What We’re Reading—Week Of April 19th

Your mid-week rundown of the latest marketing and advertising news.

Brand Safety Report Reveals The Dangers For Advertisers On Platforms Like Facebook And YouTube

Ad Age

After working closely with major social media platforms following the political and social upheaval in 2020, GARM— a branch of the World Federation of Advertisers—has released its first digital brand safety report, which measures how well Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and Pinterest monitor obscene and hateful content.

Why it matters: Facebook reported to GARM that 0.08 percent of its posts in Q4 2020 depicted hate speech. YouTube estimated that 0.18 percent of video views violated its community guidelines and that less than one percent of ad impressions came from those types of videos. Instagram didn’t provide data on hate speech, spam or sexual content and nudity.

Author Talks: Karin M. Reed On Virtual Meetings

McKinsey & Company

In her new book, Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work, video communications expert Karin M. Reed shares tips on how to both lead and participate in virtual meetings, with data from coauthor Joseph Allen.

Why it matters: To avoid stilted and stunted conversation, Reed suggests virtual meeting leaders look for nonverbal cues that might indicate somebody has something to say. She notes that some may feel intimidated to participate in a larger meeting and find it easier to participate via the chat feature. She encourages leaders to look at the chat and incorporate it into the overall verbal communication.

Why Brands Like Neutrogena And Old Spice Are Rushing To Build Internal Content Studios

Marketing Dive

Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena skincare line revealed an internal content division dedicated to creating short films, the first of which, “In the Sun,” is a documentary that aims to dispel myths about sun safety and will debut on video-on-demand platforms on April 27.

Why it matters: Marketers realizing they can manage a content studio themselves —57 percent of multinational marketers surveyed said they’ve created some form of in-house creative agency. In addition, a large number of consumers have switched to streaming during the pandemic. To reach audiences in this new digital landscape, many brands including Old Spice, SK-II and Corona have formed similar content divisions.

For “Cookieless” Solutions To Work, We Need To Talk About Addressability


In talking to advertisers and publishers, Nancy Marzouk, chief executive and founder of MediaWallah, has found that for all the cookieless solutions available, few marketers are using them in the bidstream currently.

Why it matters: For first-party identifiers to become actual third-party data alternatives, Marzouk says brands should create a single view of the customer, work with walled-garden targeting formats such as Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), secure private marketplaces including data clean rooms and cast a wide net across consented identifiers.

What Changes When A Company Hires Its First Chief Marketing Officer?


For the first time, Sinclair Broadcast Group created an enterprise-wide chief marketing officer position, a role that John Zeigler filled in November 2020. His responsibility, he says, is to “offer a convex lens to point all of the passion, customer-first energy in one consolidated direction.” In other words, Zeigler is tasked with developing and executing a band marketing strategy for Sinclair’s 186 television stations in 87 markets and 19 of the Regional Sports Networks.

Why it matters: Zeigler’s first order of business involved rebranding elements of FOX Sports networks to Bally Sports, including on-air looks, rebuilding production facilities over a six-week period, programming, music and graphics.

Walt Disney Studios Elevates Anastasia Ali And Jan Coleman To Vice President Roles

This week in leadership updates, Anastasia Ali and Jan Coleman accepted promotions at Disney Studios, Vans appoints Kristin Harrer as global chief marketing officer, Coca-Cola Great Britain names Louise Maugest as UK marketing director, KFC’s US chief marketing officer Andrea Zahumensky exits and more. 

Disney Studios Promotes Anastasia Ali And Jan Coleman To Vice President

According to Deadline, Anastasia Ali has accepted a promotion as VP, marketing at Walt Disney Studios and Jan Coleman has been elevated to VP of global marketing partnerships, promotions and multicultural of Walt Disney Studios.

Ali has been with the company since 2013, most recently serving as director of marketing. Prior to Disney, she was the co-owner and chief operating officer of HazraH Entertainment.

Coleman’s time at Disney spans a decade, her most recent role being director of global marketing partnerships. 

Ali co-founded Disney’s Black Employee Resource Group, The Bond. Together, she and Coleman co-founded rePRESENT, which aims to expand multicultural marketing competencies and develop diverse talent.

