Vita Coco Teams Up With Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Vita Coco and Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons and new Animal Crossing: New Horizons—Happy Home Paradise DLC have teamed up for an online sweepstakes and limited edition Vita Coco bottle featuring Animal Crossing branding.

The sweepstakes, running from now until January 15th, 2022, gives more than 100 consumers the chance to win one of 15 grand prizes including Nintendo Switch systems and download codes for the digital version of the Animal Crossings: New Horizons game.

In addition, 25 winners will receive the first prize consisting of a Vita Coco x Animal Crossing: New Horizons-themed kit and 50 winners will receive the second prize, a $25 credit for Vita Coco merchandise sold online. 

As part of the collaboration, players will also be able to harvest coconuts in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, giving their characters the strength to perform tasks like breaking rocks and digging up trees. 

Paid DLC for the game allows players to join Lottie’s Paradise Planning team and travel to a resort island with a diverse set of landscapes. There, players will be in charge of inviting characters as clients and helping them build their dream vacation homes with different terrain and climate options. The open-ended social simulation was first released in 2020, with its most recent iteration marking the fifth main entry of the series.

To promote the collaboration, Vita Coco has created its first-ever limited edition bottle for the holiday season. The new bottle—on which coconuts will be replaced with Animal Crossing’s coconut trees – will be sold at retailers nationwide, including Walmart, Target, Ralph’s, Kroger, CVS and more, from now through December 31.

Vita Coco, which reported Q3 net sales of $292.9 million, made its public debut on Nasdaq on October 21, trading under the ticker COCO with 11.5 million shares sold at $15.00 per share.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which was released exclusively on Nintendo Switch in March 2020, currently boasts lifetime sales of 34.85 million units, according to Statista.

82% Of Consumers Make Purchase Decisions With Purpose In Mind

Eighty-two percent of consumers make purchase decisions with purpose in mind. That’s according to a new report from Razorfish and Vice Media Group. “The Truth, Myths and Nuances Behind Purpose” aims to understand how consumers of varying generations and demographics relate to purpose when making purchase decisions and in determining brand loyalty.

Razorfish and Vice Media Group conducted three phases of research in the US between May and June 2021, including in-depth phone interviews, an online survey of 900 individuals and testing and analysis of a subset of 150 participants across demographics. Gen Z, millennials and Gen X were evenly represented across respondents.

According to the research, Gen Z is a driving force behind the call for change. They prioritize purpose when making purchase decisions, as 76 percent state that the brands they support stand for a greater mission or have a higher purpose. Additionally, Gen Z is twice and three times as likely to cite brands – rather than media companies and institutions – as having the power to make the world a better place, as compared to millennials and Gen X, respectively.

This report also shows that millennials and Gen X are sufficiently similar in this context such that brands shouldn’t focus their purpose efforts exclusively on Gen Z. Among the respondents, 62 percent report that a brand’s values are important or very important in helping them make purchase decisions, regardless of age. 

Of those respondents, 40 percent actively research a brand’s values and practices. And of the elements these consumers take into consideration when choosing which brand to buy from, brand purpose (41 percent) outweighs both innovation (32 percent) and discounts (26 percent).

Purpose-driven buying isn’t necessarily new but the pandemic has caused a stark shift in consumers’ priorities when shopping and the number of consumers that care. Yet despite the fact that greater importance is placed on purpose and by more consumers, brands’ efforts in this regard seem to be falling flat, according to the report.

“We’re at the peak of purpose washing, and it’s imperative that brands not only clearly communicate their purpose but authentically put it into practice in everything they do. Brands are beyond the ‘why’ and are struggling with the ‘how’ to follow through and tie purpose to performance,” said Nicolas Chidiac, brand strategy lead at Razorfish.

The study shares three key takeaways:

  • Consumers are paying attention to mission and purpose as 82 percent of respondents stated that the brands they support stand for a greater mission or purpose.
  • Consumers care about societal and personal benefits as 76 percent of respondents stated that the brands they buy make the world a better place while 67 percent reported that the brands they buy make them a better person.
  • Purpose is amplified by proximity as 40 percent of respondents stated that buying local food or drinks became more important to them during the pandemic, while 70 percent agreed that it’s important or extremely important for brands to give back to their local community.

