Hennessy Debuts Ridley Scott-Directed Branded ‘Seven Worlds’ Short Film

Cognac brand Hennessy is releasing their four-minute film The Seven Worlds directed by Oscar-nominated director Ridley Scott (The Martian, Gladiator). A 60-second version of the film will air during a commercial break on the most prestigious motion picture award night, the 91st Oscars.  Ridley brought his futuristic style to showcase that “each drop of Hennessy X.O. is an Odyssey.”

Created in 1870, Hennessy X.O. or “extra old” was the first cognac to be classified as such due to its aging process.

Giant golden men, fiery red skies and an ethereal forest are all parts of the journey through the Hennessy XO’s seven flavor profile. The seven notes materialize into the different realms of Sweet Notes, Rising Heat, Spicy Edge, Flowing Flame, Chocolate Lull and Wood Crunches which all peak into the Infinite Echo.

For the film, Ridley teamed up with former visual effects experts he worked with on cult hits such as Alien and Blade Runner. The composer from All the Money in the World and The Counselor wrote the score for the Hennessy film.

“I was attracted to this project because I was inspired by the potential for art and entertainment to bring this story to life,” Scott said in a statement. “Hennessy has a great product, and I was lucky enough to have the freedom to interpret this and create something amazing. I think people will be stunned when they see the film.”

Last September, the cognac maker disclosed its campaign collaboration with the English filmmaker—an end to his 15-year hiatus from the advertising industry. Initially, the ads were set to be 3D, but now the film is part of an interactive multichannel campaign, not only featuring the movie but a ‘making of,’ behind-the-scenes content and an interview with Ridley Scott.

“It is an honor for Hennessy to partner with a visionary like Ridley Scott,” said Hennessy global CMO Michael Aidan. “This film showcases Ridley’s artistic genius conveying the essence of Hennessy X.O through entertainment that transcends traditional advertising.”

This is not the first time Hennessy partnered with an artist for a campaign. Last summer, the brand worked with Alexandre Farto aka “Vhils” to design a limited “very special collector’s edition” bottle. It was unveiled in December during the Miami Art Festival. One 750ml bottle was valued at $1,000.

Last year, liquor sales rose and revenue growth was up 5.1 percent according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Cognac was one of the key drivers with sales jumping from $250 million to $1 billion. According to the president and CEO of the council, Chris Swonger, the results show millennials tend to favor spirits over beer and wine.

Brands Relied On The Tried And True For Super Bowl LIII

Unsurprisingly, celebrity dominated the commercials of Super Bowl LIII. But what’s more interesting, and perhaps surprising, are the other trends of futuristic tech, art and emotional appeal.

Artistically-Inspired Commercials Take The Lead

Some brands turned to art to create cultural resonance and a sense of nostalgia. Both Coca-Cola and Burger King drew upon Andy Warhol’s cartoonish and simple art for their respective commercials and despite the vintage aesthetics, it came across as rather contemporary and even a little edgy. Andy Warhol once famously noted “A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking.”

Moreover, it was a subtle reminder to viewers that the brands have been around for a long time and are rooted so deeply into American culture, much like football.

Expensify’s groovy collaboration with 2 Chainz also had an artistic bent, weaving in and out of animation, taking place in a surreal world with off-the-wall imagery.

Emotional Appeal Remains Important

Studies show that people rely on emotions, rather than information, to make brand decisions and that emotional responses to ads are more influential on a person’s intent to buy than the content of an ad.

Whether happy, sad, afraid, surprised or angry—these emotions can be manipulated with finesse into an impulse to buy.

This year, Google’s ad inspired the highest emotional engagement according to Ipsos. Ipsos tests the ads in a realistic situation by recruiting an audience of 37 people to watch the ads at a Super Bowl party. Participants could even bring friends. Each viewer was fitted with a wrist bracelet and finger sensor that could capture galvanic skin responses that could provide insight into how emotionally engaged each attendee was to each commercial.

