How Brands Are Activating Employee Influencers

Originally published on ION.

(Editor’s note: AList is published by To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the influencer marketing landscape, click here.)

Out of YouTube and Instagram was born the social media influencer, on which marketers today spend anywhere from $1,000-$500,000 a year. Now a different figure in influencer marketing is emerging: employees. Employee advocacy leads to authentic content, which gives consumers what they ultimately want: trust. This has the potential to trump content created by an influencer who maybe hasn’t even tried the product or service they’re endorsing. Here we explore which brands are using employee advocacy and how employee influencer programs have solved major problems.

LinkedIn found that there’s a 561 percent increase in audience for a brand message when shared by employees versus sharing on a corporate channel alone. Macy’s ran with this when in fall 2017 it launched an in-house influencer team. What started as the Macy’s Style Crew, which included 20 employee ambassadors, has turned into a 400+ team of Macy’s employee influencers who are active across social media channels. 

Macy’s pays its employee influencers, who range from executives to cashiers, an unspecified percentage of each sale they drive. The average Macy’s employee influencer has less than 10,000 followers and any Macy’s employee can apply. Once accepted, they have access to all of the store’s products for free to promote via social using the hashtag #MacysStyleCrew and a link to shop the item in their profile bio.

Employees are strong vehicles to carry your brand message because they’re knowledgeable and have a more unique story to tell about products and services than an influencer who may be trying it for the first time. In fact, employee content is proven to drive action as 26 percent of employee influencer programs have been shown to increase revenue by year on year.

H&M US also started activating its employees’ voices when it launched the H&M Insiders program, which includes 15 of the fast fashion retailer’s employee ambassadors from across the country, “who have their own unique take on our brand and incorporate H&M into their everyday lives.” H&M features the 15 members’ photos, Instagram handles and H&M style picks on a dedicated page on their website.

Brand ambassadors have long contributed to the success of General Electric’s (GE) employer branding. In 2013, the company started an employee ambassador program after it faced difficulty recruiting for open positions. The program, which began with the goal of aiding hiring, human resource managers and talent acquisition, led to an 800 percent increase in applicants. In Q1 2017, GE’s employee-generated social content created engagement worth $3 million for the company.

“When employees start sharing their ‘story’ or their ‘why’ they cause an emotional connection in anyone reading their profile/post. When this emotional connection happens people tend to start feeling their cause, their ‘why’, in what they do and connect to the purpose. Purpose driven careers and recruiting will only become more and more important with soft skills currently passing hard skills needed in each space,” global employment brand leader at GE, Shaunda Zilch, told LinkedIn.

Zilch says that engaging GE’s employees and allowing them to represent themselves and the company instills a pride in each employee, which helps retention and makes the program stand out as something others want to be a part of. Many consumers also see the value in employee advocacy: 53 percent of all global consumers see employees as the most credible sources for learning about companies, according to Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they agree that, “a good reputation may get me to try a product, but unless I come to trust the company behind a product, I will soon stop buying it.”

Stop Asking Clients to Be Brave. Help Them Feel Brave.

Originally published at AW360 by Paul Charney.

Article takeaways: 

  • How agencies can better prepare their clients for riskier work
  • How to create and nurture better creative partnerships
  • How radical transparency can foster stronger relationships

As brands’ needs continue to evolve and shift, everyone keeps writing about the need for braver clients—complaining that anxious brands only market by the numbers, steamrolling creative agencies and disrespecting their ECDs. Too often, this leads to over-calculated, under-budgeted, poor output with fewer clients willing to roll the dice and take risks on ideas that truly stand out.

But let’s hold up. Is that really the only reason for clients not being brave? The numbers?

I have an alternative theory. Perhaps agencies are too focused on asking clients to be brave instead of making them feel brave.

We’ve all lived the scenario: an accomplished ECD locks eyes with a brand CMO and says, “I know this work might make you uncomfortable, and it’s not exactly the brief, and it seems impossible to pull off, and it’s a smidge over… ok twice your budget, but it will be beautiful and iconic work. It will inspire and change things for your brand, forever. It’s going to work. It’s why we have all those awards in the lobby.”

“You need to trust me.

I can hear you CMOs wincing already. Why? Because for every few times the ‘trust me’ convo has led to huge success, there are twenty other times the results have either been ok, not good, or so bad that CMOs have to start looking for new jobs. Those are terrible odds and to every good CMO, numbers matter.

As Tom Cruise in Risky Business says: “If there was any logic to our language, ‘trust’ would be a four-letter word.”

So, how do we avoid that ‘trust me’ conversation and help clients feel brave instead? I have a few suggestions:

Have a little empathy

For some reason that ‘trust me’ conversation always seems to be more about the agency’s needs and less about the client’s needs. But trust is a two-way street and clients are people, oftentimes with a lot of stress and anxiety. Sometimes they reveal it to the agency, oftentimes they don’t. If they don’t, this can be a real barrier to building real, shared trust and openness to new ideas.

