Pepsi, Walmart Debut Ads During Golden Globes; Netflix Rebukes Commercials

The Golden Globes pulled in 18.6 million viewers this year. Pepsi and Walmart, in what seems like a pre-Super Bowl test, premiered new campaigns during the event.

Pepsi’s 60-second spot featuring William H. Macy was met with positive reviews. It’s not a campaign, but more a content series Pepsi will release through 2019. Walmart, on the other hand, launched its “Walmart Grocery Pickup” campaign, featuring famous film automobiles, appropriate for the show which recognizes excellence in film and TV.

Netflix did its own stint, but with a tweet. The streaming service got awards for a few of its shows.  However, Netflix doesn’t submit its audience to ads and they recently made big waves with its hit “Bird Box.”

Pepsi’s Alien Encounter with William H. Macy

The hilarious spot features an Arrival-like alien invasion and the military has hired “the best decoders in the world” in order to communicate with the extraterrestrial creatures. However, a lonely janitor—played by William H. Macy—breaks through with Pepsi. Macy looks at the ship, walks over to it without fear and offers the alien the carbonated drink.

Todd Kaplan, vice president of marketing for colas at Pepsi, told Variety they want to create entertainment and “something people want to look for and lean into.” The ad will only be online for viewers to watch and not be aired on TV again. Kaplan added he wants consumers to “find it on their own.”

Walmart Promotes Their Grocery Pickup With ‘Famous Cars’

The “Walmart Grocery Pickup” campaign kicked off during Golden Globes. It’s the company’s inaugural cross-platform national marketing campaign for the service. In their press release, the company said they chose these “famous cars” because it would be “instantly recognizable to our customers.” The cars were also picked to indicate how simple and easy the service is and most importantly it’s for all walks of life and all types of vehicles.

The 60-second spot features the Ghostbusters car, Ecto-1, the Dumb and Dumber dog van, Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine and several other iconic rides. It demonstrates various Walmart employees delivering the goods to the vehicles. The main platform for the campaign will be TV, but the “famous cars” content will be seen on social media, radio and Walmart stores.

Netflix’s Snide Golden Globes Tweet

The streaming service tweeted “Shoutout to everyone who is watching commercials for the first time in several months.” The tweet got approximately 64,000 likes and about 5,000 retweets. One tweet user responded by saying “Skipped the Golden Globes and just watched #BirdBox instead.” Certainly relevant, after the movie got about 45 million subscriber accounts to watch it during its first week.

Netflix wasn’t ignored at the Golden Globes. They won five awards, two for The Kominsky Method, The Bodyguard got one for best performance by an actor and Roma got one for best director of a motion picture.

Bumble’s Super Bowl Campaign Stars Serena Williams; Produced Entirely By Women

Tennis champion Serena Williams will star in Bumble’s year-long marketing campaign “The Ball is in Her Court.” The campaign will debut during the 2019 Super Bowl on February 3 and will appear across multiple platforms. It was also produced entirely by women.

A 30-second video preview with Bumble CEO and founder Whitney Wolfe Herd and Serena Williams has been released. The two women are sitting in a tennis court discussing the campaign—aimed at female empowerment. It will also promote the social networking app’s newer, platonic features, Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz.

“When the ball is in your court, we have the opportunity to take the first step,” said Williams in the spot. “Is it in life, is it in relationships, is it in career, it’s in your court and it’s for you to make that decision.”

Williams isn’t only the face of the campaign. The new Bumble advisor also used her creativity to help the all-female team develop it. In a highly male-centric sport like football, debuting it on Super Bowl Sunday is a notable step especially after 2018’s #MeToo movement.

Founded in 2014, Bumble requires female users to initially message—or make the first move—when matched with a male user. In the last four years, the app has boomed and branched out, now allowing users to search for platonic friends through Bumble BFF and business relationships through Bumble Bizz.

The company has also experimented with getting users to connect in person.

In November, Bumble partnered with Moxy Hotels to create “Bumblespots,” staging an event where users could meet up. The event launched in New York City and appeared in other cities like Chicago, Denver and Seattle. The experiential partnership was designed to highlight Bumble’s friendship features and business networking.

The event offered a consultation with Bumble’s profile doctors who gave users advice on filling out their profiles. Attendees could also show the app at the bar to get food discounts and a customer drink menu.

Last summer, Bumble and HBO invited a few select people to watch movies and mingle in a New York brownstone, encouraging them to spend a night in. The Bumble Date and BFF app users could sign up, but only 65 people could attend each night. The event had 10 screening rooms on different floors and branded areas to take pictures with the hashtag #StayHometotheMoves.