Back To The Future

While some brands focused on nostalgia and plying your heartstrings, others imbued their ads with futurism. Some notable examples of this were Pringles’ “Sad Device” commercial and Intuit’s (slightly) disturbing “RoboChild.”

Celebrities Remain In The Mix

According to MarketWatch, “with a celebrity endorsement, sales for products endorsed by athletes go up by an average of 4 percent.” Amazon’s Alexa Super Bowl commercial involved not only one but five celebrities from different backgrounds, including Gordon Ramsey, Rebel Wilson, Cardi B, Anthony Hopkins and Jeff Bezos himself.

Marketers know that a familiar face is likely to magnetize the viewer’s attention—it’s the original influencer marketing after all.

Super Bowl Social: Pepsi Dominates Conversations; ‘Avengers’ Flexes Hashtag Muscle

February 3 was Super Bowl Sunday—a day for competition among football players and the brands that dish out millions for coveted air time. According to social media analytics company Talkwalker, Pepsi inspired the most social media conversations among Super Bowl LIII advertisers with its bare-chested Maroon 5 performance and Spongebob tribute, while Avocados from Mexico and a new teaser for The Avengers: Endgame battled for hashtag supremacy.

Talkwalker measured 30 days of social media engagement for the Super Bowl and its advertisers, ending at midnight on February 2. Twitter served as the main source of conversation during this time, with over 8.7 million tweets—nearly 87 percent of all social media activity for the Super Bowl LIII.

For the previous 30 days, Super Bowl 2019 received over 10 million mentions and 60.8 million likes/shares on social media. This number peaked on January 20 and 21 after the Conference Championships and again on February 3 during the Super Bowl, itself.

The Top Five Hashtags About Super Bowl LIII Are:

  1. #SuperBowl: 1,600,000
  2. #SBLIII: 672,600
  3. #NFLPlayoffs: 411,000
  4. #SuperBowlLIII: 233,600
  5. #AvengersEndgame: 173,400

The New England Patriots emerged victorious on the field as well as on social media, although with a much smaller gap. The Patriots were mentioned 370,800 times (52 percent) versus the Los Angeles Rams with 341,500 mentions (48 percent).

Coca-Cola took a break from Super Bowl advertising for the first time since 2006, giving the upper hand to its century’s old rival, PepsiCo. While Coca-Cola aired a brief pre-game spot, Pepsi dominated the air space with two star-studded commercials and the half-time show.

This gave Pepsi the opportunity to shine with its “Pepsi is More than Okay” commercial featuring Cardi B, Steve Carrell and Lil John. The :60 TV spot complained about the common response to asking for soda: “Is Pepsi okay?” The brand’s #PepsiIsMoreThanOkay hashtag went on to garner 48,000 mentions on social media.

Pepsi was the most-talked-about brand during Super Bowl LIII with over 71,800 accumulated mentions which peaked after the halftime show. Not all of that attention was positive, however, as fans wanted to hear Maroon 5 play “Sweet Victory” in memory of SpongeBob’s recently-deceased creator.

Before January 2019, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi had an equal social media exposure. That all changed over the last 30 days, says Talkwalker. Thanks to its Super Bowl LIII involvement, Pepsi earned 596,700 mentions in North America versus Coke’s 155,900. In addition, Pepsi’s social engagement rose to 3.5 million shares and retweets, whereas Coke received 1.5 million.

Overall, brands that featured collaborations or mashups won the day in terms of social media engagement.

Doritos’ collaboration between Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys (#NowItsHot) was shared over 57,300 times across social media.

Bud Light, meanwhile, partnered with HBO to promote the final season of Game of Thrones. A light-hearted “Dilly Dilly” spot quickly turned dark when a stranger entered the jousting arena. Bud Light garnered over 13,400 mentions for the period piece mashup.

Budweiser’s emotional “Wind never felt better” campaign has earned 17,800,000 views on Youtube so far.

Avocados from Mexico kept its #AvocadosFromMexico hashtag trending thanks to 96,000 mentions over the past 30 days.