This seems obvious but, as an agency, make sure you put in the time to get to know a client and don’t be afraid to ask them questions that are on the nose like “What are you most nervous about with this assignment?” and “What is your nightmare scenario?” These are questions that demonstrate you’re listening and understand there’s something at stake for them. Empathy is one of the foundational pillars of trust.

Invite them into the process 

This is a big and important one. Figure out a way to make collaboration with a client, less of a transactional relationship and more of a creative partnership. That means letting them in earlier and further into the creative process. This can happen in many ways, but the goal is to get them to add their knowledge of their brand and category into the creative thinking in ways that go beyond an email or brief.

Have them come to the agency for a brainstorm. Have them come over and put some stickies on rough ideas before you spend too much time going in a direction that doesn’t work for them. Or, better yet, explain early on why you think an idea is so awesome. Let them into your thought process before the relationship devolves.

Stop keeping secrets 

If you reveal your process and not obsess over protecting the mystery of how your team generates non-traditional ideas, the ideas won’t seem as non-traditional or risky. Remember, it’s not about selling the dark arts of creativity. That’s old and played out. Shine a bright light on your creative process. Make it public. Show them the step-by-step way you broke down the strategy and how that strategy became multiple executions.

Really digest their numbers

If the client has compelling data, which good clients should, run with it and incorporate it into everyone’s thinking. Help the client look at the potential meaning of those numbers in new ways.

Despite the creative industry pushback on data, numbers can lead to non-traditional thinking. For example, if the numbers say that older audiences only respond to messaging about their kids, this should open you up to really unique and unpredictable truths about that data. And it takes the pressure off of your team if every creative decision refers back to the client’s own data points.

Evaluate ideas using the client’s own words

This is a simple one, but often gets overlooked. Make sure to take copious notes in your early meetings with the clients, asking them questions that are simple, but give them a chance to give you anchors to help them evaluate the work later on. For example, early on ask them “How do you know if the project is a success?” and “What does success look like?” Direct questions can help everyone align on whether the goal is increased sales, to make their brand to be more famous, or for millennials to give a shit about them.

Now, bring those goals back when you’re sharing ideas with the client, literally posting their words on a board as they see your ideas and let them evaluate those ideas based on their past comments, looking at each concept through a lens they created. In this way, you are reminding the client of what is important to them.

There are a lot of ways to avoid telling clients to trust you as the only path to doing exciting work. The key is to create a process where the work doesn’t ask clients to do something risky but instead gets them energized to fix their business problems.

Brand Hacks With Author Emmanuel Probst

During the 193rd episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Dr. Emmanuel Probst, the author of “Brand Hacks: How To Build Brands By Fulfilling The Human Quest For Meaning.” He holds a doctorate in consumer psychology and teaches market research at UCLA. He also works for Ipsos, advising clients on how to measure and optimize their marketing efforts. 

Probst has been studying “why people buy” for about 15 years and shares with us his definition of “meaning” and what he means when using that term. We discuss his book and the tools and tactics a brand manager has at their disposal.

Probst shares that he got into the industry because he is “curious about people,” and notes, “I like to understand why people do what they do, and how people make decisions as individuals, but also as a community, as a group and as a society.” He wrote the book because he wanted to take a different stance on building brands. He felt it important to, “take a step back, understand what consumers want to achieve as individuals, and from there, build brands that fulfill these quests for meaning.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”: 

  • Emmanuel’s background and path to becoming an author and consultant. (01:38) 
  • The reason for writing his book “Brand Hacks.” (02:34)  
  • What people are really looking for in brands. (03:48)  
  • The definitions of “meaning,” according to Dr. Emmanuel Probst. (04:25)  
  • The nuances for the right to define our own meaning. (06:17)  
  • Three types of “meanings” and examples of each. (07:33)  
  • The importance of “nostalgia” in meaning. (10:17)  
  • How does the approach to “meaning” and methodologies in “Brand Hacks” compare to other methodologies? (11:47)   
  • An example of one brand that bridges the gap of multiple methodologies. (14:42)   
  • CrossFit and the notion of community. (18:36)  
  • Top recommendations for brands or marketers leading brands. (20:40)  
  • The experiences of Emmanuel’s past that defines who he is today. (22:20)  
  • Advice for Emmanuel’s younger self. (24:18) 
  • What keeps Emmanuel doing what he does? (25:27)  
  • Brands, companies or causes to take notice of. (27:17)  
  • Biggest opportunity or threat to marketers. (29:51) 

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

Ad Spend On Sports Sponsorship Expected To Reach $48 Billion Worldwide

Advertiser spend on sports sponsorship is predicted to increase five percent in 2020 to reach more than $48 billion globally, the strongest growth in a decade, according to a new study from WARC, “Sports Sponsorship Investment.”

