Trend Set: Disney, McDonald’s Lean On Nostalgia To Drive Innovation, Sales

Ashley Otah, Ayzenberg’s resident trendspotter, examines some of the most significant moves made by giants of commerce in this roundup of what’s trending on our timelines this week.


Disney is partnering up with Toronto-based Lighthouse Immersive Studios to launch a live immersive experience built around the entertainment giant’s iconic films. From “Frozen” to “Encanto,” “The Little Mermaid” and more, the exhibit will bring that Disney magic to life. Immersive brand experiences push the boundaries of lived reality, and as consumers move into a more digitally driven society, brands can work to create and deliver more meaningful and memorable experiences. Brands that utilize immersive marketing will not only drive new customer acquisition but also provide a magical experience for their audiences.


Keke Palmer can act, sing, write and direct, and now she has the platform to do it all while in charge. The actress is launching her own digital network that will showcase her multi-faceted talents while spotlighting a new generation of creators. Palmer has become well-known for her range throughout the entertainment industry, so much so that people can’t wait to see what she does next. Her work keeps rolling in, and the next step is to bring others along on the journey. KeyTV is coming to screens near and far and highlights one-stop shops for all things people love are still booming business.


McDonald’s is reimagining its iconic Happy Meals as nostalgic items for adults and bringing back the Halloween Happy Meal favorite. For a limited time, consumers can snag these blast-from-the-past items and enjoy them in real time. This marketing move by the fast food chain intertwines drop culture and nostalgia in a way that appeals to fans and new customers alike. Nostalgia is a powerful tool that has sparked entire industries, and now it’s creating a new space paired with drop culture. If done correctly, the two can be one of the most effective ways to connect emotionally with audiences.

The Sleeping Virtual Giant: Why 94 Percent Of Marketers Believe In The Metaverse

A recent survey by integrated communications company RRD revealed a surprising statistic: 94 percent of marketing decision-makers believe the metaverse represents a new way to reach their audiences. Yet just 15 percent of consumers are actually using metaverse channels. This gap between marketers’ aspirations and consumers’ underwhelming adoption of this new media landscape might actually be explained by gaming.

Marketers May Be Catching Up, But They’re Not Surging Ahead

RRD’s Macro Marketing Report, which surveyed 1,000 marketing leaders and 500 consumers, revealed that not only do the overwhelming majority of marketers see the metaverse as an important opportunity to connect with new audiences, 77 percent are already preparing to shift resources to develop marketing strategies for metaverse spaces in the near future. Despite low participation rates by consumers, marketers are well aware of the metaverse’s potential as a sleeping giant.

Gaming Is Already “Metaversal”

First of all, almost everyone is a gamer. Even if you restrict yourself to Wordle, you probably won’t resist playing a virtual reality version. Gaming is now a component of most of our lives, and as the medium morphs and becomes better at delivering practical and engaging features and experiences, we will likely game even more. Recent data shows that at least two-thirds of Americans play video games regularly. And the metaverse is a landscape that encourages games to evolve in new ways, from making VR games more immersive and communal experiences to providing new opportunities for marketers to develop branded in-game and in-stream micro-interactions that take advantage of consumers’ undisrupted attention.

Marketers know that interrupting a gaming experience with an ad can be a dicey endeavor— after all, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to introduce brandable moments in spaces where consumers go specifically to escape reality. Yet the metaverse presents a new option for brands seeking to blend seamlessly into an immersive experience and deliver messaging effectively. Whether it’s a dynamic 3D billboard in Roblox, a Billie Eilish jam session on Oculus Quest or a Twitch livestream hosted by Tony the Tiger, the metaverse is actively spawning new opportunities for brands. That means marketers don’t have to be the bad guys. They can remove—almost–everything that consumers hate about advertising, like interruptions and irrelevance, and deliver what they actually like: entertainment and information, along with a healthy dose of cool tech.

Marketers are readying themselves for a metaversal shift because most consumers are already primed for better experiences, and most of us are eager to try them out. A recent survey by Wunderman Thompson Intelligence found that two-thirds of consumers believe the metaverse “could be life-changing,” and 68 percent described it as the “next internet.” Only 15 percent felt confident in explaining what it was, however.

