Social Media News: Secret DMs, Musical Ads And Snap Ad Shake-Ups

This week in social media news, Twitter tests encryption, Snapchat drops licensing fees, Instagram adds more action and YouTube presses play on Vevo ads.

Twitter: Secret Codes, Silly Quotes

Encrypted direct messages (DM) may soon become an option for Twitter users, TechCrunch reported on Monday. An eagle-eyed Twitter user spotted a test template for encrypted DMs in the back-end code of the Android version. Although Twitter did not officially confirm the feature, the company’s CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted a link to the TechCrunch article with a “shushing face” emoji.

In the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, Twitter and other sites are bumping privacy to the top of their lists of things to fix. Last week, Twitter found a bug that left passwords available for internal viewing. Although the company claims no one misused the information, Twitter encouraged everyone to change their passwords immediately.

On a lighter note, Twitter code also reveals the ability to quote tweets with a GIF. The yet-to-be announced feature was spotted by the same computer science student, Jane Manchun Wong.

Snapchat: Discover Your Own Fees Now

Publishers featured on Snapchat Discover channels will no longer be paid upfront licensing fees, making ad revenue their sole source of income on the app.

Snap, Inc. initially paid these fees as an incentive for publishers to create daily and weekly content on the platform. Now the incentive is for media partners to sell advertising, as publishers now share ad revenue from Snapchat Discover.

YouTube:Turning up The Music Ads

Google’s video sharing site has a complicated relationship with the music industry, but a new deal may help change that—at least when it comes to selling ads.

YouTube has penned a deal with Vevo, the music video joint venture between Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. Under the new agreement, YouTube will be able to sell Vevo clips directly to advertisers—previously available only to Vevo’s sales team.

During its NewFronts pitch, YouTube announced that it will now sell Vevo clips as part of its “Google Preferred” tier.

Instagram: More Talk, More Action

Instagram introduced call to action buttons to select business profiles last week that allow users to book appointments, make reservations and make purchases without leaving the app. On Tuesday, additional companies added action buttons including Fandango, Acuity, ChowNow and several others.

The company reported that more than 150 million users have conversations with brands each month using Instagram Direct. On Tuesday, Instagram announced changes to the Direct inbox designed to help brands reply in a timely manner and keep messages organized.

A new feature called “quick replies” will be tested in the coming weeks that allows businesses to respond to frequently asked questions

Report: Rampant Inequality In Brand Mascots

Despite recent strides in balancing representation in advertising, other aspects of the marketing mix have a ways to go to achieve equity. A new study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and Jel Sert on representation in brand mascots reveals just how widespread the issue is.

“Mascot images convey notions of who matters more in society,” the report reads. “Like representation in film, television, and other forms of mass communication, gender and race representations in the familiar images seen in brand advertising send subtle messages about which identities have the authority to confirm value on a product.”

On the gender front, brand mascots are twice as likely to be male than female, with fully 25 percent of female mascots presented as gender stereotypes—such as cooking in kitchens—compared to just 16 percent for men. Additionally, male mascots were 57 percent more likely to be depicted as carrying authority than female mascots.

“A sizable portion of mascots promote body standards for women and men that are difficult to achieve,” the report reads.

In terms of appearance and sexualization, the differences in treatment of male and female mascots diverge significantly. Female mascots were eight times more likely to be portrayed in sexually revealing clothing than men, and were 25 times more like to be portrayed as partially nude. One in ten men were displayed as having “unusually large muscles,” while one in five women were displayed as either “skinny” or “very skinny.”

“The widespread sexual objectification of girls and women in US media has been linked to higher rates of body shame and hatred, eating disorders, lower self-esteem, depression, lower cognitive functioning, impaired motor skill development, compromised sexual functioning, lower grade-point averages, lower political efficacy, and lower engagement in social and political activism,” the report reminds. “In short, product mascots commonly reflect and reinforce gender stereotypes.”

On racial lines, the divide is even more precipitous.

“People of color constitute 38 percent of the U.S. population, but only 15.2 percent of mascots,” the report reads. “This underrepresentation of people of color as mascots looks similar to numbers in other forms of media.”

For those people of color actually represented, a significant majority were depicted as racial or ethnic stereotypes. Two-thirds of mascots of color were portrayed with oversimplified cultural markers, reinforcing simplistic and harmful societal expectations. By comparison, only 3 percent of white mascots could be characterized as an ethnic stereotype.

