growth: Q&A With Antonello Alexandre

MarTech Advisor

Alexandre says the key takeaways for Burger King campaigns include tapping into local insights, leveraging macro consumers trends fast, spending time in the field and integrating data from multiple sources.

Why it matters: Using local insights, Burger King ran a television spot around its mango habanero sandwich, which led to the brand doubling its sales in the premium layer of its menu.

Are You Leading Through The Crisis … Or Managing The Response?

Harvard Business Review

During crises, many leaders either take a narrow view, get seduced by managing, over-centralize the response or forget the human factors.

Why it matters: The authors note that crises are most often over-managed and under-led. Leaders need to tread lightly and wisely during coronavirus as their actions will determine their fate.

Five Key Moves To Make Now To Adapt To The Coronavirus Economy


Brands should make immediate investments in ecommerce experiences, enlist chatbots and voice assistants, leverage voice search, focus on first-party data and embrace personalization.

Why it matters: As consumers self-quarantine, they will turn to digital channels for every part of the purchase funnel.

Brands Promote Social Distancing With Altered Logos, Slogans

Brands are creatively employing the concept of social distancing in marketing around the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Messaging demands a delicate touch right now as brands navigate the right approach to something everyone is dealing with.

4As: 56% Of Consumers Interested In Brands’ COVID-19 Initiatives
Marketing Dive

Over half of consumers surveyed were happy with brands’ cause-marketing initiatives in response to the coronavirus crisis, according to a new survey from the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) and market research platform Suzy.

Why it matters: “Only 15 percent of consumers said they did not want to hear from brands at this time.” How is your brand responding to COVID-19?

Olympics Postponement Brings Confusion To An Already Nervous Ad Industry
Marketing Dive

The Tokyo Summer Games have been postponed until summer 2021 throwing more of the industry into a tailspin.

Why it matters: After fraught cancelations from SXSW and a late postponement from Cannes Lions, sponsors and advertisers have been bracing for the next domino to fall. It’s time to survey the landscape.

Coca-Cola GB Suspends All Marketing Activity
PR Week

Coca-Cola (which includes Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero, Fanta, Sprite and Powerade) is suspending all of its marketing activities in Great Britain due to the coronavirus crisis.

Why it matters: A Coca-Cola spokesperson noted the direction the brand will be taking in lieu of marketing activities: “As we all adjust to these very different circumstances, we will focus our efforts on how we can make a difference to our consumers, customers and communities in the weeks and months ahead.

Marketing In The Age Of Coronavirus: The Dos And (Many) Don’ts

Pause, read this article and reflect before considering your coronavirus “angle.”

Why it matters: “When people and companies start capitalizing on an opportunity like this, for the at-home shopper, it reeks of opportunism and strikes the wrong tone.”

Are Brands Living Up To Their Purpose During The Coronavirus Crisis? 


Pret a Manger CEO Pano Christou said in his blog that the brand would close its seating areas and operate on a to-go basis only, offering National Health Service workers free hot drinks and providing a 50 percent discount on all other products. Conversely, Tesla was accused of violating orders to conduct minimal operations at its California factory.

Why it matters: Brands have the chance to show their true colors in how they respond to coronavirus.

Cause Marketing In The Time Of COVID-19

Chief Marketer

Chief Marketer’s roundup of brands helping the community amid coronavirus includes Burger King, the NBA, Walgreens, Under Armour, Tito’s Vodka, Hootsuite, Jameson, T-Mobile, KFC, Kraft Heinz, Apple, Shopify and Facebook.

Why it matters: Brands need to prove to consumers that they’re listening to communities.

DTC Brands Are Tightening Up How Much They Spend On Digital Advertising 

Modern Retail

CEO of Within Joe Yakuel estimates that his clients’ ad spend dropped over 20 percent in the second week of March, likely as a result of shoppers tightening up their wallets because of coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brands will have to figure out how to market their products and services as an essential or a good deal.

How Marketers And Agencies Are Trying To Strike The Right Tone In The Age Of Coronavirus


KFC, Coors Light and Hershey’s recently pulled television spots to avoid coronavirus insensitivities.

Why it matters: As consumers navigate the effects of the coronavirus on their daily lives and finances, brands must tailor messaging accordingly. 

