Disney+ Finds Leverage In Price, Exclusivity

After months of speculation, The Walt Disney Company revealed details of its SVOD service to investors on Thursday. Completely ad-free, Disney+ will focus on low subscription fees, bundles and exclusive content.

Disney’s new SVOD platform will launch on November 12, the media giant revealed, with a price point of $6.99 per month. Unlike Hulu, 60 percent which Disney acquired along with 21st Century Fox, Disney+ will be ad-free and obtain all revenue from subscriptions. The service will be available exclusively in the US at launch, but Disney plans to roll out the new service globally over the next two years.

The service will be available on mobile and connected devices, with an “unprecedented amount” of content available to download for offline viewing. Disney+ will adjust the content’s resolution based on available bandwidth and support up to 4K HDR video playback.

When Kevin Mayer, Disney’s chairman of direct-to-consumer and international, announced the service’s price point, there were “gasps in the room,” according to Variety reporter Cynthia Littleton.

The low price point makes Disney+ less than half of the cost of a premium Netflix subscription, which was recently bumped to $16 per month.

Mayer told the audience that the company is “actively evaluating international rollout strategies” for Hulu, as well as bundling options with Disney+ and ESPN+.

The Mouse House isn’t known for its lack of ambition. Case in point, Disney told investors that it expects the service to grow to between 60 million and 90 million subscribers globally by fiscal 2024.

A working prototype of the service was shown with a similar layout to Netflix, displaying categories like “Recommended for You” and “Continue Watching.” Dedicated pages will be available for Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. Subscribers will have the ability to create custom profiles linked to a recommendation engine.

“We’re extremely excited about our growing portfolio of direct-to-consumer offerings. As we demonstrated today, with Disney+ we will deliver extraordinary entertainment in innovative ways to audiences around the world,” said Mayer. “We’ll continue to enhance the user experience with a constant pipeline of high-quality programming, making the service even more appealing to consumers.”

In a 2017 study, Magid found that original content drove OTT subscription behavior in the US. In addition to its existing library of movies and shows, Disney+ will launch with 25 original series and 10 original films, documentaries and specials. Disney+ will also become the exclusive streaming home of The Simpsons.

“The price point [for Disney+] seems well-suited, realistic and appealing,” Debby Ruth, Magid’s vice president of global media and entertainment told AList following Disney’s announcement. “As technology evolves, the proliferation of SVOD services and any direct-to-consumer (DTC) offering is going to be essential for content providers.”

Disney shares jumped 11.5 percent on Friday following the announcement, while Netflix stock fell over three percent, MarketWatch reported.

Guide To Coachella 2019 Brand Activations

While influencers from all around the world are polishing their smartphone cameras in anticipation to document their experiences and choosing outfits to dance the desert nights away, marketers and brands get busy organizing activations to impress the opinion shapers who will ensure thousands of likes for their products on social media.

Here are the branded activations and experiences happening in the desert that we think you should know about.


YSL Gas Station Beauty Pop-Up

To promote their new line of lipsticks, Yves Saint Laurent will build its first pop-up shop, a gas station, which will allow the festival-goers to peruse cosmetic products instead of snacks and car air fresheners.

The YSL pop-up will feature a tour bus, giant lipstick sign, heart-shaped balloons, convertible cars and neon pink gas pumps. Plus, a makeup vending machine, virtual makeup stations and instant beauty experts’ tips.

When: April 12-14

Where: Along Route 111, near Cathedral City


Lucky Brand’s Desert Jam

Lucky Brand comes back to Coachella this year with a pool party, presented by Rolling Stone Live, in the center of Palm Springs. The guests can expect performances by X Ambassadors, Jax Jones, Drax Project and Palm Springsteen. There will be free gear and open bar, as well as shoulder-rubbing with celebrities and Lucky Brand ambassadors.

When: April 13, 12:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.

Where: Arrive Hotel, 1551 N Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262.


NYX Professional Makeup Glitter Trip

NYX “Glitter Goals” activation invites all the Coachella “kids” to the ultimate glitter playground: beauty bar and touch-up area fully equipped with glitter makeup, a glitter fountain, a massive lip and tongue slide.