Record investment ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is the source of recent market growth as the event is expected to bring in $5.94 billion in revenue from sponsorships, nearly double the previous event. According to WARC, Olympic partners Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble will spend $1.95 billion worldwide on the event, while domestic sponsors like Canon, Asahi and Fujitsu will spend $3.33 billion, four times higher than the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The majority of investment is concentrated in North America, fueled largely by the financial services sector ($5.3 billion in 2019) and automotive sector ($.24 billion). WARC predicts US brand associations with the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Basketball Association (NBA) will reach $3.97 billion in value in 2020, just over a quarter of total spend of $18.8 billion this year. The value of NFL sponsorship is forecast to reach $1.53 billion in 2020, up 4.9 percent from 2019. MLB partnerships are projected to increase 5.6 percent in value to $1.05 billion in 2020 and NBA tie-ins are expected to rise 7.1 percent in value to $1.39 billion for the 2020-2021 season.

In the European market, sports sponsorships will grow five percent to $12.9 billion this year, with Germany being the largest market and a projected value of $1.89 billion. Asia is expected to account for 23.9 percent of the global total at $11.6 billion, followed by five percent, or $2.4 billion, from Latin America.

WARC says that brand investment in esports is also growing rapidly and will reach $795 million worldwide this year, an increase of 23.1 percent from 2019. Sponsorships will account for about three quarters of that total, or $584 million, while spots during ad breaks will account for $211 million. 

Despite investment growth, one in four advertisers has no confidence in measuring return on investment (ROI) from sports sponsorships. 

Kia Hosts Multiple Experiential Activations At Australian Open 2020

Kia, the longest-running major partner of the Australian Open since 2002, highlighted its new 2021 Seltos SUV at the two-week tournament with a host of immersive activations held at the “Seltos Studios,” where guests can experience deconstructed elements of the car’s design.

The studio’s exterior wall is covered with the same built-in Bose speakers and neon light features found in the Kia Seltos. Visitors can play a digital tennis game called “Beat the Beat” where they must stomp tennis balls to accelerate a virtual Seltos as they learn more about the car. 

Other experiential activations from the car maker include the Kia “Junior Drive,” where kids can ride mini Kia go-karts to assist with the early development of driving skills. Fans can also go inside the Kia Stinger and snap a selfie with an augmented reality (AR) image of Rafael Nadal. 

Nadal, who became a Kia brand ambassador in 2004, is also featured in Kia’s social media #HitItChallenge. The carmaker released a video to its YouTube showing Nadal try to hit tennis balls through the backseat windows of various Kia cars then watch videos of fans recreating the challenge.

A purpose-driven component, the Kia Ball Drive, lets visitors win tennis balls from last year’s Australian Open at a ball vending machine located on the tournament compound. Proceeds will go toward Australian junior tennis development.  

In addition to multiple consumer touch points, Kia will supply 120 of its latest vehicles to transport tennis players, VPs, officials and media during the tournament. Kia is also partnering with Uber to give free Seltos rides to app users within the Melbourne central business district heading to Melbourne Park.

Kia doubled down on marketing for a cause when it debuted an emotional 60-second Super Bowl spot against homelessness. The spot shows Tulsa, Oklahoma native Josh Jacobs, the Oakland Raiders’ rookie runnerback who grew up homeless, running the streets of Tulsa with an overlay of Jacobs’ voice offering his younger self advice.

On the brand’s transition from funny to heartfelt, Russell Wager, Kia’s US marketing chief told Forbes, “What I looked at was a different way of positioning Kia: as a grown-up brand. It’s our 25th year in the United States. As opposed to just being known for great value, or for the Soul hamsters, the brand and its products are outstanding—not just Telluride, but the other ones too. We’ve started trying to become a bit more about telling the story of the Kia brand and what we stood for.”

Kia donated $1,000 per yard gained during the Super Bowl game to charities helping end youth homelessness, totaling nearing $750,000 in donations.

What We’re Reading–January 27, 2020

We’ve searched for the most pressing marketing news so you don’t have to. Here’s what’s happening so far the week of January 27th.

Beauty Brands: You Should Be Scrambling To Get In The Live Music Game
Campaign US

New research from Live Nation finds that women spend “more time, money and energy on beauty [during] live music events.” There’s also other insightful statistics indicating an untapped overlap that should pique the interest of beauty brands.

Why it matters: Beauty brand marketers should look at the purchasing habits of concert-goers cited here, coupled with the supercharged social activity around showcasing festival-looks and pre-concert care routines for ample motivation to get their event strategy “festival ready.”

Google: Super Bowl Ads Lag Behind When It Comes To Gender Equality

If they can see it, they can be it. The problem is, new findings from Google show that Super Bowl ads are more likely to feature men than women. Doubly concerning, when women are featured in these ads they’re more likely to be portrayed stereotypically.

Why it matters: “Google said its ongoing work with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has helped it determine that marketing content on YouTube that features female leads and gender-balanced content drew 30 percent more views than male-dominant fare, despite representing less than one-half of the videos studied by the two parties.”

Amazon’s Ad Sales Surge 41 Percent To Record $4.8B
Marketing Dive

Amazon continues to threaten Google and Facebook’s ad business as the juggernaut hit a record $4.8 billion during its holiday quarter.

Why it matters: Underlying Amazon’s ad growth is the fact that the service “offers brands a unique opportunity to advertise to consumers as they’re ready to purchase on the site,” a prospect no doubt driving the ad sales leap of 41 percent.

