‘Spider-Man’ Brand Partners Swing Into Action To The Tune Of $115M

Brand partnership revenue for Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse is poised to become one of the largest for Sony Animation as names like Nike, Tencent and McDonald’s join the holiday marketing blitz.

The film will receive $115 million from global brands ahead of its December 14 release, Deadline Hollywood reports, outpacing the $80 million brand partnerships for The Grinch. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is expected to earn upwards of $30M at the domestic box office.

“The message of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is that anyone can wear the mask—it’s who you are that makes you a hero. That’s a message that resonates with these incredible global brands and sets a tone that this film will go beyond the box office to become a true worldwide event,” said Sony president of worldwide marketing and distribution Josh Greenstein.

That same tone will be integrated into each brand campaign as brands bridge the gap between product placement and real-world application.

One of the first brands that fans noticed in the Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse is Nike. The film’s main protagonist, a boy named Miles Morales, is seen wearing classic Nike Jordans. Nike is collaborating with Marvel and Sony to release the hero’s shoes into the real world for purchase.

Tencent QQ is launching a campaign to reach its 800 million users in China that will include augmented reality, digital stickers and traditional display advertising for Into the Spider-Verse. The app will also make an appearance in the film.

Synchrony Bank is hosting an experiential pop-up in Brooklyn that recreates locations from the movie and will adapt its “Save Like a Hero” campaign to include Spider-man themes.

Holiday travelers may catch a glimpse of Spider-man and his friends from the movie, as well. Genting Cruise Lines is hosting a Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse experience that include interactive activities and themed meals.

Of course, no superhero film would be complete with a toy line in time for holiday gift-giving. Special toys can be found inside McDonald’s Happy Meals and in stores with a series from Hasbro. There’s no toy inside, but General Mills Cereal launched a campaign for the film and printed Spider-Verse characters on 12 million boxes of breakfast cereal.

Other brand partnerships include Vodafone, Garmin, Wacom, Adobe and The Ad Council, which will launch an anti-bullying campaign starring the film’s characters.

National TV Ad Revenue Flattened By NFL Losses; Digital Growth Continues

The national advertising marketing experienced modest growth for the month of October, according to data provided by Standard Media Index (SMI). While digital continues to lead in terms of ad spend, TV ad revenue was dragged down by the NFL.

SMI reports that national advertising grew seven percent YoY in October. Unsurprisingly, digital was the strongest performer with growth of 17 percent, followed by out-of-home at 10 percent. Marketers invested in radio ads in October at a growth rate of seven percent while print continued its downward slope in terms of popularity, dropping 27 percent YoY.

NFL Losses Drag TV Ad Growth

National Television ad revenue was flat in October despite single-digit increases in cable and primetime spots and a drop in make-goods.

The reason? Live sporting events experienced a decline in television revenue last month. The NFL had 27 games in October compared to 31 games in October 2017, which didn’t help matters, either. NFL revenue fell 19 percent and the number of 30-second commercial spots fell six percent.

“The effects of the lower audiences last year are spilling into this season, as NFL revenue is down,” said James Fennessy, CEO of Standard Media Index. “Nevertheless, as the market reports improving viewership, we will see how these trends change over the remaining months of the season.”

Where the NFL fumbled, the 2018 World Series hit a Home Run and earned FOX $121.6 million in ad revenue. Even with fewer games—five compared to seven last year—the average revenue per game was up 27 percent.

Upfront On The (Slow) Upswing

The upfront market grew a modest two percent in October. Meanwhile, the scatter market fell four percent YoY. This drop was attributed to more upfront buys as marketers tried to avoid scatter premiums, SMI reports.

“The linear television season has started sluggishly as expectations of robust demand haven’t yet materialized in the market,” said Fennessy. “Demand from marketers continues to outpace audience erosion even if that is due to more limited digital video advertising options due to ad-free delivery.”

