Trend Set: Checking Out The Vibes On Google Maps

In this week’s trend roundup, Ayzenberg’s Ashley Otah examines three major developments in tech and fashion.

J Balvin

J Balvin, the Colombian singer known to many as the “Prince of Reggaeton,” is stepping into the world of digital wellness with OYE, a bilingual app meant to help those struggling with mental health issues. OYE, which means “listen” in Spanish, will feature Balvin as its “Chief Dream Officer.” The need for mental health resources is not new, but the app sheds a bright light for younger and older generations. Bridging the gap between creativity and wellness is the future, and the deep dive into that world continues.

Delta Airlines x Issa Rae

Delta Airlines, Issa Rae and six small businesses have teamed up to produce the Delta Runway Runway collection, a fashion line “for the modern jet-setter.” The collaboration “for travelers, by travelers” is another example of brands meeting their audiences where they are. While traveling can be a hassle, the collaboration showcases how simple, reimagined items can help seamlessly reach targeted consumers. The collection, which features limited-edition items like sunglasses, joggers and shoes, will drop Oct. 7 during Los Angeles Fashion Week.

Google Maps

Google recently unveiled several updates coming soon to their Maps app, including a new feature called “Neighborhood Vibe.” The goal is simple: Help people get the “vibe” of a neighborhood through user-generated photos and reviews of the area. Utilizing AI and local knowledge, Google will provide users with a comprehensive look at an area through the lens of a local. With new user behavior pointing toward visualization, this is no surprise. While the implications of the new feature look to be dicey, the charge toward AI and visual search is rapidly picking up steam.

Modernizing A 135-Year-Old Brand With Avon’s Global CMO Kristof Neirynck

The task of revitalizing a 135-year-old brand for today’s market is daunting at best, but for Avon’s Global CMO Kristof Neirynck, that’s just the challenge he wanted to tackle. Coming from Walgreens Boots Alliance—when we last spoke with him in episode 208—Kristof saw the overwhelming opportunity to bring his keen eye for storytelling and passion for data to a company that has been on the decline. He’s steering the ship in a positive direction not only for consumers but for their unique brand ambassadors as well—their representative “Avon ladies.”

In this episode, Kristof and I reunite to talk about his new role at Avon, how he’s working to revitalize the brand and the key innovations introduced to modernize the storied company. Listen in to hear about how their business structure affects women’s livelihoods, the company’s focus on purpose and giving back and what Avon is looking for in marketing talent.

In This Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • The purposefulness of the Avon business structure
  • How Avon is modernizing their selling channels
  • Which generation is the highest growing group of Avon representatives

Key Highlights:

  • [02:29] Kristof’s path to Avon 
  • [06:46] The empowerment of women through Avon
  • [08:39] Kristof’s role as Global CMO at Avon
  • [11:15] Avon’s challenge of brand consideration
  • [13:42] Expansion of selling channels for a historic B2B2C brand
  • [15:54] Avon ON app as an innovative selling tool
  • [19:54] Revitalizing and modernizing the brand
  • [24:45] The type of marketing talent that Avon is looking for 
  • [27:48] An experience that defines Kristof recapped from episode 208
  • [28:30] What marketers should be learning more about
  • [31:16] Brands and causes we should notice
  • [32:56] The largest opportunity or threat for marketers today

Resources Mentioned:

Follow 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 brand, customer experience, innovation and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Why Games Are The New Social Platform

Gaming platforms are forcing an evolution across the social media landscape—and that’s good for brands.

How Gaming Platforms Are Raising The Bar For Social Media

Gaming is no longer just a pastime for kids, it’s a new form of social interactivity and a platform for content that is always evolving. But just how popular is gaming? According to a recent report, global consumers spend over 1 trillion hours playing games and an additional 25 billion hours watching gaming streams each year, meaning gaming hours outpace all of the time consumers spend on social media and/or watching television.

Gaming platforms are notorious for their side chatter—some of it controversial, some plain silly—but the noise masks a tidal shift in how consumers communicate about experiences with digital content. Consumers immersed in a world of engaging content are passionate and vocal about their experiences and are often eager to share what works and what doesn’t.

