Old Spice Gets Legendary With ‘The Walking Dead’ Star Steven Ogg

From fighting rival gangs in Grand Theft Auto V as Trevor Phillips to slicing and dicing zombies in The Walking Dead as Simon to terrorizing other hosts in Westworld, actor Steven Ogg has a huge fan base across entertainment.

Old Spice is tapping into that audience through Ogg’s latest character, infomercial host Bob Giovanni, the latest leg in the company’s “smell legendary” line of spokesmen.

“The ideology behind this is more than the freshest scent, it’s the idea that everyone has a journey,” Ogg told AListDaily. “A high number of millennials are just slaves to the grind in the sense that they’re just working to pay the bills at jobs they aren’t happy at. So reaching these people with the message is about finding happiness in whatever you do. It’s about being proud of what you do, being confident in what you do and doing the best job you can in whatever it is you do.”

The commercials use humor to market Old Spice’s Hardest Working Collection, which includes the new Steel Courage scent, Hydro Wash body wash and Old Spice Swat Defense.

“I never thought of the Old Spice brand much before (working on this campaign),” Ogg said. “I mean I used it before, and I certainly gravitated toward them and like that they do this with humor. I enjoy being a part of this, especially since the humor is used to push that message of working hard and finding your own voice in the world. It’s done in a very appealing tone, rather than being all high and mighty.”

Ogg follows Terry Crews and Isaiah Mustafa in communicating Old Spice marketing through humor.

“What Terry, Isaiah and the others have done is having fun with this, which helps get the message out there,” Ogg said. “This Bob Giovanni character is a lot of fun to play. And it translates to a wide audience and communicates to them that, ‘Hey man, do the best you can, find your own legendary status.’ I like that whole idea of working hard to achieve it at whatever you do. And taking pride in it.”

The Old Spice message of smelling fresh certainly connects with the most recent projects Ogg has worked on, whether that’s the deserts of Utah and California in Westworld or the humidity of the Atlanta suburbs in The Walking Dead.

“Confidence definitely comes from good grooming and smelling good,” Ogg said. “If you stink, you’re going to be self-conscious about it.”

Old Spice recently hired Wakefield Research to survey millennial men about working in the modern era.

Some findings tie into the “own the legend” marketing campaign, including the fact that 82 percent of millennial men (ages 18-to-35) who use social media admit to fibbing or exaggerating the truth on social to make their experiences seem more exciting; 87 percent of men feel pressure to “show off” on social media. Where they lived also impacted honesty, with 69 percent of men living in the city are more likely to fib online, compared to those in the suburbs (49 percent) or rural areas (39 percent).

“This concept of knowing that so many people are out there feeling trapped by their work, feeling the pressure and the competition—and it’s not just millennials that worry about standing out,” Ogg said. “We shouldn’t be focusing on standing out any more than children should be focusing on becoming famous. It’s a misguided thing. You should focus on who you are and know your voice. That’s what makes you a legend—it’s about finding your voice and standing out, as opposed to trying to become one of the sheep, or one of the zombies.”


82 Percent Of Gen Z Skip Ads; More Than Half Use Ad Blockers

This week, we’re delving into the world of young consumers, slightly older consumers, programmatic ad spend and a whole lot of gamers across the board.

Gen Z: Snapchat “Yes,” Ads “No”

Reaching what will be the largest generation of consumers is easier said than done, especially when they’re the most skilled at avoiding ads. A Millward Brown study titled AdReaction found that teenagers in the Gen Z generation (defined in this study as ages 16-to-19) will control or skip ads whenever possible.

Eighty-two percent will skip the ad as fast as they can, if given the option. Sixty-nine percent said they will physically do something to distract themselves for 30-to-60 seconds until the ad runs its course, 51 percent will use some sort of technology to block the ad and 40 percent will just stare at the ad until it goes away.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by SCG found that over half of US high school and college students reported they are on Snapchat at least 11 times a day. The survey confirmed what many already believe—that Snapchat is a popular hub for young consumers—however, it illustrates just how often it gets picked up. Seventy-one percent said they turn to Snapchat six or more times a day and 78 percent revealed they use Snapchat daily, compared to 76 percent who use Instagram and 66 percent using Facebook on a daily basis.

Millennials: The Movie

Fifty percent of millennials believe their life should be made into a movie, according to a study by Viacom Velocity. This research is the basis of Velocity’s original documentary, The Culture of Proximity, which aired on MTVU Wednesday. As a generation that lives online, appearances matter and intimacy is redefined. Seventy percent of millennials choose activities that will give them items to post on social media and almost a third admitted they post things that make their life look better than it is.

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor

Which style of video ad is the least disruptive? Pre-roll, according to a study by IPG Media Lab and YuMe. Only 17 percent of mobile device users feel that the ad interrupts the content, compared with 60 percent on outstream and 72 percent on mid-roll. While mid-roll ads are more intrusive to the viewing experience, they ranked higher in message recall for desktop viewers at 27 percent, compared to eight percent for outstream. The study also found that 54 percent of consumers found pre-roll ads on mobile are engaging, compared to outstream (37 percent) and mid-roll (44 percent).

Despite recent concerns about where ads are being run, and whether those sites reflect the views of the brand, programmatic ad spend in the US will total $32.56 billion, according to forecasts by eMarketer. Last year marked the first time in which more than half of all US digital video ad dollars traded via automation, eMarketer reported, adding that it will grow another 42.3 percent this year to $9.13 billion. By 2018, nearly three quarters of all video ad dollars will transact programmatically.