Mascots of color were vastly over-represented in depictions of service, appearing more than twice as often preparing food as white mascots, and none whatsoever were shown eating or drinking.

“These representations reinforce notions of people of color as working to serve others, and white people as consumers,” the report adds. “The findings are stark.”

To solve these problems, the Geena Davis Institute put the impetus on marketers—it recommends seriously considering if one’s mascot upholds or challenges stereotypes. Though mascots on their own only possess a minuscule influence, the effect of “harmless” stereotypes adds up.

“Corporations can be a powerful force for interrupting and challenging gender and racial stereotypes by creating mascots that include these groups more often, and by portraying them in more positive, complex, and ultimately humanizing ways,” the report concludes.

Brands Invest In Experiential To Meet Demand For Consumer Experiences

Brands, especially in retail, are investing in experiential marketing to meet consumer preferences for experiences over possessions.

In the past week alone, several brands have announced plans to begin or grow experiential efforts. Recent studies have shown that a majority of young consumers value experiences over material possessions, and brands are feeling the pressure.

During NewFronts, Vice Media announced the acquisition of Villain, a company that produces over 300 events a year. Vice already hosts a number of events including its Noisey Nights concert series and Broadly women’s leadership event, but Villain—who has produced events for clients like PepsiCo and RockStar Games—will further the brand’s focus on consumer experiences.

Millennial female-facing publisher Refinery29 is continuing its experiential push, as well. During its NewFronts presentation, the company announced that it would double the number of locations for its pop-up event 29Rooms. This summer, San Francisco and Chicago will be added to its existing New York and Los Angeles installations. Refinery29 also announced a new touring event series that features battling DJs called “Beauty and the Beats.”

Travel brands are in a strong position to reach consumers through experiential efforts. The global travel market reached $1.6 trillion in 2017, according to Deloitte, attributing this upward trend to consumer preferences for experiences.

Moxie, Marriott’s hotel chain that caters to young travelers, is investing in partnerships that create experiences for both its guests and staff working on-site. Moxie has partnered with comedy improv theater group Upright Citizens Brigade, which will host improv workshops in the hotel bar as well as create custom employee training videos. The workshops will debut on May 20 at Moxy New York Times Square.

Concept stores are a staple in New York City, with brands like Sony offering spaces for guests to explore, interact with and share on social media.

Legacy department store brand Macy’s also plans to integrate experiences into its customer journey. Macy’s has acquired Story, a concept store in New York City that will refresh its theme and products every four-to-six weeks. Rachel Shechtman, Story’s founder and chief executive officer, has also joined Macy’s, Inc. as brand experience officer.

Report: Mobile Commerce Declines As Shoppers Prefer Ease Of Computers

Consumers are purchasing less physical items from their mobile devices and opting for desktop computers instead, says Forrester Research.

The percentage of online sales made via mobile phones declined from 43 percent in 2016 to 36 percent in 2017, according to a report called “Mobile Shopping Is Stalling, But Don’t Panic” made available to AListDaily.

Forrester Research found that US adults are increasingly turning to home computers to do their shopping instead of mobile phones, despite considerable investment by retailers in the platform.

In 2016, 21 percent of US online adults with a mobile phone said they purchased physical goods on mobile phones at least weekly, but in 2017, that figure fell to 16 percent. In fact, the percentage of US online adults who said they don’t even own a mobile phone more than doubled from five percent to 11 percent between 2016 and 2017.

When asked why US adults steered clear of mobile shopping, the most popular answer at 51 percent was that using a computer is “easier.” Respondents are also creatures of habit, with 46 percent saying that they are used to making purchases on a computer and therefore do not engage in mobile commerce.

“Digital business executives should carefully analyze the objectives that they have for their mobile investments and recognize the limitations of the mobile channel,” wrote Sucharita Kodali, Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst for ecommerce and channel strategy.

Kodali attributes slow mobile commerce adoption to cumbersome mobile sites, requiring too many keystrokes to complete a purchase. The report also warns retailers not to assume that these trends will change as younger users become consumers.

“There are few ‘no PC’ households in the US,” Kodali said, “and we don’t anticipate that changing as young children are becoming accustomed to larger—not smaller!—screens.”

As for other countries, however, mobile commerce is anticipated to thrive. Less access to computers will most likely translate to mobile commerce, Forrester noted, especially in countries like India and China.