Consumers who discuss the games they’re playing in depth are a blessing for game producers. When games are great, every passionate player becomes a brand ambassador, inviting friends to play along and discuss live on platforms like Twitch while encouraging others to become superfans. In that sense, games are amplified social media—focusing a players’ attention and providing them, on platforms like Twitch, with a preloaded community that is ready to engage around experiences.

How Social Platforms And Brands Are Engaging Consumers With Gaming Content

“We have 2.5 million engaged viewers tuning into live content every single day. And so, at its core, it’s about interaction,” said Victor Lu, brand partnership studio lead, Americas at Twitch, while speaking at the recent IAB Audience Connect conference. “If you’re ever on Twitch, you’re not just watching the stream, you’re part of the experience—you’re chatting with people, you’re talking to the streamer, they’re talking back to you.”

That global shift toward deeper connections with others and with the content we love has also changed marketing. Demographic groups used to the immersive, engaging nature of games—like Gen Z—have high expectations for social media, marketing and retail experiences. For example, a recent survey by Snapchat revealed that 92 percent of Gen Z users want access to augmented reality tools while shopping, and over half pay more attention to ads with AR components. That means in-game advertising and platforms like Twitch offer significant opportunities for brand marketers to reach new, highly engaged audiences.

“So, 77 percent of Twitch viewers agree that the community that they build from gaming is just as important as the game itself,” Lu said. “And 65 percent actually would buy the game for the community that it surrounds versus just playing the game itself. And so it’s really about being together. And so what does this mean? Like, this is an audience, like, it’s all about community, it’s all about togetherness.”

But games are also doing something to the way consumers think about social media. Gaming content makes digital experiences center on interactions, so viewers’ attention is focused on the screen without interruption. That means gaming-focused social platforms have an audience that is already used to prolonged, intense connections with on-screen content, and their social media networks are already motivated to connect around gaming and the experiences they encounter on those platforms.

Brands Are Turning To Collaboration To Create Unique Ad Experiences

Brands are taking advantage of social gaming platforms in innovative ways. Rather than using traditional tools to reach these audiences, brands like Kellogg’s, which created an animated Tony the Tiger avatar in collaboration with Twitch, are reimagining native advertising as a social gaming experience.

“It’s the first time a brand [has] come to work with Twitch to transform a brand mascot into a VTuber.” Lu said. “It is really just quite amazing to see [Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger] live, talking to people, talking to streamers. It’s kind of incredible.”

Twitch is also collaborating with Adobe to develop not just a new type of advertising, but a new way to bring audiences deeper, immersive experiences with their content.

“So, to break that down, it’s a triple-A game that allows the fans to create an asset that would go into the game that they could then play for free as a result of the stream,” Lu said. “So it’s something that could really only happen on Twitch. And what was really fascinating was that we got 21,000 chat interactions out of it for the initial stream, and it showcases, really, how engaged the audience was.”

The Takeaway

Social gaming platforms like Twitch show how impactful games have been in the evolution of social media. Consumers want more visual, immersive and interactive elements in their ads, retail experiences, and social media. Brand marketers seeking to connect with this audience in the arena where they are the most engaged and attentive should look at gaming platforms as their first choice when developing creative campaigns.

Trend Set: Entertainment Giants Partner Up

Ayzenberg’s Ashley Otah explores some next-level immersive and experiential collaborations trending on our timelines this week.

Live Nation x Halsey

Halsey isn’t just bringing music to her fans, she’s bringing beauty with her as well. The singer recently teamed up with Live Nation Entertainment to take her beauty brands—af94 and about-face—and feature them in experiential pop-ups at several venues and festivals across the country. The collaborative, in-person experience will provide concertgoers with an opportunity to try on looks virtually, as well as sample and experiment with the products. While just getting started, the partnership highlights the power of in-person experiences, virtual reality and shared passions.