The number one non-sports hashtag went to Marvel Studios with a teaser for The Avengers: Endgame with 173,000 mentions. When the official Avenger’s Twitter account posted the teaser video, it was retweeted 71,767 times and liked 145,957 times.


A Marketer’s Guide To DEW 2019 Panels & Fireside Chats

The Digital Entertainment World (DEW) conference returns to bring back leaders, creators and brands in the digital space to discuss the most important changes and innovations.

This year’s theme is “The Power of Creativity and Influence” and there are a few marketing-focused panels you don’t want to miss. Unless otherwise noted, all panels on this list will take place at the Marina Del Rey Marriott—4100 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292.

Monday, February 4

The Power of Creativity & Influence

This opening panel gets you warmed-up by discussing the importance of influencers and creators in digital entertainment and dissects the conference’s theme.

When: 10:15 a.m.

Where: Bayview Ballroom


Clark Stacey—CEO and co-founder, Wildworks

Dan Weinstein—president and co-founder, Studio71

Chris M. Williams—CEO and founder, pocket.watch

Shelley Zimmerman—co-head, Awesomeness

Adapting To The Changing Distribution Landscape

Digital marketing strategies can be a gamble, with distribution platforms constantly changing. Also, lets not forget about pop-up blockers! Hear what’s worked and what hasn’t, I’m sure you’ll relate to their experiences.

When: 12:15 a.m.

Where: Promenade


Chris Borelli—VP of brand partnerships, IMGN Media

Andi Frieder—global head of industry, entertainment, Spotify

Katie Ioffe—director of marketing and digital strategies, Mattel

Robert Schefferine—VP production, ABC Entertainment Marketing, Disney ABC Television Group

Russell Schneider—head of sales and business development, 9GAG

Building Immersive Marketing Campaigns: A Fireside Chat With Universal Studios

It’s no secret Universal Pictures has extremely successful franchises. But how do they keep it going? The landscape has changed and tools like AR and VR have helped their campaigns. This fireside chat is moderated by Kimberlee Archer, head of developer marketing—AR/VR for Facebook.

When: 2:30 p.m.

Where: Bayview Ballroom


Hilary Hoffman—executive vice president, global marketing, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Doug Neil—executive vice president marketing, Universal Pictures

Gen Z Essentials – How To Resonate With The Next Generation Of Cultural Influencers

Marketers are still trying to figure out how to best reach Gen Z. Charneski will share some insight based on research to help you better understand the demo.

When: 3:15 p.m.

Where: Pacific II


Jayne Charneski—founder, Front Row Insights and Strategy

How Games Are Transforming The Rest Of The Entertainment Industry 

Video games continue to grow and it’s going to impact all aspects of entertainment. Listen to how some companies are adapting.

When: 3:15 p.m.

Where: Pacific III


Carter Rogersprincipal analyst, SuperData, a Nielsen Company

The Evolution Of Brands, Content And Marketing

You hear it all the time, it’s about content, content, content. Panelists will show examples of how brands are creating engaging content and how it impacts consumers.

When: 3:30 p.m.

Where: Promenade


Lisa Bilgrei—branded content expert, Google

Adam Hua—SVP of business development, CitizensNet, A Conde´ Nast Company

Folayo Lasaki—VP of marketing, SoulPancake

Tina Walsh—VP of content strategy, Tongal

Kat Jones—founder, Motiv PR

Influencer Marketing: Strategies For Success

Influencers are essential to digital advertising. However, it’s still ambiguous on how to best work with influencers and the legal rules. This panel will reveal effective influencer strategies and even touch on the issue of metrics.

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Where: Pacific II


Phil Hickey—EVP brand and marketing, Seriously

Brittani Kagen—head of talent, Portal A

Kamiu Lee, CEO, Activate

Julia Moonves—VP of sales and business development, pocket.watch

Mia von Sadovsky—SVP/group strategic planning director, RPA

Allison Dollar—CEO, ITV Alliance

Expanding Music Festivals Through Live Streaming: Connecting Brands With Viewers Around The World

Video content is the focus of many brands, big and small. Music festivals are events many consumers want to be part of and video can be there only way to experience it.

