How Two Renowned Studios Collaborated To Launch The Elder Scrolls Online’s New Expansion

Two powerhouse creative agencies, Ayzenberg Group and The Mill, leveraged their collaborative expertise to support The Elder Scrolls® Online and ZeniMax Online Studios as they launched the new Chapter in the iconic MMORPG. Both agencies collaborated closely with ZeniMax Online Studio’s Marketing and Art Departments, which heavily supported the development of the creative direction and vision throughout the project. Ayzenberg Group’s extensive experience marketing previous The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) titles—such as Elsweyr, Blackwood, High Isle, and Greymoor—and conducting project management of the integrated campaign provided a solid foundation for the group’s new challenges.

Among those challenges were capturing the essence of the game and translating it for fans and new audiences.

The latest trailer for ESO’s most recent iteration, Necrom, reflects the game’s ethos as well as the new possibilities presented in this edition.

Behind The Scenes Of The Elder Scrolls Online: Shadow Over Morrowind – Cinematic Announcement Trailer

The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom is an interconnected story that will unfold across multiple content releases. The Shadow Over Morrowind storyline centers around the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, Hermaeus Mora, and the secrets he guards against mortals and the Daedra. Unknown forces threaten to reveal these secrets, potentially placing the nature of reality itself at risk. Players will undertake quests, uncover clues, and solve puzzles to avert a catastrophic event.

We spoke with Robert Sethi, a director with The Mill, about the experience of collaborating with Ayzenberg Group on the creation of ZeniMax Online Studio’s Shadow Over Morrowind cinematic trailer.

What drew you to the project, and how was it working with the Ayzenberg Group?

[Before starting the project], I knew the style of work at Ayzenberg, which I think is really collaborative and transparent. They have a really cool way of sharing their creative ownership, and everyone is involved—it’s very similar to how we like to work.

Then, of course, The Elder Scrolls Online is a cool IP with a strong legacy. I think one of the main things [that drew me to the project] was the brief that we got with four different worlds… If you really wanted to pare down where the passion for making this film came from, it was the cosmic horror aspect and the mystery of it. That’s what engaged us.

Behind The Scenes: The Creative Collaboration

We caught up with Paul Wallace, Director of Brand Creative Integration at Ayzenberg, to chat about the development of the trailer for the latest expansion.

You had the opportunity to craft a new creative vision for the Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) CG trailer – how did you and the team go about that?

It is a huge privilege to be trusted by our clients, Bethesda and ZeniMax Online Studios, to honor the long legacy of ESO cinematics while being able to evolve where the franchise’s creative marketing is going.

The Ayzenberg team began crafting this new vision by defining an entire palette of creative possibilities. We cut tone films to articulate the editorial rhythm. We explored how sound design could become a character. We built a design toolkit of visual and narrative devices that would embody the themes of the story while pushing its technique into an expressionistic territory. And we wrote lots of scripts that explored the emotional depth of each character and what their journey through Tamriel could be.

Would you talk about the creative partnership and how it impacted development?

Evolving the ESO vision also meant finding a new creative partner, which we found in The Mill. The Mill’s incredible dedication to photo-real visuals, epic action, and emotional storytelling allowed us to honor the high bar set by past cinematics while realizing this vision of where the franchise could go.

How did the Ayzenberg team ensure that this vision was expressed throughout the project?

We worked in lockstep at every stage of the process, empowering The Mill to do what they do best and supporting them with Ayzenberg’s greatest strengths: A deep understanding of the audience, dedication to emotional storytelling, and a focus on editorial craft. For instance, before MoCap facial scanning occurred, Ayzenberg wrote a detailed account of the main character’s internal world and emotional journey so that every detail could play out during the actress’s performance.

How did this cinematic fit into the larger integrated campaign for the entire Necrom Chapter?

Before beginning this CG film with The Mill, I had been working with the visual identity team at Ayzenberg to develop a complementary campaign arc told through key art. Together, we designed the Morrowind setting with a huge exploration-based vista, the epic reveal of the new character class alongside Hermaeus Mora, and some other pieces of art you’ll see later in the year, which I don’t want to spoil!