Why Google’s Decision To Withhold Programmatic Data Is Pushing Some Advertisers To Pull Ad Spend


Digiday reports that Google rejected one US based retailer’s request for granular log-level data about the programmatic bids they won and lost over the key festive period in 2019.

Why it matters: Google’s decision to withhold data has led to a handful of sophisticated programmatic advertisers to pull from Google’s marketplace. As an alternative, some advertisers are resorting to supply-path optimization techniques to broker better programmatic deals. 

Creative Works: What Brands Are Doing For The Coronavirus Pandemic

The Drum

A roundup of creative ads and spots showing how brands are communicating with consumers during coronavirus, including an ad from Mucinex with the messaging, “Spread facts, not fear. Fingers off your face. It’s an easy way to get sick.”

Why it matters: Brands need to acknowledge what consumers are going through as a result of coronavirus.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly reading list is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, March 27. Have a tip? We’re looking for must-read articles related to trends and insights in marketing and media. Let us know at

ANA Assembles CMOs For Coronavirus Coalition

This week in marketing leadership moves, the ANA taps CMOs for a coronavirus coalition, Popeyes hires Paloma Azulay as global CMO, Syl Saller retires from Diageo and The Washington Post brings on Brad Feldman as head of brand strategy and partnerships marketing.

ANA Calls On CMOs To Form Coronavirus Coalition

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) is assembling high-profile chief marketing officers as part of its coronavirus coalition for the purpose of setting industry standards and providing leadership guidance for CMOs across the industry.

“We’re once again turning our leadership community of CMOs into the force for action that our industry needs now,” CEO of ANA, Bob Liodice, in a statement announcing the coalition. “It is to help chief marketers shape intelligent practices and provide functional guidance through this unprecedented time,” Liodice said.

Popeyes Hires Paloma Azulay As Global CMO

Paloma Azulay started as Popeyes global CMO in January and reports to Fernando Machado, global CMO of Restaurant Brands International, as reported by PRWeek.

Azulay joins Popeyes from Tim Hortons, where she held the same role. 

Machado said the goal is to have one CMO for each of Restaurant Brands International’s brands (Popeyes, Burger King and Tim Horton).

Syl Saller Retires From CMO Role At Diageo

The Drum reports that Syl Saller, who joined Diageo in 1999 as marketing director for Great Britain, is retiring from her position as CMO. 

Saller held the chief marketing officer position since 2013. She will be replaced by Cristina Diezhandino, who has been with Diageo for 13 years and is currently the global category director for Scotch and managing director for Diageo’s luxury brands business.

“Deciding to leave and embark on the next stage of my career is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Diageo is the most incredible company, with people who are talented, committed, and passionate,” said Saller.

Brad Feldman Named Washington Post Head Of Brand Strategy, Partnerships Marketing 

Today The Washington Post announced the addition of Brad Feldman to its client solutions team as head of brand strategy and partnerships marketing. Feldman, who will report to client solutions’ VP of marketing Raquelle Zuzarte, most recently served as VP of creative strategy and content partnerships for WarnerMedia’s Ignite division. 

MGM Resorts Brings On Bill Hornbuckle As Acting CEO

According to HospitalityNet, MGM Resorts International has made company COO and president Bill Hornbuckle acting CEO and president. Hornbuckle will replace chairman and CEO Jim Murren, who in early February said he would be stepping down prior to the expiration of his contract. 

Hornbuckle is also currently an executive committee member and a board of director of MGM China Holdings with operations and resorts in Macau. He was previously CMO of MGM Resorts from 2009-2012.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, March 27. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

Vice President, Global MarketingTimberlandNew Hampshire, NE
VP, Marketing SoundtracksDisney Music GroupBurbank, CA
SVP, Integrated MarketingZillow GroupPasadena, CA
Head Of MarketingAspyr Media, Inc.  Austin, TX
Chief Marketing OfficerNPRWashington D.C.

Make sure to check out select job vacancies on our Careers page.

Instagram Tests Option For Gift Card Link Via Business Profiles

This week in social media news, Instagram is testing a new option that would allow businesses to add a quick link to their profiles, Pinterest launches a new verified merchants program to help more retailers get discovered and more.

