Celebrity Cruises Appoints Michael Scheiner As Chief Marketing Officer

This week in leadership updates, Celebrity Cruises taps Michael Scheiner as chief marketing officer, Trilogy Health Services names Melissa Richards-Person as CMO, Alpha Foods names Kierstin De West as its first CMO and more.

Celebrity Cruises Hires Michael Scheiner As Chief Marketing Officer

Michael Scheiner, former global CMO of Tommy Hilfiger, has been named senior vice president and CMO of Celebrity Cruises.

In his new role, Scheiner will oversee customer acquisition, brand loyalty and ecommerce worldwide.

Previously, Scheiner was CMO and SVP of Hollister Co. and Gilly Hicks, two brands owned by Abercrombie & Fitch Co.

Alpha Foods Taps Kierstin De West As First-Ever Chief Marketing Officer

Upon launching its inaugural TV spots, Alpha Foods has named Kierstin De West as its first CMO, reports Ad Age.

De West joins from Lululemon, where she was VP of global brand management and strategy for three years.

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows Names Amy Funke As Director Of Marketing

Amy Funke was appointed director of marketing for the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, according to Hospitality Net.

Most recently, Funke served as director of marketing and communication for InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown.

Trilogy Health Services Appoints Melissa Richards-Person As Chief Marketing Officer

According to Biz Journals, Trilogy Health Services has hired former Papa John’s SVP or brand, Melissa Richards-Person, as CMO.

Richards-Person spent nearly 12 years at Papa John’s in various marketing leadership positions.

T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Matt Staneff Exits

After nearly 19 years of working in various marketing leadership roles at T-Mobile, the company’s CMO, Matt Staneff, has stepped down.

Prior to his role as CMO, Staneff was chief commercial officer.

Facebook Vice President Of Global Business Group Departs

Carolyn Everson, VP of Facebook’s Global Business Group, has exited the company after her 10-year tenure.

According to CNBC, Nicolea Mendelsohn, head of EMEA region for Facebook’s Global Business Group, will fill in as interim VP.

Marketers Can Measure Their Digital Audio Investment With Innovid’s New Solution

Gearing up for what’s expected to be an increasingly audio future, Innovid has added audio ad-serving to its advertising suite. The offering will enable marketers to effectively measure their digital audio media investment together with TV, video, display and social.

Already utilized by over a dozen clients including Nationwide, Innovid’s new capabilities will give marketers insight on audio ad impressions and clicks to quartiles and completes for a holistic view of their media mix.

Innovid’s latest move comes as nearly 51 percent of US adults’ total audio time will be spent listening via digital services this year, according to eMarketer. This figure marks the first time digital audio surpasses traditional radio in time spent, reports the firm.

That’s after digital audio accounted for 11 percent of total media time per day for US adults last year and will account for 11.7 percent in 2021. Hence the reason eMarketer revised its 2020 estimate from 1 percent decline in the time US adults spent with digital audio to 8.3 percent growth, for a total of 1 hour, 29 minutes per day.

The resilience of digital audio has ignited a race among social media titans to pump out audio-only features users are already flocking to on standalone social audio apps such as Discord and Clubhouse. If they make them, listeners will come as eMarketer estimates nearly 1.5 billion global consumers will listen to digital audio formats such as podcasts and streaming music at least once a month in 2021.

According to WARC’s Marketer Toolkit 2021, 16 percent of advertisers worldwide plan to increase investment in audio in the coming 12 months, while another 38 percent plan to increase spend on podcast advertising.

Discord, which started in 2015 as a chat platform for gamers, boasts 140 million monthly active users who can communicate with each other via audio, text or video in invitation-only servers, namely ‘Stages,’ on a variety of subjects.

Then came Clubhouse, the invite-only live audio conversation app that launched last April. Thanks in part to celebrity appearances by Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk and Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the platform now reports more than 10 million weekly active users and says more than 300,000 rooms are created each day. Available only on iOs until recently, Clubhouse launched on Android in May and in doing so added one million Android users.

