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.

Sony Turns Experiential Pop-Up Into Social Content With Weekly Show

Sony continues its “Lost in Music” campaign with a pop-up experience in SoHo. The temporary installation invites guests to create music out of their own heartbeat, view weekly online shows, attend private concerts and try Sony products. The experience culminates in two nights of live performances at Sony Hall, which will take place on February 7 and 10.

“Lost in Music” will debut an interactive song creation experience that yields different results for each visitor. As guests explore the installation and interact with technology, it observes their body language and translates it into a musical track. The song is then matched to the rhythm of the guest’s heartbeat to create a personalized track for download.

Intimate concerts will be hosted each week that feature artists from Sony Music. The first artist to be announced is rapper A$AP Ferg, who played Sony’s Lost in Music event at SXSW 2017.

The branded pop-up space will also host weekly “Lost in Music” shows which will be streamed on the campaign’s website. Weekly shows will include artist interviews and concerts with Sony Music artists, as well as news around music and technology.

Sony hopes to engage wider global audiences with its weekly shows, delivering a message that “technology and music, when combined, can deliver the unique experience.”

Consumers can visit the installation at 201 Mulberry St. in NYC from November 15 to February 10. It will be free and open to the public from Thursday to Sunday, 12:00-10:00 p.m.

“Lost in Music” was designed to create deep consumer connections with music through the use of technology, according to Midori Tomita, Sony Corporation’s vice president in charge of brand communication. The campaign debuted in January 2017 with a virtual reality music video by The Chainsmokers, Vanic and Lost Kings. The VR experience debuted at SXSW and later became available on PSVR. For the second “Lost in Music” installment in January 2018, Sony teamed up with Khalid for another VR music video and SXSW experience. The SoHo pop-up and weekly series take this campaign in a different direction, allowing Sony to engage consumers in person but also online with evergreen content.

This brand message echoes that of The Sony Music Experience this spring—a marketing mission statement the brand calls kando. This Japanese term refers to emotional involvement that explains Sony’s recent push for experiential.

Sony was not immediately available for comment.

Aldi Spoofs Coca-Cola Ad With #SaveKevin Holiday Campaign

Supermarket chain Aldi launched a new holiday campaign in the UK that parodies a famous Coca-Cola ad. The spot stars Kevin the Carrott, a well-known character that features in Aldi’s irreverent holiday advertising campaigns.

When Kevin the Carrot’s jaunt through town goes horribly wrong, Aldi leaves its mascot hanging in a precarious spot with a hashtag to invite conversation.

The holiday spot begins like Coca-Cola’s classic “Holidays are Coming” ads—a semi truck, covered in lights, enters a darkened town before revealing that Kevin the Carrot, Aldi’s mascot, is driving. He waves at a curious little girl, then steers the truck onto a dangerous turn.

A small avalanche causes Kevin to swerve, causing the trailer to hang precariously over a cliff. As his cargo slides dangerously toward the edge, the teaser ends in a literal ‘cliffhanger’ with the hashtag #SaveKevin.

The spot has garnered quite a bit of engagement on social media, with nearly half a million views, over 11,000 shares and over 4,500 comments on Facebook alone.

Kevin starred in Aldi’s 2017 campaign, finding love among a holiday feast. The 12-part campaign ended with a picture of Kevin with his new wife, Katie, and three unnamed carrot children. Give last year’s lengthy campaign, and the early start for this year’s ad, viewers can expect this story to extend well into the season.

Some consumers have quickly become invested in Kevin’s fate, calling for his salvation on behalf of the family.

Kevin’s animated, child-like appearance has regulators concerned about his activity, too. One of Aldi’s 2017 holiday ads was pulled by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for concerns about promoting alcohol to children.

Other users expressed disappointment that Aldi’s 2018 Coca-Cola spoof wasn’t the real thing.

Coca-Cola’s original ad has become so iconic that it was used in another recent parody. Green Peace launched a campaign during the 2017 holidays that depicts a bedazzled truck delivering holiday joy and along with it, a whole lot of plastic waste.

Either the ad worked or the company was already aware of its shortcomings, because Coca-Cola announced a plastic recycling initiative in January.