Primetime Remains Premium

The 2018-2019 season is upon us, resulting in a three percent revenue increase for primetime original programming. (SMI notes that primetime, by their definition, is on-syndicated, new episodes for comedy, drama, and reality subgenres.)

Average prices for a 30-second commercial remained flat during primetime. Still, advertisers paid an average premium of 158 percent to advertise during a season premiere. Among the highest grossing shows were ABC’s A Million Little Things, FOX’s 9-1-1, and NBC’s Manifest and New Amsterdam.

SMI observed a highly consolidated market where the top eight media owners account for 86 percent of Entertainment ad revenue. In fact, the top 12 media owners account for 94 percent of ad revenue. Comcast Corp. was the largest TV network group by Entertainment revenue in October at 18 percent.

HBO, Netflix, 20th Century Fox Among Top Honors At Clio Entertainment Awards

Creative marketing efforts for brands like 20th Century Fox, HBO and Netflix were honored at The Clio Entertainment Awards Thursday night. From Blu-ray package takeovers to experiential activations, these campaigns stood out for creativity, innovation and for capturing the public’s attention in entertaining ways.

20th Century Fox: Deadpool 2

Twentieth Century Fox was named Studio of the Year due in no small part to their ongoing (and unusual) Deadpool 2 marketing efforts.

“The Ultimate Anti-Marketing Campaign” was honored for the studio’s theatrical partnerships to help launch Deadpool 2 into the public conscious. The studio took home Clio Grand awards for its Bob Ross parody, “Paintings,” Blu-ray package takeover “Photobomb” and a San Diego Comic-Con toilet seat cover that said, “This is all Fox could afford!” Twentieth Century Fox and its agency partners also received a Clio Grand honor for its 30-second trailer called “Holy $#itballs.”

Astonishingly, the studio was presented with a Clio Grand award for every Deadpool 2 campaign entered.

If garnering audience and media attention is a reason for winning, it’s no wonder that 20th Century Fox took home the top honors. Marketing for its Deadpool sequel has including everything from coloring pages to a Blockbuster store, and they’re not done yet. The studio will release Once Upon a Deadpool for a limited theater engagement this holiday, providing teenagers and their families with a PG-13 cut starring Fred Savage.

HBO: Westworld

HBO took home a Clio Grand for its SXSW experiential marketing campaign that dropped guests into a 90,000 square-foot ‘wild west’ town. The experience was littered with Easter eggs designed to promote Westworld‘s second season.

Decorated, detailed and staffed by 66 actors, the secluded Westworld SXSW activation gained so much attention that the campaign earned 1.9 billion impressions in social media and news coverage. Tickets sold out in just two minutes.

Westworld easily became the most talked-about activation at the show. AList was in attendance and caught up with HBO’s director of program marketing and strategy.

“There is a lot of fertile ground with Westworld,” Steven Cardwell told AList. “The universe of the show makes it a marketer’s dream to further build it out and engage fans. We’re going beyond the impression of a traditional advertisement at SXSW. It’s about creating a true experience that brings impact and buzz for us.”

Netflix: Netflix is a Joke, Stranger Things

The popular streaming platform took home three Clio Grands in 2018.

When Netflix wanted to tease its new comedy line-up, it used cryptic billboards that said simply, “Netflix is a Joke.” The guerrilla marketing campaign had consumers wondering whether it was an ad or an attack. The truth was revealed at the Emmy Awards when Netflix debuted a series of ads in which stand-up comedians were inserted into popular shows like House of Cards, Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black. Both campaign elements—the billboards and subsequent TV spots—took home Clio Grands.

Another campaign winner was for the second season of Stranger Things. Netflix wanted to reach audiences in Brazil, who still hadn’t caught on to the show’s phenomenon. The company transformed its channel into one hour of free, ’80s-themed TV that included a free episode of Stranger Things and faux commercials that told viewers how to sign up on devices of the era.