In April, among a string of new audio products, Facebook announced a Clubhouse copycat called Live Audio Rooms for Facebook and Messenger. Facebook recently hosted its first public test of the feature in the US, hosted by Zuckerberg. Similarly, after a year of testing, Twitter opened its live audio conversation feature, Spaces, to all accounts with 600 or more followers in May. LinkedIn, too, has confirmed it’s developing a social audio feature in its app.

Spotify is the latest to jump on the audio bandwagon, announcing the launch of a new mobile app called Spotify Greenroom which lets users globally join or host live audio rooms, conversations from which they can turn into podcasts. Spotify is betting big on the new app as it also announced a Creator Fund that will help enhance the app’s content.

Xbox And Bethesda Games E3 Showcase Recap

Last weekend, the international gaming community tuned in to the Xbox and Bethesda Games E3 Showcase, a 90-minute show that unveiled the latest from Xbox Game Studios, Bethesda and the Xbox partners from around the world.

An Xbox logo-turned dial swiveled and the clock counted down during the opening hype piece to kick off Xbox’s entire E3 livestream. Ayzenberg Group, Xbox’s longtime creative partner and social agency of record, produced the animated video that set the tone for the entire show.

“It’s an honor to open the show because there’s so much anticipation and excitement in the air. This year to celebrate Xbox’s 20th anniversary and the year we’ve all been through—our inspiration was to look back over the past 20 years of exciting E3 fan-driven moments to remind everyone of where we’ve been and to be able to look forward to a near-future when we can all be together again to celebrate the love of gaming,” said Gary Goodman, chief creative officer, Ayzenberg Group.

Xbox delivered on that hype, announcing 30 new games, 27 of which will be launching on Xbox Game Pass day one later this year and next. There are 11 new games available today, including Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Arx Fatalis and Fallout, among others.

Back-to-back monthly releases for Xbox Game Pass, a packed holiday line-up and two exclusive Bethesda games coming in 2022 are part of Xbox’s larger commitment to deliver the “most diverse video game line-up in the world,” according to a recap of the E3 showcase on the company’s blog, Xbox Wire.

Xbox’s subscription has become a popular discovery engine since launching in summer 2017. Citing recent research, Xbox reports that members of Xbox Game Pass play 30 percent more genres and 40 percent more games. Additionally, 90 percent of members said they played a game that they wouldn’t have tried without Game Pass plus members spend 50 percent more than non-members.

As Xbox celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, the company is exploring new subscription offerings and developing ways to bring Xbox Game Pass to more screens. For one, it’s working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Xbox experience directly into internet-connected televisions without requiring any extra hardware except a controller.

Some other ways Xbox is making Game Pass more accessible include the creation of new purchasing models like Xbox All Access to enable consumers to buy a console and Game Pass for a low monthly fee; building its own streaming devices for cloud gaming to reach gamers on any television or monitor without the need for a console; and later this year, the addition of cloud gaming directly into the Xbox app on PC and integration with the Xbox console experience.

Purpose Is Power With St. Jude And ALSAC’s Emily Callahan

Emily Callahan is the Chief Marketing and Experience Officer at ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

On the show, Emily and I discuss St. Jude’s origin, how she ended up as the Chief Marketing and Experience Officer, and the inspiration behind St. Jude’s partnership with SpaceX. Yes, you read that correctly. St. Jude is going to outer space. 