How To Go Viral On TikTok, Via A Company With 1.2M Followers And 31M Likes

Joe Caporoso, SVP of content and brand platforms at media and entertainment company Whistle shares what’s been working for them on TikTok.

Why it matters: Growth on the platform should encourage brands to enter the TikTok fray… but keep these tips from Whistle in mind.

Here’s What You Get When An AI Makes a Super Bowl Ad Bingo Card

Spend some of your Friday afternoon in the uncanny valley of AI-generated Super Bowl ad bingo.

Why it matters: It’s either the pinnacle of neural networking or an excuse to guffaw over Super Bowl ad tropes, as determined by Adweek’s pitching bot.

What Next for Advertisers, Ad-Tech And Publishers In A Cookie-Free World?

The cookie is crumbling. Here’s what’s next for the digital advertising industry as we face a cookie-free world.

Why it matters: This is a call to arms for advertisers, publishers and ad-tech companies: are you ready for big changes to the advertising ecosystem?

Advertisers Are Using Lifelike Avatars To Drum Up Brand Awareness

Avatars are being used by brands seeking something a little extra, and personal, when communicating with fans.

Why it matters: “It’s a more authentic experience than a typical paid promotion on an Instagram post, and it just seems more organic,” says Taylor Siccard, co-founder of ecommerce holdings company Win Brands Group.

Advertising Trades Urge California Attorney General To Delay CCPA

Advertising trade groups including 4A’s, American Advertising Federation, Association of National Advertisers, Interactive Advertising Bureau and Network Advertising Initiative have requested a delay in the enforcement of the CCPA.

Why it matters: With unprecedented requirements being added to drafted CCPA legislation, the industry does not feel it is ready to comply with upcoming privacy regulations.

4 Key Ways The Ad Experience Will Be Reinvented Next Decade
Ad Age

The times they are a-changin’. Ad Age looks to their crystal ball to identify four major ways we’ll see ad experiences reinvented in the 2020’s.

Why it matters: New technology, regulations and generational shifts mean new approaches to advertising. It’s time to take stock of these changes to understand how they will impact your work in the next decade.

Lil Nas X Stays Authentic In His Brand Partnerships

Country crossover phenom Lil Nas X has partnered with brands like Panera, Wrangler and now for the Super Bowl, Doritos. Adweek interviewed Lil Nas X and Jennifer Frommer, SVP, creative content and brand partnerships at Columbia Records for insight into how they navigate partnerships and teach brands to talk to a new generation of consumers more authentically.

Why it matters: The secret sauce behind Lil Nas X’s authentic partnerships can be iterative for brands looking to enter into similar celebrity partnerships.

How 7 Brands Stood Out In A More Subdued Sundance 2020

A look at Sundance Film Festival brand highlights from Audible, HBO, Pizza Hut and more.

Why it matters: While notably more “subdued” than previous Sundance Film Festivals, brands met attendees with pop-up experiences and more at the 36th annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

83% Americans Expect To Have Control Over How Their Data Is Used At A Business, Reports DataGrail
MarTech Advisor

Just in time for National Data Privacy Day: DataGrail released new research findings indicating that Americans expect more control over their personal information online.

Why it matters: The findings align with our previous coverage of consumer expectations of data privacy; the overwhelming majority of Americans expect more control over how their personal data is used by businesses collecting it. They also harbor concerns over data monitoring and collection practices employed by businesses collecting their personal information.

Generation Z Is Upending Influencer Marketing
The Drum

A breakdown of Gen Z’s identifying characteristics and tactics for attracting them to brand conversations, specifically as it relates to Gen Z influencers.

Why it matters: Staying relevant means understanding generational motivations, habits and interests.

Digiday Research: Advertisers Are More Worried About The End Of Third-Party Cookies Than Publishers

The latest findings from Digiday Research about advertiser and publisher outlook in the early days of the vanishing third-party cookie.

Why it matters: It’s time to give serious thought to how the end of the third-party cookie will limit ad targeting and measurement abilities.

Experience Marketing Is The New Kid On The Block
The Drum

Here’s something else we can blame on Millennials: experiential marketing.

Why it matters
: “We must focus on customer experience; products come and go, but there will always be a market for truly remarkable experiences,” notes the authors as one of the key takeaways.

Estée Lauder, Sephora Unveil Shoppable AR Makeup Try-Ons On Pinterest
Mobile Marketer

Pinterest’s new shoppable augmented reality (AR) feature is being used by a number of beauty brands including Estée Lauder, Sephora, bareMinerals, Neutrogena, NYX Professional Makeup, YSL Beauté, Lancôme and Urban Decay from L’Oréal.

Why it matters: Pinners will have a more immersive shopping experience on Pinterest, and as Mobile Marketer points out, “the beauty and personal care categories are especially popular among Pinterest users” and that “eighty-seven percent of those who view those categories visit Pinterest while considering products to purchase, but are undecided, per survey data from researcher GfK.” Brands are betting that AR will help consumers make a decision in their favor.