Fox Searchlight Pictures Promotes Roya Vakili To SVP Marketing, And Other Hires

This week: executive shakeups as Fox Searchlight Pictures Promotes a marketing vice president, Foresters Financial expands its global marketing leadership, Rosewood prepares to open a Hong Kong resort and Harrods finds a marketing and customer chief from A&E.

A study by the Pew Research Center has revealed that not only are women mostly excluded from executive positions at top-level companies, but that the problem is not likely to be solved anytime soon. Just 5 percent of the S&P 1500 have female CEOs, and only 11.5 percent of C-suite employees are women. Worse, their research found that women make up only 15 percent of long-term CEO candidates.

Fox Searchlight Pictures Appoints Roya Vakili Senior Vice President Of Marketing

Roya Vakili has been promoted to senior vice president of marketing for Fox Searchlight Pictures International.

“Roya has helped to build the campaigns for many of our most successful international box office hits,” said Rebecca Kearey, president of Fox Searchlight Pictures International. “She covers the whole gamut of marketing for our films, and her consummate creativity has made her an invaluable member of our team.”

Vakili, previously vice president of marketing, has been with the studio since 2006, managing marketing for both The Shape Of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Foresters Financial Hires David Longfritz As CMO

International financial services provider Foresters Financial has appointed David Longfritz as its global chief marketing officer.

“Foresters is very fortunate to attract someone with David’s deep skillset and vast experience,” said Jim Boyle, president and chief executive officer of Foresters Financial. “He is a passionate, collaborative and strategic thinker who will provide strong leadership to our global marketing teams.”

Previously, Longfritz served as senior vice president of marketing and retirement services at National Life Group.

Rosewood Appoints Simon Gilkes Marketing And Sales Director

Simon Gilkes has joined Rosewood Hong Kong as its director of sales and marketing, part of its pre-opening team for the Rosewood Hotel and Resorts based in the city.

“Simon is a vital addition to the Rosewood Hong Kong team, and we are delighted to have his valuable global expertise to steer sales and marketing strategies for the launch of our newest ultra-luxury property in Hong Kong,” said Marc Brugger, Rosewood Hong Kong’s managing director.

Gilkes has worked in hospitality for close to two decades, joining from SBE London, where he served as regional director of sales and marketing.

Theresa Lawrence Joins ERP Maestro As CMO

Provider of cloud-based and automated access control, security auditing and reporting solutions for SAP ERP Maestro has appointed Theresa Lawrence as its chief marketing officer to drive market growth.

“We are on a high-growth trajectory, and our new executive team members bring the skills and experience to help us accelerate on our path to expand into new markets and increase adoption of ERP Maestro’s disruptive, SaaS-based solution to manage internal security risks in complex and susceptible ERP environments,” said Jody Paterson, CEO of ERP Maestro.

Lawrence most recently served as chief marketing and customer officer for Fridayd.

The Rest Of The C-Suite

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, May 4. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at

Harrods Signs Amanda Hill As Chief Marketing, Customer Officer

Retailer Harrods has appointed Amanda Hill as CM&CO, to lead the company’s brand strategy, marketing, communications and customer service efforts.

“We are delighted to welcome Amanda to Harrods, to take on this strategically important new role for the business. As we increasingly focus our business towards delivering unparalleled customer experience, Amanda’s vision as CM&CO will be integral towards building our strategy going forward,” said Michael Ward, Harrods’ managing director, to The Drum“Her experience and valuable insight into today’s modern consumer will help us build on Harrods strong brand identity amongst our global customer base.”

The appointment comes on the heels of the retailer restructuring its brand and digital teams to account or the new role. Hill most recently worked at A&E Networks as its chief marketing officer.

Riversand Brings On Katie Fabiszak As Vice President Of Marketing

Riversand Technologies, a data management company, has appointed Katie Fabiszak to lead its marketing efforts.

“Katie is a proven executor and disruptor. Her experience in the development and execution of go-to-market strategies and building high performing teams will have an immediate and substantive impact on Riversand’s growth, ” said Upen Varanasi, CEO and founder of Riversand. “Katie also shares our conviction that a new breed of data management solutions are needed to drive digital transformation for our customers.”

Fabiszak has been in the data management industry for two decades, joining Riversand from Informatica, where she served as vice president of marketing, strategy and planning.

Gulf Oil Hires Sue Hayden As CMO

Sue Hayden has joined Gulf Oil as executive vice president and chief marketing officer, a newly created role.