Pepsi’s Going To Be Okay

Morning Consult asked two thousand Americans how their opinion of Pepsi changed after watching the now infamous Kylie Jenner advertisement (that has since been pulled). Despite public outcry and a heavy dose of mockery, 44 percent of people surveyed actually had a more favorable view of the company after watching the ad, while only a quarter had a less favorable view. Meanwhile, 32 percent of Americans said the ad made them more likely to buy Pepsi products, versus 20 percent who were less likely.

Gamers March On

ESA has released its annual sales, demographic and usage data for 2017, revealing that 67 percent of US households own a device that is used to play video games. The average gamer is 35 years old, and 65 percent of US households are home to at least one person who plays video games at least three hours a week. Fifty-four percent of the most frequent gamers say that video games help them connect with friends; 45 percent say it helps families spend time together.

Thanks to successful releases like Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, video game spending grew by 24 percent compared to last year to over $1.3 billion in March. According to NPD’s March US digital/retail/e-tail video game sales report, the growth in total physical sales for March reversed nine consecutive months of year-on-year declines since last May.

Hardware spending almost doubled compared to a year ago to $485 million, NPD reports.

“March 2017 will go down in history books as the month Nintendo broke records,” said NPD VG industry analyst Sam Naji. “The Nintendo Switch had the biggest hardware launch for a Nintendo platform and the second biggest launch for any video game platform since 1995, the time NPD began tracking this category.”

NPD’s Top 10 Games By Revenue For March 2017:

  1. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  2. For Honor
  3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  4. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  5. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  6. Grand Theft Auto V
  7. Horizon Zero Dawn
  8. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  9. NBA 2K17
  10. Battlefield 1

Heroes And Villains Clash In ‘Injustice 2,’ But Stay True To Comic Book Roots

Injustice: Gods Among Us was practically an instant hit when it released in 2013. Developed by Netherrealm Studios—makers of Mortal Kombat—it was considered by many to be a near perfect fighting game, with plenty of hard-hitting action and some of the most iconic characters from the DC Comics universe, including Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Both heroes and villains battled each other in an alternate world where they took on different roles. For example, in this reality, Superman and other members of the Justice League rule the world as the oppressive Regime while Batman helps the resistance. Both fighting game and comic book fans were pleased with the story, and Injustice went on to inspire a comic book series of its own.

The sequel, Injustice 2, launches in May, and with last year’s relaunch of DC’s entire comic book line with Rebirth, the Wonder Woman movie coming out in June, followed by the Justice League movie in November, and the continued success of DC Comics superhero TV shows, the timing couldn’t be better. Netherrealm is stepping up the action by expanding the roster to include some lesser-known characters such as Doctor Fate, Swamp Thing, Atrocitus (accompanied by the supervillain feline, Dex-Starr), Gorilla Grodd and more.

The game is also taking a big step with its Gear System, which rewards players with armor pieces and weapons that enhance both the look and abilities of characters, including fighting moves. Netherrealm combed through decades of lore to create the look of some of these armors, so comic book fans might decide to return to the Golden Age using a 1940s-style armor, or stick with a more modern look. The game lets players use characters how they want to, but Netherrealm explained that gear and the in-game currency (which is used to purchase Mother Boxes that contain rare gear) can only be obtained by playing matches and not by purchasing with real-world money.

Brian Lebaron, senior designer for Injustice 2 at Netherrealm Studios, talks about the superpowered brawler with AListDaily and discusses how the developer remains true to iconic superhero brands while presenting alternate versions of them.

Lebaron described the sequel as, “a continuation of what we did in the first game, where we wanted to establish the Injustice world and used more well-known characters to do it. This time around, we really wanted to step up our game and bring in characters that are a little less known like Swamp Thing and Grodd—characters who aren’t from the Batman or Superman worlds.”


He continued by discussing the Gear System and how it is a key element of the game. “The Gear System is a huge feature,” said Lebaron. “A game like this has never really done something like that, where you’re adding stuff to the characters to give them abilities, new moves and buffs. As far as Injustice 2 goes, we’re trying to step up our game all the way around with bigger and better everything.”

When asked about what lessons were learned from launching the first game and Mortal Kombat X, Lebaron said, “I think that the biggest thing is that the story mode is evolving—it’s evolving every game. In Injustice, we established our big, elaborate story and in MKX, we went a little further with more involvement with the universe by bringing in characters from outside the game. With Injustice 2, we’ve really stepped up the story mode. It’s very elaborate, and we’re focusing on single-player content for casual gamers for an overall hardcore/casual balance.”

Although casual players are important, Netherrealm also keeps a close eye on the professional competitive scene. “We’re adapting to what we see in tournament livestreams—the whole company watches them,” said Lebaron. “The design department is watching, paying attention to the community, and learning from what we see there in addition to catering to the casual gamers.”

Lebaron then discussed the process for selecting which characters from DC’s tremendous collection end up in the game. “Basically, the whole studio, in working with DC, comes up with ideas for characters we’d like to see and it goes back and forth,” he explained. “It’s a long process, but it’s really rewarding once we get a character. Characters that we couldn’t get into Injustice ended up getting into the second game—like Supergirl, which was a big thing for me because she was one of the characters I really wanted to work on.” Some players may be seeing these characters for the first time, thereby growing the awareness for them.


“It’s about everybody working together to come up with good ideas and say, ‘what can we do to make this unique?’” Lebaron continued. “When we brought Atrocitus in, we said, ‘we’ve got to use Dex-Starr.’ We asked DC what they thought of us using them, so it’s a collaborative thing where we come up with cool ideas and pitch them to different people in our company through DC Comics. There’s so much cool content out there, and it’s a great pool to pull from. If one idea doesn’t work out, you can find another one. Dex-Starr is a great example of an idea we had and people seemed to love it. It’s a lot of extra work, but it’s worth it.”