Additionally, makeup artist, Nam Vo, partnered with the brand to create makeup tutorials that will be available onsite.

When: April 12-14 and April 19-21 

Where: Empire Polo Club 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio, CA 92201


Marriott Bonvoy’s Glamping

Marriott Bonvoy brings total glamping experiences to Coachella 2019. This year, Marriott Bonvoy members can bid for a fully-furnished W Yurt, Aloft Hotels Safari Tent, which includes all of the amenities and decor of a Aloft hotel room, concierge service, air conditioning and golf cart services. And most impresively, the brand-new Marriott Bonvoy Bungalow with room for four with private butler service, an on-demand glam squad and masseuse.

When: April 18-22

Where: Empire Polo Club 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio, CA 92201


Newly Designed Heineken House At Coachella

This year’s Heineken house will not only feature musical talent but also a beer garden to give consumers a chance to cool down with Heineken or Heineken 0.0 while catching the music in and outside of Heineken House. Cheers.

When: April 18-22

Where: Empire Polo Club 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio, CA 92201


AmEx Card Member Lounge And Platinum House

The Amex Card Member Lounge comes back to the festival to provide much-needed comfort and rest space with special services, such as nail touch-ups with celebrity nail artist, Britney Tokyo, and sneaker cleaning service by Jason Mark.

When: April 18-22

Where: Empire Polo Club 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio, CA 92201

AmEx Platinum House also returns to Coachella this year. It will be available to Platinum Card Members exclusively and will offer such luxurious experiences as custom signature cocktails by mixologist Jim Meehan, bites from chef Michael Solomonov, as well as unique Instagram, Spa and beauty experiences from Amex partners.

When: April 13-14, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Where: Avalon Palm Springs, 415 S Belardo Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92262


Peet’s Coffee Recharge And Refresh Zones

There probably can’t be Coachella without cold java and Peet’s Cold Brew will again provide coffee for the guests across the Festival and Camping Center.

The festival-goers can expect the return of Interactive Vintage Bus and Peet’s Cold Brew Trike Happy Hour. But one of the brand new experiences this year is a Tap Room, which will deliver a unique draft experience associated with beer with Peet’s Baridi Blend Cold Brew and Nitro Cold Brew near the Gobi Stage.

When: April 18-22

Where: Empire Polo Club 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio, CA 92201Peet’s Coffee


McDonald’s And Pac Sun Pool Party

Free swag, open bar, interactive photo-booths, exclusive festival gear from PacSun and a pop-up McDonald’s restaurant.

When:  April 13, 2:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.

Where: The Bootsy Bellows Estate, Rancho Mirage


Cash App Dome

The Coachella event hosted by Cash App this year is super-secretive, but we do know there will be surprise live performances, celebrity appearances and games.

When: April 13, 11:00 p.m.

Where: Undisclosed location in Indio, CA


Adidas’ ‘You Had To Be There”

Adidas goes old-school, opening the doors to their party where nobody has their phones out and everyone is living in the moment.

When: April 13, 1:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

Where: Undisclosed location in Indio, CA


Moschino ‘The Sims’

A private party for Jeremy Scott and his Hollywood friends promises to be just as fun and fabulous as the brand’s trademark design. Last year’s attendees included Cardi B, Gigi Hadid, Katy Perry and Paris Jackson, and considering Moschino’s recent announcement about a collaboration with Madonna, it is quite possible that she will be among the guests this year.

When: April 13th, 10:00 p.m.

Where: Undisclosed location in Indio. 


T-Mobile Pandora Indio Invasion

T-Mobile also invites the festival-goers to splash in a pool at one of the nicest estates in the Coachella Valley. Free gear from sponsors and a DJ set by Chromeo guaranteed.

When:  April 13, 2019. 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

Where: Private Estate in Cathedral City (near Palm Springs).


Revolve Festival

REVOLVE partners with Top Dawg Ent. to bring the world-renowned artists like SZA, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Reason and Zacari with a special performance by 2 Chainz. REVOLVE and TDE are also offering exclusive REVOLVE x TDE merchandise, which will become available on revolve.com, starting April 15.