We did the same for the packing art, designing a Standard Edition rooted in Morrowind and Necrom, and a Collector’s Edition based in Apocrypha – which would later become the journey our new class takes through the CG film. Tying this all together lets us tell an interwoven story across CG, key art, pack art, and animation – creating a campaign-wide “red thread” that, we hope, is a treat for fans to experience throughout the year.

What impressed you most about The Mill as a creative partner?

So much impresses me about The Mill as a creative partner. The thing that impresses me the most is their passion. They poured their hearts into every aspect of this film.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome along the way?

Our biggest challenge was always time itself. Since part of the process this year was finding a new creative partner, we lost precious months of production. We refused to scale back creatively, so everything had to be done incredibly efficiently.

What was most exciting for you creatively about this newest chapter of ESO?

ESO’s latest chapter presented our creative team with a rich tapestry of themes, from buried secrets to cosmic horror. Personally, I absolutely love cosmic horror as a conceptual playground for storytelling.

These themes also allowed us to craft many thematically tied narrative devices, such as spatial misdirection, visual metaphor, and psychedelic, shifting environments. This marriage of form and content allowed us to be expressionistic while remaining rooted in an emotional story.

The Production: Managing Complexity And Vision

We spoke with Ayzenberg Executive Producer/Director of Production Jonathan Clark, about his perspective on how teams collaborated to manage the complexity of the project.

What were some elements of the production that were the most complex?

With a project of this size and profile, one of the most complex elements of the production was creating/establishing a schedule for delivery on an accelerated timeline that worked for both the production process and our clients. Finding the best path forward for production and a creative review with our internal team, our production partner, and our client stakeholders took significant planning.

There are a lot of moving parts and dependencies when you are working on something of this size and complexity. Landing a schedule that integrates everything seamlessly and still allows some flexibility for the inevitable small changes or challenges that happen on any creative endeavor with a significant number of people involved is essential to the success of the project.

How did the team come together to develop a unique solution?

Our creative, account, and production teams focused on communication and process. Though these are obvious pillars of the success of any project, they are even more essential for one of this size, type, and complexity. Every project presents a unique set of challenges. The Ayzenberg team worked diligently with our partners at The Mill to better understand their workflow’s “how and why” and this project’s many production components and dependencies. We also shared our own preferred creative and production process and landed on a path that worked for everyone involved. The result was better and more well-informed communications both internally and with our clients—and a fantastic final result!

Launching The Creative Vision: Honoring The Elder Scrolls Legacy

Matt Bretz, Chief Creative Officer at Ayzenberg, shared some history of the agency’s relationship with Bethesda and the significance of this Elder Scrolls evolution.

You’ve been working with Bethesda for a long time. Is there anything different about how you approached this release? Have there been any consistencies over those projects?

I’m proud to have started with The Elder Scrolls at its launch almost ten years ago and at another agency. Back then, we made gameplay trailers. While social and digital marketing was just beginning to be “a thing,” we enjoyed the luxury of simply making the best trailer our creative minds would empower us to make.

We’d hand it off to a media team, cross our fingers, and find out how the game had sold months later. To be fair, the Bethesda marketing team was always ahead of the agency on driving measurably impactful integrated advertising. But cut to 2023’s launch campaign for The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom and YES! A ton has changed about the way that we’ve approached this announce trailer.

We have all sorts of data that represent the voice of the core ESO fans about what they love and want, and we get to start by listening to that. So, bringing the new class to life became a critical part of the trailer. Taking players back to beloved Morrowind is also important. And we knew that players of the DLC for Skyrim—an audience adjacent to the ESO core—were deeply intrigued by Hermaeus Mora and Apocrypha, so they have been featured heavily in the game and the marketing.

Perhaps more to the point, in 2023, we are much more purposeful than we were when I began working on ESO about how the announce trailer fits into an integrated array of story-driven assets on multiple platforms where we know that potential ESO players live. All these assets are different because they are optimized for the strength of each platform.

But with the ESO team, we work to create a “red thread” that we can find anywhere we look in this year-long marketing tapestry that tells us, “This is Shadow Over Morrowind!” Rather than a cinematics’ typical linear adventure, we set out to mash worlds, characters, and emotions more like a movie trailer.

