Instagram Extends Live Video Time Limit To Four Hours

This week in social media news, Instagram extends the time limit for Live videos to four hours, TikTok announces a global partnership with Shopify, Pinterest rolls out a new suite of tools for merchants, Facebook publishes new research on optimal ad frequency, Snapchat adds new a barcode feature that lets users snap food and wine labels and more.


Instagram Extends Live Time Limit And Will Soon Add Live Archive

Instagram is expanding the time limit for Instagram Live videos from one to four hours for all users worldwide starting today, the company announced. In addition, the app will introduce an option to archive livestreams and a new “Live Now” section in the IGTV app to boost the discoverability of users’ Live videos.

Why it matters: The updates are meant to help users like chefs, artists, fitness instructors and other users who were forced to pivot to Instagram Live events during the pandemic. In March, there was a 70 percent surge in Instagram Live usage.

The details: Instagram users can now go live for up to four hours. Soon, users will be able to archive their Live videos for 30 days before they’re deleted. Lastly, Instagram will add a “Live Now” section in the IGTV app and on the explore page so users can discover more Live videos.


TikTok Boosts Social Commerce With Shopify Partnership

TikTok has announced a global partnership with Shopify to help its 1 million-plus merchants create and run campaigns geared toward TikTok users.

Why it matters: In a recent TikTok study, 88 percent of users said that they discover new content that they enjoy while using the app. And about half of TikTok users said they find new products through advertisements posted by a product or brand.

The details: Through a new TikTok channel for Shopify, Shopify merchants can access core functions of TikTok’s Business Ads Manager without leaving the Shopify dashboard. Through this dashboard, merchants can install or connect their TikTok Pixel with one click, target audiences, track performance and use TikTok’s creative tools. 

Plus, TikTok is offering a $300 ad credit for eligible merchants to jumpstart their first TikTok campaign. The new channel is now available in the US and will roll out to international markets in early 2021.

TikTok has also partnered with Shopify on #ShopBlack, a co-branded in-app campaign that will spotlight black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. The activation will include a custom branded effect, music and content from top creators. From November 10-15, users can explore products from over 40 Shopify merchants through the hashtag #ShopBlack.


Pinterest Announces New Suite Of Merchant Tools

Pinterest wants to help retailers reach more customers this holiday season and revive the experience of offline shopping for Pinners, so it’s introducing a new suite of tools including a new storefront profile, automatic bidding, conversion insights, an improved product tagging test and more.

Why it matters: Pinterest says that searches for queries like “christmas gift ideas” spiked as early as April. In addition, the number of Pinners engaging with shopping surfaces on Pinterest has grown over 85 percent in the past six months.

The details: First up, merchants can transform their shop tab into a storefront with featured in-stock products organized by category. When Pinners search for shopping-related ideas, they’ll see recommended brands based on the product category.

Next, Pinterest says it’s testing an improved product tagging tool that enables merchants to tag their own scene images with exact products.

Pinterest has also made the process of uploading merchants’ catalogs and activating shopping ads faster. This includes the merging of catalogs and collections, which will let brands select a main asset and a corresponding product group to create a multi-image ad unit. According to Pinterest, advertisers who used collections saw a six to 18 percent increase in average total basket size.

Advertisers can now utilize automatic bidding for catalog sales in their Pinterest ad campaigns.

Also part of the new update is a more granular look at conversion performance, which Pinterest summarizes in a funnel via its visualizations tool.


Facebook Publishes New Research On Optimal Ad Frequency

To help advertisers understand the optimal ad frequency, Facebook did an analysis of 2,439 campaigns that ran between November 2019 and March 2020 around the world.

Why it matters: The research shows that more impressions are associated with better action intent and ad recall rates.

The details: As per Facebook:

“It also revealed that there tends to be a plateau, with the positive results no longer increasing as significantly after a handful of impressions. Although the research does not take into account campaign duration, it does suggest that, after a point, brands receive less and less benefit from reaching the same person.”

Facebook says that to achieve optimal frequency and enhance campaign effectiveness, advertisers should embrace creative testing and optimization. To do so, determine when the plateau is reached and use high-quality creative.


Snapchat Adds Barcode Scanning Feature For Food And Wine Labels

After announcing some new additions for its Snap Camera at its annual partner summit in June, Snapchat has launched a new function that lets users scan food and wine labels, reports Social Media Today.

Why it matters: The new scanning option is part of Snapchat’s larger efforts to bolster its visual recognition capacity and follows the app’s addition of a dog breed scanner during the summer. Though Snapchatters long been able to identify products via Amazon and songs via Shazam using the tool.