When and Where: 

  • Revolve Hotel: Thursday, April 11, V Palm Springs Hotel
  • TAO x REVOLVE Desert Nights: Friday, April 12 12 a.m., Undisclosed location in Indio, CA
  • #REVOLVEfestival: Saturday, April 13 – Sunday, April 14 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. daily. Private estate in La Quinta
  • Superdown Night Party: Saturday, April 13 12:00 a.m, Undisclosed location in Indio, CA

Prism Boutique’s Desert House

Prism Boutique is bringing their shop to Coachella along with brand partners Matisse Footwear, L*Space, Novella Royalle, Daydreamer, Jurate Brown and Le Specs. The activation will include free drinks, light bites, music and a photo booth backdrop. Also, complimentary mini-makeovers and gifts from Pixi Beauty and festival hair styling with Salt Strands from 12-4 p.m. on select days.

When: April 11th – 13th, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.

Where: Prism Boutique Desert House, 421 South Cahuilla Road Palm Springs, CA


Dolls Kill Quickie Mart

To promote their new limited “Quickie Mart” collection, fashion brand Dolls Kill occupies an abandoned gas station off Highway 111 to give it a loud make-over and turn into “Quickie Mart,” where the shoppers will be able to pick-up last-minute festival outfits.

When: April 11-21, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.

Where: 83186 Highway 111 Indio, CA 92201


BMW ‘Road To Coachella’ Pop-Up

BMW partners with rapper Khalid to celebrate the BMW ‘i’ and invites the festival-goers to their dealership in Palm Springs. There will be Instagram experiences inspired by Khalid’s new album, food trucks, merch, a claw machine and of course, custom cars.

When: Apr 11-14, 12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

Where: BMW Of Palm Springs, 3737 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

‘Game Of Thrones’ Brand Partnerships Align Household Names #ForTheThrone

HBO’s #ForTheThrone campaign heralded Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season with enough brand partnerships to fill an entire kingdom.

For seven seasons, Game of Thrones fans watched characters put their reputations and lives on the line for the good of their kingdoms. HBO turned that theme into a question for audiences—how far would you go for the throne? Brands, as it turned out, would go pretty far.


Secret Menu For Valyrian Speakers

The road to The Throne is covered in lies and secrets, but Shake Shack fans don’t have to kill anyone to access a secret menu. Visitors to the Madison Square Park Shake Shack in NYC can order two secret items—a spicy Dracarys Burger or a Dragon Glass shake. The only catch is that you have to order in Valyrian, a fictional language spoken by the dragon-loving race from Game of Thrones.

The secret menu will be available for a limited time—April 21 for the burger and May 21 for the shake, while supplies last. If your Valyrian is a bit rusty, don’t worry, as Shake Shack released a pronunciation guide.


Winter Is Coming To “West-Oreos”

Oreo released a limited edition pack of Game of Thrones-themed cookies, embossed to represent the four Great Houses still in the running, as well as the dreaded White Walkers.

The iconic Game of Thrones opening sequence was recreated with Oreo cookies and was used to unveil the partnership.


Makeup Fit For A Queen

Urban Decay is launching a collection of licensed beauty products inspired by Game of Thrones including an eyeshadow set with a pop-up iron throne. The color palettes feature names like “Lannister Red,” “Winter is Here” and “White Walker.” A highlight palette called “Queen of Dragons” has been embossed with the shape of dragon eggs.

Other items in the collection include themed lip/cheek stain, eyeliner, lipstick and make-up brushes made to look like Jon Snow’s Longclaw sword and Arya Stark’s Needle sword.


A Can With No Name

Inspired by Arya Stark training with a guild of assassins called the Faceless Men of Braavos, Mountain Dew sacrificed its own label “for the Throne.”

On the show, the Faceless Men are required to become “no one,” relinquishing their former identities. Mountain Dew’s campaign, “The Can With No Name,” features a blank, white can.

When chilled, the can reveals Arya’s kill list, including those who have already been crossed off—gearing fans up for who she will target in season eight.

