Ayzenberg And Microsoft Score Two Gold Wins In The Promax Games Awards

Ayzenberg’s work led to two wins for Microsoft in this year’s Promax Games Awards, including gold for Best Key Art for Gears 5 and gold for Best Promotional Trailer: Mobile for Minecraft Earth.

“We’re very proud to be Microsoft’s ongoing partner for work on the Gears franchise and all things Minecraft, and are so pleased to see this content recognized,” said Gary Goodman, Ayzenberg chief creative officer.

Ayzenberg created a live-action trailer for the launch of Minecraft Earth, an augmented reality (AR) mobile sandbox game that immerses users in a block-filled world where they can collect items and go on adventures with up to 40 people in a single real-world location. Xbox released the game in November 2019 and saw 1.4 million downloads in the following week across the App Store and Google Play.

In creating the key art for Gears of War 5, which launched in September of last year, the agency was tasked with devising a combined static and motion visual identity system that foreshadowed a new chapter in the evolution of the Gears of War universe. Additionally, Ayzenberg revamped the title to a succinct “Gears 5.”

The agency also contributed to Microsoft’s gold win for Best Marketing Campaign of the Year for Gears 5 “Bound by Blood.” For the campaign, Ayzenberg created the key art, ran a social activation called Fractured and supported the overall initiative as Microsoft’s social agency of record. Ultimately, Fractured achieved over 50 million daily profile impressions and 1.3 million daily profile visits, breaking channel records and leading to a win in the 12th annual Shorty Awards.

At last year’s Promax Games Awards, Ayzenberg was part of a Microsoft win on the launch of Forza Horizon 4, for which the agency created the key art and social.

Pringles Debuts Full Body Version Of Its Mascot After A Request From John Oliver Went Viral

For the first time ever, Pringles unveiled a full-body version of its mustached brand mascot Julius Pringles, or Mr. P, after a request from HBO’s Last Week Tonight host John Oliver went viral.

During the show, which has pivoted to YouTube segments since the pandemic, Oliver joked, “There is a lot that we don’t know about the Pringles guy. In fact, the only thing we do know is his head looks like a hard-boiled egg disguised as Tom Selleck.”

Oliver said the show would donate $10,000 to Feeding America if Pringles showed the world what Mr. P’s body looks like, but on one condition: that Pringles doesn’t spend any of the money on the brand “because it’s a garbage snack.” In just four days, the video amassed over 4 million views.

Viewers took to Twitter to share amusing caricatures of what they thought the rest of Mr. P might look like. Oliver shared these depictions in a video update in which he implores Pringles to give the people what they want, saying:

“My point here is, I know so much useless information about Pringles. But not the one thing that I really want to know, which is: What is Julius Pringles working with from the neck down?”

Two days later, Pringles debuted a casually dressed Mr. P, who welcomes fans into his holiday-ready home in this 14-second video:

The tweet garnered nearly 10,000 likes, 2,000 retweets and 800 comments. Neither Oliver or the show have reacted yet to the news.

Pringles’ banter with Oliver is a prime example of how brands can benefit from marketing opportunities spurred by organic social media moments. Another notable example of this involved user @420doggface208, who rose to internet fame after he posted a TikTok video of him skateboarding to work while drinking a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice and lip-syncing Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” The video has racked up more than 72 million views and led to 15 billion brand impressions. In addition, in the week after the video was posted, “Dreams” was streamed 8.47 million times in the US alone.

KFC Mini-Movie To Premiere On Lifetime For The Holidays

During a year full of unlikely events, unlikely partnerships are bound to emerge. One said collaboration resulted in Kentucky Fried Chicken’s latest campaign—a branded Lifetime Original 15-minute mini-movie starring Mario Lopez as longtime KFC mascot, Colonel Sanders, which aims to distract consumers “from all things 2020.”