Vans Names Kristin Harrer As Global Chief Marketing Officer

Kristin Harrer has been appointed global CMO of Vans.

Harrer joins Vans from Dollar Shave Club, where she was CMO for about two years. Prior to Dollar Shave Club, she held marketing leadership roles at Samsung and Nike, respectively.

Coca-Cola Great Britain Elevates Louise Maugest To UK Marketing Director

Coca-Cola Great Britain has promoted Louise Maugest to UK marketing director.

Maugest, previously marketing manager of new beverages, replaces Kris Robbens, who was promoted to senior director of brand strategy on the company’s global team.

Maugest has been with Coca-Cola for seven years.

KFC US Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky Departs

Andrea Zahumensky has left her role as CMO of KFC, according to Ad Age.

Zahumensky is stepping down after three and a half years with KFC. Prior to KFC, she spent more than 20 years at Procter & Gamble in various executive brand roles.

Collective Health Taps Alison Worthington As Chief Marketing Officer

Alison Worthington has been named Collective Health’s new CMO, reports MarTech Series.

A board member for Generate Life Sciences and Columbia Care, Worthington previously served as interim CMO for GoPro, Ancestry.com, Bragg Live Foods and multiple direct-to-consumer startups.

Disney Elevates Jane Gould To Executive Vice President, Content Research, Insights And Scheduling

Jane Gould has accepted a promotion as EVP of content research, insights and scheduling at Disney General Entertainment (DGE).

As Hollywood Reporter notes, in her new role, Gould will oversee a centralized team that comprises Hulu, ABC, ABC News, Disney Branded Television, FX, Freeform and National Geographic.

Most recently, Gould served as Disney Channel’s senior vice president of content strategy and insights.

Tinder Appoints George Felix As Chief Marketing Officer

This week in leadership updates, Tinder names George Felix as chief marketing officer, the National Retail Federation taps Martine Reardon as chief marketing officer, Walmart appoints Jean Batthany as its first head of creative and more.

Tinder Taps George Felix As New Chief Marketing Officer

George Felix, who recently stepped down as CMO of Pizza Hut, has joined Tinder as the dating app’s CMO, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Felix succeeds former Tinder CMO Jenny Campbell, who exited the company in November 2020.

The National Retail Federation Names Martine Reardon Chief Marketing Officer

The National Retail Federation has appointed Martine Reardon as CMO and executive vice president of content and membership.

Reardon was previously CMO of Macy’s and has worked with the NRF since 2016 as a senior advisor for retail and marketing strategies.

Walmart Names Jean Batthany As First Chief Creative Officer

Walmart has hired Jean Batthany as its first-ever senior vice president, chief creative officer. As per Batthany’s LinkedIn, she will lead “the vision for consumer-centric communications across all channels.”

Batthany, the founder of Chief, joins from The Walt Disney Company, where she was VP, global creative for Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products.

Kraft Heinz Canada Elevates Kelly Fleming As Chief Category And Brand Officer

Kelly Fleming has been named Kraft Heinz Canada’s chief category and brand officer, according to a press release.

Fleming, who’s been with the company since 2010, previously served as head of the grocery business unit.

Marketing Water Plus Purpose In Action With PepsiCo’s Zach Harris

On this 255th episode of Marketing Today, I speak with Zach Harris, vice president of marketing for the water portfolio at PepsiCo Beverages, North America. Throughout the episode, we discuss how to brand water, the new launch of bubly bounce, and PepsiCo’s other products like LIFEWTR and Aquafina. 

The conversation starts with Harris describing his career at PepsiCo, a company he’s been at since he graduated college. He says these experiences have taught him that the role of a brand is really to keep the consumer “at the center of everything you do.” Because without it, you won’t gain brand loyalty.