Since Injustice takes place in an alternate reality, we asked Lebaron how much freedom Netherrealm had with the characters to diverge from the lore people know. “We try to stay within the lore,” Lebaron replied. “Most of the creativity comes with the story, but as far as character designs, we try to keep them close to what they look like in some iteration—whether it’s the 1940s version of them or another version. We always try to keep it within something that’s been established. We’re not going to just make Superman a completely different looking character. We keep it close, but we have a lot of freedom.”

Lebaron then recounted the inspiration for the Gear System, saying: “A lot of people in the company are big fans of gear and collecting, and it’s never really been done in a fighting game before. So, we wanted to try it out and it turned out to be a great idea, and we kept running with it until it got bigger and bigger. Eventually, we realized that we had to do elaborate, big sets of gear. It kind of just felt right and it worked out very well.”

Netherrealm decided not to monetize the Gear System because the studio didn’t think it was fair to charge money for items that could change the stats of characters. Lebaron further elaborated on this philosophy. “I think the idea behind it is that it just seems right,” he said. “We don’t want to let you buy your way through the game. We want you to actually play the game to get all the equipment and items.”

However, the studio is aware of the potential impacts of the Gear System on the professional tournament scene and is accounting for it. “We’re going to have a mode for the pro scene,” said Lebaron. “For competitive tournaments, there’s a mode that will nullify all the buffs, but still allows you to change how your character looks. Everyone will start on an even playing field, and there won’t be any extra damage. None of that will work in that mode. So, we’re definitely keeping pro players in mind and we work closely with them. We’ve actually hired a few of them now.”

So, out of the huge roster, which currently features 28 characters in total, which is Lebaron’s favorite? “Supergirl,” he said immediately. “Maybe because I designed her, but I still love her. I’m very happy she’s in this game.”

Gaming Video Content To Generate $4.6 Billion in 2017

Gaming Video Content (GVC) has become mainstream thanks to outlets like YouTube, Twitch and now Facebook. This content can range from livestreams to walkthroughs, trailers, comedy and more. Just how popular is this gaming content?

SuperData predicts that the worldwide audience for GVC will reach 665 million in 2017, more than double the population of the US.

The global audience will experience a 21 percent increase in viewership from 2017 to 2021, SuperData says in its latest report, “Gaming Video Content and the New Essential Audience.” Females now make up 46 percent of the GVC audience and viewers have a higher average income than traditional gamers, the company reported Thursday.

Big Views, Big Revenue

GVC is on track to generate $4.6 billion in revenue in 2017 through advertising and direct spending, a level that would outpace revenue generated by sports. To put that in perspective, the top soccer leagues in Spain and Germany earned $3.2 billion and $3.5 billion respectively in the 2015-2016 season.

Of the revenue generated from GVC, $3.2 billion will be from ads and sponsorships, SuperData predicted. The remaining 31 percent of revenue will be direct to the streamers, with nearly half of all US GVC viewers paying for a subscription or making a voluntary donation. GVC viewers are highly loyal to the streamers they follow and pay to have access to ad-free streams or to earn on-air shout outs.

Amazon’s Twitch earns 37 percent of GVC revenue despite only having 16 percent of the viewers. In addition, 51 percent of Twitch revenue comes from direct spending, versus 31 percent for the industry overall. Amazon recently launched the ability to purchase digital PC games directly from Twitch streams.

According to SuperData’s research, 51 percent of GVC viewers have purchased a game directly after seeing it featured in a stream. PC and console players who watch this content spend over $70 a month on digital games and in-game content, 56 percent more than their non-viewer counterparts.

Gaming Is The New TV

SuperData found that these audiences are less likely to engage with mainstream platforms like cable TV, with 20 percent of US GVC streamers being “cord-cutters,” compared to eight percent of the general US population. Twenty-seven percent of livestream viewers watching most often during weekday evenings, often replacing primetime TV. Between YouTube’s 517 million users and Twitch’s 185 million, the GVC audience surpasses mainstream channels like ESPN and HBO.

“Gaming Video Content represents a highly desirable market to advertisers due to the fact that its audience is young, tech-savvy and willing to spend money,” Carter Rogers, research manager at SuperData Research, said in a statement. “Companies who do not advertise to GVC viewers risk missing potential customers as they turn to streams over legacy media. With a global audience that reaches more viewers than HBO, Netflix, ESPN and Hulu combined, brands could be losing out on the next primetime viewing activity—not unlike TV or sports viewing at their peaks.”

Now Playing

Over 40 percent of US GVC viewers watch walkthroughs, trailers and humor videos. These genres appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers whereas livestreams, peer-to-peer and esports content disproportionately attract hardcore gamers, SuperData noted.

Viewers watched nearly 100 million hours of League of Legends gameplay on Twitch in February of 2017, followed by Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), with viewers watching 40 million hours.

SuperData’s study found that esports and livestream viewers watch more than four hours of content per week, and these types of content have become appointment viewing, much like primetime TV or real-life sporting events.

Report: US Mobile Game Revenue Dominated By Licensed Titles

US mobile game revenue continues to grow, according to a new report by Sega Networks and Sensor Tower. Annual revenue of mobile games grew by seven percent from $5.75 billion in 2015 to $6.15 billion in 2016.