“I am excited to welcome Sue to our company,” said Johnson. “Sue’s extensive commercial and retail experience combined with her passion make her the ideal champion for our mission to drive change and develop the Gulf brand along with our partners.”

Hayden has worked in the oil industry for over 35 years, most recently as vice president of fuel sales for North America.

Diageo Ships Edward Pilkington Overseas To Fill NA CMO Slot

As top leaders of Diageo’s North America business retire, the alcoholic beverage manufacturer is shipping in talent overseas to replace them, transporting Edward Pilkington and Claudia Schubert from Europe. Pilkington will take over as chief marketing and innovation officer, while Schubert will assume the role of president for Diageo’s US and Canada business.

“We are delighted to welcome two of Diageo’s most talented and experienced senior leaders to North America,” said Deirdre Mahlan, president of Diageo North America. “Claudia and Ed have both played critical leadership roles in the recent transformation of our Europe business, and both bring world-class multi-market experience that will help drive their respective functions forward.”

Pilkington has spent over 24 years at Diageo, and has led the company’s marketing efforts at separate times for Australia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe.

Cenergistic Appoints Luis Pajares As Chief Revenue Officer

Energy-conservation tech firm Cenergistic has hired Luis Pajares as executive vice president and chief revenue officer, where he will oversee the company’s strategic growth, sales and marketing teams.

“Luis has proven experience in executive leadership at some of the world’s leading technology companies; he’s a strategy guy who will focus our sales effort, expand our offering and grow our business in current and future markets,” said Ray Hood, CEO of Cenergistic. “As we continue to invest in software development, sales and marketing, Luis will be instrumental in our transition to intelligent building solutions to complement our existing offering for energy conservation in schools, universities, municipalities and healthcare.”

Before joining Cenergistic, Pajares served as group vice president for Oracle Communications, handling the company’s worldwide sales operations.

Samantha Yanks Joins Douglas Elliman As CMO

Real-estate broker Douglas Elliman has hired former Gotham editor Samantha Yanks as its chief marketing officer, a role in which she will expand the firm’s sponsorship, such as Art Basel Miami, and magazine marketing efforts.

“She is a powerful marketer and branding expert, and we are thrilled to welcome her to the team,” Howard Lorber, Douglas Elliman chairman, said to Page Six.

Mattress Firm Hires Scott Thaler as CMO

Set to lead the specialty mattress retailer’s brand marketing and consumer engagement operations, Scott Thaler has joined Mattress Firm as its chief marketing officer.

“We are thrilled to welcome Scott Thaler to the Mattress Firm family. He brings a well-rounded marketing and business perspective and fresh, bold ideas that will help tell our story and demonstrate the value of a good night’s sleep,” said Steve Stagner, executive chairman, president and CEO of Mattress Firm. “He understands our culture, our industry and our customer, and will play a pivotal role in driving our continued retail transformation across all marketing channels.”

Prior to signing with Mattress Firm, Thaler spent 14 years at Zimmerman Advertising, serving at times as chief interaction, digital and client officers.

Keith Belton Joins Phynd As Marketing Vice President

Phynd Technologies announced a number of executive appointments today, including that of Keith Belton as vice president of marketing and Cathy Jones as vice president of sales operations.

“Phynd is pleased to bring aboard customer-facing leaders of Cathy and Keith’s caliber,” says Tom White, CEO of Phynd. “Together they bring a collective 40+ years of health care sales and marketing leadership to Phynd. We are counting on that experience and leadership to continue accelerating our growth as the leader in provider information management.”

Belton most recently led Nuance Communications’ Dragon Medical line of business, which during his tenure grew from $6 million to $180 million in annual revenue.

Intex Technologies Appoints Rajiv Bakshi CMO

India-based consumer electronics company Intex Technologies has tapped Rajiv Bakshi as its chief marketing officer, The Economic Times reports. In the role, Bakshi will oversee the company’s go-to-market strategy across its over 25 product verticals.

“We are delighted to have Mr. Bakshi amidst us and are certain that his diverse experience will go a long way in contributing to the growth of the company in India and international markets,” said Keshav Bansai, Intex Technologies’ director, in a statement. “His immense expertise in strategic marketing and brand management will augment Intex’s growth and profitability.”

Previously, Bakshi served at Discovery Networks for 13 years, rising to the level of vice president and head of marketing and products for the India and South Asia regions.

Scott Heimes Joins Zipwhip As CMO

Business-texting cloud platform Zipwhip is expanding its marketing suite, appointing Scott Heimes as its chief marketing officer.