Brands in the post-COVID era have the opportunity, and in a sense, an obligation, to match their words with positive action. Razorfish recommends brands act on the following three priorities to keep pace with changing consumer sentiment toward purpose and purchasing:

  • Be authentic and determine where you stand in regard to personal and societal issues so that you may serve your consumer and limit “purpose appropriation” (which will lead to an erosion of consumer trust).
  • Take small steps before big leaps by focusing on what you can do to have an immediate impact on your local community while also recognizing the power of your voice.
  • Reduce the time it takes for consumers to discover your purpose by displaying it across all touchpoints.

Refilling The Creative Well: Pitch Edition

I just spent a four-day weekend with my family in Carpinteria, CA in much the same way I did nearly every day the last 20 months: with the outcome of multiple game-changing new business pitches hanging over my head like the Sword of Damocles. 

Will the wind blow slightly to the left and nudge one of the other finalists over the finish line? Or will an intangible in our deck or the confident tone in our voice lodge in the mind of a decision-maker in such a way that tilts things in our favor? 

How can I allow myself to enjoy the seals frolicking in the surf or pause to read the placard about how salt marshes form when the next text I receive could change the very course of my agency… my career… my life?

Pitching new business is a helluva drug.

The juiciest briefs come in reeking of a brighter future, intoxicating with visions of what could be: the promise of a more respectful and collegial client relationship; the potential for exciting creative and technical innovations; the possibility of team-sustaining profits and awards.

And then, for the next two or three or four weeks, the pitch is all-consuming like new love or gnawing hunger. REM sleep is rearranged to better serve the conscious and unconscious obsession with unearthing the big idea. Content consumed holds tantalizing hints that must be teased out. Weekends must be sacrificed, as they are the only stretches of time where there are no meetings to interfere with actually doing the work.

The fuel cells burn bright and burn hot, with little thought or care for how they will perform after the final Q&A’s (if you started the presentation call on time and didn’t chew into your buffer that is) and thank you’s have been said.

But those fuel cells must be refilled. Those that ignore the warning signs do so at their peril. As is true of all drugs, what goes up must come down.

I’m sure there are a million ways to refuel, but here’s what’s worked well for me as I’ve come to accept that pitching (despite the romantic promise of utopian thinkers) isn’t going anywhere in agency life any time soon.

As with most things in advertising, the following recommendations are an alchemical mix of hard data, hard-knock wisdom, anecdotal experience, things we stumbled upon on Twitter, and in-the-moment inspiration. All tied up in a nifty bow by a favorite quote in Latin (so it MUST be true): Solvitur Ambulando (“it is solved by walking”). I first read this quote inscribed on a rock at the center of a labyrinth in Sedona, Arizona (another physical location with its own mental state) many years ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. Any mantra good enough for St. Augustine, Aleister Crowley and Oliver Sacks is good enough for me.  

One: stock up on long stretches of thinking about nothing. And if nothing isn’t available, think about subjects like how salt marshes form or how great that bongo player is

Two: take long walks that go nowhere in particular. And if you must go somewhere, let the most important choice be whether you go left down the beach or right up the beach.

Three: read something that gives you pleasure. After immersing yourself in category research and the ecstatic art of whiteboard-staring, take your brain elsewhere (for me it was roving with vampires in the summer of ‘76).

Four: give back to those who absolve you of your pitch mode sins. For every core member of the pitch team, there is a friend, a loved one, a child, or a bartender who missed your presence while you were living the brief. Be there for them. Shower them with your attention. Kiss their elbows. Buy them the Toxic Waste they crave, though it may pain you greatly to do so.

Five: commit yourself to learn from the pitch: win, lose or draw. We can’t live in the Carpinteria of the mind forever. Commit to the retrospective (never the post-mortem). We must return to the battlefield better. Stronger. Faster. 