When: 3:30 p.m.

Where: Malibu/Santa Monica


Kevin Chernett, EVP—global partnerships and content distribution, Live Nation

John Petrocelli—CEO, Bulldog Digital Media

Kim Owens—VP of strategy and operations, FestiFi

Chystine Villarreal—President, MIXhalo

Creators And Influencers Roundtable

Tips on how brands can more efficiently work with influencers for digital campaigns.

When: 4:00 p.m.

Where: Pacific II


Wesley “Wuz Good” Armstrong—Influencer

Gabriela Bandy—Influencer

Nick Carreras—VP talent and brand strategy, Bent Pixels

Tess Finkle—founder and CEO, Metro

Kate Mcguire—talent manager, Fullscreen

Music As An Original Video Content Strategy

What are the best ways to advertise music in videos? What are consumers reacting to? These panelists will discuss what they believe is the future is and which strategies marketers should use.

When: 4:00 p.m.

Where: Malibu/Santa Monica


Hisham Dahud—brand manager and digital strategist, Junkie XL, Desert Hearts, Poolside and more

Verena Papik—chief marketing officer, TuneMoji

David McTiernan—director of label relations, VEVO

The Future Of The Videos/TV/Movies Business

These top decision-makers will get into the monetization of video content across various platforms. It takes a lot of time and effort to create content and with all the devices and platforms consumers use, it can be tricky to know which steps to take.

When: 5:00 p.m.

Where: Bayview Ballroom


Jesús Chavez—CEO, Vertical Networks

Ashley McCollum—general manager, Tasty

Ira Rubenstein—chief digital and marketing officer, PBS Digital

Tuesday, February 5

The Future Of Brands, Marketing And Entertainment

What’s in store for years to come? The presentations discuss two different tools for brands to stay ahead of the game: AI, omniculturalism and decentralized virtual marketplaces.

When: 9:40 a.m.

Where: Bayview Ballroom


David Kulczar—senior product manager, IBM Watson Media

Linda Ong—chief culture officer, Civic Entertainment Group

William Quigley—CEO, Clearstone Ventures, OpSkins, and Wax

The Future Of Content Marketing

Traditional advertising is slowly becoming old news being replaced by digital. These panelists will show examples of brands retaining customers through relationships and relatable content.

When: 10:15 a.m.

Where: Bayview Ballroom


Russell Arons—SVP and general manager, Machinima

Kym Nelson—SVP of client strategy west, Twitch

Tina Pukonen—head of entertainment strategy, Pinterest

Keynote Conversation With Facebook And Warner Media

Consumers have more control over what they watch and when. Facebook and Warner are leaders in the space, but even they have to adapt to the changes.

When: 10:15 a.m.

Where: Bayview Ballroom

Celiena Adcock—head of streaming, Facebook

Katie Soo—SVP, Warner Media

XR For Creative Storytelling 

Marketers are always trying to find ways to tell authentic, engaging stories. Parisi explains how XR can help in storytelling.

When: 11:45 a.m.

Where: Promenade


Tony Parisi—head of AR/VR ad innovation, Unity Technologies Inc

The Age Of Consumer-First Marketing: Bridging Content And Commerce

Looking at a consumer’s purchase decision can help marketers make more successful content to drive more sales.

When: 12:15 p.m.

Where: Promenade


Tom Bash—VP, product, ChefsFeed

Javon Frazier—EVP of strategy and business development, Studio71

Chang Kim—founder and CEO, Tapas Media

Jon Vlassopulos—CEO, Tribalist

Which Platform Is Right For You?

We all know there are many platforms to choose from, but it can be overwhelming to chose. What are the differences and what’s best for your brand? Let’s narrow it down.

When: 12:15 p.m.

Where: Pacific II

Eyal Baumel—CEO, Yoola

Max Levine—co-founder, MC Projects

Sephi Shapira—founder and CEO, Escapex

The Future of Esports: The Opportunity For Brands, Agencies And Marketers

Some brands have collaborated with esports, but what is working? This panel explains which activations have stood out and other opportunities for marketers jump in.