All that being said, ZOS (ZeniMax Online Studios) was handing us a precious baton, and we needed to do a number of things that you can always count on from an ESO cinematic. Deliver technically on the bleeding edge of CGI capabilities. Maintain the brand’s essential classy fantasy—fans want to feel they could step into this world—not be distracted by commenting on it. And tell an emotionally engaging story that teases the rollercoaster ride that you will experience 10X as a player of Shadow Over Morrowind.

How does the way the team managed this project reflect the Ayzenberg ethos of Listen, Create, Share?

Many advertising agencies think about disruption first. At Ayzenberg, we start by listening. Listening to clients. Listening to fans. Listening to each other as a team while we develop a viewpoint. Disruption is a very powerful tool. Sometimes it’s the right one. But we have many other tools in our toolbox, and by listening first and frequently, we determine the right time to use each.

Listening is pretty subtle, so we’re best known for how we create based on listening. We always remind ourselves to anchor what we hear as we create. And when we’re ready, we have another set of tools to share what we’ve created. So that we provoke a response in our audience that we can listen to again. Adapt and create based on what we hear. Share again, etc.

Can you give an example?

For the making of this ESO cinematic, we listened to, as usual, the most thorough of briefings from ZeniMax Online Studios on the game. We used proprietary and third-party tools to listen to the fans. And it shaped the story look and feel of our cinematic trailer.

We are just at the beginning of our first cycle of sharing this asset, and what we are hearing is, thankfully, mostly good. The creative team is hard at work on assets further along in the year, and every day, we check in on what questions fans have based on the cinematic trailer. What parts were they most moved by? The next big moment for us in this virtuous cycle will be ZOS opening the first two dungeons of the game. Can’t wait to listen to that! And share more of our creations soon.

Parting Shots

Following the Scribes of Fate DLC in March, the Necrom Chapter launched on PC/Mac on June 5, 2023, and on June 20, 2023, for Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

The game features 30 hours of all-new story content. Players will be able to journey into two extraordinary new zones in Eastern Morrowind with two new companions and a playable new class: the Arcanist.

Learn more on ESO’s official website here.

Betting On The Billions: 3 Takeaways From Spotify’s Barcelona Deal

FC Barcelona recently issued a limited edition jersey promoting Catalan pop star Rosalia’s “MOTOMAMI” album for the March 19th LaLiga Clasico. The event-driven promo is just one more step in Spotify’s efforts to woo creators and ink new brand partnerships while presenting new opportunities to brand marketers. Here are three key takeaways.

#1: 1.5 Billion Viewers Can’t Be Wrong

The world is still engaging with soccer on multiple platforms—even in the midst of economic and political uncertainty. According to SportsProMedia:

  • More than 550 million viewers tuned in for the FIFA 2022 opener.
  • Across 93.6 million posts during the 2022 series, the event launched 5.95 billion social media engagements.
  • FIFA reported record-breaking revenue of US$7.5 billion for the tournament’s four-year cycle.

In comparison, 113 million people, a record, watched the 2023 Super Bowl, per Statista

According to S&P Global Intelligence, soccer is the most-watched sport on live TV.

in eight of 10 major global markets. Although just 26 million Americans watched the world cup in 2022, marketers seeking to build a global presence will find a unique opportunity in marketing through soccer-related content.

#2: American Soccer Fans Are The Youngest Sports Fans And The Most Diverse 

According to data from The Morning Consult

  • Over half of the respondents who identified as soccer fans are under 45 (54 percent). This is a higher share of young fans than the NBA, NFL, college basketball, tennis, NHL, and MLB.
  • Soccer fans are the most diverse of all sports, with 40 percent of those surveyed identifying as people of color.
  • Young soccer fans are now transmitting their love of soccer to their Gen Alpha children, with 63 percent of Gen Alpha parents stating that they encourage their children to be sports fans.

That presents a key opportunity for brand marketers seeking access to audiences of younger families and diverse communities. 

#3: Like Spotify And FC Barcelona, Brands Should Have A Strategy To Connect With Audiences Everywhere, Including At The Stadium

Spotify’s recent deal with FC Barcelona, worth over $320 million for the initial sponsorship, per Reuters, reflects more than a marriage of convenience. According to Alex Norström, Spotify’s Chief Business Officer, in a 2022 interview announcing the partnership, the brand wants to leverage soccer’s fan culture to deliver new Spotify artists to an online and in-person audience. In addition, Spotify will use targeted ads—and presumably new brand partnerships—to engage diverse global audiences.