A Recipe for Seduction is a romantic mystery set to premiere on Lifetime on December 13 as an addition to Lifetime’s “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” movie slate. In conjunction, KFC is running an UberEats special that gives customers who order $20 or more via UberEats.com or the mobile app six free extra crispy tenders.

The mini flick marks KFC’s first-ever custom mid-form content and will be available to watch throughout the holiday season on Lifetime’s website, apps and video-on-demand platforms.

Love and fried chicken are at the heart of the plot, which involves a young heiress who must contend with attention from a suitor chosen by her mother. When a young chef—Lopez, who plays the lead role in Lifetime’s newly released Feliz NaviDad movie—with a secret fried chicken recipe appears, the mother’s devious plans are revealed.

KFC’s move to reach consumers sheltering in place follows the return of its limited edition fried chicken-scented firelogs. The 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog by Enviro-Log, available to buy in Walmart stores and on Walmart.com, sold out two years in a row. For the first time this year KFC started selling the firelogs in Canada.

At the end of Q3, KFC’s parent company, Yum Brands, reported an eight percent growth in revenue and a net income of $283 million, up from $255 million a year earlier. However, its same-store sales declined for KFC and Pizza Hut as demand lagged in their international markets. KFC’s global same-store sales fell four percent while its US same-store sales saw nine percent growth.

Video Game Industry Ad Spend Is Up 80 Percent Year-Over-Year

The video game industry spent over $45 million in ad spend during the first two weeks in November, an 80 percent increase year-over-year, according to MediaRadar’s latest research.

The surge coincides with the new Xbox Series X and PlayStation PS5, which were released on November 10 and November 19, respectively.

Leading up to the launch of PS5, Sony spent over $15 million on advertising the console—more than triple what Microsoft spent to advertise Xbox Series X.

The launch of the new consoles inspired growth among other gaming brands and sections. For example, despite not releasing a new console, Nintendo’s ad spend from November 2 to 15 was 138 percent higher than the two weeks prior.

During that same time, the release of Call of Duty Cold War and Assassins Creed Valhalla resulted in a 76 percent increase YoY in ad spend from video game titles.

Game retailers ramped up ad spend by 28 percent YoY and mobile app games saw ad spend increase 23 percent YoY.

The game industry’s ambitious spending comes as video game players play for longer hours and across more devices. According to NPD Group’s Q3 report, consumers spent $11.2 billion on video gaming in Q3, a 24 percent increase YoY. During the same period, sales of video game content reached $10.04 billion, up 24 percent YoY.

At the end of November, NPD found that four of every five US consumers reported playing a video game in the past six months. Nontraditional gamers in particular have taken a liking to video games during the pandemic. According to NPD, time spent gaming for those between the ages of 45 and 54 increased 59 percent while dollar spend increased 76 percent. Gamers ages 55 to 64 increased time and money spent by 48 percent and 73 percent, respectively.

New Brand Business Models With Erich Joachimsthaler

On this 233rd episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Erich Joachimsthaler, founder and CEO of Vivaldi Group. Joachimsthaler’s company works to keep its clients ahead of the continually evolving marketing game by remaining innovative at the intersection of purpose and profit.

Originally from Germany, Joachimsthaler shares how academia brought him to Kansas of all places, and eventually landed him in New York, where he lives today. He looked at the option of going straight into the workforce after school in Germany but decided that “success in life is to minimize the time between graduation and retirement.” We then discuss how the marketing landscape has changed over the last 10 to 20 years. “The value shifts now the demand side where the consumers are,” and can no longer be providing better service alone.

Joachimsthaler then discusses the concept of his new book, The Interaction Field, and how “when everybody participates in an interaction field…everybody benefits.” We found ourselves in agreement that “value is creation,” and how the road to success involves many helping hands along the way. Nobody does it alone. Amid a global pandemic, collaboration amongst industry leaders is needed now more than ever!