Especially when you’re fighting for that brighter future that maybe, just maybe, is a pitch win away.

Burger King Chief Marketing Officer For North America Ellie Doty Resigns

This week in leadership updates, Ellie Doty steps down as Burger King North America chief marketing officer, KFC hires Nick Chavez as chief marketing officer, Qdoba elevates Karin Silk to chief marketing officer and Bed Bath & Beyond names Rafeh Masood as inaugural chief customer officer.

Burger King Chief Marketing Officer For North America Ellie Doty Departs

Ellie Doty has stepped down as Burger King’s chief marketing officer for North America after being in the role for just over a year.

Yosef Hojchman, who’s been with the company for 15 years, has filled in as interim chief marketing officer.

Previously, Doty held an array of chief marketing roles at Chili’s, KFC, Yum! Restaurants Canada and Taco Bell.

KFC Appoints Nick Chavez As Chief Marketing Officer 

KFC Corporation has scouted Nick Chavez as chief marketing officer for KFC US, effective November 29.

Chavez replaces Andrea Zahumensky, who left in April. Previously, Chavez was Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of sales, marketing and communications for 11 years.

Qdoba Elevates Karin Silk To Chief Marketing Officer

Qdoba Restaurant Corporation has promoted Karin Silk to chief marketing officer.

Silk previously served as Qdoba’s vice president of off-premises and menu (product marketing, culinary) and prior to that was Rubio’s Restaurants, Inc.’s senior vice president of marketing.

Bed Bath & Beyond Names Rafeh Masood First Chief Customer Officer

Bed Bath & Beyond has named Rafeh Masood as chief customer officer, a new position that combines digital and brand roles, including customer support and user experience.

Masood steps into the role after having served as chief digital officer since May 2020 and as interim chief brand officer since September 2021 following Cindy Davis’ resignation.

Eyemart Express Promotes Katy Hanson To Chief Marketing Officer

Eyemart Express has elevated Katy Hanson to chief marketing officer.

Prior to the promotion, Hanson acted as the company’s interim chief marketing officer and held the role of vice president of strategy and planning.

Amazon India Enlists Rashi Goel As Director Of Marketing

Amazon India has retained Rashi Goel as its newest director of marketing.

Previously, Goel served as business executive officer at Nestle, managing breakfast cereals in South Asia.

HBO Max Promotes Pia Chaozon Barlow To Executive Vice President Of Originals Marketing

HBO Max has elevated senior vice president of HBO Max originals marketing, Pia Chaozon Barlow, to executive vice president of originals marketing. She will oversee both HBO and Max originals in a newly unified marketing division.

Before joining HBO, Chaozon held senior marketing positions at WarnerMedia, Netflix, Twentieth Century Fox and HBO.

Mack Trucks Taps David Galbraith As Vice President Of Global Brand And Marketing

Mack Trucks has named David Galbraith as vice president of global brand and marketing.

Galbraith was previously director of experience marketing and brand partnerships at Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Roadside Attractions Head Of Marketing Dennis O’Connor Exits

Roadside Attractions head of marketing Dennis O’Connor has resigned after 14 years with the company.

O’Connor oversaw all marketing efforts that grew the company’s theatrical grosses from under $10 million in 2007 to over $100 million by 2018, according to Deadline. He also spearheaded the campaign for the company’s top-grossing domestic title I Can Only Imagine, which produced $83 million.

O’Connor’s previous roles include co-head of marketing at Picturehouse, head of theatrical marketing at HBO and head of marketing for United Artists Pictures.

Universal Music Group Nashville Elevates Annie Ortmeier To Senior Vice President, Streaming Marketing

Universal Music Group Nashville has promoted Annie Ortmeier to senior vice president of streaming marketing.

Ortmeier, who’s been with UMG since 2013, recently served as vice president of marketing of digital accounts for the company. 

Twitter Canada Appoints Jennifer Bairos Hofer As Head Of Marketing

Twitter Canada has hired Jennifer Bairos Hofer as its new head of marketing.

Hofer previously served as Rogers Communications’marketing director, TSC.