From there Zach goes deep into what it means to have purpose, both in your job and as a company, and how being a visible example of leadership is what ties a community together.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why an informal network is important for your career growth
  • Why you should be a visible example of leadership in your community
  • How to build trust among your customers
  • How to market a portfolio of products
  • What it truly means to have purpose behind your brand

Key Highlights:

  • [01:20] How Zach found his way to marketing in a family of doctors
  • [04:03] Why Zach has been at PepsiCo for his entire career
  • [06:34] Zach’s different cross-functional experiences 
  • [07:40] How different experiences have prepared Zach for his current role
  • [09:30] Zach’s passion for mentorship
  • [12:33] Being a visible leader in your community
  • [15:15] How to market and brand water
  • [17:52] What Zach thinks about when marketing the water portfolio 
  • [20:08] The branding of the LIFEWTR bottle
  • [22:18] How Zach thinks about purpose-driven marketing
  • [26:45] Driving sales with brand loyalty
  • [27:30] The launch of Bubly Bounce with Michael Buble´
  • [32:25] An experience that defines Zach, made him who he is today 
  • [36:57] Zach’s advice for his younger self
  • [41:05] A recent impactful purchase Zach made
  • [43:30] The brands, companies, and causes Zach follows
  • [47:05] What Zach says is the biggest threat and opportunity for marketers today

Resources Mentioned: 

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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 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.

Jerri DeVard Launches The Black Executive CMO Alliance

This week in leadership updates, former Office Depot and ADT chief marketing officer Jerri DeVard creates the Black Executive CMO Alliance, Prudential Financial taps Richard Parkinson as chief brand officer, Grand Hyatt Vail names Danielle Boyles as director of sales and marketing, a new study highlights a steady “CMO succession crisis,” J.Crew appoints Derek Yarbrough as chief marketing officer and more.

Jerri DeVard Debuts The Black Executive CMO Alliance

Jerri DeVard, previous chief customer officer of Office Depot and current Under Armour board member, has founded an organization called the Black Executive CMO Alliance (BECA) that aims to reduce the corporate diversity gap.

As of 2020, black talent makes up just three percent of the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) chief marketing officers.

BECA comprises 26 black executives from companies including Unilever, Netflix, Adidas and Peloton, reports Morning Brew. DeVard says that BECA is compiling a database of young marketing professionals who have the skills and background to succeed in the industry and that “BECA will challenge the corporate diversity gap and change the census by mentoring and building the pipeline of talented Black executives who will follow in our footsteps.”

Prudential Financial Appoints Richard Parkinson As Chief Brand Officer

Prudential Financial has named Richard Parkinson as chief brand officer, effective May 10.

Parkinson joins Prudential from Archetype, formerly Text100, where he served as global creative director for nearly seven years.

Grand Hyatt Vail Hires Danielle Boyles As Director Of Sales And Marketing

Danielle Boyles has been named director of sales and marketing at Grand Hyatt Vail, reports HospitalityNet.

Prior to Grand Hyatt, Boyles worked as chief sales officer at ConferenceDirect for a year and as director of sales and marketing for Hyatt Regency.

New Study Highlights Rise In CMO Appointments During 2020

CMO appointments increased 25 percent in 2020, according to a study from Russell Reynolds Associates, as reported by Marketing Dive

Though 45 percent of CMO appointments were women last year, that figure represents a five percentage point drop from the previous six months, compared with 27 percent of other C-suite level jobs that were filled by women. 

Meanwhile, men comprised 92 percent of chief revenue officers, 86 percent of chief commercial officers and 84 percent of chief sales officers.

Additionally, RRA’s analysis found that 84 percent of CMOs were hired externally, a five percent increase that signals a persistent “CMO succession crisis”

J.Crew Hires Derek Yarbrough As Chief Marketing Officer

Derek Yarbrough has been appointed J.Crew’s new CMO, according to a press release.

Yarborough joins J.Crew from Madewell, where he serves and will continue to serve as CMO.

In addition, J.Crew Group has added the following members to its board: Frits Dirk van Paasschen, a current board member of Williams-Sonoma and Royal DSM; Anna Fieler, the founder of Madison Park Ventures and a Shake Shack board member; and Nadia Rawlinson, the chief people officer at Slack. 

Activision Blizzard Appoints Fernando Machado As Chief Marketing Officer

Fernando Machado has left his post as global CMO of Restaurant Brands International to join Activision Blizzard as the company’s new CMO.

Machado was Burger King’s global CMO for about six years before joining the burger chain’s parent company.

VillageMD Names Ellen Donahue-Dalton As Its First Chief Marketing Officer

VillageMD has appointed Ellen Donahue-Dalton as CMO.