WhatsApp x Giannis Antetokounmpo

In WhatsApp’s first-ever short film, basketball star Giannis Antetokounmpo takes audiences on a journey around the world as he shares his “origin story of many origins.” The film, starring the Milwaukee Bucks player, delves deep into what it means to be human in an ever-connected world. As a result, WhatsApp highlights its offerings beautifully while elevating Antetokounmpo’s story. The importance of global connectivity, creativity and culture shines brightly throughout the piece, leaving space for thought-provoking introspection and discussion. The film is available for streaming on Prime Video.


Spotify, the first music-streaming platform to have a presence on Roblox, is bringing more music to the masses with Planet Hip-Hop, an immersive, virtual experience designed to take users on a journey through the genre as they learn more about some of its biggest stars. Through curated, creative experiences, fans can bounce between portals, shops and other iconic spots. The mixture of music and technology continues to be a space to watch and enter.

Next-Level Brand Promises With Del Taco CMO Tim Hackbardt

Tim Hackbardt’s professional journey includes ventures into consulting, advertising and even broadcasting, but his path repeatedly brought him back to Del Taco, where he is now chief marketing officer. Del Taco is one of many restaurant chains Tim’s worked at, but he says it’s his favorite because the business model offers countless opportunities to increase sales.

In this episode, Tim and I discuss how he’s working to take a new brand promise and make it the essence of the company’s culture. Listen in to learn how to foster “brand love,” an idea all the most successful organizations can boast.

In This Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • How to apply brand promises internally as well as externally.
  • Sometimes, you must push past a failure and wait until the time is right to try a bold idea again.
  • Find opportunities to break out of day-to-day demands and take time to build emotional connections with your customers.

Key Highlights:

  • [02:21] Becoming an accidental marketing genius
  • [11:04] The importance of brand versatility
  • [14:11] The evolution of the QSR marketplace  
  • [16:47] How the CMO role is defined at Del Taco
  • [18:52] Applying brand promises internally and externally
  • [24:09] Pushing past prior failures
  • [29:27] The experience that defines Tim
  • [32:50] Advice Tim would give his younger self
  • [34:47] What marketers should be learning more about
  • [36:14] Brands and companies to take notice of
  • [38:53] The biggest opportunity or threat for marketers today

Resources Mentioned:

Follow 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 brand, customer experience, innovation and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

How Immersive Advertising Is Changing The Way Networks Market Content

While network television still commands the attention of millions, streaming services recently outpaced viewership for over-the-air and cable broadcasts. Now networks—and the brands that rely on them—are ramping up their creativity and finding new ways to draw viewers back to “old TV” with immersive advertising.

Why Immersive Advertising Wins The Battle For Consumer Attention

Immersive advertising might not seem like an obvious choice for TV network marketers, but the numbers are impressive. A recent survey by Ericsson Emodo found that approximately 75 percent of consumers are more likely to pay attention to ads that feature immersive or augmented reality components, while 70 percent actually expressed an interest in experiencing more ads with AR elements.

Those stats are pretty incredible when you reread that last line. Consumers actually want more ads—and they might turn those ad blockers off to get at them.

Why? Because immersive ads are like games; they’re permission-based excursions that pull the consumer out of the moment and to someplace unexpected. That temporary flight away from the ordinary can be just as valuable as a more costly campaign that consumers might simply tune out because they see hundreds every week.

What Brands Are Doing To Leverage Immersive Experiences

Big brands like Gucci, Ikea and Sephora were among the pioneers of AR and immersive ads targeted at retail consumers, but streaming services have also launched new and immersive experiences to keep viewers connected when offline.

Having spent so much time indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers want to be outside. And for those who work from home, disconnecting from devices as much as possible is essential. So streamers are bringing the digital outdoors in unexpected ways. For example, Netflix rolled out a series of innovative AR and immersive ads for “Bridgerton” and “Stranger Things” with elements that got consumers off their couches and into new venues and spaces. A London “Stranger Things” scavenger hunt used actors, AR and mobile messaging to encourage fans to stay out and about over a period of days.

