Domino’s Appoints Sarah Barron Chief Marketing Officer

This week in leadership updates, Domino’s names Sarah Barron as CMO and Apple TV+ appoints JP Richards as head of film marketing strategy.

Domino’s Hires Sarah Barron As Chief Marketing Officer

After the pandemic accelerated its digital transformation, Domino’s has merged its marketing and digital teams, and has tapped Sarah Barron as its new CMO.

Barron joins Domino’s from Costa Coffee, where she most recently served as chief growth officer.

Apple TV+ Names JP Richards Head Of Film Marketing Strategy

Apple TV+ has appointed JP Richards head of film marketing strategy, reports Deadline.

Previously, Richards spent six years at Warner Bros., most recently as co-president of worldwide marketing.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Global Chief Marketing Officer To Exit

Vineet Mehra, who held the dual title of global CMO and chief customer officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, is stepping down after two years with the company.

Mehra is leaving to take on a new role as chief growth officer at a start-up in Silicon Valley.

Mehra first joined Walgreens in 2019 as global CMO after serving as chairman of the board for Effie Worldwide.

Planet Fitness Appoints Two New Directors To Its Board

Planet Fitness has expanded its board of directors with two hires—Bernard Acoca, chief executive and president for El Pollo Loco, and Christopher Tanco, executive vice president and chief operating officer for 7-Eleven.

The appointments bring Planet Fitness’ board to eight total directors.

Snapchat Shares Insights On Their Users’ Sports Watching Behavior

This week in social media news, Snapchat shares new data on how its users engage with sports events on the platform.

Snapchat Provides Insight Into Users’ Sports Watching Behaviors

With the future of live sports events up in the air, Snapchat has shared research on how its users’ interactions with sports content have changed.

Why it matters: Snapchat says that on average, 17 percent of Snapchatters globally say they’ve started watching or following different sports/teams given the pandemic-induced cancellations and postponements of matches.

The details: On overage, more than 70 percent of Snapchat users use the app while watching sports, reports Snap. While on their phone during the game, these users are most likely to spend time on social/communication and photo apps, call or text friends/family and play games.

Sixty-one percent of sports fans on Snapchat watch friends’ stories on Snapchat while watching sports, and 38 percent watch highlights and other sports content within Discover while watching sports. In addition, 48 percent of users send direct snaps/chats to friends and family while watching sports.

Snapchatters are also watching games on multiple screens, especially in the US, the Netherlands and France.

Hispanic Business At PepsiCo With Esperanza Teasdale

On this 243rd episode of “Marketing Today,” I speak with Esperanza Teasdale, vice president and general manager of the Hispanic Business Unit for PepsiCo Beverages North America. Teasdale is responsible for the overall strategy, engagement, and sales for a Hispanic business unit that brings in over $2 billion per year.

We start our conversation with Teasdale’s experience from growing up with two parents that had both immigrated to the US from Ecuador in search of a better life. Since they both had demanding blue-collar jobs, Teasdale “grew up as a latch key kid,” taking herself to and from school as a child, essentially responsible for herself. Teasdale then discusses her engineering education, spending time in manufacturing environments after graduation until attaining her MBA and ultimately moving onto sales. Once Teasdale realized that the sales sector wasn’t for her, she moved to marketing.