The details: When scanning a barcode for certain food items, Snapchat will display a new set of nutritional information for that item. Upon scanning wine bottles, Snapchat will provide data such as ratings, prices and places to buy the wine via an integration with third party apps like Yuka and Vivino.


Instagram Vows To Crack Down On Influencers Who Don’t Disclose Paid Partnerships

After a recent investigation by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that found many Instagram influencers were failing to clearly label if they’ve been paid for a post, Instagram has announced that it will launch new tools globally that will require influencers to disclose endorsement before they can publish their post.

Why it matters: The move marks a momentous step toward eradicating the ambiguity around influencer posts, which if not clearly labeled as #ad, have the potential to mislead consumers. According to a Harvard Business Review study, in late 2018, 88 percent of consumers surveyed said they believe that influencers, in general, recommend brands because they are paid to do so.

The details: As part of Instagram’s initiative, ahead of posting users will be prompted to confirm whether they’ve been paid to promote a product. In addition, Instagram’s “paid partnership” tool will be extended to all users globally.

Covering all its bases, Instagram has also said it will deploy technology and algorithms to assess when influencers haven’t disclosed if their post is an #ad.

Additionally, Instagram will create a tool that enables advertisers to understand how their products are being promoted with the option of removing unauthorized or inadequately labeled posts.

The new changes will take effect by June 2021.


Google Expands Visual Search Features To Enhance Shopping And Remote Learning Experiences

Google has expanded its search-based features to include new ways to use Google Lens and augmented reality (AR) for remote learning and shopping, per a company blog post.

Why it matters: Google’s new tools aim to streamline consumers’ experiences during the pandemic, a time when most are adjusting to remote learning and avoiding in-store shopping.

The details: First up, Google Lens can now recognize 15 billion things, up from 1 billion two years ago. Lens can translate more than 100 languages, plus it can pronounce words and sentences out loud. Lens can assist parents with their children’s remote learning via step-by-step guides and videos on foundational concepts to solve math, chemistry, biology and physics problems.

Next, users soon will be able to use Lens to discover new apparel while browsing on their phone. When you tap and hold an image on the Google app or Chrome on Android, Lens will pinpoint the exact or similar items, and suggest ways to style it.

Lastly, Google is testing a feature in the US that will let car shoppers search for a car on Google and see an AR model right in front of them.


Facebook Debuts New Messenger API To Support Businesses On Instagram

Facebook has announced new MessengerAPI features that enable businesses to integrate their Instagram messaging with their preferred business applications and workflows.

Why it matters: Up until now, businesses could only respond to customer DMs through Facebook’s unified business box and the Instagram app, making it harder for bigger brands to manage a large number of messages. Facebook says that over the last year, total daily conversations between people and businesses on Messenger and Instagram grew over 40 percent.

The details: This new update means businesses can manage messages initiated by customers throughout their Instagram presence, including their profile, shops and stories.

The update will also bring Facebook Shops messaging features to the Messenger API.

Messenger API support for Instagram is in beta with brands like Adidas, Glossier and Nars currently testing it. Businesses who are interested in using the API post-beta can sign up for the waitlist.


Facebook Publishes New Insights On Groups Usage During Pandemic

Facebook has released the results of a 15-country study it conducted with YouGov in August among 15,000 people who are currently members of online and in-person communities to understand how the role of groups has changed since the pandemic. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said the most important group they’re part of now operates online.

Why it matters: The study follows the launch of Facebook’s new features aimed at making it easier for users to chat in groups, hold Q&A sessions and share a photo about a particular topic.

The details: According to the survey, 91 percent of respondents said they have given some form of support to others during the pandemic through their preferred group.

In addition, 98 percent of people who are part of an online group said they feel a sense of belonging to that group while 33 percent said they feel more comfortable sharing their feelings with their group than with their friends and family.

Community leaders enhanced the group experience as 58 percent of respondents said that one of the top qualities that makes a community successful is having effective leaders.


Snapchat Launches New ‘Sounds’ Music Feature

Snapchat has launched a new feature for iOS Snapchatters globally called ‘Sounds’ that lets users add music clips from a catalog of music from emerging and established artists to their videos.

Why it matters: Snapchat is following in the footsteps of TikTok, where music capabilities have boosted the popularity of viral dance challenges and TikTok creators’ videos in general.

The details: Snapchat says it has multi-year agreements with major and independent publishers and labels such as Warner Music Group, Merlin, NMPA, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt, Warner Chappell Music and BMG Music Publishing.