“We are thrilled to have Scott join the Zipwhip team,” said John Lauer, CEO of Zipwhip. “His track record in B2B communications technology and proven results propelling startups to the next stage comes at the right time for Zipwhip.”

Before joining Zipwhip, Heimes served as CMO for SendGrid, a digital communications platform, where he helped drive the company’s 40 percent growth during his tenure.

Shangri-La Hires Irene Lin As Executive Vice President Of Marketing

Joining the company as its first-ever executive vice president of marketing, Irene Lin will oversee the hospitality brand’s global marketing efforts, Marketing reports.

Lin joins the company from Marriott International, where she served as vice president of digital, loyalty, partnerships and portfolio marketing.

Job Vacancies 

Events Producer AList Pasadena, CA
Director, Global Strategic Marketing Johnson & Johnson Irvine, CA
Senior Director And VP Of Marketing And Communications adMarketplace New York, NY
VP, Digital Marketing And Analytics Herbalife Los Angeles, CA
VP, Marketing And Communications Yamaha Buena Park, CA
VP, Digital Marketing Channels  Capital Group Los Angeles, CA

Make sure to check back for updates on our jobs page.

Brandless Opens L.A. Pop-Up Shop That Doesn’t Sell Anything

Beauty and lifestyle dark-horse brand Brandless only sells its products online, for $3 apiece. But, between May 1 and May 13, the company has a single physical location, a small pop-up storefront in Los Angeles, with one catch: none of the products on display are for sale.

For a brand that (until now) exists exclusively online, overcoming consumer incredulity over their products is a major hurdle, Lee Anne Grant, head of business development & partnerships at Brandless, told AListDaily on a tour of the shop. Especially since Brandless’ brand focuses on unobtrusive labeling and unflashy packaging, the company has taken a handicap on selling its own products as part of its brand mission.

“We have over 300 products: [our community] want to understand what they taste like, how big they are, touch, try it, et cetera,” Grant said. “[Opening the pop-up] was to help them experience the actual products.”

Called a “Pop-up With Purpose,” the physical location aims to address these issues: visitors may not be able to take the boxes of products home with them but there are a number of sampling stations, letting potential customers try out the products firsthand, and order them later, if they choose.

“We’re not doing a pop-up to drive revenue or be in retail,” Grant said. “We’re doing a pop-up to give our community an experience. We wanted to focus more on creating social moments for them.

And indeed, the other activities hosted at the pop-up were consistent with Grant’s stated goal. Over the two weeks the pop-up is running, Brandless is hosting a number of events at the location, ranging in subject from gluten-free cooking tutorials to kid-friendly activities to meditation seminars—customers can shell out $9 for a ticket for the events and in addition 10 meals donated to the company’s charity partner, Feeding America, in their name.

Grant identified Brandless’ target audience as two separate groups: anti-establishment millennials seeking out non-GMO, vegan and gluten-free home and beauty products (a group Grant identified as “belief buyers”), and “heads of household” buying for larger families, looking for convenience and to avoid the higher cost of brand names, something Brandless calls a “BrandTax.” The e-commerce startup’s social media presence around the pop-up is designed to reach both groups in their own ways.

“We wanted to try an event space where we could bring thought leaders and community members to interact and talk about everything from living celiac disease and being gluten free to how to give more back to nonprofits,” Grant stated.

The store features a number of branded Instagrammable items, such as a floating box exploding out Brandless products, a wall of do-it-yourself empowerment phrases (contributed to by Beyoncé) and a huge bottle of maple syrup.

For the older and out-of-town, Brandless has been live-streaming many of its live events on Facebook for free, reaching the former group on their preferred platform. Additionally, the company will soon debut a pair of national television ad campaigns, focusing on the brand’s consistent pricing through the lens of both an overworked mother and younger consumer testimonials.

The pop-up focuses much more on exposing the still-new Brandless brand to the largely ignorant public—for as much the company appears both in print and social media, it is only 9 months old. “We’re barely a toddler,” Grant was quick to remind. The intent behind the pop-up’s strategy comes from Brandless’ belief that for consumers to be convinced to buy in, they need only see the products in action.

Study: Google And Hershey’s Top List Of America’s Most Loved Brands

America’s most loved brands include Google, Betty Crocker and Campbell’s Soup, according to a recent survey by Morning Consult Brand Intelligence, but consumer favor depends on community, age group and gender.