We then dive into the Hispanic business unit and the “untapped potential” that led to its creation. Now and into the future, Teasdale and her team are focused on multicultural marketing, as “everything we do should be multicultural because that is the fabric of our country.” Teasdale takes us through the helping hands she received throughout her career as a result of her willingness to be vulnerable. “You don’t have to wait for someone to ask you to take a seat; you can take it yourself.” Lastly, we discuss the opportunity that marketers have today to think differently about their previously rejected ideas because “the world today is different than it was before!”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • As the daughter of immigrants, Esperanza greatly appreciates the sacrifices that her parents made to have a better life. 1:37
  • Esperanza’s parents came from the hot ecosystem of Ecuador to the cold winter in the US. 2:30
  • Equality is something that everyone is trying to achieve in today’s world, especially with all that has gone on this year. 3:22
  • There were times when Esperanza’s parents were injured or sick, and no money came in the door. 3:54
  • After studying engineering in her undergrad in college, Esperanza spent quite a bit of time in a manufacturing environment. 6:58
  • Esperanza’s company paid for her MBA, after which she had her choice of path, ultimately choosing marketing. 7:48
  • The Hispanic Business Unit at PepsiCo was created to tap into the previously untapped Hispanic sector. 10:36
  • Multicultural marketing has gone through a revolution that parallels the makeup of our country. 12:29
  • There is no one-size-fits-all in the melting pot that is the US, even within each culture. 13:13
  • P&G has shown to be a champion of diversity and inclusion by driving cultural relevance through its advertising. 16:03
  • Heading into the future, we need to be more culturally relevant, and the Hispanic Unit is an example of what the marketing industry should look like. 19:10
  • The chaos and uncertainty of 2020 caused PepsiCo to pause during the initial breakout of COVID. 22:10
  • Esperanza and her team made sure to study the effects of COVID on the habits of Hispanic consumers. 22:50
  • The Hispanic population has shown resilience in its journey to get to the US and this helped maintain optimism in the face of chaos. 24:37
  • To promote passionate multicultural youth’s ability to vote, PepsiCo launched its Unmute Your Voice Campaign. 26:12
  • Esperanza’s team is focused on leaning into the communities that need the most help as it enters 2021. 28:06
  • 2020 has shown Americans to be empathetic, looking for ways to help however they can. 29:30
  • PepsiCo finds itself in so many households in the US that the decision to make a bold message brings a lot of risk. 32:41
  • Esperanza takes responsibility in her role as a Latina executive to bring others along to change their paths for the better. 35:06
  • The ability to show up, take action without someone asking, and put yourself out there will bring the greatest rewards. 38:30
  • Throughout her career, Esperanza has received advice and help from high-level executives to be successful. 39:15
  • The experience of losing both of her parents, while devastating, taught Esperanza a lot about herself and her family history. 42:10
  • Esperanza feels a responsibility to be empathetic to the motivations behind the actions of the people around her. 44:15
  • Looking back, Esperanza would encourage herself to take the offered hands of anyone that had done her wrong. 46:01
  • The Mastercard Initiative created a card that allowed anyone that is transgender to have their true identity on the card. 48:35
  • For those marketers with a fixed mindset, current times offer the opportunity to think about things differently. 50:52

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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.

Listen In: Making Your Move With NPR’s Michael Smith

Michael Smith is less than a year into his chief marketing officer role at National Public Radio (NPR) but has always approached his leadership position with a remit to create content that makes people think more critically about the world.

Smith began his position by understanding the existential purpose of the organization he was joining, including its cultural mandates and purpose within American society. In short, his first goal was to become an expert on the historical track of NPR.

Regardless of whether you’re in the world of media or not, there’s much to learn about general professional growth. Michael shares his secrets to making a job transition successfully, his perspective on the three stages of professional development as well as how he’s approaching NPR less like a ‘radio’ company and more like a media company and tapping into an expansive digital audience.

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 audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

What We’re Reading—Week Of January 11th

Facebook Will Pause Political Donations For At Least Three Months Following Siege On US Capitol

Business Insider

Facebook said it will stop donations to political parties for at least three months after pro-Trump supporters raided the US capitol, which caused Facebook to suspend President Donald Trump’s account indefinitely.

Why it matters: The move comes after JP Morgan and Citibank said they’d temporarily cut off donations for the same reason. Others such as Dow, Marriott and Morgan Stanley plan to pause donations specifically to GOP lawmakers who objected to confirming Joe Biden as president.

The Corporate Center: Driving The Next Normal

McKinsey & Company

In its latest survey of 300 global chief experience officers, McKinsey found that cost management remains the highest priority across all parts of organization. In addition, 90 percent of corporate-center executives believe the corporate center will be a driver of change for the rest of the company.

Why it matters: Transformational work in the corporate center can serve as a guiding light for the entire company.

Influencer Impact Increased By 57 Percent In 2020


A new report from Klear found that despite a 19 percent decline in the use of #ad in 2020, sponsored posts saw an average of 7,806 impressions, whereas in 2019 they averaged 4,827 impressions—a 57 percent increase.

Why it matters: Sponsored content on TikTok and Instagram Stories surged in 2020, as did the number of Gen Z-generated #ad content.

The Breach Of The U.S. Capitol Was A Breach Of Trust

Harvard Business Review

Trust is based on four tenets including competence, motives, fair means and impact. The violent attack on the US Capitol exhibits the cracks in all four of these.

Why it matters: To regain the nation’s confidence, government leaders can communicate a unified message that attacks on the Capitol are unacceptable, punish the guilty and immediately impeach Trump via the 25th Amendment.