Knowing Is Downloading

While original IP games accounted for 63 percent of total revenue in December, branded IP games are expected to surpass original IP-based games in revenue in 2018. The original IP category (such as Candy Crush or Clash of Clans) experienced 30 percent growth throughout the year, while branded or licensed games like Pokémon GO and Madden NFL Mobile experienced massive growth of 139 percent. This trend indicates a shift and rising interest for known licensed and branded IP among the consumer market.

In fact, seven of the top 10 games released in 2016 were licensed brand or expansion game IPs, which accounted for 93 percent of revenue ($614 million) and 68 percent (40 million) of downloads.

Top Players

The top-grossing title for 2016 in the US was Game of War, which made an average of $43.2 million per month on iOS and Google Play. The top-200-grossing titles of 2016 in the US generated a total of $6.6 billion. The top five grossing mobile games generated 28 percent of total market revenue compared with 40 percent for 2015, however, indicating significant revenue distribution away from the top of the charts.

The top categories were Strategy, Casino, and Puzzle which accounted for $4.3 billion in combined revenue and 70.2 percent of the overall market. Strategy accounted for $2.1 billion of that total, as well as four of the top five games in terms of revenue.

2016 Top 10 Mobile Publishers In The US By Revenue:

  1. MZ: $917.5 million
  2. Supercell: $809.2 million
  3. King: $623.4 million
  4. Playtika: $305.9 million
  5. Niantic: $270.3 million
  6. Electric Arts: $257 million
  7. Zynga: $191.9 million
  8. Big Fish: $177.4 million
  9. Jam City: $138.2 million
  10. DoubleDown: $124.8 million

Google Is Reshaping The Way Brands Tell Stories On YouTube

Brands that act as content creators need to rethink their message.


Like . . . six-seconds quick.

Google chaperoned a new age of storytelling last year by constraining creativity with six-second YouTube bumper ads. Adoption is currently taking place on the platform before the phase-out of unskippable 30-second ads fully takes place.

Short attentions spans call for short-form content and even shorter messaging—which could be complex if it’s not navigated correctly.

YouTube showed their own chops last month by crunching classic books like “Romeo and Juliet,” “On the Origin of Species” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” into vignettes by sharing the absolute storytelling essentials.

Google creative director Ben Jones joined AListDaily to explain how marketers need to rethink their messaging.

How are you advising brands and marketers to rethink their storytelling and messages with the six-second ad?

The fun thing about six-second ads is that I think of it as quantum video. When it was 15 seconds, you could cut your 30-second spot, and it would work. But you can’t cut a 30 into six seconds. It’s too much. The rules have to change. The storytelling has to change at that size. What we’re seeing with the brands that are embracing is really fresh and interesting storytelling built for six seconds. I think the two creative opportunities that people are seeing is that it’s a sort of painless opportunity to tell a story, so you can do a lot of experimentation. Also, no one is making just one. So it’s not just one six-second ad—it’s three-four-and-five six-second ads, and people are playing with the fact that there are these little bits that are related.

Will success translate in this new setting for brands who have had previous hits with short-form storytelling?

I think there are a lot of commonalities between those formats, and the idea of that kind of storytelling. Although I feel like part of the peculiar magic of Vine was the looping, a story that’s so funny and interesting that you can watch it several times. Certainly with Snapchat, there’s immediacy and authenticity, which are very related to what people want to see in six seconds.

If you’re to answer the following question in under six seconds … how do you tell a story in six seconds? 

Nobody knows! So let’s find out! (laughs)

What do brands need to do in order to become better storytellers?

The storytelling bar has gotten so high. We’re now at a billion hours per day of watch time on YouTube. There are 400 new scripted shows being launched in the next 12 months. So that’s what people are spending their time with. If you’re going to tell a story that anyone is going to pay attention to, or remember, you have to do it a lot better. I think it’s an exciting time because the safe space is disappearing. You can’t just put out a basic product. You’ll drown. People pay attention to brands who tell great stories. They’ll seek them out. They’ll spend time with them. One of the surprising learnings of Unskippable Labs has been that people don’t hate ads. They hate bad ads. And they sure love the great ones.

Can you take us through your latest initiative in the Unskippable Labs. What’s that about?

Unskippable Labs is a scientific method to see how ads affect consumers. It’s an experimentation we create for deliberate hypothesis, like, “how should storytelling change for mobile?” We craft assets that are not about “what’s the best ad that I can make?” but “what will reveal something about this hypothesis?” We run the stuff in-market, so it’s behavior in the wild. Through that, we understand a little bit more about how stories should be told. We did about 25 experiments in the last year—mobile, editing, length, story structure—and it’s revealing surprising things about how our behaviors are changing, what kind of new behaviors are emerging and what it means for brands. . . . What pushed us in that direction was me pushing our own team to make content ourselves, and test it ourselves. The whole program started internally. I said “let’s shoot some stuff on a phone and put it up on YouTube. We’ll run it on my credit card as ads. We got such surprising results—like if people will pay attention to a “face” longer, or a “place” longer. . . . It really showed me there’s a lot we don’t understand about how stories unfold. So we started experimenting more, and it just showed me that consumer behavior is running faster than what our sense of what consumer behavior is. So we needed to do experimentation with Unskippable Labs to catch up.

Is it also a workaround to ad-blocking?

You know, it’s interesting. I feel like if the stories are good, then you don’t need a workaround to ad-blocking. Ad-blocking is just a frustration with the ad value that you’re getting. Tell better stories, and people will pay attention.

What kind of insight can you share on a user’s “skipping” culture of YouTube ads?