Morning Consult conducted roughly 250,000 interviews between January and March 2018 that asked US adults to rate a randomized set of brands on areas such as favorability, community impact and purchasing intent. Favorability ratings are then calculated by subtracting negative favorability from positive scores.

Based on the survey results, Americans love technology and food. Eight of the top 25 brands are related to food and five include technology brands. According to Morning Consult’s methodology, “The final rankings were determined using surveys conducted online among a national sample of adults. Between 2,500 and 50,000 adults rated each of the over 1,000 companies from January through March 2018.”

Google topped Morning Consult’s list as America’s most loved brand, with a net favorability rating of 78.7. Hershey’s came in at a close second with 78.6. Rounding out the top five are Pillsbury at 76.1, with Amazon and UPS tied for fourth place with a favorability score of 76.

YouTube was the only social media brand to top the list. The video sharing site holds the number nine spot with a favorability score of 73.8.

Brand views vary by where Americans live, the survey found. For example, Carhartt scored 52.1 with respondents from rural areas, compared to a general population score of 39.8. In urban areas, BET ranked 26.7 compared to 14.9 overall.

Americans making $75,000 or more with at least $50,000 invested in the stock market had varying opinions, as well. Boeing, for example, received a 64.6 favorability score from this demographic compared to 39.6 when combined with the general population.

Young adults between the ages of 18-29 have their own brand views, as well. This age group likes Wells Fargo more than the general population, scoring the brand 13.1 and 2.8 respectively. The biggest gap goes to Red Bull, which received an overall score of only -1.3 but 19.2 with young adults.

Most Loved Brands Are:

  1. Google
  2. Hershey’s
  3. Pillsbury
  4. Amazon
  5. UPS
  6. Kellogg’s
  7. Sony
  8. Betty Crocker
  9. YouTube
  10. Campbell’s Soup

3 Hot Trends For Retail, CPG, QSR And Auto Marketers

New technology is emerging on a daily basis, with the rise of mobile first consumers and younger generations existing entirely in a “always-on” world, agencies are constantly being pushed to find captivating and innovative ways to better engage with their consumers. From AR/VR to voice, from IoT to the new Snapchat shoppable lenses, find out how the best brand and agency marketers are adopting new technology to increase efficiency and challenge conventional ideas at MMS Chicago on May 23. Below we’ve outlined three trends we’re hearing about that are top of mind for retail, CPG, QSR and auto marketers.

Content And Commerce

There’s a lot happening in this space, but the latest is Snapchat’s launch of shoppable lenses, including a buy button and advertising within lenses—one of their most popular features. Similar to Instagram’s “buy now” ads, the new Snap feature has the potential to reach more than a third of Snapchat’s daily users, according to a recent Mashable article.


Agency partners say that clients are asking them what it means for marketing, and wanting to strategize ways to test it.

“More than a handful of clients are wondering how it will impact engagement with audience,” says one advisor.

According to a recent survey by Narvar, consumers use their devices for a few things, including: researching products (51 percent), adding to shopping lists (36 percent), tracking a package (30 percent), making a purchase (22 percent), providing ratings or reviews (20 percent), contacting support (18 percent) and reordering items (17 percent). One of the biggest questions is brand loyalty—will consumers ask for your brand specifically, or will they just ask for “toilet paper?” How will your brand rise to the top? And when it comes to advertising and marketing, who will incorporate brands in a non-invasive way? How do you provide a useful and interesting experience in voice?


There is a lot of potential for augmented and virtual reality. From Rebecca Minkoff’s connected store of the future with smart walls, smart mirrors in dressing rooms, etc… to Amex’s shoppable AR experience in this year’s Coachella app. In auto, Nissan has embraced the tech a few times over with Battle Test: A Nissan 360-Degree Virtual Reality Experience for the Samsung Gear VR and Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay for the HTC Vive and Samsung Gear. So far, we’ve only seen a taste of what’s in store.

Augmented reality is a growth market, and smart marketers should take note. AR & VR are the perfect platforms to create deeper engagement, fandom, and next generation product stories that illustrate how technology can win the game.

MMS Chicago: Consumer Activation is coming up on May 23, 2018!  Join us as more than 20 of the most recognized names in marketing take the stage at Downtown Chicago’s Mid-America Club to discuss how they’re utilizing the latest marketing platforms and evolving ad tech to drive consumer activation relevant to their consumers and brand. Check out the agenda and speakers you’ll meet at MMS here, and use the code “AListChicago” for 20 percent off your pass to MMS Chicago!