When: 12:15 p.m.

Where: Pacific III


Mike Lee—esports Agent, United Talent Agency

Marco Mereu—co-founder and CEO, Framerate

David Mok—director of developer partnerships, Skillz

Peter Trinh— managing director of international and independent film, ICM Partners

Using Immersive Marketing

This panel will reveal the in’s and out’s of immersive content formats. We all know VR, AR and 3D are used in marketing, but what are industry leaders seeing?

When: 3:30 p.m.

Where: Venice/Peninsula


Sarah Bachman—SVP of digital experiences lead, Horizon Media

Emily Rosen—associate creative director, BBH LA

Jason Steinberg—managing partner, Pretty Big Monster

The Intersection Of Cannabis And Brands

Cannabis is slowly becoming legal in various states across the US. How can cannabis marketers still be successful despite all the regulations?  How can we move on from the stigmas? These panelists discuss their experiences.

When: 3:30 p.m.

Where: Sierra


Yvette McDowell—board member, CCIA, former Pasadena City prosecutor

Tracy Ryan,—founder and CEO, CannaKids

Curtis Stafford—founder and CEO, ZYRS Group

Jackie Subeck—CEO, Hey Jackpot!, Door Number Six

What’s Next In Experiential Marketing

Experiential marketing events can be quite a hit with consumers. The panelists talk about the various aspects that get audiences engaged before and after the event.

When: 4:00 p.m.

Where: Promenade


Karen Morgan—co-founder and creative director, Soma Innovation Lab

Chris Sumner—senior vice president of business development and strategy, Refinery29

Johanna Salazar—co-founder & chief media disrupter, Two Goats, Inc

Brands And Music

Brands and music have a partnership in order to connect with consumers, but are long-term or short-term deals better? This panel dives into current opportunities and future ones. Let’s discuss.

When: 4:00 p.m.

Where: Malibu/Santa Monica


Samantha Fernandez,—senior director, AEG Global Partnerships

Shutterstock Just Made Their Own Fyre Festival Trailer… Entirely Out Of Stock Footage

If there’s one thing to be said about the Fyre Festival, it’s that the marketing was slick. Unfortunately for many involved in the push, it wasn’t apparent it was false advertising until it was too late.

As the fated event has made its way back into the social consciousness by way of two recently released documentaries—Fyre and Frye Fraud, Shutterstock is capitalizing on the conversation with a new video that looks incredibly similar to the original event trailer.

The catch? It’s made entirely stock footage.


In the Netflix and Hulu documentaries, a key observation is just how much the would-be creators of the festival had spent on marketing the event instead of the actual production of it: a private island had been rented for use, a full camera crew was employed and a stunning number of celebrity influencers were invited to the days-long shoot.

While we can only guess at the extraordinary costs incurred from producing such a spectacle, Shutterstock is out to prove that none of that was really needed after all. Even the original footage of swimming pigs.

According to Shutterstock’s CMO, Lou Weiss, the video took under a day to compile, was a compilation of 18 different clips, and if all the footage had been licensed through Shutterstock, would have cost all of $2062 to create.

“After watching the documentary and getting a better understanding of what it took to create the first trailer we knew we could create the same thing much cheaper and from our desks, so we decided to have some fun and do it,” said Weiss to AList.

“We thought it would be a great way to show marketers and creative teams that you can truly create anything you want from our 12 million video clips and tens of thousands of music tracks in our Premiumbeat.com library at an amazing value compared to shooting original footage or creating your own music.”

Shutterstock has plans to put some paid media behind the video on its social channels, which is the first video released as part of the company’s “It’s Not Stock” campaign.

The Fyre Festival, which was supposed to have taken place in Spring 2017, notably booked influencers like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and more to participate in the campaign, in both the content and the promotion of it on their channels. Those influencers are now reportedly facing subpoenas to disclose just how much they were paid for their involvement.