Here’s what I would say—first, I think all media is skippable, whether a “skip” button comes up, or not. We did some eye-tracking research and found that the majority of Americans that watch TV with a phone in their hand are not even watching the first five seconds of a TV ad. What we’re exploring through media that has a skip button is “what’s the nature of attention? What do you choose to give your time to? What’s the data behind it?” The benchmark skip rate is around 28 percent. Almost 30 percent of the people are choosing to watch at least some of the ads. If they choose to watch, the longer they watch, the better it is for brands. If you’re telling a great story, there is plenty of opportunities to get the word out.

Will Unskippable Labs be weaved into YouTube TV? Is this where it will be headed?

It’s not. Not right now. We’re going to do experiments that are on TV, and about TV, but not specifically for YouTube TV. But we’re exploring how the patterns of optimization for digital and mobile may be effective on TV as well. If it’s about attention, and my TV ad is skippable, should I be thinking about the same strategies that work digitally for my TV ads?

Will there be an ad strategy for brands to take on YouTube TV?

The ad strategy is no different on YouTube TV. It’s a pipe of content via YouTube, but it’s not changing. It’s going to be the same ads. The ads or content that you see from the networks on your TV will be the same ones that you get on YouTube TV. Everything is the same.

What are some of the marketing trends YouTube is paying attention to in order to further innovate the brand?

We are super interested in virtual-and-augmented reality, 360-degree video and up to Daydream. We as human beings, every time we’ve had the opportunity to have a more immersive experience, we’ve always gone toward that direction. I don’t think VR is at scale, but it’s going to be amazing and transformative and we’re interested to see evolution there. I also think the connection of data to the creative side of storytelling is coming. The programmatic world has exploded, but we haven’t evolved creative at the same rate. So how does creative evolve for programmatic is a big question for us, and I’m super interested to see where that goes. The technology exists to dynamically shape your creative. But we don’t know what the stories are that will be most affected there.

Why should 360-degree content be a part of a brands marketing strategy? What’s working? What’s not? What’s your advice to brands looking to use it as marketing collateral?

I think that it’s certainly emerging. Is there is a relentless appetite for 360 videos? No. But there’s also not an endless supply of excellent 360 videos. The biggest thing that we see is shooting it like a video. You have to take advantage of the fact that it’s 360 and have different axis of action for people to look at. Think about the experience of not cutting too quickly because the cadence of cutting from a flat video is totally different with 360 video. I just don’t think we have our brains around that kind of storytelling yet. And users—what’s going to be amazing and enveloping of an environment for a user to take advantage of it?

How is the world of mobile advertising changing?

It’s interesting. I think that for mobile video, in particular, the screen is changing. We’ve been very focused on horizontal-versus-vertical video. But there are all of these other elements like pacing, framing and color correction, which are different in the mobile world. Story structure is also more different in the mobile world than we think. We’re not paying enough attention to those elements. Mobile storytelling is changing more, and faster. We don’t quite have our eye on the ball there yet.

Any last thoughts you’d like to share?

I feel that it’s an exciting and amazing time to be doing this, because people have never spent more time with media and content, and never been more engaged in it, never been hungrier for it. So if you’re a storyteller, it should be a great time. People want to know what you’re selling. Just be amazing at it.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

Jam City: ‘We Spared No Expense’ To Keep ‘Peanuts’ Game Authentic

Snoopy Pop, an all-new bubble popper game, is floating its way onto mobile devices this summer. The game features classic characters from Charles Schulz’s classic Peanuts comic including Charlie Brown, Woodstock, Lucy and Snoopy, of course, as well as his alter egos.

With titles like Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff, Jam City, the publisher behind Snoopy Pop, is no stranger to iconic franchises. Its other game Panda Pop has been the No. 1 bubble popper in revenue over the past 12 months in the US and worldwide. So, why Peanuts?

“When we think about new partners for our fun, accessible, global games, we need brands that have the same type of reach that our games have across all ages around the world,” Jam City co-founder, president and COO Josh Yguado told AListDaily. “Snoopy is both nostalgic (decades of comic strips and holiday specials), and contemporary (Gucci, Versace, etc). Every generation has a relationship with the brand. And it’s global—as big in Japan as it is in the US and UK. We are honored to be working with one of the most iconic and beloved characters in the world. And for this title in particular, which is about Snoopy solving levels to save his friend Woodstock, the playful and loving relationship between the two main characters was absolutely perfect for the gameplay.”

The publisher could very easily clone its existing bubble poppers like Smurfs Bubble Story or Panda Pop, but Shultz’s characters lend themselves to a unique story, as well.

“First, the bubble-popping mechanic in this game actually has a purpose,” Yguado explained. “It’s all about Snoopy doing whatever it takes to save his friends. Second, we’ve woven all the most beloved Peanuts characters into the narrative and gameplay in unique and innovative ways. Each character has a unique power up that you earn in-game and helps to solve challenging bubble-popping puzzles. We believe that no other bubble popper game has integrated the characters and story into the game in such a fun and innovative way. Last, the game has a deep collection system that allows you to share the items and postcards from your adventure with real-world friends across social media.”

Marketing with nostalgia is a double-edged sword. While fond memories will have consumers seeking out a product in droves, failure to respect or accurately represent those fond memories can lead to disaster. Yguado is confident that Peanuts fans will not be disappointed.

“We’ve spared no expense to make sure that this game is true to the original artistic vision of Peanuts’ creator Charles Schulz,” he explained. “The team has spent time with the core Peanuts creative team on the Schulz Campus in Santa Rosa. All creative was developed in collaboration with the Peanuts team. More broadly, we think crafting a challenging, fun, wholesome game with the Peanuts characters, that enables more people and new generations to discover and enjoy the world of Peanuts, is something that fulfills the vision and spirit of the brand. This game is all about authenticity, brought to a new medium and platform.”