Here’s What Research Reveals About 12 Years Of Super Bowl Ads
Forbes: CMO Network

Kantar managing partner Satya Menon shares research on Super Bowl ad effectiveness and how marketers can deliver on game day.

Why it matters: There are many assumptions about what a big game day ad can do for your brand, but researchers urge marketing execs to do more homework to see if there’s data-driven support for strongly held Super Bowl ad performance beliefs.

One Size Does Not Fit All For Brands In Music
Marketing Dive

This guest post from Marketing Dive pairs objectives with tactics for those who are looking for actionable strategy around music marketing initiatives.

Why it matters: By better understanding how to customize the standard business objectives (brand affinity, launch and rewards), marketers will be better able to leverage the expected growth in music marketing budgets in the coming year.

Now That Facebook Lets Users Clear Internet Tracks, Marketers Lose Another Signal To Target Ads
Ad Age

Facebook’s ‘clear history’ button spells retargeting woes for marketers on the platform.

Why it matters: Losing another way to track potential customers’ footprints will restrict marketers from targeting those that take charge of their privacy on Facebook. However, as Aaron Goldman, CMO at 4C notes, “Consumers have a track record of apathy when it comes to actively managing their privacy.”

Loyalty Drivers Grow Complex As Consumers Get More Complicated, Report Says
Marketing Dive

Brand Keys released the results of its latest Customer Loyalty Engagement Index.

Why it matters: See which brands are getting it right when it comes to customer loyalty.

Agencies Have ‘Healthier’ Cultures Than Brand-Side Marketing Teams, Study Finds

The latest results from the “Creative Industries Culture Index,” a diagnostic tool designed to “improve commercial performance by delving into an organization’s culture,” indicate a better working culture for agency marketers rather than those on the brand-side.

Why it matters: “The more the personal and desired values of respondents were reflected in what they see at work, the healthier the work culture.”

Just Because You’re Compliant With COPPA Doesn’t Mean You’re Cool Under CCPA Or GDPR

“Just because you’re compliant with [the] Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), doesn’t mean you’re compliant with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), or the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).”

Why it matters: With so many recent privacy initiatives, it’s important to ensure you’re compliant with all variations. To not do so is to risk violating consumer rights.

How Global Advertisers Are Pushing For A New Approach To Brand Safety

The world’s largest advertisers are pushing for broad initiatives in the industry to combat the issue of brand safety.

Why it matters: Brand safety is a massive undertaking with a profound impact. More than 80 percent of consumers have said that their purchasing decisions would be affected by product advertisements situated next to materials deemed not-brand safe.

Retailers See 42% Of Online Sales From Mobile Devices, Study Says
Mobile Marketer

Messaging software company Quiq released a study showing that “retailers are generating 42% of their online sales from mobile devices such as smartphones.”

Why it matters: From Mobile Marketer’s breakdown: “While almost two-thirds (62%) of retailers said they’re integrating mobile technology into e-commerce and operations, only 14% described themselves as a “mobile-first organization.”

Nike, BodyArmor & The NBA Lead Brands In Mourning The Death Of Kobe Bryant
The Drum

Brands are celebrating the life of the late Kobe Bryant after Sunday’s tragic accident.

Why it matters: Bryant’s ambassadorships, investments and endorsements created a multitude of relationships with brands, even post-retirement. Here’s how brands like Nike are navigating celebrating his legacy.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly reading list is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, January 31. Have a tip? We’re looking for must-read articles related to trends and insights in marketing and media. Let us know at

Hyundai CMO Angela Zepeda: ‘I Want People To Buy Us Because They Love Us’

Hyundai’s CMO, Angela Zepeda, is an industry veteran that radiates pure candidness and positivity as she discussed marketing challenges and rewards in an increasingly complex consumer landscape. 

AList chatted with her about how the Hyundai Super Bowl ad “Smaht Pahk” idea came to fruition, what it takes to build a successful brand and what path she took to become an expert in marketing, especially marketing to women.

What has changed about Super Bowl marketing over the years? Especially now, when the game is attracting a more diverse audience and more women?

I think, especially with the conversations I’ve been in with other industry professionals this season, everyone feels like Super Bowl advertising has gotten more thoughtful. It’s probably smarter, too. It’s no longer ok to do sophomoric humor or humor at someone’s expense. You have to think through it. When you do humor, which generally places a light on something or someone, you need to make sure that nobody’s feelings are hurt. 

This made all advertisers more sensitive to the current issues in our country and the intent is to bring people together on Super Bowl to not only enjoy a great football game but also, to see great advertising. I think the work, in general, has gotten a lot more sophisticated, thoughtful and in tune culturally and that’s a really good thing. 

Will we see more humor going forward as a way to talk about technical advances in the auto industry?

The reason why we went with humor again [in 2020] was that we had new product news that lined up well with the timing of Super Bowl. The technology on the Sonata, for the price and the class of the car that it is, is over the top. We wanted to surprise and delight viewers with this beautiful new car that is a mid-level size [sedan], that competes against the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and had a lot of fun with it. 