Immersion is not just a nice-to-have for advertisers with an already much-loved content product—it can be key for delivering challenging or complex brand messaging, as it captures people’s attention in an all-consuming way. Live event immersive advertising adds a powerful punch to AR-enabled campaigns because consumers are actively engaged with an ad for an extended period of time—usually because they are drawn to a unique experience. That means there’s no multitasking or distractions to pull their attention away from brand content. There’s another benefit to immersive outdoor campaigns: Fun experiences often translate into positive brand associations.

Why Network And Cable TV Are Turning To Immersive Experiences

While HBO used an immersive experience to promote “House of the Dragon” at San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year, free-to-air broadcasters are also looking at immersive campaigns as a way of reentering consumers’ crowded screens and staying top-of-mind.

Recently, NBC promoted the revival of its 1980’s hit “Quantum Leap” with an immersive drive-thru experience in Los Angeles that offered drivers the opportunity to fill up their tanks for 91 cents a gallon, as well as buy a movie ticket for under $4 with a special code from Fandango. While the event offered fans some retro fun, it also delivered a brand message about the appeal of outdoor activities that don’t involve digital technology—a unique conversation starter for young audiences who might have become aware of all that cool ’80s stuff from watching “Stranger Things.” Immersive experiences also create brand ambassadors organically, as attendees share photos from these events with friends and family even when they would never share an ad.

Immersive advertising is powerful because it gives consumers the choice to interact and rewards those who do with unique experiences that feel like entertainment and not a sales pitch.

With consumers becoming overwhelmed at the sheer volume of content out there, marketers need to stay memorable. That means inspiring consumers to engage because they feel an affinity to the brand or the content produced by reintroducing themselves—perhaps in person.

Trend Set: Collaborations On Our Radar

Ayzenberg’s Ashley Otah returns this week with the latest trends focused on collaborations and partnerships.

Morgan Stanley x Rebecca Minkoff

Morgan Stanley is no longer just a financial expert: they’re a fashion expert too. Their investment firm is now collaborating with fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff on a luxury women’s banker bag. A Wall Street status symbol since the ’70s, the bag is taking on new life as a symbol of gender diversity in the workplace. In addition, other brands are also looking to diversify their appeal as they branch out into new industries to engage with wider audiences. Understanding unique and necessary consumer needs—paired with the help of working alongside adjacent industries—can build brand awareness and loyalty.

Shake Shack x Hot Ones

Shake Shack announced that it is trying its hand (or at least, its tongue) at competing in the spicy food game. The burger joint is partnering with “Hot Ones,” a YouTube show produced by First We Feast, where guests are interviewed while they eat spicy chicken wings. Known for fun partnerships, such as its one-day collabs that support charity, the brand is no stranger to shaking things up. Diversifying offerings, even for a short while, can solidify brands as significant players in the game. In addition, rewarding fans for being early adopters or loyal followers is a surefire way to boost brand affinity and keep audiences coming back for more.

UPS x Awake NY

UPS and Awake NY launched their one-of-a-kind design collaboration at New York Fashion Week, created by Angelo Baque. The limited-edition collection celebrates the Latinx community by supporting small businesses and aspiring designers. The unique partnership also included a pop-up fashion bodega store for Hispanic Heritage Month, from which all proceeds and $50,000 in grants will go to the next generation of Latinx designers. The fun and fresh collab was a new spin on an old favorite for a good cause.

Breaking Down The State Of Data With IAB’s Angelina Eng

On the first day of this year’s IAB Audience Connect, we spoke with Angelina Eng, vice president, programmatic and data center, about the current state of data in marketing and the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s new report.

Carla Rover: How has the current “state of data” changed the way advertisers think about the audience, measurement and compliance?

Angelina Eng: Given the current “state of data,” our industry has to rethink our approaches to how we target consumers, deliver relevant ads and measure effectiveness with privacy-first solutions. The companies we interviewed all agreed that rebuilding consumer trust and communicating the consumer value exchange are top priorities.

CR: Please tell us some of the biggest compliance and data privacy issues facing advertisers.

AE: They are:

One: how to comply with five new privacy laws in the span of a year.