Fans could only get a can by entering a Twitter giveaway or by finding a “Master of Coin” in Los Angeles or NYC. Finding one of these characters and whispering the password (found on Mountain Dew’s social channels) granted a coin, which could be inserted into a Game of Thrones vending machine to dispense a “nameless” can.

Mountain Dew’s sponsored athletes appeared in a separate video, singing along to the Game of Thrones with the word “Do” i.e. “Dew.”


Bleed For The Throne

HBO partnered with the American Red Cross to host an experiential cause marketing campaign at SXSW. Guests were invited into a large, decorated space, where they experienced recreations of the key moments from the show. The activation used audio, visual and physical interaction to put guests into the POV of characters Arya Stark, Cersei Lannister, Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister as they endured betrayal, humiliation and life and death challenges.

Inside, guests could offer their blood literally, as a donation to the American Red Cross. Outside the enclosed area, guests could explore an interactive war camp filled with over 80 costumed performers and 100 pages of scripted characters. Snapchat filters encouraged social sharing with augmented reality banners.


Time To Drink And Know Things

Bob Cabral Wine created official special Game of Thrones-inspired wines to commemorate the show’s final season. Thirsty fans can order the special bottles in a red wine blend or Chardonnay. Each comes with an elaborately decorated label and an optional free Game of Thrones corkscrew.

“A fan of Game of Thrones, Bob was challenged to craft wines to match the strength the characters and the terrain of their kingdoms,” says the Bob Cabral website. “Bob’s meticulousness and patience have yielded a wine that [embodies] the spirit of the HBO series.”

Diageo released a number of Game of Thrones spirits ahead of the final season. Johnnie Walker launched a “White Walker” run of Scotch whisky featuring a label that glows when put in the freezer—a nod to the glowing white walker eyes.

Single malts, each based on a Great House of Westeros, were also released by Diageo brands Lagavulin, Dalwhinnie and the Cardhu Distillery.

Ommegang Brewery launched a series of limited-edition beers, each inspired by a character on Game of Thrones—Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, Mother of Dragons, Hand of the Queen and the latest, King of the North.

During the Super Bowl, an ad for Bud Light took a turn for the foreboding when one of the jousting contestants turns out to be The Mountain.


A Tale Of Fire And Fancy Water

Visitors to Las Vegas this week may be surprised to find the Bellagio Fountains have been set on fire. A limited-run event in partnership with MGM Resorts uses projection, pyrotechnics and nearly 800 fountains to create Game of Thrones imagery, all set to a custom score by composer Ramin Djawadi.

The show runs nightly through April 13, creating images like an undead dragon, The Wall crashing down, falling snow and more.


White Walkers In AR

HBO and Magic Leap created an augmented reality encounter with a White Walker inside select AT&T flagship stores.

“The Dead Must Die: A Magic Leap Encounter” will place users in a confrontation with wights (the undead) and a standoff with a White Walker. The encounter is available through June 10 at select locations in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas.


Baseball Game Of Thrones

Major League Baseball (MLB) teamed up with HBO to host Game of Thrones nights during the 2019 season. Visitors will receive a limited-edition tee-shirt and sit in specially-branded Game of Thrones sections.

Limited-edition bobbleheads have also gone on sale, offering mash-ups of MLB teams and Game of Thrones imagery. Each team has three bobbleheads—the team mascot sitting on the Iron Throne, an ice dragon bearing the team’s logo and the Night King holding a team’s baseball bat.

The continuing partnership was revealed through a trailer that likens pro ball players’ struggles with that of characters on the hit show, using the “chaos is a ladder” quote from Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish. The MLB video intercuts between show’s wall and the outfield wall on a baseball field.


Slaying In Style

Fashion house John Varvatos launched a Game of Thrones capsule collection that includes 11 pieces of hand-dyed leather outerwear, cross-over Henley,  pants, messenger bag and three shirts—House Lannister, House Stark and the Three-Eyed Raven.

This collaboration is the only luxury fashion collaboration for Game of Thrones’ final season and marks the first time John Varvatos has partnered with a TV series.