Instagram Tests New Business Profile Link For Gift Cards

Social Media Today reports that Jane Manchun Wong has discovered a new option for businesses to add a quick link to their profiles for gift cards and donations.

Why it matters: The timing of these tests suggests that Instagram is looking for ways to alleviate the strain businesses are currently suffering from due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The details: Testing has begun to allow businesses the ability to add links to gift cards from Stories stickers profiles. As Social Media Today reports, “there’s an added ‘Links’ option here beneath ‘Profile Display.’ That would be in addition to your main website link, which is included in the bio section above these ‘Public Business Information’ settings.”

Pinterest Launches New Verified Merchants Program

In a company blog post, Pinterest announced a new Verified Merchants Program that will help retailers get discovered and give qualified profiles a special blue checkmark.

Why it matters: With people forced to stay home online shopping will only continue to grow, giving retailers more opportunities to reach consumers via social commerce.

The details: Pinterest kicked off its program with retailers like Quay Australia, Ruggable, Filson, Coyuchi and Lotuff Leather. Brands that qualify for the program become eligible for increased distribution within high-intent shopping experiences and metrics such as Pinterest’s impact on site visits, checkouts and sales. Pinterest also updated its Catalogs via new metrics, near real-time feed ingestion, user experience upgrades and feed ingestion scheduling. Advertisers in global markets can also now retarget via Pinterest’s new optimization levers. Brands can sign up for the new program at

Facebook Sees Weakening In Ads Business Despite Increased Traffic

In a company blog, Facebook shared details on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting its services and how it’s keeping its apps stable during the crisis.

Why it matters: Many platforms have acknowledged a surge in user activity amid coronavirus but also lost revenue, which could impact ad-supported platforms and the digital advertising sector as a whole.

The details: Facebook says in many of the countries coronavirus has affected most, total messaging has grown more than 50 percent over the last month and voice and video calling have more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp. In Italy, Facebook saw up to 70 percent more time spent across its apps since the virus outbreak, Instagram and Facebook Live views doubled in a week, messaging increased over 50 percent and time in group calling increased by over 1,000 percent during the last month.

To alleviate network congestion, Facebook is temporarily reducing bit rates for Facebook and Instagram videos in certain regions.

Instagram’s New Co-Watching Feature Lets Users View Posts Over Video Chat

The new co-watching feature is one of many updates Instagram announced this week including a donation sticker and the removal of coronavirus accounts from recommendations unless posted by credible health sources.

Why it matters: Social distancing has caused a surge in social media use and a new co-watching feature allows Instagram to keep the experience fresh and fun, and users connected during quarantine.

The details: Per Instagram, “. . .we’ve launched media sharing, a new feature that allows you to view Instagram posts together with your friends over video chat. You can start a video chat by tapping the video chat icon in the Direct inbox or in an existing Direct thread, then view saved, liked and suggested photos/videos by tapping the photo icon in the bottom left corner in an ongoing video chat.”

Instagram has also banned misleading ads for products that refer to coronavirus in ways “intended to create urgency, guarantee cures or prevent people from contracting it.” It also removed the ability to search for coronavirus-related augmented reality effects.

Additional updates from Instagram include new educational stickers to help users share accurate information about the virus in stories. Instagram has also included a notice at the top of feeds for countries affected by the pandemic.

Twitter Reports An Increase In Users Concurrent With Q1 Revenue Decline

While user activity is up on Twitter, the platform warns that “while the near-term financial impact of this pandemic is rapidly evolving and difficult to measure, based on current visibility, [we] expect Q1 revenue to be down slightly on a year-over-year basis.”

Why it matters: Disruptions are rippling through the industry with a profound impact on revenue, despite rising social media usage.

The details: “Twitter is predicting broader revenue impacts – yet, at the same time, Twitter usage is rising.”
Twitter had this to say in their press release around this decline:

“While the near-term financial impact of this pandemic is rapidly evolving and difficult to measure, based on current visibility, the company expects Q1 revenue to be down slightly on a year-over-year basis. Twitter also expects to incur a GAAP operating loss, as reduced expenses resulting from COVID-19 disruption are unlikely to fully offset the revenue impact of the pandemic in Q1.”