Ad Age Best Places To Work 2021

Ad Age

For companies with over 200 employees, Ad Age’s third annual ‘Best Places to Work’ ranked PMG as the best place to work, followed by Mediaocean in second, Goodway Group in third, Tinuiti in fourth and Crossmedia in fifth. Among companies with 200 or less employees, Ad Age ranked Grow Enrollment as the best place to work, followed by InfoTrust, RBA, Closed Loop and XX Artists as fifth.

Why it matters: Winners reflect the high overall numerical scores based on survey responses from employers and their employees on six key areas: company culture, company environment, employee benefits, employee development, employee engagement and employee perks.

CES 2021: Home As The New HQ

In 2020, gyms became watches, dining rooms became offices and restaurants came in bags, changes that have resulted in 29 percent of homes having at least one smart home device–a 20 percent increase from one year ago.

As adoption of technology that enhances the at-home experience increases, so do consumer pain points around that technology. During a CES session ‘The Next Big Thing: Home As the New Headquarters,’ CNET editor at large Brian Cooley explores these issues with Jennifer Kent, senior director at Parks Associates, Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte London and Megan Wollerton, senior writer at CNET Smart Homes Center.

Research from Parks Associates shows that just 15 percent of consumers had used telehealth services before 2020, as older consumers believed that virtual care couldn’t compare to in-person visits. For the first time, Kent says the firm saw a use case that challenges that, with the number of consumers using telehealth growing to 41 percent during COVID-19. At the source of this shift was people’s fear of contracting the disease during in-person doctor appointments, she notes.

Though consumers are increasingly purchasing connected health devices such as a connected weight scale or smart thermometer, Kent says the data from such devices isn’t integrated with telehealth services, causing a major pain point.

As per Lee, the term ‘telehealth’ is effective as it conveys a familiarity to patients, particularly elders, who may be reluctant to use these virtual services. For the medical industry, Lee emphasizes the importance of having a standard method of communicating telehealth services, and creating a piece of technology that doesn’t make patients more worried.

Lockdowns have also been a boon to the wellness and fitness tech space. In September, Peleton reported a 172 percent surge in sales and a user base of more than 1 million for its streaming classes. The brand recently launched a new indoor cycling, Bike+, and is debuting a new treadmill called Tread in March this year. Similarly, in mid December Apple announced Apple Fitness+, a new fitness service for its Apple Watch.

Wollerton says the complaint she hears frequently from CNET readers about smart home devices is that while they add value to their lives, they still don’t touch on their biggest pain points, namely reducing or alleviating challenges associated with achieving work-life balance at home. On these consumers’ wishlists are devices that can help reduce the time and energy required to cook, do laundry and the like.

Lee says one major area where today’s technology falls short is its inability to recreate the spontaneous moments that occured in the physical workplace pre-pandemic.

“There’s no digital equivalent to those spontaneous conversations, elevator pitches and chats as we walk along, say, to the cafeteria. Zoom and other products like that are fantastic for the meeting room replication, but the reality is business is about more than just the board room,” says Lee.

CES 2021: Microsoft President Brad Smith’s Plea For Greater Cybersecurity

The SolarWinds cybersecurity hack, the passing of data privacy regulations in recent years and the impending demise of cookies all mark one truth: that technology is a double-edged sword. In a keynote at the digital Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft president Brad Smith urged the industry to take responsibility for creating guardrails to protect humanity against the perils of technology.

Smith’s message echoes one he already conveyed in his 2019 book, Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age, which he co-authored with Carol Ann Browne, Microsoft general manager, chief of staff and executive communication—that the darker side of technology could one day lead to communities’ loss of control over privacy and digital safety.

“The SolarWinds-based attack was a mass indiscriminate global assault on the tech supply chain that all of us are responsible for protecting. We need to come together as an industry, and we need to use our collective voice to every government around the world that this kind of supply chain . . . shouldn’t be allowed to pursue. If we don’t use our voice to call on the governments of the world to hold to a higher standard, then I ask you this: who will?”

Smith took CES viewers inside Microsoft’s data centers in Quincy, Washington, where almost half a million “server computers that fuel our lives” are kept. According to Smith, the server computers hold as much data as you’d find in more than 50,000 Libraries of Congress. 