Dubbed “Stranger Broadcast,” the TV takeover was a partnership with Brazil’s second-largest network, SBT. Additional commercials promoted fake products related to the series, such as bicycles and a “Walko Talko” and a documentary that mashed real news footage to imply chupacabra sightings were, in fact, the Demogorgon from Stranger Things.

See the full list of winners here.

Hotels.com Presents 10-Part Docuseries Featuring Jonathan Van Ness

Hotels.com helped Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness fulfill his dream of performing stand-up comedy in its first docuseries, “Hotels.comedy.” The 10-part series is a subtle reminder to consumers that booking 10 nights earns one free.

The first episode, “10 Nights with Jonathan Van Ness” debuted at a Reward Night Premiere Party on November 5, where Van Ness presented a screening at 1 Hotels Brooklyn Bridge. Hotels.com presented the show to the rest of us “beautiful people” on its YouTube channel Monday.

Van Ness earned a reputation on Queer Eye for his positive attitude and bubbly personality, which ties into Hotel.com’s “You do you and get rewarded” brand message. The brand sponsored his debut into stand-up comedy, documenting the journey both on-stage and in his hotel room after each show.

Hotel.com’s “You do you and get rewarded” campaign launched five months ago with a series of spots starring Captain Obvious. The campaign likens earning a free night to activities like dancing with teddy bears, goat yoga or snuggling in bed with a bunch of pugs.

With its new docuseries, Hotels.com has the potential to appeal to a number of audiences, not the least of which being fans of Van Ness and Queer Eye. The Netflix series is a reboot of the Emmy Award-winning reality show and debuted with a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes (it currently sits at 93 percent.)

According to a recent study by Community Marketing and Insights, 45 percent of US respondents said that being LGBTQ-friendly is a top concern for picking a travel destination. Seeing Van Ness welcomed and cheered by Hotels.com and its attendees may convince audiences that the company and by extension, the hotels it books, are safe for the high-spending LGBTQ demographic.

The US hotel industry experienced growth last year in occupancy and average daily rate (ADR), according to Nasdaq. Modest demand growth led to a three percent jump for revenue per available room (RevPAR) over 2016—good news for an industry being disrupted by Airbnb.

‘Deadpool 2’ Recut As ‘Once Upon A Deadpool’ Holiday Film Starring Fred Savage

Deadpool 2 will be released again in theaters this holiday as Once Upon a Deadpool—a PG-13 cut more suitable for family viewing. The limited engagement raises money for charity and features new scenes with Fred Savage that were shot in the style of The Princess Bride.

From December 12 to 24, Once Upon a Deadpool will play in select theaters and donate $1 for every ticket sold to “Fudge Cancer,” a charity whose name was also been cleaned up for the occasion.

In the new version, Deadpool kidnaps Fred Savage and forces him to recreate scenes from The Princess Bride. With no other choice, Savage sits in bed while listening to Deadpool relay the events of Deadpool 2.

Savage kept the gag going outside of filming, as well, telling Deadline: “While my participation in this film was anything but voluntary. I am happy to learn that Fudge Cancer will be the beneficiary of this shameless cash grab.”

The film, for all intents and purposes, will serve as a branded, gonzo version of the original Deadpool 2, serving to promote the franchise with a standalone holiday release. The only example in recent memory that could be compared to Once Upon a Deadpool is the Uncle Drew feature film that began as a Pepsi ad.

The new scenes between Ryan Reynolds and Savage will compensate for any R-rated missing material, which is probably substantial. Even with the new scenes, the running time of Once Upon a Deadpool is about three minutes shorter than Deadpool 2.

Superhero movies are traditionally rated PG-13 as to appeal to that coveted four-quadrant model—males and females both over and under the age of 25. However, when Deadpool was greenlit for production, Reynolds refused to compromise on the namesake character’s trademark vulgarity. In fact, a PG-13 announcement was made as an April Fool’s Day joke to hit that point home.