The Metaverse Has Us All—And It’s OK

Top marketers are usually pretty good at determining what drives consumer engagement—whether that’s with a platform where an audience might see their brand’s message or with an online ad that appears at the right moment and wins a click. Beneath the art and science of brand marketing are those basic human needs and wants that drive consumers to see a product or service as an answer. And for many consumers, the metaverse is a place where it’s easier for them to feel welcome. According to a recent study by Momentum Worldwide:

· 80 percent of surveyed consumers see spaces in the metaverse as more inclusive.
· 85 percent said they like that they can present themselves openly in any way that they want.
· 79 percent said their friends in the metaverse accept them for who they are, without regard for their looks.

Whether those warm and fuzzy feelings remain as the metaverse matures beyond a place for friends, the underlying theme is critical: Consumers expect the metaverse to be more inclusive, personalizable and more relevant to them than previous digital experiences. That means ads have to be better—more creative and immersive. Metaverse ads, at least the successful ones, must be targeted to consumers’ needs, interests and values—not just trends. Ads in a space that consumers may see as a refuge from the rest of the internet may matter a lot more, hit them harder and fail even more spectacularly if marketers get it wrong. The metaverse is being built to be a place for serious fun, but it’s also a new kind of space for human interactions. And that means what it offers will be as important to consumers as how well it works.

Consumers see the metaverse as an open road of experiences and new types of interactions. Unsurprisingly, only 20 percent of the RRD survey respondents resonated with the statement, “I am not involved in the metaverse and am not interested in it.”

Read the full report here.

Peloton, The NBA And State Farm See Departures And New Arrivals

Marketers are making moves this week, taking on posts at Peacock, Fossil and Bacardi. We also track the departure of chief marketing officers at Peloton, the NBA, State Farm and Lowe’s.

NBCUniversal Welcomes New Chief Marketing Officer

NBCUniversal’s Peacock named Shannon Willett, Netflix’s former vice president of global marketing strategy and operation, as their new chief marketing officer. Willet, who led a team of 250 at Netflix, managed international creative marketing campaigns for the streaming platform in several positions for seven years. Willet’s new role will involve leading Peacock’s global marketing efforts, including brand management, media planning, marketing operation and subscriber growth.

Forbes’ ‘Most Influential CMO’ Departs Peloton

Veteran marketer Dara Treseder is leaving Peloton on Oct. 4 after serving as the company’s senior vice president for marketing, membership and communications for just under three years. Treseder’s departure follows several high-profile exits at Peloton, including that of co-founder and former CEO John Foley, who left the company’s board in September. Before leading Peloton’s marketing strategy, she was chair of the board of directors at fintech firm Robinhood, as well as the board of directors of the nonprofit Public Health Institute. Treseder, who recently topped Forbe’s list of the most influential CMOs in the world, will join Autodesk on Oct. 14 as their new chief marketing officer.

NBA CMO Kate Jhaveri Ahead Of The New Season

After three years, which included guiding the league’s marketing efforts through the early days of the pandemic, NBA CMO Kate Jhaveri has left her position on the eve of the 2022-23 season. The NBA saw a 33 percent drop in revenue during the 2020/2021 season but has since reached a historic $10 billion in revenue. Jhaveri previously worked at Twitch, where she led marketing, communications, customer support and business intelligence, among other Amazon-owned streaming platforms. In addition, she previously worked at Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft.

Fossil Appoints Lisa Pillette To A Dual Role As SVP and CMO

Fossil Group Inc. has named long-time lead marketer Lisa Pillette as CMO. Pillette, who most recently worked as CMO at Casper Sleep Inc., will direct Fossil’s global marketing strategy while managing innovation, CRM, content and creative campaigns and go-to-market processes. “Lisa has tremendous depth and breadth of marketing experience with iconic brands, an innovative lens on what marketing of the future looks like and a compelling track record of delivering insight-led solutions,” said Holly Briedis, Fossil’s executive vice president and chief digital officer, in a press release.

Lowe’s CMO Marisa Thalberg Departs

Lowes’ Marisa Thalberg has left her position at the company, which she held since February 2020. Thalberg led Lowes’ marketing strategy through the early days of the pandemic and launched several high-profile campaigns. The company, like many other retailers, saw economic uncertainty impact revenues.