Previously, Donahue-Dalton worked at Medecision as chief marketing and experience officer.

Zendesk Taps Alex Constantinople As Chief Marketing Officer

Alex Constantinople has been named Zendesk’s new CMO.

Constantinople previously served as chief executive of Outcast for just under a decade.

ViacomCBS Hires Jason White as MTV Chief Marketing Officer

ViacomCBS has announced the appointment of Jason White to CMO of MTV Entertainment Group, reports Adweek.

White served as executive vice president, global head of marketing for Beats by Dr. Dre before taking on the role of CMO at Cura Cannabis Solutions.

Glossier Names Kleo Mack Vice President Of Brand

This week in leadership updates, Glossier appoints Kleo Mack vice president of brand, Pizza Hut US chief marketing officer George Felix departs, BBC Studios names Penny Brough senior vice president, marketing, Welldoc appoints Marina Dorotheo as chief marketing officer, Food52 hires three new executive and Overstock taps Elizabeth Solomon as chief marketing officer; and more.

Glossier Names Kleo Mack As Vice President Of Brand

Glossier has hired Kleo Mack as global VP of brand, according to a company blog post.

Mack most recently served as VP of corporate strategic marketing at L’Oreal. Prior to that, she led IT Cosmetics’ European launch.

Pizza Hut US Chief Marketing Officer George Felix Departs

George Felix, CMO for Pizza Hut US, is stepping down, parent company Yum Brands recently confirmed.

Yum Brands director of brand communications, Lindsay Morgan, succeeds Felix.

Additionally, the chain’s chief brand officer, David Graves, has assumed the role of general manager. Georgeanne Erickson succeeds Graves as chief brand officer.

BBC Studios Appoints Penny Brough As Senior Vice President, Marketing

BBC Studios’ brands and marketing division has hired Penny Brough as SVP of marketing.

Up until January, Brough served as SVP and CMO of ViacomCBS UK for nearly eight years.

More recently, she was interim head of marketing at Channel 4 London and board trustee at SportsAid.

Welldoc Taps Marina Dorotheo As Chief Marketing Officer

Marina Dorotheo is Welldoc’s new CMO, reports MM+M.

Dorotheo joins Welldoc from Otsuka, where she spent 22 years, most recently as senior director, head of marketing for digital medicine.

She’s also a founding member of Chief.

Food52 Announces Three New Executive Hires

Food52 has named Matt Greenberg SVP and head of brand partnerships; Steve Jacobs as chief product officer; and Katasha Harley as SVP and head of people and culture.

Greenberg joins Food52 from Advertising Week, where he was chief revenue officer.

Before Food52, Jacobs founded Bright Parenting and previously served as venture partner at FirstMark Capital.

Harley is the company’s first-ever SVP and head of people and culture. She comes from the New York Times, where she led talent development and helped guide diversity, equity and inclusion strategy.

In addition, Mike Smith has joined the company’s board of directors.

Church’s Chicken Adds Two Members To Its International Team

Church’s Chicken has announced two new appointments to its international executive team. 

Gregg Gallagher was named as VP, Americas, and Cinthia Nehring-Salm was elevated to director of international marketing.

Most recently, Gallagher was senior director, international business development at Inspire Brands.

For the past six years, Nehring-Salm served as regional marketing manager for Church’s.

Overstock Taps Elizabeth Solomon As Chief Marketing Officer

Elizabeth Solomon has been named Overstock’s new CMO.

Previously, Solomon worked at Amazon for nearly five years, most recently as head of global private brands marketing.

Prior to Amazon, she was vice president of marketing at Samsung America.

Domino’s Australia Chief Marketing Officer Allan Collins Departs

According to Mumbrella, Domino’s CMO for Australia and New Zealand, Allan Collins, is stepping down.

For the past decade, Collins led marketing across Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Western Europe as group CMO.

His replacement hasn’t been named.

Indeed Names Jessica Jensen Chief Marketing Officer

Indeed has appointed Jessica Jensen as CMO.

Jensen joins Indeed from Kayak, where she was SVP of marketing. Prior to that, she served as CMO at OpenTable.

Radio One and Reach Media Promotes Samuel Tatum To VP, Integrated Marketing And Partnerships

Urban One’s Radio One and Reach Media has promoted Samuel Tatum to the newly created role of vice president, integrated marketing and partnerships.