For those unfamiliar with Snoopy, he has a very vivid imagination, which creates multiple alter egos such as a WWI flying ace going up against the Red Baron. Fans will also recognize a number of famous scenes, such as Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football.

“Not only are many of the iconic scenes there now, but we are going to be releasing new content every week with both well-known and all-new scenes,” said Yguado. “I can tell you that there are entire gameplay modes featuring both Snoopy and the Red Baron and Snoopy and the Beagle Scouts. This is a great game for both super fans and people just getting into the franchise.

As for the story, players will just have to find out this summer, but can pre-register on iOS and Android so they can download this free title right away.

“We don’t want to give too much away,” Yguado said when asked about the game’s story. “At the core of it, the story is that there was a bubble catastrophe, and it’s up to Snoopy to travel the globe, solve puzzles and rescue Woodstock and the rest of his little yellow friends. Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Pigpen and all the gang are there to help out in unique ways.”

Design And Data Drive Mazda’s Marketing Just As Much As Their Cars Do

Aside from buying a house, purchasing a new car is the single-highest expense a consumer will ever make.

Mazda is trying to make that experience as enjoyable as possible—all while making sure that car buyers are getting into their line of vehicles for entirely the right reasons.

The first step in the process for the 97-year-old manufacturer was acknowledging that Mazda is not for everybody. The second was to start sharing a dynamic story around design and driving. The brand’s repositioned efforts are fueling a marketing strategy that aims at building on their less than 2 percent share of global auto sales.

A focal point in their quest to creating separation between them and mass-market brands—and growing the right way—is by transforming from company-centric marketing to consumer-centric marketing, and being more of an experience provider as they embark on acquiring 15 percent of the 17 million new-car buyers.

Their “Driving Matters” dubbed campaigns stress the stories behind design to draw in new buyers, all while reshaping the brand’s perception among consumers.

Russell Wager, Mazda’s vice president of marketing, oversees all aspects of US marketing for the company, which includes electronic advertising, social media, brand experience and auto shows, among other verticals. The 20-year auto industry marketing veteran joined AListDaily to share the car company’s refined approached to consumer engagement.

Russel Wager, Mazda’s VP of marketing
Russell Wager, Mazda’s VP of marketing

How is Mazda breaking through traditional marketing boundaries? Can you comment on your digital, social, and influencer marketing efforts?

Overall, we’re trying to make sure we have dialogue as opposed to one-way conversations with our customers. We’re seeing a little bit more engagement both on social channels, and on our ride-and-drive programs around the country. In addition to the press and journalists who cover the industry, we’re now inviting loyal owners to come to our events to hear from our engineers, designers and research and development teams first-hand about the latest in Mazda’s products, and the stories behind them. We are seeing huge engagement, not only from the people that are attending, but from their friends and followers, too, on how we’re giving them a chance for one-to-one dialogues with our teams.

What is Mazda’s marketing strategy with millennials and digital natives?

We’re definitely about driving pleasure. People who purchase Mazda are not the ones going from point A to point B. They are going from point A to point C to point B because driving in a Mazda reenergizes and rejuvenates them. Whether it’s millennials, or anyone else, there is big room in each demographic. We’re just being core to our messaging in what we build, design and engineer in every single one of our cars. At the same time, we are starting to show that our vehicles are for people that are willing to pay a little bit more to get the right technology and design. In our studies, we’re now seeing that millennials, and all the way up to the baby boomers, that education, income and loyalty repurchase are all trending upward. We’re still behind the industry average, but it’s made significant growth from under 30 percent to an almost 40 percent loyalty rate in just the last three years.

How is Mazda repositioning the company as a brand of the future?

Our overall global strategy is very simple—we want to put smiles on people’s faces. At the end of the day, we make vehicles that will hopefully contribute to that. But everything we do is definitely trying to find ways of enjoyment in the car, enabling people to feel safe and secure, delivering experiences, like at SXSW earlier this year. All of that is what we’re trying to do as we ultimately move toward our seventh generation product, which will be coming here in a few years.

Why is your continued sponsorship of SXSW such a significant part of your yearly marketing strategy?

When we look at who our target audience is, it’s highly educated, affluent people who are definitely looking to be on the cutting edge of film, music and technology. SXSW serves to be a logical partnership for us over the last years. The results in engagement on social and on-site activations have far exceeded what we’ve set out to do. Besides getting exposure, we want to simplify people’s lives with our Mazda Express service, which is one thing we’ve seen grow. We had four-to-five thousand people use it the first year. Last year we had 11,000. This year, our pre-registration was at 5,000. It’s a mutual benefit because we get people to experience the ride of a Mazda, which is great. We also shifted our strategy from telling our Mazda story at our Empire Studio, as opposed to the Austin Convention Center.

How are you using social data to better connect with consumers?

Unfortunately, we were a little late to the game, so in July we deployed test cases to see if it’s working. We already have started to see a decreased range between 50 and 75 percent on responses based on modeling for the right targets. As much as we’d like everyone to purchase a Mazda, Mazda is not for everybody. Before, we had a little too much of what I’ll call a “shotgun” approach. We’re now seeing it be more “rifle-like” because it’s getting more refined each and every time we deploy campaigns. Data is a big effort. We have the data, but some people have purchased Mazda vehicles because it was a great deal at the time. Some people may have purchased it because of the style or technology. We’re now finding which one of these people are more likely to repurchase and stay within the Mazda family as opposed to being a one-and-done. It’s about understanding and recognizing if customers might be purchasing Mazda for the wrong reasons we stand for. So we’re refining our messaging to make sure everyone knows what they’re buying into.