The gamble paid off, making Deadpool the best-performing R-rated film in history. The sequel was another financial success, bringing in over $734 million globally. Ever since the anti-hero’s blockbuster, foul-mouthed debut, however, parents and studio executives alike have requested a cleaner version that appeals to a wider audience.

Now that Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, Once Upon a Deadpool may serve as a test to see if families will put their money where their mouth is—after all, the character is, by nature, a vulgar superhero that can get away with things you can’t put in a family film. Anything else may be seen as a compromise for the sake of money.

Red Bull’s Latest Campaign Goes Retro With Pac-Man Partnership

Red Bull and Bandai Namco launched a joint Pac-Man campaign on Thursday that is fueled by nostalgia and caffeine. The partnership includes limited-edition cans, branded mazes and other collaborations designed for cross-promotion.

From now until May 1, 2019, consumers can buy specially-marked Pac-Man cans of Red Bull. Fans can then “pop to unlock” one of three Red Bull-themed mazes inside the Pac-Man mobile game. The codes are hidden under the pop tab of the cans, with three codes to collect in all.

Unlocking the Red Bull Pac-Man levels also teaches our yellow friend a new trick for the first time in 40 years. After eating Red Bull cans, Pac-Man can shoot lightning at the ghosts, allowing players to defeat them from a distance for the first time in franchise history. Cherries have been replaced with Red Bull letters on each branded level.

“After nearly 40 consecutive years of chasing ghosts, even Pac-Man sometimes needs a Red Bull,” said Toshihiko Naoe, director of mobile at Bandai Namco Entertainment America in a press release.

Red Bull created a dedicated micro-site that features a digital Pac-Man soundboard. For a limited time, visitors can mix and play with all the iconic sound effects from the game, from ghosts to sirens and the 8-bit melody fans will recognize instantly.

The Red Bull Air Force—a dedicated team of skydivers—created a YouTube video to commemorate the partnership called “Real-Life Pac-Man Goes Skydiving.” Professional skydiver Jon Devore, dressed as Pac-Man, plummets through the air and is pursued by “ghosts.” One by one he defeats them by pulling their shoots before pulling his own, landing safely to chomp another day.

Both Pac-Man and Red Bull made their debuts in the 1980s. Aside from that, the brands did not indicate a particular reason for this partnership—other than it was fun, of course.

Pandora’s New VP Of Brand Marketing Discusses Latest Campaign

Pandora launched a new campaign called “Sound On” that connects with holiday travelers along each point of their journey. The slogan was chosen as a kind of battle cry, declaring that sound—whether that be music or podcasts—can help make a stressful situation better.

“Sound On” will be featured in high-traffic airports, buses and railroad stations across the country as well as a 250 foot LED billboard at the Oculus transportation hub in NYC. “Sound On” features approximately 1,200 different iterations, developed to coincide with specific travel moments and destinations. Signs are strategically placed to coincide with a particular travel experience such as waiting at baggage claim or dealing with a canceled flight. For example, one sign says,” Lost Luggage? Grin and bear BLARE it.”

“We wanted to make sure that we’re reaching and engaging users in a way that feels very specific to that exact moment that they’re in,” Pandora’s newly appointed VP of brand marketing and communications Brad Minor told AList.

“We took a very focused approach on how we tell a macro story about holiday travel, but then made every single touch point feel like it was very personalized for that moment.”

Users will experience different playlist suggestions depending on where they are located when they open the app. A traveler in Nashville, for example, would find country Christmas music while someone landing in Oakland would be greeted with hip-hop.

Pandora is, by nature, a personalized experience, but it lives exclusively in a digital environment. Rather than meet consumers on its home turf, the in-house creative team devised a campaign that focuses on a common human experience.

“We looked at the landscape and what our competitors are doing across the board,” Lauren Nagel, VP and executive creative director for Pandora. “So many [competitors] are focused on content but we wanted to focus on context.”