Bethesda Shares ‘Fallout 76’ Lore With Retro-Inspired Audio Series

Bethesda released a series of monster-themed audio dramas on Wednesday that immerses players into the world of Fallout 76. Creatures that hail from West Virginia lore are included, of course, like the Mothman and Flatwoods Monster.

“Tales from the West Virginia Hills” is presented in the style of a 1950s radio serial. Each of the five episodes tells the story of dangerous encounters with monsters in the area, as told by a dramatic narrator. The stories are even “sponsored” by fictional brands from Fallout lore such as “Sugar Bombs—the breakfast cereal with explosive great taste and 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of sugar!”

Five episodes were released on Halloween, using the game’s monsters as a way to engage players already in the mood for a fright. According to Bethesda, all of these monsters can be found in Fallout 76, but “Tales from the West Virginia Hills” was created as a stand-alone bonus for fans.

“The world of Fallout 76 is steeped in mystery,” said Bethesda, “but when you’re not trying to discover what happened to everyone after the bombs dropped, you might find yourself asking a different question: ‘What’s that figure, lurking in the dark?’ The answer probably isn’t as friendly as you might like. The ‘Tales from the West Virginia Hills’ holotape series is here to give you an idea of what to look out for if you hope to survive.”

For the uninitiated, holotapes aka holodisks are small cartridges found throughout the Fallout video game franchise. These collectible items reveal information about the game world or even interactive games. Tales from the West Virginia Hills is therefore presented as something you might find while exploring the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 76.

The six episodes include Curse of the Wendigo, Sideshow Snallygaster, The Mothman Cometh!, The Beast of Grafton and The Strange Encounter in Flatwoods.

Anticipation for Fallout 76 has steadily mounted since its announcement in May. Fans were so excited that one tweet from Bethesda garnered $210,000 in earned media.

Other marketing for the game has included a team-up with the West Virginia Department of Tourism to encourage pre-nuclear war exploration. In addition to seeing locations that were recreated inside Fallout 76, fans can travel around the state in search of Vault Boy—the Fallout mascot—and take a picture with him on social media to win prizes.

PlayStation Discusses PS4 Pro ‘Details’ Campaign, Authenticity Strategy

PlayStation recently launched a new campaign called “Details” that uses humor to draw attention to 4K graphics on the PS4 Pro. As with previous ads for the console, PlayStation wanted to elicit an emotional response and target a very specific gaming demographic.

“Details” consists of three spots, each tied into PlayStation’s ongoing “Greatness Awaits” campaign. In each live-action scenario, characters stop what they’re doing to appreciate details in the world around them.

The newest spot, “Vampire Hunter,” is a humorous take on battling monsters. In the middle of a fierce life and death battle, one vampire interrupts his own attack to admire his victim’s watch. His blood-sucking colleague is not amused.

For PlayStation VP of marketing Mary Yee and her team, this campaign was a challenge to resonate with gamers on a personal level but in a humorous way—almost like an inside joke.

“We’ve heard from gamers that they get so excited about the blades of grass they see or the reflection of the background in someone’s eyeball,” Yee told AList. “We brought that insight into [‘Details’].”

In the first “Details” spot entitled “Armor,” two knights are waging battle when one of them strikes up a conversation about the detailed armor his opponent is wearing. The third and final spot, “Foxhole,” will show a group of soldiers who get distracted by the beauty of their commanding officer’s eyes.

Yee explained that when she and her team are developing a campaign, they always try to identify the “gamer truth.” In other words, they identify something very particular that gamers can relate to—in this case, it was the appreciation for tiny details in a game.

“When we find [the gamer truth] and it’s right, it always feel authentic and simple. We find that that’s the most motivating for the team,” said Yee. “I work with a team of really passionate marketers and gamers so when they see it and it’s a truth that they love, they will also go into the details to make sure everything looks right in the commercial. They’re doing it for the fans and they’re doing it for themselves, too.”

Entry-level gamers aren’t discouraged from purchasing a PS4 Pro by any means, but they aren’t the target demographic for “Details.” Instead, PlayStation wanted to appeal to existing gamers that immerse themselves into video game worlds.

“The challenge with [PS4] Pro is that we have to really think about what this [target] gamer wants,” explained Yee. “[The Pro demographic] is someone that is already very engaged and [we have to figure out] what they care about in order for us to demonstrate what the power of the Pro does and get them to buy. Then, we think about the content. What’s the content that really showcases [what the gamer cares about] and how do we wrap that into the campaign?”