But in between, they also talk about purpose: what it means and how it can empower companies and their partnerships. Emily encourages people to “be a difference maker where you are.” Listen in to find out how that inspires her career, their marketing, and St. Jude’s mission.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why purpose is the power behind marketing
  • Jude’s partnership to travel to space
  • What CMOs can learn from cause marketers

Key Highlights:

  • [01:25] Emily’s morning routine
  • [02:53] Emily’s path to Chief Marketing and Experience Officer
  • [06:12] All about St. Jude Children’s Hospital
  • [10:16] What non-profit marketing looks like
  • [13:58] Purpose behind marketing
  • [17:25] St. Jude is going to space!
  • [20:37] Stories of inspiration
  • [24:33] What marketers can learn from cause marketers
  • [26:11] Emily’s career advice
  • [28:37] A defining experience that made Emily who she is today 
  • [30:07] Emily’s advice to her younger self
  • [31:58] Emily’s impact purchase
  • [33:28] The brands and companies Emily follows
  • [34:50] What Emily says is today’s biggest threat and opportunity for marketers

Resources Mentioned: 

Subscribe to the podcast:

Connect with the Guest:

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.

Facebook’s New Report Suggests Brand Loyalty Is Under Threat

This week in social media news, Facebook’s new research suggests brand loyalty is under threat, Spotify launches a live audio mobile app called Spotify Greenroom, YouTube adds a new feature for creators and expands Shorts to 23 countries, Twitter is launching a ‘subscribe button’ for those with a Revue newsletter and more.

New Facebook Report Reveals Digital Media Evolution’s Impact On Shopper Journey

A new research study from Facebook and Kantar explores the implications of how the evolution of online shopping has impacted the shopper journey. Though the findings are specific to Hong Kong and Taiwan online shoppers, there are implications for marketers everywhere looking to continue driving brand love.  

Why it matters: As Facebook’s research shows, brand loyalty is under threat amid the growing variety of choices consumers have today. Citing a Nielsen Global Consumer Loyalty study, Facebook reports that only 8 percent of consumers consider themselves committed loyalists to their favorite brands.

The details: Starting with its brand loyalty findings, Facebook reports that 56 percent of global shoppers find it extremely important to experience novelty. Specifically, 80 percent of Taiwanese will continue trying new brands to find the ones that suit them best.

To inspire loyalty, brands must meet the six universal drivers of brand love. According to a study by Oath, those include: exceeding needs, building just, setting trends, sharing values, respecting consumers and elevating experiences.

Post-purchase, it’s important for brands to exceed consumers’ needs, namely keeping an open channel for shoppers to share feedback or ask questions. The reason being, 48 percent of Hong Kong online shoppers expect to receive proactive updates around issues related to their offers.

Like most shoppers, those in Facebook’s study are interested in receiving communications from brands, but many fear that their personal data will be leaked. Brands must not only protect consumer data but also create meaningful outcomes for shoppers, notes Facebook.

In the final leg of the shopper journey, Facebook notes, brands should analyze shoppers’ data to understand their current behaviors and predict future ones as a means to exceed shopper expectations.

Spotify Launches Live Audio Mobile App ‘Spotify Greenroom’

Spotify has entered the standalone audio app space with its own live audio mobile app called Spotify Greenroom. Powered by a Creator Fund, the app will enable Spotify users on iOS and Android worldwide to tune in or host live audio rooms, then create podcasts out of those conversations.

Why it matters: Spotify’s foray into the live audio space heats up the competition among standalone audio apps such as Clubhouse and audio-only features being developed by social media giants like Facebook. The news comes after Spotify in March acquired Betty Labs, the company responsible for Locker Room, a sports-focused audio app.

The details: For now, Spotify Greenroom can host up to 1,000 people. Hosts can rack up “gems” in the app, given to them by listeners as a form of applause. The number of gems a speaker receives will appear next to their profile image during a live session.

Spotify Greenroom includes a live text chat option and the option to request your audio file after a live session concludes, which as noted above, can turn into a podcast. Spotify said it will be recording the live audio sessions for moderation purposes.

In the coming months, Spotify plans to launch more features for Greenroom, as well as programmed content. The Creator Fund Spotify announced will aim to help audio creators based in the US earn money for their work. Interested creators can sign up through this form.