HBO’s ‘High Maintenance’ Activation Hands Out CBD Lattes in Venice, Brooklyn

HBO’s third season of High Maintenance premiered on Sunday, January 20 and it was promoted using the show’s prime product: cannabis. HBO placed green food trucks serving CBD coffee and lattes in New York City and Los Angeles.

The show’s Twitter posted pictures of the truck inviting fans to stop by on January 18, “Spread the word, Brooklyn. #HMonHBO is here to help you maintain. Swing by N 6th and Bedford for CBD lattes and coffee today.” The excitement reached beyond New York. One person replied, “Bring that to DC—lots of people here could use some good vibes!”

The Venice event happened the following day and similar to the Brooklyn invite, they posted a picture of the truck to entice locals.

The experiential event not only encourages the public to watch High Maintenance, but it taps into the growing cannabis industry—one that is quickly gaining mainstream momentum due to its legalization in several states. There is still a great deal of stigma around marijuana. However, at this event, no attendee left a truck “high.”

CBD or Cannabidiol is a cannabis plant-derived, non-psychoactive compound. A World Health Organization report found “cannabidiol does not appear to have potential or cause harm.” It’s also been linked to many health benefits alleviating seizures and anxiety.

While many brands have encountered several barriers when it comes to advertising, the High Maintenance activation illustrates a way to safely use cannabis in marketing.

In August, HBO did a similar interactive event with Bumble. For two weeks, Bumble Date and BFF users were invited to watch movies at the Brownstone in New York. It was part of their ‘Stay Home to the Movies’ campaign. HBO wanted to target a younger crowd because their core audience tends to be in their late 40s.

Ben Sinclair—the show’s leading man—made an appearance to the Brooklyn event to meet fans. Both trucks sold out of the lattes and altogether served around 1,000 drinks. According to Marketing Dive, the CBD Latte event “drove about 12,000 in-person impressions from customers walking around with branded coffee cups and sleeves.”

The comedy-drama TV show follows the New York City nameless deliveryman called “The Guy.” In each episode, he is the thread tying all the storylines together as he delivers weed to his clients. The show started as a web series on Vimeo in 2012 and got an HBO deal in 2015.

Digital Entertainment World 2019 Showcases 75+ Unique Sessions; 200 Speakers

Recognized by Hollywood insiders, digital influencers and industry leaders throughout the world as a “must-attend” event, now in its 6th year, Digital Media Wire’s Digital Entertainment World (DEW) is where you want to be if you are in the business of creating or monetizing digital entertainment content.

Digital Entertainment World 2019 focuses on “The Power of Creativity and Influence” and will cover topics from OTT to Innovation to eSports to Millennials to Content Marketing to VR/AR to Music to Rights to Startups, etc., as this theme guides all talks, discussions, meetings and presentations over the two days: February 4-5, 2019. We’ll hear from the creators, brands and platforms that are growing audiences and engaging fans and showcase the innovative partnerships between technology and content companies that are bringing new entertainment experiences to life.

We are pleased to announce the addition of the “Creators & Influencers” track–two days of sessions devoted to the dynamic creators and influencers and their tech and brand partners.

DEW includes more than 75 unique sessions and 200 speakers on topics essential to the future of video, music, brands, marketing, gaming, AR/VR and AI. The fast-growing two-day conference includes six tracks: Video/TV/Movies; Brands/Advertising; Games/Interactive; Music; RightsTech; and Creators/Influencers.

This year’s event will be held in the hip and modern Marina del Rey Marriott just steps from the beach and located in the heart of LA’s thriving Silicon Beach with easy access to Santa Monica, Venice and Playa Vista. The event includes keynotes, fireside chats, presentations, panel discussions, tech demos, startup showcase, innovative exhibitions, daily DJ music and performers and the best networking in the hotel’s Sinder Lounge.

Join DEW 2019 on February 4-5 at the Marriott Marina del Rey and be a part of the future of connected entertainment.
For more information, including schedule and speaker details, please visit: www.dewexpo.com.