Fueling this digital infrastructure are over 140 electric generators powered by diesel. Microsoft has pledged to replace them either with those that run on hydrogen power or new advanced fuel cells by the end of the decade–highlighting the powerful intersection of digital technology, energy technology, environmental science and the need for innovation, as Smith put it.

Smith’s plea for protection of the planet’s cybersecurity comes as brands and consumers increasingly use and rely on artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and machine learning to enhance experiences in education, entertainment and beyond. In fact, research from McKinsey Global Institute suggests that by 2030, AI could produce an additional global economic output of $13 trillion per year.

Nevertheless, Smith affirms that AI could pose a threat to people’s fundamental rights, while machine learning can create bias and discrimination. Inspired by John F. Kennedy’s 1962 speech about the nation’s space effort, Smith reminds viewers that whether technology will become a force for good or ill is entirely up to us.

“Tech has no conscience, but people do. As an industry, we must exercise our conscience . . . to ensure the tech we create serves the world.”

Merkle Elevates Erin Hutchinson To Global Marketing And Communications Officer

This week in leadership updates, Merkle elevates Erin Hutchinson to global CMO, First Look Media names Jen O’Connell-Robertson SVP of marketing, Bed Bath & Beyond appoints new marketing leaders, Scopely hires Ben Webley as CMO, GoFundMe taps Musa Tariq as CMO and more.

Merkle Promotes Erin Hutchinson To Global Marketing And Communications Officer

Merkle has elevated Erin Hutchinson to global chief marketing and communications officer.

Hutchinson has been with Merkle for nearly 19 years, most recently as CMO of Merkle Americas.

First Look Media Hires Two New Marketing Leaders

According to Deadline, First Look Media has named Jen O’Connell-Robertson senior vice president of marketing, and Monica Bloom VP of marketing.

O’Connell-Robertson joins First Look from PBS Distribution, where she was VP of marketing.

Bloom was previously SVP and general manager at Tribeca Shortlist.

Bed Bath & Beyond Announces Updates To Marketing Leadership Team

Bed Bath & Beyond has appointed Kristi Argyilan to senior vice president of brand innovation, and Jim Reath to SVP of marketing.

Argyilan joins the business from Target, where she was president of its media company Roundel.

Reath was previously a senior marketer at Macy’s, where he led integrated omnichannel marketing.

Scopely Hires Ben Webley As Chief Marketing Officer

Scopely has named Ben Webley its new CMO.

Prior to Scopely, Webley worked as director of global marketing solutions for gaming at Facebook

GoFundMe Names Musa Tariq Chief Marketing Officer

GoFundMe has announced the hiring of Musa Tariq as CMO.

Prior to GoFundMe, Tariq was global head of marketing for Airbnb Experiences. He was also previously chief brand officer at Ford Motor Company.

GameStop Adds Three New Members To Board Of Directors 

GameStop has partnered with RC Ventures, producing the appointment of three new board directors—Alan Attal, Ryan Cohen and Jim Grube—to grow its ecommerce efforts.

Attal is the former CMO of Chewy Inc., Cohen is the founder and former CEO of Chewy and Grube most recently served as chief financial officer of Vacasa.

Valentino Taps Enzo Quarenghi As Chief Client Officer And Digital Acquisition

Valentino hired Enzo Quarenghi as its chief client officer and digital acquisition, a role that’s part of a new division led by chief executive Jacopo Venturini.

Quarenghi most recently worked as CEO of Visa Italy, and previously as vice president, client acquisition for American Express.

App Annie: Time Spent On Mobile Surpasses Time Spent Watching Live Television

This week in social media news, App Annie releases its State of Mobile 2021 report, TikTok announces an incubator program for its black creatives, Facebook shares new research on shifts in consumer shopping behavior worldwide, LinkedIn launches a new swipe-up link feature to Stories, Facebook Workplace updates its employee safety and live video features and more.

App Annie: Consumers Spent $143 Billion On Mobile Apps In 2020

According to App Annie’s State of Mobile 2021 report, US consumers spent $143 billion on mobile apps in 2020—a 20 percent year-over-year (YOY) increase—and eight percent more time on mobile than watching live television each day.

Why it matters: The surge in mobile adoption provides a massive opportunity for marketers to reach consumers as they continue to crave shared experiences during lockdowns. In 2020 alone, advertisers spent $240 billion on mobile ads, a figure set to top $290 billion this year.