Chief Marketing Officer Of Mandarin Oriental Jill Kluge Resigns

Mandarin Oriental chief marketing officer Jill Kluge will be stepping down from the position after 30 years with the company. She will continue in a part-time position as brand advisor for the hotel chain.

Prior to serving as chief marketing officer at Mandarin Oriental, Kluge served as the company’s global director of brand communications and director of public relations.

Manon Brouillette Named Chief Executive Officer Of Verizon Consumer Group

Verizon Consumer Group has appointed Manon Brouillette as executive vice president and chief executive officer.

Before joining Verizon as chief operating officer and deputy chief executive officer in July 2021, Manon was the president and chief executive officer of Vidéotron.

Star TV Network Elevates Kaumudi Mahajan To Senior Vice President Of Marketing And Strategy

Star India, an Indian media conglomerate and wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company India, has promoted Kaumudi Mahajan to senior vice president of marketing and strategy.

Mahajan previously served as Star TV Network’s vice president, head of marketing and content strategy for Star Pravah.

Holiday 2021 Spending Set To Reach $998 Per Person

Consumers plan to spend about $998 on gifts, holiday items and other non-gift purchases for themselves and their families this year. That’s according to a new report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Despite pandemic-induced supply chain disruption, this is on par with consumer spending last year though it’s still slightly below the pre-pandemic high of $1,047.83. The difference may be explained by the fact that fewer consumers intend on purchasing non-gift items for themselves and their families, according to the NRF.

This year, 90 percent of US adults intend on celebrating the upcoming holidays whereas only 87 percent celebrated in 2020. Forty-seven percent of holiday shoppers will be taking advantage of sales or discounts while shopping for non-gift items with a total average of $118.81. Pre-pandemic, 60 percent of shoppers expected to make these purchases with an average total of $162.02. As many continue to work remotely, shoppers are also less inclined to purchase gifts for coworkers, found the NRF.

Holiday shopping has started earlier this year than ever before as 49 percent of holiday shoppers will begin perusing and purchasing before November—seven percentage points higher than in 2020, according to the report.  The percent of shoppers who have started shopping before November ranged from 39 percent to 41 percent between 2011 and 2019. 

To avoid the stress of procrastinating this year, 47 percent of consumers said they’ll be shopping in October or earlier while 36 percent plan to do so in order to obtain key holiday items before they’re unavailable. According to Nikki Baird, vice president of retail innovation at Aptos, while there will be a lot of online demand, there’s a hard, upper limit to that demand. 

“The same capacity constraints on shipping still exist for consumer packages too, which means cutoff days for non-expedited shipping may come earlier, as well as the cutoff even for expedited shipping with a guaranteed delivery date,” Baird noted.

Supply chain hurdles sparked by the pandemic have impacted holiday shopper behavior as 47 percent are concerned about locating products such as electronics (44 percent), clothes (40 percent) and toys (28 percent).

“There will be fewer choices. Retailers and brands are leaning heavily on safe bets, rather than anything that is more recent and may not have had as much visibility or awareness. I did see a few Space Jam toys, but for example, a lot of the featured toys are dinosaur toys, but they’re generic toys, not Jurassic World branded (even though the franchise has a film release scheduled for June 2022),” said Baird.

Online shopping will remain most holiday shoppers’ preference. Last year saw 60 percent of shoppers identify online as a holiday shopping destination while only 57 percent identify it as such in 2021—consistent with pre-pandemic levels. 

Other destinations include department stores (47 percent), discount stores (44 percent), grocery stores (43 percent) and clothing and accessories stores (30 percent). Twenty-four percent of survey respondents will patronize local or small businesses.

These findings are based on a survey the NRF conducted among 7,921 consumers from October 1-10.

When Sustainability Impacts Performance With Jennie Perry From Grove Collaborative

Jennie Perry is the CMO at Grove Collaborative, which creates and curates high-performing, planet-first products across many categories. Jennie leads their marketing strategy and is responsible for product marketing and driving consumer engagement and product demand.