Currently, Bumble has about 47 million app users worldwide.

Google Leverages ‘Home Alone’ Nostalgia For Voice Assistant Marketing

Google is capitalizing on a holiday classic to demonstrate its virtual assistant. “Home Alone Again” stars Macaulay Culkin as an adult Kevin McAllister who still has a few tricks up his sleeve—and one of them is Google Assistant.

A new holiday campaign for Google’s connected products launched on Wednesday with a parody of the 1990 film Home Alone. Now 38 years old, McAllister wakes to find himself once again alone in the house but this time, he has Google Assistant to help out. He recreates key scenes from the original film—jumping on the bed, using aftershave, ordering pizza and staging a fake party to discourage burglars. Each of the scenarios now includes a Google device that helps make the process easier, from setting reminders to wash the sheets and order aftershave to reading one’s schedule and turning on home automation.

The campaign runs through January 3 and will be distributed across broadcast, digital, social, and movie theatres. In the meantime, Google Assistant users can access Home Alone Easter eggs by asking the following questions:

  • Hey Google, how much do I owe you?
  • Hey Google, did I forget something?
  • Hey Google, the Wet Bandits are here.
  • Hey Google, it’s me Snakes. I got the stuff.
  • Hey Google, I’m the man of the house.

Google Assistant’s creative team paid special attention to the original film down to framing the shots, decorating the sets and shoot sequences. Google displays side-by-side shot comparisons and a look behind the scenes here.

Nearly 30 years after its release, the movie continues to capture audience attention and creates nostalgia for multiple generations. In fact, Google reports that consumers search for Home Alone every year. Interest in the title spiked 1900 percent in a month last December, with the highest traffic occurring Christmas Day.

Nostalgia gives consumers a sense of security in that it’s a brand or product they already know and love. As we continue to enter an “Emotional Economy,” tugging at the consumers’ heartstrings will become more of a priority for marketing leaders in the future.

Mobile Devs More Optimistic About In-Game Ads Than Two Years Ago

Mobile game developers are still torn on whether advertisements are a monetization opportunity or necessary evil. According to deltaDNA’s annual ad survey, developers are more confident overall in their marketing strategies but struggle to balance ad revenue with player experience.

DeltaDNA has published the results of its annual in-game advertising survey. The study, which surveyed 336 developers in the mobile free-to-play (F2P) market, examines how ad strategies have evolved over the last several years.

Respondents were split nearly 50/50 between those developing casual titles (55 percent) versus core games (45 percent).

Casual games tend to host more advertising than core titles at 95 percent and 76 percent, respectively. Developers of casual titles are more aggressive with advertising strategies, the survey found. Ads are shown to players during the first session, although a majority of respondents claim to show only one ad per session thereafter.

Rewarded videos, which grant players in-game bonuses for watching an ad, account for the highest usage rate among respondents at 65 percent. Interstitial and banner ads round out the top three, although banner ads are on the decline, deltaDNA notes. Playable ads serve as miniature game demos and are favored by 21 percent of respondents compared to 12 percent in 2017.

When choosing an ad strategy, the biggest concern among both casual and core developers was player churn, followed by lower levels of player enjoyment. Core game developers were particularly concerned about the impact of ads on in-app purchases (IAP), while casual titles were worried about app store ratings.

Regardless of concerns, in-game advertising plays a major role in developer income and even higher than last year. In 2017, only 10 percent of casual games earned more than 80 percent of their revenue from ads, but this year, that number jumps to 16 percent. Likewise, half of core games made more than 20 percent of total revenue from advertising but that number jumps to 70 percent in 2018.

A majority of ads are sourced from multiple networks, the survey found, with 59 percent citing between two and five. Over the last three similar surveys, this number has dropped 10 percent overall. In fact, more respondents used a large number of ad networks last year and now 27 percent turn to a single source.

Developers have become more confident in their advertising strategies. A majority of respondents view these strategies as “balanced,” followed by “experimental.” The number of developers who consider themselves as “confident” has grown by 55 percent.

In 2016, deltaDNA asked developers if they viewed advertising as a “necessary evil.” Just over half said yes at the time, compared to 36 percent today.

PUBG Taps Hollywood Filmmakers For Live-Action PS4 Campaign

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has landed on PlayStation 4 alongside a live-action trailer called “Pan-demonium.” Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island), the action-packed short film illustrates the chaos PUBG is known for, as well as Hollywood’s intimate ties to the video game industry.