The actual technical word or name for that “backing in-and-out parking” is “remote smart parking assist,” which was just a terrible mouthful, so we shortened it to “smart-park.” And then somebody on the creative team at the agency, who’s been born and raised in Boston, and had a little bit of the accent left, kept saying “smaht pahk.” We thought it was funny. It just brought it to life in a way that we thought was memorable, simple and was able to make the star of the commercial. And, of course, we cast very good celebrities that came together as an awesome ensemble cast that makes the spot really fun. 

So could we do more fun with the technology? I’d say, probably, yes. I think that’s what it is all about–it makes driving easy, fun and delightful and humor seems to be the right emotion to go along with that kind of new advancement in car manufacturing.

What’s your goal as a marketer with this campaign and how will you measure its success?

For today’s marketers, it is not just about doing great creativity to build the brand. That’s only one part of it. I really run a business to pull Hyundai forward and we do have very aggressive goals to grow. The company is very much on the move–we had an incredible 2019; it’s the best year we’ve had since 2016. We have a new executive vice-chairman, Euisun Chung, who is investing heavily in new technology. [He is] very bullish on smart-mobility and making Hyundai the best and safest cars. We have to be very smart in the way we approach our business, not only to grow, but to be profitable, so we continue to invest in new technologies, which we then give back to people in the product. 

What we want to do now [with our full product lineup] is to help build a brand that endears people to Hyundai. I don’t want to be the value-based brand, where people buy us because of price. I want people to buy us because they love us and, by the way, you can probably get our car without killing your wallet. We have the confidence to talk to people in a way that we want them to love us as a brand because our philosophy is: if you are not making cars better for people, then who are you making them better for? 

I don’t think there is anything we don’t look at around the customer journey, but brand opinion is [what] we are focused on the most. Brand opinion is built on the back of people feeling very secure about the product that they are buying and their trust in the brand, and that’s on us to deliver that message and to have people have that confidence. That’s one of the biggest things we are looking at in 2020 and of course, all the other metrics that now go with our very complex 360-degree marketing go-to market plan. 

Does the Super Bowl ad fit into part of a larger, national strategy?

It does. We needed to build on the idea of what Hyundai is and what the brand stands for. My background is in brand building, so I want to crack the code on this. I want every single piece of communication that we do to level up to the same end-feeling or depiction of what Hyundai is as a brand. Squarely focusing on a singular feature, [we are] putting the car as the star and then wrapping it in some kind of human truth or scenario that’s relatable to consumers, whether it makes them laugh, or brings [a few] tears. 

What was the first thing you changed when you became CMO of Hyundai in October last year?

The overall strategy has remained very much the same. We started getting the new product into the offering. That was the first step–to get the right product to the marketplace. Brand building takes time and a lot of money. We emphasized our digital marketing efforts, which we are still continuing with today. It’s very sophisticated, in-market demand generation digital marketing and an overlay of the branded effort that helps us touch consumers wherever they are. 

What are the biggest issues that keep CMOs up at night? 

There are a few. What I do as a CMO is seen by everybody. There are plenty of executives and other senior people at Hyundai who do work that never sees the light of day outside the walls. But the work I do with the agencies is very public-facing and faces a lot of opinions. That’s one of the biggest challenges–to make sure that I have consensus and alignment across the organization. 

I also can’t spend money willy-nilly. When I started at the business, they were still saying, “50 percent of my advertising doesn’t work, I just don’t know which 50 percent.” Now, I better know which 50 percent works or doesn’t work. We are very data-driven and I’m given some latitude to try new things, so we work strongly with a lot of partnerships to help us be as smart as we can and be able to prove that we are spending our money is the best way, delivering on all our metrics. 

Sometimes, I think marketing gets a lot of credit when it goes great. But I also think it can be blamed too much or too quickly when things aren’t going well. I think that’s the biggest challenge for me to keep the vision going and stand strongly behind it. So my stands as a CMO and what I see as the future for marketing and advertising in the Hyundai brand, starts and stops with me and that’s probably the biggest thing that keeps me up at night. 

How did you become an expert at marketing to women?

This came up years ago, around 2005-2006, when I first landed at Lowe Campbell Ewald. I went there to run the Kaiser Permanente account and I later ended up running the office. 

One of the people that I worked with there was an executive creative director, Debbie Karnowsky. She embarked on building a cast-forced team and did proprietary research that the agency funded, to understand what women were seeking from brands when it came to marketing. Some of the guidelines, for example, were: “Don’t swap everything in pink,” or “Don’t talk down to women, women are pretty darn smart.” We used the research in a way that hasn’t been done in the past and ended up winning a lot of new business, working with clients that wanted to speak specifically to women.

One of those clients was Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Advertising is a very commodity-based business, it’s very competitive and we came up with a way that helped Ghirardelli to break through. Here is another point–women have a fantasy life, they use their dreams and fantasies as a way to build their worlds. We used a lot of that in the advertising–just bringing out what women have in their heads when they are sitting back and eating chocolate. It’s not literally showing a piece of chocolate and telling them how great it is. It’s more about: “How does it make you feel?” 