Two: When a consumer opts out of “sales,” that likely includes measurement and frequency capping. So even if you deliver an ad that does not involve the sale of personal information, there is still a challenge to measure it and frequency cap delivery.

Three: When a publisher or advertiser independently engages a measurement company or DSP as a service provider, it cannot measure, or frequency cap insofar as those activities require a combination of personal information, which is prohibited by the CPRA. The CPRA adds contract requirements for third-party, contractor and service provider agreements and will result in a major effort to amend contracts by Jan. 1.

Four: Certain parts of the digital adverting supply chain that involve the disclosure of personal information do not typically have governing contracts (e.g., pixels in the ad creative or disclosures from the advertiser’s ad server to the publisher’s ad server). Putting in place new contractual relationships will be a critical challenge.

Five: New state privacy laws include additional user controls over the use of personal information and sensitive personal information, which must be built into compliance plans.

CR: How has the advertising landscape evolved over the last five years with respect to the challenges facing advertisers?

AE: Over the last five years, we’ve moved in a direction where privacy regulations and consumer privacy require us to rethink the way the advertising ecosystem collects and uses data to target, measure and optimize. Advertisers are looking for alternative solutions beyond the current third-party cookie and moving towards privacy-preserving solutions such as CDP, Clean Room and CMPS. In addition, advertising needs to shift away from 1-to-1 personalization and measurement and embrace cohort-based solutions and probabilistic attribution.

CR: How are marketers and advertisers adjusting to the ever-changing digital landscape and new challenges around data?

AE: Advertisers are prioritizing rebuilding consumer trust and testing privacy-preserving technologies. They are currently evaluating various cookie-less targeting solutions, such as Identity, Cohort, and Contextual targeting. However, they realize that the way they measure performance will be difficult with ongoing legislative and platform changes. The fragmentation of state legislation is also making it difficult for advertisers to keep track of the regulations.

CR: What does the new State of Data report cover this year, and what are some topics that it delves into?

AE: First, investing in deterministic first-party datasets (data from logged-in, “known” audiences) remains vital. Yet, in most instances, this only represents about 20 percent of potential consumers. Marketers need proven, probabilistic solutions to target and measure the 80 percent of consumers who are not part of their first-party data.

In addition, creating consistent measures and protocols that work inside their companies and with external partners has become a major issue. In the face of rising complexity, the majority of respondents agree a “one size fits all” approach spanning multiple jurisdictions is probably necessary. But there is a significant trade-off: failing to leverage data that is fully permitted in certain states means lost opportunities.

The Sound Of Brands With Amp’s Michele Arnese

Michele Arnese has always had a love for music. Still, it was only after spending ten years as a management consultant that he was able to found amp, a sonic branding agency, and his passion became his profession. As Global Founder and CEO, Michele expertly weaves sound into some of the most recognizable brands in the world, such as Mastercard and Mercedes-Benz.

In this episode, Michele and I discuss what branding with sound really is, why it’s so important to the brand experience and the use of data and insights into the world of sonic branding.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What sonic branding is and how it’s different from jingles
  • How companies like MasterCard and Mercedes-Benz are using sonic branding
  • What amp’s copyrighted “Sonic DNA” is and how they created their custom sonic brand index

Key Highlights:

  • [02:23] Michele’s path to founding amp
  • [05:10] What is Sonic Branding and why do brands need sound
  • [08:27] Why sound is resurging and the evolution of the jingle
  • [10:42] What is the perfect example of sonic branding
  • [14:17] MasterCard’s sonic brand strategy
  • [19:36] Mercedes-Benz’s sonic branding
  • [22:08] How using data and technology is impacting sonic branding
  • [24:00] Michele’s index of the best audio brands and the first sonic branding magazine
  • [26:21] An experience that defines Michele
  • [27:22] Michele’s advice for his younger self
  • [28:00] What marketers should be learning more about
  • [28:47] Brands and causes we should notice
  • [30:30] The largest opportunity or threat for marketers today

Resources Mentioned:

Follow 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 brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Navigating The Third Space: In-Car Marketing

The average consumer now spends 13 hours per week in their vehicle, representing a 27 percent increase over 2021. As consumers spend more time on the road, a new generation of connected cars is helping transform vehicles into a third “home” space—an environment that allows consumers to shop, be entertained, communicate and even work as they drive or rest in their vehicles.