YouTube’s New Update Will Speed Up Creators’ Video Editing Process

In the latest episode of YouTube’s ‘Creator Insider’ series, ads policy lead Conor Kavanaugh announced an update that gives creators the ability to place midroll, end screens, info cards and manual captions while their video is uploading. In the same update, Kavanaugh confirmed that YouTube is extending the Shorts camera to 23 countries.

Why it matters: Albeit small, the update will speed up the video editing process for creators.

YouTube’s Shorts expansion to 23 countries signals the offering’s increased momentum. More creators are likely to test Shorts now that YouTube has announced its $100 million Shorts Fund, which will reward creators whose Shorts get the most engagement each month.

The details: The new editing feature for creators is now available in the YouTube Studio process. And among the regions Shorts is coming to are the UK, Canada and Latin America.

Twitter Adds Newsletter Subscription Button Via Revue

Twitter is getting ready to introduce a newsletter subscription button, which will be available to anyone with a Revue newsletter who chooses to enable the feature via Revue, reports Mashable.

Why it matters: The new addition follows Twitter’s acquisition of Revue, which writers use to generate free or paid subscription newsletters. Twitter claims a 5 percent cut of the latter, according to Mashable.

The details: As explained by a company spokesperson, those who have a Revue account can turn the subscribe button feature on. Those who visit the writer’s Twitter profile can subscribe directly via the button.

Twitter hasn’t announced an exact launch date for the button, but confirmed it’ll first be available on the web and Android and later to iOS.

Facebook Announces New Payment QR Codes, Branded Chat Themes For Messenger

Facebook has launched three new features for Messenger, including the ability for US users to utilize QR codes and payment links on Facebook Pay; sponsored chat themes; and a quick reply bar to the Messenger media viewer.

Why it matters: Facebook Messenger counts 136 million users and that figure is expected to grow to 138.1 million next year.

The details: Eliminating the need to download separate payment apps or add new contacts, Facebook’s new Messenger QR codes and payment links make it easy to send or request money via Facebook Pay. Users can access these new features in their Messenger settings under “Facebook Pay.”

Next, Facebook has rolled out three new sponsored chat themes, including one inspired by Gen Z actress and singer Olivia Rodrigo, World Oceans Day and the “F9” film.

Lastly, Messenger users will now see a quick reply bar, which will enable them to send a quick response without having to revisit the main chat thread.

Ayzenberg Helps Announce Xbox’s Series X Mini Fridge

It’s a safe! It’s a subwoofer! It’s a mini fridge! To close out its Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase at E3, Xbox broke the internet with the announcement of its first-ever Series X Mini Fridge, set to launch this holiday season so fans can “Xbox and Chill.”

The mini fridge made its world premiere in a 60-second video that garnered 1.6 million views within the first 24 hours of posting. That’s 300,000 more views than its 90-minute E3 showcase video featuring upcoming releases from Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks. The mini fridge video also ranked number 12 on YouTube’s worldwide trends.

Ayzenberg Group—Xbox’s creative partner for the better part of a decade and social agency of record—and its in-house creative and animation teams worked tightly with Xbox to surprise fans with what ultimately became the highest performing asset of the show.

“For Ayzenberg Group, the E3 timeframe is the Super Bowl of marketing events for the game industry. This year, Xbox decided to truly embrace the meme that their Xbox Series X console looked like a fridge and produce an Xbox Mini Fridge. We were approached with less than two weeks to the big show to craft a video that landed this message with a combination of Xbox bravado and a tongue-in-cheek wink to the fans,” Gary Goodman, chief creative officer, Ayzenberg Group, tells AList.

The Mini Fridge, powered by “Xbox velocity cooling architecture,” caused levels of Xbox fandom to grow exponentially, as evidenced by enthusiasts’ comments across Xbox social media channels. The throughline? Xbox is the master of memes.

As Mikel Zugarramurdi Sandoval put it on YouTube: “They don’t just embrace the meme…they became the meme.” Another user, Read Me, said: “I’ve never bought an Xbox, but I NEED this!” The fridge may even become more popular than the console, according to Sprite-Nation: “Ngl, I wanna buy this more than the console.”