When a Snapchatter receives a Snap with sounds, they can swipe up to view the album art, song title and artist’s name. A “Play This Song” link then lets users listen to the full song on Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud.

Snapchat’s ‘Sounds’ kicked off with an exclusive debut of Justin Bieber and Benny Blanco’s new song, “Lonely.”

In the coming months, Snapchat will roll out a feature worldwide that lets users create their own sounds and add them to Snaps.


TikTok Announces Partnership With HackerOne To Enhance User Data Privacy

Timed to National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, TikTok has announced a partnership with HackerOne and a series of TikTok videos showing users how to create strong passwords.

Why it matters: In recent months, TikTok has ramped up efforts to protect user data and increase transparency around its practices as a way to quell the federal government’s concerns over the app’s ties to China.

The details: TikTok is expanding its existing vulnerability disclosure policy to a global public bug bounty program through its partnership with HackerOne, whose clients include the US Department of Defense and General Motors. As per the blog post, the partnership will help TikTok uncover potential threats to its security.

TikTok’s #BeCyberSmart video series will feature TikTok employees instructing users on how to make complex passwords, use a password manager to better protect their accounts and more cyber security tips.


Zoom Debuts Paid Events Online Platform ‘OnZoom’

Zoom has launched an events platform and marketplace called OnZoom that enables paid users to create, host and monetize one-time events, drop-ins and event series for up to 1,000 attendees.

Why it matters: The debut of Zoom’s digital events platform comes just a day after the company announced it’s rolling out one of four of its end-to-end encryption meeting options. The platform’s security measures came under scrutiny during the pandemic as users complained of uninvited guests gate-crashing Zoom meetings and bombarding attendees.

The details: With OnZoom, paid Zoom users will be able to schedule and host online events, list and sell tickets, share and promote public events via email and social media and reach new audiences.

The marketplace will feature a directory of public events where users can purchase tickets online, pay for events via PayPal and major credit cards and donate to nonprofit organizations through events with active fundraisers. In addition, users can favorite, share and rate OnZoom events.


TikTok Increases Brand Safety Measures Via Partnership With OpenSlate

TikTok has announced a partnership with the brand safety platform OpenSlate to give advertisers confidence about the placement of their ads.

Why it matters: On its way to the top of the app charts, TikTok has faced various allegations, from compromising user data to encouraging questionable content, giving advertisers concerns around brand safety.

The details: Through the TikTok Brand Safety Solution tool, verified by OpenSlate, TikTok will apply a “high level of safety” to verify and filter content and categories that appear next to branded ads and content. The partnership will enable brands to know and track where their ads are running

Hyatt Regency Aruba Names Denise Florio As Director Of Sales, Marketing And Events

This week in leadership updates, Hyatt Regency Aruba appoints Denise Florio as director of sales, marketing and events, Riot Games hires Jason Bunge as CMO and more.


Hyatt Regency Aruba Hires Denise Florio As Director Of Sales, Marketing And Events

Denise Florio has joined Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino as director of sales, marketing and events.

Florio’s appointment comes after the resort’s recent multimillion-dollar renovation.

Before joining Hyatt Regency Aruba, Florio served as corporate director of learning and development for Hyatt Hotels Corporation.


Riot Games Names Jason Bunge As Chief Marketing Officer

Riot Games has announced the appointment of Jason Bunge to CMO.

In his new role, Bunge will oversee Riot Games’ game marketing, product publishing and global strategy teams.

Prior to joining Riot Games, Bunge served as senior vice president of brand management and marketing for Electronic Arts.


Instacart Hires Ariel Bardin As Senior Vice President Of Product

Instacart has announced the appointment of Ariel Bardin to SVP of product.

Before joining Instacart, Bardin spent the last 15-plus years at Google, where he most recently oversaw YouTube’s full suite of creator products as VP of product management.  


InterPrice Technologies, Inc. Appoints Anne Daley As Chief Marketing Officer

Anne Daley has joined InterPrice Technologies, Inc. as partner and CMO, according to a press release.

Most recently, Daley served as a managing director at Barclay’s investment-grade syndicate. Prior to joining Barclay’s, Daley was a senior member in-syndicate at Goldman Sachs.


Preferred Hotels & Resorts Elevates Caroline Klein To Chief Communications Officer

Caroline Klein has accepted a promotion as chief communications officer of Preferred Hotels & Resorts.

As part of her new role, Klein will also serve as chief communications officer of Preferred’s sister division PHG Consulting.

Klein joined Preferred in August 2012, first as senior manager of public relations for the Americas and most recently as executive vice president of corporate communications and public relations.