Amazon’s Weird And Wonderful Marketing For ‘The Grand Tour’ Season 3

The third season of The Grand Tour recently returned to Amazon Prime and to promote it, the company used new strategies on different platforms. Amazon launched The Grand Tour Game, an episodic video game for fans to feel like they’re part of the show, and they concocted a clever hashtag not everyone wholly understood.

The Grand Tour, hosted by James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson, premiered its third season on January 18. It’s a spinoff of the original BBC series Top Gear which the trio presented until 2015. However, this version focuses on more than just the cars but on “three middle-aged men” traveling the world.

The show’s YouTube channel recently shared a promotional clip with May and Richard Hammond brainstorming for a new slogan for the upcoming season—meanwhile, Clarkson is in Sweden driving a Lamborgini around a frozen lake. The banter goes back and forth until hey arrive on “hit” as the correct descriptor. Hammond proceeds to make it “snappier” by working it into a hashtag: #amazonshitcarshow.

The clever marketing work by Amazon’s team got about 15-thousand likes on the initial tweet. Due to the deadpan delivery of the joke, there were mixed reactions. One user replied: “Not sure advertising it as ‘amazon shitcarshow’ was the best move…” The Grand Tour reacted, “??? We’re proud of #TheGrandTour being Amazon’s hit car show.” Other fans loved the play on words. Also, both primary hashtags for the show, #amazonshitcarshow and #thegrandtour, generate a Twitter-specific emoji of the three hosts—adding to the hilarity of it all.

The Grand Tour Game launched its first installment “Detroit Drift City” the same day as the show’s release date. The game and show will release simultaneously every Friday. Amazon Games Studios told Variety the game lets fans “emulate” situations from the show. Players can drive through Detroit, the city featured in the first episode, in a Demon, Exorcist or RTR. As more shows are released, players will have access to more events, tracks and cars. Additionally, there is a multiplayer option.

“This is not a game based in the universe of The Grand Tour, there have been video games based on movies or TV shows.  It’s literally playing the show—other game companies I think would be interested in and probably will end up making something like this as well,” Amazon Game Studios creative director Craig Sullivan said to Variety

It’s not the first time Amazon used gaming to promote The Grand Tour and market two of its properties at the same time. In 2017, Amazon created a livestream event through Twitch, which Amazon acquired in 2014, to promote the show’s second season. The interactive experience featured a battleship-style game board where players could blow up cars.

“We were looking for a way to get young adults to sample The Grand Tour,” Michael Benson, head of marketing at Amazon Prime Video, told AList at the time. “We knew that gamers on Twitch love live gaming, and [hosts] Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May love to execute incredible stunts with vehicles of all kinds on their show. So, we wondered if we could combine live gaming with car stunts on a global scale.”

Inside Kabam’s In-House Rebrand

After 12 years, three offices, dozens of games and $300 million in yearly revenue, game developer Kabam has decided to rebrand. Out goes the “bomb” image and in comes a bold, ombré orange ‘K’ and a new typeface. The project was incredibly intensive for the company.

For the last two years, Kabam’s team has listened to their users’s feedback to incorporate them into the rebranding process. They didn’t want their players just to love the games but also the changes surrounding the entire brand.

It took a year for Kabam to complete the rebrand and according to the company, it’s more than just an updated label—it’s a visual example of how far they’ve come. It’s blood, sweat and tears.

When Kabam was founded over ten years ago, the Motorola RAZR was alive and well, and the thought of playing a video game with other people on your phone was fiction. Kabam was originally conceived by Kevin Chou, Michael Li and Holly Liu under the name Watercooler, to connect sport and entertainment fans on various social media platforms. In 2009, they launched the game Kingdoms of Camelot on Facebook and transformed into a gaming company.

In 2016, the company was acquired by NetMarble, a South Korean game publishing company. It was a rough transition for Kabam, but the challenges made them who they are today. The new logo is a representation of Kabam’s resurgence.