Nagel led Pandora’s in-house team on the project and once hired, Minor stepped in to help oversee its launch.

“I think what I really love about the approach that we have here is that we don’t view the creative team as our internal agency,” said Minor. “It’s not an agency-client relationship, it’s a true partnership in every since of the word.”

“Lauren and I, even this short time have an unnaturally warm and friendly relationship and we view both sides of the equation and understand that we are successful together and that we need to figure out these challenges quickly in real-time, we need to be able to iterate on the fly.”

Considering the rising popularity of podcasts—and brands marketing on/with them—Nagel explained that “Sound On,” rather than “Music On” was a more inclusive choice of slogan.

When you have over 71 million listeners, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to a marketing strategy. Nagel and Minor explained that Pandora avoided the “creepiness factor” by telling a universal holiday travel story while gearing messages toward specific moments.

Minor joined Pandora just two weeks ago, but he’s excited about the future of the brand. The key, he says, will be to resonate with consumers in a unique way. Chances are very good that “Sound On” will become the rallying cry of many a future Pandora campaign.

“We’re really focused on changing the conversation to less about the content we have but the context in which you’re receiving that content and how we’re delivering it,” said Minor.

“If you think about this notion of ‘life is better with sound on,’ it literally opens up endless opportunities for us to build campaigns around that. It could be seasonal, a cultural moment in the news, key events like Grammys, etc—all those moments are really fertile ground for us to build campaigns and creative to support and show how those moments are made better with sound on.”

MTV, Ad Council Launch Female-Focused IGTV Series For National STEM Day

MTV, Facebook and The Ad Council have launched a weekly video series on IGTV that encourages girls to pursue their interests in STEM.

A new, five-part series called #wcwSTEM (Women Crush Wednesday STEM) debuted on IGTV Wednesday just in time for National STEM Day on November 8. MTV’s weekly program stars Holland Roden (Teen Wolf) as she interviews five female role models in science, technology, engineering and math.

MTV’s cause marketing initiative was created exclusively for Instagram through a Facebook Anthology partnership. The IGTV show will be promoted through donated support from Facebook. #wcwSTEM coincides with The Ad Council’s She Can STEM campaign, which began in September.

The first episode features sound engineer and music producer Alana Da Fonseca as she talks about her role in the music industry. Subsequent episodes will have Roden interviewing Crystal Lee, an environmental civic engineer, Dr. Dijanna Figueroa, a marine biologist and teacher, Amber Hardin, a model and effects designer at Nickelodeon and Diana Trujillo, Robotics Surface Mission Lead for NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission.

#wcwSTEM was produced by an entirely female production crew. It will run on MTV’s IGTV channel throughout November and December.

MTV is no stranger to cause marketing, partnering with Rock the Vote since 1990. When students staged a nationwide walkout to protest school shootouts, MTV turned its broadcast off for 17 minutes to show support.

The Viacom network is appealing to its 12-34-year-old audience with a message of support, especially among young girls. This is especially pertinent on Instagram, where the appearance of perfection is central to its users. Girls may fear that looking like a model is more important than their STEM-related passions—so MTV is assuring them that being smart is cool, too.

MTV is among several brands testing the long-form, vertical video waters of IGTV and female empowerment is definitely on the schedule.

Stella Artois made its debut in September with “The Art of Living,” a series that highlights five artisans—two of which are female—who share their definitions of a life well-lived. Gillette partnered with female directors the same month for an IGTV campaign called “Her Shot” and Mercedes-Benz used the platform to tell its story of how Bertha Benz and the first road trip.

Netflix Gives Frank Underwood A Gravestone And Obituary In South Carolina Town

The final season of House of Cards debuted Friday with its main character, President Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) dead and buried. Frank may be gone, but Netflix honored the fictional president with a “real” gravestone and obituary in his hometown of Gaffney, South Carolina.