The campaign includes :60, :30 and :15 versions of the film, which will air on television around the world. A longer version will also play on the official PUBG website.

“Pan-demonium” stars Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton) as a PUBG player that has been dropped into a hostile environment. He must act fast, select a weapon and survive because everyone is gunning for him—literally. In a comedic twist, the man chooses a frying pan and does surprisingly well with it. Alliances are soon formed and the man is ultimately saved by a friend (Jurassic World‘s Nick Robinson) who fights from a safe distance.

For the uninitiated, PUBG started a battle royale craze in the same way that DOOM spawned first-person shooters. Players are dropped onto a shrinking playing field where they must use cover, scrounge weapons and fight one another for dominance. In short, the last one standing wins.

“When approaching this campaign, I wanted to capture and translate the individual moments of emotion the gameplay elicits from a player when experiencing PUBG,” Vogt-Roberts said. “I wanted gamers and fans of the title to watch this piece and feel that the filmmaker and team behind this spot understood the authentic fun that has made PUBG a piece of the zeitgeist.”

Vogt-Roberts directed a live-action spot for Destiny 2 and is currently directing the film adaption of Metal Gear Solid, so it’s pretty safe to say that he understands gaming. Regardless, he doesn’t assume all viewers will be familiar with PUBG.

“I wanted to find a way to bottle that magic and the excitement, kinetic rush, and idiosyncrasies of PUBG for its fans, while also making it accessible to new viewers, whether they’ve played PUBG before or not,” he added.

Live-action video game trailers have been around for decades, but have become much more sophisticated in recent years. They also feature A-list Hollywood talent both in front of and behind the camera.

“Pan-demonium,” for example, features the cinematography by Chung-Hoon Chung (IT) and the stunt direction of Robert Alonzo (Deadpool). The campaign was produced by RSA Films—Sir Ridley Scott’s creative group behind campaigns like The Macallan’s Make the Call and Blade Runner 2049: Nexus Dawn, a prequel to the 2017 film.

AM/FM Still Important To Marketers But Be Quick About It, Says Pandora

The car radio is still a major source of audio consumption, but it is not immune to a growing intolerance for commercials—in fact, AM/FM is more vulnerable. According to a new study by Pandora, Edison Research and Omni Media Group, marketers will need to be creative and keep messages brief if they want to engage commuters.

The Commuter Code” examines the habits of 1,100 consumers that spend at least 20 minutes in each direction of their commutes. In addition to survey questions, GoPro cameras were installed in 109 cars to observe these habits first-hand.

A majority of AM/FM listeners switch channels as soon as they hear an ad, according to the findings. In fact, the GoPro camera observed that commuters switched three-times as often while listening to AM/FM than any other source of audio in the car.

The study attributes this to a number of factors. For one, radio presets simply make it easy to switch channels away from a commercial or undesired song. Secondly, radio music is impersonal and ads are played back-to-back.

Pandora recommends that marketers consider pod placement whenever possible and consider this fast-switching environment when developing creative for car listeners. “Shorter-length, quick-engagement ads are keys to getting heard,” they advise.

Of course, Pandora stands to benefit quite a bit from traditional AM/FM advertisers switching to digital options. According to a Statista study in March, Pandora has the third most users for a music streaming service, at 36.8 million.

Nearly a third (29 percent) of all audio is consumed in the car, Pandora asserts, but sources have evolved toward digital—connecting one’s phone or cars with built-in connectivity. In fact, 71 percent of commuters say it is “important” for their next vehicle to have an in-dash system that can receive information and entertainment over the internet. Just over half (56 percent) have connected their phones to the car to listen.

Despite the drawbacks, AM/FM remains a draw for 68 percent of commuters that agreed to have a GoPro in their vehicle for this study. The camera observed that 38 percent of the in-car time was spent listening was to speech-based content and 26 percent to streaming audio or podcasts.

As with any study, commuter listening habits tend to differ with age and gender. Women, commuters between the ages of 18-34 and those with longer commutes tend to switch audio sources more frequently. Men, those at least 55 years old and those with the shortest commutes tend to stick with one source on the drive.

Regardless of where they listen, AM/FM radio isn’t going off the air just yet. According to Nielsen’s Total Audience Report 2017, Gen Z spent over 35 hours per month listening to AM/FM radio and 88 percent of Gen Zers do each week. In fact, the report finds that AM/FM radio reaches 88 percent of Generation Z in the US each week and 93 percent of millennials.