John Varvatos invited fans to take their best Game of Thrones-esque selfie inside the designer’s boutiques for a chance to win a trip to Belfast, Ireland.

Handbag and accessory company Danielle Nicole released an 18-piece collection of accessories inspired by the show’s costumes and great warring houses. Backpacks, crossbody bags, pouches, wristlets and coin purses were created with materials like faux fur and fringe that display famous phrases like “Winter is Coming” and “Fire and Blood.”


You Can’t Run From Winter

Adidas Running partnered to create six limited-edition Ultraboost shoes inspired by warring factions on the show. Each shoe features “subtle references” to the kingdom it represents including a sigil on the tongue and motto on the heel tag.

The unisex designs include White Walker, House Stark, Night’s Watch, Lannister and two styles of Targaryen, the latter of which have already sold out.


The Iron Throne, To Go

For some fans, watching the action and betrayal isn’t enough, so HBO teamed up with different game studios to bring Westeros to them.

Game of Thrones: Conquest is a free-to-play MMO strategy game from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment that was developed by Turbine, Inc. Players become a lord or lady in Westeros who must develop their own strategy for conquering the Seven Kingdoms and claiming the Iron Throne. After creating their own house and sigil, players can battle over 120 iconic seats of power from the franchise.

In August, Devolver Digital released a version of Reigns based on Game of Thrones. Like its original game based on conquest, the new version features characters from HBO’s hit show like Jon Snow, Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen.


Have a Seat, Your Majesty

Sky UK partnered with Volvo to bring to the good people “7 Kingdoms Tour.”

The activation will be held in seven cities in the UK and Ireland and the event-goers will have the chance to take Insta-worthy pictures and videos in the majestic Game Of Thrones throne and leave with a dragon egg in hand.

There will also be on-air activations on “Thronecast–” the GoT talk show after the tour.


Night’s Watchmen Against The British Army

In this activation by Sky Atlantic to celebrate the final season of the show, the Night’s Watchmen deliver a dramatic sword performance, while the British Army’s Coldstream Guards perform a rendition of the Game of Thrones theme in London.


Wielding The Needle 

A division of pan-European telecommunications, Now TV, is offering free tattoos to all the fans in a studio in Soho, London on April 16th and 17th.

The “skin engravings” will be performed by artist Lauren Winzer and some of the designs include the iconic throne, lion, wolf, dragon and phrases, “Winter Is Coming,” “At The Game Of Thrones You Win Or You Die” and “I Am The Sword In The Darkness.”

Spotify Ad Studio Launches New Conversion Metrics For Artists, Labels

Spotify Ad Studio unveiled a new set of streaming conversion metrics that reveal how listeners responded after listening to an ad. The addition was made in response to labels and artist teams who requested more insights into how a campaign impacted consumers.

New metrics available inside Spotify Ad Studio include how many listeners listened to the artist after hearing the ad, whether the ad performed better with existing listeners or new ones, songs saved to playlists and more.

Labels and artists can already see who is listening to their music through Spotify for Artists, but the additional metrics in Spotify Ad Studio allow more insight into campaigns. Following an activation, users can see how audiences reacted.

“You’ll learn how audiences engaged with your ad, and you can use that information to inform your future promotional strategies,” said Spotify in a blog post.

“Given their importance to artist teams, we intend to offer these types of conversion metrics for future advertising products.”

Spotify says that “hundreds” of artist teams, labels and music marketers have used Spotify Ad Studio as part of their promotional plans since its launch in 2017. The allure is discoverability, the company says, as Spotify users are already listening and in the mood to discover new music.

To prove this point, Spotify pointed to a campaign by music marketing agency Wavo ran for Rich the Kid and Interscope. An ad featured a sample of Rich the Kid’s new song, along with an introduction from the artist. Of those who heard the ad, 38 percent went on to listen to his music. Almost 20 percent of those listeners streamed Rich the Kid music for the first time that month.