In September, Netflix teased House of Cards Season Six with Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) addressing Francis while standing over his grave. The marker reads, “Francis J. Underwood 1959-2017, 46th President of the United States.”

Fans of House of Cards can visit the graves of Francis “Frank” Underwood and his father, Calvin Underwood at the Oakland Cemetery in Gaffney, South Carolina. The gravestones, positioned as not to disturb the rest of the cemetery, will remain there for “at least a couple months,” according to Gaffney’s Mayor Jolly.

An obituary for the 46th President of the United States was printed in the Gaffney Ledger, adding to the authenticity. Local retailer Bookshelf Florist and Gifts has been charged with placing white tulips at the grave site every two to three days.

Since the first season, House of Cards Underwood’s fictional link to the real town of Gaffney has yielded an uptick in tourism for the area. A peach-shaped water tower called the Peachoid was a focal plot point in the show’s first season, and fans can view the real-life landmark off I-85.

Netflix has used South Carolina to market previous seasons, as well. In 2016, a campaign office was established in Greenville. Timed with the 2016 US Presidential election, Netflix created a series of campaign ads for Frank Underwood under the hashtag #FU2016. Fans could sport badges for the fictional candidate on Facebook, adding a much-appreciated tone of parody to an otherwise stressful election battle.

Underwood’s character was removed from House of Cards amid sexual allegations against its actor, Kevin Spacey. Netflix continued the show for a final season with Underwood’s wife, Claire assuming the role of US President.

Brands Celebrate #StrangerThingsDay With Events, Exclusives

Netflix has declared November 6 to be the first annual “Stranger Things Day,” maintaining audience awareness as they wait patiently for Season Three. This new internet holiday inspired brands and fans alike to honor the hit show with exclusive offers, events and of course, plenty of memes.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t debut until sometime in 2019 but Netflix isn’t waiting around to keep its fans engaged. The network announced that November 6 will henceforth be known as Stranger Things Day—a time to binge watch the show, share memes, dress in costumes and naturally, eat Eggo waffles with your friends.

For the uninitiated, November 6, 1983 was the night Will Byers disappeared on the show, triggering a series of events that turned the town of Hawkins well, upside down.

Netflix announced the inaugural holiday with messages from the show’s young cast and an invitation to send them memes.

Universal Orlando Resort invited fans to search for Will inside an exclusive Stranger Things haunted house. In honor of Stranger Things Day, Universal opened its Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) for one last engagement. This marks the first time that any HHH attraction has been open to park visitors during the day.

The event is open to any valid ticket or annual pass holder from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on November 6. Guests assume the roles of Mike, Dustin and Lucas as they help Eleven rescue their friend Will from the clutches of the Demogorgon. Visitors can also partake in select refreshments at Benny’s Burger Tent and other locations in Universal Orlando.

Target timed an exclusive collector’s edition release of Stranger Things Season Two on Blu-ray and 4K to coincide with Stranger Things Day. The series is packaged to look like a rented VHS tape from Hawkins Video, down to worn “stickers” that encourage customers to rewind the tape. Target offered a similar packaging scheme for Season One last year.

Other licensed merchandise is displayed on Target’s website with a reminder to mention them on social media for #StrangerThingsDay.

Eggo is one brand that has benefited significantly from its association with Stranger Things. In Season One, viewers watched as Eleven adopted them as her favorite food and by Season Two, the brand became an official partner. In October 2017, the brand was mentioned over 41,000 times on Twitter alone, with a spike on October 27, the premiere date of Stranger Things Season Two. Mentions for both Eggo and Stranger Things on Twitter earned the waffle brand approximately $201,801 in earned media value.

With so much talk of Eleven on Stranger Things Day, Kellog’s classic breakfast brand was wise to chime in:

Other brands joined the conversation through special offers and giveaways. Funko launched a giveaway for eleven Stranger Things items, while Hot Topic and Loungefly reminded followers of their Stranger Things merchandise.