Before joining Grove, Jennie spent nine years working in Amazon, most recently as CMO of Prime and Amazon North America, where she led Prime Day and Prime marketing global.

In this episode, Jennie and I discuss growth, sustainability and CPG, and why they can be so hard to achieve. Jennie says, “You don’t have to sacrifice performance for sustainability. The common misconception out there is that it’s a trade-off, but you can’t have one without the other.” Listen to the full episode to hear why Grove Collaborative is on a mission to make sustainability more accessible to the public. Tune in to hear the creative ways they are making this a reality.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to transform products into a force for human and environmental good
  • The importance of broadening channel diversity
  • Why companies should make sustainability more accessible 

Key Highlights:

  • [01:44] Wiping out in front of Beyonce and Jay Z
  • [04:48] Where Jennie’s career all began
  • [10:18] What brought Jennie to Grove 
  • [12:24] Making it easier for customers to buy sustainable products
  • [15:35] Tackling sustainability—starting with plastics
  • [20:10] Changing packaging to save water
  • [23:11] Expanding marketing efforts and channels as a company
  • [28:01] Developing a TV campaign 
  • [30:15] Lessons learned along the way 
  • [36:00] An experience that defines Jennie, makes her who she is 
  • [37:14] Jennie’s advice for her younger self
  • [38:07] A topic marketers should be learning more about 
  • [39:03] The brands and organizations Jennie follows 
  • [41:18] The biggest threat to marketers today 

Resources Mentioned: 

Follow the podcast:

Connect with the Guest:

Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

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 brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Restaurant Brands International Chief Brand Officer Paloma Azulay Exits

This week in leadership updates, chief brand officer of Burger King parent Restaurant Brands International Paloma Azulay steps down; BMG promotes Angela Barkan to senior vice president of marketing on the east coast and Cyndi Lynott to senior vice president of marketing on the west coast, and Sony appoints Yvonne Gerald as vice president of podcast marketing.

Paloma Azulay Resigns As Chief Brand Officer Of Burger King Parent Restaurant Brands

Paloma Azulay has stepped down as chief brand officer of Restaurant Brands International, parent brand of Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Horton’s.

Azulay held the position since April 2021 when the company’s then global chief marketing officer Fernando Machado left for Activision Blizzard. 

Prior to her role as chief brand officer, Azulay held several leadership positions at Restaurant Brands International including chief marketing officer of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Tim Hortons.

BMG Announces Two New Marketing Leadership Promotions  

BMG has elevated Angela Barkan to senior vice president of marketing on the west coast and Cyndi Lynott to senior vice president of marketing on the east coast.

In her new role, Barkan will lead marketing at BMG’s Frontline Recorded repertoire operations in New York while Lynott leads marketing at BMG’s Frontline Recorded pop and rock repertoire operations in Los Angeles.

Barkan joined BMG in 2018 and previously served as vice president of marketing at S-Curve Records.

Lynott previously served as BMG vice president of marketing and managed projects where she worked on releases from Avril Lavigne, Evanescence and Jason Mraz.

Sony Music Names Yvonne Gerald Vice President Of Podcast Marketing 

Sony Music Entertainment has enlisted Yvonne Gerald as vice president of podcast marketing.

Before joining Sony, Gerald was Time’s vice president of consumer marketing. Gerald has also served in senior marketing positions at MTV, NBCUniversal, Cheetah Digital and Meredith Corporation.

The Importance Of Impactful, Purpose-Driven Marketing Campaigns

As consumers identify ways to make a difference in the world, they expect the brands they engage with most to do the same. That’s why purpose-driven marketing is here to stay—it positively benefits both consumers and brands. During an Advertising Week New York panel led by Megan Cunningham, chief executive officer and founder at Magnet Media, Tripadvisor and key industry experts discussed how to build out a strategy with real impact

Tripadvisor’s business model centers around travel, which, during the pandemic, was almost non-existent. The company was forced to make drastic cuts and dramatically restructure, yet amid the hurdles, it decided to invest further in two teams: its DE&I and social teams. According to Christine Maguire, general manager and vice president of global media business at Tripadvisor, that consistent progress, authenticity and doubling down on values—despite an uncertain economic future—are what purpose means to a travel brand like Tripadvisor.