Xbox planted the idea for a mini fridge last April during Twitter’s first ‘Brand Bracket’ competition in which 16 brands battled it out to become the best-tweeting brand on the platform. When people voted to see Xbox and Skittles in the championship, Aaron Greenberg, Xbox general manager, Xbox Games marketing, Microsoft, tweeted: “Help @Xbox win this and we’ll put into production this year REAL XBOX SERIES X MINI FRIDGES!”

And so, the Twitterverse delivered. Now, Xbox fans have even more to look forward to as they feverishly await a Series X and Series S restock. In the meantime, Xbox, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, teased thirty titles during its E3 showcase, 27 of which will be included with Xbox Game Pass.

What We’re Reading—Week Of June 14th, 2021

A look at the insights we’re sharing this week from various marketing and advertising publications.

Ad Industry Awards Haven’t Addressed The Racial Reckoning


Just as black football players in the 1960s and ‘70s were relegated to certain positions due to the belief they weren’t smart enough to run the team, today’s black creative directors are facing an uphill battle against negative stereotypes when it comes to awards and juries.

Why it matters: Since agencies hire creatives who produce award-winning work, awards matter. Yet award shows aren’t taking accountability for recognizing and rectifying jury room equity. Jurors must ask if their unconscious biases are affecting how they view the work otherwise they’re holding back people of color from career opportunities.

Jack In The Box Duets With Jason Derulo On Virtual Restaurant Brand

Marketing Dive

Jack in the Box and Jason Derulo are launching a virtual restaurant called One in a Milli that Los Angeles diners will be able to exclusively order from via Uber Eats from June 14-28. The concept is inspired by Derulo’s “Milli Meal” tradition of using bizarre ingredients to celebrate each million follower milestone on TikTok.

Why it matters: The partnership marks Jack in the Box’s entrance into the virtual restaurant trend, which the pandemic popularized as consumers flocked to take-out and delivery. It will enable the brand to reach Derulo’s 46 million-plus TikTok followers as well as collect first-party data through a mobile component wherein those outside of Los Angeles can order from the virtual restaurant via the Jack in the Box app.

Looking Beyond The Pandemic: Could The World Economy Gain More Than It Lost To COVID-19?

McKinsey & Company

According to Mckinsey’s latest analysis of mortality and economic growth, no country kept its economy moving well without also taking control over the virus spread. How McKinsey’s proposed twin imperatives of safeguarding lives and livelihoods translate into reality is based on three beliefs: that 3 to 4 percent global economic growth is achievable with available technology; we don’t have to choose between sustained and inclusive growth; and the possibility that with pandemic-induced medical advances we can spark a renaissance in public health innovation.

Why it matters: If global leaders act on these outcomes, the world could be on the cusp of a new age of prosperity, namely an economic recovery that will add 30 to 50 percent to GDP over the next 10 years.  

TikTok Launches #CreativityForGood Campaign To Highlight Creators And Causes On The Platform

Social Media Today

TikTok has launched its own Cannes Lions awards-inspired hashtag challenge called #CreativityForGood, which will invite its users to create a TikTok-style campaign or ad for one of four partnering international non-profits or another cause they cherish. The non-profits include the Malala Fund, It Gets Better Project, IFRC and One Tree Planted. TikTok will donate $50,000 to each.

Why it matters: Given TikTok videos aren’t allowed to compete in the Cannes Lion competition, this new purpose-led promotion could be the platform’s small way of carving out a spot in the awards in the future.

Consumers Are Hungry For Live Events. Here’s How Brands Should Respond.


New global research from Momentum Worldwide found that while 74 percent of people found a new passion during the pandemic, another 50 percent are ready to try new experiences.

Why it matters: Consumers are now pickier about where they spend their time, with 21 percent of people thinking it’s necessary to feel like a VIP during events. With 87 percent of respondents willing to use technology while attending live events, hybrid events offer an appealing solution.