“Barça’s games attract a huge, global viewership per season, and we’re looking forward to working with them to connect artists to this audience,” said Norström. “For example, using the dynamic digital displays to showcase and geo-target relevant artists to Barça’s global TV audience. While European viewers may see a message about one artist, TV viewers in India could be served a different and locally relevant message.”

According to Spotify, the company experienced record audience growth in 2022. 

“Our approach to our earned, our pitches, and how we want to reach external audiences and the press is as important as how we’re approaching our owned editorial channels,” said CJ Stanley, Spotify’s Global Head of Communications, in a 2022 interview.

Game Marketers Find Playable Ads Most Effective Tool For Driving Game Installs

A new report states that playable ads are the most cost-effective format for driving consumers to install gaming apps. Their effectiveness depends on each marketer’s ability to use social intelligence to bring the right ad to audiences at the right time.

Playable Ads Offer Low Costs, Bigger Returns

“With an average CPI of $1.31, playable ads are by far the most cost-effective option for driving installs for gaming apps,” The Mobile Ad Creative Index by Liftoff reads. “This is unsurprising since they offer attractive opportunities for audiences to try before they commit.”

Liftoff reviewed close to one trillion impressions across 24.5 billion clicks and 240 million installs between January 1, 2022, and January 1, 2023, and found that playable ads CPI was significantly lower than the average $3.79 CPI from all five ad formats for gaming.  

Source: Liftoff

Mobile Gaming’s Boom, Consumers’ Hesitant Spending

According to The State of Mobile 2023 by, mobile gaming is experiencing a user engagement boom, but how much consumers spend depends on how well marketers craft their messaging. Mobile game downloads grew by 6.6 billion to nearly 90 billion in 2022. That means consumers are still engaging with mobile games despite inflation concerns and are now spending more even as game publishers offer new ways to play games for free, like engaging with ads. 


In Q3 of 2022, gamers spent $1.54 billion per week on gameplay, according to This represents a 25 percent increase over pre-pandemic spending but a decrease in year-over-year (YOY) spending. Yet, as consumer confidence in the economy rose in Q4 2022, per Deloitte, so did spending on mobile games.


While consumers remain concerned about the rising cost of living and most intend to be judicious about their spending, there is a slight decrease in the share of consumers who are pessimistic about the economy’s direction, according to Deloitte.

Source: Deloitte

What This Means For Marketers

Consumers may be more willing to spend when they perceive value in the experience because of slightly greater confidence in their finances. However, according to recent Deloitte data, that intention may be mitigated by a significant decrease in consumers’ intention to spend on discretionary items and experiences over the previous quarter.

In 2023, marketers will be competing for a shrinking portion of consumers’ discretionary spending. Developing a connection by allowing consumers to “try before you buy” via playable ads may be the most efficient way to convince spend-hesitant consumers to commit. Recent data shows that only six percent of consumers would rather pay a fee than engage with or watch an ad to access play. That makes 96 percent of consumers open to engaging with ads in exchange for playing time—a willingness to branded messaging that contradicts consumer trends on other platforms, where most consumers use ad blockers as a matter of routine.

Quick List: Reasons Playable Ads Are Popular Among Gamers

  1. Interactivity: Playable ads allow gamers to interact with a product before they make a purchase decision. This provides a more engaging experience and helps to build a stronger connection between the gamer and the product.
  2. Entertainment Value: Playable ads often feature mini-games or challenges that are fun to play. This provides a break from traditional ads that are often seen as intrusive and annoying.
  3. Discoverability: Playable ads allow gamers to discover new products or games they may not have otherwise known about. This can be beneficial for both the gamer and the advertiser, as it provides an opportunity for exposure and potential sales.
  4. Trust: Playable ads can also help to build trust with gamers, as they allow the gamer to try out the product before making a purchase. This can help to increase confidence in the product and the brand.

Sailor Moon: How A $13 Billion Franchise Leverages Earned Media And Brand Partnerships To Stay Relevant

Sailor Moon, a global anime phenomenon launched in 1992 on TV Asahi in Japan, spawning early retail launches, ranging from themed cafes to public sexual health awareness campaigns and a permanent store in Japan’s fashionable Harajuku district. Today Sailor Moon is a $13 billion franchise that is leveraging brand partnerships and social media to stay top-of-mind among Gen X, millennials, and new Gen Z fans. The Sailor Moon approach to brand partnerships is an object lesson in courting multi-generational audiences.