Ad Council Elects New Members To Its Board Of Directors    

The Ad Council has announced new members to its board of directors. In addition, Hayley Romer, chief revenue officer and publisher of The Atlantic, has been appointed secretary of the board.

New members of the Ad Council board include:

  • David Cohen, CEO, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
  • Seth Dallaire, Chief Revenue Officer, Instacart
  • Leslie Gillin, CMO, JPMorgan Chase
  • Michael Guth, SVP and CMO, Spectrum Reach, the advertising sales business of Charter Communications
  • Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, VP, Head of North American Sales & Global Client Solutions, Verizon Media
  • Lee Hurley, CMO, Northwestern Mutual
  • Sean Lyons, Global CEO, R/GA
  • Scott Kelliher, Head of Brand Advertising & Partnerships, eBay Ads
  • Matt Kohan, VP, Marketing Culture & Capabilities, Anheuser-Busch
  • Suzanne Kounkel, Chief Marketing Officer, Deloitte
  • Barri Rafferty, EVP, Head of Communications, Wells Fargo
  • Elizabeth Rutledge, CMO, American Express
  • Cara Sabin, CEO, Sundial Brands, Unilever
  • Melissa Selcher, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, LinkedIn
  • Raj Singhal, COO, Huge
  • Tim Sims, Chief Revenue Officer, The Trade Desk
  • Marisa Thalberg, EVP, Chief Brand and Marketing officer, Lowe’s
  • Alicia Tillman, Global Chief Marketing Officer, SAP
  • Sebastian Tomich, Global Head of Advertising, Marketing Solutions, New York Times
  • Mark Zagorski, CEO, DoubleVerify

Coty Boosts Conversions With Beauty AR Try-On Lenses In The Middle East

With makeup try-ons in retail stores prohibited due to pandemic safety concerns, Coty enlisted Snapchat to create 17 in-store augmented reality (AR) lenses to make it easy for customers in the Middle East and Africa to test products from Coty brands Bourjois, Max Factor and Rimmel, which heavily rely on selling in physical stores. The experience saw a high conversion rate as 62 percent of those who used the AR lenses ended up buying a product.

The ability to try on products such as lipstick, mascara and foundation in real life is a key driver for beauty and skincare purchases. But with the pandemic limiting opportunities to interact with products in person, Coty teamed up with Snapchat to launch Snapcode-enabled lenses that let customers determine what products from Bourjois, Max Factor and Rimmel would look like on their own face. The AR lenses included eight different shades of lipsticks and foundations.

To use the virtual try-on feature, shoppers could scan Snapcodes for respective products via in-store displays using their phone, which would direct them to Snapchat where they could virtually try on the product. Coty launched the activation across the MENA region in retailers like Lifestyle, Carrefour and LuLu Hypermarket.

“For others looking to try AR, I would say, keep it simple. Less is always more when it comes to Lens experiences. And pick a platform where you can reach your audience in the right frame of mind, at scale – for us, that was definitely Snapchat,” said Alice Bézirard, media leader at Coty Inc.

Through reimagining the beauty product trial experience, Coty’s AR lenses reached 350,000 users who tried on products and shared pictures of their experience. In addition, 18 percent of total sales came from customers who used the AR lenses.

Bézirard says Coty’s activation was particularly effective in Saudi Arabia, where Snapchat has the highest potential reach for its core target. For example, Coty expected the lenses to represent five percent of sales across the United Arab Emirates and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but the results were four times higher in Saudi. Next, Coty plans on expanding lenses to support its ecommerce strategy.

How Cloud Subscription Gaming Could Sabotage The Long-Term Success Of Games

Cloud gaming subscription services have been hailed as a boon to game publishers and developers looking to reach large gaming audiences most effectively. With the largest tech companies competing for market share through their own game subscriptions—Microsoft via Xbox Game Pass, Apple via Arcade, Google via Stadia and recently, Amazon via Luna—game developers have a significant opportunity to receive what may seem to be free marketing. I’m going to share the risk this poses for the game publisher and developer community and how to ensure you’re not sabotaging the long-term success of your games.

Mega corporations are offering established game developers and publishers with all sorts of wonderful financial terms. These include things like sign-on bonuses, hosting, distribution, payment, processing, pricing, monetization, discovery and marketing. Publishers and developers are willing to accept these offers because they’re trying to streamline game distribution and game discoverability and get tons of impressions and downloads in a short amount of time.

One would think that big tech’s involvement eliminates the need for the awareness generation or user acquisition (UA) marketing that you would normally deploy if you were marketing the game through traditional means of other distribution methods. Wrong. What can very quickly happen is that these marketers, publishers and game developers back off on any of their own marketing and rely on these distribution platforms to handle that for them.