CMO Council: Under-Delivering Martech Platforms Threaten CMO Job Security

The joint necessity and difficulty in relating customer experience initiatives to the company bottom line is causing many chief marketing officers to worry about their job security according to a new report by the CMO Council.

“The State of Engagement: Bridging the Customer Journey Across Every Last Mile,” released on April 30, done in partnership with RedPoint Global, found that while 76 percent of marketers view revenue growth as the primary measure of success for their customer experience strategy, 80 percent are either unable or only sometimes able to connect their strategy to its impact on their business.

This isn’t just an academic issue, either. According to the CMO Council’s findings, 52 percent of marketing executives say that they may lose their jobs if their customer experience strategies fail, and 48 percent say the same if their technology investments don’t deliver.

“CMOs have picked up the mantle of owning the development and execution of the customer experience strategy and are fully aware that their jobs depend on the success of these initiatives,” stated Liz Miller, Senior Vice president of marketing for the CMO Council, in a press release. “But many are rightfully questioning the patchwork assembly of point solutions that have been amassed in the marketing technology stack.”

Of the marketers the CMO Council surveyed, 65 percent agreed that their organizations need a single data record per customer in order to best engage their audience, but 26 percent doubt that such a “golden record” is even possible.

“While marketers have sought a “golden record” for years, there has been little movement toward data and intelligence unification,” the report states. “In reality, the path to resolution has typically been paved with technology implementations that have added complexity, cost and fortified silo walls separating pools of data.”

This data siloing has very real consequences for marketers: only 5 percent of the marketers surveyed believe that their organizations are doing an “exceptional” job at providing a quality customer experience, while 47 percent rated their companies at “not very good.”

“The failing grade that marketers are giving to the current state of engagement is, in some part, based on their struggles to connect individually developed and deployed campaigns into a connected and cohesive customer journey,” the report reads. “This is further exacerbated by an organization’s challenges specific to their ability (or inability, as the case may be) to collect the most valuable data about the customer that can be leveraged to craft journeys and improve the state of engagement.”

The difficulties marketers are encountering are not due to a lack of effort, either. According to the CMO Council, 47 percent of marketers have replaced their martech platforms in the past because of failure “to connect data and channels in the way that was promised.”

The CMO Council’s findings align with multiple surveys conducted earlier this year by OnBrand, Bynder and PointSource, which found that the vast majority of marketers it surveyed identified their greatest challenge going into 2018 as their difficulty in finding the proper martech platform for their needs.

Pepsi Increases Marketing Budget To Win Favor Over Coca-Cola In North America

PepsiCo has announced that it will increase its marketing budget in order to remain competitive against Coca-Cola, especially in North America.

Despite reporting higher-than-predicted earnings of $12.56 billion, revenue for PepsiCo beverages in North America fell one percent in the first quarter of 2018.

In response, PepsiCo will invest in additional marketing, including its “Pepsi Generations” campaign that debuted during SuperBowl LII. The company previously announced in February that it would invest its GOP tax cut savings in ecommerce and digital capabilities.

“The overwhelming driver is that, despite moderately increasing our media on trademark Pepsi over the past three years, our share . . . has fallen dramatically relative to our key competitor, who has substantially stepped up their media spending on colas over the past two years,” PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi told investors on Tuesday.

That “key competitor,” of course, is Coca-Cola, whose rebranded Diet Coke products drove volume growth in North America during Q1.

“Although we continued to face challenges in North America Beverages, the sector had sequential improvement in top line momentum since the fourth quarter of 2017,” said Nooyi. “We continued investing in and growing share in a number of faster-growing, future-facing categories. However, competitively we recognize the need to step up investments in core carbonated soft drinks, which we intend to responsibly do.”

Pepsi reported that it saw “improved sales performance and trajectories,” for Gatorade. It recently launched Gatorade Zero, a version without carbohydrates as the company reacts to consumer demand for healthier options.

PepsiCo may not increase ad spending across all divisions, however. The company reduced advertising and marketing expenses in the snack category during Q1 to offset rising freight and commodity costs and may continue to do so. The snack division, which includes Doritos, reported growth in Q1 despite under scrutiny over snacks that were being designed for women. Dubbed “Lady Doritos” by the internet, Pepsi quickly backpedaled against public outcry and mockery.