Sailor Moon, Brand Strategist 

The Sailor Moon franchise has created an impressive roster of brand partnerships since 2020, including Colourpop, Uniqlo, Skechers, Casetify, and most recently Jimmy Choo. While its storyline is an anime classic, its appeal is multigenerational, with famous super fans like Lizzo and Sailor Moon-inspired trends on TikTok raising the brand’s profile for new audiences.

One reason for Sailor Moon’s brand partnership success could be the size of the market for anime-themed products, even in absence of a brand collaboration angle. While the cosplay costumes and wigs market is slated to grow by nearly 15 percent each year, consumers thirsty for more Sailor Moon gear will likely be open to discovering new products on social. 

Anime’s appeal as multigenerational content shows its cultural impact and potential as a vehicle to engage new audiences around new brand collaborations. According to Axios, global demand for anime-themed content rose by 118 percent between 2020 and 2022, and Sailor Moon is among the world’s most lucrative anime franchises.

What It Means For Marketers:

Anime fans are active consumers of content. According to Morning Consult, about one-quarter of Netflix’s anime fans watch content within the genre daily on the platform. Anime fans are also highly motivated to purchase themed and special edition merchandise, even when it appears in a new retail arena, like a luxury retail chain. While fans may be unable to afford shoes that cost over $1k, they will discuss it and post aspirational content that boosts brand recognition. That’s why brands are integrating content brands with powerful retail collaboration potential into their marketing strategy.

The takeaway? Working with content brands can provide a runway to new channels and hybrid branded content opportunities.

“Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is a unique global phenomenon,” Jimmy Choo Creative Director Sandra Choi stated in a press release reported by Gotham. “[It’s] a manga and anime that resonates, bridging cultures and languages, speaking to different generations, bringing us all together. That is what drew me to this project.”

The New Branded Content: Decoding Netflix’s Next Moves

Netflix is bullish on brand partnerships but within certain parameters—it’s all about the content. Here’s what brand marketers need to know.

‘Stranger Things’ Have Happened: Netflix Still Leads The Pack In Paid Streaming Content

Netflix’s recent partnership with GM and its new ads program signal new opportunities to access the company’s more than 220 million paid subscribers. That’s not including roommates, cousins, and significant others sharing passwords (something Netflix plans to crack down on). That opportunity comes with several caveats. Netflix is firmly in charge of how, when and for how long they will allow brands to access their audiences. The company has been riding a nearly uninterrupted year-to-year streak of revenue growth since 2011. Q4 2022 was the company’s first reported quarterly decline in revenue since the company’s founding. Additionally, Netflix’s subscription base is growing again after a brief dip in Q2 of 2022. As the most watched paid streaming service per Nielsen with the most streamed TV show of 2022, Stranger Things, Netflix is in a powerful position as a platform in control of some of the world’s most popular content and a trove of valuable user data.

Netflix Has Serious Branded Content Ambitions

According to Netflix, consumers’ shift towards streaming and away from traditional TV is likely permanent. The company is well aware of its power as a membership platform with the ability to showcase star-studded branded content that consumers, already in binge mode, will watch. “The one thing I’d point out is that what’s happening now and what’s going to be happening over the next couple of years is that the consumer is moving to stream,” stated Theodore A. Sarandos Co-CEO, Chief Content Officer & Director in a recent earnings call.

“I would say that this business is really completely about engagement, profit and revenue. So—and we’ve got to grow all of those things—and all those things are really tied to executing on that, on the content,” said Sarandos.

Credit: YouTube/GM/Netflix

For Netflix, “executing on the content” may also mean delivering star-powered ad campaigns, like the GM EV commercial slated to run during the Super Bowl featuring Will Ferrell. As Ferrell drives his vehicle through the sets of Netflix hits and appears in a reimagined scene from Squid Game, the campaign serves as an ad for Netflix’s envelope-pushing product placement capabilities. As a content studio with its own stars, immense membership base and heavyweight brand partnerships, the company is now signaling its interest in disrupting advertising with the tools it knows best.