But the learning is that won’t last. Those offers will dry up. Those cloud gaming services will become cluttered with thousands of games. And in a few months or years, it will be just as important to market your games on those cloud services as it was for mobile app developers. This cloud subscription gold rush reminds me of 2008-2010 when digital distribution really started taking off. All you had to do to get downloaded on the App Store was get featured. Steam had so few games that any good title got traction.

Don’t just rely on those companies to market your IP, especially if it’s a new IP, because at best you have a short windfall of revenue, and at worst, you’re going to have an IP that hasn’t built any equity with customers.

The next time you release the next iteration of your game, there will be very little brand awareness and affiliation for it, because the gamers that are subscribing to these services view games the same way they view a new series on Netflix. They’re bingeing them. For these gamers, there’s no downside to playing a new game that came out today, putting in 20 minutes or an hour, discarding it and never thinking about it again then doing the same thing with a new game tomorrow.

If you’re not building brand equity with your game, you’re not building brand affinity, and as a result, you become a commodity, that candy bar at the checkout stand, an impulse download.

Game developers and publishers who basically write their own financial terms with mega technology companies are okay with taking small losses in order to gain consumer credit cards on file. But giving up on and relying on another company that isn’t invested in the long-term business health of your company is risky. You’re allowing them to take control of marketing and build your brand. At that point you’re no longer charging directly for your content and it becomes easier to no longer market your own content.

When working with big distribution platforms like Arcade, Stadia, Xbox Game Pass and Luna, be cognizant on the business side and on the marketing side. Is the game you’re willing to give up your rights on in exchange for marketing in the best long-term interests of your company?

As these new cloud services mature and start featuring thousands of games rather than tens or hundreds of games, it’s going to be important to work with these platforms to ensure you can take advantage of and promote your game in the different ways they offer, whether it’s dashboard presence on Xbox or ad buying on Twitch that directly links to a Luna game. The need to figure out how to get better placement and visibility on the dashboards or app stores of these different cloud gaming services will be critical to the long-term success of your game. Your game may get noticed as these Cloud services have limited portfolios, but if you are in business to build a brand/IP, leaving the brand-building up to your 1st party partner is short-sighted!

Study Shows Consumers Notice OOH Ads More Amid Shift Toward Hyperlocal Travel

Nearly half (45 percent) of American adults say they’re noticing out-of-home (OOH) advertising more than before the pandemic began, according to the results of a survey the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and The Harris Poll fielded from September 21-23 among 2,058 US adults aged 18 and up.

The finding comes as consumers have a newfound appreciation for the outdoors, spurred by shelter-in-place orders. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they try to get out of the house as often as they can, even if it’s just a drive or walk around town. Forty-eight percent are also on the hunt for new places to work from home or spend time al fresco, including outdoor parks, outdoor coffee shops or a friend’s patio.

This new shift in behavior has given OOH ads greater visibility, In fact, 45 percent of respondents said they’re noticing billboards, outdoor video screens, posters, signage and other OOH ads more now than before the pandemic.

Among the most helpful OOH ads to consumers are those that include information on COVID-19 safety and hygiene (38 percent), special offers and promotions (23 percent) and updates on a brand’s business hours and services (20 percent).

When asked what their reaction is to these types of OOH ads, 29 percent said they’re grateful for the useful information, 23 percent said it informed them about something new and 20 percent said it comforted them as it’s a sign that business is resuming as usual.

When thinking about products to buy for themselves and others, 56 percent said billboards were useful, followed by 50 percent for subway or public transit station posters and 49 percent for ads on bus shelters or benches. However, 53 percent said ads on the sides of busses or taxi cabs are not helpful.

Consumers’ renewed tendencies to spend time outside is a detriment to digital marketers as 68 percent said they spend so much time looking at screens these days that they often tune out digital online ads.

Though 65 percent of respondents said they’re interested in taking a road trip due to the pandemic, many are reluctant to use certain modes of transportation. For example, 42 percent are using airplanes less and 34 percent said they won’t board a flight until after the pandemic. Similarly, 37 percent said they’re using taxi or ride-sharing services less and 27 percent won’t use these services until the pandemic is over.

In the next few months, 45 percent of respondents said their travel patterns will be decreasing in number of trips and distance in comparison to pre-pandemic; 27 percent believe their travel patterns will be similar to what they were; and 19 percent said their travel patterns will be similar to what they were before the pandemic but more focused on trips closer to home.