I continued to focus on how women perceive advertising. To be honest, in many ways, they want to be spoken to just like everyone else. But there are some nuances that make women special and unique and they like to be talked to in that way when the time is right.

Eventbrite CMO Leaves For Facebook Global Marketing Role

This week in marketing leadership moves, Dunkin’ Brands promotes international marketing executives, a new CMO arrives at Paris Baguette, Netflix plans to let go of 15 marketing staffers and Mondelēz loses its European CMO role.

Facebook Picks Eventbrite CMO As Global AR/VR Marketer

Adweek reports that Brian Irving will join Facebook’s global AR/VR marketing team. Irving will report to Rebecca Van Dyck, Facebook’s CMO for AR and VR projects.

Irving previously served as CMO at Eventbrite, where he joined as chief brand officer in 2018. He also held marketing positions at Airbnb, Google and Levi’s. His appointment becomes effective in March.

Dunkin’ Brands Boosts International Marketing Team

Dunkin’ Brands released a statement today announcing two executive promotions, including that of Tom Manchester who will be leading integrated marketing for Dunkin’ U.S. and the hiring of Rick Gestring as VP of operating systems and restaurant experience for the Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins parent company.

On the marketing side, Tom Manchester was promoted to SVP of integrated marketing for Dunkin’ U.S. operations. The press release announcing the appointment outlined Manchester’s new duties, noting, “In his new role, Mr. Manchester will have responsibility for culinary innovation, consumer insights, brand marketing and field marketing. He will continue to report directly to Tony Weisman, Chief Marketing Officer, Dunkin’ U.S. Over his 17-year career at Dunkin’, Mr. Manchester has led the brand’s sports marketing initiatives and developed its sports strategy built on engaging storytelling and innovative partnerships.”

Paris Baguette Names New CMO

Franchising reports that international bakery-cafe Paris Baguette has named Pete Bell as chief marketing officer.

Bell previously served as CMO at Twin Peaks Restaurants, Specialty Brands Holding Corp. and Smokey Bones Restaurants. Global CEO of Paris Baguette, Jack Moran, welcomed Bell to the marketing leadership fold. “He is a progressive and consumer data driven marketer who understands how to create effective and targeted campaigns that drive sales and awareness,” noted Moran.

Netflix To Lay Off 15 Marketing Staffers

Variety reports that Netflix is set to dismiss 15 members of its marketing team.

The report indicates that these shifts will affect a small percentage of the total marketing division and are part of marketing leadership changes that have been rippling throughout the streaming service since last year. 

Mondelēz Does Away With CMO Role In Europe

Marketing Week reports that Mondelēz, the multinational confectionery, food and beverage holding company, is cutting its chief marketing officer role in Europe as part of ongoing leadership restructures.

VP of marketing and strategy Peter Seymour will lead both marketing and corporate strategy moving forward. His responsibilities include building brands like Oreo, Milka, TUC and Belvita.

Debora Koyama, former CMO for Mondelēz in Europe, has left for Unilever as global growth operations officer.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, January 31. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

VP Of Marketing OperationsCalifia FarmsLos Angeles, CA
Head Of Media, Digital Marketing And CommunityCalibraMenlo Park, CA
SVP, Integrated MarketingZillow GroupPasadena, CA
Vice President, Marketing StrategyParamount PicturesLos Angeles, CA
Chief Marketing OfficerNPRWashington D.C., DC

Make sure to check out select job vacancies on our Careers page.

Brands Enlist Influencers For Super Bowl Campaigns Packed With Personality

Originally published on ION.

(Editor’s note: AList is published by To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the influencer marketing landscape, click here.)

Celebrities have long been the stars of Super Bowl ads. This year, however, many brands opted for influencers. Sabra included cast members from The Real Housewives of New Jerseyand from RuPaul’s Drag Race in its teasers. Comedian Lilly Singh played a part in Olay’s purpose-driven #MakeSpaceForWomen ad campaign. And Pop-Tarts promoted its new pretzel Pop-Tart with a game day teaser featuring the Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness. We explore how brands incorporated influencers into their Super Bowl activations and the pros and cons of doing so.

Hummus brand Sabra used an unexpected cast for its first Super Bowl ad, teasers for which include The Real Housewives of New Jersey foes Teresa Giudice and Caroline Manzo, T-Pain and RuPaul Drag Race contestants Miz Cracker and Kim Chi. Colorful characters may demonstrate the brand’s messaging—the versatility of hummus—but will Sabra’s choice of influencer resonate with its audience?

“In order to maximize ROI, brands should try to appeal to as broad an audience as possible during the Super Bowl. However, a downside of influencers is that they often appeal to a niche audience. As we’ve seen with some of the teasers so far, influencers and their quirks aren’t always common knowledge and therefore can be misunderstood among a general audience,” says Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix.