“We wanted a brand, a logo that would capture that multiplicity of emotions and experiences, as opposed to the static logo that is more in line with the old days of the web,” said Tim Fields, CEO of Kabam. Fields has been making games and software professionally since 1995 and his resume includes Microsoft and Capcom.

“It really took us about a year after that acquisition to get back on our feet and figure out who’s who and [what] the world will look like. That kind of thing is transformative to a company,” Fields added.

The rebranding isn’t just representative of Kabam’s technological advances, business changes, but also indicative of the sense of community at the company.

Instead of contracting out the job, the gaming company put together an in-house team that consisted of multiple disciplines to work on the brand project. They wanted to guarantee representation and input from intersectional views and backgrounds within the company.

At one point, Kabam finished a new logo design but came to the realization they need take a step back, and eventually concluded they need scrap it. The team engaged in healthy debates and worked on communicating with each other to make sure they were on the same page. It was vital everyone was happy with the project.

“I don’t know exactly what the final cost was, but I will tell you that it is insignificant to me compared to what we accomplished which is to make sure that everybody here at the company really loves the way they’re represented now,” said Fields. “I wish you could see everybody here in Vancouver wearing their new shirts.”

The rebranding process took an enormous amount of internal resources. Kabam did commission a video announcing the new logo from an outside vendor. The 1:10-second video appeals to consumers’ emotions while playing games and kicks off with blue butterflies forming the new logo with the words “Embrace zen-like calm,” alongside meditative music. The colors gradually change as the video progresses and it finishes by declaring “Unleash your emotions, experience Kabam.”

“We wanted to celebrate all the different emotions that players experience, while they are playing our games. And we also decided to encourage some of those emotions a little bit more. It’s really representative more of our personality: we are passionate, we are fighting and gaming and adventurous. That’s the whole basis of the rebrand,” said Callie Jenkins, Kabam’s senior director of product marketing.

Kabam’s rebranding turned out to be more than just a new logo, it was an essential process for the company itself.

“We have a very strong culture of gaming; we play our games together. Every single day. My mom would say, ‘Tim, you don’t do anything at work but play games.’ I don’t think that’s entirely true, but I do think that that’s one of the things that allows us to keep a small-company-feel that remains very important to us.”

Amazon’s IMDb Announces Free, Ad-Supported Video Channel

Amazon is joining the realm of free, ad-supported (AVOD) streaming services through IMDb. The company announced its launching Freedive, a channel offering viewers in the U.S. the ability to watch a large library of TV shows as well as popular films.

The subscription-free content can be streamed through a laptop, personal computer and on all Amazon Fire TV devices. Previously, IMDb only offered short-form original series, trailers and celebrity interviews—and no IMDb isn’t going away, everything will be integrated into Freedive like The IMDb Show and No Small Parts. 

“Customers already rely on IMDb to discover movies and TV shows and decide what to watch,” said Col Needham, founder and CEO of IMDb, in a press release.

“With the launch of IMDb Freedive, they can now also watch full-length movies and TV shows on IMDb and all Amazon Fire TV devices for free. We will continue to enhance IMDb Freedive based on customer feedback and will soon make it available more widely, including on IMDb’s leading mobile apps.”

The Amazon-owned company will also feature X-Ray, a playoff on what IMDb is popular for, information on cast, crew, trivia and more.

Ad-supported streaming is changing the video subscription-based landscape. The World Advertising Research Center (WARC) expects the service’s ad spend to double to $47 billion by 2023. in 2019, its expected AVOD will receive around $23 billion in brand investment.

During the 2018 holiday season, AVOD competitor Roku launched its first-ever “Stream-a-thon,” to allow their users to stream certain movies and TV shows for free. The Roku Channel offers ad-supported movies, TV, news, sports and other shows. Last May, the company saw more profits with ads and licensing fees than hardware—a first for Roku.

At CES 2019, Plex—a client-server media player system—also announced it would launch an ad-support service. According to TechCrunch, it could come as early as this year.

Freedive is available now at www.imdb.com/freedive. Fire TV customers can see the IMDb Freedive icon in the “Your Apps & Channels” line.