COVID-19 has affected 80 percent of consumers’ holiday plans, with 45 percent reporting that they plan to stay home and celebrate with their immediate family only and 27 percent saying they’ll limit the number of people at gatherings to 10 people or less.

Just three percent are willing to travel internationally during the holidays and four percent are willing to travel domestically over 1,000 miles. A majority of respondents will travel anywhere from 50 to 200 miles during the holidays. Twenty-nine percent said they don’t plan to travel to any holiday destination this November or December. For those who do have travel holiday plans, 56 percent will use their personal vehicle and 16 percent will fly.

As far as holiday shopping, 68 percent plan to spend more or the same amount on holiday meals and wine, liquor or beer. But 58 percent prefer shopping online from September through January, followed by 42 percent who want to shop in person.

Still, 43 percent said they try to make fewer trips to the store and stock up on as many items as they can to minimize their in-store shopping, while 34 percent said they’ve stopped casually shopping in-person and only go in for pre-determined items.

The pandemic has also disrupted brand loyalty as 43 percent said they use a mix of new brands and brands they’re familiar with since the pandemic. Thirty-two percent haven’t tried new brands.

Lastly, 65 percent of consumers wish there were more outdoor dining offerings as 47 percent are tired of cooking meals at home.

McDonald’s And J Balvin Debut Limited Edition Merch Collection

Following the addition of J Balvin’s signature meal to its menu, McDonald’s has released a 58-piece limited-edition merch collection with the reggaeton artist that includes an Oreo McFlurry-inspired bucket hat, fries-themed outdoor camping chair and order receipt tattoo sticker, among other items inspired by J Balvin’s favorite McDonald’s menu items.

The J Balvin and McDonald’s line of apparel and accessories features a splash of neon colors reminiscent of the ‘80s and includes a pink and yellow fries bed sheet, hamburger lounge slippers, logo snapbacks, tees, sweatshirts, sunglasses, a watch and more. Prices range from $4 to $180.

The J Balvin Meal is available for purchase in restaurants for carry-out, at drive-thru, via McDelivery or through the McDonald’s app, from October 5 to November 1. Those who order via the app receive a free Oreo McFlurry.

McDonald’s foray into direct-to-consumer (DTC) fashion began in December last year when it launched its first-ever online popup shop giving US fans year-round access to exclusive items.

More recently, McDonald’s has reimagined its role in popular culture by doing multi-tier collaborations with popular music artists. On September 8, McDonald’s rolled out rapper Travis Scott’s go-to order, the Cactus Jack meal, available for $6 only on the McDonald’s app. In addition, the partnership saw the launch of a capsule merch collection and a national commercial. The apparel sold out in days.

Phase two of McDonald’s activation with Scott, which the brand rolled out three weeks later, included a Twitter sweepstakes to win one of five handmade Travis Scott action figures. To enter, fans were required to quote tweet this post with the caption, “Cactus Jack sent me to @McDonalds #CactusJackSweepstakes.” The post saw 48,7000 quote tweets, nearly 8,000 retweets and 33,600 likes.

McDonald’s may have boosted its sales and drove up its stock price with the celebrity-powered signature meals, but a Vice report reveals the fast-food giant’s potential motive for putting a celebrity on its menu for the first since 1992: to cover up racial discrimination lawsuits filed by a pair of black former McDonald’s executives and 52 franchise owners.

The first lawsuit claims that the number of black employees in leadership roles at McDonald’s declined from 42 in 2014 to just seven by last year. The latter suit claims that McDonald’s subjected the franchise owners to “systematic and covert racial discrimination” over the span of decades.

In July, McDonald’s launched a $500,000 scholarship fund to help students attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). More recently, in October McDonald’s announced its new partnership with Essence Girls United, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and iHeart Media to provide the black community with mentorship opportunities, seed capital for entrepreneurs and college scholarships.

Listen In: The Family That Works Together, Stays Together

(Originally aired October 20th on LinkedIn Live.)

On today’s episode of Listen In, Matt Bretz chats with LGBTQIA+ Activist and Creative Producer Daniella Carter.


The discussion explores how agencies and studios can connect directly with black creators through DaniellasGuestbook.com, an initiative that is making a bridge between black creators and clients who need their talent.


About Listen In: Each week on Listen In, Bretz and a rotating cast of hosts from Ayzenberg interview experts in the field of marketing and advertising to explore uncharted territory together. The goal is to provide the a.network audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

“I Quit” TV Show Star, Mike D’s BBQ

On this 230th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Michael De Los Santos, founder of Mike D’s BBQ. Mike is a part of the entrepreneurs being profiled on the Discovery Channel Show, I Quit.