Pinterest Unveils “Today” Tab With Popular Search Trends For Android And IOS

Pinterest introduced their “Today” tab, which the platform launched as “a source of daily inspiration with curated topics and trending Pins,” including relevant and timely information about coronavirus.

Why it matters: Pinterest is literally putting its efforts to increase the availability of expert information, especially around the current health crisis, front and center.

The details: The Today tab will surface trending searches and provide recommendations, starting with those curated by the Pinterest team, around popular topics. Over the next few weeks, the tab will feature COVID-19 precautions. Users can access the tab at the top of the home feed on Pinterest’s iOS and Android app.

TikTok Donates $10 Million To World Health Organization 

TikTok announced it’s giving $10 million to WHO’s Solidarity Response Fund, which carries out important work against coronavirus.

Why it matters: This marks another step in TikTok’s drive to help alleviate the effects of coronavirus on communities and schools. Last week, TikTok announced it’s donating $3 million through a partnership with After-School All-Stars to help provide food for families who have lost access to free or reduced-cost school meals.

The details: Per TikTok, the donation will assist WHO in “sending essential supplies to front line health care workers, ensuring communities have access to the latest science-based information, and accelerating efforts to discover life-saving treatments or vaccines.” TikTok has also hosted livestreams with WHO experts and created an informational page on TikTok to highlight preventative tips and dispel myths around coronavirus.

WhatsApp Launches Free Chatbot To Inform Users About Coronavirus

WhatsApp has launched the World Health Organization Health Alert, a free chatbot designed to answer questions from the worldwide public about coronavirus 24 hours a day.

Why it matters: Social media platforms are going to great lengths to combat misinformation around coronavirus. Not only will WhatsApp’s chatbot help prevent the spread of inaccurate information but WhatsApp says it will serve “government decision-makers by providing the latest numbers and situation reports.”

The details: WhatsApp users can click “WHO Health Alert” then text the word “Hi” in a WhatsApp message. The feature responds to a series of prompts and is updated daily with the latest virus information.

Facebook, Instagram To Reduce Video Quality In Europe

According to Engadget, Facebook and Instagram are lowering video quality in Europe to alleviate any potential network congestion as a result of coronavirus.

Why it matters: With social distancing and work-from-home policies in place, social media use has grown significantly in the last few weeks.

The details: Facebook and Instagram said they would temporarily reduce bit rates for videos. The social media platforms have followed in the steps of Disney+, which last week announced it would reduce its overall bandwidth utilization by at least 25 percent in all EU markets where Disney+ will launch on March 24. 

Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, March 27. 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

Over Two-Thirds of Consumers Opens To Ads In Exchange For Free Streaming Video

Nearly nine in 10 consumers have access to connected television (CTV) but they may soon be experiencing subscription fatigue. A recent survey from Integral Ad Science (IAS) found that 76 percent of consumers are willing to see ads in exchange for watching free streaming video and 55 percent plan to watch free video streaming services in the next 12 months.

The IAS Streaming Wars report shows that adults aged 18-44 have the highest level of CTV access, with an average of 91 percent having access to a CTV. Preference for CTV has also grown as 59 percent of respondents say they use CTV as the primary method of streaming video.

The majority of consumers (84 percent) say they subscribe to at least one paid streaming video service with 79 percent noting that they currently use Netflix followed by 68 percent who are currently using Amazon Prime Video.

Consumers have access to almost three paid streaming services, indicating the market is potentially nearing saturation. Similarly, 64 percent of consumers say they don’t plan to add a subscription video streaming service in the next year resulting in new challenges for content providers to reach new users.

With 76 percent of consumers open to seeing ads in exchange for free streaming video and with free streaming services on the rise, IAS suggests increasing advertising to reach more consumers as ad supported content models will lead to increased CTV consumption.

Emarketer predicts that advertisers will spend $8.8 billion on CTV in 2020 and surpass $10 billion by 2021. The researcher also says CTV usage in the US will surpass 200 million in 2020. 

Findings from IAS Streaming Wars report are based on an online survey conducted among 1,270 consumers in December 2019 aged 18-60.