What are the insights and data that influence your marketing strategy? Is there a new product or service that you think will influence decisions?

We use analytics on a regular basis for our media planning. We utilize analytics that helps us look at over 1,900 different input variables, like media spend, inventories, competitive spend, weather, economy, housing, and the like. All of these things help us determine media mix elements from two perspectives. One, what will help us drive a retail sale? And two, what will help increase favorable opinion of Mazda? This helps us decide where we put our funds into markets—like national versus local.

Mazda Design Team Driving Matters 2

What emerging trends and platforms are you looking to explore in order to innovate the Mazda brand?

Everyone is saying how digital is becoming more prevalent—and that’s true. I think it’s the combination of data and digital to deliver one-to-one experiences. More than 40 percent of the budget today is in digital. At the end of the day, there is enough information about people out there that you should be able to customize dialogue, conversation or communication with them, whether you’re online or offline. It needs to be personalized to them. That’s ultimately to where I think we’ll get to. It’s increasingly happening on social channels. That will allow for a customer to get a little more in-depth knowledge than just a broad, mass swath of communication. They actually get the things that are relevant to them.

What is one element of your marketing that you are trying to improve on?

We want to tell more of our design, engineering and heritage stories. It’s our overall challenge as we move forward with our communications into 2017. On the surface, it sounds like it’s easy to do. Like, “just do it!” It’s about telling people of the background of Mazda, and its roots in Hiroshima, Japan, and the company’s never-give-up attitude. We want people to understand that designers are crafting creative works of art. The same goes from a technology standpoint. We try to look at tech that will help customers in their everyday lives. That is the story that we are going to tell.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

How Esurance Drives Marketing With Word-Of-Mouth And Partners Like MLB, Buster Posey And The Scott Brothers

Esurance is hoping good things come in threes this year, as they have renewed their deal with MLB and tapped three-time World Series champion and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey for a television commercial and social media campaign. This is the third consecutive season that the digital-born insurance company has served as the sport’s exclusive auto insurance partner.

“Pep Talks with Buster” is a series of social videos featuring the four-time All-Star catcher, who currently is on the disabled list after taking a fastball to the head on Monday, giving meeting-on-the-mound-like pep talks to people who face challenges like changing a tire for the first time, or installing a car seat.

“I always have a lot of fun working with the Esurance team and can relate to many of the situations in the social videos, especially installing a car seat for the first time,” Posey said. “We’ve built a great partnership over the past three years, and they have a product I know and trust for my family.”

The Bay Area-based company is pairing its data-driven digital strategies and personalized messages with Posey with a wider baseball strategy to reach fans by serving as the title sponsor of the all-digital Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot and the Esurance MLB Awards at the end of the season.

Esurance’s union with the MLB has been successful in creating large-scale awareness and consideration over the last two years—and now the insurance company is looking to turn that awareness into conversion.

They’ve also paired their sponsorship efforts in baseball by procuring a partnership with home renovation brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott, stars of the HGTV show Property Brothers, and produced a series of music videos ditties to teach home and auto do-it-yourself hacks. The marketing collateral is part of a larger company strategy to drive conversion through word-of-mouth.

Kristen Gambetta, Esurance’s manager of brand sponsorships, joined AListDaily to talk about how they’ll continue to apply an efficient approach to their MLB partnership.


How is your marketing in MLB generating large-scale awareness and reach for the brand? How do you leverage this into intent and new business?

Our partnership strategy includes creating a yearlong activation plan that gives us consistent exposure during the season, postseason and offseason. Esurance is more than a sponsor; we are true partners collaborating with MLB at every level. Now that we’ve had so much success in generating awareness and consideration, we’re looking at digital strategies and re-targeting methods to convert new customers.

What kind of content and experiences have worked well for you in the past?

According to our research, people who are aware of our partnership with Buster Posey are also more likely to consider getting a quote from Esurance. We’re creating more content with Buster and will have a steady drumbeat throughout the season. We’re also leaning into the fact that he’s an Esurance policy holder.

Why are insurance companies a natural fit in sports from a partnership perspective?

Insurance is one of the top-advertised industries in the country, so it’s important to sustain brand familiarity over time, and sports partnerships are a great vehicle to do so by tapping into the passion of loyal fans. Partnering with MLB was a natural fit for us as we consistently use technology to modernize our customer experience, just like MLB does with their fan experience. We collaborated with MLB on the rollout of the new all-digital ballot and awards demonstrating our commitment to be fast, efficient and innovative in everything we do.

What is the specific social media strategy you plan on executing for the campaign? What social platforms are you currently looking at to further build out Esurance’s narrative in the space?

We created a series of social media videos with Buster called “Pep Talks with Buster” where he is giving pep talks to people having self-doubt in everyday, relatable situations. Our goal with the campaign is to drive word-of-mouth through social sharing with passionate baseball fans. We’ll release the videos throughout baseball season on our Facebook page, and to extend the reach MLB and Buster, will also share on their social channels. For baseball, we’ve mainly focused content on Facebook. Last year, we introduced Snapchat during the All-Star Week. This year, we’ll continue to expand our use of Snapchat and will continue to test Facebook Live integrations with MLB.

As you head into year three of your deal with MLB, what are some of the key learnings from your internal research that you can share? What tools do you use to measure results?

According to our research, our MLB sponsorship has maintained awareness of our brand over time, and more importantly, we have seen double-digit growth from those aware of the sponsorship to be more likely to quote and consider buying from Esurance. We use several tools to measure our results, from social media engagement to digital impressions and our internal brand tracker.