“With Spotify’s new advertising capabilities, we’re getting insight into not just how our campaign is resulting in streams, but deeper actions for an artist like how those listeners are turning into fans and adding a song to their playlist or hearting a song,” said Conor Clarke, CEO and co-founder of Wavo alongside Spotify’s statistics. “Those are the holy grail of metrics for an artist to know.”

Spotify had over 200 million monthly active users as of February 2019. Premium subscribers reached 96 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 36 percent year over year (YoY). The company reported that both Audio and Video format ads grew more than 40 percent in the fourth quarter and audio ads remain the largest contributor to total revenue.

The company made changes to its data policies in the second quarter of 2018 that were designed to improve performance measurement. These metrics, Spotify told investors, continued to drive revenue growth of 77 percent YoY in third-party measurement tools.

Apple TV+ Marketing With Celebrities, Relies On Exclusives Over Ad Revenue

Apple unveiled its new subscription entertainment platform, Apple TV+ on Monday, creating a monetized home for the brand’s original programming. The announcement focused heavily on storytelling and creators like Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Oprah Winfrey.

Apple TV+ launches this fall as a separate subscription service accessible from within the Apple TV app. It will house the brand’s original content and while specifics were not provided, Apple is marketing celebrities to sell the promise of quality.

The promotional video featured J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, Damien Chazelle, Sofia Coppola, Ron Howard, M. Night Shyamalan, Octavia Spencer, Steven Spielberg, Hailee Steinfeld and Reese Witherspoon, all talking about the process of storytelling.

Another video announced that Oprah Winfrey would be coming to the Apple TV+ platform, although it did not specify in what capacity. Even Sesame Street’s Big Bird made an appearance.

Unlike Netflix or Amazon, AppleTV+ will not host a catalog of licensed content in addition to originals. Instead, it was designed to attract new subscribers based on exclusivity. Apple users will still be able to access partner networks like HBO and Showtime through the standard Apple TV offering, but it will require switching over to another app.

While Hulu, Disney, VUDU and others prepare to woo advertisers next month at IAB’s Digital Newfronts, Apple TV+ will be ad-free.

This may seem like a strange move for a service launching in 100 countries, but as one marketer pointed out, Apple may not be focusing on revenue so much as perceived value.

It remains to be seen if Apple TV+ original content is inspiring enough to pay for yet another subscription. According to Deloitte, 47 percent of US consumers are becoming “fatigued” by the growing number of subscriptions and services required to watch what they want. The average US consumer subscribes to three services as it is, Deloitte found.

Unlike many of its competitors, Apple has the ability to bundle services like music, games, TV and news. Apple TV+ also has the ability to reach the brand’s existing global user base.

In a note to Wall Street investors called “Apple Poisons Netflix,” Needham analyst Laura Martin asserted that Apple has strong consumer awareness and no marketing costs.

“Netflix has an inferior competitive position to Apple over time, as we see it, in both: a) customer acquisition costs; and b) content costs,” wrote Martin “Apple has zero consumer acquisition costs since it will first target its captive 900 million global unique users, which are the wealthiest consumers in the world.”

Google’s New Stadia Platform Leverages Burgeoning Gaming Video Content Market

Google unveiled Stadia, a new video game platform, at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) on Tuesday. The cloud-based service provides instant access to games on a variety of devices with a tie-in to YouTube, Chromecast and Google Assistant, providing game publishers (and possibly advertisers) with a new way to reach the $5.2 billion gaming video content (GVC) market.

Stadia is not a console, but rather a “playground,” Google explained. Anyone with a Google account and high-speed internet connection would be able to log into the service and access a game without the need to download or update. Essentially, the games live in Chrome, allowing users to access the titles from a TV, laptop, mobile phone or tablet.

Google says that its goal is to make games available in resolutions up to 4K and 60 frames per second with HDR and surround sound. Stadia launches later this year in the US, Canada, UK and “much” of Europe.

Other details such as pricing and game titles are scheduled to be announced this summer. The announcement did not mention anything about advertising opportunities and Google did not immediately respond to requests for information.