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • After graduation, Erich made his way to the US to further his education and experience the world. 1:20
  • Erich chose Kansas because of his desire to expand upon his small amount of English language. 2:00
  • After being a professor for 15-20 years, Erich decided to make his way to New York, thus leaving academics. 2:55
  • Vivaldi Group works towards helping new companies grow through innovation in new directions. 4:06
  • Erich felt there were new ways of creating values for other companies, and that belief led him to write his new book. 5:37
  • Brand marketing recently shifted from the supply side to the demand side, now focusing on the consumers. 6:20
  • Everyone in the world lives in an interaction field through network technology in a specific ecosystem. 7:11
  • Value is no longer created solely on better service but heavily focuses on the demand side in companies such as Uber. 9:00
  • It’s no longer about how much money a company pumps into advertising. 10:10
  • Around 2008, people began to realize that technologies that come together tend to mature at the same time. 10:42
  • There are ways to be successful other than creating a platform by finding the right ecosystem, but innovation must remain successful. 12:35
  • Many business models exist today that have proven successful, but these models evolve. 14:30
  • McDonald’s has evolved its business model from a pipeline model to a platform model because it can directly interact with consumers on their phones. 16:00
  • Companies can collect data points through customer interaction on their platforms to increase productivity and profit. 18:56
  • Interaction fields create value by sharing collected data with every participant in particular industries. 20:44
  • Leaders today must collaborate to benefit everyone and solve significant industry problems. 22:45
  • Erich found that motivation came from different sources between Germany and his time in the United States. 26:05
  • It’s vitally important to put love where your labor is; you will enjoy what you are doing for the rest of your life. 28:00
  • From a book that he recently read, Erich learned that Einstein’s wife did a lot of the mathematical equations for him; nobody does it alone. 30:00
  • The pandemic has shown the world that nobody finds success alone; many people help along the way. 31:38
  • Companies like Alibaba excite Erich because they were able to create a network of commerce that connected a country before it ever existed. 32:46
  • The brands that are creating something truly incredible do not even have to advertise because they are deeply integrated into consumers’ lives. 35:00
  • There has been a massive shift in consumer engagement that has changed marketing from product branding to ecosystem branding. 36:11

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

How Cloud Subscription Gaming Could Sabotage The Long-Term Success Of Games

Cloud gaming subscription services have been hailed as a boon to game publishers and developers looking to reach large gaming audiences most effectively. With the largest tech companies competing for market share through their own game subscriptions—Microsoft via Xbox Game Pass, Apple via Arcade, Google via Stadia and recently, Amazon via Luna—game developers have a significant opportunity to receive what may seem to be free marketing. I’m going to share the risk this poses for the game publisher and developer community and how to ensure you’re not sabotaging the long-term success of your games.

Mega corporations are offering established game developers and publishers with all sorts of wonderful financial terms. These include things like sign-on bonuses, hosting, distribution, payment, processing, pricing, monetization, discovery and marketing. Publishers and developers are willing to accept these offers because they’re trying to streamline game distribution and game discoverability and get tons of impressions and downloads in a short amount of time.

One would think that big tech’s involvement eliminates the need for the awareness generation or user acquisition (UA) marketing that you would normally deploy if you were marketing the game through traditional means of other distribution methods. Wrong. What can very quickly happen is that these marketers, publishers and game developers back off on any of their own marketing and rely on these distribution platforms to handle that for them.

But the learning is that won’t last. Those offers will dry up. Those cloud gaming services will become cluttered with thousands of games. And in a few months or years, it will be just as important to market your games on those cloud services as it was for mobile app developers. This cloud subscription gold rush reminds me of 2008-2010 when digital distribution really started taking off. All you had to do to get downloaded on the App Store was get featured. Steam had so few games that any good title got traction.

Don’t just rely on those companies to market your IP, especially if it’s a new IP, because at best you have a short windfall of revenue, and at worst, you’re going to have an IP that hasn’t built any equity with customers.

The next time you release the next iteration of your game, there will be very little brand awareness and affiliation for it, because the gamers that are subscribing to these services view games the same way they view a new series on Netflix. They’re bingeing them. For these gamers, there’s no downside to playing a new game that came out today, putting in 20 minutes or an hour, discarding it and never thinking about it again then doing the same thing with a new game tomorrow.