You just announced a deal with Drew and Jonathan Scott. What are you looking for when considering and negotiating partnerships? How do you determine what’s a great fit and what’s not especially since you have an online-only identity?

When evaluating partnerships, we look at how strong the property’s audience aligns with our target consumer, reach of the target within the property and image fit with our customer value proposition of smart, easy and tailored to you. We also evaluate how the opportunity could diversify our portfolio by providing unique ownership platforms and category exclusivity. For 2017, we were seeking a digital-first partnership that would drive word-of-mouth. After researching various influencer marketing opportunities, we found the Scott Brothers were the perfect fit for our brand as they empower their fans to do things themselves, just like we do with insurance.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan



Analysts Predict The Future Of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, a concept going back as early as the 1800s, has indeed come a long way from scintillating science fiction to straight to your shopping cart. Unlike previous attempts in the past, it appears that VR is finally going to stick around, but it still has plenty of evolution potential. Unfortunately there’s no crystal ball for tech advancements, and we’re still waiting for our flying cars. To get an idea of what the future holds for VR, we turned to the analysts instead.

Onward (Slowly) Into The Future

“There is no doubt [VR] will grow among consumers—whether that’s two years, or 10 years,” Stephanie Llamas, vice president of SuperData Research told AListDaily. “Samsung shipped almost five million devices last year, many of which were given away with preorders for the [Galaxy] S7, and they will be doing that again with their newest model and the S8. It clearly worked in terms of getting devices in the hands of consumers, and the biggest challenge for consumer adoption is actually trying the devices out. Also, as more robust content gets added there will be a larger catalogue of experiences to keep consumers coming back.”

While VR may be more commonly associated with video games on consoles and PC, mobile VR may follow in the footsteps of mobile gaming to capture the largest audience—and the most revenue.

“There are several factors that will contribute to the mass adoption of mobile VR, including improvement in the quality of the VR experience offered by relatively affordable mobile VR devices such as Google Cardboard, overcoming compatibility issues and a boost in content that caters to people’s great variety of interests,” Newzoo said in its latest report. “Additionally, the business model needs to be a good match.”

Currently, Android manufacturers like Samsung and Google have cornered the mobile VR market. “If Apple were to launch a high-end VR device,” said Newzoo, “compatibility with the iPhone 6S and 7 series would be enough to have a significantly bigger addressable market for mobile VR than Samsung—9.4 percent (Apple) versus 6.6 percent (Samsung).”

“I am confident Apple will release a VR headset in future,” Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo told AListDaily. “There is an array of cheap VR headsets out there that work with an iPhone of which the VR experience is extremely disappointing. Indirectly, this reflects badly on the Apple brand and hurts the image and limits the uptake of VR. It also proves that hardware, software and peripheral hardware should be perfectly tuned to offer an experience that will truly blow people away and get them to buy one for themselves. Most people first experience VR through the device of a friend or at one of the VR experience centers.

Current VR content producers are forced to promote the Samsung Gear hardware and to a lesser extent, Google Daydream. This free marketing for Samsung devices is an enormous bonus. Just look at the NBA live VR webpage. It features Samsung Gear. Apple is taking a risk because it is sport and entertainment live content that suddenly can spark accelerated uptake of VR devices in the West as well as in China. Western sports is tremendously popular in China and there are millions of people that would be happy to put down $10 to watch a live NBA or Premiership Game. Unluckily for these Chinese fans (and luckily for Apple), rights agreements are holding back the availability of Western sports VR content in China. The sports clubs often also make the mistake to include their VR experience in a subscription, a business model that requires a commitment that most people who want to try a live sports VR experience are not willing to make. A single-fee option of $10 a match would do the trick.”

Samsung Gear Vr

Trying Is Believing

“Another factor at play,” Newzoo continued in its report, “is the fact that many people have their first VR experience with someone else’s device. The need to own a personal headset is not yet big enough to justify the purchase.”

Since VR headsets can be rather pricey and the technology is still new, getting consumers to even try them is a challenge, Llamas noted, much less to keep them in the headsets.

“In our studies, we have seen all demographics represented at varying levels,” Llamas said. “Millennials make up 63 percent of the audience, which means older audiences still represent a significant piece of the pie, but generalized high quality content isn’t enough—it needs to be uniquely tailored to the different audiences. For instance, males 35-and-over and female millennials are the most inclined to use mobile devices, and both happen to over-index when it comes to their interest in content that features landmarks and destinations. Meanwhile, more females over the age of 35 use console devices than any other other demographic except male millennials. There are a lot of surprising things here and content makers really need to find these unique ways to capture different audiences so interest goes beyond just trying it out.”

Big Wins At The Arcade

Popular in Asia, VR Arcades offer an alternative revenue source for hardware manufacturers, developers and of course, brands.

Analysts expect the VR market in China will grow to $8.5 billion by 2020. While Asian consumers are taking advantage of trying without buying, from amusement parks to arcades, the movement is starting catch on in the western world as well.

“Location-based attractions such as The Void and Asia VR cafes made up 33 percent of last year’s consumer software revenue ($109 million) and are slated to $234 million this year, 18 percent of the consumer total,” said Llamas. “The only other segment that surpasses it is games. So we are already seeing traction, and growing opportunities in the year to come. The influence brands like IMAX and Six Flags bring to the space is big—it shows that companies with successful attractions see the potential in this.

“And it’s not just about Asia anymore. There’s been a lot of buzz around China and their VRcades, but in the last few months in New York City alone, there are a number of location-based VR experiences that have cropped up. It’s going to be great for adoption because it gives people the opportunity to try VR for a small investment and no commitment.”