Google is focusing its primary attention on YouTube integration, stating that over 200 million watch GVC on the platform every day. The idea is that after watching a trailer or video of someone playing a particular game, the viewer could immediately try the game for themselves. Dubbed “Project Stream,” a 2018 beta test allowed users to try the just-released Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey across devices.

A special controller is currently in development that allows a player to capture and share gameplay, access Google Assistant if they get stuck and use the platform wherever there is WiFi. It also features a built-in microphone and those who saw the controller at GDC noted that, as a nice touch, the Konami Code is printed on the back.

Titles already confirmed for the Stadia platform include Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, an unannounced title from Q Games and Doom Eternal. The GDC demo included NBA 2K19 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider as examples of how developers could make real-time changes such as art style or how players could share a specific point in the game for others to jump in.

Google also announced the formation of a first-party studio called Stadia Games and Entertainment.

A 2019 study by SuperData found that just 23 percent of streaming service users are familiar with cloud gaming but 69 percent were familiar with online video streaming like YouTube. It is possible that Stadia could bring these demographics together.

SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen noted that while Google’s technology and sudden entry into the gaming market are impressive, the giant will have to offer more than convenience and novelty.

“One thing that was noticeably absent from the announcement was how Google intends to differentiate on content,” said Van Dreunen in a blog post. “Porting well-known titles and franchises is an obvious first step, and the integration with YouTube is novel, to be sure. However, to claim a meaningful share of the market, Google will have to acquire exclusive content that will draw consumers to its offering and that’s precisely the missing component currently.”

Amazon Promotes ‘Good Omens’ With A Veritable “Garden Of Earthly Delights”

To promote the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett-created mini-series Good Omens, Amazon pulled all the stops with an activation appropriately titled ‘Garden of Earthly Delights” that takes over an entire block on Driskill and Rainey Street in downtown Austin.

The activation serves as a welcome respite for beleaguered SXSW attendees with manicure stations with butterLONDON and Cosmedix, a salon for hair braiding in partnership with SexyHair, and a pen of adorable (and adoptable) “Hellhounds” courtesy of Austin’s Animal Center.

Along with the usual beer and wine stations, the main feature of the activation was a 20-foot free with pickable “prophetic apples” and a replica of Crowley’s 1926 Bentley.

“Protesters” walk tirelessly around the perimeter of the event warning attendees of the impending end of the world, lightly discouraging people from entering and accusing those in line at the activation of witchcraft.

“With the end of the world imminent, we figured what better place than SXSW to celebrate a few of the good things our world has to offer?” said Mike Benson, head of marketing at Amazon Studios in a press release. “We’ve created an immersive experience that Good Omens book fans will love, but also anyone who might like to celebrate Armageddon. You never know what type of apocalyptic creatures may be inhabiting Austin during the SXSW festival, so we are happy to provide an escape for all to enjoy the end-of-times with us.”

Benson is referring to actors who are roving around the festival, portraying “bickering angels,” nuns, demons and Witch Finders, all of whom are prophetically foretelling the end of the world.

The activation is holding a variety of events throughout the festival, including parties in partnership with Entertainment Weekly and Buzzfeed and a portrait studio.

Amazon, which released the trailer for Good Omens only earlier this week, is clearly putting significant efforts into the promotion of the series which stars David Tennant and Michael Sheen and comes out May 31.

Vanity Fair Napkins Turns John Mayer’s Fake Oscar Party Into Marketing Opportunity

Vanity Fair Napkins created an animated commercial on musician John Mayer’s Instagram page. The last-minute team up was made possible by an agile marketing team who jumped on Mayer’s recent jokes regarding Vanity Fair—both the publication and the napkins.

Monday morning, Grammy award-winning musician John Mayer shared an animated commercial on his Instagram page. In the ad, a man asks a woman for her number. When she tries to write it on a Vanity Fair napkin, he changes his mind. The spot ends with the Vanity Fair logo and the slogan, “We can only make the napkins.”

The official Vanity Fair napkins Instagram also shared the video, calling Mayer a “NapkinInfluencer.”

Vanity Fair parent company Georgia Pacific created the spot after an unexpected plug on Oscar night.