The details: App Annie notes that in the US, Gen Z, millennials and Gen X/Baby Boomers spent 16 percent, 18 percent and 30 percent more time YoY, respectively, in their most-used apps.

In terms of top apps from the year, TikTok reigned supreme with time spent on the app growing 70 percent in the US and 80 percent in the UK. This year, App Annie anticipates TikTok will hit 1.2 billion active users.

In addition, time spent in streaming apps surged by 40 percent in 2020, with Youtube seeing up to six times higher time spent per user than Netflix.

Global downloads of Pinterest and Instagram grew 50 percent and 20 percent YoY, respectively, leading the way for social commerce and live shopping to become a $2 trillion market globally by 2024.

As far as games, casual games dominated downloads, with core gamers generating 66 percent of spend and 55 percent of time spent on mobile games.

TikTok Launches Black Creatives Incubator Program

Today, TikTok announced its new ‘TikTok for Black Creatives,’ a new three-month incubator program that aims to nurture and develop 100 black creators and music artists through grants.

Why it matters: Ever since black creators on TikTok accused the app of censoring Black Lives Matter content in June, TikTok has pledged to promote its black users. It has since committed to donating $3 million to nonprofits that help black communities and an additional $1 million toward eradicating racial injustice.

The details: TikTok is giving black creators the chance to apply for the program, which will award a select number with funds toward educational resources, production equipment and other creative content development tools. The grant for the initiative was created in partnership with MACRO, a multimedia platform that champions diversity.

Facebook Publishes New Research On Consumer Shopping Behavior 

As part of its new ‘Perspectives’ series, Facebook has published a new report on the major shifts in consumer shopping behavior across the world in 2021, during which growth in essential categories is expected to skyrocket while nonessential categories contract.

Why it matters: During COVID-19, consumers have realized that their shopping habits mean more to them than ever before for a variety of reasons including safety, security and convenience.

The details: Facebook found that safety and reliability are the new standards for in-store shopping, with 71 percent of respondents noting it’s very important that a retailer create a safe shopping environment, and 68 percent saying it’s critical for retailers to always have products they’re invested in buying in stock.

Convenience, customization and delivery capabilities are also influencing consumers’ shopping habits, with more than two-thirds saying all are very important.

Consumers also still care about what companies care about, with 56 percent saying it’s very important that brands they buy from support the same values they believe in.

LinkedIn Adds Swipe-Up Link Feature To Stories

LinkedIn just launched a new feature that lets members with at least 5,00 connections or followers and Company Pages add a swipe-up link to their Stories.

Why it matters: The move is in line with that of a key feature on Instagram and Snapchat that lets brands with 10,000 or more followers add swipe-up links to promote products and editorial content.

The details: As per social media expert Matt Navarra, LinkedIn’s new swipe-up feature lets you preview and edit your link before posting, and will display a ‘See more’ prompt to viewers. Users will also be able to see how the Stories performed in their insights.

Facebook Workplace Updates Safety Check And Live Video Features

Facebook Workplace is updating its Safety Check and Live Video features to help businesses bridge the distance between colleagues amid hybrid work environments induced by COVID-19.

Why it matters: Facebook Workplace usage has surged as the pandemic forced companies to shift to remote work. In May, the company said that its Workplace platform alone has 5 million paid users, up from 3 million in October 2019.

The details: As per a tweet from Facebook technology communications manager, EMEA, Alexandru Voica, Facebook Workplace is rolling out a new iteration of Safety Check called Safety Center. The goal here is to provide increased functionality and a new user experience to help businesses check on employee safety and manage communications during incidents, as well as issue travel advisories to employees during the pandemic.

Facebook Workplace has also updated its Live Video feature to let employees go live with multiple presenters.

Voica says the updates “preview Workplace’s broader 2021 product strategy, which aims to expand Workplace’s reach in connecting communities.”

Youtube Debuts New Dedicated Pages For Hashtag Searches

YouTube rolled out a new feature that gives anyone who searches for a specific hashtag on YouTube access to a dedicated page that only contains videos with the hashtag.

Why it matters: Up until now, when users searched for a hashtag or clicked on a hashtag, YouTube displayed a combination of content using the hashtag in the video, in addition to other related videos.

The details: Available on mobile and desktop, YouTube’s new hashtag page sorts hashtag-specific videos to keep the best videos at the top. Users can also navigate these dedicated hashtag pages by clicking any automatically linked hashtag they see on YouTube.