Ned Duggan Named Global Chief Marketing Officer And President Of Global Brands

Bacardi recently named Ned Duggan, who has worked with the brand for 17 years, global chief marketing officer and president of global brands. He will replace John Burke, who led the company’s marketing efforts in various leadership positions for 28 years.

Rand Harbert, State Farm CMO, Retires After 12 Years

State Farm CMO Rand Harbert will retire at the end of this year, after 12 years with the company. Harbert led State Farm’s brand repositioning in 2016 and revitalized the popular “Jake from State Farm” campaign. Previously, Cook worked on developing State Farm’s strategy to reach Gen Z and other audiences on emergent platforms such as TikTok, as well as virtual spaces like the metaverse.

IAB Releases New Guidelines For In-Game Ad Measurement

Despite global economic uncertainty, the in-game advertising market is growing at a spectacular rate, with mobile advertisers spending 14 percent more in 2022 than in 2021. Recently, the Interactive Advertising Bureau introduced new guidelines to help companies and marketers measure the impact of in-game advertising. Here, we decode some of the biggest takeaways.

Brands Struggle With In-Game Ad Measurement—And Choosing A Solution

Gamers regularly engage with immersive content that consumes all of their attention. In a recent survey by Deloitte, 65 percent of respondents were “frequent gamers,” spending an average of 12 hours per week playing games across devices like smartphones and tablets, consoles, portable gaming devices and computers. This makes frequent gamers an especially appealing audience for brands seeking to overcome ad and content blindness by investing in new channels.

In-game advertising is also an excellent on-ramp for brands seeking to engage new, untapped audiences. Not only do gamers dedicate their full attention to their screens for hours on end, they’re also a diverse group: 16 percent of gamers in the U.S. identify as LGBTQIA+, 15 percent as Black, 20 percent as Latinx and another 5 percent as Asian. Not surprisingly, gaming is Gen Z’s favorite form of entertainment globally, according to another Deloitte survey from earlier this year, however, 89 percent of Gen Xers and 50 percent of Baby Boomers in the U.S. also play video games. That’s a great opportunity for marketers, as 73 percent of American 18-34-year-olds who game say they would welcome more in-game advertising if it did not interrupt their gaming experience, according to eMarketer.

But measurement can be a challenge.

While platforms like Frameplay have taken multiple paths to measure audience attention—including developing a new metric—solutions can be challenging to evaluate, even for the world’s most ad tech-savvy brands. A lack of standards for evaluating in-game ads means that measurement can be a hit-or-miss process.

A Glimpse At The IAB’s New Guidelines

The IAB’s new guidelines cover in-game advertising impressions across desktop, mobile, standalone and TV-connected consoles, as well as augmented and virtual reality headsets.

However, the guidelines are not meant to cover:

• Interstitial ads: Interactive, full-screen ads that cover the interface of their host app or site. Such ads appear between content, so they are placed at natural transition points or breaks, such as in between activities or game levels.

• Banner (web-based) ads: Typically occupies a designated advertisement location for where an image-based graphic is displayed. 

• In-stream or outstream video ads: In-stream refers to video ads typically placed before, during, or at the end of video content. Outstream refers to video ads that exist outside of video content and that typically play within a video player, even if the publisher doesn’t have its own video content.”

The guidelines do offer specific instructions for evaluating ad success, representing a new standard for consumer engagement measurement:

“A valid ad Impression may only be counted when an ad counter receives and responds to a request for a tracking asset from a client. The count must happen after the initiation of retrieval of underlying content and only when ad content has been loaded and at minimum begins to render. Ads that are not confirmed as meeting these requirements (do not load and begin to render) cannot be counted as Impressions.”

They are also highly detailed:

“Video or Dynamic Ad Time Requirement: To qualify for counting as a Viewable Video Ad Impression, it is required that 2 continuous seconds of the video advertisement is played, meeting the same Pixel Requirement necessary for a Viewable Static or Display Ad. This required time is not necessarily the first 2 seconds of the video ad; any unduplicated content of the ad comprising 2 continuous seconds qualifies in this regard.”

According to the IAB, the guidelines “define in-game measurement terms (impressions, reach/frequency, and engagement) to align with broader cross-channel measurement efforts.” 

Click here to read the entire document.