Cookies Crumbled? Netflix Will See You Now

The company is bullish on its nascent ad business but maintains that its model is centered on ad experiences that do not diminish the user experience. Judging its ads strategy based on engagement, results are promising, said Gregory K. Peters, Netflix COO & Chief Product Officer, in the Q4 2022 earnings call.

“The product experience is good, and that’s really a testament to lots of hard work for both Microsoft and Netflix teams who worked very hard to make that happen, and it’s really rewarding […] to see,” stated Peters.“ The other, I’d say, the pretty significantly fundamental thing is around engagement, and we see that engagement from ads plans users is comparable to sort of similar users on our non-ads plan.” The ads perform double duty for the company, driving ad revenue and building subscribership.

“Furthermore, now, we’re seeing take rate and growth on that ads plan is solid,” said Peters. “It’s great because partly, that take rate and that growth is due to incremental subscribers coming into the service because we have a lower price point. I expect to see that continue to actually grow over the year.”

According to Peters, the demise of the cookie in 2024 makes Netflix’s ad opportunities especially attractive. The company is devoting resources to making improvements in targeting, ad delivery validation and measurement. 

“If you think about the targeting capability, the fact that we signed in fully addressable. If you think about the growing relevance of first-party data and how we do that, those are really big advantages that we can bring relative certainty to the traditional world,” said Peters.

Everybody’s Into Gaming, Including Netflix

Branded content opportunities in gaming have long been the domain of gaming-focused platforms. While gaming offers advertisers new audiences, it can also drive subscriptions, something Netflix must do to stay competitive in a crowded marketplace. While reports have surfaced that may have dozens of games in development, the company has launched a new gaming studio—its fifth—but according to the company, efforts are still in the seedling phase.

“We’re planting some seeds in terms of games and things like that, that if we execute well and we’re excited about the progress we’re seeing so far, will represent the future potential for us in terms of and more profit opportunities.” stated Peters. But the company appears to be squarely focused on developing “the best, most effective, highest quality premium connected TV ads experience as a win for consumers and advertisers and for us as a business,” according to Peters.

Virtual Concerts Present A New Metaverse Pathway For Brand Marketers

As brands assess the relevance of the metaverse to their marketing goals, sponsored virtual concerts present a novel consumer engagement opportunity.

Even after pandemic lockdowns ended, consumers were still interested in attending concerts virtually, at rates much higher than pre-pandemic levels. That shift has helped accelerate artists’ and music labels’ efforts to monetize virtual events. As a result, the global market for virtual events is projected to exceed $617 billion by 2030 due partly to consumers’ willingness to shift spending to virtual reality experiences, a market segment estimated to surpass $227 billion by 2029. Researchers estimate that by 2026, 25 percent of consumers will spend at least an hour each day in a metaverse space for work, shopping, or entertainment. In addition, a recent survey revealed that 56 percent of Gen Z and 61 percent of millennials are interested in attending a virtual concert.

Roblox And Warner Music Group Collaboration May Signal A Trend

Travis Scott’s nine-minute concert in the metaverse resulted in $20 million in revenue – twice what Amazon earned per minute that same year. Likewise, Ariana Grande’s Fortnite concert reportedly drew 78 million viewers, making her a seven-figure payday. The connection between gaming platforms and the prospect of millions of engaged fans in one spot is not an accident. Games like Fortnite give music labels access to millions of engaged fans and an opening to introduce artists to a diverse audience only found together when gaming. That trend has not been missed by entertainment brands seeking to capitalize on consumers’ growing interest in live virtual experiences.

Recently Warner Music Group (WMG) announced the launch of Rhythm City, a music-themed social roleplay experience for Roblox. Developed in partnership with Gamefam, Rhythm City will introduce Roblox audiences to new artists and music through social roleplay in tandem, granting them access to exclusive digital items.

“As our lives become increasingly digital, exciting opportunities are opening up for artists and fans to engage and interact,” stated Oana Ruxandra, Chief Digital Officer & EVP, Business Development at WMG, in a press release. “WMG is focused on facilitating the foundations of these new experiences by building and experimenting across evolving ecosystems. This partnership with Gamefam sees WMG creating a place for artists and audiences to unite to define and contextualize their communities within living spaces.”

Roblox users can role-play as virtual music producers, DJs, and other characters. In addition, WMG stated that Rhythm City would also host virtual concerts and events featuring WMG artists.