Are Influencer Exhibition Fights The Future Of Boxing?

Los Angeles Magazine

Following YouTuber Logan Paul’s exhibition match with Floyd Mayweather, a new Miami-based event called “Social Gloves: Battle of the Platforms” has emerged, featuring a fight between TikTok stars and YouTube influencers.

Why it matters: In a recent press release about the event, which occurred on June 12, executive producer Paul Cazers called the fights “the perfect storm of celebrity, social media, technology, digital marketing, pop culture, and, at the end of the day, good old Hollywood 101 celebrity and industry magic.”

Over Two-Thirds Of Consumers Prefer To Communicate With Businesses Over The Phone

Last year witnessed a rapid migration to digital technologies and yet new research shows people prefer to call a business. In fact, sixty-eight percent of shoppers prefer to communicate with businesses over the phone versus 13 percent of those who prefer to do so via chatbot, according to Invoca’s inaugural “Buyer Experience Benchmark Report.”

Invoca’s 2020 research echoes a similar sentiment. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said talking to a person on the phone to answer questions made them feel more confident in making high-consideration purchases—which one-third of people did during the pandemic—versus buying directly online.

These conversations, if done right, can leave an overwhelmingly positive impression on consumers, as Invoca’s research suggests. Half of consumers actually believe that agents are more helpful now than before March 2020. And based on these positive interactions, Invoca notes, 44 percent of respondents feel more positively about these brands and 45 percent feel their business is valued.

The primary reason consumers prefer calling a business is to gain more information about a product, as 44 percent of consumers noted. For another 30 percent, they feel most comfortable completing high-stakes purchases on the phone.

Forty-one percent of respondents said they’d most likely purchase travel-related services over the phone, while just 18 percent would buy a car on the phone. Nevertheless, 60 percent of shoppers will call a business at some point during their car-buying journey, Invoca found.

Thoughtful, detailed product pages, FAQ sections and a strong website overall should be top of mind for brands as 33 percent of consumers said they’re most likely to call a business because they couldn’t find what they were looking for online during their automotive search; the same number of shoppers of financial services expressed that frustration. Thirty percent of those shopping for healthcare services had the same complaint.

Other factors driving away customers? Long wait times, transfers and repetition. According to Invoca, 75 percent of consumers hang up after hearing a message about long wait times. A callback option isn’t viable for just 5 percent trust in the automatic feature.

Over half (53 percent) of consumers said they need to repeat their reason for calling to multiple agents. It’s in a business’ best interest to reduce transfers because it makes 35 percent feel frustrated and 45 percent feel the business is effective when they catch the right agent the first time.

After a phone call, people prefer to communicate with businesses via email (55 percent), in person (40 percent) and via live agent chat (33 percent). Chatbots are a last resort (13 percent).

Invoca’s findings are based on a survey of 500 consumers about purchases in automotive, financial services, healthcare, home services, insurance, telecom and travel.

What We’re Reading—Week Of June 8th

Here’s what we’re reading for the week of June 8th, 2021.

The Rise Of The 50-Plus Influencer

The Drum

David Whyte, founder and chief executive of Edge, believes that now is the time for brands to wake up to the opportunities of Gen X and Baby Boomer influencers who are shattering stereotypes and creating new models, particularly on YouTube. Whyte cites the success that 57-year-old guitarist Rick Beato is having on YouTube, where his music channel boasts over 1.7 million subscribers.

Why it matters: Sixty-eight percent of consumers age 55 or older shop online every month yet just 5 percent of advertising in the US is targeted at these consumers. As Whyte notes, though the influencer landscape was for years the sole domain of millennials and Gen Z, advertisers should also consider that Baby Boomers are over ten times wealthier than their millennial counterparts.