We start our conversation with Mike’s background and how he found his way into the world of BBQ. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector and fighting for social justice, Mike believes that “if you have food, you can bring anybody in town to the table to talk while they’re eating.” Then, Mike dives into his experience on the Discovery Channel reality show, I Quit, and how it has taught him so much about the benefits of networking and being uncomfortable.

Mike approaches his marketing and advertising in two ways; “one, to get sales, and two, to build that brand awareness, so people know who you are.” We talked about Mike’s experience as a father when he lost his 6-month old son and how it changed his perspective on life. “Go after all your passions and what makes you happy. Otherwise, you might not get the chance to do that.” Lastly, Mike elaborates on the challenges and opportunities that come with the world’s current climate, both from social justice to the pandemic!

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Mike grew up all over the place but made his way to Durham. 1:28
  • Becoming a reality star was never something that Mike wanted to do. 2:14
  • Mike D’s BBQ is a line of sauces and dry rubs that emerged on the scene in 2014 and have exploded ever since. 2:47
  • The draw to BBQ came from a love of the North Carolina BBQ that Mike would eat as a kid. 3:28
  • Different regions have their own styles of BBQ, and Mike tries to combine the best of all worlds. 4:41
  • Before getting into the world of BBQ, Mike and his wife were fighting for economic justice. 6:42
  • Getting people together over food is more effective than other methods. 7:54
  • It was a difficult transition from a steady paycheck to the life of an entrepreneur with a family. 8:44
  • Mike and his wife are very used to working together, so running a business together has been a smooth process. 10:05
  • Hispanic and African American roots inspired the unique flavors that one can find at Mike D’s BBQ. 11:23
  • Brisket is Mike’s favorite meat to work with, even though it is usually a Texas thing. 12:24
  • Working with the show has given Mike the ability to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 13:20
  • What it was like working with three very outgoing and successful people as an introvert. 14:55
  • Now more than ever, businesses have to learn how to pivot when things aren’t working. 16:13
  • After making his first sale and winning an award, Mike knew that he was onto something and had a business. 17:45
  • Having an already-established online business helped Mike D’s pivot with the global pandemic. 18:48
  • Advertising/marketing to grow sales vs. advertising/marketing to increase brand recognition. 20:23
  • Social media ads and brand-awareness sponsorships are working very well right now. 21:02
  • Working with NASCAR isn’t as difficult when working with the family-owned teams. 22:25
  • Living in a military family and moving around all the time prepared Mike to pivot and market himself. 24:41
  • Losing his son at only 6-months old changed Mike’s perspective on life. 25:34
  • Mike’s book, My Heart Warrior, chronicled the experience of losing a child through the father’s eyes. 27:04
  • Make no excuses. Pursue what makes you happy in the long-term because at the end of the day that’s what matters. 29:22
  • Right now, there is a lot of support to help black businesses, and TheNileList is doing a great job of helping people do that. 31:30
  • There’s an opportunity to show the black community that their lives matter, but it must be done in the right way. 32:59
  • Marketing with other marketers is an excellent opportunity to become a national brand. 34:13

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

USAA’s Tony Wells On Marketing & Diversity

On this 229th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Tony Wells, Chief Brand Officer at USAA.

We begin with an inside look into Wells’ basketball days playing alongside David Robinson during The Naval Academy’s magical Elite Eight Run. Wells then dives into his unique transition into the corporate world from his military service. “I love this idea of engaging with consumers or members,” Wells says regarding his attraction towards the marketing function. After a handful of positions at various top companies, Wells found his home at USAA. “One of the challenges in marketing…is you want to talk to everybody. We’ve been able to narrow this thing down to those who have served.”

We then discuss how and why USAA has brought the function of Diversity & Inclusion under the organization that Wells runs. Wells describes how important it is to the company’s future branding because “the pie can get bigger and deeper for everybody when we all seek to win and live and succeed together.” Wells believes that if you can put your ego aside and know your role, you can help your team achieve something greater than individual success!