Recently, Fortnite raised $3 billion to expand its efforts to innovate within the metaverse. Investors, like the entertainment brands seeking to engage gamers on Fortnite, likely see gaming platforms as a unique opportunity to create brand affinity and test new options for driving revenue in virtual spaces. That led live music events like Coachella to launch Fortnite events and branded virtual merchandise and entertainment networks like IHeartRadio to launch virtual worlds on the platform. In addition, it has led to new concerts from other music labels, like the recent Kid Laroi concert on Fornite, where the artist released new tracks as the narration for a video experience that rewarded viewers with XP and exclusive DLCs. 

The Takeaway For Marketers

Millions of consumers game daily. Building relationships on these platforms requires marketers to develop content that feels native, immersive and engaging – just like a game. Music is powerful for igniting a sense of community and drawing fans to new platforms. However, the most successful live entertainment experiences don’t have to feature an Ariana Grande-level talent. Marketers have been building virtual experiences on Fortnite for years, and leveraging music fandom is a natural evolution to an intelligent engagement strategy.

Analysts: Gaming Growth Expected In 2023 Despite Recession Fears

Despite economic uncertainty, analysts from sources as diverse as the World Economic Forum and Morgan Stanley are suggesting that the gaming industry will maintain growth in 2023.

Analysts And Investors Think Consumers Will Keep Gaming – Even In A Recession 

According to a recent post by The World Economic Forum, the millions of consumers who used gaming to cope with the uncertainty and isolation of the pandemic have continued to game, now for enjoyment and as an integral part of their lifestyles in 2023.

“So many existing and new gamers splashed out on games, consoles, and other kit during the pandemic that the market expanded by 26% between 2019 and 2021,” the post reads. That’s driven investment in the industry and a predicted boon in 2023. “The game industry’s swimming in cash,” Professor Joost van Dreunen of New York University told The New York Times at the height of the boom. “It’s just raining money on these people, on these companies,” the article states. More than 650 gaming M&A or investment deals were announced or closed in the first six months of 2022, and gaming companies, such as Epic Games, raised billions on the strength of the market, according to recent research.

That tracks with a recent analysis from Morgan Stanley, which states that the gaming industry will likely continue to grow in 2023, even as many consumers face the prospect of a recession. According to the report, this has been a historical trend, and the firm believes this will continue.

“After a sluggish 2022, the video gaming industry is set to unlock new levels of growth next year as more high-budget, high-profile games and next-generation consoles hit the market,” the report reads.

New Content Will Drive Growth In 2023

Morgan Stanley believes that 2023 will likely be “an inflection year” for the gaming industry.  

“Video game development teams are seeing better productivity and have improved efficiency. At the same time, titles that were strategically pushed back are now looking more likely to launch in 2023,” stated Morgan Stanley research analyst Seyon Park. “We see an abundance of quality content as the single most important factor behind our expectations for a strong market recovery heading into the upcoming holiday season.”

That analysis echoes a Bloomberg report which states that the gaming industry’s 4.2 percent decline in growth compared to 2021 reflects the delays in sought-after gaming titles. However, that will change in 2023, the article states.

“Now, 2023 is absolutely stacked: Nintendo Co.’s The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Electronic Arts Inc.’s Dead Space, Square Enix Holdings Co.’s Final Fantasy XVI, Activision Blizzard Inc.’s Diablo IV and others are due out this year,” the post reads. “The lineup of fresh releases will likely contribute to growth in consumer spending on games this year.”

The Majority Of Consumers Are Gaming During The Holidays

A recent survey by YouGov reveals that families are gaming to reconnect with distant loved ones, connect with kids and keep stress to a minimum.

Games Are Helping Distant Friends And Family Members Bond

According to the survey, which Xbox commissioned, 58 percent of consumers surveyed stated they use multiplayer gaming to connect with distant relatives and friends who can’t make it back home for the holidays. That can be important for families and friends who won’t be traveling this year. A recent study found that 43 percent of Americans will not be traveling to see loved ones this holiday season, and 40 percent won’t participate in any large gatherings either. The reason millions of Americans are staying home isn’t just because of a fear of COVID or other public health concerns; 37 percent state it is because of concerns over inflation, according to a recent survey by Deloitte. That means consumers who can’t be there in person with friends and family will likely spend a lot of time online and will likely invest in ways to make virtual interactions more engaging. Recently, Microsoft began testing a family plan option for its popular Xbox Game Pass in Columbia and Ireland. The family pass would allow a subscription to be shared with up to four people. 