Research: How Cultural Differences Can Impact Global Teams

Harvard Business Review

To determine when teams whose members live in different countries perform better, HBR observed the behaviors and interactions of 5,728 individuals in 804 remote international teams while they worked during several months on business consulting projects.

Why it matters: Their analyses found that personal diversity, such as differences in age and culture, can negatively affect team climate. These members find it less enjoyable to spend time together, trust each other less and generally communicate less–which leads to more conflicts.

In contrast, HBR found that contextual diversity, created by members that come from countries with different economic and political systems, can positively affect task performance because it allows for more perspectives, which boosts creativity and creates a better solution to problems.

How Two DTC Brands Revamped Their Video Creative For Performance


After simply throwing money into video creative without measuring performance, Kuru Footwear partnered with VidMob, whose creative intelligence tool analyzes the creative variables in a video frame to isolate why the video is performing or not. Atom Finance partnered with VidMob on a similar approach to grow in-app engagement.

Why it matters: After a round of A/B testing, KURU Footwear learned that lifestyle footage of people wearing its shoes and engaging in everyday activities like running in the park, alongside direct response calls-to-action, performed best. This new creative had a 15 percent higher return on ad spend and a 15 percent lower cost per purchase than the brand’s previous video assets.

For Atom Finance, the partnership with VidMob resulted in modified videos that generated a nearly 30 percent lift in app engagement after signup.

Mastercard Enters Five-Year Partnership With World Rugby Women’s Game


Mastercard and World Rugby have announced a five-year partnership that will see the former use its Priceless platform to curate experiences with World Rugby and brand ambassadors. Mastercard, whose goal is to connect with consumers in new ways, will also be developing rugby-specific content as an extension of its dedication to gender equity and ‘Girls4Tech’ STEM education program.

Why it matters: Mastercard will become the first worldwide partner for Rugby World Cup 2021, Rugby World Cup 2025 and the first Global Partner of WXV, the annual global women’s competition set to begin in 2023.

‘Live Recovery’ Index Indicates Progress On Safely Resuming In-Person Events

After a year of social distancing and lockdown, new research shows US marketers are getting closer to resuming live events. In an effort to help brands and consumers determine when it’s safe to host such events again, Jack Morton has launched a proprietary index called “Return to Live” that follows the factors contributing to the rate of recovery in the US. These include virus spread, vaccination rates, market demographics, consumer mobility and sentiment at the national, state and county level.

According to the index, the nation is halfway there, scoring a 4.78 out of 10 in its progress toward resuming in-person experiences. Some states may be able to begin hosting live events sooner than others. The data show that the top five states closest to recovery scored an average of 8.68 and include Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Minnesota. At an average score of 2.0, the worst performers are Illinois, North Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Florida.

The high average scores gleaned from the data reflect new case rates below the national average and vaccination rates of 50 percent or above. Nationally, consumer mobility to recreational and retail areas is -5 percent below pre-pandemic levels, reports Jack Morton. However, top states are seeing consumer mobility figures equal to or greater than pre-pandemic levels. Low scoring states, on the other hand, report higher than average case rates and lower vaccination numbers.

“The data and the empirical evidence are trending in the right direction, but we still need to carefully review location and context. There is still a lot of disparity as you zoom in on the map,” said Scott Varland, senior vice president and head of Jack X North America.

Additionally, the index revealed a positive correlation between states with high recovery scores and mask mandates still in place or recently lifted. States with poor recovery scores never had a mask mandate or lifted it before or shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated mask recommendation in May.

Looking ahead, Jack Morton found that in Q3, 63 percent of brands plan to host in-person events, 19 percent plan to stick to virtual events and 18 percent will adopt a hybrid approach. In Q4, 71 percent of marketers are committed to throwing live events, while 16 percent will utilize a hybrid model and 13 percent a virtual model.

Upcoming live events include the Mobile World Congress in late June; the Chicago Auto Show; Lollapalooza and the Bonnaroo Festival. Among the virtual events planned for the remainder of 2021 include E3 and San Diego Comic-Con.