To cover all bases, Sabra also extended its Super Bowl activations to social media via over a dozen nano- and micro-influencers. Lifestyle blogger Erika James Carder and professional triathlete Rebecca Wassner, who both respectively have about 12,000 followers, posted Instagram photos of themselves holding or eating Sabra hummus, referring to it as the “MVD,” or most valuable dip. Also on Instagram, mom and travel blogger Danielle Greco, who has 19,000 followers, showed her and her son’s favorite way of snacking with Sabra. All three Sabra partners’ captions mention the brand’s “DIP. WATCH. WIN.” sweepstakes, which will award five $100,000 prizes and a “riDIPulous” amount of free hummus. To enter, fans who buy specially marked packages of Sabra’s hummus flavors can scan a quick response code to unlock game pieces, with the winning combination revealed during Sabra’s Super Bowl spot.  

“One advantage of working with an influencer is cost versus engagement. The authenticity and approachability of smaller influencers can really pay off. What they lack in reach compared to multi-million follower celebrities they more than make up for in engagement,” says Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of Socialbakers.

Socialbakers data shows that influencer sponsored ads grew by more than 150 percent in the last year, while the use of #ad (sponsored social ads) more than doubled. Ben-Itzhak adds, “Since brands are seeing compelling results from working with influencers, it’s not surprising that we are seeing the same evolution with these all-important Super Bowl ads.”

Like most beauty brands, Procter & Gamble’s Olay has made influencers a regular part of its marketing. In 2018, the company launched its “Face Anything” campaign with a message of being true to yourself. Driving the message home was a 10-page Vogue spread featuring YouTube star and comedian Lilly Singh and eight others, as well as Instagram content created by influencers like plus-size model Hunter McGrady, who detailed her 28-day Olay skincare routine. 

This year, Olay invited Lilly Singh to be in its Super Bowl ad where she portrays an astronaut alongside Busy Philipps, Nicole Stott, Taraji P. Henson and Katie Couric. The appeal of including Singh in Olay’s Super Bowl ad is that she has 15 million YouTube subscribers and 9 million Instagram followers. Additionally, the influencer will host her own late night show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, premiering this fall on NBC. 

Kellogg’s too, has taken the influencer route for game day. A teaser of what’s to come in its Pop-Tarts Super Bowl spot shows Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness freaking out over the snack selection on set, complaining they’re all dry, boring options. On why Kellogg’s used Van Ness to promote its new pretzel-flavored snack, the brand’s senior director of marketing Phil Schaffer said in a press release, “When it comes to ‘bringing out your best,’ nobody does it better than Jonathan Van Ness–so it was only natural for Pop-Tarts to enlist him to help ‘fix’ the classic pretzel and introduce Pop-Tarts Pretzel. Already a loyal brand advocate, Jonathan’s upbeat personality is a natural fit to help Pop-Tarts unveil our latest craveable flavors.” 

When you think Pop-Tarts spokesperson, Van Ness may not immediately come to mind, but the grooming expert’s personality and role on Queer Eye align with the sweet-salty dichotomy that Pop-Tart’s new pretzel snack embodies.

Regardless of who you use for a campaign, it’s really about staying on message. “It’s not necessarily celebrity versus influencer that will impact ad performance. The key is how tightly the spokesperson fits into the storyline,” Daboll says.

Popeyes Responds To Tweets, Creates Merch Inspired By Beyoncé’s Streetwear Line

Popeyes launched a limited-edition fashion collection inspired by the latest iteration of Beyoncé’s Ivy Park athleisure line, which the singer released in early January. Created in collaboration with Adidas, Beyoncé’s items sold out quickly and now Popeyes wants to give fans who missed their chance something nearly identical: branded streetwear in the fried chicken brand’s signature shades of maroon and orange.

When Beyoncé launched her collection, many tweeted saying the collection’s maroon-orange color scheme reminded them of Popeyes uniforms. So Popeyes acted fast and gave fans what they didn’t know they needed: Popeyes merch. The resemblance between both collections is fitting as Popeyes gave Beyonce a lifetime supply of chicken through a “Popeyes For Life” card. 

The “That Look From Popeyes online shop is selling 10 different items including a uniform hooded jacket, tunic, khaki visor, short sleeve polo and crewneck T-shirt priced at $10-$40. Real Popeyes workers modeled the items for the digital lookbook and half the line has already sold out. Additionally, 100 percent of the proceeds are going to the Popeyes Foundation.

Popeyes swift reaction to its consumers’ tweets about Beyoncé’s athleisure line comes on the heels of the chicken sandwich wars. The social media showdown in summer 2019 between Chick-fil-A and Popeyes ended with Popeyes doubling its Twitter following. 

Ever since, Popeyes has been quick to make pop culture-informed marketing plans at the drop of a hat. In December last year, the quick service restaurant (QSR) duct-taped its chicken sandwich to a canvas for a last-minute installation at Art Basel Miami Beach, which was listed at $120,003.99.

For its holiday push last year, Popeyes partnered with to sell an embroidered sweater featuring its popular chicken sandwich. According to Business Insider, after the sweater launched the page received more than six million visits and sold out in 14 hours.