If you’re not building brand equity with your game, you’re not building brand affinity, and as a result, you become a commodity, that candy bar at the checkout stand, an impulse download.

Game developers and publishers who basically write their own financial terms with mega technology companies are okay with taking small losses in order to gain consumer credit cards on file. But giving up on and relying on another company that isn’t invested in the long-term business health of your company is risky. You’re allowing them to take control of marketing and build your brand. At that point you’re no longer charging directly for your content and it becomes easier to no longer market your own content.

When working with big distribution platforms like Arcade, Stadia, Xbox Game Pass and Luna, be cognizant on the business side and on the marketing side. Is the game you’re willing to give up your rights on in exchange for marketing in the best long-term interests of your company?

As these new cloud services mature and start featuring thousands of games rather than tens or hundreds of games, it’s going to be important to work with these platforms to ensure you can take advantage of and promote your game in the different ways they offer, whether it’s dashboard presence on Xbox or ad buying on Twitch that directly links to a Luna game. The need to figure out how to get better placement and visibility on the dashboards or app stores of these different cloud gaming services will be critical to the long-term success of your game. Your game may get noticed as these Cloud services have limited portfolios, but if you are in business to build a brand/IP, leaving the brand-building up to your 1st party partner is short-sighted!

The Clio Awards Announces 2020-2021 Jury Pool

After postponing its October gala to 2021 due to the concerns over COVID-19, The Clio Awards has announced its jury pool for the 2020-2021 cycle—175 jurors representing 30 countries—the largest in the ad award program’s 61-year history.

This year’s Clio Awards will feature nine jury chairs—Daniele Cachich, chief marketing officer of PepsiCo Foods Brazil; Alex Grieve, chief creative officer of AMV BBDO; Devika Bulchandani, president of McCann North America; Fura Johannesdottir, chief design officer of Huge; Susan Credle, global chief creative officer of FCB; Ralf Heuel, chief creative officer and partner at Grabarz & Partner; Shelley Elkins, chief creative officer at Jack Morton; Joe Sciarotta, deputy chief officer of Worldwide Ogilvy; and Chris Gee, general manager, head of digital for US Corporate and Advisory at Edelman.

A “very diverse and balanced jury” will judge work in this year’s 17 categories spanning creative effectiveness, audio, branded entertainment and content, design, film, digital/mobile and social media, print, out-of-home, experience and public relations.

Part of the “Audio & Audio Craft Jury” is Victoria Buchanan, executive creative director at Tribal Worldwide London, a digital veteran with clients like Volkswagen, Harvey Nichols, Hasbro and Unilever. Buchanan is the recipient of the IPA Woman of Tomorrow Awards in 2016. Sherman Winfield, executive creative director of VMLY&R, will also be judging in the category. Winfield, who oversees efforts in VMLY&R’s Atlanta and Kansas City offices, previously served as vice president and creative director at Fitzco, where he led the full rebrand of French’s Mustard, which resulted in record sales, a new creative platform and the experiential Yellow Mustard Ice Cream.

The “Branded Entertainment & Content” jury includes Gabrielle Shirdan, vice president creative director at McCann NY, where she crafts work for AdCouncil, Ulta Beauty, Delsym and Microsoft. Also judging in the category is Menno Kluin, chief creative officer at 360i, which was recognized amongst the top 10 agencies on Ad Age’s A-List 2018 and 2019 under his creative leadership.

The “Creative Effectiveness” jury will include Vita Harris, chief strategy officer at FCB Global. Harris educates companies on eliminating harmful biases from their strategies, appeared on Adweek’s annual list of Women Trailblazers and serves as a member of The Ad Council’s Campaign Review Committee. Sandra Howard, vice president, corporate brand marketing for AT&T, will also help select winners in the category. Howard was previously senior director of global advertising and global consumer insights for Burger King.