Facebook Shares Games Marketing Insights For 2021

After surpassing 1 billion hours for the first time in Q3 2020, Facebook Gaming has published the findings of a survey it conducted in July 2020 across four key markets—the US, UK, South Korea and Germany—that highlights the importance of connecting with new gamers in the new year.

Why it matters: According to the report, 70 percent of people reported spending more time on mobile devices. That behavior seems to have stuck, as those who started playing after the crisis are still playing today. Respondents said that the main reason for the increase was they had more free time (41 percent).  

The details: Facebook found that since March, there are 28 million new gamers in the US, 8.6 million in the UK, 9.4 million in South Korea and 6.5 million in Germany.

In the US and UK, new gamers were more likely to play video games on a PC or gaming console. New gamers also skewed significantly toward core game genres.

Regarding ads, new players are open to alternative monetization models like in-app purchases, whereas existing players prefer ad-supported models. Both cohorts prefer to see gameplay and character/story elements represented in ads.

TikTok Streamed A Virtual Ratatouille-Inspired Musical And Benefit

TikTok streamed an encore presentation of a creator-inspired virtual musical and benefit based on Ratatouille after the premiere virtual benefit it streamed on January 1 garnered $1 million for the Actors Fund.

Why it matters: In August, TikTok theater creatives’ content inspired the creation of a new account entitled @ratatouillemusical. The account made a video calling for community submissions to help bring the fictional musical to life. To date, the #RatatouilleMusical tag has 227 million views.

The details: The January 1st premiere of Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical was a virtual benefit performance for The Actors Fund featuring 10 songs sourced from TikTok and musical stars. Throughout, viewers were able to donate to the Actors Fund via an in-app donation sticker. TikTok offered an encore presentation of the musical on January 10.

Parler App Gets Axed By Amazon, Apple and Google

Amazon, App and Google have all removed Parler following complaints that the platform was being used to plan and coordinate the storming of the US capitol by President Trump supporters.

Why it matters: According to BuzzFeed News, Apple removed Parler from its app store after it received numerous accusations that the Parler app was used to plan, coordinate and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington DC, adding that “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”

The details: On Sunday night, Amazon removed Parler from its cloud hosting service, a move that shut down Parler’s website and app until it can find a new hosting provider. Amazon Web Services said that in recent weeks it reported 98 examples of posts promoting violence on Parler that it didn’t effectively identify and remove.

CES: The 2021 Consumer Engagement Playbook

Privacy laws, consumer recovery and 5G will be top-of-mind for marketers in 2021. To understand how brands can navigate these trends, Carol Reed, executive vice president of data and product marketing at WPP, discussed the new consumer engagement playbook with three marketing leaders at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), including: Gabby Cohen, brand marketer at Harry’s Inc., Iván Markman, chief business officer for Verizon Media and Alyssa Raine, group vice president of customer marketing platforms at Walgreens.

Amid lockdowns, brands were pushed to find creative ways to inspire togetherness. Markman says that at Verizon, this meant creating shared experiences through a personalized sports community of friends and family. In September, the company debuted a ‘Watch Together’ feature that enables four people to interact via video chats while watching live local and primetime NFL games in the Yahoo Sports app.

At the same time, Verizon debuted a new feature called Yahoo Sports PlayAR, giving fans the ability to see graphical replays of key plays across all games in near real-time through augmented reality (AR). Markman says features like these can help build consumer trust and thereby enable consensual first-party data relationships.

At online subscription-based Rent the Runway, Cohen, the brand’s former senior vice president of brand, communications and business development, and her team responded to the pandemic by building trust and uplifting consumers through feel-good content, rather than content that encouraged buying. There, Cohen was instrumental in overhauling RTW’s membership plans as consumers opted for sweats over dresses in lockdowns, a trend that compelled the brand to do away with its unlimited rental option and create updated plans.

For Raine and Walgreens, delivering exceptional customer experiences to its 100 million loyalty members during the pandemic required leveraging first-party data to understand customers’ individual healthcare needs. In April, the chain announced expanded telehealth features through its Walgreens Find Care platform, including a COVID-19 risk assessment. Raines says personalized experiences will continue to guide Walgreens in the new year given the inherently personal nature of the vaccination.

Further highlighting the significance of first-party data in 2021, Markman mentioned Verizon’s new ConnectID identity solution, which launched in early December of 2020. The new ID aims to help advertisers and publishers navigate audiences and deliver relevant messaging without third-party cookies.