Leveraging Technology During A Crisis

We’re all cooped up, but humans are still desiring to go outside and explore. Introducing virtual reality to help provide a sense of relief and normalcy during this shelter in place epidemic. Let’s take a look at how companies are utilizing virtual technology to continue marketing efforts and keep people engaged, entertained and active. 

Premier Soccer Players Training in VR

What’s happening: Players are using virtual reality technology to keep their skills sharp during stay at home orders. Originally created for rehabilitation purposes, this software utilizes shin pad and foot sensors to track movement and skills within VR. Best of all, it’s working. Players are saying that they’re seeing improvements in awareness and more.

Why it matters: When the world shuts down we need to lean into technology that’s already at our fingertips to keep life going. This repurposing of existing software and hardware is a great way to find new and unique ways to keep ourselves active and sharp while we don’t have the luxuries of normal life. 

Tourism And Virtual Reality During Coronavirus 

What’s happening: Travel companies are looking to virtual reality during this pandemic to give agents the tools to continue marketing travel. Through 360-degree and cinematic productions, travel agencies are able to continue to show would-be travellers their options, from cruises to hotels and resorts, this could be the way people learn and book future vacations even after COVID-19.

Why it matters: The travel industry is just one segment that has been hit rather hard from the coronavirus outbreak. Through the power of virtual reality, businesses can give at-home audiences a taste of what some of these far-off and exotic locations are like. While not looking to replace these actual experiences, virtual reality is helping many companies that would otherwise shut down keep people interested and planning during this time of isolation.

Influencer Marketing During The Coronavirus Pandemic

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.)

Influencer marketing during coronavirus has come to favor Instagram Live and TikTok as social distancing forces brands to shut down experiential initiatives and go digital-only to stay connected with consumers. 

A survey conducted by IZEA between March 12-13 found that 66 percent of social media users expect to increase their social media use during social distancing. With more eyes online and on social, brands that capitalize on relevant influencer content will have a major advantage during the coronavirus crisis.

Brands are already taking steps to beef up content creation and influencer marketing during the lockdown as mentions of Instagram Live on Instagram and Twitter jumped 526 percent from March 8-15, according to Comperemedia

With gyms and all other nonessential businesses closed, users are looking for ways to get in their workouts at home. Rumble Boxing’s co-founder Noah Neiman is meeting this need by hosting daily 45-minute Rumble-inspired workouts in his New York apartment on the brand’s Instagram Live. The first workout live stream video, which Rumble later posted to its account, received 54,300 views and 327 comments. Rumble teased an upcoming Instagram Live workout hosted by boxing coach Jeremiah Maestre. 

MTV jumped on the Instagram Live bandwagon too by featuring artists at home, even going so far as to update its Instagram bio to “Staying home and watching my faves on Instagram Live.” Recently rapper Hoodie Allen and singer Nick Anderson from The Wrecks went live from Anderson’s Los Angeles home where the artists are living in quarantine. Allen and Anderson both performed songs, respectively, and teased snippets from unreleased songs they’re working on while answering users’ questions.

In December, e.l.f. Cosmetics launched a TikTok campaign called #EyesLipsFace featuring an original song. The challenge amassed over 4 billion views and over 2 million videos were created to the campaign’s song. 

Now in an effort to spread the Center for Disease’s best practices on staying safe amid coronavirus, e.l.f. is repurposing the #EyesLipsFace challenge by remixing the campaign’s original song and enlisting influencers to create videos around it. The brand tapped mega TikTok influencers like Micah Cow (3 million followers and 68 million likes) and Madi Monroe (3.8 million followers and 108 million likes) to create videos around the challenge, which involves washing their hands and not touching their face.

TikTok users can incorporate the song in their own videos by visiting e.l.f.’s TikTok and tapping the spinning disc at the foot of the new #EyesLipFace video.

An increase in social media consumption spells good and bad news for marketers. More active users means more concentrated attention on products and services but also means marketers have to cut through the noise.

IZEA also found that 99 percent of social media users said there’s a chance they’ll buy something online if they’re in household quarantine. But just because online spending is up doesn’t mean brands can get away with tone-deaf messaging and activations. For influencer marketing during the pandemic to stand out, content must be genuine and tailored to the dramatic life changes people are experiencing such as layoffs and medical crises, otherwise it’ll fall short.