Among jurors in the “Design” jury is Yoshihiro Yagi, creative director at Dentsu Inc. and the recipient of 19 pencils at D&AD in one year, 33 Design Lions and a Grand Prix at Cannes. Also a juror in the category is Lisa Smith, executive creative director of JKR. Smith led Chobani’s rebrand, which was recognized as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Branding” of 2019.

The “Digital/Mobile & Social Media” jury includes Corey Cruz, creative director at Wunderman Thompson. As previous regional creative director at Digitas Singapore, where she oversaw the creative output in seven countries in APAC, Cruz helped the agency win gold for Agency of the Year three times. Co-founder and partner of 23Rios Craftbeer, Chacho Puebla will also help select winners in the category. Puebla has won over 500 advertising awards including 90 Cannes Lions, five Gold Effies and 20 Grand Prix.

Jurors in the “Direct & Innovation” jury pool include Shagun Seda, creative head of the West offices of the DDB Mudra Group. Seda led the team that created Stayfree’s Project Free Period and is one of 12 women who are part of DDB Worldwide’s inaugural Phyllis Project. Olivier Apers, vice president and executive creative director at BETC Group, who works on BETC Paris and BETC Fullsix campaigns, is also one of the jurors.

The “Experience/Activation & Out of Home” jury includes Marcus Wesson, chief creative officer of Dailey and one of Adweek’s Creative 100. Juliana Jaramillo, founder and creative director of Local Weather, will also be on the jury. Jaramillo has created award-winning experiences, such as HBO’s Bleed #ForTheThrone at SXSW and its Westworld season three CES dinner.

The eligibility and entry windows for the Clio Awards have been extended to February 5, 2021.

ViacomCBS And Ad Council Launch ‘Vote For Your Life’ Campaign

In 2016, just 46.1 percent of the country’s 18-29-year-old voters cast a ballot. To encourage a higher voter turnout among young adults, ViacomCBS and the Ad Council have launched a digital campaign called Vote For Your Life. The initiative aims to encourage mass registration and early voting among Gen Z and millennials, who comprise 10 percent and 27 percent of eligible US voters, respectively.

With voter registration down by as much as 70 percent in some states, MTV will pay for the cost of printing and mailing ballot applications for US voters via the VoteForYourLife.com through October 6. The online hub, powered by BallotReady and TurboVote, also lets users check their registration status, request their ballot early, preview candidates up for election in their district and access resources to inform their vote.

The Vote For Your Life campaign includes two short video spots, one that links the significance of voting with the issues that young black and Latino voters care about, and another that encourages younger audiences to vote for access to better mental health. The spots are available in English and Spanish.

The campaign is an extension of MTV’s Vote Early Day, a new holiday slated for October 24 that aims to make early voting options more accessible. Among the initiative’s 1,300 partners are Twitter, Univision, USA Today, Snapchat, REI, Ben & Jerry’s, PayPal, BuzzFeed and Reddit.

Other voter turnout campaigns across ViacomCBS properties include BET’s #ReclaimYourVote campaign which included National Black Voter Day on September 18, a joint grassroots effort with the National Urban League to educate and mobilize black voters; MTV’s +1thevote, a year-long campaign focused on making voting easier and more social in light of over 4 million people turning 18 before the election; and Power the Polls, an initiative from MTV and Comedy Central to recruit the next generation of poll workers, which recently amassed 425,000 signups.

Xbox Joined TikTok And Its Videos Racked Up 4 Million Views Within 24 Hours

As Chinese officials determine the fate of TikTok US, Xbox has officially joined TikTok ahead of the November 10 launch of its two new consoles, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. Within 24 hours, Xbox racked up 329,000 followers, 736,000 likes and 4 million views between its first two videos.