“Details” showcases gameplay from three upcoming PlayStation exclusive games: Marvel’s Spider-Man, Days Gone and Ghost of Tsushima. The overall tone of the campaign was designed to match PlayStation’s “Opera” series of spots released last year for PS4Pro.

“When an ad is funny, we know that this target can relate to it, so it’s authentic to them,” said Yee. “It’s also authentic to the brand. We hope it elicits excitement about the games they can play and [inspire a Pro purchase].”

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to include additional details for the “Vampire Hunter” spot.

Collaboration Propels Land Rover’s Recent Marketing Campaigns

Jaguar Land Rover has entered into a number of unique partnerships recently, showing the brand’s interest in collaboration, and ranging from a James Bond experiential event in Austria to a line of menswear and finally a Hans Zimmer-scored short film.

In April the car brand announced partnership with 007 Elements, an immersive event taking visitors into the world of James Bond at a Alpine mountaintop location. Visitors were also shown Jaguar cars from many of the Bond films and the newest Jaguar Land Rover technology.

More recently, Land Rover entered into a five-year partnership with Clarks to offer “terrain appropriate” shoes, marking the first time that Land Rover has partnered with a shoe or clothing line.

Dubbed “Life. Limitless,” the Clarks/Land Rover collaboration includes three designs to start—CLR.51N for city wear, CLR53.N for rugged terrains and the CLR52.N, designed for versatility across a variety of landscapes. Ten shoe collections will be released in total, debuted as Spring and Fall Collections over the next five years.

While the museum highlights Jaguar Land Rover’s film heritage and shoes reflects the brand’s image of ruggedness, another recent campaign taps into the idea of creating emotional memories while driving the car itself.

To evoke the feeling of inspiration and adventure, Land Rover sent film composer Hans Zimmer on a drive through the California mountains and had him score the experience.

“Scoring the Drive” highlights the full-sized 2019 Land Rover in a series of spots, Zimmer—who has scored films like Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean and Inception—talks about how he gets inspiration for his music. He drives along the Angeles Crest Highway, a scenic mountain road in Southern California, taking photos and video footage as he goes.

“Everything I do, I always have music in my head,” says Zimmer in a voiceover. “So, I score everything—the curves, the landscape, the smell . . . I order my world into some sense of harmony.”

Viewers are then transported to Zimmer’s studio, where he writes music to accompany his driving experience. The ad’s music swells into a crescendo of strings, piano and percussion akin to the epic soundtrack of a feature film. Zimmer’s score is intercut with images of the scenic drive, along with not-so-coincidental shots between the composer’s fine-tuned equipment and the Land Rover’s interior controls.

“Music should signal to you that you are allowed to have emotion,” says Zimmer, a statement that perfectly sums up the message behind Land Rover’s campaign.

Unilad, LADbible’s Popularity Defy Facebook Push For Hard-Hitting News

Unilad and LADbible are the most popular English-language publishers on Facebook, proving that users still prefer shareable, light-hearted or sensational content on the platform over hard-hitting news.

According to data from NewsWhip, the top publishers on Facebook aren’t traditional news outlets but rather British, male-focused entertainment sites. Content that promotes discussion and emotional engagement performs best on Facebook, the data shows, capitalizing on gossip and heartwarming stories.

Facebook has tried extremely hard to rebrand itself as an outlet for respectable news, investing in “trustworthy” sources for both the News Feed and its video platform, Watch. For brands facing an uphill battle against the social media giant’s ever-changing algorithm, there are lessons to be learned from which publications garner the most engagement.

One need only look at the most popular articles for the month of September to get an idea of content that Facebook users share most. LADbible’s piece about a woman whose nail chewing led to an amputation garnered the highest CMT at 75.3 percent. Other top-performing pieces were centered around video games, food, sex and controversy.

Unilad was the top publisher for the month of September with 32.5 million engagements that include likes, shares and comments. LADbible, which recently purchased Unilad, followed in second place with over 28.9 million engagements. Gossip outlets TMZ and Daily Mail also made the top 25 with news about celebrity deaths.