Tatum has been with the company since 2004, most recently as director of sales for its Washington D.C. radio station cluster.

Omaze Taps Eric Edge As First Chief Marketing Officer

Omaze has hired Eric Edge as its first-ever CMO, reports Adweek.

For the past nearly three years, Edge was SVP, marketing and communications at Postmates. Previously, he served as Pinterest’s head of global marketing.  

What We’re Reading—Week Of March 22nd

A look at the marketing and advertising articles we’re sharing internally this week at AList.

3 Opportunities For CMOs To Capitalize On In 2021


After 62 percent of companies reported having to entirely rethink operational models as a result of the pandemic, chief marketing officers can remain agile by investing in ecosystems of partnership between departments and enlisting humans, not just artificial intelligence, to make sense of data to deliver unique personalized experiences.

Why it matters: Eighty percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that delivers personalized experiences. Therefore, being a CMO in the age of COVID-19 will require patience and empathy as consumers decide how they feel about important changes, including how often they want to work remotely and how often they feel comfortable going out to eat and shop.

Ignoring These 4 Marketing Trends Could Cost You In The Long Run


Reducing marketing budgets can short circuit brands and cost them more in the long run. Instead, they should take advantage of the opportunity to double down on marketing initiatives while their competitors are cutting back.

Why it matters: Four areas of marketing investment to consider are chatbots for personalized experiences, a focus on the searchability of social media posts, creating more video content to grow organic reach and partner with influencers to personify experiences in the post-pandemic world.

IAB Releases AR Buyer’s Guide For Marketers


According to the IAB’s augmented reality (AR) Buyer’s Guide, 97 percent of brands on Forbes’ Most Valuable Brands list are currently using AR, and there will be 85 million AR users in the US alone this year.

Why it matters: Immersive and multi sensory, AR creates an enhanced online shopping experience. Shopify saw a 200 percent increase in conversions after using AR for product visualization, while Overstock increased conversions from 10 percent to 200 percent after using AR in its product catalog.

What We Really Need From ‘The Future Of Work’

Ad Age

Rather than making predictions about how sustainable supply chains and hybrid workforce will change the future of work, Ad Age columnist M.T. Fletcher suggests companies create a wish list based on reflections from last year.

Why it matters: Fletcher suggests companies keep things unstructured and organic when heading back to the office, avoid ghosting agencies and clients and be candid about lay-offs to generate loyalty.

Headspace Appoints Val Kaplan Zapata Chief Marketing Officer

This week in leadership updates, Headspace hires Val Kaplan Zapata as chief marketing officer; Connected Cannabis names Craig Lyon vice president, head of marketing; the Network of Executive Women elects three new board members; Lionsgate chief marketing officer Damon Wolf steps down; Sesame Workshop appoints Wanda Witherspoon first chief diversity officer; Petco announces three new board members; Wayfair’s chief product and marketing officer Ed Macri will retire and more.

Headspace Names Val Kaplan Zapata Chief Marketing Officer

Val Kaplan Zapata will be joining Headspace as the company’s new CMO starting in April.

Zapata joins Headspace from Hulu, where she spent nearly four years, most recently as vice president of growth marketing.

Connected Cannabis Hires Craig Lyon As Vice President, Head Of Marketing

Connected Cannabis has named Craig Lyon VP, head of marketing.

Lyon previously spent a decade at Nike, most recently as senior director of brand for the Central US and Canadian marketplace.

Network Of Executive Women Adds Three New Board Members

The Network of Executive Women (NEW) has elected three new members to its board of directors.

The latest members include Valerie Jabbar, group VP of Kroger, Mike Theilmann, EVP, chief human resources officer, Albertsons Cos.; and Jennifer Wilson, SVP brand marketing, Lowe’s.

Lionsgate Head Of Global Marketing Damon Wolf To Exit

Damon Wolf, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group’s chief marketing officer, is stepping down, according to Deadline.

Wolf first joined Lionsgate in June 2018 after serving as co-head of marketing at TriStar Pictures and Screen Gems for Sony.