The brand’s tongue-in-cheek TikTok videos focus on its forthcoming consoles. In the first video, a guy says Xbox needs help figuring out what its first post should be–Xbox Series S or Series X. He then opens his iPhone photo album only to scroll through pictures of a bunch of items that look like, but aren’t, the consoles, including a two-burner stove, a record player and a fridge. He finally finds a video of Xbox Series X and finishes by urging fans to comment and “like for part two,” a trend that’s sweeping TikTok.

The second video calls out notable features of the all-digital Series S console, for example, that it’s the smallest Xbox the brand has ever made, has insanely fast load times, supports up to 120 frames per second (fps), is backwards compatible with thousands of games, and lastly, that, “it’s a little bit cheaper than the Xbox Series X.”

Xbox announced its TikTok account on Instagram Stories, as well as on Twitter with this post:

“Gaming is one of the most viewed verticals on TikTok so it’s a natural fit for Xbox to join the platform. The most important thing for us on TikTok is to be entertaining and authentic, rather than try to do any sort of heavy-handed sales messaging. The channel is designed to embrace the culture of the platform, build a genuine relationship with a new audience and uniquely celebrate gaming as a whole by leveraging a heavily curated voice, tone and content approach,” Erik Schmitt, Ayzenberg creative director tells us.

Xbox’s foray into TikTok comes at a time when interest in video games has spiked during the pandemic and video game brands look for new opportunities to reach TikTok’s fast-growing gaming community. 

In January, TikTok teamed up with Epic Games to launch a Fortnite dance challenge, and in May, the app partnered with the Collegiate StarLeague to launch TikTok Cup, an esports tournament for college students.

Today, #gaming on TikTok has 43.6 billion views and #gamer has 20.4 billion views. Not to mention in August, TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app globally in August with over 63.3 million installs, according to SensorTower data.

In the past few months, Microsoft has introduced a range of new experiences for fans like the launch of cloud gaming in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and an updated Microsoft Store on Xbox.

The store was completely rebuilt to make finding and buying new games easier, safer and faster, according to Dametra Johnson-Marletti, corporate vice president, Microsoft Store. Loading in less than two seconds, the store is twice the speed of the previous version and gives you the option to quickly filter and sort games by pressing ‘X’ on your controller. To make the experience family-friendly, Xbox is disabling anonymous logins, filtering content that blocks material above set restrictions and displaying full ratings information on the screen.

Xbox started rolling out the new store to users in September. It’s now available to everyone and will enter Chinese markets later this month.

Xbox recently claimed a larger chunk of the games market when it acquired ZeniMax Media and its game publisher Bethesda Softworks for $7.5 billion.

Emarketer: Over 6 Million US Households Will Cut Cable This Year

Cable, satellite and telecom television providers will take a massive hit due to the enticing affordability of streaming alternatives, new data from eMarketer shows.

According to the researcher, by the end of this year, 31.2 million US households will have cut the cable television cord. Another 6.6 million households will cancel their traditional pay television subscription.

By 2024, eMarketer anticipates more than one-third (35.4 percent) of US households will have cut the pay television cord, leaving fewer than half of US households with a pay television service.

Coupled with the high prices of cable television, the loss of live sports in the first half of 2020 contributed to the declines. This leaves 77.6 million US households with cable, satellite or telecom television packages, a 7.5 percent decrease year-over-year and a 22.8 percent drop since pay television’s peak in 2014.

“As pay TV subscriber losses accumulate, cable providers have been focusing on their internet services, which are more profitable and have benefited from the consumer shift to streaming video,” said Eric Haggstrom, eMarketer forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence.

The state of pay television comes at a time when traditional television ad revenues have plummeted due to the pandemic. Total ad spend on traditional television will decline by 15 percent this year to $60 billion, the lowest the industry has seen since 2011, according to the researcher.

Meanwhile, consumers have shown an increased interest in connected television (CTV). New data from DoubleVerify revealed a surge in content consumption driven by more time spent using CTV devices. Nearly half (44 percent) of consumers say they’re using CTV devices more since the pandemic began, while 21 percent expect to watch more television after the pandemic.