According to Yesenia Bello, iHeartMedia senior vice president of diversity and inclusion, the company didn’t have a strong focus on diversity and inclusion before 2020. The pandemic changed that and the interest of iHeartMedia’s audience, so a dedicated role ensued. iHeartMedia dove into its mission of giving everyone in America a friend, and transformed the meaning behind that into one of “being there…for diverse audiences,” said Bello. iHeartMedia received feedback and responded by stepping up in moments replete with uncertainty. Bello said it’s important to remember that, “We are all on the path of determining our purpose as individuals, consumers, marketers and companies.”

Reflecting on the past 18 months, Lindsay Stein, the new chief of social impact at Havas, said that the pandemic changed “purpose” from being nothing more than a buzzword a few years ago to an entire movement in marketing today. Consumers, especially younger generations, have been pushing for purpose for years and have shown that they want to purchase from purpose-driven brands, according to Stein. 

Seventy-eight percent of consumers will choose a brand that’s purpose-driven rather than one that isn’t, noted Stein. To capture that business, talent recruitment and retention are vital. Before brands can acquire the best talent and young talent, they must have and live a purpose. As Stein mentioned, there are a plethora of issues in the world, from climate change to hunger, that brands have the option of tackling.

When asked about ensuring that a brand’s purpose isn’t a slogan-only performative element and is actually resonating in the behavior and values of the brand, Stein said:

“Walking the walk is imperative to a brand’s success when talking the talk. It starts from top-down. The brand Thinx centered around and promoted female empowerment at every possible turn, though when it was discovered that its female CEO was creating a toxic culture internally, the brand nearly imploded until she stepped down.”

Still, the notion of purpose is complex and there’s no silver bullet, according to Maguire. Tripadvisor serves three cohorts—employees, partners and travelers—and research has shown how important it is to serve all three, said Maguire. Failing to provide employees with authenticity will translate to them not serving partners and consumers with authenticity. 

Citing a recent study that found 95 percent of people have permanently changed at least one thing about their behavior or values since the pandemic, Maguire said that Tripadvisor believes that there’s good out there and that one of its purposes is to help travelers find that good. In that sense, Tripadvisor’s purpose comes through in the way it services travelers, how it speaks to consumers via its creative assets and language, and ultimately how it shows up externally. Walk the talk before you can sell something through.

Key Takeaways:

  • There are several benefits to brands and consumers of purpose-driven marketing, namely excelling in business but also improving the world. Brands must engage innovative ways to reach consumers through purpose-driven campaigns and cannot simply talk the talk without walking the walk. 
  • Strategizing on how to create brand trust with consumers will produce competitive advantages given how highly valued purpose-driven brands are to consumers. 
  • It is critical to the evolution of purpose-driven marketing that the effectiveness of strategies in this context is measured.

Refilling The Creative Well

“An artist lives always in the imagination, so the barrier between the sensory reality and his imagination is very vague.” 

Federico Fellini

What is creativity? Where does it come from? What is its relationship to the imagination? Where does it go when you can’t find it? And how can you bring it back?

We tend to talk a lot about the power of immersion these days, especially at where we’ve had the privilege of working in the VR space with our friends at Oculus and in the AR space with Pokémon GO. Oculus and Pokémon GO both saw explosive growth in the pandemic, as people marooned in their homes sought new ways to enhance, transcend, and inspire their realities.

In our new post-COVID reality, the “O.G.” immersive experience—reading books—was thankfully always within reach, but other pre-digital paths to immersion like concerts, museums, travel and clubbing were suddenly off the table. And if you are anything like me, the pandemic saw you replace all of those with more and more of the increasingly compelling yet utterly un-interactive pastime of streaming content.

Many of us fell into the rut of seeking inspiration from our 2D screens, feasting like vampires on neverending streams of high-quality must-see content gushing forward (why yes I did recently binge Midnight Mass, why do you ask?). But for those of us on the creative side of agency life, it narrowed in our source of inspiration as memories of our former extracurricular activities began to fade.