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Tony had the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament alongside NBA HOF David Robinson. 1:32
  • Committing to The Naval Academy was inspired by a plethora of factors. 2:55
  • You have the option of going to The Marine Corps out of The Naval Academy, and that’s exactly what Tony did. 3:54
  • Making a transition from a career in military service to the corporate sector 4:42
  • USAA is a brand with a purpose, which made Tony feel at home when he started there. 6:02
  • Tony’s success can be partly attributed to his ability to speak the same language as those in his company. 8:20
  • A promotion to Chief Brand Officer has changed Tony’s role in the company, though the storytelling has stayed the same. 9:39
  • USAA was formed almost 100 years ago by 25 officers and has experienced a plethora of changes along the way. 10:50
  • Tracking a wide range of metrics has allowed USAA to stay connected with its members at a personal level. 12:27
  • Customer satisfaction is based on so much more than the numbers. 13:26
  • Due to being a member-driven company, USAA has given back massive dividends to its members during the pandemic. 14:25
  • COVID has forced all companies to change their marketing techniques, and USAA decided to focus on the things that mattered. 15:53
  • Remote production has been a challenge but has allowed USAA to learn about its capabilities. 17:51
  • Diversity & Inclusion has been brought into the marketing side of the company, which is unusual in large corporations. 19:15
  • It only makes sense that D&I be included in the branding and marketing of a company. 21:40
  • Tony’s bad and good experiences as a black male have helped fortify his diverse mindset in the boardroom. 23:57
  • People want to be their authentic selves at the workplace, and Tony is trying to promote that. 26:22
  • Uncomfortable conversations need to be had so that everyone has an opportunity to be successful and included. 29:08
  • Technology has caused the marketing and branding space to undergo a dramatic change. 31:39
  • Tony’s experience playing basketball taught him the importance of playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not on the back. 34:00
  • If Tony could go back, he would take more risks on his way up. 35:20
  • Environmental Societal and Governance (ESG) are only going to become more important to consumers in the future. 37:51
  • The pandemic has forced a digital transformation and could shrink the number of brands in various spaces. 38:58

Resources Mentioned:

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Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:


Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

NBCUniversal Elevates Linda Yaccarino To Chairperson Of Global Advertising And Partnerships

This week in leadership updates, NBCUniversal promotes Linda Yaccarino to chairperson of global advertising and partnerships, Yum! Brands appoints Lauren Hobart to its board of directors, Blaze Pizza names Vince Szwajkowski as CMO, Qdoba hires Jeannie Cho as CMO, Virgin global chief brand officer Lisa Thomas steps down, Dalila Wilson-Scott accepts a promotion as Comcast’s executive VP and chief diversity officer and more.


NBCUniversal Promotes Linda Yaccarino To Chairperson Of Global Advertising And Partnerships

According to a press release, Linda Yaccarino has been elevated to NBCUniversal’s chairperson of global advertising and partnerships.

Yaccarino adds data strategy unit, local and regional sports network sales and cross-company strategic initiatives to her purview, in addition to global and national sales.

Since joining NBCUniversal in 2011, Yaccarino has led the growth of the company’s advertising sales efforts to a $10 billion-plus business annually.

The news follows NBCUniversal’s fusion of linear and digital assets as one platform and the launch of Peacock earlier this year.


Yum! Brands Appoints Lauren Hobart To Board Of Directors

Yum! Brands Inc. has appointed Lauren Hobart, president of Dick’s Sporting Goods, to its board of directors, effective November 12.

Hobart first joined Dick’s in 2011 and has held leadership roles including executive vice president, chief customer and digital officer and chief marketing officer. She has been president of Dick’s since 2017.

Prior to joining Dick’s, Hobart spent 14 years at PepsiCo in various strategic planning and marketing roles.


Blaze Pizza Names Vince Szwajkowski As Chief Marketing Officer

Blaze Pizza has announced the appointment of Vince Szwajkowski to CMO.

Before joining Blaze, Szwajkowski served as CMO for ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters, where he built and launched the new ArcLight brand platform.


Qdoba Hires Jeannie Cho As Chief Marketing Officer

Qdoba has named Jeannie Cho as its CMO.

Most recently, Cho served as the vice president of marketing of PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay portfolio. Prior to that, she was vice president of marketing, global brands, namely Lay’s, Doritos and Cheetos.


Comcast Promotes Dalila Wilson-Scott To Executive Vice President And Chief Diversity Officer

Dalila Wilson-Scott has accepted a promotion as Comcast’s executive VP and chief diversity officer, reports Variety.

Wilson-Scott will continue to head up the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation and the company’s community impact initiatives, which she has since joining Comcast.

Prior to joining Comcast, Wilson-Scott worked for over 15 years at JPMorgan Chase as head of global philanthropy and president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.


Icahn Automotive Names Deborah Brundage As Chief Marketing Officer

Icahn Automotives, the parent company of Pep Boys, has hired Deborah Brundage as CMO.

In her new role, Brundage will direct the company’s marketing and customer experience strategies, with a strong focus on consumer insights and digital engagement.

Brundage comes to Icahn Automotives from Monro Inc., where she served as CMO. Prior to Monro, she spent nearly 17 years at Procter & Gamble.