Traditional news outlets may have figured out this “one trick,” to quote oh so many click-bait articles on Facebook. The most engaging content from The New York Times in September, for example, were focused around the Kavanaugh scandals, Nike’s endorsement of Colin Kaepernick and an opinion piece about resistance inside the Trump Administration. The Times was one of many traditional news outlets that ran a disproportionate amount of “cautionary” pieces, NewsWhip observed, such as a story about predators using Fortnite to lure kids.

Overall, traditional news outlets are increasing their presence and engagement on Facebook, with or without sensational content. With Fox News and CNN in the lead, New York Times, BBC News and Daily Mail are catching up and holding their own.

In January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to make time spent on his platform more “worthwhile” by favoring high-quality news in the feed. If the data shows anything, however, it is that users are far more interested in debates and uplifting content than the latest news.

Amazon Prime Ads Turn Binge-Watching Into Self-Improvement

Amazon Prime UK has released a series of new ads called “Great Shows Stay With You,” each depicting a scenario in which binge-watching inspired positive change in a viewer.

Each of the four video spots highlights a particular show, beginning with Jack Ryan, which inspires a father to become the best man he can be—working out, gaining fast reflexes and finishing projects around the house.

Lucifer inspires a closed-off young man into exploring his darker, more charismatic side, while Outlander rekindles the romance for a married couple going through the motions. For one timid woman, binge-watching Vikings gives her the strength to stand up for herself in the workplace, going so far as to begin yelling like a warrior when someone uses her coffee mug. Each viewer reaches their potential by the season finale.

Interestingly, the campaign focuses not only on Amazon Original content but programs that originated on other networks such as History (Vikings), FOX (Lucifer) and STARZ (Outlander).

During a time when cord-cutting continues to rise, original and exclusive content have become key to attracting new subscribers. OTT services like Amazon are churning out awards contenders to attract new subscribers and Netflix has considered owning its own movie theater.

“Consumers increasingly choose services on the strength of the programming they offer, and the platforms are stepping up with billions in spending on premium shows,” eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Christopher Bendtsen said in a recent report.

Amazon may have to step up its game if it wants to rely on awards, however. The company took home eight Emmys last month for shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, compared to Netlix and HBO, each taking home 23.

Even with fewer awards and a recent price hike, Amazon Prime offers something its competitors don’t—additional perks like streaming music, free shipping, grocery delivery and exclusives on Twitch, which appear to serve the company just fine. Amazon added more Prime members in 2017 than in any previous year and in a letter to shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos said that 100 million people pay for the service as of April. For the second quarter of 2018, Amazon experienced 57 percent growth YoY for subscription services, including Prime.

OTT Viewers Support, Often Prefer Ad-Supported Video, IAB Finds

New data from IAB shows that ad-supported video over-the-top (ASV OTT) viewers in the US tend to be younger, male and earn a higher income. Cost savings is a major driver for cord-cutting or shaving off existing services, the study found, and reaching this audience through traditional channels may prove difficult.

IAB conducted a joint study with MARU/Matchbox that examines consumer behavior in the US as it relates to watching ad-supported streaming content. Around 250,000 US consumers over the age of 18 were surveyed between August and September of this year.

Ad Receptivity and the Ad-Supported OTT Video Viewer” found that a majority (73 percent) of video-streaming respondents watch ad-supported OTT video and 45 percent said most of those videos are ad-supported. This group was found to be more receptive to advertising, saying that ads on ASV OTT services are better than TV commercials—more engaging, relevant and unique.

More than half of ASV OTT viewers said that they pay more attention to ads when they see fewer of them, and nearly half said they remember the ad even if it was skipped. Just over half—57 percent—said they like when brands support the content they watch, compared to 39 percent of SVOD viewers.

Of those who watched AVS OTT the most, 60 percent were male and 44 percent were between the ages of 18-34. About half of this demographic was married with children and 34 percent earned more than $75,000 per year.

Higher income doesn’t mean they want to spend all that money on cable, however. Just over half of ASV OTT viewers have cut back or eliminated cable, satellite and/or telco services, with “cost” being the top reason across the board. After saving money, the top reasons were convenience and flexibility at 42 percent, while 38 percent claimed better content on their streaming services.

IAB found the majority of regular ASV OTT viewers to watch less cable than SVOD viewers—10.4 hours per week compared to 11.6. Also, these users are watching more on OTT than they were a year ago. ASV OTT viewers are also more likely to follow social media influencers and spend more on subscription services like meal kits.