Last weekend, Mayer hosted a fake Vanity Fair after-party at his home, down to the blue carpet backdrop and set pieces. Celebrities including comedians Bob Saget and Jeffrey Ross celebrated with Mayer, posting photos on social media that to the untrained eye, appeared to be have been taken at the real Oscar party.

Mayer broadcast the party on his weekly IGTV show Current Mood. Party guests accentuated the joke by posing with Vanity Fair paper products and pretending the brand was a sponsor. Mayer was then struck with an idea for a Vanity Fair napkins commercial and shared it with the viewers. Little did he know that Georgia Pacific’s communications manager Melissa Kinard was watching.

Kinard signed into her business account and began interacting with Mayer’s audience as the Vanity Fair brand in real-time. The next day, she and her team were developing the commercial. Kinard was traveling at the time of this writing, but Georgia Pacific was happy to share the process.

“We were able to turn it around really quickly last week,” Georgia Pacific senior director of communications Anna Umphress told AList. “We animated his commercial word for word. [Mayer]  thought it was a fun thing and shared it on his show Sunday night.”

Mayer’s post has received over 100,000 likes and 1,100 comments in the first 12 hours.

Vanity Fair redesigned its packaging in 2017 and has adopted a marketing narrative of everyday use. Umphress said the plug by Mayers offered a fun way to engage a younger audience.

“I’m really proud of the team here for first, recognizing the opportunity and then working really hard to make that real-time interaction happen so that it was still relevant for John and his followers,” said Umphress.

“We’re always looking for these opportunities, but they have to be real and authentic to the brand,” Umphress explained. “In this case, it really was an opportunity to personalize our message to consumers and this really took it to the next level.”

 

Netflix Takes Cues From HBO, Plans ‘Highwaymen’ Speakeasy For SXSW

Netflix is bringing a speakeasy to SXSW next week to promote its original film, The Highwaymen. Riding high on its Oscar wins, Netflix will be able to leverage filmmaker respect while taking part in the experiential marketing playland that is SXSW Austin.

The Highwaymen tells the story of two former Texas Rangers that are sent to hunt down the notorious Bonny and Clyde. Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson play the titular roles, under the direction of John Lee Hancock (The Blindside).

Dubbed “The Highwayman House,” Netflix’s pop-up activation will take over Banger’s Basement and simulate a 1930s speakeasy. To get visitors in the mood for the Bonny and Clyde caper, attendees will be greeted by actors in character and given a name. In addition to their new identities, attendees will receive an RFID bracelet to unlock experiences around the location.

Musical acts will play at the speakeasy each night, adding to the 1930s period vibe.

Interactive elements will include photo ops with a “Wanted” poster, gambling tables and playing games. Those that interact will earn points that can be redeemed for “premium custom swag” including hats, watches, flasks, patches, pins, bandanas and denim jackets.

Netflix has also partnered with Bunkhouse Hospitality to give additional speakeasy treatment to guests of Hotel Saint Cecilia and Hotel San Jose. These guests will have the opportunity to drink custom cocktails inspired by The Highwaymen and catch a ride to the activation inside a vintage car. Platinum and Film Badge holders will be able to watch the world premiere screening on March 10.

SXSW has become a haven for experiential activations and Netflix has taken a cue from HBO’s buzzworthy Westworld activation last year. HBO wowed attendees with a two-acre Western town complete with recreations of the show’s Coronado Hotel and Mariposa Saloon, filled with Season Two easter eggs and over 60 actors and stuntpeople to engage attendees.

Netflix took home three Academy Awards for its original film Roma this past weekend, winning best director, best cinematography and best foreign-language film. Director Alphonso Cuaron also made history as the first person to win an Oscar for best cinematography on the same film they directed.

During the ceremony, Martin Scorsese announced that his latest project, The Irishman, will be a Netflix original movie—adding additional clout to the streaming platform as a viable outlet for filmmakers.

Last year, Netflix hosted a filmmakers lounge at SXSW in a bid for creative attention and shared five world premieres during the event—feature films First Match, 6 Balloons and The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter, as well as the documentary feature, Take Your Pills and documentary series Rapture.