Sesame Workshop Appoints Wanda Witherspoon As Chief Diversity Officer

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, has elevated veteran employee Wanda Witherspoon to the newly created role of chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer.

According to a company press release, Witherspoon will be responsible for ensuring the organization is committed to equity at every level of its global business practices, including vendor selection, employee recruitment, staff training and more.

Witherspoon has been with Sesame Workshop since 1997 as vice president of public affairs and special events, for which responsibilities which she will retain.

Wayfair Chief Product And Marketing Officer Ed Macri To Retire

Wayfair’s chief product and marketing officer, Ed Macri, will retire this year after being with the company for 14 years.

Bob Sherwin, Wayfair’s VP of marketing, will take over Macri’s position, which will be renamed.

Petco Adds Three New Members To Board Of Directors

Petco has announced the addition of three new board members. They include Sabrina Simmons, former EVP and chief financial officer of Gap, Mike Mohan, president and chief executive of Best Buy and Mary Sullivan, senior managing director and chief talent officer at Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

McLaren Automotive Taps Gareth Dunsmore For Chief Marketing Officer

McLaren Automotive has hired Gareth Dunsmore to lead the company’s global marketing efforts as CMO.

Dunsmore joins McLaren after an 18-year run at Nissan Motor Corporation, where he most recently served as VP of brand and customer experience for Africa, the Middle East, India, Europe and Oceania.

Marriott International Elects Two New Board Members

Marriott International has elected two new board members—David Marriott, president of Marriott’s US hotel divisions, and Horacio Rozanski, president and CEO of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

The additions bring Marriott’s board membership to 13.

Listen In: Growing DEI Through A ‘Community Garden’ Approach

Ayzenberg Sr. Project Manager Royce Matthews leads this episode’s candid conversation with Say Space co-founders Bianca Wilson and Emily Race. Wilson and Race discuss the intricacies of collectively creating a space for honest and continuing discussions around DEI.

The duo first collaborated as self-elected agency ‘change agents’ before forming Say Space, connecting over a common understanding of how to help businesses undertake a deep and public analysis of their diversity deficits. Bianca and Emily then discuss how the concept of change agents became instrumental to their core mission and a realignment was undertaken to put ‘the individual’ at the center.

This discussion also touches on how individual identities of company employees form an overall corporate vision, including why a mandate for self-criticism is crucial before sustainably promoting DEI initiatives. “We’re here to support the liberation of the individuals within a company and in doing so hopefully that creates a shift in the company, but it’s a relationship,” says Bianca, adding: “those people will be liberated and leave [if they feel unsupported].” Other questions answered include: What are the tools that people need to be effective change agents without getting too burnt out on the toll of emotional labor? How does your personal vision and not obligation help define your boundaries and engagement with DEI initiatives?

About Say Space: “Through workshops, coaching & consulting, we create an intentional space for transformative conversations around the blind spots within your organization. Out of these conversations, we uncover new opportunities for powerful leadership, unparalleled communication and dynamically inclusive cultures that are a catalyst for the next level of your organization’s success.”

About Listen In: Each week on Listen In, Ayzenberg VP and ECD Matt Bretz and a rotating cast of hosts from Ayzenberg will interview experts in the field of marketing and advertising to explore uncharted territory together. The goal is to provide the a.network audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

Gary Goodman’s Creative Picks: Changemakers

We’re living in strange times with an unprecedented sense of isolation and dislocation from our families, communities and teams. I don’t want to speak for everyone but because of this, I think we’re all looking for a way to connect and feel that we’re part of something larger.

In a sense, we are trying to give our world meaning. So for this month’s article, I thought I’d celebrate a few exemplary examples of the pro-bono cause-marketing work that I’ve come across. For most agencies, these are important opportunities to rally their people to bring their unique storytelling and communication skills to something personal and meaningful that can truly change the world for the better.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – “Rise and Shine”

Last week was Fat Tuesday or for us fellow Louisianans, better known as Mardi Gras Day. In New Orleans and even in my hometown of Shreveport, it’s usually the culmination and climax from a week-long celebration of community, history, culture, music, food, parades, and of course…beads—lots and lots of beads! Last year, Mardi Gras was really the last big national festival before the world shut down. With an unprecedented 12 months now behind us, we are seeing the results of a really tough year, especially for the musicians that are the lifeblood of one of the most musical cities in the world.