Consumers Are Using Gaming To Deal With Holiday Stress 

According to a recent survey, with 64 percent of us concerned about our finances this holiday season, it isn’t surprising that families want to escape stress together through gaming. The YouGov study revealed that 54 percent of consumers use gaming to deal with holiday stress, and there’s a good amount of science behind that answer. A 2020 survey showed that games can produce positive stress release and allow social interactions which, although virtual, can deliver powerful benefits. Those interactions can not only help relieve stress for adults, but they can also help younger people deal with the stress of isolation when away from friends, according to University of Saskatchewan computer science professor Regan Mandryk, who directed the research in 2020.

“When (kids) can’t (interact) physically, they can do that right now in a game like Minecraft that allows them to build together, to be creative, to express themselves in the way that they feel most natural to express themselves.” In addition, researchers have seen positive results as therapists have used games such as Minecraft as a stress-relief tool for several years, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.

Learn more about gaming during the holidays.

Trend Set: Analyzing Gen Z’s Spending Habits, Media Consumption

In this week’s roundup from Ayzenberg’s Ashley Otah: how brands can engage Gen Zers and the impact TikTok may have on the journalism industry.


Consumer habits and desires are rapidly changing, as noted in Snapchat’s latest report, which outlines Gen Z’s spending power, as well as how and why they consume digital content. Among the key findings, 63 percent of Gen Zers surveyed favor brands that have fair labor policies and approximately three-fourths say that they are loyal to companies that speak to social change. Also of note, a need to stay up-to-date is a big driver behind content consumption by Gen Z, with members of this generational cohort seeking content that aligns with their values and lifts their spirits. The numbers indicate that this demographic demands change—a great finding to bring into the new year.


A pair of giant Vans on wheels took to the streets of New York for the shoe manufacturer’s latest activation with popular NYC influencers in tow. The oversized replicas, designed after Van’s latest additions to their MTE collection, surprised many and gave fans and passersby alike a chance to get up close and personal, enter the shoes and even check out what the inside would feel like. The pop-up highlights the power of experiential marketing and thinking outside the (shoe) box.

Striking Findings From 2022

More Americans are getting their news on TikTok, especially a growing number of adults, according to Pew Research Center findings from this year. A third of U.S. adult TikTok users say they regularly get their news there, up 22 percent from two years ago, contrasting the steady decline in consumption documented on other platforms like Facebook—though Instagram has also seen a slight boost. This information can help brands and consumers understand the trajectory of journalism and the future of the industry.

Trend Set: Brands Innovate On Social To Drive Traffic, Sales

This week, Ayzenberg trend-watcher Ashley Otah examines how retailers are looking to social media for inspiration on how to engage shoppers directly and even deliver deals right to their phones.


Amazon rolls out Inspire, a TikTok-like in-app shopping feed featuring personalized photo and video content based on customer input. Shoppers will be able to peruse and shop for the items they see on their feed. Like other platforms, Amazon aims to seamlessly merge the shopping and social media experience to facilitate shopping. This is something tech companies have struggled with in the past, however, we’re seeing a resurgence this season. One thing is certain: Only the winning features stand out and stay alive in the race for consumers’ attention. 


With locations in London, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and more, Glossier is no stranger to brick-and-mortar operations. Not only has the brand succeeded in the “real world,” but their social presence has also exploded as they amassed nearly 3 million Instagram followers — it hasn’t stopped growing yet. The physical stores allow customers to mix, match and try things on in real-time, an element that online offerings miss. Although the world continues to step into a mixture of physical and digital, it is still essential for brands to have an omnichannel strategy to stay alive and thriving. 


In its latest organic campaign, Logitech turns to social to get real. As the holiday season buzzes, brands are finding new ways to connect with their audiences. This is why the technology brand is using BeReal for its “12 Days of Deals.” This campaign allows users to get exclusive deals while using the app in its native form, helping the brand reach new, younger audiences. Meeting consumers where they are is as important as ever and will continue to help differentiate brands now and in the future.