Combine that with the relentless grind of shorter deadlines, longer Zooms, and extended bouts of isolation away from the whiteboards and war rooms and coffee walks that used to fuel our creative collaborations, and it’s no surprise that many creatives have been feeling more burned out and less inspired than ever.

“Come with me and you’ll be

in a world of pure imagination

Take a look and you’ll see

into your imagination.”

Willy Wonka

I’m sure I’m not the only creative who felt like the rabbit would always be in the hat when I reached in. That no matter how many times I lowered the bucket into the well that it would come back sloshing with fresh ideas.

Even the deepest wells run dry if they aren’t replenished. And this is a tale of a happenstance creative restocking that I hope will inspire you to step out from behind the screen and consciously seek out a fresh dose of immersion to refill, refuel and recalibrate.

The day before I was going to board a plane (for the first time since ‘19!) to visit my brother in Denver, I overheard a co-worker at an offsite mention that Meow Wolf had recently opened a new installation in Denver. A few years back I’d streamed Meow Wolf: Origin Story and really dug it, but otherwise hadn’t really spent much time thinking about them. 

So after my brother picked me up I got us two tix to their new exhibit Convergence Station, that aside from its trippy trailer I knew nothing about. Soon we were inside, where a costumed tour guide took us into the elevator and told us that we’d all already been here before, we just didn’t remember it. The elevator door opened and we emerged in a massive futuristic city street scene, not unlike a cross between Blade Runner, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and the Mars of Verhoeven’s Total Recall. From here, we were free to wander from this ecosystem through dozens of other loosely connected worlds, interactive exhibits, hidden rooms, and towering structural installations. 

I will fight my instincts to try and describe the experience in any detail because that would ruin the fun. Zooming out, I saw all of the creative artistry, world-building, deep lore, intoxicating sound design and gobsmacking immersion that we as creatives and storytellers dream of.

I could literally feel my spirits lifting, my optimism returning, my well-being replenished. If I hadn’t overheard someone in Pasadena mentioning the new Meow Wolf in Denver, none of this would have happened. 

Don’t be like me and wait for a happy accident to jolt you out of your waking stream dream. Seek out immersion wherever you are. And revel in it. It will reward you tenfold.

Trend Set: Buy Now Pay Later, Digital OOH And More

Ayzenberg junior strategist Ashley Otah surfaces the latest trends at play in the world of culture and entertainment.


Let’s get digital. Out-of-home (OOH) advertising has seen a consistent increase in digital outdoor advertising. Digital OOH jumped almost 80 percent with notable recent usage that includes Drake’s Certified Lover Boy rollout, Madhappy’s, and We’re Not Really Strangers. OOH is expected to increase 14.5% for a total of 6.96 billion, but some continue to wonder whether the IRL translates URLs.

Buy Now, Pay Later

Klarna and financing apps alike are taking the shopping space by storm. With over 50% of Gen Z shoppers using “buy now, pay later” apps and a notable 26% of users missing payments at least once this year, higher consumer debt may be afoot.


The FTC sends over 700 letters before it takes action on unfair or deceptive advertising practices. The letter alerted companies that they may be subjected to civil penalties of up to $43,792 for fake or misleading endorsements and/or reviews. The agency stated that it is “widely distributing letters and the notice to large companies, top advertisers, leading retailers, top consumer product companies, and major advertising agencies.”


Lowe’s is the latest retailer launching an ad platform with its One Roof Media Network. From the home improvement retailers’ most recent step into advertising to Ulta Beauty and beyond, the ad platform launch showcases a greater shift in the data stratosphere. As data privacy laws and ad practices regarding third-party data rollout, the foray into valuable first-party data will continue.


TikTok made me buy it. Kantar’s research previously stated almost half of Gen Z relies on influencers for purchase decisions, but TikTok videos are giving them a run for their money. With over 5 billion views on the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag, items selling out after promotions and the app averaging more time monthly by users, shopping and selling on TikTok are here to stay.