What Is The “Third Space?”

The average New York-Newark area resident who commutes spends an average of 56 hours stuck in traffic, according to the 2021 Urban Mobility Report produced by Texas A&M University. Los Angeles residents faired slightly better at 46 hours per driver in 2020—but that still accounts for more than an entire work week spent trapped inside a vehicle. That makes the car much more than a transportation method; it’s also a quasi-living space where attention is highly focused and limited to short periods of time, intensifying the impact of any content that the consumer engages with. As new features are introduced to luxury and utility vehicles, consumers will one day have the option to use voice assistants to interact with their devices and connect with home or work, as well as discover new entertainment options. That also means that connected cars are actually gateways to immersive experiences that consumers will engage with every day.

What The Numbers Say

According to research by Waze, U.S. drivers are far more active than last year, traveling more and farther in the first quarter of 2022. They are also driving to more fun activities, with trips to culture and entertainment destinations rising by 55.7 percent and journeys to sports venues up by 76.8 percent over the same period last year. According to 87 percent of restaurant executives surveyed in Waze’s study, consumers are also letting their impulses decide where to go for dinner. That means drive time is also “decision time” for many consumers, and marketers should be aware of the opportunities and risks involved in reaching new audiences on the road.

Why “A Third Space” Matters To Marketers

It isn’t a surprise that people really, really hate being stuck in traffic. One study suggests that people were willing to give up five minutes of any other leisure activity if it would help them save one minute of time in traffic. Drivers are desperate for a distraction and open to engaging with smart, creative content. The opportunity for marketers is significant, but it can be hard to nail down. While consumers are used to listening to the radio or to podcasts in their cars, connected vehicles offer new options for interactions, each with the potential for brands and consumers to connect. Yet those connections can easily turn into unwanted interruptions if marketers are not cautious.

Creating in-car marketing content is uncharted territory, but that doesn’t mean there are no best practice guidelines to keep top of mind. Here are some things to remember when developing a new strategy:

Make It Worth Their While

Just like with any other type of marketing plan, campaigns should be designed to deliver value to the consumer that prompts them to engage without distracting them from their main task or activity for too long. That means you’re not just delivering content that relates to a guestimate of what a consumer may be doing at the moment, but offering tools or access to features that offer immediate value that’s demonstrable and tailored to the audience. For example, location-based discounts or unique content that add delight to a slow commute when traffic alerts indicate roads are blocked.

Stay Native And Relevant

Automotive companies have been taking advantage of new technologies, like augmented reality, to showcase their new vehicles. That may also soon extend to in-car displays of relevant content and targeted information, however, this content will engage users only when their implementation adds a tangible benefit to their drive time or downtime experience. For example, apps that send critical auto safety information to in-car displays and app-streaming plugins designed to let users access any app from their car’s screen while sitting in traffic.

Think Personalization First

For many consumers, being alone in their cars is a welcome refuge from the outside world—for a few minutes. When those minutes stretch into more than an hour, that space can become a place of tension. Marketers should allow consumers to personalize their interactions to match the mood of “the room,” as well as access the features or information that they want in the way that they want. For instance, consumers may need different types of content at different points in their drive. It’s up to you to make sure that your creative offers multiple iterations to meet their interests, such as audio for active driving or on-screen app content for bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Don’t forget compliance

When attempting to map brand marketing opportunities to connected cars’ digital capabilities, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind from the European Data Protection Board.

  • Disclose data usage to consumers during onboarding and offboarding.
  • Develop a long-term data use compliance strategy for apps and any digital interactions.
  • Ensure that content delivery has embedded, automated controls designed to prevent interference with safe driving, remote control of car functions or emergency service communications.
  • Use consent as the legal basis for studies or research using any consumer data, including location and search.