NatGeo, WeWork Promote New Series With ’90s-Themed Workspaces

NatGeo has partnered with WeWork to promote its new series, Valley of the Boom with a series of location takeovers. As the show delves into the dot-com bubble, select WeWork locations have been made to look like 1990s-era offices, right down to the blocky desktop computers.

Monday visitors to WeWork locations in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles might feel as if they’ve been transported to a different time. These offices have been turned into “Valley of the Boom Internet Cafés” designed to inspire a sense of nostalgia and immerse consumers into the 1990s dot-com gold rush.

The branded installation includes authentic desktop computers from the period, loaded with games like Oregon Trail, Tetris and Doom. Visitors are encouraged to share photos of the experiential marketing activation using the hashtag #ValleyOfTheBoom—in fact, they will be rewarded. Sharing the hashtag on Twitter or Instagram will prompt an onsite vending machine to dispense 90s-era candy, toys and trading cards.

Each Valley of the Boom Internet Café will also offer on-site professional services that include LinkedIn expert consultations, professional headshots and career development opportunities.

Valley of the Boom debuts this winter on NatGeo. The series describes the rise and fall of the dot-com bubble with players like Netscape, The Globe and Pixelon, told through stylized recreations and interviews with the people who were there. Valley of the Boom features a myriad of respected actors including Bradley Whitford (Get Out), John Karna (Lady Bird) and Lamorne Morris (New Girl).

In January, WeWork will host screenings of the first two episodes, followed by discussions with experts and talent from the series.

WeWork has entered into a number of brand partnerships lately, including American Express. Beginning in February, Business Platinum Card Members will receive information about Platinum Global Access from WeWork, which includes one year of complimentary access to WeWork locations around the world.

Michael B. Jordan Directs Bacardi Short Film For ‘Angel’s Share’ Campaign

Bacardi has released a short film called “The Angel’s Share” that highlights the sunny, Caribbean home of its new premium rum collection. This marks the first digital ad campaign for Bacardi Reservo Ocho. The spot was co-directed by actor/filmmaker Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) and Emmy award-winning music video director Paul Hunter.

In the alcoholic beverage business, there is a saying that any alcohol that evaporates during the distillery process is referred to as “the angel’s share.” Bacardi’s new campaign of the same name tells the myth of sun angels—heavenly beings that help themselves to the rum evaporating inside barrels. Because the Caribbean is so sunny, and Bacardi rum is aged outdoors, it evaporates more than other spirits, the film claims.

Bacardi first connected with Jordan during No Commission, the brand’s art event last year. When it came time to produce “The Angel’s Share,” they invited him to take part.

“Watching Michael on set during the shoot was amazing,” said Roberto Ramirez Laverde, vice president of Bacardi for North America. “He has an eye for storytelling and was extremely adept at bringing the story to life.”

“Angel’s Share” consists of one main film called “Myth of the Sun Angels” which has been cut into three shorter chapters: Taste, Provenance and Heritage. Each chapter follows a different character: a Maestro de Ron, a bartender and a Bacardi family member – who each tell their own version of the angel’s share story.

The campaign will run through connected TV channels like NFL, DirecTV, Turner, Sling and ESPN), YouTube channels Vevo, Condé Nast and Complex as well as OTT via Hulu, ABC, CBS, NBC and Univision. Bacardi will also promote the campaign on its owned channels alongside Jordan’s personal Instagram.

In addition to digital channels, Bacardi will run out-of-home (OOH) in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington D.C. and Atlanta markets.

Bacardi is hoping to garner attention for its premium portfolio with the new campaign. Earlier this year, the brand added Añejo Cuatro and Gran Reserva Diez to its pre-existing Gran Reserva Limitada series and redesigned the packaging for Reserva Ocho.

Now is a good time to bolster Bacardi’s premium offerings, as spirits experience a surge in revenue. In 2017, supplier sales of whiskeys, rums, vodkas, and other spirits rose four percent to a new high of $26.2 billion. This growth is fueled in part by millennials’ taste for premium spirits, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).

Alcoholic “leftovers” have become a common topic of marketing lately. While evaporated alcohol goes to the angels, whatever soaks into the barrels becomes the “devil’s cut,” according to Jim Beam. The bourbon brand began extracting and bottling the wood-soaked liquid in 2011 and marketed it with the help of actress Mila Kunis.

‘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.