Why it matters:  This is a beautiful film and clocking in at nearly 4 minutes, goes deep to tell a big story in a very personal way. Led by one of the most celebrated musicians in New Orleans’ vibrant jazz culture, Trombone Shorty kicks off the film standing atop a roof as the day is breaking while belting out haunting and lonely notes from his trombone. Simultaneously we follow a truck through various neighborhoods as a local radio announcer sets up how hard the musical community has been hit by the pandemic. What transpires from there is like a feel-good New Orleans-style Christmas story that can’t help but put a smile on your face. The truck is delivering instruments to doorsteps throughout the neighborhood that will slowly be discovered by its inhabitants. Trombone Shorty’s horn is the call to action for everyone to join in and feel connected in a way that only music can do. The piece wraps up with the poignant call to action, “If you’ve ever been saved by music, here’s your chance to return the favor.” So personal and powerful.

The details: As with most pro bono efforts, this film was generously made possible by a 75-person nationwide team. The director Ben Sonntag said, “When there’s a cause attached to art, the vision is easily shared, dialed in, and everyone puts their heart into it. Every person involved wanted to make the best film possible for the foundation and was open to how we got there. There was no ego, just a truly unified effort. Everyone was all in.”  

According to Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, “It’s been a rough time for our city’s musicians – many are hurting. Being a part of that community, I know that we have to be there for one another. We’ve always banded together to help each other – it’s more important now than ever. Music lovers, join us to help keep NOLA music alive.” 

The good news is that the Music Relief Fund was established in March 2020 and to date has distributed more than $1M to musicians across the state. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get back to New Orleans and get sucked back into their rich musical culture. It’s truly priceless.

Ad Council/WB/CDC – “Mask Up America”

Next up is from our good friends at Ad Council, which has been fighting the good fight since 1949 to bring “creativity and causes” together.

Why it matters: Over the years, we’ve done some of our favorite and most meaningful work with Ad Council to promote campaigns like “She Can Stem” and “Love Has No Labels.” This time around, Ad Council partnered directly with Warner Bros and the CDC to help remind us all how important it is to mask up and prevent the spread of COVID. According to a recent Axios survey, only about ¾ of Americans wear masks outside their home on a consistent basis, and if we could get that number up to ninety-five percent it could save nearly 22,000 lives by May 20. So come on people! Well, don’t just listen to me; in this video, you get to see it put in action by some of the most iconic characters in movie history. Taking footage from Wonder Woman, The Matrix, Casablanca, Mad Max, Lord of the Rings, The Joker, Creed and Harry Potter to name a few, the WB team assembled famous IP to get the message across.

The details: My hat goes off to the team at Warner’s in-house creative studio 10th Street Productions who were responsible for bringing this endeavor to the finish line. Knowing what I know about the approvals and logistics involving the multitude of very high-level stakeholders, I can only imagine what the workstreams and approval processes must have looked like. That said, the final result is beautifully done and Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman look stunning all masked up from 1942.

Google/Ad Council – “Get the Facts – COVID-19 Vaccine”

To wrap it up, I thought I’d double-dip on supporting the Ad Council in this multifaceted campaign that just dropped this week entitled, “It’s Up To You.” 

Why it matters: Multiple brands and agencies participated in the “It’s Up To You” campaign, but the one that caught my eye was this clever visual and social-forward animation approach from Google. Kicking off with a syncopated percussion track and using a flexing arm emoticon, this 25-second spot delivers its message in a very straightforward manner: no matter who you are, now is the time to get your vaccine! By cycling through a diverse range of arm pigmentation and the corresponding bandaids, this spot does an excellent job of speaking to everyone. The flexing arm underscores the need for people to feel empowered to take charge and do their part to end this pandemic. So simple and effective.

The details: This is apparently one of the largest public-education campaigns in U.S. history with more than 300 brands participating, and is backed by $500M in donated media and talent. The primary target is the 40% of Americans who are undecided about getting the vaccine. According to Dr. Fauci, at least 75% of the population must develop immunity before we can get back to a “normal life.” I don’t know about you, but I’m just waiting for my turn—it can’t come fast enough!